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.

What’s Your Story?

Today is Friday, the first of April, 2022, in the fourth week of Lent. April Fool’s Day, if you are so inclined.

May the peace of Christ be with you today.

Day 23,395

This is my first Friday off in a while. I think the last Friday I had off, that was not due to inclement weather, was the Friday before Thanksgiving, when we traveled to Indianapolis to visit with R & J. But, beginning today, I now have every Friday off, and will begin my Thursday shifts next week.

My appointment at the vein care clinic yesterday went well, I think. I liked the doctor. They did an ultrasound that showed that I have three of four main veins that are “broken,” resulting in the many varicose veins in my legs. I would show pictures, but I don’t want to gross everyone out. Including me. However, the condition is not, currently, life-threatening, or even dangerous, really, and causes me no pain or discomfort. They seemed surprised when I told them that the varicosities are not hindering my lifestyle at all.

I will, though, begin wearing compression socks today (or whenever they show up from Amazon), and will do so for at least twelve weeks, because insurance won’t even consider covering treatment until compression socks have been tried for twelve weeks. Of course, compression socks don’t fix the problem. They just prevent it from getting worse. After the twelve weeks is up, I may or may not choose to have the treatment. What they do is basically seal off the broken veins, forcing blood to re-route through healthy veins. The body will then eventually break down and consume the old veins.

I don’t have an estimate, just yet, on how much this will cost, but one of C’s work friends is having the same thing done, and it’s costing him $2400. Our max out of pocket is about $6500, so we may go ahead with it. We’ll see how things look when mid-May gets here. I’m also needing to schedule a colonoscopy soon, and I have no idea how much that is going to cost.

I have no real plans for the rest of today, other than finishing up some laundry that was started yesterday. Since it is Friday, there will likely be a trip to Freebird’s for dinner.


“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
(Psalms 46:10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that my vein condition is not immediately serious
2. that, "whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, 'it is well with my soul'"
3. for story; we all have one
4. for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, simply that the kingdom of God is at hand
5. for the lavish, unexpected generosity of our Father in heaven

The prayer word for today is “story.” I have become a huge fan of story, in recent years. The thing is, everyone has one; we all have a story. The Bible is full of stories, some real and some more like parables. The quote provided is from Hanna Arendt, who was a political philosopher and holocaust survivor. “Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.” I confess I’m not 100% sure what that means.

The reading involves the idea of people who come into a bookstore, searching for a book they remember from their childhood, but all they have are hazy memories of it. Having worked in a library for a few months, I know that this sort of thing happens to our librarians, as well.

The thing is, those stories that we remember, even if just barely, have become part of us. I don’t remember what the first book I ever read was, but I definitely have some memories of favorite childhood books. I ran across one, recently, while shelving children’s books at the library. Harold and the Purple Crayon. I was not only delighted to see that our library had a copy, but that someone had actually checked it out!

Memories of all kinds are part of us, and they all combine to make up our over-arching story. Our Story is made up of tiny stories, or sub-stories, if you want to call them that. “Chapters,” maybe?

But I digress. The point is we all have them. And everyone has A Story. Some stories are tragic; others are victorious. And if we care enough about one another to learn them, they speak volumes about why we are the way we are. Our personalities did not develop randomly, by accident. All the things that have happened in our lives work together to make us who we are.

What’s your story?

Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?
(Matthew 20:14-15 ESV)

Most of us would probably realize that, should the scenario Jesus just presented in Matthew 20 occur in twenty-first century USA, there would be lawsuits galore. But, then, we also realize that this parable is not really about money or wages for work.

“A generous God is hard to get used to,” says Eugene Peterson, as he opens this reading called “A Lavish God.” As we grow in this world, accumulating all of the aforementioned stories, we also gather up and store quite a bit of guilt. Unless, of course, we are psychopaths, but that’s not what this is about.

And, in storing up this guilt, we “assume that God – if there is a God – is just waiting for the right time to let us have it, to punish us and put us in our place.” And, if it isn’t God waiting to do that, there are plenty of preachers ready to do it for Him.

“And then Jesus tells us the surprising opposite.”

And that’s the end of the reading, much to my surprise, as I turned the page to find the next reading.

In this parable, Jesus tells us that the person who begins to follow Him right at the very end of their life gets just as much “heaven” as the person who has followed Him for their whole life. Our capitalistic, greedy, Western culture screams, “BUT THAT’S NOT FAIR!!!”

Jesus never promises “fair.” Our Father lavishes His grace and mercy on the just and the unjust alike. Scripture is clear on this. There is much that we will never understand about the nature of God. Human preachers have made up a ton of stuff, over time. It should all be sifted through the strainer of God’s Word. And God’s Word is Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

I could write for hours about things that men have claimed to be biblical truth, things that have no Scriptural basis whatsoever. One thing that recently came to mind, thanks to a Facebook post, was the “sinner’s prayer.” Not only is there no such thing, biblically, there is not even one shred of evidence that one must say a prayer to be “saved.”

What is the Gospel of Jesus? If I were to ask that question on social media, I would, no doubt, get multiple replies that had to do with dying on the cross, being in the grave for three days, and being resurrected. But that is not even close to the Gospel that Jesus preached.

Here is the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
(Mark 1:15 ESV)

That’s it. “The kingdom of God is at hand.”

Our God is generous. He forgives all of our sin. He expects us to do the same with one another. And He expects us to be as generous as He is.

Father, I praise You for Your lavish generosity, so very unexpected, especially when one is raised to think that You are just waiting to dole out punishment on the sinners. Somehow, we seem to have missed that bit that says You don’t desire for anyone to perish. There is so very much about You that I do not know or understand. Probably an infinite amount. I know the promises of Scripture, though, that tell me that I will, someday “know as I am known.” At this point in life, that is both comforting and frightening all at the same time. I know that I’m not ready to know everything about You, but I’m eager to get to that point.

I thank You for my story, Lord. Yes, there are parts of it that I am most definitely not proud of. There are parts that only You and me know about (and maybe one or two others). But all of those pieces have come together to produce who I am today, and that is my Story, and it is ever-evolving, with each day that comes. My desire is that it will end with You telling me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” But I don’t know how faithful I have been. I guess it all depends on how we define “faithful.” I have attempted, as Peterson called it, “a long obedience in the same direction.” There have been side trails, and times that I have moved backward, but, over-all, the direction has been forward and upward.

I thank You for Your generosity, again. Your patience with us is part of that generosity. In recent days, it has come to my realization that we, as humans, as people who claim to follow Christ, have this problem. We tend to consider ourselves in light of the New Testament, desiring Your grace to be lavished upon us. But we tend to consider others in light of the Old Testament, actually appearing to desire Your wrath to fall on people with whom we don’t agree.

God, please help us! This ought not be so! Help us to be as generous as You are, both with our resources (which You have given us, to begin with) and with our forgiveness and acceptance and love for our fellow humans.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Lord, have mercy on us;
Christ, have mercy on us;
Lord, have mercy on us.

Grace and peace, friends.

What’s Your Story?

Today is Thursday, November 28, 2019. Peace be with you!

Day 22,540

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!! Unless you live somewhere where it’s not Thanksgiving today, like Canada, who already had theirs. In that case, I simply wish you blessings and things for which you can be thankful.

C and S had a successful trip to Mineral Wells, yesterday, to pick up Mama. They got me some Crazy Water while they were there, and they had lunch at the older of the two Dairy Queens in town. I was a little jealous of that. After conquering the mighty horde of traffic going through Weatherford, they stopped at Shoe Carnival in the Alliance area. Shoes were bought.

I didn’t have to work late! We finished on time, if not a little early, yesterday. I stopped on the way home to pick up the rum cake and chocolate pie from one of our church ladies, then stopped at a Sonic on the way home, to get drinks. Then we had one of our crock pot soups for dinner (chicken breasts, cream of chicken soup, ranch dressing mix, and rice), while C, Mama, and I watched Mary Poppins on Disney+. That was actually the first time we have watched anything on Disney’s new channel that has taken the entertainment world by storm. This channel/app may be the best thing that has come out of the TV/Entertainment industry in the last century.

We chatted and stayed up late. C got up at 5:15 to put the turkey in the oven, then came back to bed. We slept until after 8:00, then both got up at about the same time. We are looking forward to a good day with the family, and hopefully, we will all remember to be thankful for at least something good.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob! 
Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp. 
Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day. 
For it is a statute for Israel, a rule of the God of Jacob.

Psalm 81.1-4

Today I am grateful:
1. For a day set aside to be thankful. I pray that I spend the better part of this day in thankfulness, for I am truly blessed.
2. That my mother is here with us and that R & J will be here later.
3. That our God is faithful, even when we are not!
4. That the Lord keeps no record of my wrongdoings (Psalm 130.3)
5. For my story.

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. 
Psalm 86.11
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.
Psalm 71.15
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!
Psalm 147.7
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 
yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

Matthew 6.25-30
You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it. 
You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. 
You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. 
The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, 
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.

Psalm 65.9-13

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.

“Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”

“Almighty and gracious Father, I give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make me, I pray, a faithful steward of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours)

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! 
Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 
Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 
For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

(From Faith That Matters)

The Truth of Christianity Written in our Lives, by Frederick Buechner

And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
2 Corinthians 3.3

Webster’s defines “story” as “an account of incidents or events; a statement regarding the facts pertinent to a situation in question.”

Says Buechner, “The truth that Christianity claims to be true is ultimately to be found, if it’s to be found at all, not in the Bible, or the church, or theology–the best they can do is point to the truth–but in our own stories. If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up.

“It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling.”

In recent years, our pastor has leaned heavily on the idea of “story.” Each of has has one. I don’t care if you agree with this or not. You have a story. I have a story. And this story is ever-evolving, because it is not over yet.

Daily Guideposts writer Carol Kuykendall once wrote about being involved in a women’s ministry simply called Stories. Here is a brief synopsis of the purpose of that ministry. “: Stories…will add to the vitality and relevance of our church by providing a place where all women feel welcome – no matter where they are in their personal journeys; an outreach where women can bring unchurched friends who might be uncomfortable with “church” and churchy language. A desired goal is to weave Stories… into the main stream of our church so that story becomes a part of our church language; a vital part of the way we do ministry.”

The setting for the ministry was a comfy, inviting room; “over stuffed chairs, a rug, plants, lamps and festive white lights across the front of the room.” The greeting went like this: “As women we have much in common but we’re also different. Some attend church, some don’t. We’re at different places in our personal life journeys. But we hope that whatever longings you brought with you tonight, even deeply buried ones, will be touched by something you hear or experience here. We hope you’ll feel welcomed and understood.”

As we tell our story (hopefully), we are honest and vulnerable. It binds us together in our brokenness. This vulnerability, especially in groups, is contagious and invites questions and conversation.

Here’s the thing. Jesus told stories. In Matthew 13, the disciples come to him and ask him why. Here is his answer, delightfully rendered by Eugene Peterson in The Message.

The disciples came up and asked, “Why do you tell stories?” He replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. I don’t want Isaiah’s forecast repeated all over again: Your ears are open but you don’t hear a thing. Your eyes are awake but you don’t see a thing.
Matthew 13.10-14

Back to Faith That Matters. “The ancient creeds of the Christian faith are not a theological idea or a religious system, but a series of largely flesh-and-blood events that happened, are happening, will happen in time and space–in the letters of our lives.”

What’s your story?

“Lord, may my story show the truth of your presence and activity in the world.”
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

Grace and peace, friends.