Turn, Turn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Today is Wednesday, the ninth of March, 2022, in the first week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts today.

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru, from Romania. Please check out his awesome photography at the link provided.

Day 23,372

The A/C and heater people are supposed to arrive, this morning, between 9 and 10. The work should take most of the day. It is currently pretty cool outside, at 36 degrees, but should get up to around 60 by mid-afternoon.

An update on my computer situation. I finally got all of the files moved to Dropbox, but when I opened up the PC, I couldn’t tell which part was which. I’m also not 100% sure which part is making the noise, so I’m not going to try to swap out the hard drive myself. I have talked to the Computer Center manager at the library, so when I go to work Friday, I will take it with me, and he has agreed to look at it. I’ll take the new hard drive with me, as well.

There’s not much else to talk about, this morning. I’m starting a new devotional book, as I finished Symphony of Salvation, yesterday. The new one is also by Eugene Peterson, called On Living Well.

You might notice that I have not addressed world events that are going on. That is intentional. There are plenty of places you can read/hear about that. My purpose here is to present the Word of God in the best way I can, as positively as I can. My goal is encouragement, not discouragement. I know that I occasionally point out issues and shortcomings in the Church. But that is because I love the Church and I want to see her flourish.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place -
the Most High, who is my refuge -
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
(Psalm 91:9-10)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the Church, the community of saints, faithful and true 
2. for angels who minister to the saints
3. for Salt of the Sound and their beautiful, inspiring music
4. for the way God works in my devotionals
5. for those times when the things of earth go strangely dim

John Henry Newman speaks of Daniel’s two recorded fasts. The first one, I believe was for ten days, in which neither Daniel nor the three Hebrews we know as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ate any meat or any of the king’s delicacies. The second was for three weeks.

The result of the first fast was that Daniel and his three friends were all stronger and healthier than the king’s people. On the second fast, Daniel was visited by an angel.

Newman keys in on the angel visit, and notes that, when Jesus was fasting in the desert for forty days, He was visited and helped by angels. “And so we too may well believe, and take comfort in the thought, that even now, Angels are especially sent to those who thus seek God.” Newman then takes note that Elijah, as well, was strengthened by an angel. We also have record of Cornelius, the Gentile, being visited by an angel when he was fasting.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
(Psalm 91:11-12)

The devil is well-aware of this promise, says Newman, “for he used it in that very hour of temptation. He knows full well what our power is, and what is his own weakness. So we have nothing to fear while we remain within the shadow of the throne of the Almighty.”

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
(Psalm 91:7)

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

“Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
    rivers in the badlands."
(Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG)
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
(Jeremiah 1:5 ESV)

“The Word was first. The Word was previous to everything else. Before we were conceived and took shape in our mothers’ wombs, before we were born, before anything happened, there was the Word.”

Before anything else existed, sun, moon, stars, trees, flowers, fish, governments, hospitals, schools, “there was the Word.”

I can’t paraphrase this stuff . . . it’s too good.

“If the Word were not first, everything else would have gone awry. If the Word were second – or third or fourth – we would have lost touch with the deep, divine rhythms of creation. If the Word were pushed out of the way and made to be a servant to the action and program, we would have lost connection with the vast interior springs of redemption that flow out of our Lord, the Word made flesh.

“When the Word is treated casually or carelessly, we wander away from the essential personal intimacies that God creates . . . by his Word.” (Emphasis mine)

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

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV)
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

It is the season of Lent. We are “supposed” to give up something. I did see a TikTok by a reverend that I respect and follow, suggesting that, maybe, instead of trying to force ourselves to give up something, perhaps we should try to add something positive, such as trying to pray for a person every day.

But this is a “season,” as indicated in Ecclesiastes 3. Almost everyone is familiar with the next ten verses or so of that chapter. Pete Seeger helped us all with that. The Byrds probably made it more famous than Pete, but he wrote the song.

I’ve read over this many, many times, in my life, but it is always “time” to look them over again. The many “times” or “seasons” that the writer of Ecclesiastes notes are as follows:

A time to for birth and a time for death
A time to plant and a time to reap
A time to kill and a time to heal
A time to destroy and a time to construct
A time to cry and a time to laugh
A time to lament and at time to cheer
A time to make love and a time to abstain
A time to embrace and a time to part
A time to search and a time to count your losses
A time to hold on and a time to let go (there's a whole bunch of us who need to learn that one)
A time to rip out and a time to mend
A time to shut up and a time to speak up
A time to love and a time to hate
A time to wage war and a time to make peace
(I used The Message for these)

And, as we work our way through the season of Lent, perhaps giving things up and perhaps adding things, there is one thing that we need to do. We need to “Turn” our eyes upon Jesus. It is always time for that.

Today’s prayer word is “ponder.” Isn’t that fitting, based on what I’ve just written?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
(Philippians 4:8 NIV)

“Ponder,” of course, means “to think about.” To think about carefully, to chew over, to meditate. Unfortunately, we tend to ponder over the wrong things, sometimes.

I have to interrupt myself and simply be awestruck over how my Father works these things out, how all of this works together, this morning. The writer of today’s reading, identified only as “Becky,” writes about trying to go to sleep at night, but as soon as her head hits the pillow, she starts pondering her day, her family members, and then the world and the future and . . . well, you get the picture.

In her case, “ponder” is more like “worry.” And I have most certainly been there. But the writer of Philippians would have us ponder different things. And I’m sure, if he were around today, he would agree with the song above the purple line, and say that all of the things in that verse are summed up by saying, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.” Because, most assuredly, when you do that, the things of earth grow strangely dim.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, help us all to turn our eyes upon Jesus, during these times, so that the things of earth will grow strangely dim. Not that we stop caring, may it never be! But that we stop worrying, fretting, fearing. We are Your children . . . have mercy on us . . . teach us how to obey Your commands to “fear not.” Help us to live Isaiah 41:10 every day, ever minute, throughout all of those many “seasons” listed above. There is NEVER any reason for us to fear, Father!

NOTHING can separate me from Your love in Christ Jesus. None of the things mentioned in those two verse, nor anything else that we could possibly imagine. And, most beautifully, not even my sin can separate me, because of the powerful and efficacious work of my savior Jesus Christ, my Lord! Your Word made flesh, existing before there was anything else, and who will come again to make all things right.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Take Care Lest You Forget the Lord

Good morning. It is Tuesday, October 9, 2018.

Day 22,125

“Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half the time.” ~ E.B. White, 1899-1985, The Quotations Page

The word of the day is ineluctable, “incapable of being evaded; inescapable.” Example, an ineluctable destiny.

C cooked up a nice breakfast, yesterday morning, of eggs, sausage, and biscuits. After we ate breakfast, C and I headed to The Strand to embark upon a sort of scavenger hunt. Put on by Island Treasure Hunts, it was an “adventure” in which we, using our mobile phones (other devices could also be used), walked around the area of The Strand, looking for placques, signs, and other things. Each step would have a series of directions and landmarks for which to look. Then, a question would have to be answered to continue. The “prizes” were discount coupons for merchants that we either passed by or stopped at to find further clues. A couple of times, math was involved, but nothing worse than simple counting. Although, it turned out to be not so simple a couple times. For example, we stopped outside a placed called Star Drug Store. We had to count the stars, both words and symbols. We finally found them all, but it was tricky. There was only one question that I think we missed, but the instructions were slightly vague.

We learned a lot about the history of the area, as well as discovering many buildings that were survivors of the 1900 hurricane. We had a great time, in spite of it being rather hot and sunny for most of the walk. We walked at least three miles and it took right about three hours. Fortunately, we had parked right in front of La Kings Confectionery, a throw-back to the old-time candy/ice cream store. C and I got some ice cream to cool us off, and then bought a bunch of chocolaty candy to take back to the house.

We had planned to go to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner, but we decided to order some burgers from a local place, and C and Mama went to pick them up.

The rest of the evening, I spent listening to the Red Sox totally embarrass the New York Yankees. I don’t think I have ever experienced anything quite like it. It started slowly, as the Sox scored one run in the top of the second, to start the scoring. Nathan Eovaldi pitched brilliantly, only giving up one run, which would be the only run the Yankees scored. They threatened a couple more times, but that was it. The Sox batted around (eleven batters) in the top of the fourth, scoring seven runs! That made the score 10-0 before the Yankees finally scored in the bottom of the fourth. There were a couple of scoreless innings, but then the Sox scored one in the seventh, three in the eighth, and two more in the ninth. The icing on the cake was Brock Holt hitting for the cycle, the first time it has ever been done in postseason! Final score, 16-1, Red Sox!

That, of course, puts the Sox up 2-1 in the series. Tonight, Rick Porcello will face off against C.C. Sabathia. I feel pretty good about that match-up. I just hope the Sox don’t get overconfident after last night. I also hope they bunt a lot against Sabathia. Haha!

Sadly, the Sox and Yanks will be the only teams playing for the remainder of the week (until Friday), as the Astros swept the Indians, winning 11-3 yesterday, and the Dodgers beat the Braves, as well, to get their spot on the NLCS. It figures that the Sox and Yankees would still be fighting it out.

We have no plans for today. We might ride the ferry across to Bolivar. If we do, I imagine we will walk on, as previous trips have showed us that there is absolutely nothing of interest on the Bolivar peninsula, other than an old fort, which we have already seen. We will also take bread to feed the seagulls, and we will watch for dolphins.

I was made aware, yesterday, of some very sad news. One of my favorite musicians passed away yesterday. Most of the people who might read this would not recognize the name, but it is Tim Chandler, a bass player. He has played with Daniel Amos and The Choir, and I know that he has also played with Mike Roe, if not with the Seventy Sevens, as well. It came as a complete shock to me, as I had not been aware of his declining health. I have met this man, and enjoyed his music for many years. He will be greatly missed.

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

then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Deuteronomy 6:12

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:2-5

Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
Psalm 105:5

In the past few months, I have become more aware of something, concerning God. His presence.

Wait. But haven’t I always been aware of the presence of God?

In some ways, yes. But recently, it has become more intense. It was brought to my attention, a few months ago, that the “heavens” actually begin right after the ground stops. The “heavens” stretch from the ground, into, well, infinity, as far as we know.

And God is in the heavens (Psalm 115:3). That means that He is here with me, right now. As I sit in this chair, at this table, with the ocean view in front of me, typing this blog, God is here with me! He is in front of me. He is in the water. He is in the air that I am breathing. He is behind me, above me, beside me, below me. Psalm 139 reminds us that there is nowhere that we can go where God is not.

Deuteronomy 6:12 reminds me not to forget this God, who brought me out of the slavery of sin. Psalm 103 reminds me of the benefits of this God, who forgives all my iniquity, who heals my diseases, who redeems my life from the pit, who crowns me with steadfast love and mercy, and who satisfies me with good things. Good things. Right now, this ocean view is a “good thing,” and I am very satisfied. But I need to remember, when I get back to the “normal” life, to be satisfied with the good things that God has given me, and not chase after things that I perceive to be “good.”

Finally, Psalm 105 reminds me to remember His wondrous works.

God is here, he is everywhere. He is with you, wherever you are reading this. That truth is a great comfort to me.

Father, thank You for Your presence, not just in my life, but in all lives. I pray that more people would acknowledge Your presence, and that You would make more people aware of Your presence, since You are, indeed, in all places, all the time. Help me to have a deeper sense of Your presence for the rest of this week in Galveston, as I look out at Your glorious creation and draw peace from it. Thank You for the ocean.
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.

What You Think I Am

Today is Wednesday (Hump Day), March 21, 2018. Spring has sprung. Day 21,923.

EIGHT DAYS until Opening Day!

11 days until Resurrection Sunday!

George Jean Nathan (not his birthday) said, “Patriotism is often an arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles.” (The Quotations Page)

The word for today is disjune, an obsolete Scottish noun which means, “breakfast.”

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

A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. 
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. 
So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. 
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 
when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 
for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. 
But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; 
they shall be given over to the power of the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. 
But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

Psalm 63

How do we get to a point where we can say, with David, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you?” I believe that I have been close to that point a few times in my life, and may be close at this season of my life. But am I there, yet? Do I truly believe that the steadfast love of God is more important to me than life? I’m hesitant to say yes. But do believe that I am in a period where my soul thirsts for God, and my flesh faints for him, “as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
Loving and Liking

“Try to understand exactly what loving your neighbor as yourself means. I have to love him as I love myself. Well, how exactly do I love myself? Now that I come to think of it, I have not exactly got a feeling of fondness or affection for myself, and I do not even always enjoy my own society. So apparently ‘Love your neighbor’ does not mean ‘feel fond of him’ or ‘find him attractive.’ I ought to have seen that before, because, of course, you cannot feel fond of a person by trying. Do I think well of myself, think myself a nice chap? Well, I am afraid I sometimes do . . . but that is not why I love myself. So loving my enemies does not apparently mean thinking them nice either. That is an enormous relief. For a good many people imagine that forgiving your enemies means making out that they are really not such bad fellows after all, when it is quite plain that they are. Go a step further. In my most clearsighted moments not only do I not think myself a nice man, but I know that I am a very nasty one. I can look at some of the things I have done with horror and loathing. So apparently I am allowed to loathe and hate some of the things my enemies do. Now that I come to think of it, I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man’s actions, but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner.” (From Mere Christianity)

I find this reading to be quite interesting. It never exactly answers the question (I don’t remember if he goes on to further answer it in the book, as it has been a short while since I read Mere Christianity), but it gives us much to think about. I especially like the bit about realizing that I’m not always a terribly nice person, but, in fact, find that I “can look at some of the things I have done with horror and loathing.” This reminds me of a song (is anyone surprised?) by one of my favorite bands, The Choir. The song is called “What You Think I Am.” One of the choruses says:

“I’m nobody’s angel
That ain’t me
And what kind of devil
Do you think I be?
I’m a good samaritan
And a very, very bad man
I’m a whole lot better
And a whole lot worse
Than what you think I am”

If all of us would be more honest with ourselves, would we not come out thinking the same thing? I know I have. I am, indeed, a whole lot better and a whole lot worse than what you might think about me. Perhaps that’s how we should also look at our “enemies” and our “neighbors.”

Father, I sometimes want to hide the truth about myself. Not from you, as I am fully aware that I can hide nothing from you. Before you, I am as naked as Adam and Eve. I tend to hide the truth from myself, and, most especially, others. I pray for transparency and humility. I realize how dangerous it is to pray for humility. But I am doing it, anyway. Teach me to be humble, before myself and before others. Teach me to love my neighbors and my enemies as myself. Teach me to see the good in everyone, while, at the same time, recognizing that no one, save Jesus, has ever been truly “good.”
And while I’m at it, teach me to hunger and thirst for you, and to know, beyond a doubt, that your steadfast love is better than 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.

Sign Away Your Rights

Today is Thursday, November 3, 2016. Five days until Election Day. Seven days until our Glen Rose weekend.

Quote of the Day

“I am as bad as the worst, but, thank God, I am as good as the best.” – Walt Whitman

That quote reminds me of this song by The Choir.

Word of the Day

Galimatias – confused or unintelligible talk. (Sounds more like a dinosaur, doesn’t it?)

Today is Cliche Day. Celebrating this is easy. Just use lots of cliches. Go out there and give 110%.

The Cubs broke history, last night. The Curse of the Goat is ended. 107 years of World Series drought is over. The Indians’ drought continues to 68 seasons. They are now the team with the longest World Series drought. We watched part of the game, but didn’t stay up for the whole thing. When I went to sleep, the Cubs were up 6-3. Imagine my surprise when I got up at one point in the night and saw that the final score had been 8-7 in ten innings! Now that’s baseball. That’s how a World Series should end! I will always think that the 1975 World Series is the best one, but 2016 will be very close to that.

I get free lunch today. I never mentioned this, but I was named “Employee of the Month” for September. I was out on vacation when that announcement was made. Just my luck, huh? I got back to work and people were congratulating me. So, today, our manager is taking the EotM for August and me out to lunch. We are going to a place called Grubs Burger Bar. The boss really likes it, and we’re both, like, we don’t care . . . it’s free lunch.

So what do we do, now that baseball is over? We stare out the window and wait for spring, as Rogers Hornsby once said.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!Psalm 57:8
As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! Psalm 40:11
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! Psalm 57:7
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22

(From Praying With the Psalms)

A Song of Ascents. When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.
Psalm 126:1-3

As the people traveled to Jerusalem, they remembered the great restorations that God brought to them in history. These were acts, miracles of impossibility. The celebrated with laughter, shouts of joy, and hymns.

“I renew the memories of your work, O God, and know that whatever ills or trouble I fall into, there is a way out in Jesus Christ. I celebrate what you did in the past, and I anticipate what you will do in the future. Amen.”

“The passion of Christianity is that I deliberately sign away my own rights and become a bond-slave of Jesus Christ. Until I do that, I do not begin to be a saint.” (Oswald Chambers)

Jesus, I pray for help today, that I might sign away my rights to myself and become your bondservant.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” . . . Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:15, 18)

Grace and peace, friends.

Forgiveness

Good mordidg. It’s Bodday, February 2, 2015. I hab a code in by dose.

Okay, I won’t try to type the entire entry like that. It would take too long. And I guess, if I can make jokes like that, I must be okay to go to work. However, at this point, I’m still trying to decide.

Let’s see . . . 63 days until Opening Day; 18 days until pitchers and catchers report.

Today’s Word of the Day is nunny bag. A nunny bag is, “A knapsack of sealskin, burlap, or canvas, used to carry supplies when hunting, sealing, etc.” I just can’t picture any of the hunters I know calling anything a “nunny bag.”

Today is Sled Dog Day. I honor of that, here is a song, called “Sled Dog,” by The Choir.

I don’t really feel better, this morning. Well, some parts of me might. The chest feels somewhat better, but the face and nasal cavities are not doing well, at all. I guess I slept better than I thought I did, according to my Fitbit. I’ve taken Dayquil, and will see how I feel in a little bit. I will probably go on in to work, and trudge through the day. I may go straight to bed after getting home, though. We shall see.

The New England Patriots “won” the Super Bowl last night, in what had to have been one of the most bizarre set of developments I have ever seen in football. In the final minute of the game, down 28-24, Russel Wilson through a desperation long pass toward the goal line. A Patriot defender batted the ball away, but as both players fell, instead of hitting the ground, the ball bounced off of the Seahawks player’s knees, after which he actually caught the ball! So they are down within less than ten yards of the goal line and a winning touchdown with seconds left in the game. And for some ridiculous reason, whoever calls the plays called for a short pass! A Patriots defender bumped the Seahawks guy out of the way and intercepted the ball! Game over! What a game, though! It was truly one of the most exciting Super Bowls I have ever seen. I was rooting for the Seahawks, but I really didn’t care that much who won.

Here is the catch.

And here is the interception.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart;
Psalm 15:2

Today’s reading from Solid Joys is “The Forgiveness Cycle.”

. . .and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.

Luke 11:4

This is very interesting, and sheds some new light on the problem of forgiveness, presented by Jesus in the Model Prayer. The question asked is, “Who forgives whom first?”

“Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” (Luke 11:4)
“As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:13)

We do not forgive so that we will, in turn be forgiven. This, of course, would make our forgiveness contingent on works. However, we consider that, since God forgave us when we believed in Christ, we, then, “from this broken, joyful, grateful, hopeful, experience of being forgiven, . . . offer forgiveness to others.” This is what indicates that we have been “savingly forgiven.” The fact that we forgive others shows that we are acting out of faith, “we are united to Christ; we are indwelt by the Spirit.”

Of course we still sin. If we pretend that we do not, we not only lie, but make God out to be a liar (1 John 1:8, 10). So we must continually turn to God for “fresh applications of forgiveness.” However, if we harbor grudges against someone else, our confidence is stricken in this matter. We cannot, with any confidence, seek forgiveness, if we know we have refused that same grace to another.

In essence we say, “Father, continue to extend to me the mercies purchased by Christ because by these mercies I forsake vengeance and extend to others what you have extended to me.”

Father, I pray that you always keep me in a spirit of forgiveness toward others. There are times when it is difficult, and times when it takes longer than others. But I pray that I will never forget the mercies that you have extended to me, and that I will also never fail to extend that same mercy to another. My sin against you is never less than any sin against me by another person. Therefore, I have no right to not forgive. And that thought carries a heavy weight with it, indeed. There are times when the concept of forgiveness goes much further than just someone who has wronged me, personally.

I pray for this day. I pray for safe and smooth travel to work and home. I pray for Christi’s day, that it will not be terribly stressful. I pray for my day, that this cold would begin to work its way out of my body. I also pray that that is all it is. May you lift up Stephanie today and enfold her in your loving arms, showing her wisdom and understanding in regards to her life.

Stay beside us, Father, as we go into this day. I cannot succeed without you next to me.

May you know God’s forgiveness intimately today, and, in knowing, extend it to others.

Grace and peace, friends.

Ready To Live and Die For Him

“Perhaps the only honest measure of the recklessness of my confidence is my readiness for martyrdom. Not only my willingness to die for him and the sake of the gospel, but to live for him one day at a time.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Saturday, March 1! March! That means February is over! I don’t care if it’s going to drop all the way to 20 degrees tomorrow! It won’t be February, so it will be okay! Also. . . 30 days until Opening Day!

Today is World Compliment Day. If observed by everyone, today would be the most positive day in the history of ever! By the way, I love what you’ve done with your blog theme! 😀


Work days are threatening to be extremely stressful. Next week will be the busiest week since I have been working on this account. They tell me they have had weeks like this before, but they also had more people then. Due to the account going away, we have reduced personnel to a bare minimum. Should be interesting. On a positive note, I have an interview with the ops manager of one of our other facilities, Monday morning at 10:00! He called me yesterday. That was totally unexpected. Here’s hoping we get along great, and he has a spot for me that can wait until mid-April.

Christi didn’t hear anything from prospective jobs yesterday, but has a phone interview Monday afternoon, rescheduled from the electrical emergency that occurred last Wednesday. We are hoping she will hear something from BNSF before then, as well.


(Source: History.com)

It was on this date in 1692 that the tragic Salem Witch Hunt began, spurred by the ignorant diagnosis of a doctor, corroborated by a nine-year-old (Elizabeth Parris) and an eleven-year-old (Abigail Williams). It all began the month before when the two girls began “experiencing fits and other mysterious maladies.” The doctor decided that they were “suffering from the effects of witchcraft.” Others soon joined in with their mysterious afflictions, and suddenly Salem was awash with a frenzy of accusations and incriminations, none being based on anything remotely resembling fact. Initially, on this date, Sarah Goode, Sarah Osbourne, and an Indian slave from Barbados, named Tituba, were accused. The slave, “possibly under coercion” (ya think??), confessed later that day. This, of course, encouraged the PTBs to seek out more “witches.” Most of the accused were middle-aged women, but there were a few men, as well, and, reportedly, even one four-year-old child (??). The first to actually be convicted (not until June) was Bridget Bishop, who was, subsequently, hanged on June 10. Seventeen more were hanged and one man was “pressed” to death (crushed by rocks piled on top of him until he died). In all, 19 innocent people were killed because of the sensationalistic testimonies that began with a couple of pre-adolescent girls.

“In October 1692, Governor William Phipps of Massachusetts ordered the Court of Oyer and Terminer dissolved and replaced with the Superior Court of Judicature, which forbade the type of sensational testimony allowed in the earlier trials. Executions ceased, and the Superior Court eventually released all those awaiting trial and pardoned those sentenced to death. The Salem witch trials, which resulted in the executions of 19 innocent women and men, had effectively ended.”

It is my understanding that at least one of the girls later recanted. Too little, too late, though. For the record, no “witches” were ever burned in the U.S.

It all reminds me of this scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.


There are 279 names on the birthday list for today at HistoryOrb.com. (I began providing the link, just in case you want to look at it yourself. You might find some you know that I did not include.) Among those “famous” birthdays are Sandro Botticelli, Renaissance painter, 1445, Glenn Miller, trombone player/bandleader, 1904, David Niven, actor, 1910, Harry Caray, sportscaster, 1914, Dinah Shore, singer, 1917, William M. Gaines, publisher (MAD Magazine), 1922, Pete Rozelle, NFL commissioner, 1926, Harry Belafonte, singer, 1927, Sonny James, singer, 1929, Joan Hackett, actress, 1933, Jim Ed Brown, country singer, 1934, Roger Daltrey, singer, 1944, Alan Thicke, actor, 1947, Ron Howard, actor/director, 1954, Catherine Bach, actress, 1954, Dan Michaels, musician/producer/lyricon player extraordinaire (The Choir), 1963, and Jensen Ackles, actor (Supernatural), 1978.

Dan Michaels is a wonderful person who happens to be the sax/lyricon player in one of my all-time favorite groups, The Choir. I’ve met him several times, and he is a very kind and friendly man. And he has an awesome beard. (At least he did in 2012.) He can be heard wailing on the sax in this studio recording of “Circle Slide,” the title track of that album from 1990.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.

Psalm 147:1
Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people; help me when you save them,
that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the
gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance.

Psalm 146:4-5
In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame!
Psalm 71:1

“Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works
and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that I, putting
away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of public
worship, and grant as well that my Sabbath upon earth may be a preparation
for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”


Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “No Reservations.”

“Reckless confidence for me is the unshakable conviction that Jesus and the Father love me in a way that defies imagination.” I must accept, “without reservation,” all that my Father has ordained for me. I must have the attitude of Christ in the Garden, when he prayed, Not as I will, but as you will. Perhaps I can even mimic the prayer of Dag Hammarskjold, “For all that has been, thanks. For all that shall be, yes.”

“Perhaps the only honest measure of the recklessness of my confidence is my readiness for martyrdom. Not only my willingness to die for him and the sake of the gospel, but to live for him one day at a time.”

And we have confidence in the Lord about you,
that you are doing and will do the things that we command.

2 Thessalonians 3:4


Father, these readings continue to stir my heart deeply. Every day, it seems that you point me further down this path of self-denial, along with a reckless abandonment of trusting in you. My confidence in your ability to take care of me is growing daily. I find that I am not nearly as stressed out by Christi losing her job as I might have been a year ago. It helps, of course, that she’s already getting interviews. But even so, my confidence is strong. I pray that you keep bringing me these readings, and pointing me toward scriptures that drive this point into me until I finally get it. Don’t let up on me until I’m what/who you desire for me to be. And don’t let up then, either! I trust in you, Father!

I pray for this day. Soon, we will head out for our weekly Saturday errands. I pray that you keep us safe as we are out and about. I lift up our weekly worship gathering for this evening. May we truly worship you with all our hearts. As we gather for prayer, beforehand, I ask that we would pray diligently for the matters at hand. Give our pastor wisdom, courage, and strength as he leads us.

Keep me mindful, throughout this day and the next, as we rest, of your care for us, your love for us, and for the needs of all around me, whether they be physical needs, spiritual needs, or otherwise. May I always be ready to pray when a need comes to my attention.

Your grace is sufficient.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Jesus calls a man, he bids him come and die.” When we “choose” the cross, we must be ready to both die and live for Christ.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Life of Christ in Me

Good afternoon. It is Saturday, October 6, 2012. Welcome to the afternoon edition of Revelling in the Overflowing Grace of God. Today is “Mad Hatter Day.” For some reason that one got my attention over the other five or six options for this day. I’m a big fan of Alice in Wonderland, so perhaps that is why.

It was on this date in 1866 that the Reno Gang carried out the first recorded robbery of a moving train in the U.S.
On this date in 1991, Elizabeth Taylor married husband number 7, a construction worker named Larry Fortensky. Who??
Charlotte Bronte, using the pseudonym Currer Bell, published the book Jane Eyre on this date in 1847. It was an immediate success. Well, she didn’t really publish it. Smith, Elder and Co. published it.
And it was on this date in 1926 that Babe Ruth set a World Series record by hitting three home runs in game four of the series between the Evil Empire and the Cardinals. Two years later, he would repeat that feat. In game four. Against the Cardinals.


Well last night was bittersweet. The bitter part was the Rangers losing the “playin” game to the Baltimore Rangers, 5-1. I know you think they are called the Baltimore Orioles, but when they have Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Pedro Strop, Darren O’Day, Endy Chavez, Taylor Teagarden, and are managed by Buck Showalter, well…you get the picture. Anyway, the Rangers were clearly out of the playoff picture long before they lost first place to the Athletics this past Wednesday. It prompted me to come with this statement, and yes, I made this up. I may not be the only one who made it up, but I did. It doesn’t matter how long you were in first place if you weren’t in first place when it mattered. That was the Rangers this season. They led the AL West division pretty much the entire season. Until the very last day. The one that mattered.

On to the “sweet” part of the night. Christi and I traveled to Deep Ellum in Dallas last night, to The Prophet Bar, which is kind of the back room to The Door, a club in Deep Ellum which mostly specializes in Christian rock music. The main attraction last night, at least for us, was The Choir, one of my favorite bands since the eighties. They played a few songs from their 1988 album, Chase the Kangaroo, including this one, “Children of Time.”

The guy over there on the left is playing an instrument known as a lyricon. It is fascinating, and he is the only one I’ve ever seen play one. That’s Dan Michaels, with Tim Chandler next to him on bass, Steve Hindalong on drums, and Derri Daugherty playing lead and singing. The concert was a lot of fun. They also performed some new songs from their newest album, The Loudest Sound Ever Heard, including this one called “Cross That River,” which is about our need for each other in the Christian life and community.

After the show, we hung around and helped the guys pack up their gear and load it into their two vans out in front of the club. I didn’t know it, but we had parked right behind the van Dan Michaels was driving. They were very appreciative of our help and posed with Christi and me for a picture.

The Choir with Christi and Jeff Bickley


Father, I pray that you reveal a glimpse of yourself to me during this time today. Keep me meditating on your marvelous mercy and grace.


Today, I’m reading Psalm 119:73-80. There are several ideas in this segment.

73 Yodh. Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
74 Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word.
75 I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.
78 Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
79 Let those who fear you turn to me, that they may know your testimonies.
80 May my heart be blameless in your statutes, that I may not be put to shame!

He begins by the acknowledgment that it is God who has made him. Therefore, he prays for understanding to learn God’s word. There is, indeed, a sense of rejoicing when people who know and fear God gather together. The fact that we all place our hope in God’s word brings a sense of community to us; a commonality that cannot be easily broken.
I see a connection in verses 75-80, although I admit I might be fabricating it. The psalmist first acknowledges the righteousness of God’s rules and that God has been faithful, even in bringing affliction to him. He prays for comfort through God’s steadfast love, according to His promises. He also prays for mercy, in the midst of the affliction, because he has taken delight in God’s word. Many have told lies about him, possibly spawned by the affliction mentioned in verse 75. Who among us has not been guilty of thinking that someone must have done something wrong to be “punished” by God in such a way. We, too, should be put to shame, because there is always something that we don’t know in any given circumstance. He will continue to meditate on God’s word, even while people accuse him falsely. Others who fear God will, as a result of this, turn to the one being afflicted, and be encouraged by God’s word in his life. His heart will remain blameless; he will not be put to shame.
Once again, this is all tied to an understanding of, and meditating on, God’s word.


In today’s reading from My Utmost For His Highest, called “The Bent of Regeneration,” the Scripture reference is Galatians 1:15-16. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone… Chambers keys in on the part of God being pleased to reveal his Son.

“If Jesus Christ is to regenerate me, what is the problem He is up against?” At the beginning, I have “a heredity that I had no say in.” I’m not holy. I’m not going to be holy. If all Jesus can do is to tell me I must be holy, this does nothing but plant the seeds of despair in my soul. “But if Jesus Christ is a Regenerator, One Who can put into me His own heredity of holiness, then I begin to see what He is driving at when He says that I have to be holy.” All of the standards that Christ has given us are based on the fact that he, in the act of Redemption, can place in us the disposition of holiness that was in him. “His teaching is for the life He puts in.” This goes back to what I have realized about the Beatitudes in recent weeks. Those teachings are not for me to try to live by. They are for the life of Christ, being lived out in me.


Father, I thank you for the regeneration that you worked in my life. You took this life, full of sin and unholiness, and placed within it the seed of holiness, the heredity of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. In doing so, you began forming the life of Christ in me, a lifelong process that will reach its climax when I see him face to face. I pray for the continuation of this process. I know that you will continue it…you will not give up on me, nor will you leave me or forsake me. Thus is your promise in the Scriptures. You chose me before I was born, set me apart before I was conceived. Yet you still had to, at some point in my history, reveal yourself to me, that I might be made aware of my need for you. Thank you for doing so.

I pray that the attributes of Christ might be fully formed in me, as his life continues to be formed in me. Reveal yourself to me continuously, each day that I live, that I might see you, that I might glimpse your face.

I pray for the remainder of this day, that we might be rested for tomorrow’s worship celebrations. Give Christi and me grace and strength as we serve you tomorrow at The Exchange church. May you be glorified by our service and by our worship.


As I continue to learn of the benefits of the life of Christ in me, I am amazed at what God is doing. More and more, I understand that it is all his work and none of mine.

Grace and peace, friends.