I Want to Know As I Am Known

Good morning. Today is Tuesday, the twenty-eighth of December, 2021. The fourth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,301

Only four more days until 2022.

Not a lot happened yesterday. Once I got the blog finished, C and I ventured out to Six Flags, where we did a couple of things and gave up and went back home. It was very crowded, and a lot of things were closed. There were lines like crazy, everywhere, even to get out drink cups refilled. The one place we found where we could walk up and get our free refills had no diet sodas. We rode the Runaway Mountain (after at least a ninety minute wait) and the train from the Texas Giant entry back around to the Boom Town side. From there got in a line for one place because C thought she wanted a funnel cake. But when she saw that the line went into serpentines inside the store, she changed her mind. We found a place to get our drinks refilled (and some pretty good popcorn) and only waited about ten minutes. Then we headed out. We park at C’s workplace so the walk back to the car isn’t so bad. She works literally right across the street from Six Flags.

We picked up some Taco Bell for dinner (we’re planning on getting “serious” about healthy eating again, maybe today or tomorrow . . . there’s still some candy left. And cake), where I discovered that they have a new “chalupa” (I put that in quotes . . . it’s what TB calls them) that is “Chipotle Cheddar.” They were ahmahzing!!!! Glad I got to have a couple, because that probably won’t be happening again for months.

So the new year is coming up, which means I have to choose what devotional materials I will be using. Everything I will use, I got for Christmas, this year. One of them will only be for sixty days, new-ish book by Eugene H. Peterson, published, I believe, posthumously.

Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson

On Living Well, also by Eugene H. Peterson, is a series of brief writings/essays on, as the subtitle says, “wisdom for walking in the way of Jesus.” I am not sure how many there are, but I do not believe it is enough to last the entire year. I have the kindle version of this one. In fact, the more I think about it, I might delay the start of this one until I am finished with the first one that lasts only sixty days.

Of course, there will be the old faithful Daily Guideposts. These daily writings, by a variety of folks from all different perspectives and “walks of life,” are sometimes deeply inspirational. Sometimes, they aren’t inspirational at all, but you can’t win them all, right? They are good enough that I keep reading. Plus my mother gives me a copy every year for Christmas.

The last one is Pray a Word a Day, published by Guideposts. This one just came out a few months ago, and when I saw the ad for it, I was intrigued and decided that I needed a copy. Each day, as suggested, provides a word to guide the day’s prayers, along with a short reading and some room for writing reflections at the bottom of the page. There are also multiple pages for more reflection at the end of the book. For example, the first day’s word is “goodness.” The idea is that I allow that word to be at the front of my thoughts and meditations throughout the day.

I had to make an unusual decision as the end of 2021 approaches. The book I have been using for the bulk of my devotional material this year, Seeking God’s Face, actually begins with Advent. Since I got the book for Christmas last year, Advent was already past. So I actually started the book on Christmas Day, last year (I think). There are twelve days of Christmas, ending on Epiphany, which is January 6. I will not carry over into 2022, so the days of Christmas will abruptly stop at day seven, since I don’t plan to use that resource in 2022. I realize I don’t owe any explanations, but just in case anyone wondered, there it is.

Today is a scheduled work day for me, this evening from 4:14 to 8:15. Then I don’t work again until Friday. The library is open, as far as I know, all day on Friday, New Year’s Eve, but will be closed for the holiday on Saturday. I wasn’t scheduled to work that day, anyway. We have also planned to have dinner with some friends Thursday evening. Shocking, I know . . . we don’t ever do that. But there’s this sushi place that they really like, so we are going to join them for dinner there. It’s called Goldfish Sushi. They promise that they don’t really serve goldfish. We’ll see.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The Work of Christmas, by Daryl Madden

The Journey of Christmas

When the star in the
Sky fades away
And we don’t hear
The angels this day

When the wise men
Return to their home
And the shepherds
To fields, back to roam

Here with our
God dwelling in
The journey of
Christmas begins

To find the lost
The broken heal
The good news spread
Of love, reveal

The nations build
Captive, release
To bring to all
The gift of peace

Committed no
Matter the cost
On our path that
Leads to the cross

I love this poem because of the idea that the “journey” of Christmas does not end when Christmas day is over, when we no longer hear the angels singing or see the star. In fact, the real journey only begins there, as this poem so beautifully expresses. The end of the “journey of Christmas” is no end, but the beginning of eternity.

Please check out Daryl’s other poetry at the link provided.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; 
my soul thirsts for you; 
my flesh faints for you, 
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, 
beholding your power and glory.
 Because your steadfast love is better than life, 
my lips will praise you. 
So I will bless you as long as I live; 
in your name I will lift up my hands. 
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, 
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 
when I remember you upon my bed, 
and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 
for you have been my help, 
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 
My soul clings to you; 
your right hand upholds me. 
(Psalms 63:1-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the steadfast love of the Lord, which is truly better than life
2. that God is a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, my refuge and my fortress
3. that all I think I know and all I think I know about God does not equal one nth of all that there is to know, and that, one day, when I meet Him face to face, I will know Him completely
4. that You, God, are my God; that my soul thirsts for You and my flesh faints for You
5. that You, Jesus, are my "reality"

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
(Psalms 68:5 NIV)

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
(Psalms 32:7 NIV)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
(Psalms 91:1-2 ESV)

Today’s Daily Guideposts reading made me think of my mother. And how well she knows that our God, our Father is her defender, her refuge, and her fortress. I can assure you that she abides in His shadow.

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 23:6 ESV)

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.
(Psalms 27:4 ESV)

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, 
"Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, 
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 
Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
(Matthew 18:2-4 ESV)

Consider how much you think you know. (For me, that’s easy. I don’t think I know very much at all.) Then consider how much you think you know about God. Then consider how much you think there is to know about God. All of this makes me feel about as big as a speck of sand on the surface of the sun.

But then, I consider this:

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV)

My puny little brain almost explodes at that thought. Once again, I find myself thinking of Psalm 139.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
(Psalms 139:6 ESV)

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

CHRISTMAS – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

A thanksgiving psalm. 

On your feet now—applaud GOD! 
Bring a gift of laughter, 
sing yourselves into his presence. 
(Psalms 100:1-2 MSG)

As I pause, briefly, I consider this idea of singing myself into His presence. I like the way that is phrased.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm. For giving grateful praise. 

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 
Worship the LORD with gladness; 
come before him with joyful songs. 
Know that the LORD is God. 
It is he who made us, and we are his; 
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving 
and his courts with praise; 
give thanks to him and praise his name. 
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; 
his faithfulness continues through all generations. 
(Psalms 100:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. 
(Luke 2:15-20 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for a word or phrase that catches my attention and stirs within me. As I linger over these, I consider what I need to ask God about or pray about, praying my life to Him, and resting in His presence.

One of the desires of my heart is to see all people worship the Lord, with gladness. Have you ever observed a worship service? Having seen a veritable plethora of them, myself, I have observed many different faces in those worship services. Sometimes, I see gladness. Sometimes, not so much. Sometimes I see some of the most sour faces . . . people who do not seem to be enjoying the time at all.

Now, I get it; I understand that we cannot be “happy” all the time. There are things in our lives (we call them “circumstances”) that affect our happiness. Sometimes, those things are even allowed to affect our joy. So we aren’t always going to appear joyful or glad when we worship.

But we certainly shouldn’t appear to be angry! I’ve seen a lot of angry faces in worship services.

My desire, though . . . back to that . . . is to see all people be able to worship God and to shout His praise, “with gladness.” Not fake gladness, mind you. I don’t want to see people put on fake smiles and pretend that everything is all right.

The heart of this desire is that everything would truly BE all right for everyone; that everyone’s heart would be able to worship and celebrate the Lord, “with gladness!”

In the meantime, maybe we can be more like Mary and the shepherds from the Luke story. Maybe we can be like Mary by storing up these things and pondering them in our hearts. And maybe we can be like the shepherds who just had a visit with the baby King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They returned, “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.”

For just a few minutes, all their problems were forgotten as they focused on what they had just experienced.

Father, I praise You for the experience of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I thank You for what He has done in me, and what He continues to do, via the power of Your Holy Spirit. I thank You for the work of the Trinity in my life and in my heart. I realize that much of what I say sounds like madness to those who are not believers. Oh, well. For me, it is reality. It is reality that I love. I am able to worship You with gladness, most of the time. I do allow myself to get down, sometimes, for circumstances to steal my joy, but it always returns, because You always remind me of reality, and that what I see around me, sometimes, most of the time, isn’t truly the essence of reality.

Help me to ponder like Mary and worship like the shepherds. And help me to approach You like the child who barely knows anything at all, looking forward to that day when, yes, I will “know it all,” but only because I am finally and completely in the fullness of Your presence, at Home, for eternity.

"Jesus,
You are truly Immanuel,
God with us.
You share in this flesh and blood life,
entering my ordinary circumstances,
filling it with wonder,
hope,
and promise.
So, 
like the shepherds,
make me quick and ready to spread this good news to all.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed be the Lord, 
the God of Israel; 
he came and set his people free.
(Luke 1:68 MSG)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 115:14-15 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Eyes and Ears

Today is Sunday, the fifth of December, 2021, the second Sunday of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,278

Twenty days until Christmas!

C and I had a most wonderful day, yesterday, at Six Flags Over Texas. We left before dark, though, so we didn’t get the full benefit of the Holiday in the Park theme. We’re going to have to get over there one evening to walk around after the sun makes its exit.

I have to give props to Six Flags, though. They have streamlined the process of season pass activation to an art. They had staff people at the front of the entries with tablets and stacks of season pass cards, and everything (assuming you paid online and had your barcode, which we did) was handled right there. Took maybe one minute per person. Literally. At the most two minutes. It was truly amazing.

We rode the Runaway Mine Train first. And even though I have gained a few pounds back since I retired (recently, there is a good reason for that, but at first, it was, and still is, a bit baffling), I could fit comfortably in each ride that we rode. I haven’t been on most of those rides in years. I stepped out of my comfort zone and rode the Riddler’s Revenge.

It was fun. I was fine. Until about the last twenty seconds or so, then I was done . . . ready to quit. It was all good, though. The wheel turns slowly as the pendulum swings, but it changes direction twice during the ride.

The next thing was the Superman Tower of Power.

I didn’t take that video, but my experience was similar. The worst part is not knowing when you’re going to be shot up into the air, or drop down in free fall. It was great fun.

We stopped at a nearby restaurant for some delicious cheesesteak sandwiches and waffle fries. Yes. I said “delicious.” The quality of at least some of the food at Six Flags has gotten better over the years.

We wanted to make our way over to the Titan, but stopped along the way to ride the Shock Wave. Neither of us had ridden that in quite a long time. As we waited in a pretty short line, we smiled as we realized that some of these people were actually riding for the first time.

Let me tell you, those lap bars are there for a reason. On many of those “short hops,” I was a few inches off of my seat. Great fun. After the second loop, it takes at least until the next curve for my brain to realize I’m right-side up again.

From there we headed over to the Titan, stopping along the way to get a couple small bags of cinnamon roasted pecans. We were sorely disappointed, though, when we encountered this.

At that point, we decided we were good to go home. It’s been a long time since we have done that, and we were tired. In all, we got close to eleven thousand steps on our trip to Six Flags, and we plan to make it a regular thing over the course of the next year. We also bought a couple of drink cups that get us free refills all season. They were about $25 each, but it will only take four or five refills to pay for that, and the rest will be truly free.

I’m not sure what’s “on the table” for today (there is, literally, a plant on the table). I think we might finally get the Christmas ornaments on the tree. There will, no doubt, be lunch from Applebee’s. And our church will be meeting via Zoom again. There might be a trip to the grocery store, too. Other than that, it will be a day of rest. C is up, and actually feels pretty good after a good night’s sleep. She was afraid that she would be really sore.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:
(Job 5:8-9 ESV)

May the LORD give strength to his people! 
May the LORD bless his people with peace! 
(Psalms 29:11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You do great, unsearchable, and marvelous things without number
2. that You bless Your people with peace
3. that You call us to not make judgments based on what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, but based on righteousness
4. that You call us to seek Your kingdom first, and to be peacemakers
5. for the call to shout for joy and play songs to You on instruments of praise
And behold, the star 
that they had seen when it rose 
went before them until it came to rest 
over the place where the child was.
(Matthew 2:9 ESV)
But seek first 
the kingdom of God and his righteousness, 
and all these things will be added to you. 
(Matthew 6:33 ESV)
Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! 
Praise befits the upright. 
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; 
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! 
Sing to him a new song; 
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. 
For the word of the LORD is upright, 
and all his work is done in faithfulness. 
He loves righteousness and justice; 
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
(Psalms 33:1-5 ESV)
addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 
giving thanks always and for everything 
to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
(Ephesians 5:19-20 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY EIGHT

INVITATION

The LORD is my light and my salvation— 
whom shall I fear? 
(Psalms 27:1 NIV)

I pause during this quiet moment to ponder the thought of peace; the peace that Christ is able to bring to a soul. But the soul must be receptive to the peace.

BIBLE SONG

In you, LORD my God,
 I put my trust. 

Good and upright is the LORD; 
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. 
He guides the humble in what is right 
and teaches them his way. 
All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful 
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. 
For the sake of your name, LORD, 
forgive my iniquity, though it is great. 
(Psalms 25:1, 8-11 NIV)

BIBLE READING

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; 
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— 
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might, 
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— 
and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. 

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, 
or decide by what he hears with his ears; 
but with righteousness he will judge the needy, 
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. 
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; 
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 
Righteousness will be his belt 
and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 
(Isaiah 11:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read over these passages a second time, noticing how He might be speaking to my soul. I allow my heart to respond to Him in prayer and take refreshment in His presence.

Father, along with David, I can say that I do put my trust in You. It is not perfect trust, for I am not perfect. Yet it is trust. I believe I can truthfully say this because of how You have moved my heart and soul, in the past few decades.

You are, indeed, “good and upright.” As Jesus stated, You are the only being who can be described as “good.” Only You are good. For the rest of us, Isaiah nailed it when he said that all our “righteousness” might as well be filthy rags. We are sinners, and You instruct us in Your ways. You guide us (when we humble ourselves) in what is right and You teach us Your ways. And Your ways are loving and faithful toward us, if we keep Your commands.

At this point, I remind myself that Your commands are that we love You and love one another.

As Isaiah describes Jesus in chapter 11, verses 3 and 4 call out to me, as though I had never seen them before. We are told in verse 3 that the “shoot” from the “stump of Jesse” will “not judge by what He sees with His eyes, or decide by what He hears with His ears.” Rather, “with righteousness He will judge . . .”

This is like a flash of illumination in this era of social media. Father, we are, in general, spending way too much of our time deciding and judging based on what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, rather than making judgments based on righteousness. We should be seeking Your kingdom, along with its righteousness, first and foremost. We should be seeking justice for the poor, and we should be concerned with making peace in our land, not division.

May Your people experience Advent hope, peace, and joy. May we have the courage needed to share the good news of the Gospel.

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.

"Redeemer God,
in righteousness You will judge all people.
Keep me from making eternal pronouncements on others' lives,
and help me trust that the coming day of judgment will reveal the glory of Your wide mercy and firm justice.
Keep me vigilant to work against evil and injustice,
and yet hopeful for all people,
trusting that Your justice never fails and Your mercy is fresh each day.
Amen."

BLESSING

Wait for the LORD; 
be strong and take heart 
and wait for the LORD. 
(Psalms 27:14 NIV)

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 Strength of My Heart

Today is Sunday, the twelfth of September, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,194

Ten more days until the beginning of Autumn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Significant birthdays on September 12:

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

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.

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SEVENTEEN – DAY ONE

INVITATION

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

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

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of Asaph.

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

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

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

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

BIBLE READING

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

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLESSING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Our “Duty” Or God’s Commands?

It’s Wednesday morning. Welcome to August. I’m glad you could make it. It’s August 1, 2012. Well. My choices are “National Girlfriends Day,” and “National Raspberry Cream Pie Day.” Hmm…well, if you’re a girl (please note the proper usage of the apostrophe and the correct “you’re”), go eat some raspberry cream pie with your (different “your!”) girlfriends.

On this date in 1961, Six Flags Over Texas opened! Wow. I just got goose bumps. Here’s what it looked like in 1961.

Here’s what it looks like within the last year (I think this picture was taken before the Texas Giant was renovated).

I couldn’t find a picture that even came close to showing the whole park in one shot. What a difference 51 years makes!
Also, on this date, in 1914, the history site says that World War I began. Or perhaps they mean that this was the date that it officially became a “world” war. On this date in 1981, MTV was launched. The first video shown was this:

I would say that their prediction has not come true, seeing that MTV rarely shows music videos, these days.
I saw the headline that said that, on this date in 1972, George W Bush was suspended from flying in the Texas Air National Guard, and I thought, “Ooh…juicy gossip.” But all he did was miss an annual medical exam. Boring.


Well, Christi’s foot is giving her massive pain again. In fact, she says it’s actually worse than it was before the cortisone shot. Other than that, things are pretty normal around here. I think Stephanie’s going to be helping out at The Exchange for the next few nights as they do their version of Vacation Bible School, called “Extreme Nights.” This year, the theme is “Zapped.” Some of our lifehouse members are graciously giving her a ride, as they are going to be there, too.


Father, I pray for a glimpse of your face this morning, and inspiration to keep me looking to you during this day.


Today, I’m reading Psalm 62. This psalm of David has a recurring theme, which is this:
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
(1-2;5-6)

After the second time, another verse is added.
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. (7)

I like the usage of the words “alone” and “only” in this psalm, as David recognizes that God is his sole source for salvation and protection. In verse 8, he makes this plea to the people.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.
I would make the same plea to all people. God is our refuge. Trust in him. Pour out your hearts to him.


My Utmost For His Highest

When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. Matthew 11:1

This is rather interesting. Jesus is sending his disciples “out,” we are not sure where. But he has spent all of chapter 10 instructing them. At the beginning of chapter 11, he is finished instructing them, they go to wherever they are going, and Jesus does what? He goes to their cities to teach and preach. Chambers makes a big deal out of obedience here. If God tells me to “Go,” and I stay because I’m concerned about my own people, then I deprive them of potential teaching of Jesus Christ. If I obey and leave it to God, then he comes into my city to teach. Over-simplified, perhaps, but the point is this. We have no right to debate with God over where we are going and what we put in competition with his commands. If what we call “duty” is placed in competition with his commands, then we are hurting more than just ourselves. If I say that I know what God told me to do, but my duty was to do something else, then I “do not believe that Jesus means what He says.”
We also need to be careful that we don’t play “spiritual amateur providence” in people’s lives. “Are we so noisy in our instruction of others that God cannot get anywhere near them?” I love that line. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of that, too. We must not be too sure about how God is going to work. We make declarations of how God does things, and then he works in a different way, and we don’t see it. God will not be put in a box.
Sometimes we have to wait on God. “Wait on God and he will work, but don’t wait in spiritual sulks because you cannot see an inch in front of you! Are we detached enough from our own spiritual hysterics to wait on God? To wait is not to sit with folded hands, but to learn to do what we are told.”
“We have to keep our mouths shut and our spirits alert.” That, my friends, is one of the hardest things for me to do!


Father, once again, I find myself praying for obedience. You have shown me what I need to be doing. Therefore, that is what I must do. There is nothing else right now. I am not to be waiting on another assignment, but must go about the one that you have given me. I do find this satisfying, though. I am still quite excited about the “ministry” that you currently have me doing. I pray that it will be successful in your eyes, as I continue to pray for others in and beyond my immediate sphere of influence. May you be glorified in me, Lord. Not that I can boast in anything but your power and in the cross of Christ. And when I must wait, I pray that I can, indeed, be detached from “spiritual hysterics” enough to be patient with you, knowing that all things are firmly in your grasp, and that you truly know what you are doing. You have a plan, and you are working that plan. I have no “duty” other than to do what you have told me.

I pray for this day. Lord, I pray for my wife’s feet. I pray that you would heal them from this pain she is experiencing. I pray for Stephanie today. I may not see her until late tonight, since she is going to help out at VBS. I thank you for her willingness to help out in this are. I thank you that she has a strong desire to be around your people. She actually enjoys the concept of community in your church, and I love that. You have given her a compassionate heart that is not immediately visible unless one takes time to get to know her. I praise you for this. I pray also that Christi and I will have a good work day today, successful in our jobs, and with minimal stress. May you be glorified in all we do.

Your grace is sufficient.


We must make sure “duty” does not interfere with God’s directions.