True Success

Today is Friday, the fifteenth of April, 2022, in the sixth week of Lent, Holy Week. It is “Good Friday.”

May the peace of Christ be with you today.

Day 23,409

It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.

I’m off work today, as I will be every Friday, going forward, until my schedule changes again, if it does. But the library is closed today, anyway, and, based on what I’m hearing, usually is closed for Good Friday, as all city offices are also closed.

We have a funeral to attend, this afternoon, and are about to get ready to go pick up a good work friend of C’s, and go have lunch together, and then she will ride to the funeral with us, as she also worked for the man who passed away.

I have several book reviews to write, today, at some point. I may not attend the Good Friday service this evening. I have not yet decided on that. And I’m still not sure what we are doing for church Sunday morning.

The Texas Rangers won their game, last night, beating the Angels (and Ohtani!) 10-5. Included in that game was a grand slam by catcher Jonah Heim, who also batted in another run, and scored at least one more, himself. That was the first grand slam ever allowed by Ohtani, and I think I heard the radio announcers say that it was the first home run hit off of that particular pitch of his. Also included in the game was Corey Seager finally getting his first Rangers home run (he flirted with that a couple days ago, but it was stolen from him by a great outfield catch). They play again tonight, at 7:05 CDT, apparently with Matt Bush starting.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Good Friday)

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for great discussions/conversations with C and Mama
2. for friends with which to have lunch
3. for the death of Jesus on the cross, which paid for all our sins
4. for a life that has been lived with the "correct" definition of success (obeying God's voice, having love and peace, helping others, and appreciating the blessing of family)
5. that "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God"

“When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.”
(Deuteronomy 24:19-22 ESV)

Today’s prayer word is “success.” This is a tricky one, I think. We need to be careful, of course, how we define “success.”

Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.
(Proverbs 16:3 NLT)

There is also this famous verse, not included in the reading for today.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
(Joshua 1:8 ESV)

What is success? When classmates vote “most likely to succeed,” they are probably considering who will “make a name for themselves, earn lots of money, and enjoy an illustrious career.”

I really like what today’s reading says. Written by “Barbranda,” she says “While I’ve had goals, I can honestly say that I’ve never had a master plan. I just take life step by step and make the most of the opportunities that come my way. For me, true success is obeying God’s voice, having love and peace, helping others, and appreciating the blessing of family.” (I added the emphasis)

Indeed, I agree. That is what makes up true success. I have never really had what others might call a “life goal,” or “master plan.” I’ve just kind of plodded along, trying to do that same thing that Barbranda said.

" . . . and step by step You'll lead me,
and I will follow You all of my days."
(Written by David Strasser, aka "Beaker," for Rich Mullins)

(From Pray a Word a Day)

We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
(Luke 23:41 NIV)

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:5 NIV)

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV)

We need a lot of help “getting our feet on the ground and making sure we are headed in the right direction.” Our ground is, to a degree, “holy ground,” and the “‘right direction’ is toward the Cross of Jesus.'” Unfortunately, a lot of clutter gets into our lives, littering that holy ground, and voices cry out to us, distracting us from the Cross.

We have to cultivate our inwardness, and this must be intentional. “Spiritual practices, including prayer and fasting, are about getting our inside stories straight.” We must realize that a lot of, maybe most of, Jesus’s life happened “behind the scenes, in prayer. . . . It is not enough to become knowledgeable in surface facts. it is not enough to gain access to the biblical reports. We need the inside story, the God-story, that is at the heart of everything.

“Prayer grants access to inwardness, to the God-action that is taking place within us. This God-action is the most distinctive thing about us. it is more important than our circulatory systems, our brain waves, and our skeletal structures. When we realize that huge centrality, we are no longer content with prayers that are brief and occasional expressions of thanks or general laments upward. We want something comprehensive – prayer that is rigorously probing and capable of getting at the entire inside stories of our lives.”

I apologize for the lengthy quote, but, as is so often the case, I simply cannot adequately paraphrase Peterson’s writing.

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, this is the kind of prayer, this kind of inwardness, that I am looking for. As I walk through this Good Friday, may my heart, soul, and mind be turned inward toward this “inside story.” I want to know Jesus in this way, and I want to be walking on this “holy ground,” toward the direction of the Cross of Christ. Even if I only move 1% closer each day, I am satisfied with that, as it is progress toward true success. And “success” will be realized when I “arrive,” which will not happen until I stand face to face before You.

Help me to know as I am known. Help me to walk in the present, being aware of Your presence always with me, beside me, behind me, in front of me, above me, below me, and inside me.

May all the glory go to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

With the Prairies I Am Calling Out Your Name

Today is Monday, the twentieth of September, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,202

Only two days until the Autumnal Equinox!

I’ve been sitting here listening to Rich Mullins songs, and reflecting on some other folks’ reflections on his life. I get a weekly email from Carolyn Arends, Christian singer/songwriter from Canada, and she shared some reflections, as well as an article or two from others. She even shared a piece that Rich had written, comparing renovating his apartment to renovations of the heart.

I replied back to Carolyn . . . I always cry on September 19. This year, it bled over into September 20. Man, I miss Rich Mullins.

I’m off work today. Which is probably obvious, because I would be at work already if I were working today. Plans for today include laundry (already started), sweeping the floors, and taking that ATT Internet gateway to Fed Ex, because they are closed on Sunday. Hah. Didn’t even think to check on that. Fortunately I had a couple other things to do on that trip out of the house.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

And I know this thirst will not last long
That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And with the prairies I am calling out Your name
(Rich Mullins, Calling Out Your Name)

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.
(Psalms 63:1-3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the legacy of the ragamuffin, Rich Mullins
2. that, along with Rich, and the prairies, I am calling out Your Name
3. for the great and wonderful blessings in my life
4. for Your provision for my life and for my family
5. for the faithfulness of Your promises, and the truth that, if we but listen to You, You will fill our mouths with the best and richest foods

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK EIGHTEEN – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
(Psalms 139:14 NLT)

As I pause, during this quiet moment, I consider Your ways, and how You have made us, each one of us “wonderfully complex.” Your workmanship is, indeed, marvelous.

BIBLE SONG

Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
if you would only listen to me, Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not worship any god other than me.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

“But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.

“If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!
Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him,
and their punishment would last forever.
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
(Psalms 81:8-16 NIV)

BIBLE READING

When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vow, Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the LORD, and he will live there always.”
“Do what seems best to you,” her husband Elkanah told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the LORD make good his word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.
After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.
(1 Samuel 1:21-28 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I remind myself that I am in Your presence, and ask You to show me wonderful things from Your Word, by the power of Your Holy Spirit.

In the psalm, another of Asaph’s psalms, it is written in the voice of God, as He speaks to His people. It is a warning to listen. While specifically addressed to Israel, this is one instance where I think it would be acceptable to insert the word “Church” in place of Israel. The Lord would have us heed Him, listen to Him.

First and foremost, we are to have no other “gods” before Him. Truly, there is no other God. But many of us, at many different times, fall prey to having other “gods” that we worship in our lives. That god could be any number of things, and, for most of us, will not be any kind of statue or “golden calf.” We fall into the trap of worshiping things that are more intangible, like money (you might think money is tangible, and that’s your prerogative, but I believe “money” is an idea more than a real thing; I can certainly touch a dollar bill, but that “dollar” is an imaginary idea that is represented by the paper), sports, family, patriotism, politics, sex, and so on.

The Lord makes a very simple promise in verse 10. “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” When I read that, the picture in my mind is of baby birds, eagerly awaiting food from their mother.

The danger of not listening is that we get left to our own devices, and allowed to follow our own stubborn hearts. It’s as if the Lord says to us, “Okay. You want to go that way? Then go that way.”

I have no idea why we do that. I cannot answer why, when we have the massive promises of Almighty God before us, promises to fill our mouths, overflow our cups, send our enemies running, why we would choose our own path. Hear me well, I have done it, too. I’m no different than any other human being.

It is nothing short of ridiculous; asinine. By the way, that word means “extremely stupid or foolish.” Synonyms include the two words in the definition, along with pointless, brainless, mindless, senseless, doltish, idiotic, imbecilic, and so on.

Asaph is warning us, speaking as God in the first person. Listen. Heed. The promises of fulfillment are there, and they are trustworthy.

Trying to figure out why we choose to go our own way is part of that complexity of which Psalm 139 speaks, I suppose.

Hannah, the mother of Samuel, experienced God’s answer, His provision, firsthand. He answered her prayer in a big way. And she kept her own promise to God, which is rare. As soon as Samuel was weaned, she delivered him to Eli and proclaimed that she was, in honor of her prayer and promise, giving Samuel to the Lord. The Hebrew word in verse 28 produces some interesting translations. NIV and NLT render it “give,” while KJV and ESV say “lent,” as though it were temporary. MSG says “dedicated.” As for the versions that say “lent,” there is a stipulation that this is for as long as Samuel lives, so it is not temporary.

As we call out His name, along with all the saints, throughout all history, and with the prairies and the rocks, I think we can see the value in proclaiming the great and precious promises of the Lord. Hannah was quick to give God credit when she brought Samuel to Eli. There is no doubt in her mind or heart that Samuel is a gift from God, an answer to her prayer, and she has no qualms whatsoever in surrendering this child to God for lifelong service.

We should follow her example. She was not, likely, well-versed in theology. She was, by all probability, a simple woman. But she preached a message to us that is holds more truth than some of the most theologically correct messages I’ve ever heard. So when we gather together, whether it be over zoom, or in person, or even watching a streaming worship service, let us be faithful in proclaiming the great gifts and blessings of God in our lives.

Father, I worship You, this morning, calling out Your Name with the prairies, with all of creation, as all creation sings Your glory. I call out Your Name along with every saint that has ever existed, throughout all time. I call out Your Name alongside Hannah, who worships You because of Samuel. I call out Your Name with Asaph, who begs us to listen to You, and open wide our mouths, that You might fill them. I thank You, Father, for the many blessings and gifts and provisions with which You gift us, for everything that I have received is a gift from You. Help us to listen to You, Lord; teach us to hear Your voice, and may it ring loudly and clearly over the noise of the world, that we may recognize when it is You instructing us and guiding us. Satisfy me with honey from the rock; feed me with the finest of wheat.

I praise You, Lord, for music, for color, for beauty, and for all of my senses with which I can take all of these in. I praise You for the wonder, beauty, and complexity of creation, of which we are the crowning glory. May we do a better job of caring for creation.

"God who speaks and listens,
if I waited to feel in the mood,
I fear You wouldn't hear too much from me.
I need prayer to keep me freshly aware that I depend on You for everything,
and that everything I have is a gift from You.
And so here I am,
with open hands and grateful heart.
Amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4 NLT)

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.
(James 2:8 NIV)

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
(2 Corinthians 10:3-5 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!

O God, You are my God and I will ever praise You.
O God, You are my God and I will ever praise You.
I will seek You in the morning, and I will learn to walk in Your ways,
and step by step, You'll lead me, and I will follow You all of my days.
(Step by Step, by Beaker and Rich Mullins)

Grace and peace, friends.

Oh, God, You Are My God…

It’s Thursday, August 2, 2012. Almost Friday. Today, apparently, is “National Ice Cream Sandwich Day.” I can do that. Skinny Cow for the win! Why is it that so many of these “holidays” have to do with dessert?

It was on this date in 1776 that the delegates signed the Declaration of Independence. On this date in 1934, Adolf Hitler became absolute dictator of Germany, under the title Fuhrer (leader). On this date in 1939, Wes Craven was born. The Nightmare had just begun… On this date in 1876, Wild Bill Hickock was murdered in a saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota. He was playing poker, sitting with his back to the door. Jack McCall walked in and shot him in the back of the head.

The Texas Rangers came back and won a shocker in the bottom of the 10th last night. Crazy.


We’re mostly doing okay. Things are pretty normal and average, for the most part right now. I guess that’s good. Christi’s foot is still hurting her quite a bit, though, which is disappointing. Hopefully, she will get some relief soon. This weekend, we have an afternoon at Hawaiian Falls water park in Roanoke, with our church family from The Exchange. It’s a sort of finale to our VBS nights this week. We’ve never been to Hawaiian Falls, but hear that it’s a pretty cool place. We have plenty of SPF 100+ sunblock.


Father, I begin the day with thanksgiving. I’m thankful for another day. I thank you that your Spirit prompted me to start my morning by giving thanks. I pray now for some glimpse of you during my devotions. Give me the inspiration to live this day looking to you, being filled with the joy of your presence.


Today, I’m reading Psalm 63. David wrote this beautiful psalm when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
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.
But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth;
they shall be given over to the power of the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

This has long been a favorite psalm of mine. It always makes me think of this…

I still miss Rich Mullins…15 years this September.


My Utmost For His Highest
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Most people think that the Christian life means that we will be delivered from trouble. The truth, however, is that we are delivered in trouble. There is a huge difference.
For children of God, there will certainly be troubles, and Jesus told us that we should not be surprised when they come. Chambers says that many people become “fushionless” after being born again “because they have the wrong idea of a saint.” I looked up “fushionless,” and found that it is a Scot word, meaning physically weak or lacking energy. It could also be said of food or drink, that it lacks flavor. So if we have the wrong idea of what it means to live the Christian life, we can become weak or “flavorless.” Average; mediocre; bland. All because we think that being a Christian means that we aren’t supposed to have trouble any more.
“God does not give us overcoming life: He gives us life as we overcome. The strain is the strength. If there is no strain, there is no strength.” This has meaning to me, especially now that I have been working out since January. Part of my workout regimen is a few minutes on weight machines. Anyone who has used weights effectively knows that, in order to increase strength, you have to life enough to make you strain. When we face strain, we gain strength. It is the same in our walk with God. If we face the trouble, head on, we will gain strength. If we make every effort to avoid trouble, we will never grow.
I like the last line of today’s reading. “The saint is hilarious when he is crushed with difficulties because the thing is so ludicrously impossible to anyone but God.” That is a difficult mindset, indeed. But it is the correct one. Yes…in this world, we will have trouble. But Jesus has overcome.


Oh, God, you are my God, and I will ever praise you! I earnestly seek you in this dry and weary land, where there is no water. I pray for your sustaining grace, daily. Just enough grace for this day, Father. I pray that I might face trouble each day, surrendered in the shadow of your grace. Of course, I will pray for a lack of trouble. I will never ask for trouble to come my way. That’s rather masochistic. I do not desire trouble. But I pray that, when trouble does come my way, I will face it, head on, with your grace as my shield, my umbrella, so to speak. May I seek your overcoming as my refuge. Jesus, you have overcome. Pray that your life be continuously infused into mine. Your righteousness has been imputed to me. Your life is part of me. My life is in you. I do not understand these mysteries, but I believe them to be true. Therefore, when I am faced with trouble, I will, through your life, be an overcomer. Give me life as I overcome. May I be “hilarious” when “crushed with difficulties!” Your grace is sufficient.

I pray for this day. I pray again (and still) that you would relieve the pain in Christi’s foot today. I pray for your healing hand on her body. Please give her relief. I pray for the big presentation she has this afternoon. Give her confidence and success in this meeting. I pray for my day, that it will go well, and that all of our deliveries will be made without any issues. I pray that Stephanie will have a good day at home, today. May your grace and mercy fall on her today, Lord.


God’s grace is an overflowing stream. Immerse yourself in that stream today. When trouble comes, remember that he has overcome.

Grace and peace, friends.