When Christ Displaces Worry

Today is Saturday, the 4th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,704

I neglected (actually forgot) what yesterday was, until about halfway through the day, someone on my Facebook feed reminded me. It was February 3, 1959, that the plane carrying Richie Valens, J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper), and Buddy Holly crashed in Iowa, killing all three of them. It was later to be deemed “the day the music died,” by Don McLean in “American Pie.” I was not quite a year old when that happened.

I had a fine day at the library, yesterday. It was steady in the computer center, but never got overwhelming. I’m expecting a hectic day in circulation today, as the outside book drop sorter is still not in working order, yet. We got a “new” sorter a couple weeks ago, but have had issues getting it working. I think it may be close. The thing is, all outside book drop items will go in our old “emergency” bin, which doesn’t sort, and also doesn’t clear. So we have to manually clear everything that comes in. With the extreme weather we had this week, causing the library to be closed for two whole days and open late on Thursday, I expect a lot of people to be getting caught up today.

That and it is “Bring your child to the library day,” today. Hee.

That’s all I’ve got, so on to the real reason I’m here.


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

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, help us who have listened in the name of Jesus Christ and heard the good tidings. Help us come with our whole hearts to the Savior, who leads us into your arms. Hear our pleading and let your countenance shine over the world. Let a new age come soon. Send your salvation into the world to the glory of your name, so that the truth we have learned about you becomes a reality in our hearts and our whole life can be genuine, rooted in the truth, leading us into heaven, to the honor of your name. Hear us, O Lord our God. We entrust ourselves and our daily lives to you. We want to be faithful. Help us to be your children, mindful at every step that we belong to you. Amen.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life
  • for the love of reading instilled in me at a very early age by my parents (and others)
  • for the Word of God, “recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord” (Psalm 102:18)
  • for the peace that displaces worry when I am faithful to pray
  • for the sovereignty of God in all things

O sing to the LORD a new song; 
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
(Psalms 96:1 NRSV)
With my whole heart I cry; 
answer me, O LORD. 
I will keep your statutes.
(Psalms 119:145 NRSV)
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, 
do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come. 
Your power and your righteousness, O God, 
reach the high heavens. 
You who have done great things, O God, 
who is like you?
(Psalms 71:18-19 NRSV)
Let this be recorded for a generation to come, 
so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD:
(Psalms 102:18 NRSV)

Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”
(John 7:28-29 NRSV)

To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm. 

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, 
you who lead Joseph like a flock! 
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, 
shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. 
Stir up your might, and come to save us! 
Restore us, O God; 
let your face shine, that we may be saved. 

But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, 
the one whom you made strong for yourself. 
Then we will never turn back from you; 
give us life, and we will call on your name. 
Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; 
let your face shine, that we may be saved. 
(Psalms 80:1-3, 17-19 NRSV)
"Our hearts, O Lord, are restless until they rest in You!" 
(The Cry of the Church - The Divine Hours)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Almighty and everlasting God,
you govern all things both in heaven and on earth:
Mercifully hear the supplications of your people,
and in our time grant us your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
(The Prayer Appointed for the Week - The Divine Hours)

One who forgives an affront fosters friendship, 
but one who dwells on disputes will alienate a friend.
(Proverbs 17:9 NRSV)

Do to others as you would have them do to you.
(Luke 6:31 NRSV)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
(John 15:12-14 NRSV)

love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
(Romans 12:10 NRSV)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
(Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)

I confess: I (and I’m confident that I am not alone) do not always allow Christ to displace worry at the center of my life.

Surprise! I’m not perfect.

By the way, if you ever see me acting like I think I am, you have my permission to call me out on it.

But I have experienced what happens when I do allow Christ do displace that worry. It can be described with one word. “Peace.” Peterson paraphrases it, above, as “a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good.” The traditional translations call this a “peace that passes understanding” or something like that.

Last night, we were waiting on a grocery order from Kroger. Keep in mind that we had winter weather conditions for roughly three days. From Monday evening until about noon on Thursday, everything was covered in ice. Not snow. No, we don’t get that luxury in DFW, Texas. We get ice. Sleet, freezing rain, very little actual snow.

And for the other eleven months and 25 days of the year, we don’t have any of that. So we naturally are not prepared/equipped for such. It basically shuts us down. Make fun of us if you want, but I won’t make fun of you when it gets to 117 degrees in Portland, Oregon and all your grocery store freezers stop working.

Anyway . . . back to my grocery order. I put it in on Thursday afternoon (or maybe even late Thursday morning, I can’t quite recall). The earliest delivery time (I wasn’t about to set foot in Kroger after that ice storm) was between 4-6 PM on Friday. C was planning to work from home, so that would work. I work at the library until 6:15 on Fridays.

Yesterday, at 4:47 PM, I got a text stating that the delivery would not arrive until around 7:30 PM. Okay. Not surprised by that. I’m sure the store was exceedingly busy. I had seen Facebook posts from people who went to Walmart and said that everyone else in Fort Worth was there, too.

7:30 came and went. Finally, at 7:51, I got a text that a shopper had started shopping my order. I anxiously awaited texts telling me things that they were out of. The only one I got was on the bread, accompanied by this photo.

You can see, way down there at the end, that there is something. She asked if I wanted a replacement, and I said, “If you can find one.” She found some Pepperidge Farm bread, and I said, “great! That will work fine!”

Everything else was delivered as ordered! At roughly 8:55, we got our delivery.

Why am I telling you all of this? To illustrate the point of that passage in Philippians. Throughout this whole process, I vacillated between worry and peace. Whenever I would begin to worry about whether we would even get the delivery at all, the Spirit reminded me that God is in control of all things, and I experienced peace. Accompanying that peace was also great patience. I never got impatient during the waiting time. And the result was that we received everything we ordered, with only the bread being substituted.

That’s what happens when you allow Christ to displace worry at the center of your life. Not the part about your groceries being delivered. That’s peripheral. It’s the part about the peace. Not letting the worry reign.

I promise you that won’t happen every day for me. But I also tell you that I’m getting progressively better at it, as I learn to trust Him in everything.

Here’s the thing: God is sovereign. Either you believe that or you don’t. If you believe it, you don’t worry about who is President or King or whatever. You don’t worry about Democrats, Republicans, Communists, or Socialists. You don’t worry about “bad things” happening to you. They will. You can be sure of that. But, if you believe in the sovereignty of God, you will have peace. Because you know, in the depths of your soul, as I said a couple days ago, “God’s got this.”

"The world has design and order. I can plan, hope, believe. The confusion and conflict that convulse history are bounded by a larger clarity and peace." 
(Eugene H. Peterson, Where Your Treasure Is, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)

Father, I praise You for who You are. I praise You for Your sovereignty in all things. You alone are worthy of our praise. You are worthy of all glory, blessing, and honor. I thank You for the peace that fills my soul today. I pray that I can experience this peace every day. I know that I will slip up and allow worry to reign, sometime. Forgive me for when those times happen, and let the Spirit remind me of Your sovereignty in all things. I thank You for the positive experience of last night, that reminds me that, in Your kingdom, things are far better than I can ever imagine.

I pray for all of Your children, especially in this country, that they would be more in tune with Your sovereignty; that they would realize how foolish it is to worry over things like politics and other things that become idols to us. Help us to throw down our idols and worship only You. Help us to lay aside all our worries and allow Christ to displace them at the center of our lives. May Christ be the center of everything.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Body of Christ

Today is Saturday, February 3, 2018. Day 21,877.

Felix Mendelssohn, born on this date in 1809 (died 1847), said, “Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.”

The word for today, from Dictionary.com, is moxie, a noun which means, “courage; nerve; determination.” Or, perhaps, a soda brand popular in New England.

Bonus: Today, February 3, marks the 59th anniversary of “the day the music died.”

Not much on the agenda for today. We’ve put away laundry, got the dishes done. C’s doing our taxes. Don’t know if it will be good news or bad news. I’m doing this, and in a bit, we will go to Kroger to pick up our ClickList order. C and I may go to the Y after that.

That’s all I’ve got, for now.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

A Maskil of David.
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah. 
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. 
Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. 
You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah. 
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. 
Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. 
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Psalm 32

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
Isaiah 55:8
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Jeremiah 29:11-14

When we are tempted to question God, or to doubt his love and care for us, it is always important to remember the truth of Isaiah 55:8. Why do things happen in certain ways? We cannot know that, at least not now, because our thoughts are not his thoughts, and our ways are not his ways. Then, we must remember the truth of Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
A Matter of Fairness

“Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him. But in the meantime, if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself. Christians are Christ’s body, the organisation through which He works. Every addition to that body enables Him to do more. If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them. Cutting off a man’s fingers would be an odd way of getting him to do more work.” (From Mere Christianity)

Yet another admonishment concerning the importance of joining ourselves with a local part of the Body of Christ.

Father, once again, I thank you for the Body of Christ, most especially the group with which we gather each week. I pray that you intensify the relationships within this group, to the point that when one hurts, we all feel the pain, and when one celebrates, we all share the joy. Help us to all get outside of ourselves and be unified within Christ.
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.

Compassion For Self

Good morning. It is Wednesday, “Hump Day,” January 15, 2014.

Today is “Hat Day.” I wear a hat pretty much every day, so nothing new. I usually wear one of those flat, British driving hats. Don’t know what they’re called.

Christi has a doctor’s appointment at 8 this morning. It seems her blood pressure is a tad high. That could explain some of the symptoms she had over the weekend that were attributed to being side-effects of Mobic. Of course, they could also be side-effects of Mobic. Who knows? But she’s going to get it checked out this morning, which I think is a pretty good idea.

We had a good huddle meeting last night. Some good discussion and good topics. It seems that a lot of us struggle with the same concepts in our lives. If we can all be brutally honest with each other, this could be a great growing experience. That’s the hard part, though, isn’t it? We have to learn to trust one another.

It was on this date in 1972 that a song hit #1 on the pop charts that most of us probably know better than the National Anthem. Well, the chorus at least.

The inspiration for the song occurred almost 13 years earlier on “the day the music died.” It was February 3, 1959, when the plan crashed that killed Buddy Holly,
Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. This had such an impact on Don McLean that he wrote this epic poem/song, hoping that he might “earn two or three thousand dollars and make survival for another year possible.” Instead, it propelled McLean to stardom. (Source: History.com

Today’s birthdays are Gene Krupa, drummer, 1909, Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader, 1929, Robert Silverberg, SF author, 1935, Captain Beefheart, rock musician, 1941, Ronnie Van Zant, Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1948, Martha Davis, singer (Motels), 1951, Melvyn Gale, cellist (ELO), 1952, Randy White, manster, 1953, Julian Sands, actor, 1958, Drew Brees, QB, 1979, and Matt Holliday, baseball player, 1980.

Ronnie Van Zant was the lead vocalist for Lynyrd Skynyrd in the seventies. He died in a plane crash on October 20, 1977, less than two months after this performance of “Gimme Three Steps.”


(From The Divine Hours)

Psalm 96:2-3 Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!

Psalm 5:3 O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
Psalm 21:13 Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
Psalm 96:12 . . . let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Psalm 147:7-11 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Almighty Father, who inspired Simon Peter, first among the apostles to confess Jesus
as Messiah and Son of the living God: Keep your Church steadfast upon the rock of
this faith, so that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the
one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Giving Compassion–Starting with Ourselves.” This is an interesting reading today. He speaks of having compassion for ourselves before we can have compassion for others. “In urging us to compassionate caring for others, Jesus invites us to have compassion for ourselves.” We have to internalize the compassion of Christ before we can break through to showing that same compassion to others. This is kind of a “reverse Catch-22” situation here. “The way of compassionate caring for others brings healing to ourselves, and compassionate caring for ourselves brings healing to others.”

Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Father, teach me to be compassionate toward myself so that I can show compassionate caring toward others. I’m not asking to have a sense of too much importance about myself. I am guarded against that. I know that scripture teaches me that I must always consider others to be more important than myself. However, this teaching, I believe, that I must have compassion for self before I can send it out to others, bears some meditation. Teach me how to do this. I have spent many years being down on myself for this, that, and the other, for failures and for willful sins. Teach me to have compassion and let it begin with me. Show me how to work this cycle of compassion, starting with acknowledging your grace and mercy in my life. May you teach us all to be this way, Lord. and may we strive for peace with everyone. Make us holy, Father, through the blood of Christ and the presence of the Spirit.

I pray for this day. I pray that Christi’s doctors appointment will yield some results that will help get her BP down. I pray for her to be able to relax and be less stressed about things. May we all be able to do this. I pray for a good day at my work, and I ask for understanding and growth for Stephanie. Show her the path for her life and future. I pray also for a good workout tonight, as we continue our journey toward healthier bodies.

Your grace is sufficient.

Check your compassion level. Start at home first, looking inward. Ponder this idea that you must show compassion to self before showing it to others.

Grace and peace, friends.

Praying For Enemies

Good morning. Today is Sunday, February 3, 2013. In the United States, it’s Super Bowl Sunday. I’m not sure I can even legally type those words.

Today is The Day the Music Died. Seriously, that’s the “holiday” listed on the Hallmark “Ultimate Holiday Site.” Because it was on this date in 1959 that the plane carrying Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, and Jiles Perry Richardson, aka, “The Big Bopper,” crashed, killing all three of them along with the pilot.

Sorry…no time for “history” today.

Today’s birthday is Fred Lynn, born on this date in 1952. Lynn was a centerfielder for the Boston Red Sox, and figured heavily in what some consider to be the greatest World Series game in history, Game Six of the 1975 World Series.
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! Psalm 95:1-2
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night. Psalm 92:1-2
Father, I pray that you show me something of yourself this morning. May I seek you today with my whole heart.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 25, 6-12.
6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
10 For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain, and Moab shall be trampled down in his place, as straw is trampled down in a dunghill.
11 And he will spread out his hands in the midst of it as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim, but the LORD will lay low his pompous pride together with the skill of his hands.
12 And the high fortifications of his walls he will bring down, lay low, and cast to the ground, to the dust.

This is a beautiful passage of hope for all the nations, as the Lord provides a feast for all those who come to him. He swallows up death forever, wipes away all tears, and takes away his people’s reproach. He also tramples down all of the proud nations like straw, laying low their walls and fortifications.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Praying for Enemies.” That’s a tough topic, isn’t it? The scripture reference is Luke 6:27-28.
7 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

“It is one thing to love a friend, a stranger, or the virtually anonymous mass of humanity and another to love and forgive an enemy who hates and hurts us.” That is a great statement. And I love that phrase, “virtually anonymous mass of humanity.” It is so easy for people to just blurt out, “I love everyone!” But the point of all of this is that Jesus desires that we not be “people who thrive on aggression and retaliation, who return blow for blow, curse for curse, grudge for grudge, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.” He desires that his people, his Church, be on the leading edge of breaking this “cycle of hostility.” It’s easy for us to work on protecting those who are victims of abuse. But how many of us get to the point where we can pray for the abusers, “having mercy on them, visiting them in prison, or bringing them a gift to express [our] love and forgiveness.” That is exactly where Jesus is telling us to go. “This is loving an enemy. This is turning the other cheek. This is Christianity.” It’s not easy…but then Jesus never said it would be. In fact, he pretty much said the opposite.

I’m challenged to spend some time thinking on the quote below, and think of someone who has abused me, and pray for Jesus to grant me forgiveness for them.
“Whose name should come first [in prayer]? Perhaps the name of our enemies. The injunction of Jesus is plain: ‘Pray for them which despitefully use you.’ He told us that worship is vain if we are embittered; that we should be wise to leave our gifts before the altar, go to make peace with our neighbor, and then worship. Only then can we truly worship. So the first intercession is, ‘Bless So-and-so, whom I foolishly regard as an enemy. Bless So-and-so whom I have wronged. Keep them in Thy favor. Banish my bitterness.”~~George Buttrick, A Simple Regimen of Private Prayer

Father, I pray that you would bring to mind people whom I have regarded as “enemies.” As far as I know, no one wants to harm or kill me. But there are people from my past who have harmed me emotionally (some even monetarily). Grant me complete forgiveness for these. Give me the ability to pray for your blessings on their lives. Teach me your ways in praying for my enemies, that I might have no enemies. Make me fully yours, possessing your heart completely. I would be wholeheartedly seeking after you, Lord, and I realize that I cannot do this while harboring ill feelings toward anyone. Those feelings will always hinder my worship. So I pray today that you take them away. Remove any feelings of reproach that I might have toward any other person. Cause me to meditate on this throughout this day, especially timely since today is the day that we worship together.

I pray for this morning’s worship celebration. I pray that all who attend may seek you with all their hearts. I pray that our worship to you would be acceptable. I pray that all of our technology will work right. I pray that Joel’s message will come straight from your heart, and that he will preach words that come from you, not from him. Fill all of us in the worship band with your Holy Spirit this morning.

I dare say that all of us have someone in our lives that we might consider “enemies.” May we try, with all of our hearts, to find it in ourselves to pray for them and forgive them.

Grace and peace, friends.