Help!

Today is Wednesday, the thirtieth of March, 2022, in the fourth week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ rain down on you today!

Day 23,393

I just realized that I published this without adding any personal stuff, but I didn’t really have anything to add, today, anyway. So straight on to the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Come to God,” by Daryl Madden

God welcomes us
With a sunrise’s beauty
Come receive His love
Welcome Him into me

God’s seeking us
In gifts everywhere
Come find His love
With our soul, be aware

God’s calling us
With opportunities
Come share His love
With the lost and needy

God’s wanting us
In Him to be
Come be His love
For eternity

What a beautiful invitation, especially that last stanza. There is, I fear, much misunderstanding surrounding God and His purposes. He desires us to be “His love for eternity.” Please check out more of Daryl’s inspirational poems at the link provided above.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the simplicity of the love of God; how deep and how mighty, yet how simple
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. that God is our help and our shield (Psalm 33:20)
4. for the easy yoke of Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)
5. that God will do what He says He will do

Today’s prayer word is “help.” And the quote at the top comes from a book that I have had on my TBR list for a while, now.

“This is a hard planet, and we’re a vulnerable species. And all I can do is pray: Help.” ~ Anne Lamott, in Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers..

The writer, known only as “Bob,” says that “help” is “the most instinctive prayer we ever prayed.” And the God of the universe, to whom we pray is “our help and our shield” (Psalm 33:20).

And then there’s this cool Beatles song, too.

(From Pray a Word a Day)(Except for, of course, The Beatles)

For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper.
(Psalms 72:12 ESV)

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
(1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 ESV)

Do you see it in there? Not only can we cry out to God for “help,” but we are also responsible, even obligated to “help” others.

Many times in our lives, in our walk with Christ, we feel unworthy. We feel the condemnation (even though God clearly tells us there is none) because of serious wrongs that we have done. Even though we have known Christ’s redemption, and know in our minds that He has forgiven us, we still struggle with this deep remorse. And the remorse is fitting, because the Spirit of God has awakened this within us.

But we must, says John Wesley, “transcend it in trust.” The Spirit has given us these words:

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
(Job 19:25 ESV)

Interestingly, Wesley’s translation has the word “vindicator” instead of “Redeemer.”

The Spirit also gives us these words:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20 ESV)

In that faith, we are set free from the bondage of past sins. And remember these beautiful words, as well:

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
(Psalms 103:11-12 ESV)

(From Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin)

Eugene Peterson reminds us that we are invited, by our Father, “to leap, to live, and to love: to leap from the visible uncertainties of self to the invisible certainties of faith, to live intensely instead of eagerly and dully, and to love directly and personally and not secondhand.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, there are certainly times in my life when all I could do was pray, “Help!” And You answered; You helped, just as You promise You will. My life, my hope, and my trust are all built on the foundation that You will do what You say You will do. If I trusted my own faithfulness or steadfastness, my life would have been over years ago. But I trust Your faithfulness, Your steadfast love, and Your promises. I trust in who You are and what You say You will do.

You are my help and my shield; You are my Rock and my salvation, my Redeemer and my Deliverer. I praise You, my God. And now, help me to go out into this day, to leap into faith, to live intensely and to love directly, all in the power of Your Holy Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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)

Grace and peace, friends.

Broken Bread and Poured-Out Wine

“The real test of the saint is not preaching the gospel, but washing disciples’ feet, that is, doing the things that do not count in the actual estimate of men but count everything in the estimate of God.”~~Oswald Chambers

“The love we give away is the only love we keep.”~~Elbert Hubbard
(BrainyQuote)
This reminds me of the last line of the last song allegedly recorded by all four of The Beatles together. “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is philostorgy, which simply means “parental love.”

Today is Clam Chowder Day. Make mine New England, please. None of that Manhattan stuff. Ugh.

Well, we’ve had no more Internet issues, thus far. However, for some reason, our cable DVR did not record last Sunday’s episode of Downton Abbey. There is a marathon, though, coming up on this Sunday, so I’ve got the episode we missed set to record. It appears to be “pledge time,” though, as the episode is slated to take 90 minutes. Oh, well.

Today is Thursday, and I’m getting free lunch at work. To reward us for have two years with no “lost-time” accidents, they are having a cookout today for us. We are, allegedly, to have bacon cheeseburgers and bratwurst. I’m actually looking forward to going to work today! 😀

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD.
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul,
and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.

Psalm 31:6-8

“We need far more living space than we can acquire on our own. Sins–our own and others–crowd in on us and cramp us into narrow, rutted paths. Salvation sets us down in wide-open fields where we are free to live, liberated in Christ.” (I love Peterson’s way with words, and chose not to attempt to paraphrase what he wrote for today.)

“Father, lead me through the narrow gate into the broad place, through the door that is Jesus Christ, into the way, the truth, and the life. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 2 Corinthians 12:15

In today’s reading, “The Destitution of Service,” Oswald Chambers addresses motives and styles of service. When we serve “naturally,” we expect something in return. When we love “naturally,” we expect something in return. Paul did not care about such things. Our 20th and 21st century ideas of service do not match those of Jesus. Somewhere, we developed this idea that the pastor of the church should be raised up and honored, almost idolized, and that all he should have to do is preach the gospel. But Christ’s idea is that we should “serve Him by being the servants of other men.”

“The real test of the saint is not preaching the gospel, but washing disciples’ feet, that is, doing the things that do not count in the actual estimate of men but count everything in the estimate of God.” While preaching the gospel is, indeed, important, the real saint is not the one who merely does that, but “one who becomes broken bread and poured-out wine in the hands of Jesus Christ for other lives.”

Father, I still struggle with these ideas of service. I don’t want to wash peoples’ feet. But your Spirit can change me so that my desire would be to serve you by serving others. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name. Help me to abide in you, that I might bear fruit for you.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Unshakeable Faith

Good morning. It is Thursday, July 30, 2015. Pre-Friday. Or Friday Eve, if you prefer.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is grandiloquence. This is a noun, meaning, “a lofty, extravagantly colorful, pompous, or bombastic style, manner, or quality especially in language.” I guess you would say that campaign speeches might be full of grandiloquence.

Today is Paperback Book Day. If it has the word “book” in it, I’m all over it. Anyone who knows me for very long knows I love books. And it just so happens that I finished a book last night, so I need to choose my next one. It just might turn out to be a paperback. Who knows? Just for kicks, here’s a song about paperback books.

Christi has her Huddle meeting tonight, assuming she can get away from work on time. They have some very important projects that they are working on, and the new bowling season begins this weekend.

Yesterday was a stressful day for both of us. Of course, my stress level will probably never be as high as Christi’s. Her’s is coming from an outside source. Mine came from an apparent mistake from a month ago. Since I don’t even remember the situation, it’s difficult to figure out why it happened. Oh, well. As they say, “This, too, shall pass.”

After losing to the Evil Empire 21-5 Tuesday night, the Rangers managed to pull off a win, last night. The Sox, on the other hand, have lost three consecutive games to the Other Sox. I’m pretty sure that, in all three games, the Other Sox have scored at least five runs in the first inning. This is getting old.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s Bible reading is Genesis 26-27 and Matthew 7. Genesis 26 begins with God extending the Abraham covenant to Isaac. Isaac settles in Gerar, where Abimelech was still king. Isaac, being a chip off the old block, pretended that Rebekah was his sister. Abimelech, being used to this trick by now, didn’t fall for it. At least not for very long. The Lord blessed Isaac, in spite of his deceitfulness, and he became very rich. After a few quarrels over wells, Abimelech comes to Isaac and makes a covenant with him. Isaac then digs a well and names the place Beersheba. At the end of the chapter, Esau takes a couple of Hittite wives, making life “bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.”

In Genesis 27, Jacob steals Isaac’s blessing, with a little help from his mother. Isaac, now blind, tells Esau to go hunt and prepare a meal for him, that he might receive the blessing of his father. While Esau is gone, Rebekah takes goats from their flock, prepares the food, and sends Jacob to Isaac, wearing some of Esau’s clothes, so that he smells like Esau. The trick works, and Jacob gets the blessing. The blessing was a very important part of their lives, and when Esau finally showed up with his food, Isaac could not give him the same blessing. Now, Esau has lost his birthright and his blessing, both at the hands of his younger brother (they were twins, but Esau came out first). Esau is very angry and vows to kill Jacob after Isaac dies. At the end, Rebekah is making plans to send Jacob away to her uncle Laban’s place.

In Matthew 7, Jesus is still teaching his disciples. He begins by telling them about judging, and the speck and the log. Then he tells them to ask, seek, and knock. If we desire to receive gifts from our Father, we need but to ask. If our children ask us for bread, we don’t give them snakes. If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (v 11) Jesus gives them the Golden Rule next, followed by warnings about false prophets. A bad tree can’t bear good fruits. Not everyone who claims to know Jesus will enter into the Kingdom. Only those who do the will of the Father will enter. He finishes with the parable of the two men, one who built his house on the rock, and the other who built his house on the sand. The house on the rock stood, while the house on the sand fell. A good foundation is crucial to our spiritual lives.

Today’s Psalm from Heart Aflame is Psalm 89:30-31.

30 If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules,
31 if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments,

Not sure why the editors chose to stop in mid-thought like that.

(From Solid Joys)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
James 1:2-3

Today’s reading is “Suffering That Strengthens Faith.”

One of the main reasons that our faith is shaken by suffering is “to make our faith more unshakable.” Piper compares faith to muscle tissue. When we stretch and strain our muscles through exercise, they get stronger. Our faith is the same. “When your faith is threatened and tested and stretched to the breaking point, the result is greater capacity to endure.”

Be not deceived. Our God will test our faith and stretch it to breaking point in order to “keep it pure and strong.” Paul says, in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. Paul says that the purpose of this suffering (“But that was to”) was so that they would not rely on themselves, but on God alone. Note the implication of future grace in the phrase, “who raises the dead.”

God values our faith so much that, if need be, he will take away everything else that matters to us. This is a frightening though, and one we must consider when we pray for more or stronger faith. “His aim is that we grow deeper and stronger in our confidence that he himself will be all we need.”

God desires that we be able to echo the Psalmist who said, Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Father, at the risk of losing everything, teach me this faith. My heart’s desire is that my faith remain pure and strong. As I continue to struggle with emotion after losing my father, I recognize that, through this, my faith has been, for the most part, unshaken. Sure, there have been moments of doubt, but they have been quickly shoved away by your truth, grace, mercy, and love. Let my faith stay strong in you, Father. But more than that, I pray that anything that might be forcing its way in front of you in my desires, be taken away. I want nothing to take precedence over you in my life.

I pray for this day, that we might have safe passage to and from work. I pray for less stress today, but even if that doesn’t happen, I pray that we might be able to keep our sight focused on you through everything. I definitely had moments, yesterday, where I failed to do that. Remind me, Lord, by your Spirit. May your love rain down on Stephanie, Lord, and may Rachel feel your confidence as she prepares to defend her thesis. I give you thanks for things that have come through for my mother, and pray that you get her through other things that have come up.

Your grace is sufficient, Father. May you be enough for us.

If and when we go through suffering and struggle, we need to remember that God has a purpose for it, to keep our faith strong.

Grace and peace, friends.

Beneficiaries of Mercy

Good morning. It is Saturday, January 3, 2015. 93 days until Opening Day.

Today’s Word of the Day is “alrightnik.” The meaning is, “Chiefly in Jewish usage: a person who has succeeded in life financially but is regarded as vulgar or self-satisfied; a nouveau-riche person, an arriviste.”

Today is Chocolate Covered Cherry Day. If only we had some left.

The drive to work, yesterday, turned out fine. It rained the whole trip, but the temp stayed above freezing all day. The work day went very smoothly, and we got off early again. I left work shortly after 3:00 PM. We had spaghetti for dinner last night, cooked at home, as we have embarked on a new plan to eat more healthy at the beginning of this year. We got completely caught up on past seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and just in time, as the new season begins in just over a week. Then we watched a so-so movie, called Good People, which featured James Franco and Kate Hudson. As I was hunting around in Netflix after that, I stumbled across a movie called Knights of Badassdom. Yes, the title is somewhat crude, but the movie turned out being quite entertaining. I would bill it as a “dark comedy,” as it definitely has comedic elements throughout, but also has some quite horrific moments in the latter half. What enticed me to even watch it (certainly not the title) was the featured actors. Peter Dinklage (how can you not watch a movie with Peter Dinklage??), Steve Zahn, Ryan Kwanten (Jason in True Blood), and Summer Glau. The fact that Summer Glau was in it was the final draw for me. She, of course, played “River” in Firefly and Serenity. The film was about a group of “LARPers.” That stands for “Live Action Role Play.” Oh, yes, I almost forgot. Jimmi Simpson was also in the movie. He plays Liam McPoyle in It’s Always Sunny. He also has a part in House of Cards.

As we were watching TV, a thunderstorm came along. My initial reaction being, “Was that thunder??” It was creepy thunder, too, the kind you might expect at Frankenstein’s castle, just as he is about to activate the monster. Right before we went to bed, there was one that literally shook the house. One of my friends, who lives in Hurst, said he lost power, shortly before midnight. A relative of mine, who lives in Jasper, Texas, said that they got an emergency warning at 3:11 AM that there was a tornado warning!! But all appears to be well, this morning.

Today is probably a typical Saturday. Christi will probably go out and get groceries, later, and then we will have our usual prayer gathering and worship service this evening.Tonight will be unique, as it will be a service of worship and prayer, and the pastor will only speak for a few moments at the very beginning. We are focusing on prayer for the year ahead, for our church. As the leader of the prayer ministry for our church, I get to have a pretty big part in this. I’m a little nervous about that. Our pre-service prayer gatherings is at 4:45, and our worship service is at 5:45. We are The Exchange.

(Source: Wikipedia)
It was on this date in 1977 that Apple Computer was incorporated.

Today’s birthdays include Cicero, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Milland, Victor Borge, John Sturges, Maxene Andrews, Hank Stram, George Martin, Sergio Leone, Robert Loggia, Dabney Coleman, Bobby Hull, Stephen Stills, John Paul Jones (the one from Led Zeppelin), Victoria Principal, Mel Gibson, Nichole Nordeman, Danica McKellar, A.J. Burnett, and Eli Manning.

Wow. That’s a lot of big names. George Martin, an English record producer, is 89 years old today. He is frequently referred to as “the fifth Beatle,” due to his extensive involvement in the production of all of their original albums. He also composed and conducted the string accompaniment for “Eleanor Rigby.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Heart Aflame)

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

Psalm 2:1-6

David, having been made king by divine appointment, was thoroughly confident in God, as people conspired against him. The grounds of this confidence was “that he only followed the call of God.” David was confident that God would “show himself the defender of the kingdom of which he was the founder.” He will also “not forsake the work of his own hands.” David was aware that he “reigned only by the authority and command of God.”

With all of this in mind, we know, then, that “all who do not submit themselves to the authority of Christ make war against God.” Anyone who refuses to obey Jesus Christ denies the authority of God, regardless of what they may say or profess.

We may also rest assured that there is nothing that any man can do to obscure the glory of God. We should be encouraged by the fact that, no matter how powerful wicked men may seem to be, God’s power transcends theirs, infinitely.

(From Knowing Jesus)

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25

“God gave his Son the name Jesus.” It is “the name that is above every name.” (Philippians 2:9) “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Everything we do, in regards to our heavenly Father, we do “in the name of Jesus.”

Who is Jesus? He is “God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, and God in our human flesh.” He is “the unique Son of God, the only begotten of the Father.”

“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” (Colossians 2:9) When we call upon the name of Jesus, “we invoke all the attributes of deity, his holiness, his creative power, his wisdom–everything that God is, Jesus is.” (I do not agree 100% with that statement . . . Jesus is not the Father, nor is Jesus the Holy Spirit. God is all three of these, Jesus is only one of the three.)

On the other hand, the name, “Jesus,” was fairly ordinary. This gives us hope in that he was like us in his humanity, susceptible to sin and the effects of it. Nevertheless, he went without sin, and always fully pleased the Father. He is humanity and deity combined in one person.

Jesus is the central point of the entire Word of God, and is referred to by almost 200 different names, titles, and metaphors. Angels appeared to Mary and Joseph, as his impending birth was announced. Mary was told, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:32) The angel told Joseph, “he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) The meaning of his name, Jesus, or “Yeshua” in Hebrew, is “God (or YHWH) saves.” John tells us, in the first chapter of his Gospel, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

“What does the name of Jesus signify or represent to you?
“How can you allow Jesus to exercise his wisdom, love, and authority in your life?”

“Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to be my Savior. May his supremacy in my life determine the choices I make.”

Today’s reading from Solid Joys is “The Smallest Faith.”

So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
Romans 9:16

It would do us well to acknowledge that, in one way or another, everything that we, as believers in Jesus, will receive from God this year, is mercy. “Whatever pleasures or pains come our way will all be mercy.” One of the primary reasons that Jesus came into the world was “in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (Romans 15:9) We were born again, “According to his great mercy.” (1 Peter 1:3) Daily, we draw near to the throne of God, “that we may receive mercy.” (Hebrews 4:16) And while we remain on this earth, we are always “waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” (Jude 21)

When the apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith, he spoke of mustard seeds and uprooting mountains. “In other words, the issue in your Christian life and ministry is not the strength or quantity of your faith, because that is not what uproots trees. God does. Therefore, the smallest faith that truly connects you with Christ will engage enough of his power for all you need.”

But, then, based on Jesus’s words in Luke 17:7-10, even the “fullest obedience and the smallest faith obtain the same thing from God: mercy. A mere mustard seed of faith taps into the mercy of tree-moving power. And flawless obedience leaves us utterly dependent on mercy.” We must constantly be aware that we “never rise above the status of beneficiaries of mercy.”

Father, may I never forget mercy. May I never fall from a place where I acknowledge that I am nothing more than a beneficiary of your mercy. Everything that I receive from you is mercy. Even the pain that I occasionally feel in my body is mercy. The trials that I go through on a daily basis are mercy. These are all mercy because what I deserve is death and punishment for sin. Thank you that Jesus came to take that for me. Jesus, the founder and perfecter of my faith; Jesus, the name above every name; Jesus, the second person of the Trinity; Jesus your only begotten Son; Jesus, in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily. May I surrender everything in my life to him today and every day.

Father, this year is beginning on quite a good note for us, so far. We are grateful for every blessing that comes our way. But let us not begin to expect them. Rather keep us grateful, and make us remember that these blessings are also mercy.

I pray for this day. As we go out to have lunch in a little bit, may we be safe as we go. I pray for closeness as a family. As we prepare for tonight’s prayer and worship, make our hearts totally dependent upon you. I pray for Stephanie as she helps out with the children, that her heart will be drawn closer to yours. I pray for the times of prayer that we will experience tonight, as a church. As we look forward to what you will do in 2015, may we fall on our knees and faces before you, acknowledging that everything we receive from you is mercy. I pray for direction, provision, and growth for our church this year.

As you walk away from this blog today, as I walk away from this devotional, I pray for one thing to occupy our minds: mercy. We are all (even those who do not profess to believe in Christ) recipients of his mercy every single minute!

Grace and peace, friends.

The Supper

Good morning. It is Sunday, June 1, 2014. 20 more days until the first day of Summer.

Today is Say Something Nice Day. So everybody try to only say nice things today. I’ll see how long I can go. . .

Yesterday was a pretty good day. Christi made breakfast for lunch, which was, as always, delicious. We relaxed until church time, then went up to where our church meets, got things set up, then had our prayer gathering. The worship service was very nice last night. I think it all was very good. As the music was going on, I was thinking how nice the simplistic setting was (two acoustic guitars, a leader, and one background vocalist–three people). No, it wasn’t what you might consider to be “dynamic,” by any stretch. Most of the songs had the same feel and tempo. But that’s not what it’s about. It’s about directing our attention to God, and worshiping him, and that’s what happened. The sermon was an overview of the second chapter of Ruth, and was very good. It centered on Ruth’s actions and attitude, after losing everything she had and moving to a totally foreign country. Instead of sitting around, feeling sorry for herself and demanding something from God (entitlement), she went to work, confident and expectant that someone would take notice and show favor to her and her mother-in-law, Naomi. Sure enough, she “just happened” to find herself in the fields of Boaz, a distant relative, who did, in fact, show favor to her. At that point, she was very humble. So the points of the message were that there are three responses that we should have when tough times strike us. We should 1) walk confidently, 2) walk humbly, and 3) walk expectantly.

Today, I believe Stephanie has an outing to the horse farm planned with her friend, Summer. While that’s going on, we will probably do grocery shopping, and who knows what else. The rest of the day will be resting up for the week ahead. Christi should start the process for the new job sometime this week. She’ll have to do another background check and drug test. Unfortunately, they can’t just share the one from the other job.

(Source: History.com)

On this date in 1967, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released by The Beatles. Upon the initial hearing the new album, Bob Dylan is reported to have said, “Oh I get it, you don’t want to be cute any more.” Here is a You Tube clip of “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite.”

Oh, my. I just realized that this was forty-seven years ago.

I feel old.

Today is the birthday of Brigham Young, Nelson Riddle, Andy Griffith, Pat Boone, Reverend Ike, Morgan Freeman, Rene Auberjonois, Ron Wood, Derek Lowe, Heidi Klum, Alanis Morisette, and Brandi Carlile. It is also the birthday of Norma Jean Mortenson, born on this date in 1926. After a short and torrid career, Marilyn Monroe took her life in 1962. Here is a very well-made montage to Elton John’s “Candle In the Wind.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

The LORD is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!
Psalm 118:27
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
Psalm 51:15
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
Psalm 70:4
his God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
Psalm 18:30
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Colossians 2:13-15
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power,
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.]

Psalm 145:8-13

“Almighty and merciful God, in your goodness keep me, I pray, from all things that may
hurt me, that I, being ready both in mind and body, may accomplish with a free heart
those things which belong to your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and
reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Matthew 26:26-29

In recent weeks, the part of our worship service that has become most meaningful to me is The Supper. Some call it Communion, some call it The Lord’s Supper. For our little community of faith, it is a time of response in each week’s worship service. And yes, we have it every week. Our pastor decided that this should be done, a few months ago. There is much discussion on how often we should observe The Supper, but it is all pure conjecture, because Jesus did not instruct us as to the frequency, only that we were to do it in remembrance of him.

But during our observance of The Supper, we are admonished to think about several things. First, we are to, as Jesus instructed, remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Then, we are admonished to, as Paul stated, discern the body. Our pastor’s interpretation of this is that we must, before taking The Supper, consider our relationships within the body. If we have anything against anyone who is there, we are admonished to take care of this and make it right before partaking of the bread and wine (or grape juice, depending on the individual’s preference). I have had some very meaningful moments over the past few weeks, as I have spiritually and emotionally prepared myself for the act. It has most definitely been the high point of the last several worship services.

Whatever your church’s practice in this matter, I encourage you to consider these things the next time you partake of The Supper. Reflect upon the sacrifice made for us, and then consider your relationships within the body. I dare say, your experience with The Supper will be heightened.

The Supper
The Supper

Father, I thank you for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I thank you for the weekly observance of The Supper, and what it means in the lives of believers everywhere. I am encouraged by the thought of believers in many cities and countries, taking Communion “together,” whenever they observe it. As we partake of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, in whatever tradition we profess, I pray that we would also partake of his righteousness and holiness, these attributes that you have imputed unto us through his sacrifice. It is a beautiful observance, and I praise you for this.

I thank you for this day of rest, and pray that we would be well-rested for the week ahead. I thank you for this new job offer for Christi, and what it will mean for our family. Help us to be responsible with this blessing and to be generous with the resources you have given us. I pray that Stephanie will have a good time with Summer as she goes to see two new baby horses, and then to have lunch with them. Terry and Summer, not the horses.

Your grace is sufficient.

Grace and peace, friends.

“Come To Me”

It’s Sunday morning, August 19, 2012! That means that Stephanie is 19 today!! Happy birthday to our girl! It is also the birthday of our son-in-law, Justin. How weird is that? Happy birthday to Justin, too!

Today is “National Potato Day.” I love me some potatoes! Just about any way I can get them. Except “sweet.” Don’t like sweet potatoes. Except in a pie…but I’d rather have pumpkin pie.

On this date in 1909, the first race was held at the Indianapolis Speedway. (Pay attention Stephanie…all of this stuff happened on YOUR birthday!) Louis Schwitzer won that race. (Not to be confused with Nick Swisher.) On this date in 1964, The Beatles kicked off their first U.S. tour at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. On this date in 1946, Bill Clinton was born. On a not so good note, on this date in 1934, Adolf Hitler became president of Germany.

Also born on this date are Ben Carr (Family Pastor at The Exchange), Orville Wright, Coco Chanel, John Stamos (Stephanie did you know you shared a birthday with HIM??), Matthew Perry, Ginger Baker (drummer for the rock group Cream), Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek), and Kyra Sedgwick (we already miss you, Brenda Lee!!).


We had a really good day yesterday. Transporting Grandmother and Don from west Fort Worth to our house went very well. Lunch was good, and we got to visit with the owners of Fogata’s for a few minutes. You see, we haven’t seen them since January, and it was good to visit with them to explain that they didn’t do anything to make us mad. They were thrilled to see our weight loss progress and encouraged us to stay with it. Then they gave us free dessert for Stephanie’s birthday. They do this thing with sopapillas…I’ll just show you.

Of course, we shared that six ways, so it wasn’t too bad for us. Afterward, we came home and had strawberry cake that Stephanie and Christi made together. It was quite good. Today, in about an hour, we head to Mineral Wells, for lunch with my parents (aka Grandma and Grandpa), and the cookie cake that we will take with us. We won’t be losing any weight this weekend. :p


Father, I pray that you would reveal something new to me this morning, or refresh something old. Give me a glimpse of you as I look into your Word today.


Today, I’m reading Psalm 80. Another psalm from Asaph, this one is a prayer for restoration.
Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
(3, 7, 19)

Verses 17 and 18 seem to be speaking of the Davidic king, and, ultimately, the Messiah.
But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
Then we shall not turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call upon your name!


My Utmost For His Highest
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

God’s desire for us is that we live a life that is fully immersed in Jesus Christ. However, there are times, when we are attacked from the outside, that we fall into a sort of introspective mode, and become self-conscious. “Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of the life in God, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling.” It is not a sin. There are are multiple circumstances that may produce self-consciousness. “It is never God’s will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him.” Anything that disturbs this “rest in Him,” must be dealt with immediately. It is not a case of “ignore it and it will go away,” (not a quote from Chambers), but must be dealt with by coming directly to Jesus Christ. “If we come to Him and ask Him to produce Christ-consciousness, He will always do it until we learn to abide in Him.”

I must beware of anything that threatens to divide my life in Christ, no matter what it is. “The great solution is the simple one–‘Come unto me.'” The verse above provides the simplest of answers, “Come to me.” The answer to every problem we have is, ultimately, “Come to me.” Yes, that sounds overly simplistic. But, “The depth of our reality, intellectually, morally and spiritually, is tested by these words.” Will I argue, rather than come? To the degree that I am not “real,” I will dispute.


In Life Together, Bonhoeffer speaks against the idea of reading bits and pieces of Scripture in the corporate setting. He is a supporter of the idea of lectio continua, or “consecutive reading.” “The Holy Scriptures do not consist of individual sayings, but are a whole and can be used most effectively as such. The Scriptures are God’s revealed Word as a whole.” (p. 60) His response to the objection that people can’t retain and comprehend large portions of Scripture readings in one sitting is this: “If it is really true that it is hard for us, as adult Christians, to comprehend a chapter of the Old Testament in its context, then that can only fill us with profound shame.” (ibid) He states that, if this is the case, we must admit that the Bible is mostly unknown to us. And I believe this to be true in the modern church. I believe with all my heart that, if we were to take a poll of Biblical knowledge among churchgoers today, the result would be dismaying. “Mature Christians keep on learning it and learn it better and better; and as they read and hear it on their own, they will never finish this learning.” (p. 61) I know this to be true from personal experience. The Bible is a living book…I learn more from it every time I read it (if I’m truly reading with any comprehension, that is). In his argument against reading single verses out of context, he says this: “The Scripture is a complex unity, and every word, every sentence, contains such a diversity of relationships to the whole that it is impossible always to keep track of the whole when listening to an individual portion of it. Therefore, it appears that the whole of Scripture as well as every passage in it far surpasses our understanding.” (ibid)

On the subject of consecutive reading, he says, “For those who want to hear, reading the biblical books in a sequential order forces them to go, and to allow themselves to be found, where God has acted once and for all the salvation of human beings. The historical books of the Holy Scriptures come alive for us in a whole new way precisely when they are read during worship services. We receive a part of that which once took place for our salvation. Forgetting and losing ourselves, we too pass through the Red Sea, through the desert, across the Jordan into the promised land. With Israel we fall into doubt and unbelief and through punishment and repentance experience again God’s help and faithfulness. All this is not mere reverie, but holy, divine reality. We are uprooted from our own existence and are taken back to the holy history of God on earth. There God has dealt with us, and there God still deals with us today, with our needs and our sins, by means of the divine wrath and grace. What is important is not that God is a spectator and participant in our life today, but that we are attentive listeners and participants in God’s action in the sacred story, the story of Christ on earth.” (p. 62)


Father, while I certainly believe that it is most definitely important that you be a participator in my life, I also believe that it is more important that I be a participator in what you are doing, which is truly, “the sacred story.” May I be an attentive listener to all that you would say to me. I am inspired, my conscience is pricked by what Bonhoeffer has written. I will purpose to read more complete portions of Scripture in my devotional times. I cannot do anything about the lack of Scripture reading in worship (other than pray that you would inspire our pastors to include more reading of Scripture), but I can do something about what I read on my own. Show me yourself as I read. Show me, through your Word, through the history, the great salvation that you have worked for us! I will listen! I will participate!

And when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. Wow…I don’t know where that came from. Well, maybe I do. As soon as I typed “And when,” those words immediately came to my mind, and I have to assume that the Spirit put them there. (I know…it’s a worship song from, like, the eighties or something.) But that is the main theme of my devotion today, as I see the answer to all things being the words of Jesus when he says “Come to me.” When circumstances threaten to divide my life, to divide my unity with Jesus, that is what I must do, come to him. Too often, I panic. Or I spend hours meandering around, looking for some answer in the wrong places. Whatever is going on in my life, I will bring it to Jesus. As the old hymn says, “Tell it to Jesus alone.” Too simple for some, I’m guessing. But, Father, I’m a big fan of simple. And I believe that we have been guilty of complicating your grace much more than necessary. May we, your people, find a way back to the simple grace that you have provided on our behalf. May we truly come to you when we are overwhelmed. May we learn to abide in you.

I pray for this day. Give us safe travel to Mineral Wells, now, and a good time of fellowship with my parents as we celebrate Stephanie’s birthday some more. I pray that she have a wonderful day today. And I pray that you show her how much you love her today.

Your grace is sufficient. May it overflow in our lives.


Whatever is distracting you or afflicting you today, come to Jesus.

Grace and peace, friends.