Crucified with Christ

Today is Sunday, the 12th of March, 2023, in the third week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today.


We are going to Mineral Wells, this morning, leaving in just over an hour, so I don’t have a lot of time. I will say that we had a great time, yesterday, at IHOP. I got my usual Colorado Omelet (it has all the meat in it), and chose chocolate chocolate chip pancakes as my side. As I was pondering what kind of syrup to put on chocolate pancakes, I finally decided to try butter pecan. I started by dipping a couple of bites in my little syrup cup, and it tasted okay, so I cut up the pancakes and poured both cups of syrup over them.

I swear I am not making this up. My wife validated it. They tasted exactly like brownies!! They were almost better than the omelet! Almost.

We hit up Sonic for drinks, then headed home to chill for a while. I went out to In N Out, around 6:00 PM (that may have still been too early after that huge brunch). The ordering experience was pleasant. They have the burger thing down, it seems. Esentially all they make is burgers and fries, along with some shakes and soft drinks. and there aren’t very many varieties of burgers. Single with or without cheese, then the double double (you can also get triple triple or quad quad). I got a triple triple animal style (mustard instead of their sauce) and fries. The burger was good. The fries were stale. The best thing was the price. We got four burgers, four orders of fries and one drink for $31.50 The double double is $4.90. By comparison, a McD’s double quarter is around $8. But the double quarter is still better, in my opinion.

My stomach was not at all happy with me for all the junk I ate, yesterday. It’s better, this morning, though. I still don’t know what we will have for lunch today.


I rise before dawn and cry for help;
 I put my hope in your words.
(Psalms 119:147 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for the gift of your light in our hearts, allowing us to have faith in you. We thank you for your light, which shows us the many ways you save us from need, darkness, and death. In the midst of this darkness you keep our hearts safe so that we can be faithful until your time comes, the time when you will reveal yourself to the world, and when all voices will cry out as one, “Yes, Father in heaven, we thank you. You have redeemed us all.” Amen.

But now thus says the LORD, 
he who created you, O Jacob, 
he who formed you, O Israel: 
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; 
I have called you by name, you are mine. 
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; 
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; 
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, 
and the flame shall not consume you.
(Isaiah 43:1-2 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for God’s gift of light shining in our hearts
  • that I am crucified with Christ
  • for God, my rock, my salvation
  • that God knows my weaknesses, remembers that I am dust, and is mighty to save
  • for mutual love within the Body of Christ

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
(Psalms 80:1 NRSV)
The LORD lives! 
Blessed be my rock, 
and exalted be the God of my salvation,
(Psalms 18:46 NRSV)
Hear my prayer, O LORD; 
let my cry come to you. 
Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress. 
Incline your ear to me;
 answer me speedily in the day when I call. 
For my days pass away like smoke, 
and my bones burn like a furnace. 
My heart is stricken and withered like grass; 
I am too wasted to eat my bread. 
Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my skin.
 I am like an owl of the wilderness, 
like a little owl of the waste places. 
I lie awake; 
I am like a lonely bird on the housetop. 
All day long my enemies taunt me; 
those who deride me use my name for a curse. 
For I eat ashes like bread, 
and mingle tears with my drink, 
because of your indignation and anger;
 for you have lifted me up and thrown me aside. 
My days are like an evening shadow; 
I wither away like grass. 
But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever; 
your name endures to all generations.
(Psalms 102:1-12 NRSV)
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; 
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.
(Isaiah 9:2 NRSV)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. 
May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; 
for Yours are the kingdom and the power 
and the glory forever and ever. 
"Almighty God,
whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit
to be tempted by Satan:
Come quickly to help us who are assaulted
by many temptations;
and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us,
let each one find you mighty to save;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
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)

How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
(Psalms 133:1 NRSV)

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
(John 13:34 NRSV)

Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
(Romans 14:19 NRSV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
(2 Corinthians 13:11 NRSV)

Let mutual love continue.
(Hebrews 13:1 NRSV)

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:19-20 MSG)

Look, folks, I don’t pick these verses out, myself. I read several resources for my daily devotions, and the verses come from there. I don’t make this up.

And yet, we find ourselves back at this topic, again.

I don’t believe in coincidences.

What I do believe is that there is an entire faction of “Christianity” out there who has completely forgotten about those little verses up there, all coming out of today’s reading in Walking with Grace 2023.

Over the course of the last few years (maybe longer, but I think social media has exacerbated it), the idea has become popular that, if someone doesn’t agree with me, then I should not treat them with kindness or respect.

I also believe that the Bible, God’s Word, knows nothing of this idea. Hence all the verses championing love, unity, kindness, compassion, and so on.

In that same reading, I find a prayer by the writer for today, Gail Thorell Schilling, which says, “Lord of all, may I see Your face in each person I meet. Amen.” Right on. If I’m looking for the face of God or Christ in everyone I meet, how could I possibly be rude or disrespectful to them? So what if they don’t see things quite the way I do?

I think a primary thing that we have missed, though, or put on a “back burner,” so to speak is nailed by Eugene H. Peterson as we consider the passage from Galatians 2. Here’s what he says:

"Crucifixion ends one way of life and opens up another. It finishes a life in which the self is coddled and indulged and admired, and begins a life that is offered to God and raised as a living sacrifice.
"Everything that Christ experienced we co-experience. Starting with Christ, the complete revelation of Christ in crucifixion and resurrection, we live extravagantly, boldly, and freely."
(Traveling Light, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)

So we seem to be forgetting that we are “crucified with Christ.” We seem to be forgetting that our previous life, the life in which our self was “coddled and indulged and admired,” is over. At least if we are truly following Christ, that life is over.

I confess that I frequently forget that, myself, and step back into self-indulgent ways. And I still find myself being judgmental toward others, at least in my mind. But there are things that I simply would not say in public about anyone, not in person, not on social media. I still need to work on my thoughts, but my actions and attitudes, as they are worked out, are trying to be in line with the teachings of Jesus.

Yesterday’s entry was “Our Life Is for Others.” This is sort of like part 2 of that. We must remember, if we are truly following Christ in this world, that our life is not our own. We have been crucified with Christ, and it is not we who live, but Christ living within us. I love how The Message words that passage. “It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me.”

Let us strive to not be one of the ones whom Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’
(Matthew 7:21-23 NRSV)

Father in heaven, these words strike me in the heart, today. They strike me because I am saddened to see the shape that the church is in, today. It saddens me to see the attitudes of hatefulness toward others who do not believe like we do. I hurts my heart to see the division within Your Body.

Although I do not necessarily believe that the majority of those noisy people are truly part of Your Body. Everyone who goes to church is not part of the Church. I bow my knees to You, Lord, confessing my sinful thoughts and actions. I am not always in line with Jesus’s words, I know. But my heart desires to be, and I strive to love others the way He has loved me. Help me to do better at that. I definitely do not want to be one of the ones who hear “Go away from me, you evildoers!”

Help us to remember that You alone can see inside us; You alone know our truest, deepest motivations when we do the things we do. I hope and trust that my actions, my generosity toward people, are never to gain popularity or notoriety. I don’t care about any of those things. I care about pleasing You, about being with You ever day, about knowing You.

"Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You,
There is no greater thing."

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

You Can’t Miss It

Today is Sunday, the 12th of February, 2023, the sixth Sunday after Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,712

Not much to report from yesterday. The highlight of the day was the grocery delivery from Kroger. That’s about it. C worked most of the day, as they were attempting to fix a major problem with one of their apps. But it appears that, sometime around 6:00 PM, they finally got it fixed. But then, she was up late helping with a rollout last night. Seems to me they owe her a day off or two.

It’s a leisurely morning for me, as I don’t have to be at church until 10:40 today. The choir is singing in the 11:00 service. Looking forward, on February 26, I will be singing a solo in both services.

The weather continues to be a roller coaster ride, here in DFW, which is contributing to everyone’s health problems. The next four days (today included) are predicted to be in the mid-sixties all the way up to 75 on Wednesday, and then drastically dropping to a high of 48 on Thursday, with a low Thursday night of 28.

The Super Bowl is this evening, and I could not possibly care less about it. I won’t be watching. It would be a good time for a trip to the grocery store, if one needed to do that.


All the wicked of the earth you count as dross;
 therefore I love your decrees.
(Psalms 119:119 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you with all our hearts for showing your power in us and for overcoming so much that is hostile and that threatens to harm our life. We thank you for the countless wonders you do for our sake. We rejoice and thank you most of all for allowing us to know that you are writing our names in heaven. Where our names are, there we are too. Where our Lord Jesus Christ is, there we want to be too, and our words and our actions should come from him. Keep us faithful in this, and let us serve you with gladness on every path we tread. Amen.

“Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
(Luke 10:20 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that my name is written in heaven, and there is nothing that can erase it
  • for the power of God in our lives that helps us to overcome all things that threaten to harm us
  • for the feeling of God’s presence and peace, this morning
  • that we really can’t miss the salvation of God, if we truly seek it
  • that God doesn’t need “good people” to do “good work” (Eugene H. Peterson)

I want to share something from one of the other blogs I follow and try to read each day. It is called Quiet Moments With God, and this particular entry is “Let God’s Love Enfold You.” I have linked to the blog site.

“Let God’s love enfold you in the radiance of His Glory. Sit still in the Light of His Presence, and receive His Peace. These quiet moments with Him transcend time, accomplishing far more that you can imagine. Bring Him the sacrifice of your time, and watch to see how abundantly He will bless you and your loved ones.

“Through the intimacy of your relationship with Him, you are being transformed from the inside out. As you keep your focus on Him, He form you into the one He desire you to be. Your part is to yield to His creative work in you, neither resisting it nor trying to speed it up. Enjoy the tempo of a God-breathed life by letting Him set the pace. Hold His hand in a childlike trust, and the way before you will open up step by step.”

As I read this, this morning, I could feel His presence surrounding me, enfolding me “in the radiance of His Glory.” There is no better advice than to “sit still in the Light of His Presence, and receive His Peace.” So I wanted to share that here, this morning. May you feel His peace and presence as I did while I was reading this.

In your steadfast love hear my voice; 
O LORD, in your justice preserve my life.
(Psalms 119:149 NRSV)
A Song of Ascents. 

How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
 It is like the precious oil on the head, 
running down upon the beard, 
on the beard of Aaron, 
running down over the collar of his robes. 
It is like the dew of Hermon, 
which falls on the mountains of Zion. 
For there the LORD ordained his blessing,
 life forevermore.
(Psalms 133:1-3 NRSV)

“Now therefore revere the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. Now if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
(Joshua 24:14-15 NRSV)

"There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.' All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened."
(C.S. Lewis--The Great Divorce, quoted in the C.S. Lewis Bible, in reference to the above passage in Joshua 24)

As I begin to read Judges, this morning, I read Eugene Peterson’s intro to the Biblical book. In this, he gives us this great message: “God, it turns out, does not require good people in order to do good work. He can and does work with us in whatever moral and spiritual condition he finds us. God, we are learning, does some of his best work using the most unlikely people. If God found a way to significantly include these leaders (‘judges’) in what we know is on its way to becoming a glorious conclusion, he can certainly use us along with our sometimes impossible friends and neighbors.” (Eugene H. Peterson–The Invitation: A Simple Guide to the Bible)

Some give freely, yet grow all the richer; 
others withhold what is due, and only suffer want. 
A generous person will be enriched, 
and one who gives water will get water.
(Proverbs 11:24-25 NRSV)

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
(Matthew 6:19-21 NRSV)

You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.
(2 Corinthians 9:11-12 NRSV)

Blessed GOD! 
His love is the wonder of the world. 
(Psalms 31:21 MSG)

The news is all good, this morning. It is encouraging. “Wait,” you may ask, “how is news about Hell encouraging?” It is because of the fact that, as Lewis tells us, “No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.”

“That’s not in the Bible,” you may object.

Oh, but it is, my brothers and sisters. Maybe not in those exact words. But as Lewis continues, he echoes words of Jesus that are in the Bible.

“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
(Matthew 7:7-11 NRSV)

“Those who seek find,” said Lewis. Everyone who winds up in Hell (and I confess that, in spite of many who seem to think otherwise, I do believe that there will be a place of eternal punishment for people who reject Jesus), will be there because it is what they chose. They chose not to seek, knock, or ask. They will have had every opportunity and still chose not to seek, knock, or ask.

But the good news is that no one who truly desires this joy will miss out on it. There will be no one who comes to the end of his life after truly seeking God who will be told, “Oops, you didn’t do it just right. You didn’t ask the right question; you didn’t say the right prayer,” or so on.

God is not playing hide and seek. He is not trying to trick anyone. That’s the enemy’s tactic. Not God’s. God is right here, right now, and His kingdom is right here, right now, and available for anyone who wants to walk in it.

That is the Gospel. That is the Good News.

The other good news, this morning, is found in that quote from Peterson, regarding who God can use to do His work. How thrilling it is to know that God doesn’t have to have “good people in order to do good work.” While, in human terms, there might be some “good people,” I have long tended to agree with R.C. Sproul’s answer to the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “There are no good people.”

Jesus, Himself, when called “good” by someone, replied that only God is good.

So be encouraged, my friends. If you truly seek the kingdom of God, you will find it. He will make sure of that. And, if you have a desire to be used by Him, you don’t have to wait until you are “good enough.” You are already “good enough.”

Father, I praise You for these words of encouragement, this morning, words from Your Word, as well as words from some of your faithful servants. Thank you for the writings of C.S. Lewis and Eugene H. Peterson. While they are not as significant as Scripture, they go hand in hand with Your Word, and teach us good things that can be found therein.

Help us to be encouraged and to live this life with joy and peace, knowing that, as long as we are truly seeking, we will find. Also help us to be encouraged that You can use us, even though we are, and always will be, dust.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

"O God, 
the strength of all who put their trust in you:
Mercifully accept my prayers;
and because in my weakness I can do nothing good without you,
give me the help of your grace,
that in keeping your commandments 
I may please you in both will and deed;
through Jesus Christ my Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
(The Divine Hours--The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Grace and peace, friends.


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

May the peace of Christ surround you today.

Day 23,705

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

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

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

So on to the important stuff.

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


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

Daily Prayer from

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

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

 It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
 to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, 
and your faithfulness by night, 
to the music of the lute and the harp, 
to the melody of the lyre.
(Psalms 92:1-3 NRSV)
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; 
I am not afraid; what can flesh do to me?
(Psalms 56:4 NRSV)
"Do to others as you would have them do to you. 
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
(Luke 6:31-36 NRSV)
How can young people keep their way pure? 
By guarding it according to your word. 
With my whole heart I seek you; 
do not let me stray from your commandments.
 I treasure your word in my heart, 
so that I may not sin against you. 
Blessed are you, O LORD; 
teach me your statutes. 
With my lips I declare all the ordinances of your mouth.
 I delight in the way of your decrees as much as in all riches. 
I will meditate on your precepts, 
and fix my eyes on your ways.
 I will delight in your statutes; 
I will not forget your word.
(Psalms 119:9-16 NRSV)
 Glory be to God the Father, 
God the Son, 
and God the Holy Spirit. 
As it was in the beginning, 
so it is now and so it shall ever be, 
world without end. 
Alleluia. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. 
May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; 
for Yours are the kingdom and the power 
and the glory forever and ever. 
"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.

The Light and the Lamp

Today is Sunday, the 29th of January, 2023, the fourth Sunday of Epiphany.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always.

Day 23,698 (the number of days since I was born)

I have less than 45 minutes to get this done, as I have to be at church by 8:00, this morning, and it is close to a 30 minute drive (probably less, that early on Sunday). So I’m getting right to it, this morning.

Today’s header photo was taken by Paul Militaru. Please visit his site to see more of his photography.


Your word is a lamp to my feet 
and a light to my path.
(Psalms 119:105 NRSV)

Lord our God, we thank you that every day – through good days and through days that to us seem bad – we know that our lives are guided by your will, what you do and what you want. For this we thank you. We want to love you above everything in the world. Our hearts long for you, for you are our Father. We want to love and honor you with our whole lives. Lord our God, bring your order into the world. Help us at all times to do your will and to fulfill your commandments. Amen.

Daily Prayer from

Hear, O Israel: 
The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. 
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, 
and with all your soul, and with all your might.
 Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.
(Deuteronomy 6:4-6 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for God’s Word, a lamp to my feet and a light to my path
  • for the “Shema;” I pray that I might obey it (those verses directly above this)
  • that sometimes, things that seem “bad” to us may not truly be so
  • for this day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it
  • for opportunities to serve the community of saints with the gifts which God has granted me

Of David. A Psalm. 

I will sing of loyalty and of justice; 
to you, O LORD, I will sing.
(Psalms 101:1 NRSV)
But I, O LORD, cry out to you;
 in the morning my prayer comes before you.
(Psalms 88:13 NRSV)
Your decrees are very sure; 
holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
(Psalms 93:5 NRSV)
Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.
(Psalms 119:1 NRSV)

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.
(Matthew 5:23-24 NRSV)

Open to me the gates of righteousness,
 that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. 
This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter through it. 
I thank you that you have answered me 
and have become my salvation. 

The stone that the builders rejected 
has become the chief cornerstone. 
This is the LORD's doing; 
it is marvelous in our eyes. 
This is the day that the LORD has made; 
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
(Psalms 118:19-24 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. 
"Almighty and everlasting God,
you govern all things both in heaven and on earth:
Mercifully hear the supplications of your people,
and in our time grant us your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
(The Prayer Appointed for the Week - The Divine Hours)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
(Romans 12:2 NRSV)

For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
(Psalms 139:13-14 NRSV)

Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
(1 Peter 4:10 NRSV)

Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.
(Mark 14:23-24 NRSV)

The Word of God . . . a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. What a wonderful verse, a verse that I have had memorized long before I was even able to read. Of course, I had it memorized in King James Version, because that was all we had at Calvary Baptist Church in Mineral Wells. Other versions came out as I made it to adolescence and beyond. But my first couple of Bibles were KJV.

The version isn’t really important. What is important is the precepts and principles taught, therein, and the Gospel message we get from Jesus Christ. The Psalms are replete with verses like Psalm 119:105, that tell us that His Word is the way to know our path, and that He will direct us if we fear/revere Him and His holy name.

So that is the path of my life. I seek to revere the name of the Lord, and walk in the path that He directs me in. One of those directions is found in the Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4-6. This is also found to be Jesus’s “greatest commandment.” Love the Lord your God with all of your being, your mind, soul, heart, and strength. We know, then, that he said the second commandment was similar, love your neighbor as yourself. This was not new, either, because that command can be found in Leviticus 19:18.

Time is up. So, let the Word of God be that light and lamp for you, today.

Father, I thank You for Your Word, a light to my path and a lamp to my feet. Help me to follow Your path, today and every day. Help me to love You with all of my being. I can’t do that without You. Then help me to love my neighbor, and to love the saints as Christ has loved us.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

“Be holy, for I . . . Am Holy

Today is Sunday, the 22nd of January, 2023, the third Sunday after Epiphany.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,691

I had a good Saturday at the library, yesterday and am close to feeling normal again. I’ll be heading up to church in a little while, and will attempt to sing with the choir, this morning in the 11:00 service. I have another orchestra rehearsal after that service, and will be going back up there at 6:30 tonight for our Mere Christianity group discussion.

Today’s header photo was taken by Romanian photographer extraordinaire, Paul Militaru. Please visit his website at the link provided to see his magnificent photos.


Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, 
for it is always with me.
(Psalms 119:98 NRSV)

Dear Father in heaven, grant us the inner quiet we need so that we may come into your presence and hear you speak, forgetting all the things that try to force themselves upon us. May we experience your true and living support. Keep our hearts glad and thankful for everything, even in grief, anxiety, and suffering. In this thankfulness we can remain with you, and Jesus Christ can help us, Jesus, whom you have given as our support and helper in all that most deeply concerns us. We entrust ourselves to you. Keep us in your Spirit. Amen.

Daily Prayer from

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the inner quiet in my spirit, that God grants, so that I might dwell in His presence and hear Him speak to me; may I be able to shove aside all distractions and listen
  • for the “easy yoke” of Jesus (Matthew 11:28ff)
  • for the prayer that begins this day, and the hope of a prayer that will end it
  • for the opportunity to worship with the saints and sing praises to God
  • for the gift of God’s Word, His “book on living” (Psalm 119:111, MSG)

This Day, by Daryl Madden

Let the sun rise today
And the sun set this day
With its blessing of light
In between

Let a prayer start this day
And a prayer, close this day
With an indwelling prayer
In between

Let love spark this day
And in love rest this day
With a sharing of love
In between

With thanks start this day
And in thanks end this day
Everything is a gift
In between

Please visit Daryl’s site at the link above, to see more of his inspirational poetry.

When he has finished atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and sending it away into the wilderness by means of someone designated for the task. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a barren region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness.
(Leviticus 16:20-22 NRSV)

This shall be a statute to you forever: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall deny yourselves, and shall do no work, neither the citizen nor the alien who resides among you. For on this day atonement shall be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the LORD. It is a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall deny yourselves; it is a statute forever. The priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his father’s place shall make atonement, wearing the linen vestments, the holy vestments. He shall make atonement for the sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the people of Israel once in the year for all their sins. And Moses did as the LORD had commanded him.
(Leviticus 16:29-34 NRSV)

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.
(Leviticus 19:1-2 NRSV)

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
(Leviticus 19:18 NRSV)

Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
(2 Corinthians 9:7 NRSV)

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.
(Malachi 3:10 NRSV)

I inherited your book on living;
 it's mine forever— what a gift! 
And how happy it makes me!
(Psalms 119:111 MSG)

I like that phrase that Peterson uses in The Message, “your book on living.” The NRSV words it differently, but I can certainly appreciate its translation, as well.

Your decrees are my heritage forever; 
they are the joy of my heart.
(Psalms 119:111 NRSV)

I’ve talked about Psalm 119 before, in this forum. It uses many different words to represent God’s Word, the thing we call the Bible. In this particular verse, it is “decrees.” In others, it might be “law,” or “precepts,” or “ordinances.” Sometimes it is just “word.” But Peterson’s wording, “your book on living” is wonderful, I think.

I love the Bible. I always have, as long as I can remember. I have read it through at least 17 times in my life. That has not always been cover-to-cover (which is how I’m reading the NRSV, this year). For example, last year’s reading plan had me bouncing around like a ping pong ball. But I still read the whole thing.

I’m not boasting about this. Not at all. I’m not bragging about how many times I’ve read it. I won’t brag about how much I have memorized. Probably not all that much, compared to others. I will boast, though, about the author of the book.

Yes, I know that men wrote the text, quite a few of them. But I believe and proclaim that God, via the Holy Spirit is the ultimate Author of the Bible. And I will boast about Him. I love His Word. As the psalmist says in that verse above, it is the joy of my heart. I find myself in Psalms, probably more than any other book, and I’m working my way through chapter 119, a verse at a time, right now.

The Bible truly is a “book on living.” Not that we should get all caught up in trying to live out the details in Leviticus (I talked about that, yesterday). I don’t even think we should work that hard to see that we are keeping the Ten Commandments (that is also addressed yesterday). Don’t get me wrong . . . we shouldn’t be striving to break those Ten Commandments, either. But we have further teachings from the Son of God in the New Testament.

The Old Testament Law is there to show us how we have failed, and how we are going to fail. I believe Paul gives us a pretty good illustration of that in his epistles.

And everything is summed up by (there he goes again) Jesus’s two main commands. Love God; love people. Love your neighbor as yourself. But guess what! As we see all the way back in Leviticus, that wasn’t a new “law,” was it? God gave that word to Moses in Leviticus 19! The “golden rule” was not new with Jesus. He just reminded us, strongly, that it is the way to live.

There are many in the world today who seem to have forgotten this “golden rule,” and need to be reminded. The way to live is to treat one another the way we desire to be treated. To my shame, I have not succeeded in always doing this. I have been quite mean and rude to people in my life. I’ve gotten better, especially since I have been striving to live by Jesus’s two commands in recent years.

But I still struggle with my reaction when Applebee’s gets my order wrong . . . AGAIN! But here’s the thing. When Sonic messes up my drink order, when Walmart delivers milk that is past its expiration date, when Albertson’s makes a weird substitution for something I ordered . . . all of these are what I call “footstool” problems. What that means is that they aren’t really problems at all.

May God have mercy on us when we overreact to such situations. May He teach us how to react better, more calmly, more . . . well, “holy.”

Note: As seems to be the case a lot, lately, I had no idea where this was going to wind up when I started typing. Glory to God!

Father, I am so glad that Your Word tells us that You remember that we are dust. This means that nothing we do surprises you. We might disappoint You, most certainly, but I’m not even sure how that works for You, seeing as how You know everything I am going to do before I do it. Sometimes, I wonder why You didn’t stop me if You knew I was going to do that stupid thing, or that rude thing, or that mean thing.

I love Your Word, Father, and I love You. I will always boast of You and Your great and marvelous works. I would be, and am nothing, without You. All that I have in my possession was given to me by You. Every relationship that I have in this world was given to me by You. I pray that I use the things wisely and resourcefully, being of a generous heart with all things, and I pray that I would approach all the relationships with the love of Jesus as my driving force.

Help me to love You with my whole heart, and my whole being, and help me to love others as myself. I also pray that You help me to love the saints as Christ loves the Church. Help me to be “holy” as You are Holy.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Entertaining Angels

Today is Sunday, the 8th of January, 2023, in the third week of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today and always!

Day 23,677

Today is also celebrated as the day of The Baptism of our Lord.


My soul languishes for your salvation; 
I hope in your word.
(Psalms 119:81 NRSV)

Father in heaven, we thank you for the many ways you strengthen us and reveal your life to us. We thank you for all your protection, also for your protection of our faith and hope. Grant that your Spirit may penetrate us more and more, enabling us to be your witnesses in this evil and unhappy world. May your Spirit give us hope for this life and for the life to come. Amen.

Daily Prayer from

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 
He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” 
Luke 17:5–6, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  • for the faith given to me; may it be strengthened within me
  • that God continues to keep my faith and hope alive and well
  • for an opportunity to worship with the saints, this morning
  • that Jesus Christ, Son of God, has made the Father known to us
  • for the provisions of God; may I be faithful to share them

Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O righteous, 
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
(Psalms 32:11 NRSV)
May God be gracious to us and bless us 
and make his face to shine upon us
(Psalms 67:1 NRSV)
Out of Zion, 
the perfection of beauty, 
God shines forth.
(Psalms 50:2 NRSV)
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart 
be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 NRSV)
From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 
The law indeed was given through Moses; 
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 
No one has ever seen God. 
It is God the only Son, 
who is close to the Father's heart, 
who has made him known.
(John 1:16-18 NRSV)
You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
 I have sworn to my servant David: 
'I will establish your descendants 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 feared in the council of the holy ones, 
great and awesome above all that are around him? 
O LORD God of hosts, who is as mighty as you, O LORD? 
Your faithfulness surrounds you.
(Psalms 89:3-8 NRSV)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. 
May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; 
for Yours are the kingdom and the power 
and the glory forever and ever. 
"Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into His Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
(Hebrews 13:2 NRSV)

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
(Matthew 25:34-40 NRSV)

Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ.
(Colossians 3:23-24 NRSV)

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
(Hebrews 13:16 NRSV)

Absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love.
(Romans 8:39 MSG)

Because of the fact that “absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love,” we have nothing to fear . . . ever. We will be afraid. We can’t help it, because we are humans. And the things that cause each of us fear are different for each of us. I fear confrontation. I’m the Toy Story dinosaur. I have known people who obviously thrive on confrontation. I don’t like being around those people.

Nevertheless, because of God’s love for us, all of our fears are unfounded. They are not based in reality.

Because we have nothing to fear, we can, then, follow the admonition of the author of Hebrews and “not neglect to do good and to share what you have.” And that second verse of chapter thirteen has always intrigued me. Show hospitality to strangers. They might be angels.

What kind of place would this world be if only followers of Christ, even, followed that principle?

In today’s Walking in Grace (formerly Daily Guideposts) reading, newbie Gabrielle Meyer bursts on the scene with a shout. She makes a great first impression, in my opinion. She writes of going through the normal activities of the week after having found a lump while showering on Sunday morning. As she awaited test results, she was more aware of potential life circumstances of people around her. As she walked around the grocery store, she was wondering to herself: “How many of them are waiting for a biopsy result? A financial breakthrough? A relationship to heal? How many are fighting hardships we cannot see?”

The answer?

ALL OF THEM!! Every one you see, every day, is fighting some kind of battle that you cannot see.

How we react/respond to these people is a great reflection of our relationship with Jesus.

Keep in mind, none of us will be perfect, ever. Because there will be time when each of us will be so entrenched in our own circumstances and fears (which are not based in reality, remember) that we will either not react/respond at all, or we will respond poorly.

But the good news is that God remembers that we are dust, made out of mud. (Psalm 103:14)

I have to believe, even though there is no real information to support this belief, that Enoch, as he “walked with God,” was kind to people that he met, and that he shared his resources with those who were less fortunate than him; that he took into consideration, when someone was rude to him, that they might be “going through something.”

“Going through something” is never an excuse to treat someone badly. But that principle is for me, not for everyone else. It is something that I can only control in myself. No matter what I might be going through, it is still my responsibility to be kind to people, to share what I have with people, to love people.

Father, in this coming week, I pray that You would help me to not forget, to not neglect, to do good to people and share what I have with them, whenever an opportunity arises. Help me to show hospitality to others, especially strangers, whenever possible. This could be something as simple as smiling and nodding at someone, acknowledging their existence, or something more tangible, such as providing financial support or food or clothing for someone. May we never be stingy with what You have given us.

I pray for Your Church, that all who profess to be followers of Christ would treat people with kindness and compassion, considering others to be more significant than themselves. Help us to get out of ourselves, Lord. Help us to be more willing to surrender our “rights” in order that someone else might benefit. In short, make us more like Jesus.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”
(Matthew 7:12 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.

. . . and Beginnings

Today is Sunday, the 1st of January, 2023, in the second week of Christmas. It is the eighth day of Christmas.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,670

For this year, I will be reading Walking in Grace 2023, the new title for the Daily Guideposts book, God’s Message for Each Day, by Eugene H. Peterson, A Simple Way to Pray, by Martin Luther (that one won’t take long, it’s only 32 pages), and The Invitation: A Simple Guide to the Bible, also by Eugene H. Peterson. In addition, I may be using The Divine Hours, by Phyllis Tickle, as a resource.

My Bible version of choice, this year, will be the NRSV, and I will be reading in the C.S. Lewis Bible that I got for Christmas.

Today’s header photo was taken by Paul Militaru, Romanian photographer. Please visit his site at the link provided and see his other work.


Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, 
because I have hoped in your word.
(Psalms 119:74 NRSV)

Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as in heaven. May this continue to be our prayer in the new year, and may we find fellowship with one another in what is eternal and holy. Bless us on our way. Bless us on our earthly pilgrimage so that we may remain free from all bondage, able to thank you day and night for all the good you do, even when things look very dark. We praise your name and we pray as the Savior has taught us. Amen.

Daily Prayer from

This, then, is how you should pray:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 
your kingdom come, your will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven.”
 Matthew 6:9–10, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for new beginnings
  2. for the hope of God’s kingdom in the new year
  3. for potential of increased fellowship with the saints in the new year
  4. that we may share the divine life of He who humbled Himself to share our humanity
  5. that my security rests not in my confidence in myself, but in God

O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things. 
His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.
(Psalms 98:1 NRSV)
Create in me a clean heart, O God, 
and put a new and right spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 NRSV)
I am small and despised, 
yet I do not forget your precepts.
(Psalms 119:141 NRSV)
My mouth is filled with your praise, 
and with your glory all day long.
(Psalms 71:8 NRSV)

Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”
(Matthew 13:34-35 NRSV)

“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
(Matthew 13:51-52 NRSV)

O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things. 
His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory. 
The LORD has made known his victory; 
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations. 
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. 
All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God. 
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
 break forth into joyous song and sing praises. 
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, 
with the lyre and the sound of melody. 
With trumpets and the sound of the horn 
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD. 
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it. 
Let the floods clap their hands; 
let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the LORD, 
for he is coming to judge the earth. 
He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
(Psalms 98:1-9 NRSV)

O Lord, hear my prayer and let my cry come unto you. Thanks be to God. (The Short Breviary)

"O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
(Psalms 51:7 NRSV)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NRSV)

Come now, let us argue it out, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
(Isaiah 1:18 NRSV)

If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 NRSV)

God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit;
(1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG)

“Discipleship is not a contract in which if we break our part of the agreement He is free to break His; it is a covenant in which He established the conditions and guarantees the results . . . We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us.” (Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)

I’m still “tweaking” how I will use my new resources, this year, and I’m short on time, today, because the worship service I’m going to begins at 10:00 AM, this morning.

But I am excited for these new resources and what I will learn in the process. Today, my focus is drawn to the idea that my security is not based on my confidence in myself, but on God, who, because of the work of Jesus Christ, has confidence in me. He remembers, as I have been reminded repeatedly, that I am dust. He is not surprised when I fail. But He also knows that I share in the divine nature of the One who condescended to share in our humanity.

Thanks be to God!

Father, as this new year gets underway, may the life of Jesus Christ be more embedded within me (I’m not coming up with the right word, here). Just let His life permeate my spirit and my soul, every day, that I might walk with You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I praise You for new beginnings, and may we leave everything behind that does not make us better followers of Christ.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen."
(The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

Grace and peace, friends.

All Is Well

Today is Sunday, the 25th of December, 2022, in the first week of Christmas. It is the first day of Christmas.

May the peace of the Christ-child be with you always!

Day 23,663

Seven days until 2023.

It is shortly after 11:00 AM when I begin this, this morning. It really doesn’t feel like Sunday, but it is. As predicted, yesterday, I did not make it to the 10:00 service, this morning. We were up around 8:30, and shortly after 9:00, I believe, we sat down to open all of our presents. I will update my other blog with the results of that, later, today. Hopefully. For now, I must get on with the important things for the day. However, one gift that I am most excited about is a new Bible. It is one that I can carry with me to my new church, because the use the NRSV in their worship services.


Teach me good judgment and knowledge, 
for I believe in your commandments.
(Psalms 119:66 ESV)

Because either one without the other doesn’t do a body much good.

Lord our God, you have sent light to shine on earth and have revealed your heavenly power in Jesus Christ, so that in spite of all the darkness and evil we may rejoice because we have a Savior. Reveal your power in our day. Let something be done anew toward the building of your kingdom on earth. Let something draw men’s hearts to you to give them light so that they may thank and praise you for all you have done and are still doing to bring the whole world into your hands. O Lord God, let men be moved by the opening of the heavens. May their hearts awaken and their sadness give way to joy in Jesus Christ the Savior. We are your children who are allowed to wait in expectation for you to set everything right. We can know that even in our troubled times your hand is at work to reveal your will, to make your will plain to all generations on earth, as you promised through Abraham. May your name be glorified, O Lord God. May your name be honored, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Daily Prayer from

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." 
Isaiah 9:6, RSV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for Christmas; for the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior, the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace
  2. for the wonderful morning we have had together, this morning
  3. for the expectation, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, of His eventual return
  4. that our Light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon us
  5. that darkness has fallen into the dawn of redeeming grace
  6. for this indescribable gift of God!

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 

"Glory to God in the highest,
 and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" 

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
(Luke 2:1-20 ESV)
Arise, shine, for your light has come, 
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, 
and thick darkness the peoples; 
but the LORD will arise upon you, 
and his glory will be seen upon you. 
And nations shall come to your light, 
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
(Isaiah 60:1-3 ESV)
The sun shall be no more 
your light by day, 
nor for brightness shall the moon 
give you light;
 but the LORD will be your everlasting light, 
and your God will be your glory. 
Your sun shall no more go down, 
nor your moon withdraw itself; 
for the LORD will be your everlasting light, 
and your days of mourning shall be ended. 
Your people shall all be righteous; 
they shall possess the land forever, 
the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, 
that I might be glorified.
 The least one shall become a clan,
 and the smallest one a mighty nation; 
I am the LORD; 
in its time I will hasten it.
(Isaiah 60:19-22 ESV)

“And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
(Matthew 1:21 NLT)

Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!
(2 Corinthians 9:15 NLT)

how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!
(Hebrews 9:14 NRSV)

I have no deep words of wisdom, today. I simply encourage all to know this Christ, the Savior of the world, the Light of the world, the glory of the Lord, risen upon us, this day.

The Gospel of Christ is that the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, is hear, now, and available for anyone who desires to walk in it.

This baby that we celebrate today became our salvation. Along with the heavenly host of angels, I proclaim, “fear not!”

All is well.

Father, thank You for Your indescribable gift. And thank You for drawing me into Your kingdom, for choosing me to believe, even before the foundations of the earth. Not only did You choose me (and all who would come to believe), You arranged my circumstances so that I would choose You. As I noted, from yesterday’s verse in Psalm 119, You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord!

Saying “thank You,” seems hardly appropriate. May I live my life in such a way as to draw people into Your kingdom. May I demonstrate to people Your great love for all, as I follow the commands of my Savior to love You and love people. May I show them that there is nothing to fear, and that, indeed, in Your kingdom, all is well. In fact, in Your kingdom, things are far better than we could ever imagine.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Let Your Light Shine

Today is Sunday, the 18th of December, 2022, the fourth Sunday of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,656

Seven days until Christmas!

And our house is Covid-free! S tested negative, yesterday morning. They did it a day before we had planned, and I am glad. I got the news while I was at work at the library, and the rest of my day was fantastic.

Nevertheless, the family Christmas Eve celebration will remain postponed until early January, some time. I might suggest New Year’s Eve, but C and I will discuss that first.

Today’s header photo is from Paul Militaru. Please visit his site at the provided link.


I entreat your favor with all my heart; 
be gracious to me according to your promise.
(Psalms 119:58 ESV)

Lord our God, our Father, out of reverent silence comes the praise that is due to you, O God in Zion. It is right for us to praise you and to keep our promises to you. People everywhere shall come to you, for you answer prayer. Protect us your children in the task you have given us. Watch over us so that we can serve you in the right way and receive from you the gifts we need in order to go toward your kingdom and witness to your name. Help us on every step of the way. May our lives be entrusted to your hands, and may we always find our strength in you, our God and Savior. Amen.

Daily Prayer from

Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; 
to you our vows will be fulfilled. 
O you who hear prayer, 
to you all men will come.
Psalm 65:1–2, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God hears and answers prayer
  2. for the strength that I find in Him and His presence
  3. that, though we, like sheep, all went astray, the Lord laid our iniquities on Christ Jesus; by His wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53)
  4. that darkness cannot overcome the Light
  5. that our home is Covid-free

Surely he has borne our griefs 
and carried our sorrows; 
yet we esteemed him stricken, 
smitten by God, and afflicted. 
But he was pierced for our transgressions; 
he was crushed for our iniquities;
 upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, 
and with his wounds we are healed. 
All we like sheep have gone astray; 
we have turned—every one—to his own way; 
and the LORD has laid on him 
the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53:4-6 ESV)

If I take the wings of the morning 
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, 
even there your hand shall lead me, 
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
(Psalms 139:9-10 NRSV)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5 NIV)

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 NIV)

Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: “Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.”
(Judges 13:8 NIV)

Jesus said, at different times, recorded by different people, both, “I am the light of the world,” and “You are the light of the world.”

There are, of course, different definitions of “light.” When I looked it up, the first definition that came up was, “the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible.” Okay, that’s interesting.

Next was, “an expression in someone’s eyes indicating a particular emotion or mood.” Probably not applicable in this case.

But the third one? “Understanding of a problem or mystery; enlightenment.” Very interesting.

“I am the light of the world.” “You are the light of the world.” In John 8:12 (“I am the light”), the word for “light” is “phos.” It means, “to shine or make manifest;” “luminousness;” “fire, light.”

It turns out that Matthew 5:14 uses the same Greek word.

I find it interesting that Jesus makes both statements. How does that work? Pardon me while I think “out loud,” here.

If we begin with the premise that Jesus is the light, and that if we follow Him, we will never walk in darkness, and we will also have that same light, then we become the light of the world, as well. We take on His light. Or, I suppose, it could be said that He shines through and in us.

In an oversimplification, it might be said that He hands over the light to us, but I don’t see that as quite accurate, because He is the light, and, therefore, cannot hand the light over to us.

I have to come to the conclusion that this is a great mystery. I’m looking up some other verses that deal with this meaning of light.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV)

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.
(Ephesians 5:13 NIV)

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
(Ephesians 5:8 NIV)

And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
(2 Corinthians 11:14 NIV)

“Everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” That NIV translation is interesting, because the other main translations say something to the effect of “everything that is illuminated becomes visible.”

I’m not helping myself here. Haha.

The mystery is this: When we begin following Christ, becoming believers in Him, He becomes light within us. God, in the presence of the Holy Spirit, dwells within us, becoming our light and making us the light of the world.

Jesus left this world, physically. He is no longer here in bodily presence, but only spiritually. We are His “body.” The Church is the Body of Christ. Therefore, the Church, and each individual within, is the light of the world, because we embrace the light of the world.

And, frankly, our job is not to understand this. Our job is simple. “Let your light shine before others.” Why? Not so that we can be noticed and boastful. “That they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” It’s all about the glory of God.

Father, help us to let our lights shine. Help us to understand that “letting our light shine” does not consist of trying to blind people with it or forcing it into their lives. That kind of behavior will not cause people to glorify You. Jesus encourages us, nay, commands us to let our light shine, so that people will see our good deeds. To me (and I will always entertain the notion that I might be wrong), those good deeds are the kinds of things that Jesus talked about in His story about the sheep and the goats; feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and in prison, working to free the oppressed, caring for widows, orphans, and refugees, things like that. Things of which it may be said, “Whenever you did it to the least of these, you did it to Me.”

I also believe that letting our light shine consists largely of following that “Golden Rule” and treating people the way we would like to be treated.

In short, Lord, letting my light shine means love; loving You and loving others, and doing it visibly, not from behind the curtains. Once again, though, intent is everything. If, by doing a good deed, I am seeking any kind of recognition other than Your glory, shut me down, faster than instantly. I don’t want to be guilty of that.

May You be glorified in Your Church, Father. May people see the Light of the world through us.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Grace and peace, friends.

Great Are You, Lord

Today is Sunday, the 11th of December, 2022, the third Sunday of Advent.

May the peace of Christ fill your heart today!

Day 23,649 (the number of days since I was born)

Fourteen days until Christmas!

WordPress has decided to start adding prompts, every day, when we open up the page to compose our blog entry. Today’s was “What is your favorite cartoon?” I’ve been ignoring these, but maybe I will start answering them. Depends on how I feel. But my favorite cartoon show has always been Looney Tunes/Merry Melodies, and my favorite recurring character in Looney Tunes is Marvin the Martian. I have a corner in my study that is dedicated to him.

Some of them are a tad dusty. And yes, that is a “Fallout” Crate box on top of my desk in the study. Fallout 4 is my all-time favorite PS4 game.

I have take a second Covid test, this morning, approximately three days since the first one, which was Thursday night. It was negative. I don’t know if I will take another or not. I suppose it depends on how I feel. We have not tested S again, and probably won’t for another couple of days. She continues to feel pretty miserable, but the fever has been down for a whole day, now. C has a nasty cough, but, otherwise doesn’t feel bad.

As for going to church, this morning, I do need to take the gift cards for their Angel Tree, as those are due today. I have not yet decided if I will stay for the worship service.


The insolent utterly deride me, 
but I do not turn away from your law.
(Psalms 119:51 ESV)

Admittedly, I have not had much experience with this. I was trolled once on TikTok, just days after I started posting my gratitude lists on that forum. I simply laughed and moved on. As the psalmist says, even under derision or scoffing, I will not turn away from God’s Word.

There are a lot of prayers, this morning, as I look back through my prayer book. Once again, it is filled with people who have lost loved ones during this holiday season. It saddens me to see so much loss, this year. My heart is burdened for the folks who have experienced such loss. And I just saw a report that said the body of the missing person was found. More tragedy and sadness.

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Dear Father in heaven, look on us as your children, and grant that we may feel in you the highest good for time and eternity. Even if we have to deny ourselves and make great sacrifices, you remain our treasure, our riches, our love, and our joy. Give us strength as a gathered people ready to serve you. Grant us your Spirit whenever we do not understand what we should do. Shelter us always in your hands, and allow us to see your miracles in souls and in bodies. For you are our God, the Almighty, and you find the way to help in everything. Amen.

Daily Prayer from

Keep me safe, my God, 
for in you I take refuge. 
I say to the Lord, 
"You are my Lord; 
apart from you I have no good thing. 
Psalm 16:1–2, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the comfort that God gives us, so that we might, in turn, comfort others (2 Corinthians 1)
  2. that God is my refuge, my fortress, a strong tower to which I can run and be safe
  3. that our enemy is not flesh and blood; we ought not be fighting amongst ourselves
  4. that the righteousness of God is not far off
  5. for the Light of God, that has shone upon us in darkness
  6. for the Word that gave life to everything that was created (John 1:4)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
(Ephesians 6:12 ESV)

"Listen to me, O house of Jacob, 
all the remnant of the house of Israel, 
who have been borne by me from before your birth,
 carried from the womb; 
even to your old age I am he, 
and to gray hairs I will carry you. 
I have made, and I will bear; 
I will carry and will save."
(Isaiah 46:3-4 ESV)
"Remember this and stand firm, 
recall it to mind, you transgressors, 
remember the former things of old; 
for I am God, and there is no other; 
I am God, and there is none like me, 
declaring the end from the beginning 
and from ancient times things not yet done, 
saying, 'My counsel shall stand, 
and I will accomplish all my purpose,' 
calling a bird of prey from the east,
 the man of my counsel from a far country. 
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
 I have purposed, and I will do it. 

"Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, 
you who are far from righteousness:
 I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off, 
and my salvation will not delay;
 I will put salvation in Zion, 
for Israel my glory."
(Isaiah 46:8-13 ESV)

"Because of God’s tender mercy, 
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
 to give light to those who sit in darkness 
and in the shadow of death, 
and to guide us to the path of peace.”
(Luke 1:78-79 NLT)
In the beginning the Word already existed. 
The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
He existed in the beginning with God. 
God created everything through him, 
and nothing was created except through him. 
The Word gave life to everything that was created, 
and his life brought light to everyone.
(John 1:1-4 NLT)

“But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
(Matthew 6:6 NRSV)

There’s a song that is running through my head, this morning, one of the more popular worship songs that our little fellowship group has sung. The song is called “Great Are You, Lord,” and was, I believe, originally recorded by a group known as All Sons and Daughters. The writers of the song are Jason Ingram, David Leonard, and Leslie Jordan. Here are the lyrics.

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
And great are You, Lord

It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

And all the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord

Musically, it’s an interesting song, to me, because it doesn’t hit the tonic chord of the key (A) until the first beat of the bridge, which is the part that begins “And all the earth will shout your praise.” I love playing it, and really pound that tonic chord when we finally get to it. It’s like the ultimate breath of fresh air and relief.

Here’s a YouTube of the song:

I guess it’s because I’m seeing verses about light and life, this morning, that causes me to be thinking about this song. He gives us life. It is the life of Christ (the Word) that has given us life, first in creation, and then as we receive new life in Him.

He is the Light of the World, shining His light on all of us, that we might truly see. And then that we might either reflect or refract that light into the world around us. In the Daily Guideposts 2022 reading, this morning, author Lynne Hartke describes the sunrise shining through an icicle hanging on her house. She was outside in sixteen-degree weather just so she could see that. That’s how God’s light, the light of Jesus Christ should be shining through us.

Then there’s this line in that song, “It’s Your breath in our lungs.” Here’s the thing. Even the air that we breathe belongs to Him! So the breath in my lungs belongs to God! Because of this, we must, we are compelled to, “pour out our praise to You only!”

Over and over, the theme of the song echoes the title. “Great are You, Lord!” And I, too, echo that phrase to Him.

Great are You, Lord! Almighty God, heavenly Father, You are great! Your greatness cannot be truly comprehended. We do the best we can with our finite minds and hearts, but it is only a fraction of Your greatness that we understand. Help us, O God, to know it more. Help us to know You more, to comprehend that which is incomprehensible. Just as Paul prayed in Ephesians, help us to know that which is unknowable.

May my fellowship with You, this morning, be adequate to get me through this day, walking with You. Take charge of my life, and allow me to surrender completely to You. What does surrender look like? It looks like giving up, giving it all up to You, falling on my knees when there is nowhere else to go.

As I consider all of the mourning and grieving that is going on around me, right now, it breaks my heart, Father. I pray for Your Holy Spirit to be living and active in the lives of everyone who has experienced loss in the past few months, as well as for everyone who has lost loved ones around this time of year, in the past. May You comfort them with Your perfect peace, and cause their minds to be stayed on You.

I cry out to You, Lord! Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus! Your creation groans in anticipation. Please do not delay any longer! Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine, be done. You have said that Your purpose will be accomplished. I believe this and trust in it.

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. 

Grace and peace, friends.