Our Faith Is Not Private

Today is Sunday, July 9, 2017. Day 21,668.

Today is Sugar Cookie Day. While I like sugar cookies, I prefer them with icing on them. You know, sugar on the sugar.

We had the most wonderful time, yesterday afternoon! As mentioned yesterday, we had lunch at one of C’s co-worker’s home, with his family. And he has such a sweet family. S did not go, as she said she wasn’t feeling well. I, however, was feeling better, so I went, and am very glad that I did. The family seemed genuinely glad to see all of us, and even went so far as to say that we were their “new family.” They even seemed sincerely disappointed that S didn’t come. They have two children, both at intermediate/middle school age. The son is a computer whiz! I walked into his room, and he had, essentially two things in there. A bed and a computer. His PC is set up with three large monitors, and he’s a gamer. Very powerful and fast computer! He showed me how well it played on Assassin’s Creed III. He was very excited to keep showing me things, too. It was kind of adorable.

The appetizers were delicious. First, did I mention that they are from Egypt? So everything that we ate yesterday was Egyptian. Except for the guacamole. His wife likes guac, so she made some, and it was delicious! There was also hummus, which was good, and then some other things that I don’t remember the names of. Oh, and a little bit of octopus, which we tried. It was definitely different. They had these hors deuvres (I had to look that up) that were like little, round pita or tortilla bread with a small piece of salmon, some cream cheese, and an olive. They were delicious!!

The lunch table was amazing! There was fried fish, shrimp, some kind of fish on a shish kabob, a rice dish with shrimp on top, and this soup! Oh, my the soup was unbelievable! It had some kind of fish, oyster, calimari, and the broth was amazing! It was my favorite. Later, we had dessert, which was a sort of an Egyptian version of baklava. Everything was great, and we felt so welcome at their home. In fact, at one point, C and I acted like we were about to leave (which we were) and Emmy (not sure of the spelling) looked so sad and told us to sit for a while longer. So we did. Oh, and Ramez has a lute! A real lute. I had never seen one of those up close before. He played it for us, and let me play it for a bit. That was fun.

In other news, the Rangers beat the Angels last night, 5-2, and Adrian Beltre tied Carl Yastrzemski’s home run total last night. And I’m okay with that. The Red Sox lost a close one to the Rays, 1-0.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Traditional Doxology
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Psalm 80:1
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
My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being!
Psalm 108:1
Jesus said, But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

John 4:23-24
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
Isaiah 9:2
O God, you have taught me to keep all your commandments by loving you and my neighbor:
Grant me the grace of your Holy Spirit, that I may be devoted to you with my whole heart,
and united to others with pure affection;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

(From Living the Message)

There is a popular belief that peoples’ religion is something that is personal and private. Here’s what Eugene H. Peterson has to say about that:

“No life of faith can be lived privately. There must be overflow into the lives of others.”

This is not to imply that we are to “beat people over the head with our Bibles.” May it never be! We are supposed to love people, and in that love, we share our faith with them. But sharing faith with people also doesn’t mean constantly chattering about Jesus and the cross and salvation. The Gospel is that the Kingdom of God is here and available now, not something that we have to wait for until we die. This is what we need to walk in; this is our faith, and this is what we share with people by the way we walk and live our lives, in obedience to the words of Jesus.

Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. 
If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.

Galatians 6:2-3

Father, teach us to let our faith “overflow into the lives of others.” Let us not hoard it, keep it to ourselves, as if it were something private that needs to be protected. But let us be wise and discerning, as well, never “casting our pearls before swine.” Help us to live the Gospel, to walk in the Kingdom, and to obey the words of Jesus.
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.

Am I Able?

“Peace begins with a smile.” – Mother Teresa

“Ultimately love is everything.” – M. Scott Peck

It is a known fact that Mother Teresa would not “employ” anyone who could not smile from the heart.

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is sockdolager. The emphasis is on the second syllable, “sok-dol-uh-jer.” It means, “something unusually large, heavy, etc.” It can also mean, “a decisive reply, argument, etc.,” or, “a heavy, finishing blow.”

Today is Sugar Cookie Day. I’m okay with that. I like sugar cookies. I just like cookies, period. I’m not fond of peanut butter cookies, though. I give those to S. I like sugar cookies with icing on them. Like the ones they have at the Great American Cookie Company. I think we need to go to the mall today.

C is going out of town this week. For six days!! Gah! I don’t know what I’m going to do. Well, okay. I do. I’m going to eat too much and play a lot of PS4 games. If I’m wise, though, I will use some of the time to practice trombone, keyboard, and guitar. At this point, I cannot say if I will be wise or not. She’s going to a youth bowling tournament in Indianapolis. It’s the Youth Open Championships, and they are actually going on for three different weeks. C will be there for the first week. She is leaving Tuesday, after work, and then not coming home until Monday night, July 18. I can tell you that I will not sleep well, those nights. I never do when she is gone.

Not much else going on. The Rangers and Red Sox both won, last night, and both by the score of 6-5. That’s strange. Texas remains 6.5 games up in the West, and the Red Sox are still a game behind the Boo Jays, in third place. Also, the Rangers are still the second best team in MLB, but now, they are second to the Giants, not the Cubs. The Cubbies have drifted down to third in MLB. The All Star Game break begins after tomorrow’s games. Maybe I’ll actually watch the game, but I doubt it. I’ve never been a huge fan of the All Star Game. And I have never liked that it determines home-field advantage for the World Series. I have said it before, and I will say it many more times . . . the wild card should NEVER have home-field advantage!


(From Praying With the Psalms)

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
Psalm 91:11-13

“Angels are the messengers of God, who carry out his will among men.” We don’t know a lot about them, but there is plenty of speculation about them. Peterson calls them “the reality of God active in the details of human existence.” They are, usually without our knowledge, active in our daily lives.

“I submit myself to your care, merciful Father. I will find in the provisions of this day the evidence of your love for me and the experience of your care for me. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

The Great Probing

But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:19

What would you say if someone told you that? “What do you mean, I am not able to serve the Lord??” The problem is usually that we are relying on something other than God. It’s not that we don’t rely on God, it is more that we don’t rely on him exclusively. We rely on some natural virtue that we might have, or a set of circumstances that we are in.

When I recognize this inability to serve the Lord, I might say, “I cannot live a holy life.” While this is true, I can certainly let Jesus Christ make me holy. this is what the spiritual disciplines are all about; practicing habits which will put me in the place where Christ can come in and make me holy. I cannot make myself holy; I cannot change myself. However, I can deliberately put myself in a position for God to change me and make me holy. “Are you sufficiently right with God to expect Him to manifest His wonderful life in you?”

The people responded to Joshua in verse 21. “No, but we will serve the LORD.” This is a deliberate commitment. If I have something else that I am trusting in, I will never make that commitment. I have to be at the place where he is all I have to trust.

“Dare I really let God be to me all that He says He will be?” This is the important question.

Father, I pray you make me ready to let you do this. Keep working me until I am at a place where I will let you be all that you claim you can be in my life. Teach me until I am able to fully believe everything that your word says about you. And then keep teaching me some more. I never want to stop learning your ways. I never want to stop knowing you more.

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.

A Global Phenomenon

Good morning. It is Thursday, July 9, 2015. “Pre-Friday.”

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is sobriquet. This is a noun, with a simple definition. It means, “a nickname.”

Today is Sugar Cookie Day. Now that sounds delicious!

Christi is feeling much better, at least stomach-wise, now. Her leg still hurts, but it is better, too. My day at work, yesterday, was pretty easy. We didn’t get very much in to receive, and were almost completely finished by 4:30. Probably the calm before the storm. 🙂 Business usually starts picking up around this time of year, for some reason.

Tonight is Christi’s Huddle night, and I plan on getting some trombone-playing in. I’ll just play some old music that I have collected over the years, since the band isn’t rehearsing this month. I’m looking forward to getting back into rehearsals in August.


But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.

Psalm 81:11-12

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

I have moved into the second part of Timothy Keller’s book. Part two is called “Understanding Prayer.” Chapter three is “What is Prayer?” This chapter gets into some history and statistics regarding the act of prayer.

We know, of course, that prayer is very central to the “great monotheistic religions” of the world; Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all focus on prayer. Muslims pray five times a day. Jews traditionally pray three times a day. While Christianity does not have set times (although you can find schedules of prayer in some of the more traditional denominations), it is still saturated with “various traditions of common prayer, private prayer, and pastoral prayer.”

But prayer is not found only in the monotheistic religions. “Buddhists use prayer wheels, which fling prayers for compassion into the atmosphere.” Hindus pray to a number of gods. Many Native American tribes pray through singing. “Their poetry and music serve as prayers that unite the spiritual and physical realm.”

“Prayer is one of the most common phenomena of human life.”

“Even deliberately nonreligious people pray at times.” Studies have shown that people without any religious preference practice prayer, at times, even those who claim no belief in God. Nearly 30 percent of atheists have admitted that they sometimes pray, while 17 percent “pray regularly.” This practice also seems to increase with age. An Italian scholar is quoted as saying, “In virtually all studies of the sociology of religious behavior it is clearly apparent that a very high percentage of people declare they pray every day–and many say even many times a day.”

Not everyone prays, though, and the trite phrase, “There are no atheists in foxholes,” is rightfully offensive to some. Nevertheless, prayer is a global phenomenon. Sociologists have been unable to find any culture, even in the most remote and isolated parts of the world, that does not have some kind of religion and prayer.

However, let us not be mistaken and think that this means all prayer is the same. “Prayer presents a dizzying variety to the eye of the observer. Just look at the religious trances of Native American shamanists; the chanting in Benedictine monasteries; devotees doing yoga in Manhattan offices; the hour-long pastoral prayers of the seventeenth century Puritan minsters; speaking in tongues in Pentecostal churches; Muslims engaging in sujud, with forehead, hands, and knees on the ground toward Mecca; Hasidim swaying and bowing in prayer; and the Anglican priest reading from the Book of Common prayer.”

As the book progresses, Keller will discuss how all of these are different. I will confess that, on the first reading, this chapter was the most difficult to get through, as it is largely informational. I may choose to not include some of it in this blog. We shall see.

While there is not much devotional content in today’s reading, the important thing to note is that prayer is a common thing, world wide, even among people who have no strong religious beliefs. For those of us who do have strong beliefs in God, how much more should we be engaging in prayer?

Father, as I grow older, I find prayer to be more important in my life. I ask for your Spirit to be active in my life, continuing to draw me toward a more prayer-centered lifestyle. I currently struggle to stay focused for long periods of time, such as my morning drive to work. I do manage to accomplish what I might describe as “decent” prayer, but it could be so much more meaningful, I believe, if I could keep my mind focused on you. May your Spirit enable me to do that. Then, I pray that, throughout the day, my spirit would be drawn to constant prayer, either regarding current circumstances, or people that you would bring to my mind during the day. In short, I desire to accomplish what Paul tells us, “pray without ceasing.” May prayer be as important to me as breathing.

All of this, of course, requires that my thoughts and imagination be drawn away from things that either do not honor you, or attempt to take a place of higher importance. I pray that your Spirit inhabit my thoughts and mind, while inspiring my heart to deeper prayer.

I pray for this day, that our trip to work would be smooth and safe. May our work day be stress-free and productive. I pray for Christi’s leg to quit hurting, that your healing hand would be upon her today. I pray that you would show Stephanie your great love, and that you would strengthen Rachel to get through the last of her Master’s degree requirements. May you be constantly with my mother, allowing her to know your presence throughout the day, as I feel confident that she does.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we all recognize the importance of prayer in our lives, each day.

Grace and peace, friends.

Elijah Hidden

Good morning. Today is Tuesday, July 9, 2013.

Today is Sugar Cookie Day. Can they have icing on them? I really like the ones with icing on them.

Not much to report about yesterday. It was a pretty typical day, work and all. All three of us made it to the gym last night. It’s nice to have the family together again, in the workouts. Christi’s having dinner with a friend tonight, to go over something important that has something to do with something else important she has to do this week. I hate having to be all secret and stuff, but you never know who’s reading this thing. Also, Christi is taking Friday off. To do something important. Pray for her, please.

(Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1737, “the great Medici family came to an end after 303 years of pre-eminence.” Gian Gastone de’ Medici died at the age of 65, by that time spending “most of his days in bed, beard straggling and body unwashed.” He was the last of the great Medici family, which had produced the likes of Lorenzo the Magnificent, “the greatest art patron in the world,” and three popes (Popes Leo X, Clement VII, and Leo XI).

Today’s birthday is Fred Savage, born on this date in 1976. Fred stole the hearts of most of us as Kevin Arnold in The Wonder Years.

Honorable mentions go to Tom Hanks, 57, Bon Scott, 1946-1980, Ed Ames, 86, Jimmy Smits, 58, John Tesh, 61, Richard Roundtree, 71, Nigel Lythgoe, 64, and Dean Koontz, 68.


Oh 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!
Psalm 95:1-2
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. Psalm 119:147
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. Psalm 13:5
The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them. Psalm 89:11

Father, I have risen before dawn to cry out to you, because I truly do hope in your words. I trust in your mercy and rejoice in your salvation. So many of these Psalms resonate fiercely withing me! I pray that you reveal yourself to me through your words and through the Holy Spirit this morning.

Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Hide Yourself.” The scripture reading is 1 Kings 17:1-6.

Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” And the word of the LORD came to him: “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the LORD. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

There are two periods in the Old Testament that are marked by extraordinary miracles. First is the period of Moses and the exodus; second is the era of Elija and Elisha, the prophets. Moses spent 40 years tending sheep before he was called upon to lead God’s people out of Egypt. “Elijah also spent important time in solitude before and during his role as a messenger of God.” I believe this is the first time we see Elijah (whose name, by the way, means “Yah is God”), and immediately after his first prophecy, he is instructed to hide himself. He spends some time by this brook, being fed by ravens, until it dried up from the drought. Then we went to Zarephath, where he met a widow, who fed him though more miracles.

How difficult is it to imagine a place that is so remote that the only food available is brought by ravens? This was God’s “hiding place” for Elijah. Try to imagine the most remote place you can find, that is easily accessable; perhaps in your work building, perhaps close to your home. Then try to find time to go there today for a time of prayer and meditation in solitude.

It is important to keep in mind that this series is not recommending that we live our lives in solitude. This is just one of the many disciplines for us to practice. We still must live and serve in community in order for our lives to be fully connected.

Here is a prayer offered by the book:

“Lord, teach me to seek out those places where I can be alone with you.
Help me to appreciate the lack of people, noise, and busyness, and the
opportunity this solitude gives me to hear you. In your name I pray. Amen.”

Father, thank you for already giving me ideas of where I can achieve greater solitude for some spiritual refreshment during my day at work. I will seek out a place today, where I can be alone with you, with minimal chance of being disturbed. But keep me faithful to be responsible with the amount of time spent, as well. I have fifteen minutes of break time in the morning. May I spend it wisely, seeking your truth and praying for people who are in need of prayer. I thank you that you have placed within my heart this desire to be alone with you. Many people do not have this desire, do not acknowledge this need. I pray that your Spirit would speak to them of the importance of being alone with you on a regular basis.

I thank you for this day, Lord, and pray for Christi to have a good work day. May her time with this friend be productive this evening, as they go over what she has to do later this week. Lord, you know what it is, and I pray that your hand is guiding every step of this event. May your will be done in our lives. I pray for Stephanie today, as she seeks out promises in Psalm 19. May your spirit nudge her to get into that today. May my work day today be a good day, and keep me alert and responsive as I continue to learn new things.

Give me wisdom, Father, as I talk with our pastor about the possibility of leading an intercessory prayer ministry at our church.

Your grace is sufficient.

Again, we see powerful people from scripture being sent into solitude by God. I will do the same, in hopes that I might have only a fraction of the power that these people possessed.

Grace and peace, friends.