The Springs of Joy

Today is Sunday, the twenty-sixth of September, 2021

Shalom Aleichem!

There are only four more days left in September!

Day 23,208

Sixteen days until our 36th anniversary!

Yesterday was a pretty unremarkable, restful day. I did finally make myself get on the treadmill and walk for a little over twenty minutes. I followed a guide on a forest path that ended at a beautiful waterfall. We have iFit videos available on our treadmill. Technology is wonderful when it works.

This morning, we have our worship gathering at 10:15. Apparently, the hosts have decided to open up their home if anyone wants to be in person. C and I will be on Zoom. When we are still, as a country, having almost 150,000 new cases every day and around two thousand deaths every day, we aren’t quite ready to get close to people, if it is avoidable. Plus, I don’t think C is ready to go sit for an hour-plus in unfamiliar chairs.

Today is Rivers Day, which is interesting, considering that the Bible verses from Psalm speak of “fountains” or “springs.”

The word for today is perfidy, a noun that means, “deliberate breach of faith or trust; faithlessness; treachery.”

Today’s quote is from Finley Peter Dunne, an American journalist. “The past always looks better than it was. It’s only pleasant because it isn’t here.”

Significant birthdays on September 26:

St. Francis of Assissi, Italian founder of the Franciscan Order, 1181-1226
Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman), legendary American planter of trees, 1774-1845
T.S. Eliot, American poet (Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats), 1888-1965
Martin Heidegger, German philosopher, 1889-1976
George Gershwin, American composer (Rhapsody in Blue), 1898-1937
Jack LaLanne, American fitness icon, 1914-2011
Marty Robbins, American country singer (El Paso, Big Iron, Streets of Laredo), 1925-1982
Bryan Ferry, British singer-songwriter (Love Is the Drug), 1945 (76)
Lynn Anderson, American country singer (Rose Garden), 1947-2015
Olivia Newton-John, British-Australian singer (Hopelessly Devoted to You, I Honestly Love You), 1948 (73)
Linda Hamilton, American actress (Terminator), 1956 (65)

I slept until 8:00 AM, today, which is remarkable. I have certainly been sleeping better since I got away from my old job. Imagine that. At any rate, I’d best get into the devotional because I just have an hour until our gathering begins.

Right after I get another cup of coffee.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

What Love Can Do, by Daryl Madden

Beginning with the Word
The light comes pouring through
Forming all creation
Look what love can do

It was just a seed
That birthed our life anew
Grace of multiplying
See what love can do

Displayed upon the cross
Poured out for me and you
Even death was conquered
Know what love can do

With a simple prayer
Of faith beyond our view
Never underestimate
Just what love can do

“Never underestimate just what love can do.” Such an important message for our time.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are much easier to find than people believe
2. that Your plans for me, and Your love for me go far beyond anything I could ask or imagine
3. that, though the mountains be shaken and the hills removed, Your steadfast love for us will not be shaken, nor will Your covenant of peace be removed
4. that my salvation is not based on any "good things" that I have done, but completely and utterly based on You and the work of Christ
5. that, because You are for us, none can be against us, when we are walking in obedience to Your Word - there is none who can condemn us, because Jesus Christ intercedes for us

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK NINETEEN – DAY ONE

INVITATION

Shout for joy to God,
all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious.
(Psalms 66:1-2 NIV)

I pause during this quiet moment to remind my soul of Your constant presence, that You surround me, and that You dwell within me.

BIBLE SONG

Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm. A song.

He has founded his city on the holy mountain.
The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwellings of Jacob.

Glorious things are said of you, city of God:
“I will record Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me— Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush— and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.'”
Indeed, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her.”
The LORD will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.”

As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you.”
(Psalms 87:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”
The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.
(1 Samuel 16:10-13 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I quietly read these passages again. What catches my eye? What moves me? What will I pray to the Lord because of what I have seen, this morning?

My heart is drawn to verse 2 of the psalm. “The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwellings of Jacob.” I like, as well, the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases this verse in The Message: “and oh, how GOD loves his home! Loves it far better than all the homes of Jacob put together!”

Is it fair to equate this with the Church, the Bride of Christ? I believe that it is. We, the people of God, are those who comprise the Church, and the Lord dwells within us, via the Holy Spirit, which makes us His Home.

Isn’t that ironic? (I may or may not be using that word correctly.) We are His Home, yet, we are longing for our Home, which will be in Him. And what, exactly, is the “new Jerusalem” of which Revelation 21 speaks? It is written that the new Jerusalem descends from heaven, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” That bride is none other than the Church.

The message, today, I believe, is that we need to never forget that God loves the Church. I’m speaking of the larger body, here. When I speak of local bodies of believer, it will always be “church” with a lower-case “c.” When I write “Church,” with an upper-case “C,” it refers to the body of Christ, His bride, made up of believers from all over the world, people from First Baptist Church of whatever city you live in, the Methodist church down the street, the Presbyterian church that I went to for a while, and all of those alleged “non-denominational” churches. And the church that meets at Brandon and Kristin’s house. All together, we make up The Church, and God loves The Church!

I have believed for many years, and will continue to do so, that one cannot claim to love Jesus and not love the Church. Yes, she is a mess, right now, and probably always has been. But that is because She still resides on earth. Someday, She will be purified, and on that day, there will be a wedding. I have no idea what that will look like. Revelation only offers us a “through a glass darkly” picture of it, entrenched in symbolic language. But rest assured that it will be the most beautiful thing we have ever witnessed.

And what glory it will be to see your name listed among those who were “born” in her.

As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you.”
(Psalms 87:7 NIV)

I’m not going to pretend to be wise enough to completely understand verse 7, but I can sense that it is joyful. “All my fountains are in you,” shout the singers and dancers, as they make music. I will defer to the words of Matthew Henry, regarding this verse. “The springs of the joy of a carnal worldling lie in wealth and pleasure; but the springs of the joy of a gracious soul lie in the word of God and prayer. Christ is the true temple; all our springs are in him, and from him all our streams flow.”

Mr. Henry also makes mention of Isaiah 54:10.

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”
(Isaiah 54:10 NIV)

Father, I am so grateful to be a part of Your Church! I have loved the Church for as long as I can remember. When I was but a young boy, I loved “going to church.” I loved being in Sunday School, learning about and reading Your Word. After six decades, my love for Your Word has not waned. Yes, there have been periods of my life where it has been stronger and more vivid than other periods (and truthfully, I believe that this current “period” is one of those where it is quite strong), but I have always loved Your Word and Your Church. Thank You for keeping that love within me strong. I pray for Your Church, today. I can’t speak for other nations, but in this one, there is great and sorrowful division within the Body of Christ, sowed by Your enemy. I pray for unity. I pray that all people within Your Church would focus their allegiance and worship toward Jesus Christ, not toward any human being, government party, or set of policies. Let Your Word be our only “policy,” Lord! I praise You that Your love for us will never depart, nor Your peace be removed. May we focus on this, Father, and prepare ourselves for the wedding day!

May the risen Christ dwell in our hearts, Father, and may we all experience spiritual refreshing and renewal.

"King of kings,
in Your anointing is a new life.
Drenched with Your baptizing and anointing Spirit,
called by my new name,
I rise up with Jesus,
not a marginal pew warmer but a member of Christ,
a prophet,
priest,
and king.
Alive to Christ,
let me live out my true identity today.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
(Matthew 5:5 NIV)

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
(Titus 3:4-7 NIV)

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
(Romans 8:31-34 NIV)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

Pilgrimage

It is Thursday, the twenty-third of September, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,205

Nineteen days until our 36th anniversary!

Today’s header photo is, once again, courtesy of Paul Militaru.

At this point, there are no plans, as to what we might do to celebrate, this year. I’m working the evening of October 12, which is the actual anniversary. However, I am off on Wednesday of that week, because the library is having a special event on that Thursday, October 14. So instead of working Wednesday of that week, I will be working Thursday, from 12:00 to 9:00 PM. So, depending on how C is feeling that week, we may try to have a nice dinner out on Wednesday. I looked into a cabin for the weekend before, but they were booked up until Halloween weekend, and I have to work that Saturday, so we will look into a cabin stay later, maybe in November. I’ll have to wait until the November work schedule comes out to see what Saturdays I am off. Since I won’t be working Mondays after October 1, when I have a Saturday off, we could stay over Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights, and return on Tuesday in time for me to be at work by 4:15 PM.

I also don’t have an anniversary gift, yet. In years past, our “gift” has always been a big trip somewhere. But since C is still recovering from her back surgery, we thought it best to forego that, this year. So I’ve got to come up with a gift. The “official” gift for 36 years is antiques. I’m pretty sure C has no interest whatsoever in antiques, so I’m not sure what to get for her. I don’t have long, either, so I’d better hurry, huh?

I’m off work today, and the rest of the week. My next scheduled shift is Monday. Today is payday for City of Hurst employees, though, and the pay week begins tomorrow. I have no plans for the day, at all. The yard needs to get mowed by the end of the weekend. I may do that today. Or I may not. I may wait until tomorrow or Saturday. I do plan (I guess there is a “plan,” after all) to cook Pecan-Crusted Buttermilk Chicken for dinner tonight. I hope to get some serious reading done today. I’m tenaciously slogging through book five of George Martin’s GoT series, A Dance with Dragons. A co-worker complimented my resolve, last week, especially considering that Martin is unlikely to ever finish the series, since HBO ruined it for him. Oh, well. I’m stubborn, that way.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Strange, mysterious,
Are Your ways, my awesome God!
All glory to You!

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for a heart that is ever clean, not because of my own righteousness, but because of the blood of Jesus
2. that You are constantly renewing a right spirit within me
3. for Your loving presence that I feel, this morning
4. for the inheritance that is waiting for me
5. for Your awesome deeds

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK EIGHTEEN – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

I praise you because you are to be feared; all you do is strange and wonderful. I know it with all my heart.
(Psalms 139:14 GNB)

As I pause here, I consider the words in the Good News Bible, “strange and wonderful.” We say that God works in “mysterious” ways. If we were being more honest, might we not say “strange?” Do we fear that we will offend the Almighty if we call Him strange? I believe He is above being offended.

BIBLE SONG: PSALM 84:1-7 (NIV)

For the director of music. According to gittith. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! 
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God. 
Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. 

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. 
As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 
They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.

BIBLE READING: 1 SAMUEL 9:15-17; 10:1 (NIV)

Now the day before Saul came, the LORD had revealed this to Samuel: 
“About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel; he will deliver them from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked on my people, for their cry has reached me.” 
When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the LORD said to him, “This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.”
Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the LORD anointed you ruler over his inheritance? 

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I am surrounded by Your loving presence, this morning. This enables me to find hope in Your words, when the words of others, all around, tend to seem hopeless. Direct my thoughts and meditations to places in Your Word, that I might receive truth and inspiration therein.

Psalm 84 is one of those that is definitely singable. In fact, Matt Redman gave us a pretty good way to sing it, a number of years ago.

No, most certainly, when the “Sons of Korah” wrote this psalm, they had a physical location in mind. There was a physical Temple, with the “courts of the Lord,” and a place called “Holy of Holies.”

We live in the aftermath of Jesus, when the veil/curtain that separated the courts from the Holiest place was torn in two, from top to bottom, forever removing the barrier between us and the Father. So the “dwelling place” of our God is now within us, in our souls.

That being said, there is something special about being in a “house of God,” which is one thing I do miss, as we are part of a “house church,” currently. But our God does not dwell in buildings made of brick and mortar. His dwelling place is with us.

We are blessed, too, when our strength is in Him, and our hearts are set on pilgrimage. What does “pilgrimage” mean? For the ancient Israelites, it meant a yearly, long (for some of them) trek to Jerusalem, an uphill climb that spawned a group of Psalms known as “Songs of Ascent.” The word, though, simply means, “a pilgrim’s journey.”

So what is a “pilgrim?” The literal definition is “a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons.” But it can also mean, “a person regarded as journeying through life.” I lean toward the second definition in our context. I’m not traveling to a sacred place.

Or am I?

Truly, my final, ultimate destination is “Home.” Not this house that I currently live in, in Fort Worth, Texas. This is a temporary dwelling. Someday, it will eventually be lived in by strangers. Or perhaps demolished and something else built here. Just like everything else on this planet, it is temporary.

I am, in a sense, on a “pilgrimage” to another land, another place, a place that will be permanent. A place whether neither moth nor rust can corrupt, and thieves cannot break in and steal. An incorruptible inheritance. It is not depressing to me to think these things. On the contrary, it is uplifting and exciting, and fills my heart with longing. These kinds of thoughts have also had an impact on my “collectible” nature. I used to collect a lot of things. I still have a corner shelf full of Marvin the Martian stuff. I have quite a bit of baseball memorabilia. But I have pretty much stopped getting new collectibles.

Why?

Because, what good are they? That’s why? After I move on from this plane, there might be one person left who cares about the baseball stuff, and after her, who will care? And surely no one will care about the Marvin the Martian stuff.

Listen . . . have you ever been to an estate sale? If you have not, I challenge you to find one soon. Go to a house where the owners are no longer alive, and all of their stuff is being sold off. C and I went to one in Cleburne, earlier this year and scored an almost mint-condition set of designer luggage for $75! I’m sure that this luggage cost well over $500 when new, and would never have considered buying it at that price.

But don’t go, necessarily, for bargains. Walk around. Look at the stuff. There will be clothes, decorations, kitchen appliances, books, records. Essentially, you will see someone’s life for sale.

I’m going to get to a point, here in a minute. Thank you for your patience. Again, this is not designed to be depressing, but, rather, the opposite. But for someone who has no hope in Christ, I can see how depressing it can be.

Almost every day, now, I see, on Facebook, some kind of post that either begins with “Remember when” or “Does anyone remember . . .” My generation is stuck living in the past. They cry and moan about how different things are and how “kids today just don’t appreciate . . . ” (fill in the blank). I’ve gotten to where I will scroll past most of those. I don’t want to live in the past. I don’t want to focus on what was. I want to look forward! I want to see what’s coming!

“You can’t take it with you.”

That reminds me of another song, this one by the Alan Parsons Project.

Well, I sympathize completely,
But there's nothing I can do.
I am just a humble servant
With a message here for you.
Well I know you have good reasons
And there's things you've got to do,
But the boatman won't be waiting
And he's leaving here with you.
And you can't take it with you,
No matter what you do.
No, you can't take it with you,
Not the place you're going to...

I’m on a pilgrimage to another land. I’m heading Home, and none of this junk can go with me. And the beauty of it is that, when I get there, when I find that mansion that my Savior is preparing for me, the furnishings will be infinitely more beautiful and grand than anything I have ever “possessed” on this planet. Either that, or they will be entirely simple, and I will be oh, so satisfied, because I will be gazing at the face of my Lord.

Father, I thank You for these truths. I praise You that there is an eternal Home waiting for me, that Jesus has prepared for me. I thank you, actually, that I cannot, in fact, take any of this junk with me. If I could, I would be burdened over trying to decide which things to take and which things to leave. And when all I ultimately want is You, anyway, why would I want to be burdened with all of this junk? I praise You that You dwell within us, and that one day, we will also dwell within You. I don’t really know what that great city is going to look like, with its streets of gold, and its river running through the middle, and that strange fruit tree that grows twelve different kinds of fruit. I fully expect that fruit to be the most delicious fruit I have ever tasted. Father, I pray that You would rescue Your children from the snares that they have fallen into, what with all of this living in the past. May we look forward, with hopeful eyes, to that Home where You will someday take us!

Don’t always be asking, “Where are the good old days?” Wise folks don’t ask questions like that.
(Ecclesiastes 7:10 MSG)

Father, I pray for a yearning to know You more and the power of Your resurrection. Let me also experience the joy of Your salvation, as well. I pray for any family members or friends who do not have a joyous relationship with You.

"Governing God,
You have ordained prime ministers and presidents,
premiers and governors,
mayors and civic officials to support a flourishing social life.
Today I pray for these leaders,
that You would lead them to rule wisely and well,
for the good of all people.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are those who mourn; God will comfort them!
(Matthew 5:4 GNB)

By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas;
(Psalms 65:5 ESV)

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—
(1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV)

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
(Philippians 1:21-23 ESV)

For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.
(Colossians 1:4-5 NLT)

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
(2 Timothy 4:6-8 NLT)

Most of our “worst-case scenarios” end in death. One of my biggest fears is being first in line, at the railroad crossing, when the train derails. I mean, seriously, there is nowhere to go, nowhere to run. You might be able to get out of the car before train cars crash into it. Maybe.

But for those of us who are believers in Christ, what happens after death? Scroll up a bit . . . read about that eternal inheritance I’ve been going on about. So the worst thing that can happen to me on earth? My “worst-case scenario?” Sends me to my eternal Home.

So what do I have to fear?

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Pour Out Your Heart

Today is Sunday, the nineteenth of September, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,201

Only three more days until the beginning of Autumn!!

Twenty-four years ago today, we lost Rich Mullins. Here is one of his songs that I like.

I especially like the following verse:

Now the Lord said Church you better love
‘Cause it’s a wounded world that needs a healing touch
And He gave us a promise and He gave us a job
He’ll be with us but the work is up to us
It’s up to us
And the Lord is sure speaking to you
So set aside your pride and your anger too
To say that time is short just means the time is now
Every tongue will confess and every knee is going to bow
Every knee is gonna bow to the truth and say it
Alrightokuhhuhamen say it
Alrightokuhhuhamen

I had a great day at “work,” yesterday. It was relatively quiet at the library, yesterday, with brief flurries of activity. There was also minimal staff on hand, as well, so it was even quiet in that way. I spent most of my day at the circulation desk, but did a little shelving, and helped out the computer center for a bit, giving someone a lunch break. And the highlight of my day was reuniting a little girl with her stuffed rabbit that she had lost.

I successfully picked up our grocery order, right after work, then cooked burgers for S and me, after I got everything put away. We have a supplemental order being delivered from Albertson’s, this morning. The one thing I haven’t managed to find, yet is another cauliflower pizza crust. Both Walmart and Albertson’s seem to be out of them.

We have our church gathering on Zoom, this morning at 10:15. I’m sure we will have Applebee’s for lunch, and, at some point, I need to return the ATT Internet gateway to a FedEx location to be shipped back to ATT. We have been happy, so far, with our Spectrum Internet. We had a brief moment, yesterday morning, when it was interrupted, but it came back quickly. I’m consistently still getting three times the speed that I was previously getting from ATT.

There are no other plans, today. My next scheduled work shift is Tuesday, from 11:15 to 8:15.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

On this Sunday, day of rest,
Teach me, Lord, Your ways.
Fill me to fullness, with joy.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O LORD my God,
I will give thanks to you forever!
(Psalms 30:11-12 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You have clothed me with gladness
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for the fullness of joy found in Your presence
4. that You will answer our prayers of desperation, when we pour out our hearts before You
5. for the trumpet call that will one day sound

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK EIGHTEEN – DAY ONE

INVITATION

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
(Psalms 139:14 NIV)

I pause, momentarily, to lift up prayer needs to You, focusing on the joy that comes from being in Your presence. Your works are, indeed, wonderful, I know that full well.

BIBLE SONG

Restore us, O God;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved.
How long, LORD God Almighty,
will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears;
you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.
You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors, and our enemies mock us.

Restore us, God Almighty;
make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.
(Psalms 80:3-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah . . . He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.
Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh . . .
Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the LORD’s house. In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “LORD Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”
“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.”
(1 Samuel 1:1-3A, 9-17, 20 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I look for ways in which the Holy Spirit has moved me through them. I meditate on what He has shown my heart, and pray concerning what moves me. I turn my thoughts to Him and rest quietly in His presence.

Asaph, the psalmist for Psalm 80, sings a prayer of restoration. Again, as we have seen recently, questions are asked of the Lord. How long will Your anger smolder against Your people (or against their prayers, actually)?

Father, I know that there are many and more, within Your Church, who are praying for relief and restoration of Your favor. We are living in times that are unlike any we have ever seen. There is division; there is suffering; and there seems to be no end in sight to this pandemic. As I pray about these things, I focus my prayers on Your people, the Church. I do not focus my prayers on a country, a nation, a race, or a state, with political boundaries. When Asaph prays that You would “restore us,” he is speaking of Israel, Your people. When I pray that same prayer, I speak of Your Church, the New Covenant equivalent of Israel. We have, it seems, become the object of derision “to our neighbors,” as many and more, within us, have made foolish choices. “Restore us, God Almighty; make Your face shine on us, that we may be saved.”

In the passage from First Samuel, we see the origins of Samuel. whose name means “heard of God.” A desperate mother prays for a son, making promises to the Lord. He hears her and gives her a son, who becomes one of the greatest prophets Israel has ever known. Hannah, Samuel’s mother, prayed so desperately that Eli, the priest, thought she was inebriated, having drunk too much wine.

Have you ever poured out your soul to God in such a way that someone thought you were drunk?

Father, help us to be more diligent in pouring out our hearts to You, with no regard to what others might think of us. Hannah cared not what Eli thought of her murmurings, as she poured out her heart to You, desperate for a son. Help us also to honor any promises we might make to You, as we express our desires, and may we not be frivolous or capricious as we make those promises. Help us to be more faithful to You, in love, both to You and our fellow man, and in obedience to the commands that You have given to us. And then, as we walk in obedience and love, may we find that fullness of joy that we get in Your presence, and pleasures forevermore, at Your right hand.

I’m reminded of a worship song lyric:

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
And great are You, Lord

It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

(Great Are You, Lord, by All Sons & Daughters)

Father, I pray for resurrection hope and joy to fill my life. Enable and strength me to share the Gospel of the living Jesus as I walk in Your Kingdom.

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.

"Heavenly Father,
when I come to the end of my rope,
my strength,
my self,
I'm finally open to the help You offer.
Teach me then,
God,
the basics of prayer,
like 'help,'
'please,'
and 'thank You.'
In the name of Jesus,
amen."

That reminds me of a book title. Help Thanks Wow, by Anne Lamott. I haven’t read it, yet, but it’s on my list.

BLESSING

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4 NIV)

“Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation.
(Leviticus 23:24 ESV)

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.
(Matthew 24:31 ESV)

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
(1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ESV)

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.
(1 Thessalonians 4:16 ESV)

Waiting for those trumpets . . .

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

Learning To Live

Today is Tuesday, the fourteenth of September, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,196

Eight more days until the beginning of Autumn!

We wound up having to get a new Keurig, yesterday. We replaced the pod holder, because the bottom needle had broken off of the existing one, but that didn’t fix the problem, as it only worked for a few cups. We actually downgraded ours, though, and didn’t spend quite as much. We got a “K-Select” for ninety-nine dollars. It’s basic. Power switch, a “strong” button, and four cup size buttons. No screen display or clock. C was concerned, at first, because she likes having the coffee maker on when she gets up (whenever she returns to her “normal” routine), but I convinced her that it only takes, at the absolute longest, three minutes to warm up when you turn it on. I think it’s more like two. My first cup, this morning, tastes as good as the ones that the more expensive model made.

Today is my late day. I work from 11:15-8:15. The first half of the day will be spent in shelving, and the second half in the computer center, so I will be going through the closing routine in the CC. Yesterday was probably the most challenging day I’ve had at the circulation desk. I felt less than adequate a few times, but the assistant librarian assured me that I was okay, acknowledging that is so much to learn, and there are a lot of circumstances that aren’t going to come up but once in a blue moon, so remembering those every time is unlikely. She also encouraged me in that there is always someone on hand who can answer my questions. It wasn’t that I made any mistakes, at least that I know of, but it seemed like I needed more help than usual.

It’s mostly me, I know. I want to be perfect, so when I’m not (which is, of course, always), it discourages me. All that being said, it is still the best job I’ve ever had, so it wasn’t that discouraging. I also have to take note of the fact that one lady who has been working there for twenty-four years still has to go ask questions of the manager and assistant librarians.

We apparently got a good, strong rain, yesterday at the house. I have no idea if it rained at the library, as I was inside the whole time, and never heard any rainy sounds. There is a twenty-one percent chance of more today, with a projected high of only eighty-eight degrees.

Today is Gobstopper Day, fascinating, since yesterday was Roald Dahl Day. Of course, jawbreakers have been around much longer than the Gobstopper brand, which was introduced by Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’m a fan of them, myself. One of those things can last for quite a while, in your mouth. Unless, of course, you start chewing, like the owl in the Tootsie Pop commercial.

The word for today is camion. Not real exciting, unless you’re into trucks and stuff. It’s “a truck, as for military supplies.”‘

“It was a wicked, blowy day, and I crept into a wrecked ‘camion‘ and sheltered there, and ate some lunch and slept a little.” (My War Experiences in Two Continents, by Sarah MacNaughton)

Today’s quote is from Honore de Balzac, French Novelist. “It is easy to sit up and take notice, What is difficult is getting up and taking action.”

Significant birthdays on September fourteenth:

Margaret Sanger, American nurse and early feminist, 1879-1966
Clayton Moore, American actor (The Lone Ranger), 1914-1999
Walter Koenig, American actor (Chekov - Star Trek), 1936 (85)
Walter Koenig as Chekov
Joey Heatherton, American dancer & actress, 1944 (77)
Sam Neill, New Zealand actor (Jurassic Park), 1947 (74)
Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant

Ed King, American rock guitarist, bass player, and songwriter (Strawberry Alarm Clock, Lynyrd Skynyrd), 1949-2018

Ed King, playing guitar on the left in the gold suit
Barry Cowsill, American bassist (The Cowsills), 1954-2005
Amy Winehouse, British singer/songwriter, 1983-2011

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Distances, by S. Michaels, LightWriters

Between here
and there we
learn to live
 
©2021 S. Michaels
Simplifying
(Retro Haiku/3-3-3)

Nine simple syllables that nail, so well, the whole purpose of this life . . . learning to live as a citizen of an eternal kingdom, a “country of life.”

I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.
(Psalms 138:2 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your unfailing love and faithfulness; I cannot express enough gratitude for these
2. for Your great and precious promises, backed by "all the honor of Your Name"
3. that You are not on any human's side, but on Your side, acting and speaking for the glory of Your great Name
4. that Your Name is near to all people, regardless of nation, tribe, race, sex, or class
5. that You have drawn me into a place where my heart's desire is to sing Your praises forever

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SEVENTEEN – DAY THREE

INVITATION

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

I pause, briefly, during the quiet moment, to praise Him for His unfailing love and faithfulness. Simply praying back the words of Psalm 138:2 provides a sense of well-being that is indescribable. Joy abounds.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A psalm of Asaph. A song.

We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds.

You say, “I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge with equity.
When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm.
To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns.
Do not lift your horns against heaven; do not speak so defiantly.'”

No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves. It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.
As for me, I will declare this forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob,
who says, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.”
(Psalms 75:1-7, 9-10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
(Joshua 5:13-15 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to rest in the presence of the Lord, I linger over these passages a little longer, finding fuel for my life, for my day, that I might walk in His presence and learn to live as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.

The Name of the Lord is near; this is always true, for any person, regardless of who they are, where they are, or even what they believe. The deepest, darkest soul of the most bitter atheist would find that the Name of the Lord is near, would they simply open their eyes to see.

When we question God, “How long?” He answers, “I choose the appointed time.” When we try to exalt ourselves, arrogantly, He declares, “No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves. It is God who judges: He brings one down, He exalts another.”

And then verse 9, which I have copied and pasted into an image, and will say, along with Asaph, “As for me, I will declare this forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob.”

The passage from Joshua brings home something that is needed for us all to understand, especially those who elevate themselves, arrogantly, to proclaim that God is “on their side.” When Joshua saw this “angel” (Matthew Henry believes that this “man” was actually the Son of God), he asked Him, are you on our side or our enemy’s side?

The answer is very important. “Neither.”

God is not on any human’s side. God is on God’s side. And I will, again, declare this forever, that I will sing praises to Him, and do my dead-level best to be on HIS side.

Father, thank You for these stories that show us Your truth, that You are not on my side, or my enemy’s side, but You are on the side of the Holy Trinity. I pray that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I will always stand on Your side. When I stray, when I begin believing, foolishly, that I know better, smack me up side the head until I think straight. Don’t let me stray from Your path, from Your promises, from the glory of Your great Name. Thank You for the songs that You put on my lips, to sing Your praises forever. I look forward, with great anticipation, to the day when I can sing Your praises to Your face.

Lord, help me to follow Your calling into my neighborhood and work place, that I might live a life that shows Your great love to everyone with whom I come in contact. I pray for the peace and well-being of my community, both faith and physical. I pray, specifically, today, for all first responders and people who put their lives on the line, daily, for our protection.

"Sovereign God,
I want to claim You for my cause,
but You will not be made a mascot for my squad;
You call me to Your kingdom.
Rule me by Your Word and Spirit so that more and more I may stand on the holy ground of obedience to You.
In the name of Christ,
amen."

BLESSING

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

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
(Mark 10:13-16 ESV)

But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
(Luke 18:16-17 ESV)

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.
(Hebrews 13:1-3 ESV)

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
(Mark 1:35 ESV)

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”
(Mark 10:29-30 ESV)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
(John 15:1-5 ESV)

Father, prune me until there is nothing left that does not love You the way a child loves.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

Justice, Mercy, and Righteousness

Today is Saturday, September 11, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,193

Eleven more days until the Autumnal Equinox, the official beginning of Autumn

Temperatures are beginning to drop a bit, already, as Fall approaches. Over the next ten days, today’s projected high of 94 (the upper limit of “warm,” in my view) is the highest temp predicted. We have a couple of days that may not reach 90, with possible rain and/or thunderstorms on those days. Yesterday morning, around ten or so, C and I went out and walked up and down our street, and it was rather nice out.

Speaking of C, she is experiencing a bit more pain, this morning, but hasn’t taken any pain meds since mid-day, yesterday (I think). I commented to her, yesterday, that this has not gone anything like I had envisioned, pre-surgery. I seriously had this picture of her being completely immobile for, like, at least a week. Little did I know that they stress getting up and moving around for quicker recovery, which is awesome.

There isn’t much on the agenda for today. Grocery pickup between 11 and 12, and probably either a delivery from or trip to Albertson’s to get things we don’t get from Walmart Neighborhood Market. I cooked Pecan-Crusted Buttermilk Chicken for dinner, last night, so the leftovers from that will be lunch, today.

Today is No News is Good News Day. It would probably be a good idea to not look at any news for a day or so, every now and then. I saw a great meme yesterday that talked about how news was pre-Internet. Back in those days, we only got hit with “bad news” once or twice a day. Now, with Internet access and 26/7 “news” sources, we get barraged with bad news constantly. It’s bad for our mental health, and I believe that this is evident in the state of the world around us. People are simply going mad all over.

Speaking of bad news, our Keurig coffee maker just broke. Fortunately, I had one cup already. The second attempt made a nice mess, and we discovered that the bottom needle, that punctures the bottom of the K-cup, was broken off. Also fortunately, we discovered that we can buy a whole new cup-holder insert thingy (technical language, there) for less than $20, and for a mere $2.99, have it delivered this afternoon. Cheaper than paying $200+ for a new coffee maker!

The word for today is yclept. This one is a little strange. On the actual definition page, it says that it is a past participle of clepe, which means “to call; name.” It’s an archaic word, seldom used in today’s world.

Today’s quote is another from Oscar Wilde: “Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.” More and more, I find this to be true.

Significant birthdays on September 11:

O. Henry, American short story writer (William Sydney Porter), 1862-1910
Tom Landry, American NFL player (NY Giants) and coach (Dallas Cowboys), 1924-2000
Virginia Madsen, American actress, 1961 (60)
Kristy McNichol, American actress, 1962 (59)
Moby (Richard Hall), American musician, 1965 (56)
Harry Connick Jr, American singer, 1967 (54)
Ariana Richards, American actress (Lex in the original Jurassic Park), 1979 (42)
Jacoby Ellsbury, Native American MLB player (first full-blooded Navajo in MLB; debuted with Boston Red Sox), 1983 (38)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

As I Am, by Daryl Madden

Lord, let us pray
As I am, where I am

For you love me
As I am, where I am

Receive Your love
As I am, where I am

And share Your love
As I am, where I am

A life divine
Where I am, As I AM

All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!
(Psalms 145:10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that wherever I am, You are, and always have been
2. that You love me just as I am, and always have
3. for the example of people like Moses, in Your Word
4. for the admonition to pray for justice and righteousness in our leaders
5. that You work mercy for the afflicted and oppressed

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SIXTEEN – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

Yahweh is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knows those who take refuge in him.
(Nahum 1:7 WEB)

This morning, as I pause during this quiet time, I consider Your loving presence in my life, the fact that You are always, and have always been, present with me, and loving me, just as I am.

BIBLE SONG

Of Solomon.

Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor.

Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.
(Psalms 72:1-4, 18-19 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the LORD showed him the whole land . . . Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”
And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.
Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
(Deuteronomy 34:1a, 4-7, 10-12 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

There are some biblical passages that are always more challenging than others, especially when it comes to meditation. As I linger over these selections, this morning, I’m leaning heavily on the Holy Spirit to show me what I should be learning from them.

Right off the bat, I see, in the passage from Psalm 72, that this would be a good prayer to pray for the leadership of any nation. We don’t have a “king,” but we have a President and Vice-President, as well as other elected leaders. So it is good to pray for the Lord to “endow” these leaders with justice and righteousness. It is good to pray that our court’s judges, all across our land, would judge people with righteousness and equity, and especially treat the afflicted and oppressed with justice.

It is good to pray for prosperity in our land, whether it come from the “mountains” or the seas or the plains. And then, in verse 4, we see the prayer that our leaders would defend afflicted, rescue or save the children of the needy, and “crush the oppressor.” I love this prayer, as I would love to see oppression cease all over the world.

The ending of the psalm is simply a hymn of praise, requesting, finally, that the whole earth be filled with the glory of the Lord. A wonderful prayer for any time and any place.

In the Deuteronomy passage, we see the ending of an era in the history of Israel. After Moses’s lengthy farewell speech, which takes up most of the book of Deuteronomy (the word “Deuteronomion” literally means “the second law”), he is allowed to view the Promised Land from Mount Nebo, and then he died in Moab. According to verse 6, the Lord, Himself, buried Moses in Moab, and no one knows where his grave is located. So even the bones of Moses were not allowed to enter the Promised Land.

We also learn that Moses lived to be 120 years old, and maintained full vision and bodily strength. Whoever tagged on the last couple of verses made note that there was never another prophet in Israel who equaled Moses, “whom the LORD knew face to face.”

We learn a lot from following the life of Moses, but the thing that I am most grateful for is that we see his faults. Even though he performed some pretty miraculous deeds (or, rather, he was the vessel and channel for those deeds, as it was truly the Lord who did them), he was flawed in many ways. As previously noted, it is always good to see that the people that God used were (are) human in every way, possessing the same kinds of flaws that you and I possess.

Father, I thank You for the examples of the people in the Bible, people like Moses and Aaron, who, while they did some pretty great things, also had some pretty great faults. This gives me encouragement and hope, and helps me to not focus so much on my faults, but, rather, on the things that You are able to do in spite of those faults. Help me to pray more effectively, following the examples given me in the Psalms. Solomon’s Psalm today, encourages me to pray more fervently for the leaders of my country and state, and even my local leaders. I do pray, Lord for the just and righteous treatment of those who are afflicted and oppressed, and relief for their children. I also pray that You would, indeed, crush the oppressors, both in our own land, and around the world.

I pray that Your Church would work for the common good and benefit of the communities in which she resides, all over the nation. May “deep care, bold love, and rich community” be experienced within the walls and boundaries of Your Church, wherever and however she meets. I pray for Your Holy Spirit to be active in the elders and leaders within the churches.

"Ancient of Days,
I don't have enough days in my lifetime to see the complete fulfillment of Your kingdom vision.
But give me the faith to embrace and act on Your promises for this life and the world to come,
whether or not I see its fruit.
By faith,
help me to invest the days You have given me for the good of the world,
with a living hope for Your coming kingdom.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:29-30 WEB)

To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
(Psalms 123:1 ESV)

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt.
(Psalms 123:2-3 ESV)

My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies.
(Song of Solomon 2:16 ESV)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
(Titus 2:11-14 ESV)

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 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. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.
(1 John 4:10-19 ESV)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.

The LORD is Great

Today is Thursday, the ninth of September, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,191

Thirteen days until the Autumnal Equinox signals the official end of Summer. The days are, of course, already getting shorter, and I noted that, this past Tuesday evening, when I got off work at 8:15, it was already mostly dark.

The big news today is that I awoke to find my first Social Security payment deposited to our checking account! This, of course, make us breathe a bit easier, because we know this is done, and we know what we will see each month.

The first thing I did was to reactivate my WW (formerly Weight Watchers) account, but as a digital only account. I will not be attending meetings, but will continue using the digital tools. I need that “crutch” in my journey. For the past month, I have felt like I was walking in the dark. Digital-only is less than half of the full price, and I’m getting a pretty good discount from that for the first six months, because I committed to at least six months. My first month is free, and I will pay $15-ish for the next five months, then it will go to full price, $21.95.

C continues to improve. In fact, she said that she did not take any pain meds during the night last night. She did take one around 8:00 this morning, but that is exciting to hear.

I have no idea what I will do for the rest of today, after finishing this. I have a couple things in mind, to do today and/or tomorrow (or maybe both). And the reality of retirement is finally sinking in, since that SS payment appeared, today. It is a remarkably peaceful and calming feeling.

Today is Wonderful Weirdos Day. Embrace your inner weirdo.

The word for today is glitz, a noun which means, “ostentatious glitter or sophistication.” Glitz is helpful in celebrating Wonderful Weirdos Day. It can also be used as a verb. “I glitzed myself up for Wonderful Weirdos Day.”

Today’s quote is from E. Joseph Cossman, an American inventor. “Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.” There is great truth to this. I am reminded of Peter’s brief walk on the water. As soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus, his goal, he saw the waves and began to sink.

Significant birthdays on September 9:

William Bligh, British naval commander on the infamous HMS Bounty, 1754-1817
Leo Tolstoy, Russian author (War and Peace, Anna Karenina), 1828-1910
Harlan Sanders, the Colonel (KFC), 1890-1980
Phyllis Whitney, American mystery author, 1903-2008
Otis Redding, singer/songwriter (Dock of the Bay), 1941-1967
The first posthumously released single to reach #1 on the charts
Doug Ingle, rock vocalist (Iron Butterfly), 1946 (76)
Jeffrey Combs, American actor (Re-Animator, From Beyond, and other Lovecraftian films, as well as a number of Star Trek characters), 1954 (67)
Hugh Grant, English actor (Notting Hill, Love Actually, About A Boy), 1960 (61)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

God Speaks, by Daryl Madden

A truth that we know
God is everywhere
Let it come to reason
That He is speaking here

In this very moment
In all we feel and see
Heard within the silence
How is He calling me?

A gift of nature’s beauty
Wisdom in the Word
A soul within the way
Event that has occurred

Let us come to practice
Attune the soul to hear
The joy within the binding
Where each thought is a prayer

“This is what the LORD says: You have said, ‘This is a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’ Yet in the empty streets of Jerusalem and Judah’s other towns, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the LORD. They will sing, ‘Give thanks to the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, for the LORD is good. His faithful love endures forever!’ For I will restore the prosperity of this land to what it was in the past, says the LORD.
(Jeremiah 33:10-11 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my Social Security payment coming in
2. for C's continued improvement
3. for the promises of joyful singing and praise in Your eternal kingdom
4. that my life is full of Your blessings
5. that You are great and mighty

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SIXTEEN – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

The LORD is good; he protects his people in times of trouble; he takes care of those who turn to him.
(Nahum 1:7 GNB)

As I pause in this quiet moment, I meditate on the joyous potential in our encounters and interactions in God’s presence. I try to focus on that presence as I begin meditating on His Word.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. Of David. A petition.

Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly, LORD, to help me.

May those who want to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” turn back because of their shame. But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The LORD is great!”

But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; LORD, do not delay.
(Psalms 70:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:
You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.
The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.
You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.
The LORD will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the LORD your God and walk in obedience to him. Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will fear you.
(Deuteronomy 28:1-6, 9-10 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I ask the Holy Spirit to guide my meditations and prayers.

David asks for protection from those who seek his life, but then he also asks that everyone who is actively seeking the Lord be able to rejoice and be glad in Him. Again, as previously noted, as far as I know, I have no humans seeking to take my life. I do, however, as do all followers of Christ, have spiritual enemies who would seek to derail and discredit my testimony. For me, though, the more important piece of this is praying for my brothers and sisters in Christ, that they are able to rejoice, be glad in Him, and be able to confidently say, “The LORD is great!”

In Deuteronomy, we see some promises, or, perhaps, consequences to obedience. I realize that this is specifically directed, by Moses, to Israel. Fair enough. But what can we glean from it, in 2021?

First of all, this idea of fully obeying “all His commands,” has, I believed has effectively been narrowed down to those two “jobs” I keep talking about. Love God and love people. Jesus has informed us that these two commands summarize the entirety of the Law and the Prophets.

If we can do those things, I believe that there are certain consequences that are presented here. No, we aren’t promised a “rose garden.” But we will have blessed lives. I believe that I have seen this come true in my own family. It’s not perfect. But neither am I. I have not been perfect in keeping those two commands, not by a long shot. But I believe that I have a blessed life. And I believe that I can take that stance by keeping my eyes focused on the Lord and His blessings, and not on those obstacles mentioned by our quote of the day.

As for the promises regarding being a “holy people,” and other nations fearing them, I also believe that those are exclusive to Old Testament Israel.

Father, I praise You for my blessed life. I thank You for Your greatness, displayed in my life and in the lives of others who follow You faithfully. I thank You that, long ago, You placed it in my heart to love You and love others. I am grateful that You are helping me more with the loving others part of this, lately. Most of all, I am grateful that I can proclaim, along with Israel, “The LORD is great!”

Help me to grow in holiness, as I grow in You. I pray that You would continue to uncover and reveal any idols that might still be in my heart. I thank You for Your forgiveness, and pray for Your help in extending that to others.

"Good God,
I know You're the source of everything good -
Your generous care and daily blessing are steadily on display.
Help me also know the call of Your blessing -
that I will never fully enjoy Your blessing until it's enjoyed by all.
Make me a blessing to all in my life so they too know Your goodness.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.”
(Matthew 11:29-30 GNB)

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16:7 NIV)

A Psalm of David.

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)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

With Heart, Soul, and Strength

Today is Tuesday, the seventh of September, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,189

Fifteen days until the Autumnal Equinox

Today is Buy A Book Day. I’m sorry, but it seems to me that these two days are reversed. Yesterday should have been Buy A Book Day, because don’t you have to buy it first, to read it? Of course, since I work at a library, I know that you don’t actually have to buy a book in order to read it. But you do have to, in some way or form, acquire a book before reading it. Either way, both the prospects of buying and reading books make me quite happy.

The word for today is lucubrate. Now, if you’re like me, and you are, sometimes, you initially saw lubricate. Look again. Lucubrate is a verb that means, “to work, write, or study laboriously, especially at night.” When I was in college, I lucubrated frequently.

Today’s quote is from Henry Miller: “The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”

Significant birthdays on September 7:

Elizabeth I, Queen of England, 1533-1603
Grandma Moses, painter, 1860-1961
Al Caiola, guitar player, 1920-2016
Arthur Ferrante, piano player (Ferrante & Teicher), 1921-2009
Don Messick, voice actor (Bam-Bam, Astro, Scooby-Doo), 1926-1997
Buddy Holly, musician, 1936-1959
Leslie Jones, comedian/actress (Saturday Night Live), 1967 (54)

There’s really nothing new to mention, personally. Things are humming along as usual. Well, “as usual,” since last Thursday’s back surgery for C. But there are no new developments to speak of. A PT person is scheduled for this morning at 10:30, and today is a regular work day for me, 11:15-8:15, at the library. I believe I will be spending half of my day in shelving and half in the computer center.

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.

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.
(Philippians 1:3 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that there are people in my life that cause the above verse to be true
2. that You are good, my stronghold, and my refuge
3. for the easy yoke of Jesus
4. for the ability desire to sing praises to You
5. that You are with me wherever I go

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SIXTEEN – DAY THREE

INVITATION

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.
(Nahum 1:7 ESV)

I pause in this quiet moment to consider the goodness of the Lord in my life.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. A song.

May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him. May you blow them away like smoke— as wax melts before the fire, may the wicked perish before God. But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the LORD. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
(Psalms 68:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
(Deuteronomy 6:3-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

What does it mean to “dwell?” Of course, a primary definition is to live somewhere. I “dwell” in Fort Worth, Texas. However, Webster’s first definition is “to remain for a time.” If we take this spiritually, it means to spend some time reflecting on a particular passage of Scripture, as I do, each morning, at this point. I’m looking more closely at the passages at hand, reflecting, meditating, looking for deeper meaning.

The unnamed psalmist calls for God’s enemies to be scattered before Him. Who among us would not heartily echo this cry? However, caution is advised, as we might be surprised at who those “enemies” turn out to be. “May the righteous be glad and rejoice,” he says. I pray for this, as well. If we are righteous, gladness and joy should be in evidence. No, we don’t have to be “happy” all the time. But neither should we be spending the majority of our time in anger.

We are called to sing to God, in praise of His name. He who is a father to the fatherless, and a defender of the widows. I pray, today, that He will set the lonely in families, and lead out the prisoners with singing.

The passage from Deuteronomy is famous for being the source of Jesus’s first and greatest command. Moses is still speaking, here. He calls on the people to obey, once again, “that it may go well with you.” The command: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” To paraphrase it, Love the Lord with every ounce, every part, of your being.

The Israelites took the next part literally. They created “phylacteries” to help them remember. They literally carried God’s commands around on their wrists and foreheads.

I have not personally seen any of these devices. We, in our day, try to obey this thought by memorizing God’s Word. I’m not as convinced of the necessity of this as I used to be. Perhaps it is not as important to literally have the Bible memorized, word for word, as it is to understand what it says and doesn’t say. I pray for wisdom, that I might understand and comprehend God’s Word. To help with this, I meditate on it. I think about it; I “chew” on it. And I depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Father, I pray for Your help in understanding Your Word, in living it, in obeying the two main commands that sum up the Law and the Prophets. Teach me to adequately perform those two jobs, loving You and loving people. Loving some people is really hard, I confess. Please help me to set aside opinions, especially ones that don’t matter in the grand scheme of Your plan for us. I also pray that You help me to be one who is filled with joy and gladness and sings the praises of Your great Name.

Father, I also pray that You would give us, Your people, a love and commitment to the communities in which we have been placed. Please equip us to serve properly in those communities, with our unique gifts. I specifically pray for Your strength and blessings on people who work in governments and in the area of law.

"Triune God,
You are a community of three united in selfless love,
each person utterly and completely for the other.
Remind me again that this is the grain of the universe,
that unless I live in love,
for You and for others,
I'm not living in the flow of Your one love,
or for that matter,
really living at all.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:29-30 ESV)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 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)

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
(Isaiah 12:3 ESV)

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”
(Isaiah 55:1 ESV)

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:13-14 ESV)

Father, keep me satisfied by the Living Water.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

Reminding God What He Said

Today is Friday, the third of September, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,185

Three days until Labor Day!

C’s surgery went well, yesterday. It took roughly the expected amount of time, and the doctor said everything went as planned. After about another hour and a half, I finally got to visit her in the room. Currently, we are not allowed in recovery.

She was in pain, but the initial blockers were still working, plus she was trying to “stay ahead of the pain” with the push-button pain relief in her IV. She was groggy and falling in and out of sleep, which is to be expected.

Around 3:00 PM, the PT person arrived, with the goal of simply getting C to stand up, assisted by a walker. C, being the habitual over-achiever that she is, wound up walking around the nurses’ station twice! She used the walker, but had no assistance (that I could see) from the therapist. Last night, around 9:00, she texted me to tell me that she walked around three times, the second time, and that the attending nurse (the PT will be back this morning) was certain that she would be released today.

This morning, she has noted on Facebook that the blocker has worn off, and that the pain is a little more intense. She still has the IV pain meds, though. I’m not sure what all they have prescribed her for home, but she already has most, if not all of it, here at the house. I know that Hydrocodone is one of them. She is slightly afraid of that particular medication, but I feel relatively sure that she will take at least some of them.

In about fifteen minutes, I’m due to take Cleopatra to the vet clinic for her spaying. I hid all of the food and water in R’s old bedroom, last night, and put the toilet lids down, because I have observed Cleo drinking from the toilet. This morning, when I got up at 6:00, all the cats were looking at me, like, “Well???” I told them I would feed them after I got back from the vet clinic, but I don’t think they understood me. As a matter of fact, Rocky (Russian Blue, short for Rachmaninoff) is, at this exact moment, attempting to lift the toilet lid in the master bathroom. Or it might have been Luna (tuxedo kitty).

I also told Cleo to not be discouraged, that we were not, in fact, abandoning her, even though it might seem that way. I don’t think she understood me, either. But perhaps reassuring tones of voice help.

Anyway, in about five minutes, or so, I will be interrupting my typing to take her to the vet.

Okay. I’m back, and have made my breakfast. Thanks for waiting.

I would like to share a story; something that happened to me, yesterday afternoon, while I was driving home from the hospital. I was on Hwy 183, westbound, when I heard a horrendous, loud, “POW,” and I swear I felt vibrations, as though I had struck something. But there was nothing close that I could have hit. However, two lanes over to my left, there was an eighteen-wheeler, and I glimpsed pieces of rubber flying off of one of its rear trailer tires. I can only assume that it had a blowout! The driver never lost control, though, and, as I passed and moved on ahead, saw that the truck was gradually switching lanes and moving over to the right side.

It sounded like a shotgun had gone off next to me. I confess that I might have said a swear.

I have spoken with C, this morning, and, while still in pain, she is doing better. She said that they have taken her push-button away and have moved her to taking pills. It sounds like the coming home time will be largely up to her, if she feels that she has gotten to a point where the pain is well-regulated. We are thinking about later, this evening, after I pick up Cleopatra from the clinic.

Today is Lazy Mom’s Day. The “Mom” of our house will certainly be being somewhat “lazy” today, but not totally by choice. I, on the other hand, having somewhat assumed the role of “Mr. Mom,” will only spend part of the day being lazy. There are definitely a few chores that need to be handled, today, one of which has already been done (taking aforementioned kitty to the vet). However, I feel relatively certain that there will be some gaming time.

The word for today is moratorium, a noun, which means, “a suspension of activity.” Last night, there was a moratorium on cats getting to eat or drink. Said moratorium has been lifted, as of 7:45 this morning.

Today’s quote is from Jules Renard: “Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties.” I remember moments when that is definitely true, most especially during adolescence. Jules Renard was a French dramatist.

And here are some folks who were born on September 3:

Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey, Hi & Lois), 1923-2018
Eileen Brennan (Laugh-In, Pvt Benjamin), 1932-2013
Freddie King (singer of the Blues), 1934-1976, born in Gilmer, TX
Don Brewer, drummer (Grand Funk Railroad), 73 years old today
Aaron "A-Train" Smith, drummer (The Temptations, The 77s, Rich Mullins), is 71 years old today. I am honored to be Facebook friends with Aaron.
Clare Kramer (Glory in Buffy the Vampire Slayer), is 47 today
Freddie King (1934-1976)
Don Brewer, drummer, 73 today. I never knew, until today, that he sang lead on this song!
Aaron “A-Train” Smith on drums.
Clare Kramer turns 47.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Come Let Me, by Daryl Madden

With so much to do
Feeling so stressed
With the gift of my peace
Come let me, give you rest

Such worries and fear
Things out of control
With the gift of my grace
Come let me, heal your soul

The effects of sin
So great is your pain
With the gift of my mercy
Come let me, free the chains

In times of despair
Is hard to cope
With the gift of my joy
Come let me, give you hope

With promises of man
Each temptation flawed
With the gift of my love
Come let me, be your God

I’ve probably been feeling more stressed these last two days than I have in the last month (which is virtually not at all), so this poem came at a perfect time for me. Thank you, brother Daryl!

My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises! Wake up, my heart! Wake up, O lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song. I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth.
(Psalms 57:7-11 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the confidence that I have in You
2. that I can sing Your praises, as well as play the "lyre and harp" (guitar and piano will have to suffice)
3. that Your glory will one day shine over all the earth
4. for Your patience with me/us
5. that we, with boldness, can quote Your Word back to You

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FIFTEEN – DAY SIX

INVITATION

I will praise you, Lord, for everyone to hear, and I will sing hymns to you in every nation. Your love reaches higher than the heavens; your loyalty extends beyond the clouds.
(Psalms 57:9-10 CEV)

During this quiet time, I stop to reflect on the praises that are due You, O Lord. I don’t praise You enough. Reflecting back on yesterday’s readings, I find that my natural bent is still toward grumbling or complaining. May Your Holy Spirit continue to change me until that natural inclination becomes praise!

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint; protect my life from the threat of the enemy.

Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from the plots of evildoers. They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows. They shoot from ambush at the innocent; they shoot suddenly, without fear.

They encourage each other in evil plans, they talk about hiding their snares; they say, “Who will see it?” They plot injustice and say, “We have devised a perfect plan!” Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.

But God will shoot them with his arrows; they will suddenly be struck down. He will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.
(Psalms 64:1-8 NIV)

That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, . . .
Then the glory of the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. The LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”
Moses said to the LORD, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. . . .
“Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
The LORD replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”
(Numbers 14:1-2A, 10B-13, 17-24 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remain aware of the presence of the Lord, this morning, I linger over these passages, asking the Holy Spirit to show me something that applies to my life, during these times.

I find it ironic that, as I struggle to lean away from complaining, the passage from Psalms begins with a complaint.

David, however, is “complaining” about actual, human enemies. Any complaint that I might express usually involves some kind of inconvenience that has been thrust upon me. I rarely, if ever, have legitimate grounds for grumbling or complaining. Perhaps that is what I’m supposed to glean from this, today.

“You think you’ve got it bad? David had people shooting from ambush at him. They tried to kill him; they tried to steal his kingdom. Anybody trying to do that to you?”

Despite what many of us seem to think, we are all in pretty much the same “boat.” Therefore, our complaints are, largely, without merit.

We should keep reading, however, in Psalm 64. Verse 8 brings it all together.

The righteous will rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in him; all the upright in heart will glory in him!
(Psalms 64:10 NIV)

We might also remind ourselves that, when God does act, He does it for His own glory and for the sake of His own Name.

In the Numbers passage, the Lord had had enough of the grumbling of the ungrateful, short-sighted Israelites. (Honestly, I don’t believe He really planned to strike them all down. Perhaps He was testing Moses. You know what? What do I know?? I don’t have a clue. God knows everything, so He already knew how Moses would react to His threats.) He threatened to wipe out the Israelites, altogether, and turn Moses into an even greater nation. Was this an appeal to Moses’s vanity?? As it says in the parentheses, I do not presume to know the mind of the Almighty, at this point.)

But Moses, thank God, would have none of it. He stood up, not for his own glory or sake, but for the honor of the Name of the Lord!

Today’s Church must stop and ask herself, “Are we doing that, today? Are we standing up for the honor of the name of the Lord when we bicker amongst ourselves over our “freedoms” and “rights?”

Moses even quoted God back to Him! Talk about boldness!

“Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
(Numbers 14:17-19 NIV)

And the Lord hears Moses, and forgives them. One thing to learn from this passage is that we can safely remind God what He said. It would probably be best, though, if we make sure that He really said it before we try that. I hear a lot of people claiming that God said things that He never said.

“God will never give you more than you can handle.”

“God helps those who help themselves.”

“God wants you to be rich and healthy.”

I’m sure you can think of others.

I’m not sure what to think about what I have written, this morning. I’m leaving it as is, though. Sometimes, I can come across as a bit “snarky.” But these last couple of days have been more than a little bit stressful. Yesterday’s blog was full of distractions and interruptions, and was completed on an iPad at the surgery hospital, in a room that must have been around forty degrees.

Nevertheless, I think I have gleaned some lessons. First, in continuation of yesterday’s post, learn how to live life without grumbling or complaining. For one thing, I don’t have it so bad, and for another thing, it almost got the Israelites eradicated. Second, learn the Word of the Lord. I can’t quote it back to Him, like Moses did, unless I know it. And it surely won’t do anyone any good to “quote” things back to God that He never said.

Father, I am so grateful for Your Word. It gives me so much in my life. It is so precious and so valuable. From it, I can receive everything that I need for life and godly living. From it, I see Your very great and precious promises, in which I can participate in Your nature, and escape the corruption of the world. Now, just help me to do this. And help me, please, to stop whining and grumbling about minor inconveniences. Just this morning, I found myself all disgruntled because I had to wait longer at the vet clinic than I though I should have. In comparison to Saul trying to kill David (throwing spears at him and stuff), that doesn’t seem so bad. In all seriousness, I love You Father, and I want to live my life in a way that shows that. Help me to excel at my two jobs, loving You and loving people. Loving people is a lot harder than loving You, but I guess You already know that, don’t You?

Lord, please give me great wonder at the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Give us all the capacity to suffer alongside other people. And I especially lift up those who are orphaned, along with those who care for them.

"Father,
I hear Moses pray,
describing Your character and bombarding You with appeals to Your promises.
Give me that same hope-filled boldness,
which flows out of an intimacy with Jesus,
my praying mediator.
And help me,
like Moses,
to pray even for those who treat You with contempt and refuse to believe.
Forgive and show them Your mercy.
In the name of Jesus,
amen."

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
(Luke 18:1 NIV)

“What I learn again and again . . . is that the problems that twist me up so tightly and painfully today will unwind. The mere, mundane passage of time has a softening effect, yes. But the wiping away of every tear, the bracing wind of forgiveness, and the joyful acceptance of my life as He wills it come from God.”
(Amy Eddings, Daily Guideposts 2021)

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)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
(Philippians 4:6 NIV)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Blessing

Today is Tuesday, the thirty-first of August, 2021. Last day of August. And just in case anyone wonders, there still twenty-two days of summer left.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,182

Six days until Labor Day.

It still feels like summer, in DFW, too, with temps soaring to the upper nineties every day this week, and no rain in the ten-day forecast.

Today is We Love Memoirs Day, which is fitting, because I just finished one, yesterday, and you can see the review of Willie Nelson’s Letters to America on my other blog by clicking here.

The word for today is gorgonize, a verb which means, “hypnotize; petrify.” “She felt trapped and totally helpless in his gorgonizing stare.” Wouldn’t that be an adverb in that context? What do I know?

Today’s quote, from Arthur C. Clark, is one that I love and believe I have used before. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” It’s true, right? Seriously, anyone from a primitive culture (and they do still exist on this planet) who saw the things we do with computers would only be able to assume that we were engaging in sorcery.

Birthdays for August 30:

Lizzie Arlington, the first woman to play men's professional baseball, 1877-1919
Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, 1880-1962. The state park and lodge in Mena, Arkansas are named after her, because many of the original investors were Dutch.
Buddy Hackett, actor in The Music Man, 1924-2003
Frank Robinson, HOF baseball player and manager, 1935-2019
Roger Dean, album cover illustrator for Yes, 77 years old today
Van Morrison, singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland, turns 76 today
Roger Dean album cover illustration

I’ve officially gotten my work schedule, which will be effective after the beginning of October, assuming the city goes ahead with plans to open the library on Fridays. It will look like this:

Every Tuesday: 4:15PM-8:15PM
Alternating Wednesdays: 9:15AM-6:15PM
Every Friday: 9:15AM-6:15PM
Alternating Saturdays: 9:30AM-6:15PM

So, based on the city’s work week, which begins on Friday and ends on the following Thursday (makes my head hurt trying to figure this out), I will work Friday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, followed by Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday. I actually like this better than my current schedule, which has me working Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, followed by Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. When you break it down like that, it looks fine (and I am NOT complaining, here), but if you look at the calendar week, I have weeks like this week where I am working Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, as well as Saturday, which falls in the next pay week. So I’m actually working four calendar days, this week, and only two next week (Tuesday and Wednesday).

Like I said . . . if you think about it too hard, it makes your head hurt. I get twenty hours per pay week, but it looks like I’m actually working twenty-eight hours in this calendar week and only twelve hours next week.

Today, I’m working 11:15AM-8:15PM, and will be training in the computer center for the first time.

C is getting ready for her surgery on Thursday. She works from home today, and tomorrow will be the last day at the office for anywhere from four to six weeks (mid October, sometime), but may be able to work from home after two or three weeks, depending on how the recovery is progressing.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Glory to You, Lord God of our fathers;
You are worthy of praise;
glory to You.
Glory to You for the radiance of Your holy Name;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You in the splendor of Your temple;
on the throne of Your majesty, glory to You.
Glory to You, seated between the Cherubim;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You, beholding the depths;
in the high vault of heaven, glory to You.
Glory to You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
(TeDeum)

Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness. How quickly I would escape—far from this wild storm of hatred.
(Psalms 55:6-8 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, in spite of the "wild storm of hatred" outside, You still have things firmly in hand
2. that You give me quiet and rest during these times in my own home; I don't have to fly away to some distant place
3. for Your blessing upon us
4. for Your face being turned toward us
5. for the call to be peacemakers, and the peace with which You gift us

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FIFTEEN – DAY THREE

INVITATION

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
(Psalms 57:9-10 ESV)

During this moment of peace and quiet, I pause to simply reflect on the presence of the Lord, with me at all times, in all places.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations. May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.

Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.
(Psalms 61:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
“‘”The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you and
be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”‘
“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
(Numbers 6:22-27 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am always in God’s presence, I linger over these passages, allowing the Holy Spirit to move within my soul, guiding my thoughts, meditations, and prayers.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

These are two great passages, full of depth and encouragement.

The prayer of David is one that I am fully persuaded that God stands ready to answer.

We can cry out to God “from the ends of the earth.” It matters not where we are, He is there. It matters not when we are, He is there! Consider that our Father is currently present when you were born. He is “omnipresent,” with us at all times and all places. Therefore, He stands ready to hear us, no matter where we are.

Where is the “rock that is higher than I?” There can be various interpretations of this. I tend to see this “Rock” as Jesus. Matthew Henry, however, visualizes this rock as a place he cannot attain without the assistance of our God. I can equally see this as being true, as in the old hymn, Higher Ground.

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

Refrain:
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

There’s another hymn, though, that speaks of the “Solid Rock,” being Jesus.

In times like these you need a Savior
In times like these you need an anchor
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

Refrain:
This Rock is Jesus, Yes He's the One
This Rock is Jesus, the only One
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these you need the Bible
In times like these, O be not idle
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these I have a Savior
In times like these I have an anchor
I'm very sure, I'm very sure
My anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

What a longing is expressed in verse 4: “I long to dwell in Your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.” This is a sentiment that is expressed many times in the Psalms. And I can most certainly echo the prayer, as my heart grows more and more in its longing for Home. Doesn’t mean that I don’t like my life, here, but just means that I know where I belong, ultimately.

I believe that this prayerful psalm goes hand-in-hand with the blessing seen in Numbers 6. Such a beautiful passage that I have adopted as prayers for people for a long time, now. And I like it in many different versions. I have sort of “tweaked” it, combining a couple of my favorite versions to make it go like this:

May God bless you and keep you;
May He smile on you and gift you;
May He look you full in the face and give you peace.

The majority of that comes from The Message, but Peterson ends his with “and make you prosper,” and I would rather have it say “give you peace.” Prosperity is not my goal, here.

I pray this blessing over people when I see that it is their birthday. We frequently end our worship gatherings by either saying or singing the blessing. There are several contemporary songs that incorporate it. Matt Redman has a good one:

Then this one, more recently, from Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes (video is long, but powerful):

My favorite part of the blessing is the line that speaks of the Lord turning His face towards us. It gets translated “lift up His countenance toward you,” “look you full in the face,” “turn His face toward you,” and “show you His favor.”

The lowest point in the life of Jesus was when His Father turned His face away from Him, resulting in the cry of Jesus, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me??”

I am moved to tears, this very moment, as I try to imagine what it must have felt like for this ripping of personalities apart. Jesus, God incarnate, experienced a tearing like none of us will ever experience, couldn’t possibly even imagine. For those few hours, on that day, there was a rift in the Holy Trinity, that perfect fellowship which had existed for all eternity. The Father turned His back on the Son, because He cannot look upon sin. The Son, for that moment, took on all the sin that had ever been committed, and ever would be committed. According to the Apostle Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament, at that moment, Jesus became sin!

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

So, today, I pray for you, whoever happens to stumble upon this humble blog, and manages to read this far.

May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He smile on you and gift you; may He look you full in the face, make His face shine upon you, turn His face toward you, show you His favor . . . and give you peace!

Father, I am overwhelmed, this morning. There are tears in my eyes as I try to type this. This famous blessing is so appropriate to be prayed for all of Your people, today. It is even appropriate to pray over people who don’t know You or refuse to acknowledge You. I would ask You to make Your face to shine upon people all over the world, so that they might prosper and have Your peace in their lives. After all, Your Word does say that You show favor on the just and the unjust, alike. People who have never once acknowledged Your existence still reap the benefits of that existence, whether they know it or not. And I believe, with all my heart, that, deep down inside, they do know it.

May Your Holy Spirit fill us, today, Father. Fill us with Your presence, Your peace, Your blessing. Send us out to wherever we need to go, with Your Gospel of peace fitted on our feet. Peace. That is the key word in all of this. Make us peacemakers in this world, not rabble-rousers, not dividers. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” said Jesus. Lead us, O God, to the Rock that is higher than we are. Help us up to those heights which we cannot reach on our own.

I pray for the call to follow You out into those workplaces and neighborhoods, Lord, and I pray for the peace and well-being of those workplaces and communities. May You rain down Your special blessing on those who work in agriculture, who provide food and sustenance for us.

"May I see Your face, God?
For to live with Your face turned from me is more bitter than death.
I thank You that in this ancient blessing, 
I may place my life in the grace of Jesus and catch sight of Your face turned in delight toward me.
Amen."

BLESSING

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
(2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)

Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
(Proverbs 28:14 ESV)

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
(Psalms 51:2-4 ESV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
(Ephesians 1:4 NLT)

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.
(2 Timothy 1:9 NLT)

There is a Hebrew word in that Jeremiah verse. “Makhashabah,” which means “texture,” a sort of “weaving” of a plan together. It’s the word that is translated “plans” in the ESV, and other translations, but “thoughts” in the KJV and WEB. Here’s the KJV.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
(Jeremiah 29:11 KJV)

“Thoughts” is the Hebrew makhashabah, while “think” is “chashab,” which literally means to weave or to fabricate.

So just as it is impossible to see what the weaver on the loom is fabricating until she is finished with the work, so it is not possible to see what the Lord is doing with our lives until He is finished. We need to trust in the truth that He knows what He is doing. He is weaving a perfect work, and “all things work together for good” in our lives.

Father, I praise You for this truth. And in this weaving, I wonder how much our prayers effect things. In light of that, and in that spirit, I ask of You to end this plague on our world. Please do away with the COVID-19 virus, once and for all, that we might have peace in our world and in our nation. We are unable to come together to fight this. We are too concerned with our own “freedoms” and “rights.” Please eradicate this. I believe that You can do this. I also pray for the racial strife to end, that all people, in Your Kingdom, will be treated equally. Oh, how look forward to seeing that multitude described in Revelation, of people from every tribe, nation, and tongue, praising Your Holy and majestic Name as one!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the LORD bless you and protect you.
May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Take It Seriously

Today is Sunday, the twenty-ninth of August, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,180

Eight days until Labor Day

This will be a challenging week, but I’m up for the challenge.

I’m working Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (total of twenty hours) at the library. Thursday, C has back surgery at 9:30 in the morning. We have to have her at the surgery center by 7:30. She will have either a one night or two night stay over at the surgery center.

Friday, Cleopatra (Siamese kitten) is getting spayed. For the record, this was scheduled before the back surgery, but since C will be staying at the surgery center for at least one night, this is not a problem at all. I will drop Cleo off between 7:15-7:30, and, if C is getting to come home on Friday, I can head over there and wait for the many hours it takes them to process her release.

I’m supposed to work at the library on Saturday, eight hours, but if C doesn’t get to come home until Saturday, I won’t be able to work the full day. Both my direct manager and the circulation manager are aware of this possibility, and seem more than willing to be flexible with me on this. Fortunately, I’m not scheduled the following Monday at the library, so I will have a couple days to recover from all this.

C will be off work for at least three to four weeks, but may be able to work from home after three weeks. It may be six weeks before she is recovered enough to go to the office. For this reason, as previously mentioned, we elected to cancel our Galveston trip for this year. We may, however, and I have not discussed this with her, try to grab a few nights in Glen Rose, on a week when I’m off for a few consecutive days.

We went bowling, yesterday, and had a great time! It was fun to bowl at the center where C works. There was only one other person bowling, so it was pretty quiet. After we finished, we stopped by their pro shop to have a ball plugged and re-drilled for me. It was C’s ball, but she doesn’t use it any more, and I like it, so the pro will plug the thumb hole and move it to fit my grip. He only has to drill out the fingers and put inserts into those holes.

Today, we have our church gathering, but we are continuing to Zoom for now.

Today is Pony Express Day, celebrating those brave souls who risked their lives to deliver the mail, “back in the day.”

The word for today is memoriter. In adverb form, this means, “by heart; by memory.” “There are certain subjects of study, which must, of course, be learned memoriter.”

Today’s quote is from Plato: “Thinking: the talking of the soul with itself.”

Birthdays for August 29:

1632 John Locke, English empiricist philosopher; influential Enlightenment thinker and "Father of Liberalism" (Two Treatises of Government), born in Wrington, England (d. 1704)
1809 Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., American physician and author (Old Ironsides), born in Cambridge, Massachusetts (d. 1894)
1811 Henry Bergh, Founder of American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), born in NYC, New York (d. 1888)
1906 Lurene Tuttle, American actress (Father of Bride, Julia), born in Pleasant Lake, Indiana (d. 1986)
1915 Ingrid Bergman, Swedish actress (Casablanca, Cactus Flower), born in Stockholm, Sweden (d. 1982)
1916 George Montgomery, American actor (Battle of Bulge, Hallucination), born in Brady, Montana (d. 2000)
1917 Isabel Sanford, American actress (Louise-Jeffersons/All in the Family), born in NYC, New York (d. 2004)
1920 Charlie "Bird" Parker, American jazz saxophonist ("Ornithology"), born in Kansas City, Kansas (d. 1955)
1923 Richard Attenborough, English actor and director (Gandhi, Jurassic Park, Young Winston), born in Cambridge, England (d. 2014)
1926 Elizabeth "Betty" Lynn, American actress (The Andy Griffith Show--Thelma Lou), born in Kansas City, Missouri
1936 John McCain, American war hero and Republican politician (Rep-Arizona, 1983-2018, Presidential nominee 2008), born in Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone (d. 2018)
1938 Elliott Gould, American actor (M*A*S*H, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice), born in Queens, New York
1939 Joel Schumacher, American film director (Lost Boys, Batman), born in New York City (d. 2020)
1940 James Brady, U.S. press secretary (wounded during Reagan assassin attempt), born in Centralia, Illinois (d. 2014)
1941 Robin Leach, English TV host (Life Styles of Rich & Famous), born in London, England (2018)
1942 Sterling Morrison, American rock guitarist (Velvet Underground - "Sweet Jane"), born in East Meadow, New York (d. 1995)
1943 Dick Halligan, American jazz multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger (Blood Sweat & Tears, 1967-72 - "Variations On A Theme By Erik Satie"), born in Troy, New York
1945 Chris Copping, British rock bassist and organist (Procol Harum, 1969-77), born in Middleton, Lancashire, England
1947 Temple Grandin, American animal welfare and autism expert, born in Boston, Massachusetts
1953 Rick Downey, American rock drummer and vocalist (Blue Oyster Cult, 1981-85)
1953 Speedy Gonzales, Warner Bros. cartoon character created by Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese (Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series), first debuts in "Cat-Tails for Two"
1958 Michael Jackson, American recording artist, dancer, and King of Pop ("Thriller"; Billie Jean"; "Bad"), born in Gary, Indiana (d. 2009)
1959 Rebecca De Mornay, American actress (Hand that Rocks Cradle), born in Santa Rosa, California
1963 Elizabeth Fraser, Scottish singer (Cocteau Twins - "Heaven OR Las Vegas"), born in Grangemouth, Scotland
1971 Carla Gugino, American actress, born in Sarasota, Florida
1975 Kyle Cook, American rock guitarist, and banjo player (Matchbox Twenty - "Bent"; "Unwell"), born in Frankfort, Kentucky
1980 David Desrosiers, Canadian rock bassist (Simple Plan, 2000-20), born in Montreal, Quebec
1986 Lea Michele [Sarfati], American actress and singer (Glee), born in The Bronx, New York

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

He Himself is my contemplation;
He is my delight.
Him for His own sake
I seek above me;
from Him Himself I feed within me.
He is the field in which I labour.
He is the fruit for which I labour.
He is my cause;
He is my effect.
He is my beginning;
He is my end without end.
He is, for me, eternity.
(Isaac of Stella)

But God is my helper. The Lord keeps me alive!
(Psalms 54:4 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I am alive and breathing
2. that You are my helper
3. for Your great love that reaches to the heavens, and Your faithfulness that reaches to the skies
4. that You are my strength and my fortress, and I can sing to You, regardless of my circumstances
5. for peace

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FIFTEEN – DAY ONE

INVITATION

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
(Psalms 57:9-10 NIV)

During this quiet moment, I contemplate the great love and faithfulness of the Lord, which reaches to the heavens. This is a poetic way of saying that His love and faithfulness know no limits.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam. When Saul had sent men to watch David’s house in order to kill him.

Deliver me from my enemies, O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me. Deliver me from evildoers and save me from those who are after my blood.

See how they lie in wait for me! Fierce men conspire against me for no offense or sin of mine, LORD.

They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. They wander about for food and howl if not satisfied. But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.
(Psalms 59:1-3, 14-17 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke of when he said:
“‘Among those who approach me I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.'” Aaron remained silent.
Then the LORD said to Aaron, “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, so that you can distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, and so you can teach the Israelites all the decrees the LORD has given them through Moses.”
(Leviticus 10:1-3, 8-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to be aware of the presence of the Lord, I linger over these passages, meditating over their truths and contemplating what speaks to me, this morning.

In the passage from Psalm 59, I see the truth that, no matter what circumstances are facing me, whether it be enemies, snarling like dogs, or a really busy, challenging week ahead, which includes mildly risky surgery on a loved one, I can sing of the strength and the love of the Lord, for He is my fortress and my refuge, regardless of the circumstances in front of me.

In the passage from Leviticus 10, I see a grave warning in the consequences suffered by Nadab and Abihu. This is stressed in what the Lord said to Moses, “Among those who approach me I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.”

This tells me that we should never approach our God in a manner that is glib or aloof. Not to say that God doesn’t have a sense of humor. I certainly believe He does, and I believe that Jesus laughed much. However, when we come before God, bringing offerings, sacrifices, or worship, we must take it seriously, and we must examine both ourselves, as well as the attitude behind our offerings. I also can’t help but wonder, based on the Lord’s instruction in verses 8-11, if Nadab and Abihu might have been drunk when they acted the way they did. Just something to ponder.

Father, I praise You for Your strength, for Your love and faithfulness, which know no limits. Your grace exceeds all of our sin and our guilt, not only in the past, but what I might do today, and going forward into the future. Such magnificent grace, Father! Such marvelous mercy, strength, and faithfulness. Thank You for being my refuge and my fortress, where I can hide and take strength for whatever is facing me. Help us to take You more seriously when we bring offerings to You, whether they be physical offerings or sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. Let us not be glib or aloof when approaching You.

I pray for the risen Christ to dwell richly in my heart, bringing spiritual renewal and refreshment into me, by the Holy Spirit.

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.

"Holy God,
how do I worship you without getting killed?
How do I live with you and not be undone?
Keep me from a paralyzing fear of your holiness and justice,
as well as from a breezy chumminess.
To you,
mercy-filled and mighty,
just and gentle God,
I offer everything I think,
say,
or do as a pleasing sacrifice to your glory and honor.
Amen."

BLESSING

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

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
(James 1:27 NIV)

The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
(Psalms 146:9 NIV)

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
(Isaiah 1:17 NIV)

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:40-46 NIV)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.