Adorned with Holiness

Today is Sunday, the third of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,215

Nine days until our 36th anniversary!

I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to baseball season, lately, and am a bit surprised to see the scenario on this, the last official day of the 2021 season. The Texas Rangers have been out of the picture since the beginning of the season. It’s been a terrible season for them, which reflects the horrible management in the organization. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. My other favorite team, though, the Boston Red Sox have bounced around all season, having been in first place for a little bit, and now finding themselves in a quite precarious situation.

Sadly, the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays have clinched the division title, and have the best record in the AL, having won 100 games. But here’s the thing: on the last day of the season, the Red Sox and Yankees (I suppose this is fitting), are tied for the two AL Wild Card spots. And the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays are tied, one game behind the Yankees and Red Sox. There are several different ways this could play out, as none of those four teams is playing any of the other. The Red Sox are playing the Washington Nationals, who are in last place in their division. Not necessarily a gimme. The Yankees, on the other hand, are playing Tampa Bay. But that also doesn’t necessarily mean anything, because Tampa has no reason to try to win this game.

Toronto is playing Baltimore, the second worst team in MLB, but that is not necessarily a gimme, either. The really bad teams always have a tendency to mess up seasons for good teams. Seattle is playing the Angels, who aren’t that great this season, either.

If all four teams win their games, nothing changes. The Red Sox and Yankees will play one Wild Card game to see who gets to the real playoffs. If the Sox lose and the other three win, there apparently will be a three-way tie for the second spot, and a series of playoff games will occur. I’m getting this from the Bleacher Report, by the way. The best thing is for the Sox to win, and it won’t matter what the other three do. But if they win, and the Yankees lose, and the Mariners and Blue Jays both win, there will still be a three-way tie for the second spot.

Does your head hurt, yet? It’s been a while since I’ve seen a WC race like this, so it’s rather exciting. On the other hand, the way the Sox have been playing, going into this time, they don’t deserve a playoff spot. First, they got swept by the Yankees last weekend, then they lost a series to the Orioles. But we’ll see what happens. I might watch, or at least listen to, some baseball today.

My day at the library was good, yesterday. Most of the day was spent at the circulation desk, with an hour processing new books, and another hour (a little more, actually) clearing the book drops. I also found out that I’m still not perfect (that’s a joke . . . I’ll never be perfect, but I certainly want to be). Several scenarios occurred in which I needed help from the assistant librarian, who was more than happy to help me. I like this lady. She can be intimidating if you don’t understand her, but she is just very direct with her answers. It’s not personal. It’s just the way she is. You ask a question, and you get an answer. It might sound like she’s being impatient, but she really isn’t.

Oh, and I was also given a nice shirt, yesterday. There’s this patron, a lady who comes in pretty much every day and spends a great deal of time in the computer center. She apparently has a history of being very appreciative towards the library staff, and she already likes me. So she gave me a rather nice polo-style shirt, yesterday. I checked with the circulation manager to make sure it was okay for me to accept it. In some companies, that’s not allowed. But she said as long as I was comfortable accepting it, it was okay.

My next work shift is Tuesday evening, 4:15-8:15.

Today, we have our zoom church gathering. Last week, some people actually met in person at the host home. But this week, the other two leaders are at “the ranch,” and it is one of their turn to lead, so we will be zooming, only, today.

Today is Change A Light Day. I realize that the concept represented is switching from incandescent bulbs to more energy-efficient sources. But it does remind me that we have a few bulbs, in our house, that are burned out.

The word for today is fetching, an adjective that means, “charming; captivating.” Harold thought himself quite fetching in his new corduroy jacket.

Today’s quote is from Winston Churchill: “Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.”

Significant birthdays on October 3:

James Herriot, English veterinarian and author (All Creatures Great and Small), 1916-1995
Ken Berry, American actor (F Troop, Mayberry RFD), 1933-2018
Eddie Cochran, American rock musician (Summertime Blues), 1938-1960 (car crash)
Lindsey Buckingham, American rock musician (Fleetwood Mac), 1949 (72)
Dennis Eckersley, American baseball HOF pitcher, 1954 (67)
Stevie Ray Vaughan, American blues guitar player, 1954-1990
Gwen Stefani, American singer/songwriter (No Doubt), 1969 (52) (SEVEN years older than Blake Shelton)
Shannyn Sossamon, American actress (A Knight's Tale), 1978 (43)
Stevie

I did not remember to sing a song of praise, last night, before going to bed. But I did sing one, this morning. I played and sang this one:

“Is it good that we remind ourselves of this? It is.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Thy Will Be Done, by Daryl Madden

A lesson to pray
Taught by His Son
When we say our Father
Let Thy will be done

What is this will?
It’s Gods’ concrete ways
Of how He loves us
For all of our days

And as we pray more
In many ways shown
The will of His love
To us is made known

Begin now to see
The beauty within
The small, hidden life
That Jesus dwells in

Let Your will be my will
May actions align
Knowing in the finding
We live a life divine

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.

Today I am grateful:

1. for a time to worship You with other saints, if only by reading Your Word and pondering it
2. for songs of praise, declaring the infinite worthiness of Your holy Name
3. that You love righteousness and justice and that the earth is filled with Your unfailing love
4. that I can say, along with Jesus, "Thy will be done"
5. that holiness dwells within the saints
6. for the ocean and its representation of Your awesome power

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY – DAY ONE

INVITATION

The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.
(Psalms 33:5 NIV)

During this quiet moment, I pause and consider the worthiness of Jesus Christ, to receive blessing and honor and power and glory from every human being and all of creation. Is He worthy? He is!

BIBLE SONG

The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, LORD, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea— the LORD on high is mighty.

Your statutes, LORD, stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days.
(Psalms 93:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the LORD said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.'”
When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel.
David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.
(2 Samuel 5:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to be aware of Your presence with me, this morning, I ponder these Scriptures, seeking Your face within them, looking for Your truth and a path to follow. Holy Spirit, guide me!

Psalm 93, attributed to no author that we know of, stands as a majestic hymn of praise to our God. The theme is stated in the first three words, “The LORD reigns.”

The word pictures are tremendous. “He is robed in majesty.” And again, we are reminded of the timeless nature of our God. His throne was established “long ago,” and He is “from all eternity.”

Anyone who knows me for very long knows that I am a fan of the ocean. I love the ocean. I had a conversation with a new friend at work, last week, where we discussed our like or dislike of the beach. She is not a fan of the beach, primarily because of sand. At first I said I love the beach. But I amended that. It is not the beach I love. I can take it or leave it. It’s the ocean that I love.

The sheer enormity of it; its vastness and power; it is truly intimidating. Yet we puny mortals bravely venture out into it, sometimes on foot, to play. And sometimes, tragedy reminds us of our mortality, just as the ocean reminds us of its power.

The psalmist reminds us that, as powerful and majestic as the ocean is, our God is mightier. “Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea— the LORD on high is mighty.” (Verse 4)

Maybe that is why I love the ocean so much. It’s the closest thing I can see, on earth, to the power and majesty of God.

The psalmist then closes out with a simple truth. The statutes of our God stand firm, they will never be moved. And His house is adorned with holiness.

One thing to consider . . . where is God’s house? It is not a building made with brick and mortar, or with timber and nails.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”
(Revelation 21:3 NIV)

The dwelling place of God, by the Holy Spirit, is within the heart and soul of humans. Consider, too, then, that this “house” is adorned with holiness. We may not act very holy, sometimes, but it is there. Holiness is within us, because holiness dwells within us.

Father, I praise You for this truth. I pray that You would help me remember it more often. Like every minute of every day, so that I would stop acting in unholy ways. I thank You for the ocean, and its representation, faulty as it is, of Your awesome power. And, as powerful as it is, we can see your rule over it, as it has a line that it generally does not cross, even though there is no wall to stop it. And, at the same time, when man attempts to stop it with walls, it laughs at us, just as You laugh at mankind when we try to box You in or thwart Your plan. You are worthy, Lord, of all blessing and honor and glory!

May resurrection hope and joy fill our lives today, Father, and may we be faithful to share the good news of the Gospel of Christ.

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.

"Son of David,
throned on a cross,
crowned with thorns,
and coronated amid tears and taunts,
You appeared nothing like a king.
But through Your obedient sacrifice,
You are my eternal King,
my selfless Sovereign,
my loving Lord.
Willingly I bend the knee,
asking You to govern me by Your Word and Spirit,
to guard and keep me in the freedom You have won for me.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
(Matthew 5:6 NIV)

He said to [the Pharisees], “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.”
(Luke 16:15 NIV)

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 NIV)

Verses like this call for humility, as we tend to get all puffy and self-righteous. Yes, as the “house of God,” we are adorned with holiness, but this does not give us cause to flaunt this in self-righteousness. We need to be careful what we value.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
(Matthew 13:44 NIV)

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
(Luke 18:22 NIV)

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.
(Philippians 3:7-9 NLT)

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
(2 Peter 1:4 NLT)

“But the treasure is so great, that if you truly receive it, if you realize what you have, it will lead you to do everything you can, to use everything you have, and to give everything you can in response to having found it. If you’ve truly found this treasure, then it must lead you to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love others as yourself, to forgive as you have been forgiven, to give as you have been given to, to make your life a gift of love, and to do all this in joy in light of the treasure that has now come into your life. “

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

I truly love the contrast of Philippians 3:7-9 with Luke 16:15.

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!

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)

Grace and peace, friends.

A Pervasive Sense of Well-Being

Today is Tuesday, October 3, 2017. Day 21,754. Nine days until our 32nd anniversary (and scheduled weekend in Glen Rose)!

Stevie Ray Vaughan, who was born on this date in 1954 (died 1990), said, “So, my big brother was playing guitar and I figured I’d try it too.” Yep.
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Woke ~ “Slang. actively aware of systemic injustices and prejudices, especially those related to civil and human rights.”

Today is Techies Day. I’m pretty sure every day is Techies Day, in this culture.

We woke up to some horrible news, yesterday morning, and that was pretty much the only thing that was on the news all day, yesterday. It’s hard to process things like this. A lone gunman, with allegedly no affiliations, whatsoever, opens fire on an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, right across the street from the hotel room he is in. The most recent statistics I have heard say that almost sixty people were killed, and over five hundred injured (no doubt some of those in the ensuing panic). The stock evangelistic answer is that “the world needs Jesus.” While I would never deny the truth of that statement, it is so much deeper than that. What the world needs is true followers of Jesus, who are actually trying to walk in the Kingdom of God and follow the teachings of Jesus. This is why I’m ever striving to live my life in the way that Jesus would live it if he were me. Living life without anger and full of joy. Believe me, it’s not easy, and I fail regularly. But I believe I’m walking in the right direction.

Then, around mid-afternoon yesterday, reports started flying in that Tom Petty had died, at age 66. He was found unconscious, not breathing, after massive cardiac arrest. The thing is, he didn’t officially pass away until late last night. So a number of news agencies severely jumped the gun and reported something that wasn’t true. Yet. But it’s true, now. Tom Petty, possibly one of the most important songwriters of our day, has passed from this life. Here is a song that I heard for the first time, this morning. It’s called “The Last DJ,” and laments the direction that radio began to head years ago. The song was allegedly inspired by famous “Free Form Radio” DJ Jim Ladd, from “high in the Hollywood Hills,” in California.

We have baseball tonight, but only one game, as the Twins and Yankees face off for the single Wild Card game. Today, I’m a Twins fan.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. 
Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! 
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! 
God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.

Psalm 47:5-8
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
Psalm 70:4
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. 
Psalm 50:2
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
Psalm 14:1
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
Revelation 12:7-12
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. 
The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters. 
The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. 
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. 
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. 
The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire. 
The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. 
The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!” 
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever. 
May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

Psalm 29:2-11

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11

This verse, one of the verses in today’s reading from Daily Guideposts 2017, really stuck out, today. Joy is something that has been on my mind and heart, for the last few weeks. It’s the positive side of the idea of living life without anger. If I’m going to live without anger, there must be something positive with which to replace that anger, and that thing is joy.

What is joy? It is not the same thing as happiness. Happiness is based on circumstances. Joy is not. I can be unhappy, but still experience joy. My favorite definition of joy comes from Dallas Willard. He says that joy is “a pervasive sense of well-being.” In other words, “Everything is going to be alright.” And while that may sound somewhat “Pollyanna-ish,” for the follower of Christ it is most definitely true. To paraphrase Willard, he also said that, in the kingdom of God, everything is much better than you could ever imagine. So no matter what happens, even when someone commits the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, we can still have joy, because, as followers of Christ, we know that, no matter what, everything IS going to be alright.

Father, thank you for directing my attention to joy. Thank you that you are building in me that pervasive sense of well-being. I still have a long way to go. That anger still wells up, usually at least once a day, but at least, now, you have gotten me to a place where I recognize it almost immediately, and begin to depend on your Spirit to replace it with joy. Thank you that everything will be okay.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Fixing the Mind, Part Deux

Good morning. It is Saturday, October 3, 2015. One week until Play del Carmen!

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is haplology. This is the”contraction of a word by omission of one or more similar sounds or syllables,” such as in “probly,” instead of “probably.”

Today is Techies Day. Embrace your inner geek! Or your outer geek, if it’s not so inner!

I worked until 6:30 last night, so Christi did, too. Not because she had to, but, since I was working late, she decided to take that time to get caught up on some things. Christi got home a bit before me (I had to stop and get our obligatory Sonic drinks, you know), so she cooked dinner, which was crescent roll hot dogs, with chili on top, and crinkle-cut french fries. Yum!

We watched the season’s second episode of Castle, and I have to say that I do NOT like the way it ended. Not one bit. Then we watched the series pilot for The Grinder, starring Fred Savage and Rob Lowe. It was hilarious, and we loved it. Definitely a keeper, so it will probably get cancelled. Finally, we watched the series premier of The Blacklist, which has gotten more intense as Red and Liz Keen are now fugitives, running from her old partners at the FBI.

Today, we will do our usual grocery shopping, then have our prayer and worship gatherings for the last time on Saturday afternoon. Services for The Exchange will be at 9:15 on Sunday morning at the YMCA on North Beach Street, beginning next Sunday, October 11. We aren’t sure when the Anchor Prayer Gathering is going to be happening, yet, but we will work that out.

I think Rachel and Justin are coming over for lunch tomorrow. That’s always nice. Then we have five work days before we fly to Mexico for our anniversary vacation. At the moment, the forecasts are calling for light rain in Playa del Carmen, next Saturday and Sunday, but we aren’t terribly concerned about that. We’ll sit on the beach in the rain, if we have to. Of course, that makes it a bit harder to read . . .

On this date in 1283, Dafydd ap Gruffydd, prince of Gwynedd in Wales, became the first person to be executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered. What a lovely thing to be remembered for. Also, extra points if you can pronounce his name. I sure can’t. It was on this date in 1849 that Edgar Allan Poe was found delirious in a gutter in Baltimore. It was the last time he was seen in public before his death. In 1863, the last Thursday in November was declared to be Thanksgiving Day, by President Lincoln. In 1955, the Mickey Mouse Club debuted on ABC. In 1995, O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

And, in 1951, on October 3, this happened:

Today’s birthdays include James Herriot (English veterinarian and author), Gore Vidal (American author), Eddie Cochran (American guitarist/singer), Chubby Checker (American singer/songwriter), Lindsey Buckingham (American guitarist/singer, Fleetwood Mac), Dave Winfield (American baseball player), Stevie Ray Vaughan (American blues musician, Dallas, Texas), Dennis Eckersley (American baseball player), Tommy Lee (American drummer), Clive Owen (British actor), Gwen Stefani (American musician), Lena Headey (British actress), Neve Campbell (Canadian actress), Seann William Scott (American actor), and Shannyn Sossamon (American actress).

Eddie Cochran was born on this date in 1938. He became a teen rockabilly sensation. Tragically, he died at the age of 21, in a taxi accident, while traveling through Chippenham, Wiltshier, UK. According to reports, he threw himself over his fiance, songwriter Sharon Sheeley, to shield her. She and Gene Vincent, who was also riding in the cab, survived the accident. Here is a clip of his song “Summertime Blues.”

I can’t not mention Stevie Ray Vaughan, who was born on this date in 1954, Dallas, Texas. Another music legend whose life was cut short, Vaughan died in a helicopter crash on August 27, 1990, at the age of 35. Here is a live clip of his song “Rude Mood.”

Okay, one more. Lindsey Buckingham, sometimes lead guitar player for Fleetwood Mac, turns 66 today. Here is a live clip of “Gold Dust Woman.”

St. Francis of Assisi, Dafydd ap Gruffydd, Myles Standish, John Heisman, Woody Guthrie, Vince DiMaggio, Roddy McDowall, Janet Leigh, and Ronnie Barker are among notable deaths on this date.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Heart Aflame)

They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons;
they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood.
Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds.
Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people, and he abhorred his heritage;
he gave them into the hand of the nations, so that those who hated them ruled over them.
Their enemies oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their power.

Psalm 106:37-42

This is a dark and dreadful example of how far men can go when left to their own desires.

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

I’m continuing through the section on “Fixing the Mind,” looking at some other methods of meditating on Scripture. There are more questions that could be asked of a particular passage, more in the vein of application. We might look into a passage, looking for “any personal examples to emulate or avoid, for any commands to obey, for any promises to claim, and for any warnings to heed.” For this example, Timothy Keller goes to John 1:29-42.

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

There is an example to emulate, here, as we see John the Baptizer with his own disciples. He knows that following Jesus is more important than following him, so he points his own disciples to the “Lamb of God.” In like manner, we should be careful that we do not make nay human relationships more important than our relationship with Christ. Nor should we attempt to create disciples of ourselves, but disciples who follow Christ.

There is a command to “Behold;” “to believe and embrace Jesus as the Lamb of God.”

There is a promise, as Jesus tells those who have just begun to follow him, “Come and you will see.” When we follow Christ, it is a process, and he does not reveal everything to us at once. “Jesus calls us to come now and commit to him and as time goes on we will ‘see’ and learn wondrous things.”

We could even see a “mild warning implied here.” When we do come to Jesus and become his disciples, our lives are disrupted and things change. Jesus even changed Simon’s name to “Cephas (which means Peter).”

There are some other approaches that can be used with shorter passages, even single verses. One is to take a verse and work through it, emphasizing each word of the text. “Ask what each word uniquely contributes to the meaning of the text, or what meaning would be lost from the statement if that particular word were removed.” The example verse is Mark 1:17, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Emphasize “follow” and see that we are to do more than just be students, absorbing information. We are to emulate Christ, aligning our lives with him. Emphasize “me” and see that Jesus is very specific about who were are to follow. We are not to simply obey rules or commands, but to follow and obey Jesus. Emphasize “will” and we see that this is a promise, not just a possibility. Jesus does not say he “might” make us fishers of men. He promises that he will change and re-make us. This goes back, though, to the fact that we are involved in a journey that is a process. It will not happen suddenly, or overnight. So from this, you can get the idea of how to meditate through a verse, emphasizing individual words. This has actually been a favorite approach of mine.

You can also take a verse and paraphrase it, re-stating it in your own words. This might help you “think more deeply about the text than you would otherwise.” It might also cause you to realized you don’t know what a word means, which might lead you to further study.

And, finally, another way to meditate is to simply memorize a verse or passage. This might take more time and energy, but, in the long run, would be well worth it. “This tool of learning was a time-honored method used far more in the past than it is today, and that is a pity.” Of course, in this day of technology, where you can have the entire Bible at your fingertips in an app on your phone, memorization seems almost unnecessary. But one real benefit of it is that “memorized texts often come to you spontaneously during the day when you realize how it applies directly to a particular situation you are in.” Memorizing something has also been referred to as “learning by heart,” which will lead into the second concept of meditation, which I will probably look at tomorrow, “Inclining the Heart.”

Father, lead me toward better meditation in my life. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. May your Spirit lead me into a better understanding of your Word and how it applies to my life. Help me to do this by fixing my mind on your truth and bringing it down into my heart.

I pray for this day, that our errands will be done with your joy driving us. May our time together with fellow believers be sweet, this evening, and may your name be lifted high as we pray and worship together.

Come, Lord Jesus.

I hope that some might find these tips on meditation useful. I certainly have.

And now . . .

Grace and peace, friends.

We Belong to God

Good morning. It is pre-Friday, October 3, 2013.

Today is “Poetry Day.” There are many WordPress blogs that feature some pretty good poetry. There’s Whimsygizmo’s Blog, and Poetic Parfait, just to name a couple. Or, if you prefer, find a book of poems and just relax with your favorite beverage and some poetry. My favorite has always been the Family Book of Best Loved Poems. I grew up reading this book, and was delighted to find a copy of my own one day. I can’t even remember where I found it.


The baseball playoffs begin for real today. I don’t consider the “Wild Card Game” to be “playoffs.” I don’t like the addition of the second Wild Card. Yet another thing that Bud Lite Selig did to mess up baseball. Anyway. Today, we have the Pirates and the Cardinals at 4:00pm CDT and the Dodgers and the Braves at 7:30pm CDT. Unfortunately, all of the division series games are broadcast on TBS. I don’t like their broadcasters. But then, I don’t like the Fox national broadcasters, either. I like them even less. Joe Buck and Tim McCarver annoy me almost as much as ants in my house. Anyway. I don’t have much of a preference as to who wins either of today’s games. I’m just pulling for the Red Sox. My dream of a rematch of the 1975 Word Series died Tuesday night when the Pirates beat the Reds. I guess we could have a rematch of the very first World Series ever played, in 1903, which featured Boston and Pittsburgh. Boston didn’t have a name yet (they were sometimes called the “Boston Americans,” but, regardless of what anyone tells you, that was not the “official” name of the team), and it was a best of nine series. Boston won, five games to three.

Our swimming pool renovations are scheduled to begin today. We are very excited. It should look very pretty after it’s done.


(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1226, St Francis of Assisi died, at the age of 44. At the time of his death, he already widely known as a saint because of his “personal piety, various miraculous healings he brought about and his founding of the Franciscan order for men and the Poor Clares for women.” He was also known for his love of animals, “which he referred to as ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters.'” At the age of 42, he had a rather dramatic vision of a Seraph fixed to a cross. When the vision ceased, “Francis found the wounds of the stigmata on his body.” He loved life, but he hated property, and during his final hours, asked to be placed on the bare ground to die. It is said that his last words were, “Welcome, sister death.” He was made a saint only two years after his death, and 27 years later, “the majestic cathedral in Assis that was built to honor him was consecrated.”


Today’s birthday is, has to be, Stevie Ray Vaughan, born on this date in 1954. One of the best to every pick up a “blues” guitar, Stevie was sadly taken from this world in a helicopter crash in 1990.

Honorable mentions go to Gwen Stefani, 44, Neve Campbell, 40, Gore Vidal, 1925-2012, Chubby Checker, 72, Lindsey Buckingham, 64, James Herriot, 1916-1995, Lena Headey, 40, Greg Proops, 54, Keb Mo, 62, Eddie Cochran, 1938-1960, and Jake Shears, 35.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name! Psalm 97:12
Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
Psalm 86:1-2
Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. Psalm 28:6
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6

Father, I pray that you do hear my prayers each morning, and throughout each day. I have confidence that you hear, because of the promises of your words, and the blood of the Lamb, spilled on our behalf. I pray that you show me your truth this morning, that I might hunger and thirst even more for your righteousness.


Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Submit Yourselves Therefore to God.” The scripture reading is James 4:6-10.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

This passage gives us some difficult instruction. It shouldn’t be that difficult, but modern man is challenged when faced with the prospect of humility. Humility is not seen as a strength, these days, but a weakness. But when we humble ourselves before God, it “places us in the position to be freed from double-mindedness, a worldly and competitive spirit, and a judgmental attitude toward others.” How many of us struggle with those very things? When we submit ourselves in humility to God, several things happen. First, we get the ability to resist the devil, which causes him to flee from us. Then, when we draw near to God, he will draw near to us, giving “the inner results of forgiveness, acceptance, restoration, renewal, and guidance,” not to mention, peace and hope. Here is a quote from The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer:

“Every soul belongs to God and exists by His pleasure. God being who
and what He is, and we being who and what we are, the only thinkable
relation between us is one of full Lordship on His part and complete
submission on ours. We owe Him every honor that is in our power to give
Him. Our everlasting grief lies in giving Him anything less.”

We belong to God. That is a sobering thought that we should all ponder daily. We are not our own.


Father, I pray for humility; I pray for the ability to submit to you and to humble myself to you. May I constantly draw near to you, in order that I might experience you more fully. Help me to seek your kingdom and your righteousness for the sake of knowing you, not for the benefit that follows. it’s a fine line, Lord, but the motive is important. I don’t want to be one who serves you because of the great benefit that I receive, but for your glory alone. I pray that we all would remember that we belong to you, and that everything that you do for us and in us is for the sake of your glory. Even our salvation is for your glory. We struggle so much with trying to make everything about us when it is really all about you. Show me this daily, and show me the way of humility daily.

I pray for this day today, that Christi and I will have a good day today at work. May we be witnesses to your peace and hope in our lives throughout this day. Show Stephanie your steadfast love today, and draw her closer to your heart.

I pray for Phoebe Fair and her family. I do this every day, during my longer prayer time, but I want to pray extra for them today, as time seems to be getting shorter. Give them comfort and hope as they face reality. But at the same time, I will continue to pray for a miracle, until that miracle is no longer possible. Your grace is sufficient, and your will be done, Father.


May we remember to whom we belong today, and be humbly submissive to his will.

Grace and peace, friends.

Prayer Changes Me

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, August 28, 2012. Today is “National Cherry Turnover Day.” So get out there and turn over a cherry!

What?

Oh.

Get out there and EAT a cherry turnover! See? More desserts!

My apologies…somehow, yesterday morning, I completely missed that yesterday was the date, 22 years ago, that one of the greatest blues guitar players of all time, Stevie Ray Vaughan, died in a helicopter crash. I blame the History.com. So, in tribute, I offer this.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

On THIS date, in 1996, Charles and Diana were formally divorced, after being separated for four years. If you say, “Charles and Diana who?” I think I love you.
On this date in 1987, John Huston died. Wow. Has it really been that long? The first movie he directed was The Maltese Falcon He also directed The Bible: In the Beginning, which I remember seeing at a friend’s birthday party when I was very young. His 1985 movie, Prizzi’s Honor, was nominated for movie of the year, and his daughter, Angelica, won an Oscar for her appearance in that movie.


Yesterday was a hectic day at work for me. Not necessarily a bad day, but not a great one, either. Christi’s day went okay, I think, but she we pretty sore after the day. She had actually toyed with the thought of going to the gym and doing some light bicycle work and upper body resistance, but, after walking back and forth from her office to meetings, decided not to try that yet. Probably a good thing, as she says it hurts a bit this morning.

I can’t remember if I mentioned that we got our passport pictures made at CVS last Saturday, and plan on going to a post office this coming Saturday to get our passports started. Why are we getting passports? We have decided to take a Christmas vacation to Cancun this year, the day after Christmas. I think I may have mentioned that. We are currently thinking about adding this excursion tour to our trip. It looks like a lot of fun.


Father, I pray that you would send your Holy Spirit to me through the Word, and reveal your Word to me, and enlighten my mind this morning.


Today, I’m reading Psalm 89. This particular psalm is said to have been written by “Ethan the Ezrahite.” It begins with joy and praise.
I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.
For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.”
You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant:
‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.'”
Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!
For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD,
a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him?
O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you?
(1-8 )

This is a lengthy psalm, 52 verses. In the middle, there is a portion where God proclaims that, even when his children forsake his law, and he has to punish them, he will not withdraw his love. Truly nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Savior! However, the psalm closes with a lament, as God’s favor seems to have been removed, and the enemies are having the upper hand. In spite of all this, though, the psalmist closes with these words:
Blessed be the LORD forever! (52)

No matter what our circumstances, may we always be able to say, “Blessed be the Lord forever!”


My Utmost For His Highest
“Lord, teach us to pray. Luke 11:1

Will a man suffer in his life if he fails to pray? Maybe, maybe not. Is it a natural thing for a man to pray? Again, maybe, maybe not. The “natural” man only “prays” when things are going badly for him. As for the spiritual man, “What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer.” When we are “born from above, the life of the Son of God” is born in us. We can either feed that life or starve it. We feed it through prayer. However, our standard view of prayer is not found in the New Testament. “We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves; the Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.” Now, I think that, as a person gets more intimate with God, that point of view will get corrected. I know that it has for me. I don’t see prayer as a way to get what I want. I do pray for specific things, but not so much for me as for many others. I see prayer as a way to be connected with my Father.

Jesus told us to “ask, and it will be given to you.” (Matthew 7:7) Do we do this? “We grouse before God, we are apologetic or apathetic, but we ask very few things.” Think about our children. They never hesitate to ask us for things, do they? Jesus told us to become like children. Our problem is, we tend to not come before God until we are at our wits’ end. “Be yourself before God and present your problems, the things you know you have come to your wits’ end over. As long as you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.” Therein lies the problem! We are too self-sufficient!

Is it true that “prayer changes things?” I’ve never been comfortable with that statement. Prayer changes me. “…prayer on the basis of Redemption alters the way in which a man looks at things.” This is a profound truth. Real prayer, based on real truth, changes the one who prays.


Father, I thank you for prayer, and for what it has done in me during these past months. I agree that prayer changes me, because I know that I have been changed this year. I pray that the life of Christ will grow in me as I nourish it with more prayer and meditation on your Word. I thank you for the Word that is in me, and I pray that I will never fail to meditate on it and learn more of it. As many times as I have read the Scriptures, they are still alive and still new to me every day.

I pray for this day. I continue to ask that Christi’s pain be relieved. I pray for intervention in the process of getting the MRI, if it is truly necessary. I also pray that you help her stay off her feet as much as possible. Christi is not one that slows down easily. I pray for a smoother day at work for me, today. Yesterday was a challenge, and I probably didn’t meet it in the best way possible. It could have been worse. I pray for confidence in you and compassion for others. I also pray for Stephanie today. I pray that you would lead her to a deeper relationship with you. I pray that you would bless her life and bless her future.


Real prayer, based on real truth, changes the one who prays.

Grace and peace, friends.