Wait. Quietly.

Today is Tuesday, the 8th of November, 2022, in the 32nd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ remain with you, today!

Day 23,616

Today is Election Day in the U.S. Midterm elections, and very important for both parties. In Texas, we are voting on the governor and a few other important positions. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Deal bountifully with your servant,
that I may live and keep your word.
(Psalms 119:17 ESV)

Lord our God, we thank you for giving us Jesus Christ, whose words remain living to this very day. You will make his words continually alive so that in the name of Jesus Christ joyful praises are sung to you, Almighty God and Father in heaven. Remember us all. Remember the particular needs of each one of us. Come to the world through the words of Jesus Christ. May his words come as your strong angels to the hearts of many to comfort and restore, to help and do miracles for those in need. May your name be praised through the great and mighty Word, Jesus Christ! Amen.

(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
(John 5:24 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that those of us who have heard the words of Christ and believed God, who sent Him, have already “crossed over from death to life”
  2. for the Word of God, Jesus Christ, living and active forever
  3. for the steadfast love of the Lord, that I might not only know it and feel it, but drink it in, and pour my own soul into it
  4. that my help comes from the Lord, in His name, and from no human being (appropriate for Election Day)
  5. for the discipline of contemplation; may I do it better and more often

My Love, by Daryl Madden

My is not conditional
Based on what you do
An everlasting spring of life
To refresh your soul anew

Settle in my silence
My embrace, encompass you
Give rise to my voice within
Soak it and flow it through

It is good to think it
It’s great to feel it too
But better to drink it in
Your soul to pour into

So, think, feel and know it
To permeate your view
My child, my beloved
Forever, I love you

I especially love the third stanza, that it is better to drink in the love God, and pour my soul into it. Please visit Daryl’s site at the link provided.


For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
(2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 124:8 ESV)


And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him.
(1 John 5:14-15 NRSV)

“Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the LORD, the God of your ancestor David: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life.”
(Isaiah 38:5 NRSV)

But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind;
(James 1:6 NRSV)


It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
(Lamentations 3:26 ESV)

The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.
(Isaiah 2:11 ESV)


I am initially stirred by the opening verse, this morning. In case it hasn’t been noticed, I am going through Psalm 119, a verse or two at a time, having been inspired by Andrew Murray to read it and meditate on it more closely.

In this verse, the unidentified psalmist asks the Lord to “deal bountifully” with him. But what is more important is the reason. “That I may live and keep your word.” I find that fascinating and inspiring. How many times have we asked the Lord to bless us, so that we can, in turn, keep His Word? What a beautiful prayer from this psalmist!

Next, I was stirred by the verse that accompanied today’s Daily Prayer, from Plough. I’ve read this verse before, numerous times. But one thing I noticed today was the present tense.

Whoever has heard the Word of Christ and believed the One who sent Him (the Father), what? HAS eternal life. Not “will have.” This person (or persons) “does not come into judgment, but HAS passed from death to life.” (Emphasis added) The second piece is past tense.

It has already happened.

I have heard the words of Christ (not literally, perhaps, although I have heard them being read out loud), and I have believed in the Father who sent Him, therefore, I already possess eternal life. I have passed from death to life. And that life cannot be revoked, it cannot be taken away from me, not even by my own foolishness or stupidity.

Glory.

Understanding this should tremendously affect the way we live, shouldn’t it? That truth tells me that not very many of us truly comprehend the wonderful truth of those words, myself included.

And from this I can kind of segue into my last topic for the day. Waiting on God, as referenced in that verse from Lamentations. That one comes from Andrew Murray’s book, Waiting on God, quoted in Power in Prayer.

Murray’s book quotes the NKJV which says, “It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

There is more in that passage, if you keep reading.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust— there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults.
(Lamentations 3:26-30 ESV)

It is my belief that one reason that many of us can’t quite grasp the truth that we have already passed from death to life, and that we already possess eternal life is that we aren’t very good at “waiting quietly.” We aren’t good at either half of that phrase.

We don’t wait well, especially these days. All hopes that the pandemic might have “reset” our attitudes has been shattered. People are worse than ever. We don’t wait well. And we most definitely don’t do it quietly. Humanity has gotten louder and more obnoxious than ever. Especially Western humans.

What I believe this verse is speaking of, though, is the idea of what some of the desert fathers call “contemplation.” And contemplation is something that is mostly shunned by modern Western Christians. That’s a shame, too.

What is contemplation? The dictionary defines it well, I think. Contemplation is “the action of looking thoughtfully at something for a long time.” I love that definition.

Murray speaks of the idea of waiting on God as “a step toward more productive prayer and obtaining answers to our requests.” But he indicates that this is the wrong reason, and that we will “not know the blessing of time with God for the sake of fellowship with Him.”

“But when we realize that waiting on God is a blessing in itself, our adoration of Him will humble us, making the way open for God to speak to us and reveal himself to us.”

In order to do this, we have to, we simply must, shut up and listen. (Murray did not say “shut up,” I said that.)

Again, we simply are not very good at that, these days.

It’s not easy to look thoughtfully at God for a long time. For one thing, we cannot literally look at God, right? Beyond that, though, we have to get away from all distractions. I have found, in my limited success with the discipline, that getting out of the house, into nature, somewhere, is best. It might take some walking. In fact, I firmly believe that one could practice contemplation while walking, as long as one is alone.

Not only must we be away from other people, we must also find a way to get distanced from both cares and joys. And we must not mistake Bible study for contemplation. Nor should we think that prayer is contemplation. Contemplation does not involve talking of any kind.

Do you remember being in love for the first time? Do you remember how all you wanted to do was sit and look into the eyes of the beloved? That’s what contemplation is.


Father, I need help in this. While I love the idea of contemplation, in reality, I have not practiced it very much. I need Your help to do it. To find a place and time, maybe not every day, but at least on a regular basis, where I can simply sit and “look” at You. Not to pray, not to study, not to quote memorized passages of Scripture, but only to look thoughtfully at You for a period of time, and to “wait quietly” on You.

If we can do more of this, we can, perhaps, better understand the truth that we already possess eternal life, and that we have already passed from death to life. Your Kingdom is not something for which we are waiting to experience after death. Truly, what awaits us after passing from this plane of existence will be, I’m sure, beyond all possible expectation. But we have eternal life now. We are already walking in Your Kingdom, whether we realize it or not.

Help us to be quiet; help us to wait; help us to look at You, mouths closed, hearts open and ready for You to work.

And I echo the prayer of the psalmist, Lord. Deal bountifully with me, that I may live and keep Your Word!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“The man who fears to be alone will never be anything but lonely, no matter how much he may surround himself with people. But the man who learns, in solitude and recollection, to be at peace with his own loneliness, and to prefer its reality to the illusion of merely natural companionship, comes to know the invisible companionship of God. Such a one is alone with God in all places, and he alone truly enjoys the companionship of other men, because he loves them in God in Whom their presence is not tiresome, and because of Whom his own love for them can never know satiety.”
― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

Grace and peace, friends.

Wisdom and Forgiveness

Good morning! Today is Friday, the fourth of March, 2022, in the season of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,367

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

We had a successful and uneventful trip to get Mama, yesterday, and she is safely back here in Fort Worth, with us, for a little while. We dropped off a mail hold form at the Post Office, and left her tax documents with her CPA, and I also grabbed a couple cases of Crazy Water while in town.

The only “incident” that occurred was that my tire pressure light came on, in the car, before I got out of Fort Worth. Everything felt okay, so I didn’t stop to check it until I got to Mama’s house in Mineral Wells. The lowest tire had 30.5 (after driving that distance), so I wasn’t terribly worried about it. I just checked it, this morning, and it has 26, which is about seven pounds low. I’ll keep an eye on it, and, unless it drops drastically more between now and then, I will put some air in it Sunday afternoon.

Today is a normal work day for me, at the Hurst Public Library, in the computer center. Tomorrow is my Saturday to work the circulation desk. Sunday, our house church is not meeting, so I am going to take the opportunity to attend a Lutheran church in Grapevine, with my friend and former pastor. I’ve never been to a Lutheran service before, so this should be interesting.

The Lenten fast continues to go fairly well. As expected, keeping critical comments out of my vocabulary has been much more challenging than not eating candy. I have not been 100% successful, but am being more aware of when they occur, and able to stop them in their tracks.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Nothing Called My Own,” by Daryl Madden

I know I’m in danger
But need not of fearing
If I remember
That I am nothing

I’ll know that danger
Can take nothing from me
When I feel afraid
I forget, nothing I be

And If I remember
I’ve nothing called my own
That will not be lost
At the end of life shown

That only what’s not mine
But God’s will ever live
And free me from false fears
With a heart to give

(based upon words by Thomas Merton)

This poem really spoke to me, this morning, as I recall words from a little book by Horatius Bonar, called How Shall I Go To God? It opens with the line, “It is with our sins that we go to God–for we have nothing else to go with that we can call our own.” Please check out Daryl’s poetry at the link provided.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalms 27:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the WordPress community; I am constantly encouraged and uplifted by my blogging friends
2. for the safe trip to Mineral Wells and back, yesterday
3. for the wisdom taught in the book of James, difficult as it is
4. for the lineage of faith that is in my ancestry
5. for the strength of God that is helping me in my Lenten journey

The book of James is a tough book to swallow. Every time I have to read it, I cringe, because it doesn’t just step on my toes. It crushes them.

But one thing we learn from this difficult book is that “Christian churches are not, as a rule, model communities of good behavior.” The outside world looks at that statement and gives out a hearty “Ya think??”

Part of the problem, though, is that 1) the outside world seems to have the mistaken idea that the Christian church should be a model community of good behavior; and 2) the Christian church often tries to deceive the outside world into believing that it is a model community of good behavior.

James would have us believe otherwise. And, as Eugene H. Peterson points out, “Deep and living wisdom is on display here, wisdom both rare and essential.” This does not necessarily involve knowing truth, although that is helpful, because “what good is a truth if we don’t know how to live it?”

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
(James 3:17-18 MSG)

James was traditionally known as a man of prayer, spending much time on his knees. He lived what he wrote:

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.
(James 1:5-6 MSG)

“The prayer is foundational to the wisdom. Prayer is always foundational to wisdom.”

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.
(James 1:17 MSG)

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
(Matthew 18:22 ESV)

Or, if you prefer:

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
(Matthew 18:22 NLT)

Speaking of wisdom, in this passage of Scripture, we see the wisdom of forgiveness. And we see Peter, thinking himself extremely righteous by offering to forgive someone seven whole times, having his toes crushed by Jesus’s James-like wisdom, telling him, essentially, don’t count how many times you forgive someone.

“God – on Whose repeated forgiveness I depend – requires that I do the same for others and that they do the same for me. Not grudgingly, but from a sincere heart. . . . Forgiveness is a wisdom near to the heart of God.” (Carol Knapp)

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
(Micah 7:18-19 ESV)

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
(Matthew 6:9-15 ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
(Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

Today’s prayer word is “link.” I almost passed over this one, but I got to thinking about it. Laurence Overmire, an American poet who is also a genealogist, is quoted as saying, “All of our ancestors give us the precious gift of life.”

There is not a word of Scripture in this reading, nor is there any reference to it. It is entirely about someone’s lineage.

And when I think about my lineage, I am blessed. God didn’t have to birth me into this family. But He chose to place me in it. (Remember yesterday’s prayer word?)

My family has a long history of God-loving people in it, and I am very grateful for this. My spiritual life would likely have been much different otherwise.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I praise You and thank You for placing me where You did. What a blessing to have been born into this family. Random luck, some would say, but I don’t believe in “luck” or “coincidences.” It was part of Your plan, and I am very grateful for this. And You kept it going, even when I tried to leave (or at least wander off) the path. You always kept me on the path, sometimes nudging me, other times outright shoving. There may have even been a few times You had to tie me up and carry me over Your “shoulder.”

Father, as Your Church continues trying to survive these years, I pray that You help us in several things. Help us to forgive the way Jesus told us to forgive, not the way Peter tried to. It is unlimited. Jesus didn’t mean seventy-seven times or four hundred and ninety times, at least that is what we believe. He seems to have been indicating that the amount of forgiveness is as unlimited as Your love. And praises be that You don’t stop forgiving us at seventy times seven times!!

I also pray that You help us, as a Church, to get along in wisdom, the way James is trying to teach us. We are strongly divided, these days, and we need Your help. There are factions that are focusing on the wrong things. We need to be focusing on Your love, the love of Jesus, and our love for each other. Maybe it really is “all about love.” And, while I wouldn’t go quite as far as the Beatles, we definitely do need love and more of it. Help us to remember that our jobs are to love You and love people, not to judge people and condemn people. That is actually Your job, and Yours alone. But You also have promised that, in Christ, there is no condemnation. Thank You for that, as well.

We are broken, Lord, all of us. So we need Your “fixing.” Give us wisdom, give us love, give us one another. And help us, as brother Daryl reminds us way back at the beginning, that we really have nothing that we can call our own.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Over and Over and Over Again

Today is Thursday, the twentieth of January, 2022, in the second week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,324

Only three more days until Hamilton!

There’s not a lot going on around here, today. It’s one of my days that I’m always off (Monday and Thursday), so I’m home all day, and C continues to work from home, probably through next week, as well. She has an appointment with her foot doctor, later this morning. I ordered some groceries, but they’re coming from Amazon Fresh, because Albertson’s was booked up until tomorrow afternoon. I needed some things for this evening’s dinner, which will hopefully be chicken stir-fry.

I could have ventured out to the store, in person, but it’s really cold out there, today. Currently 24 and only supposed to get up to 34 today. Now, the low for tomorrow morning is predicted to be 18. In DFW, Texas, that’s stay-in-the-house cold. Fortunately, the precipitation possibility remains very low until Monday, when it is supposed to be above freezing all day. And, also, it has been in the sixties and seventies for the past week, for the most part, so the ground is probably still fairly warm, in comparison.

So I’ll move on to the devotional. I’ve already said some prayers for people, this morning. There are troubles all around, and people are losing loved ones all around us, as well. Some Covid-related, some not. These are simply tough times. I received word this morning that a young woman we have been praying for for the past two weeks, who had leukemia, but also came down with Covid, passed away, yesterday. She has seven kids, all home-schooled. It’s tragic, and it breaks my heart. And we wonder, when things like this happen, why God doesn’t act. Or maybe He did. His ways are so much higher than ours, and His understanding is infinitely beyond ours. But I guarantee that the “world,” the skeptics, mock statements like that.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Your Window, by Daryl Madden

Through Your window of presence
In prayer to reside
Of the Spiritual world
We’ll dwell on that side

Through Your window of grace
An insight is shown
Through the vision of soul
The unknown is known

Through Your window of sight
The world disappears
A glimpse of heaven
Of being appears

Through Your window of love
Of heavenly grace
Our home found in You
We can always embrace

Right about now, I’m longing for that third stanza, for the world to disappear. Please check out Daryl’s inspiration poetry at the link provided.

“All those who sow, weeping, go out with songs of joy.”

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 
and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. 
And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 
for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 
And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God." 
And he strictly ordered them not to make him known. 
(Mark 3:7-12 ESV)

People always flocked to Jesus because of what He was doing, not because of who He was. This is typical of human nature. We tend to read a passage like this and think that, because there were great crowds following Him, He was “successful.” This has translated into today’s mega-church. There are certain pastors around the country and the world who have managed to draw great crowds. But are they really “successful?”

I believe the measure of “success” is in the results. “The proof is in the pudding,” I’ve heard. For Jesus, I believe that, in the passage above, the evidence of success is in verse 11. The demons fell down before Him and declared His identity.

Just because a “church” is large does not mean that it is “successful.”

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

There is a quote from Thomas Merton, in Spiritual Classics, which has grabbed my attention. “There are so many Christians who have practically no idea of the immense love of God for them, and of the power of that Love to do them good, to bring them happiness.” This quote is in a larger piece that speaks of the gift of contemplation to the Christian life.

Contemplation, as defined by Merton and others in the book I am reading, is nothing more than a way of paying intimate, close attention to God and His love for us, as well as our love for Him. In fact, Merton says that contemplation increases our love for Him. “It is the work of love and nothing is more effective in increasing our love for God.”

The condition, though, is closeness to God. We cannot remain at a distance, we cannot confine our lives “to a few routine exercises of piety and a few external acts of worship and service performed as a matter of duty.” Oddly enough, such people do, in fact, avoid sin and “respect God as a Master.” But, says Merton, “their heart does not belong to Him. They are not really interested in Him, except in order to insure themselves against losing heaven and going to hell.”

Do we only invite God when we need to “smooth our difficulties and to dispense rewards?”

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 
but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 
for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
(Psalms 1:1-6 ESV)

What obstacles stand in our way, in regard to this kind of interaction with God? What stereotypes do we need to work on, either about God, ourselves, or prayer?

One way of entering into contemplative prayer is to choose a passage of Scripture with rich meaning, such as Psalm 23, and read it, reflectively. When a particular phrase or word grabs the attention, focus on it. Contemplation is not, as some mistakenly think, “emptying the mind.” Far from it. However, it is largely intended to be wordless. This is harder for some of us who are inundated with words every day.

It is also suggested that visiting a quiet chapel, garden, or park would be helpful, if one is able to do that. I would go sit in the back yard, but, as mentioned earlier, it is prohibitively cold for that kind of activity, today.

Going back to that idea about us not having any idea of the immense love of God for us, Richard Foster comments that Merton seems to be teaching that “at its core contemplation is simply and profoundly falling in love with God over and over and over again.”

I am a little surprised that, after devoting four chapters to Job, Eugene H. Peterson, in Symphony of Salvation, only devotes one to the Psalms. However, in that one, I believe he does them justice.

The Psalms are a prayer book/song book. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called the Psalms the prayer book of the Bible. If I’m not mistaken, the Psalms are where Peterson began when he began paraphrasing The Message. His reasoning was to get prayers in the hands of the people.

You see, we have misconceptions about prayer. We tend to think we aren’t “good enough,” and need to wait until we “clean up our act.” Or, we believe our vocabulary to be inadequate. Peterson’s response to these ways of thinking was to put the Psalms in peoples’ hands and tell them, “Go home and pray these. You’ve got wrong ideas about prayer; the praying you find in these psalms will dispel the wrong ideas and introduce you to the real thing.”

People are generally shocked when they do what he asked.

Please, GOD, no more yelling, no more trips to the woodshed. 
Treat me nice for a change; I'm so starved for affection. 
Can't you see I'm black and blue, beat up badly in bones and soul? 
GOD, how long will it take for you to let up?
(Psalms 6:1-3 MSG)
God, don't just watch from the sidelines. 
Come on! Run to my side! 
My accusers—make them lose face. 
Those out to get me—make them look Like idiots, 
while I stretch out, reaching for you, 
and daily add praise to praise. 
(Psalms 71:12-14 MSG)

“Untutored, we tend to think that prayer is what good people do when they are doing their best. It is not. Inexperienced, we suppose that there must be an ‘insider’ language that must be acquired before God takes us seriously in our prayer. There is not.”

GOD, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. 
Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; 
Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; 
See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong—
 then guide me on the road to eternal life. 
(Psalms 139:1, 23-24 MSG)

These are not the prayers of “nice people. And, if there is any doubt about that (I’m adding this part myself), one need only look as far as Psalm 137.

Alongside Babylon's rivers we sat on the banks; 
we cried and cried, remembering the good old days in Zion. 
Alongside the quaking aspens we stacked our unplayed harps; 
That's where our captors demanded songs, sarcastic and mocking: 
"Sing us a happy Zion song!" 
Oh, how could we ever sing GOD's song in this wasteland? 
If I ever forget you, Jerusalem, 
let my fingers wither and fall off like leaves. 
Let my tongue swell and turn black if I fail to remember you, 
If I fail, O dear Jerusalem, to honor you as my greatest. 
GOD, remember those Edomites, 
and remember the ruin of Jerusalem, 
That day they yelled out, "Wreck it, smash it to bits!" 
And you, Babylonians—ravagers! 
A reward to whoever gets back at you for all you've done to us; 
Yes, a reward to the one who grabs your babies and smashes their heads on the rocks!
(Psalms 137:1-9 MSG)

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8 ESV)

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
(Jeremiah 31:3 ESV)

We love because he first loved us.
(1 John 4:19 ESV)

These are a couple of good verses to spark some contemplation, by the way.

Father, there have been a couple of good topics today. I pray for us, Your people, that we would dispense with any misplaced notions of what constitutes “success.” May we always see success through Your eyes, and the eyes of Jesus, taking note that the result is what marks whether something is successful. Regardless of how many people flock to our ministries or church services . . . are we reaching the “least of these?” Are we clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, providing healing help to the sick, comforting the dying, freeing the oppressed?

Help me to do better at understanding Your immense love for us/me. Help me to be better at contemplating these things, trying to simply sit and love You, looking at You without adding my own words (which is really hard). Draw me into depths of intimacy with You that defy explanation and description. Give me “experience” with You that cannot be described. Help me to fall in love with You over and over and over again.

And, as for prayer, I have long been aware that prayer is not just for “nice” or “good” people. If it were, I would not bother, because, most of the time, I am neither one. But also, give me patience and tenacity, especially when, after we have been praying, a mother of seven home-schooled children dies anyway. This kind of thing affects me greatly. But let it affect me in the right direction, driving me further into You, rather than away from You. You have blessed us with the Psalms, and I have been diving into them a lot for the past decade or so. Remind me that I need to stay in them more. Help me to embrace the language of prayer that we get from the prayer book of our Bible. And help me to be as honest as possible when I pray.

Thank You for Your everlasting love.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. 
I'm back home in the house of GOD for the rest of my life.
(Psalms 23:6 MSG)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the Psalms and how they help me pray
2. for the everlasting love of God and how contemplation helps me enter into that love and fall in love with Him all over again'
3. that "success" isn't measured by how many people we attract
4. that those who sow weeping will go out with songs of joy (Psalm 126)
5. for the sweet mercies of God, falling from heaven, fresh every morning
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands

Today is Friday (WOOT!!), August 10, 2018. Day 22,065.

Only NINE more days until S turns 25!!!

“The least of learning is done in the classrooms.” ~ Thomas Merton, 1915-1968, The Quotations Page

The word for today is agora, “the place where a popular political assembly met in Ancient Greece, originally a marketplace or public square.”

I’m feeling a little better each day, so that’s good. I made it through the whole day, yesterday, without taking any more DayQuil. I still took some NyQuil before going to sleep, last night, though. I’m also using Flonase in the morning, which I think helps clear up the nasal stuff.

While disappointment is still in the air, I’m looking forward to worshiping with our Exchange family, this Sunday. Then we will be in Mineral Wells, next Sunday, as we celebrate S’s birthday with Grandma.

The Red Sox lost to the Blue Jays, last night, 8-5, as Rick Porcello took a rare loss. They are now 81-35 for the season, eight games up in the AL East.

The Rangers lost to the Yankees (bad for the Red Sox), 7-3. They are now 51-66, 22.5 games back in the AL West, eighteen games back in the AL Wild Card.

The longest current winning streak is held by those Yankees, with four wins in a row.

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

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. 
On the willows there we hung up our lyres. 
For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” 
How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? 
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! 
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy! 
Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations!” 
O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us! 
Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!

Psalm 137

This is what is known as, if I am getting the word right, an imprecatory Psalm. While I don’t plan, any time soon, on praying for someone’s babies to be dashed against the rocks, I think a good “takeaway” from this Psalm is the idea of not forgetting our “home.” Obviously, there is nothing that literally applies to me in this Psalm. I’ve never been in Babylon, I’ve never been in captivity, I am not from Israel. However, all of us who call the name of Jesus are, in effect, in “exile.” We are “not of this world.” Our true home is somewhere else. Therefore, we must remember that. We must not forget our Jerusalem, which is, ultimately, heaven, wherever that turns out to be. And one of my highest joys should be the anticipation of the life that I shall someday share with the Trinitarian God.

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 
let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy

Psalm 96:11-12

But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.
Job 12:7-10

There’s an old spiritual song that you may be familiar with. “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands.” He’s got the tiny little baby; He’s got you and me, brother; He’s got you and me, sister. On and on it goes.

Guess what! As cliche as it sounds, it’s true. The Lord truly does have the whole world in His hands. “In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” (Emphasis added)

Perhaps that is something to ponder today.

Father, I, for one, am grateful that You have the whole world in Your hands. I don’t want to think about how . . . well, never mind. If You didn’t, there wouldn’t be a “whole world.” There wouldn’t be me. So, thank You for everything. Thank You for this world in which we live, fractured as it is. Thank You for the grace and mercy that You display to all, even to ones who refuse to acknowledge Your existence. Thank You for the promise of heaven, and the existence of the Kingdom of God right now. Thank You for inviting me to join this Kingdom.
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.

It’s Not About Me

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”~~Thomas Merton
(Brainyquote)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is nonce, “the present, or immediate, occasion or purpose (usually used in the phrase for the nonce).”

Today is Serpent Day. Before you go running from the room, realize that this is not so much about snakes as it is about stopping to reflect and ponder, and come to grips with our fears. “Should you decide to celebrate Serpent Day, you could spend this time contemplating some of your key life experiences and deciding what lessons they’ve taught you and how you could use this knowledge to improve your life in the future.”

Yesterday was a good day. It started out rough, but got better quickly. As already stated (perhaps not necessarily in these words), I was pretty much an emotional blob of goo yesterday morning. I was struggling to even want to go to church, much less to the PAT meeting afterward. But when I got to church, I began to talk to people; to people who dared to ask, “How are you doing?” At first, I only said, “I’ve been better.” Then I started elaborating a little. No one ran away from me. They stood and listened. And they cared. Some hugged. It helped. It helped a lot. As the worship progressed, I got into it. I released a good bit of the stuff to the Lord through the worship time. The message was all about the Church, her purpose, and her people. This helped remind me of how much I love the Church. I love the Church because Jesus loves the Church. And, as it has been said, you can’t love Jesus and hate the Church. You just can’t. Anyway, the PAT meeting after church went very well. We had some good discussion about how things have gone since we moved to the YMCA building, and I contributed a lot more than I thought I was going to.

It’s Monday, again, so I have band practice tonight. It’s the long day of the week, but the last part of it is the most fun. I can’t think of anything else significant going on this week. Just work.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.
O LORD, save the king! May he answer us when we call.

Psalm 20:6-9

It is appropriate to boast when the Lord answers prayer. That is, of course, if we boast in the right direction. “When God shows himself to be the God who brings victory, the God who enters history and responds to human need with salvation, the proper response os boasting that matures into praise.”

“‘Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ my God:
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.’
(Isaac Watts, ‘When I Survey The Wondrous Cross’).
Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Today’s reading is “The Call of God.”

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel,
1 Corinthians 1:17

Paul’s calling was to preach the Gospel. Looking back at yesterday’s reading, Chambers states that the Gospel is the “reality of Redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ.” We must not make holiness or sanctification the end of our preaching. We are not “commissioned to preach salvation or sanctification; we are commissioned to lift up Jesus Christ (John 12:32).” I must never say that Jesus “travailed in Redemption to make me a saint.” It’s not about me; it will never be about me.

“The one passion of Paul’s life was to proclaim the Gospel of God. He welcomed heartbreaks, disillusionments, tribulation, for one reason only, because these things kept him in unmoved devotion to the Gospel of God.”

Father, while my calling might not be to preach, it is still related to your Gospel. I am called to live out the Gospel in the world around me, and to seek out those who would be disciples of Jesus. By your grace, and your grace alone, I am saved, and continue to walk this earth. Help me, by the power of your Holy Spirit and the Gospel, to live out my calling in your name.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.