Rewards of Obedience

Today is Monday, the thirtieth of August, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,181

Seven days until Labor Day

Today will be my first Monday at the library. How is Monday different than the other days? I guess I’ll find out. I know one thing that will be different. I believe that somewhere around 10:30, story time happens for all the children that come. That won’t necessarily affect me, since I will likely still be working in circulation. Unless all those children decide they want to check out books when it’s over.

I work from 9:15-6:15 today, opening to closing. Actually, the library doesn’t open until 10:00, but we show up early to get everything prepared. The biggest task for Monday morning (I’m not sure since I haven’t worked one, yet) will probably be unloading the outside book drop, all of the books that were returned between closing Saturday and this morning.

I do like how they work the schedule in circulation, though. Working an eight-hour shift doesn’t mean sitting at the front desk all day. We rotate from there to other tasks, such as processing new patron hold requests, clearing the inside book drop, and other things.

I didn’t sleep well at all last night. I felt anxiety, probably for the first time since my new job started. I don’t think the anxiety was about the job, as I still consider it to be the best job I’ve ever had. More likely, it all revolves around everything going on this week, the biggest thing being C’s back surgery on Thursday. There is also the uncertainty of not knowing which day she will be released from the surgery center, and we won’t know that until they see how she is progressing.

I’ve also put on a few pounds since retirement started. Not a huge amount, but enough that my new pants were tight last Wednesday, which scared me a little bit. So part of my anxiety may have been about that. But the good news is that I am about three or four pounds down from last Monday morning, And I’m about two pounds down from last Wednesday.

Anxiety is foolish, it’s true. Worry does no good, whatsoever. In fact, it only does the opposite of good. But it is what it is. And it is difficult to overcome. The thing to remember about everything that is going on this week is, “this, too, shall pass.”

Today is Grief Awareness Day. For those of us who grieve, and honestly, that should be most people, we find that the saying that “time heals all wounds” is a lie. Some of those wounds will never heal. If you have lost a loved one, a parent, or even worse, a child (I say that’s worse, because children should never pass before their parents), or, perhaps, a sibling or best friend, you know that the grief can hit you, without warning, on any day, during any circumstance. During my life, I’ve lost all of my grandparents, my father, and a best friend. I miss my grandparents, but the worst grief, of course, is for my dad. But then there’s the grief that will creep up out of nowhere for that friend who took his own life back in 1975.

People who suffer grief do not need clever, pithy sayings. Nor do they need advice. What they need is someone to simply be there for them, give them a hug when the grief strikes, or just listen to them talk about the memories they have with that person (or even a beloved pet, perhaps).

The word for today is nostrum, a noun, meaning, “a scheme, theory, device, etc., especially one to remedy social or political ills; panacea.” “The party was pushing the nostrum of corporate tax reduction, as if that would undo decades of industrial job loss.” It seems that that is the second definition, the first being, “a medicine sold with false or exaggerated claims and with no demonstrable value; quack medicine.”

Today’s quote is from Eric Hoffer (American moral and social philosopher): “It is easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one’s neighbor.” I believe he has a good point, there.

I’m changing the way I “celebrate” birthdays. It takes too long the way I’ve been doing it, so I’m only going to highlight one or two (maybe three or four) that I’m actually quite familiar with or fond of. The link remains the same every day, as I get my information from On This Day. Remember that the link will give you the birthdays on whatever day you happen to be clicking on it, not necessarily the date I am looking at.

Author Mary Shelley (Frankenstein): 1797-1851
Actress Joan Blondell: 1906-1979 (my second grade teacher may or may not have been related to her)
Ted Williams, possibly the greatest hitter to have ever played baseball: 1918-2002
Ernie Ball (guitar strings): 1930-2004
Ted Williams’s last day at Fenway Park.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Sacred Soaking, by Daryl Madden (My desire every morning)

Graced within Your Presence
Such mysteries we find
In the sacred soaking
Of Your light divine

Heaven flows within us
Of permeating prayer
For every breath we draw
Is of holy air

One of contemplation
Love within so freeing
And in this becoming
We’re a blessed being

In this transformation
Of gifting to prepare
To go into this world
With His Word to share

I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you; I will praise your name, O LORD, for it is good. For you have rescued me from my troubles and helped me to triumph over my enemies.
(Psalms 54:6-7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the holy air that is in my lungs, for every breath that I draw comes from You
2. that You will get us through this week
3. that with You (and only You) we can be victorious over our enemies (which are spiritual, not human)
4. for Your help in teaching me to love You and love people
5. for Jesus; for everything He is, everything He provides, and everything He teaches; may I follow Him with all my heart
6. that You hear our voices when we cry out to You

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FIFTEEN – DAY TWO

INVITATION

I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
(Psalms 57:9-10 NLT)

The house is quiet, the room peaceful. I contemplate Your help in life, as You rescue me from troubles and help me to triumph over my “enemies.” I remember that my enemies are not flesh and blood, but things like apathy, anger, lust, and envy.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Lily of the Covenant.” A miktam of David. For teaching. When he fought Aram Naharaim and Aram Zobah, and when Joab returned and struck down twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.

You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us; you have been angry—now restore us! You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures, for it is quaking. You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger. But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.

Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us and no longer go out with our armies? Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.
(Psalms 60:1-4, 10-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“‘Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God.
“‘Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD.
“‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.
“‘I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.'”
(Leviticus 26:1-5,11-13 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

“Read again, perhaps out loud . . . how has God’s Word moved you? Ponder and meditate what has connected with your heart or mind . . . pray to God what it is that has moved you today . . . turn your thoughts to God and quietly enjoy being with Him.”

In spite of the circumstances, it is the banner of God “unfurled against the bow” that gives us hope and confidence. Even if we are in a situation where we feel like God has not gone out with us, or has rejected us . . . even in the most hopeless of situations, we recognize that “human help is worthless!” We have the utmost confidence that “with God we will gain the victory.”

Once again, I declare that my “enemies” are not flesh and blood. This is a mistake that is being made all over our nation, right now. Brothers and sisters in Christ, fighting with one another, as if they are each other’s enemies! God have mercy. “Human help is worthless!” We must stop depending on humans to help us. Only God can provide the victory, because our enemies are spiritual and require spiritual intervention.

The rewards of following God’s commands in the Leviticus passage are magnificent. Rain will fall; crops will be plentiful; His people will have their fill to eat and live in safety. Even better, He says, “I will put my dwelling place among you . . . I will walk among you and be your God.”

And what are His commands, today? Some may insist that nothing has changed and that we are to follow the Big Ten. But we must remember . . . Jesus summarized those with two commands.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 NIV)

Love God; love people.

He did add that third one, a little later, specifically to His disciples.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 NIV)

Father, I look at my own life and see that I don’t do a great job obeying these commands. I feel like I do better than I used to do, but still, there is much room for improvement, especially in that part about loving people. And that quote from that philosopher up there is spot on. It is much easier to “love humanity” than it is to love my neighbor. Because loving my neighbor requires me to get down and dirty with him. It requires real interaction, and with someone I might not otherwise get along with. Help me to remember that these commands are not negotiable, and that my opinions about things are not part of the job description. I ask You, Father, to give me true love for all people, those closest to me, and those farthest away from me; those I like, and those I don’t like so much. And as for my brothers and sisters in Christ, help me to love them deeply they way You have loved us, sacrificially and selflessly.

"Generous God,
I sometimes don't know how to handle the rewards You offer.
Dare me to believe that like a parent moved by the loving obedience of a child,
You give rewards out of delight in a life changed by grace.
And like a child,
help me to simply open my hands and receive Your goodness.
Amen."

BLESSING

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
(Psalms 116:1 NIV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
(Romans 12:1 NIV)

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
(Ephesians 5:1-2 NLT)

Thank You, God, for hearing my cry for mercy. Teach me to offer myself as a “living sacrifice,” that I might be holy and pleasing to You. Help me to imitate You, today, and to live a life filled with love, following the example of Jesus.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

What Worship Does

Today is Wednesday, August 30, 2017. Day 21,720. Five more days until our Labor Day holiday!

Ted Williams, who was born on this date in 1918 (died in 2005), said, “They invented the All-Star game for Willie Mays.”
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Interstice ~ “a space that intervenes between things; especially : one between closely spaced things.”

Today is Grief Awareness Day. All around us, there are people who are grieving. This week, especially, there are, quite possibly a million or more that are grieving loss of family or property in southeast Texas. We could all stand to be more aware of people around us and what they are going through, showing compassion and giving a shoulder to lean on.

Reports are saying that Harvey has, once again, made landfall, just west of Cameron, Louisiana. Houston may finally see a break in the rain today, but other areas are still being hit with the massive rain. Looking at the forecast, I see only a ten percent chance of rain tomorrow, which will be a very welcome relief for those people. How long it will take for the floods to go down, I have no idea.

The Rangers trounced the Astros at the Juice Box in Tampa, last night, 12-2. Unfortunately for the Rangers, the Twins also won, so they remain three games out of the second wild card spot.

The Red Sox had a good game against the Boo Jays, winning 3-0, behind the solid pitching of Chris Sale. The Yankees didn’t play (rained out?), so the Sox gained a half game, and are, once again, four games up in the AL East.

The Dodgers have lost three in a row. That may be the first time all season this has happened.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 34:8
Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
Psalm 86:4
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
Psalm 119:10
I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
Psalm 7:18

(From Living the Message)

Here is what worship does for us. It’s not just us giving to God, but God giving to us, as well.

“The work of worship gathers everything in our common lives that has been dispersed by sin and brings it to our attention before God; at the same time it gathers everything in God’s revelation that has been forgotten in our distracted hurrying and puts it before us so that we can offer it up in praise and obedience. All of this does not take place merely in a single hour of worship. But, faithfully repeated, week after week, year after year, there is an accumulation to wholeness.” (Eugene H. Peterson)

The Throne of God and of the Lamb is at the center. His servants will offer God service—worshiping, they’ll look on his face, their foreheads mirroring God. Never again will there be any night.
Revelation 22:3b-5a (The Message)

Father, once again, I ask you to draw my heart, my soul, back into solid worship. Gather all of these things that have been scattered by distraction and hurry, and place them back in front of me. Show me, teach me, what is important in this life.
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.

Your Will Be Done

Good morning. It is Sunday, August 30, 2015. Only one more day in August.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is moot. If you click on the link, you will find a lot of definitions. The one for the word of the day listing is the adjective, which means, “open to question : debatable,” “subjected to discussion : disputed,” or, “deprived of practical significance : made abstract or purely academic.” The most common usage is the latter of those. One reason that I chose this particular word was to highlight the fact that the word is moot, not “mute,” as is commonly, mistakenly, used. The point is not “mute,” it is “moot.” No extra charge for that lesson.

Today is Pony Express Day. “Pony Express Day celebrates those brave souls who made up the unique mail delivery system of the same name.”

I had a really great time last night, but it almost didn’t happen. While we were eating lunch, yesterday, I started feeling quite nauseated. I don’t know what was wrong, but I didn’t finish lunch. Since I was supposed to go out with Rob after church, Christi left earlier, in her car, and I was to follow later, and get drinks from Sonic on the way. I went ahead and did that, not feeling very well at all. I was able to lead the prayer gathering, and asked for prayer during that, saying that I might be going home between prayer and worship, also letting Rob know that I might not be able to make it for the evening. But by the time prayer was over, I was feeling better. I stayed for the worship gathering, and, afterward, decided that I was up to going out.

We decided to go for a movie, to the somewhat new Moviehouse & Eatery, in Keller. We elected to see Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, which started at 9:15. That gave us just over an hour before movie-time, so we sat at the bar and had some burgers, which turned out to be quite tasty. The place is a bit pricey, but nice. Just inside the door, it resembles a hotel lobby, or something similar, with a huge bar toward the back. The movie tickets were $12, and my burger w/fries was $12.50. The seats in the theater were luxurious recliner-style, with a food tray that swings over the lap. Food was also available in the theater, with the same menu as out in the lobby. However, since I had already eaten, I just got popcorn and a Diet Coke. The “bottomless” popcorn was $7 (not bad at all, compared to regular theaters), and the “bottomless” soda was $4.

The movie was entertaining, but just a tad too long, I think. It is almost 2.5 hours, and I think it would have been better at the 2 hour mark. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it, and noted afterward that I didn’t remember a single cuss word in it, which is extremely rare. Basically, it’s just action/adventure, no sex, no bad language. Overall, a good movie. My favorite characters were Simon Pegg’s and Jeremy Renner’s. Rebecca Ferguson also did a great job in the roll of Ilsa Faust. She reminded me of the classic “Bond girl” from days gone by. Except a tad tougher.
ilsa faust

Not sure what’s on the plate for today. We had talked about maybe going bowling, but that was before Christ’s leg popped again. Oh. I forgot mention that, above. When Christi was going up the stairs at church, her calf muscle popped again, so she’s back to having serious pain when she walks. Very frustrating. So we may not do much of anything at all today. But isn’t that what a “day of rest” should be like?

On this date in 1791, the HMS Pandora sank after running aground on a reef. In 1835, Melbourne, Australia, was founded. One year later, to the day, Houston, Texas was founded. On this date in 1967, Thurgood Marshall was confirmed as the first African-American Supreme Court Justice.

Today’s birthdays include Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (English writer), Shirley Booth (American actress), Joan Blondell (American actress), Fred MacMurray (American actor), Ted Williams (American baseball player), Kitty Wells (American country singer), Geoffrey Beene (American fashion designer), Warren Buffet (American entrepreneur), John Phillips (The Mamas & the Papas), Elizabeth Ashley (American actress), Jean-Claude Killy (French skier), Robert Crumb (American cartoonist), Tug McGraw (American baseball player/manager), Molly Ivins (American political humorist), Peggy Lipton (American actress, Mod Squad), Lewis Black (American comedian), Timothy Bottoms (American actor), Michael Chiklis (American actor), Cameron Diaz (American actress), Marlon Byrd (American baseball player), Cliff Lee (American baseball player), and Adam Wainwright (American baseball player).

A lot of baseball birthdays, today. But, without a doubt, the most influential of all of those is the Splendid Splinter, Teddy Ballgame, Ted Williams. Born on this date in 1918, Ted Williams is statistically the greatest hitter to ever play the game of baseball. He is the last player to finish a season with a .400+ batting average. He still holds the honor of having the longest home run in Fenway Park, so illustrated by the lone red seat in the right field stands.

the red seat

That red seat is 502 feet from home plate. Here is a video clip of Williams hitting a home run in his last MLB at bat.

Max Factor, Sr., Charles Coburn, Vera-Ellen, Charles Bronson, and Glenn Ford are among notable deaths on this date.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s Psalm, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 101.

A Psalm of David.
I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music.
I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house;
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.
Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.
I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.
No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.
Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the LORD.

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

We have arrived at the third petition in the Lord’s Prayer, “your will be done.” This, if we truly comprehend it, is one of the more difficult petitions of the prayer. Martin Luther paraphrases it like this: “Grant us grace to bear willingly all sorts of sickness, poverty, disgrace, suffering, and adversity and to recognize that in this your divine will is crucifying our will.” It also directs us back to the first phrase of the prayer, “Our Father in heaven,” because, if we are not certain that God is our Father, how can we pray, “your will be done?” Keller says, “Only if we trust God as Father can we ask for grace to bear our troubles with patience and grace.”

So, how are we sure that God is trustworthy? One way is to see that this petition is one that our Savior, himself, prayed when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane, under much more dire circumstances than any of us are likely to face.

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
Matthew 26:39

Jesus Christ submitted to his Father’s will, rather than assert his own, and the result was our salvation. This is why we can trust God. “Jesus is not asking us to do anything for him that he hasn’t already done for us, under conditions of difficulty beyond our comprehension.”

Luther also says that, if we do not have this trust in God, we might try to take God’s place and “seek revenge on those who have harmed us.” Keller adds to this, “If we can’t truly say ‘thy will be done’ from the bottom of our hearts, we will never know any peace. We will feel compelled to try to control people and control our environment and make things the way we believe they ought to be.” Calvin goes even farther with this and says that, when we pray “your will be done,” we are submitting not only our will to God, but our feelings as well, “that we do not become despondent, bitter, and hardened by the things that befall us.”

As we have considered these first three petitions in the Lord’s Prayer, the order is important. “We are not to let our own needs and issues dominate prayer; rather, we are to give pride of place to praising and honoring him, to yearning to see his greatness and to see it acknowledged everywhere, and to aspiring to full love and obedience.” We must allow our prayers to begin with adoration and praise, along with “God-centeredness,” so that we can be healed of our own self-centeredness, “which curves us in on ourselves and distorts all our vision.”

Father, may I truly be able to pray, “Your will be done,” in my prayers. I also pray for the grace to do prayer in the right order. So many times, I just into the needs of people around me, my family and friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ, before I take the time to acknowledge your place in my life, your over-riding holiness and awesomeness, and the fact that your will for my life just might not line up with what I think it should be. May this prayer, “Your will be done,” be a staple in my prayer life, and may it be a truly honest prayer from the depths of my being.

I pray for this day, that we will get some good rest as we prepare for the coming work week. I pray for relief for Christi, from this nagging pain in her calf muscle. I pray for healing, that she might not have to visit a doctor. But if she winds up having to do that, I pray for wisdom for whoever she visits, that the right diagnosis and treatment will be made.

Your grace is sufficient, Father.

your will be done

Toward the end of his life, my father was known to say that “Your will be done” was the one prayer that could never fail. May it be so in our lives.

Grace and peace, friends.

Fasting During Grief

Good morning! It is Friday (can I get a “hallelujah!”), August 30, 2013.

Today is “Slinky Day.” So I looked up Slinky on You Tube. I found the most fascinating video. These two guys dropped a large slinky from a balcony window, two floors up. But first they let it stretch out to maximum length. When they let go of the other end, the end that was dangling did not move until the other end caught up with it!! It stays suspended in mid-air. What a fascinating display of strange physics! Check it out!


This morning, Stephanie has her followup visit with the oral surgeon who removed her wisdom teeth. She seems to be feeling great, and says that she isn’t feeling any pain. Her mouth is still swollen a bit, and she can’t quite speak normally, yet, but seems to be recovering nicely. They’re going at 7am, because Christi has an important meeting to prepare for, which happens at 1pm today.

I have a busy day in store, as we have 12 trucks to load with elevator parts today. Hopefully, that goes smoothly, and no overtime is required. Last Friday, I didn’t get off work until almost 6:30pm. But, even if we have to work overtime, it’s a holiday weekend. Monday is Labor Day in the U.S. So we don’t work. That’s always been a bit of a conundrum, hasn’t it? Oh, well, no complaints here.

The Bedford Blues and BBQ Festival happens this weekend. Buddy Guy is playing Sunday night. We just might try to go to that. Buddy Guy is 77 years old and still rockin’ the blues!


(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 30 BC, Cleopatra, the last Pharaoh of Egypt, died from the legendary bit of an asp. Her and Mar Antony, one of the most famous couples in history, had planned to rule the world, but When Octavian crushed their fleets at Actium, and then Antony’s army pretty much defected as Octavian marched toward Alexandria, a couple of things happened. First, Cleopatra “secreted herself in her new mausoleum and had the rumour spread that she was dead.” This is always a bad idea, especially if your significant other knows not of your plan. When Marc Antony heard that she was dead, he attempted to commit suicide. (This is starting to sound like Romeo and Juliet.) However, his aim was horrible, and he merely succeeded in stabbing himself in the stomach. This caused him to faint on his couch. When he came to, he was informed that Cleopatra was not really dead, and she summoned him to her mausoleum. There, Marc Antony died from his self-inflicted wound. A few days later, Octavian showed up, and, when Cleopatra refused him entrance, he sent soldiers in the window to disarm her before she could kill herself. She was allowed to arrange a “splendid funeral” for Marc Antony, and tried to seduce Octavian, but to no avail. Realizing her fate of humiliation, she determined to kill herself. On this date, she returned to the mausoleum, pretending to simply be visiting Marc Antony’s tomb. “There she bathed and ordered a sumptuous feast. Among the delicacies delivered was a basket of figs in which was secreted an asp, an Egyptian symbol of divine royalty but more importantly for Cleopatra, deadly poisonous.” After her banquet was complete, she wrote to Octavian, asking to be buried with her lover. By the time Octavian’s soldiers arrived, it was too late. Cleopatra lay dead from the bite of the asp, and two of her servant girls were dying at her feet. The legend says that she clasped the deadly snake to her bosom, but “other reports suggest that two puncture wounds from the snake’s fangs were found on her arm.” She was only 39 years old “and had been pharaoh for 22 years.”


Today’s birthday is Ted Williams, born on this date in 1918. I may have missed Yaz’s birthday last week, but I won’t miss this one. Ted Williams was the greatest baseball hitter of all time, being the last player to finish a season with a .400+ batting average. Nicknamed “The Splendid Splinter,” he played the game with a passion that few possess in this day. Ted passed away in 2002, but gave this interview shortly before he died. He played his entire career with the Boston Red Sox.

Honorable mentions go to Cameron Diaz, 41, Fred MacMurray, 1908-1991, Mary Shelley, 1797-1851, Peggy Lipton, 66, Shirley Booth, 1898-1992, Jean Claude Killy, 70, Kitty Wells, 1919-2012, Frank Tug McGraw, 1944-2004, Joan Blondell, 1906-1979, and John Phillips, 1935-2001.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3
Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness. . . make your way straight before me. Psalm 5:8
Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. Psalm 69:6

Father, I pray that you would make your way straight before me as I walk today. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth.


Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Fasting After Saul’s Death.” The scripture reading is 1 Samuel 31:8-13.

The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. So they cut off his head and stripped off his armor and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people. They put his armor in the temple of Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan. But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and went all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days.

What we see in this passage is simply an expression of mourning following the death of a nation’s leader. In similar fashion, nations today mourn the passing of great leaders, but customs, of course, vary. There are expansive military funerals, wakes, public demonstrations, religious services – in the U.S., flags might fly at half mast in mourning.

Have you ever fasted after the death of one of your nation’s leaders, or even after someone you loved died? If you have, did you find that the practice helped with the grief? We have different ways of dealing with grief. Some naturally lose their appetite while grieving, so fasting becomes the natural reaction. That is perfectly understandable, because if someone you truly love has passed on, the grief becomes consuming. Especially for those of us who call the name of Jesus, fasting during grief could be an excellent means of handling the grief. What better way to deal with a tragic event than to focus on intimacy with the Lord?


Father, as I continue to study on the discipline of fasting, I pray that your Spirit will show me the usefulness of the discipline. I pray that, in future times of fasting, it will be only a means of drawing closer to you. Even if I am fasting for the purpose of prayer, may the true reason not be to gain power, but to draw closer to you during that time. I pray that my motives are never selfish.

As always, I pray for this day. I pray that the doctor visit is going smoothly right now, and that Stephanie’s recovery is going according to schedule. I pray for Christi’s day, especially her important meeting this afternoon, that her part in it will be excellent and praiseworthy, and that her superiors will be impressed with her work. I pray for my day today, that all of the loading will go smoothly, and that all of the trucks to be loaded will arrive on time, or even early.

We look forward to this weekend, and pray for good rest during the holiday. I also pray for our pastor, Jacob Seay, who is being ordained this Sunday evening. May your blessings fall on him during this service, and may he be anointed with your Spirit.


Fasting can be a great means of dealing with grief and times of mourning.

Grace and peace, friends.

With My Whole Heart…

Good morning. It’s Friday, September 28, 2012. Today is “Drink Beer Day.” You know I’m not making that up, because I don’t like beer. Yuck. But I bet there will be thousands of people participating in this day tonight at the Rangers game. Truthfully, sports fans don’t seem to care what day it is…and for that matter, why do we even need a “Drink Beer Day?”

The fact that this is the lead story on today’s history page makes me happy. On this date in 1941, Ted Williams, playing in a double header, boosted his batting average to .406, becoming the first player since Bill Terry, in 1930, to finish a season with an average higher than .400. He was the last player to do so, to this day.
On this date in 1960, Ted Williams hit a home run on his last major league at bat. How cool is that? He made the list twice!
On this date in 1901, Ed Sullivan was born. It was a really big shew.
On this date in 1999, jazz legend Miles Davis died at the age of 65.


Christi had her steroid injection yesterday afternoon, and the procedure went successfully. She had a pretty bad headache most of the evening, but seems to have slept well last night. This morning, she said she still has pain in the top of her foot, but she thinks her back feels better. The doctor said that it would probably be a few days before she can tell if the shot worked or not. I think it’s encouraging that she says her back feels better this morning.

We’ll be going to the Rangers game tonight and then again on Sunday. They won last night, 9-7, splitting the series with Oakland and dropping their magic number to three. Still, no one in the American League has clinched a playoff spot, and there are only six games left.


Father, I pray that you show me something of yourself this morning. Keep me focused on you.


Today, I’m reading Psalm 119:9-16.

9 Beth. How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

Verse 11 has been a popular memory verse over the years. Of course, when I was a child, we memorized it like this: “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” It speaks of the benefit of learning God’s word. I echo the prayer in verse 10, that I might not wander from the path of God’s commands. I also like the wording of verse 15. Meditating on the precepts of the Lord and then fixing my eyes on his ways…a sure recipe for spiritual success.


Today, in My Utmost For His Highest, there is one more “Go” reading. “The ‘Go’ of Unconditional Identification,” with the verse being Mark 10:21. And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” It is very interesting, here, that the ESV does not include the phrase, “take up the cross.” Checking through all the translations in my e-Sword, it seems to be about half and half. Some of the translations include a phrase about taking up the cross, and some don’t. It must have something to do with the Greek texts used for the translations.

But that’s all beside the point. The rich young ruler had a true desire to be like Jesus. But this has nothing to do with personal holiness, and Jesus proves that right away. The young man claims to have kept all of the commandments. What Jesus asks for, however, is “absolute annihilation of my right to myself and identification with Himself–a relationship with Himself in which there is no other relationship.” Chambers references Luke 14:26, which says, If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. This has “nothing to do with salvation or sanctification, but with unconditional identification with Jesus Christ.” And here is the sobering statement, which I believe to be true: “Very few of us know the absolute ‘go’ of abandonment to Jesus.”

Verse 23 is interesting. After this young man made the claim that he had kept all of the commandments, from his youth, it says And Jesus, looking at him, loved him… Have I been transformed by the “look” of Jesus? The places where I am “soft” with God are the places where I need Jesus to fix his gaze on me and transform my heart forever.

What does Jesus ask this young man to do? Is the key that he wants him to sell everything? I believe if we think that, we have missed the point. What he is asked to do here, what I am asked to do by Christ, is to “reduce myself until I am a mere conscious man,” renouncing my possessions in order to follow Christ. Again…do not confuse this with requirements for salvation! These are requirements for true discipleship. It is my opinion, and I believe that Scripture bears this out, that one can be “saved” and not be a true “disciple.” In order to truly follow Jesus, this man would have had to give up everything. Can we do any less?

I have to really ponder what this means for me. I don’t feel compelled to sell all my possessions. However, there are “things” which have a grip on me that needs to be relinquished. As Rich Mullins stated so well, “The stuff of earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things.” So I must ponder…I must meditate. Do I have the desire to be a true disciple of Christ? Can I renounce my possessions and follow him?


Father, I’m going to have to spend some time over the next day or so to work this out. Am I following you? I believe that I am moving in that direction, but I also believe that there are still things holding me back. Physical things as well as mental things. Attitudes, desires, even opinions that don’t square up with your desire for my life. I pray that you fill me with your Spirit so that I might truly be able to follow you. Do I want to follow you? Yes, I believe that I do. I think that I have shown that through my obedience in this prayer thing over the last couple of months. But I know in my heart that I am not “there” yet. So here comes the painful part. Prune me, Lord. Yes, I’m asking you to clip away the parts that don’t honor you. By the power of your Holy Spirit, I pray that you change what needs to be changed in me, so that I can truly follow you. Make me a disciple. Give me that unconditional identification with Jesus Christ.

I pray for this day. I pray that Christi will continue to feel improvement as a result of this steroid shot. I pray that she will have a stress free day as she works from home. Stephanie is supposed to meet with her new “mentor” today. I pray that their meeting and lunch goes well. May you teach Stephanie your ways, Lord, that she might walk in your truth. I pray that the procedure on the kitten goes well today. I also pray that we have a good time of family fun and fellowship at the baseball game tonight. Keep us all safe during the game and traveling to and from it. Finally, I ask that I might have a smooth day at work, with no issues to impede our performance today.

Your grace is sufficient for all of us.


The Psalm reading today kind of coincided with the Chambers reading. If I am seeking him with my whole heart, then nothing will hold me back from being a true disciple. I need the “look” of Jesus to transform my heart.

Grace and peace, friends.

Devotion and Service are Deliberate

Good morning. It is Sunday, July 8, 2012. Today is “Video Game Day.” Huzzah!! I can certainly celebrate that one!

On this date in 1776, the Liberty Bell tolled, calling people to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. On this date in 1949, Wolfgang Puck was born. Bon appetit. On this date in 1972, “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers began its first reign as the #1 pop song.

On this date in 1941, Ted Williams, the “Splendid Splinter,” hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead the American League to victory in the All-Star game. That particular season was marked by several milestones. It was the season of Joe DiMaggio’s potentially unbreakable hitting streak of 56 games, and it was the last time any MLB batter hit over .400. That was also “Teddy Ballgame,” Ted Williams.


I’m happy to report that Christi seems to be feeling better. We got out and about a little bit yesterday, but otherwise didn’t do much. In the evening, we watched “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” and “The Artist.”
This morning, we’re getting ready to go to our worship celebration at The Exchange.


Father, as I read your word this morning, I pray for some inspiration that will lead me to worship you with abandon this morning. Teach me your way…


Today, I’m reading Psalm 38. In this Psalm, David seems to be lamenting a physical condition that he believes is brought about by his sin.
O Lord, all my longing is before you;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
and the light of my eyes–it also has gone from me.
My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,
and my nearest kin stand far off.
(9-11)
Even his friends and family seem to have distanced themselves from him.
But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear,
like a mute man who does not open his mouth.
I have become like a man who does not hear,
and in whose mouth are no rebukes.
(13-14)
This sounds like serious depression.

He closes out with a plea to the Lord.
Do not forsake me, O LORD!
O my God, be not far from me!
Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation!
(21-22)
David knows where his help and strength is. He knows who to call out to. I’ve been in this place; I’m sure many of us have. And I believe, based on the fact that this psalm is included in our Scriptures, that it is okay to lament in this way…as long as we come out in the same place David did, here; as long as we cry out to God.


My Utmost For His Highest

…choose this day whom you will serve… Joshua 24:15

In this reading, called “The Will to Loyalty,” Chambers says, “When God gives a vision of truth it is never a question of what He will do, but of what we will do.” We cannot give up our will, but we must exercise it. This is a time that it is good to think back to how simple it was to yield to the Lord when we first were saved; when we were most excited about serving Jesus.
The piece of verse quoted above indicates “a deliberate calculation, not something into which you drift easily.” This goes back to yesterday’s reading, which hit me pretty hard. I have to deliberately practice at being obedient to God during the “regular” life, so that when the crisis comes, I’m not left floating in the wind. One thing is for sure, though…what God is proposing to me is between me and him; Chambers says I should not confer with “flesh and blood” about it. This goes against everything we think, doesn’t it? We have an idea; we think God is leading us somewhere. What is the first thing we do? We run and talk to our friends about it. But the more friends you talk to, the more different “advice” you get, which causes more strain and uncertainty. This is why we need to be constantly in a prayer relationship with God. This is what I’m striving toward. If I think God is leading me somewhere, I need to get in a closet with HIM about it! After I’ve sussed it out with God, then I can talk to others about it, but it will be a point of declaration, not asking for advice. I don’t need to worry so much where God is leading me…I just need to will to be loyal to him. “Immediately you choose to be loyal to Jesus Christ, you are a witness against yourself. Don’t consult other Christians but profess before Him–I will serve Thee.”
My devotion must be an act of the will. It must be deliberate.


Father, I pray that you strengthen my will to your purpose. It is my heart’s desire to follow you and to choose, as Joshua admonished the Children of Israel, to serve you. I pray for the fortitude to practice my faith, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, never letting up. May my prayers be like breathing. As you lead me down this path, may I will to be devoted to your service.

Time is short. We must leave for our worship celebration. I pray for the worship time this morning, Lord. I ask that we be inspired to worship you with abandon, setting aside all hindrances to entering into intimate worship with you. I pray for the people leading the music this morning, that their hearts be in tune with you and solidly connected with you. May there be no distractions. When the word is preached, I pray that it will be pure Scripture, and that you will open our ears to hear what the Spirit has to say to us this morning, each of us to our own need. May you be glorified in all we do.

I pray for the family of my Great-Aunt Peace, this morning. Give them comfort and encouragement, drawing them closer to you today.

Your grace is sufficient.


My devotion to Christ is deliberate. My will must be exercised.

Grace and peace, friends.