Marvelous, Infinite, Matchless

“Difficulties and suffering are not problems for which the gospel provides an escape, but part of a reality that the Christian experiences and in which Christians share a faith by encouraging one another in hope.” ~ Eugene H. Peterson, God’s Message for Each Day

Today is Wednesday, the 8th of March, 2023, in the second week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,736

I had a great night at the library, last night. After shelving a cart of DVD movies and series, I worked on pulling a list of audiobooks that are being “weeded,” due to non-circulation. We are always trying to make room in the library, so we can best utilize our space. Recently, we have consolidated the magazine section, and will be pulling out one of the racks. I think they might be planning to make more study spaces in there. I believe I heard my manager say that, once the audiobook section is weeded, we will be expanding DVD space. People do still check out audiobooks, but there are quite a few of them that simply don’t get circulated. The manager looks at the numbers and pulls the ones that haven’t been checked out in a long time. I’m pretty sure our CD section will eventually be going away completely.

I will not be taking S to an appointment, this morning. For some reason, they weren’t able to schedule the time for today, but we have one scheduled for March 22, two weeks from today, so we will make that one. The only other thing I have on my agenda for today is choir practice this evening. Well, that and cooking dinner, which will be Beefy American Goulash tonight, from Emily Bites. It is a family favorite, and it always leaves at least two servings of leftovers.


Trouble and anguish have come upon me, 
but your commandments are my delight.
(Psalms 119:143 NRSV)

I would not say that “trouble and anguish have come upon me.” If ever they do, they are usually of my own making. I am, after all, a sinner, saved by the grace of God. I will say, though, with no hesitation, that God’s Word is my delight.

Daily Prayer from

Lord Jesus, we bow before you, before you to whom all power is given. We will love you, O Lord. We will treasure you. Your thoughts shall be our thoughts, that we may learn how you are named in heaven, on earth, and below the earth. Watch over us and be with us until you can come, until the time is fulfilled when you will appear among us and establish God’s kingdom. Then the whole world will rejoice and all people will bend their knees before you, the one Lord and Savior. Amen.

Therefore God also highly exalted him 
and gave him the name that is above every name, 
so that at the name of Jesus 
every knee should bend, 
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
and every tongue should confess 
that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:9-11 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the Word of God, in which I delight
  • for the name of Jesus, exalted above every name
  • that, as my soul waits for Him, the Lord is my help and my shield
  • that, no matter the circumstances, God’s grace is greater than any pressure or struggle or temptation I might face
  • for the community of saints, from which we get great support and encouragement for one another

But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:33 NRSV)

when I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; 
I am not afraid; 
what can flesh do to me?
(Psalms 56:3-4 NRSV)

O sing to the LORD a new song,
 for he has done marvelous things. 
His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory. 
The LORD has made known his victory; 
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
(Psalms 98:1-2 NRSV)
Our soul waits for the LORD; 
he is our help and shield. 
Our heart is glad in him, 
because we trust in his holy name. 
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, 
even as we hope in you.
(Psalms 33:20-22 NRSV)
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! 
How vast is the sum of them! 
I try to count them—
they are more than the sand; 
I come to the end—
I am still with you.
(Psalms 139:17-18 NRSV)
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples, 
and I will sing praises to you among the nations.
(Psalms 108:3 NRSV)

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.

"O God,
who before the passion of your only-begotten Son 
revealed his glory upon the holy mountain:
Grant that I,
beholding by faith the light of his countenance,
may be strengthened to bear my cross,
and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory;
through Jesus Christ my Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
(Isaiah 30:18 NRSV)

And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19 NRSV)

Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love.
(Hebrews 13:1 MSG)

I have a couple of quotes today, from my resources:

“I asked God to remind me that the pressures I faced were never greater than the grace He supplied.” ~ Bill Giovennetti, Walking in Grace 2023

“Difficulties and suffering are not problems for which the gospel provides an escape, but part of a reality that the Christian experiences and in which Christians share a faith by encouraging one another in hope.” ~ Eugene H. Peterson, God’s Message for Each Day

Grace, grace, God's grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, God's grace
Grace that is greater than all our sin

Those of us who are “older” probably remember that great hymn, “Grace Greater Than Our Sin,” Julia H. Johnston. “Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, freely bestowed on all who believe.”

And while it is most definitely true that this grace, this marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, is greater than all our sin, it is also greater than many other things in our lives.

It is greater than our temptations; it is greater than our trials and tribulations; it is greater than the pressures we might feel on the job; it is greater than the clogged toilet in the bathroom or the broken swimming pool pipes; it is greater than both the physical and spiritual storms that we might encounter.

Now, as brother Peterson has so aptly pointed out, this grace is not an escape from these things. Yes, God will deliver us from them, but He will not prevent them from happening to us. If we mistakenly believe this, we will be gravely disappointed. and we only have to go as far as Paul to find this out.

Remember, Paul had this “thorn in the flesh,” of which he spoke. No one knows what that was. If they claim to, don’t believe them. Ironically, there have been entire sermons preached on that subject. Anything we can come up with is pure speculation. It might have been physical, but it very well may have been spiritual, as well. We simply don’t know. What we do know, however, is that Paul asked repeatedly for it to be removed, and God repeatedly said, “No.”

Take that, all you people who make false claims that God will give you anything you ask for, if you just believe hard enough.

You know what God said to Paul. If you are a Bible reader, you know.

but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
(2 Corinthians 12:9 NRSV)

Paul did not waste any time whining. He chose to boast, to boast in his own weakness, so that God’s power could dwell in him.

Another thing that Peterson points out is that this grace is amplified when we are together. Oh, how I have learned this, the older I get. I am, myself, pretty much an introvert. But I have experienced the power and strength of the community of saints. There is something miraculously strong about “life together,” as Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it.

I have preached from this forum how much we need one another. We are not islands. We are not capable of doing this life alone, and God never intended for us to be. And while the “traditional” church institution definitely has its problems, one thing that it does seem to do well is “life together.”

We share this faith by encouraging one another in hope.

Father, I am in awe of Your grace. I have been, and continue to be, a recipient of the miracle of grace in my life. The very fact that I am sitting here typing this is a miracle of grace. I have no right to expect anything from You or anyone else. The only thing I expect from You is that You will do what You say You will do. I hope and trust in Your infinite faithfulness. And I hope and trust in your “marvelous, infinite, matchless grace.”

It truly is infinite, Father. There is no end to Your grace, and there is enough to go around, for every person on the planet (or in the universe if You have pulled off creations on other planets, as well).

Father, as we revel in this marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, may we do it together. Help us to live our lives together, and not try to isolate ourselves. Forgive us for even attempting to do that. Forgive me for when I try to do this life alone. Thank You for leading me to the church body where I am currently attending. Help me to be a valuable part of it. Help me to be one who encourages others in hope as we share this faith together.

Your grace is sufficient, Lord. It is greater than anything we could possible face. Help me to remember that, the next time the Internet quits working, or the electricity goes off. Help me to remember that when our adult autistic daughter has a meltdown. Help me to remember that when I miss loved ones who have passed on before me. And most of all, help me to remember that when I slip and fall into the pits of sin.

Your grace is sufficient.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.


Today is Sunday, the 5th of February, 2023. It is the fifth Sunday after Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ surround you today.

Day 23,705

Yesterday may have been the busiest day I have ever experienced at the library. The book drops stayed full, pretty much all day. But the three of us in circulation stayed on it and got it done. There were a lot of new library cards given out, and it seems that we noted an unusual number of couples coming in to get cards together. One particular couple that I worked with were very excited about it, and that made me very happy. Several of them had recently moved to the area and provided leases as their proof of address. And in two of the couples, the woman had an out of state ID/DL. But, as long as they have the lease with their name on it, that serves as proof of address and they can get a card.

One thing for sure, we were never bored, yesterday.

I’m up early, this morning, as I am reading the Scripture lesson in the 8:45 service at Living Word Lutheran Church. So I need to be at the church by 8:25. Then I am meeting with the music director at 10:00 to discuss what solo I will sing on February 26. After that, I will come home, because I will have received communion in the early service.

So on to the important stuff.

Update: I’m finishing this after the morning service, back at home. The reading went well, and the director and I have chosen a song that I will sing on February 26.


I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, 
to the end.
(Psalms 119:112 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from

Lord our God, keep us in your Spirit. Surround us with your protection, so that in body and soul we may praise your might and be joyful even in a world full of evil. Shine into our hearts, that we may discern what is right and good and eternal. May you do more than we can ask or understand for those who still walk in darkness far away from you. May your eternal mercy enfold them, and may the earth be filled with thanks to you, the Creator and Father of us all. Amen.

To the leader: according to Muth-labben. A Psalm of David. 

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; 
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. 
I will be glad and exult in you; 
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
(Psalms 9:1-2 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for a good day at the library job, yesterday
  • for the wonderful deeds of the Lord, for which I am able to give thanks and praise, daily
  • for my musical talent and ability, that helps me give thanks and praise to the Lord
  • that, when I find myself afraid, I can put my trust in Him, “In God, whose word I praise” (Psalm 56:4)
  • for a wonderful worship service, this morning
  • for my story, so far . . . it’s not over, yet

O come, let us sing to the LORD; 
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; 
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
(Psalms 95:1-2 NRSV)
To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm. 

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, 
you who lead Joseph like a flock! 
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, 
shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. 
Stir up your might, and come to save us! 
Restore us, O God; 
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
(Psalms 80:1-3 NRSV)
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day.

 It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
 to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, 
and your faithfulness by night, 
to the music of the lute and the harp, 
to the melody of the lyre.
(Psalms 92:1-3 NRSV)
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; 
I am not afraid; what can flesh do to me?
(Psalms 56:4 NRSV)
"Do to others as you would have them do to you. 
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
(Luke 6:31-36 NRSV)
How can young people keep their way pure? 
By guarding it according to your word. 
With my whole heart I seek you; 
do not let me stray from your commandments.
 I treasure your word in my heart, 
so that I may not sin against you. 
Blessed are you, O LORD; 
teach me your statutes. 
With my lips I declare all the ordinances of your mouth.
 I delight in the way of your decrees as much as in all riches. 
I will meditate on your precepts, 
and fix my eyes on your ways.
 I will delight in your statutes; 
I will not forget your word.
(Psalms 119:9-16 NRSV)

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

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.

"Set me free, O God, from the bondage of my sins, 
and give me the liberty of that abundant life 
which you have made known to me in your Son 
our Savior Jesus Christ; 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, 
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
(Proverbs 31:30 NRSV)
God is in the midst of the city; 
it shall not be moved; 
God will help it when the morning dawns.
(Psalms 46:5 NRSV)
A capable wife who can find? 
She is far more precious than jewels.
(Proverbs 31:10 NRSV)

“That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight.”
(Matthew 13:13 MSG)

Who doesn’t love a good story? The popularity of movies and television bears this out. Story is important. One reason is that we all have a story. There’s not a single person who has ever lived who did not have a story.

Some of us, however, are reticent to share that story, for some reason.

I shared part of my story, just this morning. I had a conversation with the music director, while we were going over some music, in which I shared a brief overview of my journey as music minister/worship leader.

The way we connect with others is, so often, through story. Connections are not authentic when one person is not interested in the other person’s story.

We find God through story. The revelation comes to us through story, both through Old and New Testaments.

One reason story is so essential to us is that it is how life happens. Life . . . "has a narrative shape--a beginning and end, plot and characters, conflict and resolution. Life isn't an accumulation of abstractions such as love and truth, sin and salvation . . . ; life is the realization of details that all connect . . . : names and fingerprints, street numbers, . . . God reveals himself to us . . . in the kind of stories we use to tell our children who they are and how to grow up as human beings." 
(Eugene H. Peterson, Leap Over A Wall, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)

Over time, I will share parts of my story in this forum. My story is who I am. The parts of it are what make me who I am today.

Part of my story involves two women who, I believe, embody the two verses from Proverbs, up there. My wife and my mother. My story would be incomplete without either one. Well, obviously, it wouldn’t exist without a mother. But you know what I mean. While everyone has a mother (or had one) not all mothers fit the description of a “woman who fears the Lord.” Mine does, as does my wife. And both figure quite heavily into my story, which would likely be much shorter without either one.

I challenge all who read this to think about their story, today, and in the days ahead. How would you share it with someone else? Would it be different for someone who is not a Christ-follower? I should think so. There is nothing wrong with having a different version of your story, based on your “audience.”

Father, I am grateful for my story, so far. I am grateful that You have always been part of my story, even from before I was born. In fact, I believe that You are part of my story from before the foundations of the earth. Thank You for the contributions that my parents and my wife have made to this story. As well as for the parts that have involved other people along the way. But my parents and my wife, specifically, have been a most important piece of it.

I know that I have led a somewhat privileged life. I won’t try to deny that. And I’m grateful for that. I do my best to take that and share it, though, as You bring me opportunities. Help me to always be willing to do so. Let not that privilege become entitlement. I do not deserve anything, nor am I owed anything. I owe all to You.

As for the rest of my story, You have already written it. May I be a willing participant, submissive to both You and others, as well. Help me to always consider others more significant than myself, in this life, thereby being a servant both to You and my fellow human beings.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:18-21 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.