Following Jesus

Today is December 29, 2019. The fifth day of Christmas. Peace be with you!

Day 22,571

Three days until New Year’s Day, 2020!

Today is Tick Tock Day. “Tick… Tock… Tick… Tock… This is the sound of the year, and indeed your life, slowly slipping away. Every moment not spent living life to the fullest is another moment that is gone forever, impossible to reclaim. Tick Tock Day reminds you that the year is almost at an end, and there are things still left to be doing, and in fact only two days left to do them in. Don’t let the year end with regret! Get out there and beat the Tick Tock!”

Personally, I prefer not to worry about the Tick Tock. After all, I have nothing that absolutely has to get done before January 1, 2020. And, I’m trying to live by Dallas Willard’s encouragement to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” That also eliminates the tyranny of the Tick Tock.

C took down Christmas, yesterday. That sounds rather extreme, doesn’t it? It really just means that all of the decorations are down. She did all of this while I was at the leadership meeting, and while I was finishing up my daily blog. All of the inside decorations, the tree, and the outside decorations are all put away until the weekend after Thanksgiving of 2020.

Sadly, she is not feeling well, this morning. It sounds to me like she has come down with the sinus-bronchitis “crud.” She doesn’t think she feels feverish, so she doesn’t think it’s flu. We certainly hope not. It remains to be seen if she will make it to our church meeting this morning.

Speaking of church meeting, The Exchange Church is “scattered” this morning, as we meet in different homes to devote ourselves to “the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42) Each group begins at 10:15. The three homes are at 4760 Baytree Dr (76137), 7117 Payte Ln (76182), and 4033 Jackie Lee St (76180). All are in Fort Worth (or suburbs, thereof). If you’re reading this and in the area, you are welcome and invited to join us.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
Psalm 145.21

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
2. For the mild non-winter-like weather we are having.
3. For the steadfast love of the Lord, that reaches to the heavens (Psalm 36.5).
4. That I can learn to be like Jesus by watching him and listening to him daily.
5. For the unceasing presence of the Trinity in my life.

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

(Agnus Dei)
Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Psalm 36.5
I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
Psalm 145.1
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” 
Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. 
When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 
Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 
Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 
So there was a division among the people over him. 
Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

John 7.37-44
I love you, O LORD, my strength. 
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. 
For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?

Psalm 18.1-3, 30-31

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 God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born of a pure virgin: Grant that I, who have been born again and made your child by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through my Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

(From Faith That Matters)

An Essential Condition, by Dallas Willard

And as [Jesus] passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

“If I am to be someone’s apprentice, there is one absolutely essential condition. I must be with that person.” That seems rather simple, doesn’t it? If you are going to learn how to be an electrician, you have to study with an electrician. Oh, sure, there are classes, probably, but any craftsman, before he or she can be “released” into the world to do their craft, must be an apprentice.

Obviously, when Levi, later known as Matthew, began following Jesus, Jesus was physically on the earth. And Levi, along with eleven other men, followed Jesus for several years. They learned from him by being with him.

“If I am Jesus’ disciple that means I am with him to learn from him how to be like him.” How do we learn from our teachers? How did we learn how to do math? How did we learn how to read? How did we learn another language? By watching and listening to our teachers. So, we learn how to be like Jesus by watching him and listening to him.

“And provision has been made for us to be with Jesus, as one person to another, in our daily life. But it is also necessary that we have a practical–though not a metaphysical or even a theological–understanding of this arrangement in order to carry on our side of the apprenticeship relation.”

Jesus is not physically here, now. But the Holy Spirit is, as well as the Scriptures, handed down to us from people who were with him on a daily basis. Through those Scriptures, we are able to “watch and listen” to Jesus as he lived on the earth. If I am to be considered a follower of Jesus, this is an essential condition. I must “be with him” daily.

It is also helpful to remember Acts 4:13. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

Can anyone recognize that I have been with Jesus?

Father, I pray that you would remind me, daily, of the presence of you, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in Trinitarian reality. Teach me to be like Jesus. Help me to watch him and listen to him daily. May 2020 be a year of unprecedented growth for me.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13.14

Grace and peace, friends.

Fear Not, for I Am With You

Today is Friday, December 29, 2017. Day 21,841. The fifth day of Christmas.

Five golden rings, four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Only THREE days until 2018!!

Mary Tyler Moore, born on this date in 1936 (died 2017), said, “I’m not an actress who can create a character. I play me.”

The word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is pooh-bah, a noun, meaning, “a person holding many public or private offices,” or, “a person in high position or of great influence.”

Today is Tick Tock Day. Tick Tock is the sound of this year rapidly rolling to an end.

I have to work four hours tomorrow and four hours Sunday, so I don’t know whether I will do blogs or not. If I do, they may wind up being in the afternoon.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)
Friday–Fourth Week of Advent

Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD, give praise, O servants of the LORD, who stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God! Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing to his name, for it is pleasant!
Psalm 135:1-3
I say to the LORD, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD!
Psalm 140:6
For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
Psalm 97:9
Then all mankind fears; they tell what God has brought about and ponder what he has done.
Psalm 64:9
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
Revelation 12:1-6
Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. The LORD lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground. 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.
Psalm 147:1-11

My verse for this year has been Isaiah 41:10.

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

I will soon be choosing a new one. But this has been a good one. No doubt, you’ve seen it copied numerous times at the bottom of this blog. There have been many times, this year, when I have remembered this verse and taken both strength and comfort in it. God is with me, I will not be dismayed.

Father, thank you for being with me all the time. I confess that there have been many times when I have not acted as though you were with me. May I always remember this, and always act in the truth that you are present with me at all times, even in the very air that I breathe.
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.

All of Creation

Today is December 29, 2016. Only two more days left in 2016.

Quote of the Day

“Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive.” – Elbert Hubbard

Word of the Day

Lunation – the period of time from one new moon to the next (about 29½ days); a lunar month.

Today is Tick Tock Day. This supposed to remind me that the year is almost over and there are still things to do.

Well, to that, I say, “Bah! Humbug!” Along with most other people I know, I am ready to put 2016 to bed in the graveyard, where it has put so many people that have brought us joy and happiness over the years. Someone once questioned why we feel such an emotional connection with people whom we have never met. My response is that, first, I have met some of them, and, for the most part (except for Billy Dee Williams, who may have just been having a bad day), they were all very friendly and gracious.

The second part of my response, though, is that these people have, as stated above, brought us much joy, happiness, and entertainment over the years. My teenage years were highly influenced by the music of Emerson Lake & Palmer, and I honestly shed tears when both Keith Emerson and Greg Lake died this year, one by his own hand, and the other losing a battle to cancer. I was deeply saddened at the death of Carrie Fisher, whom I have met. and now, only a day later, her mother has died. Debbie Reynolds was rushed to the hospital yesterday, after possibly experiencing a stroke. Within hours, she was dead.

We shake our heads, we even shake our fists at the sky and demand for 2016 to stop taking, TAKING, TAKING! But, hesitant as I am to say this, do we really expect 2017 to be any different? Or 2018? One of my high school classmates, who happens to be a writer, penned these words in a comment on my Facebook post about Debbie Reynolds:

This is our station. People from our generation are being called home. We are making a way for the next generation. It’s sad but, really, all is well. It’s time, and this is our life for the next 20 years.

When one of our classmates responded with, “Sad, but true. I still don’t like it,” he continued waxing eloquently with these words:

You shouldn’t. You are right to not like it. It is not part of our makeup to casually dismiss their departure.

Our life here is a wonderful gift–but it’s not meant to last forever and as they depart, because the gift of life is so wonderful, we rightfully grieve their absence.

So hold the person next to you and be thankful for his or her presence. You still have this moment, which is all you are promised. Spend it well.

The bottom line is, most of these people we admire, appreciate, and in some strange way, even love, are “baby boomers.” Some, obviously, are even older than boomers. It is not really a surprise when people who are 96 years old pass away. But a vast number of celebrities, who were becoming popular in the sixties are not reaching their seventies and eighties. In other words, it’s probably not going to get better any time soon. In the words of Arnold, in Jurassic Park . . .

Now that I’ve made everyone feel all warm and fuzzy . . .

58 days until the first Spring Training game.
95 days until Opening Day.


Psa 145:21  My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

Psa 36:5  Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. 

Psa 145:1  I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Psa 148:7-14  Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the LORD!

Praising God is a very individual thing. Each of us has a choice to either engage in praise or not. When we choose to join in the praise chorus with all of creation, “it raises everyone to a new excellence.” Individual as it is, when we join together, it is amplified exponentially.

“I don’t want to miss a note, great God, in the chorus of praise, not overlook anything praiseworthy, not forget any benefit, not slight anyone or anything in my advertisements of your glory. Amen.”

Father, along with Eugene Peterson, I desire to be always in community with those who praise your great name! Let me sing along in my loudest, clearest voice, your praises, along with all of creation. May the sound, the beautiful noise shatter all of the pretenses and resistance of those who would not join in.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

If the Stick Moves, Don’t Foot It

“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”~~Harriet Beecher Stowe

Today’s word of the day, from, is stelliferous, “having or abounding with stars.”

Today is Tick Tock Day. This is a somewhat rude reminder that you probably haven’t accomplished everything that you set out to do this year, and you only have two days left to do it. Unfortunately, my response is typically, “Why bother, at this point??”

Christi went out and bought herself a new car, yesterday. We don’t actually have it, yet, because their detail department was kind of backed up, so they sent her home with a loaner, and we will go pick it up today, while we are getting new tires put on my car. I should have a picture to upload tomorrow. She’s getting another Hyundai Elantra, because she really likes those. This one will be blue, so we won’t both have the same color car, now.

I pretty much played Fallout 4 all day. I know I have barely scratched the surface.

After I finish this, today, we will take my car to the local tire place for new front tires (the rear ones seem okay), and then go pick up Christi’s car while they put new tires on mine. We might need to make a brief trip to the grocery store, but that’s pretty much all of our plans for this day.

On this date in:

1170–Thomas Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury, was assassinated by followers of Henry II, subsequently becoming a saint and martyr
1813–British troops burned Buffalo, NY, during the War of 1812
1845–Texas became the 28th U.S. state
1851–The first American YMCA opened in Boston
1890–U.S. troops killed more than 200 Oglala Lakota people at the Wounded Knee Massacre
1966–The Beatles began recording “Penny Lane” at Abbey Road Studio

Today’s birthdays include:

1800–Charles Goodyear, American inventor
1808–Andrew Johnson, 17th U.S. President
1936–Ray Nitschke, American football player
1936–Mary Tyler Moore, American actress
1937–Barbara Steele, British actress
1938–Jon Voight, American actor
1941–Ray Thomas, British musician, The Moody Blues
1946–Marianne Faithfull, British singer
1947–Cozy Powell, English drummer
1947–Ted Danson, American actor
1959–Paula Poundstone, American comedian
1959–Patricia Clarkson, American actress
1970–Kevin Weisman, American actor
1972–Jude Law, British actor
1973–Theo Epstein, American baseball general manager

Marianne Faithfull turns 69 years old today. Here is a recording of her singing a Kurt Weill song, “The Soldier’s Wife.”

Thomas Beckett and Grigori Rasputin are among notable deaths on this date.


(From Daily Guideposts 2015)

But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”
Acts 16:28

Pam Kidd writes of an experience in rural Africa, saying, “There’s nothing darker than a moonless night.” She describes the sky as “vivid stars that sparkle on black velvet.” She is following a friend down a steep path with many rocks. They walk in quietness until her friend says, “Pam, if you see a stick that moves don’t foot it.”

When she inquires as to what, exactly, this “moving stick” would be, she is told, “Black mamba.”

“What if there was a moving stick and I did ‘foot it?” she asks.

“Oh, Pam, it would be very, very unfortunate.”

The black mamba is one of the world’s deadliest snakes, and the people of Zimbabwe teach their children to fear them and to stay away from places that they would go. They even build their huts without chimneys in order to keep the snakes out.

They also teach their children to run away as fast as they can when they see a black mamba.

What are our “moving sticks?” What do we teach our children to run away or keep away from? Moving cars, deep, rushing water, rude friends, cruel attitudes. As adults, we should learn to run away from negative influences and attitudes, rampant selfishness, and other harmful attitudes. Pam’s friend, Paddington, had some wise words. Avoid the “moving stick.” Run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. Don’t “foot it.”

Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor, but evil comes to him who searches for it.
Proverbs 11:27
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
Matthew 10:16

Father, help me to avoid the “moving sticks” in my life; selfishness, negative attitudes, and the like. Those things that would seduce me away from the glory that is yours, as was discussed yesterday, should be avoided at all costs. As 2016 approaches, I pray for a closer walk with you, more intimacy with you through Christ and the Holy Spirit. May the Trinity come alive in my life this next year.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

The Hope of Glory

“Christmas arouses longing for the Parousia, the Second Coming. It awakens hope in that heralded upheaval, that upcoming earthquake that makes radical discipleship possible, ushering in as it will the ultimate fulfillment of human history.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Monday, December 29, 2014. Only three more days in 2015. 98 days until Opening Day.

Today’s Word of the Day is “scission.” 1. “Division of a previously united body of people into mutually opposing parties; a split, a schism.” 2. “The action of undergoing division; an instance of this. Also: a rent, a fissure. Now rare.” 3.”The action of cutting something. Now rare.” 4.a. “Chem. Breakage of a bond, esp. in a long-chain polymer so as to produce two shorter chains; an instance of this.” b. “Nuclear Physics. The event of separation of the parts of a nucleus undergoing fission, as opposed to the process as a whole.”

Today is Tick Tock Day, a day designed with no other purpose than to stress you out and put pressure on you to make last-minute efforts to complete you goals for the year.

Yesterday seemed busy, but it was mostly in the late morning, early afternoon. Christi went out to run some errands, including the grocery shopping. She called me at one point, and asked me to help her bring in the groceries at her mom’s place, which I gladly agreed to do. After we got stuff put away over there, I suggested that I take her car and get the groceries brought in at our house while she went to Sonic and the BBQ place for our late lunch (she can stay in the car at both locations, so I’m doing the more physical work while she picks up the food). That worked out nicely. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and watching TV. We watched the finals of the Chameleon Bowling Championship, in which we saw Ronnie Russell bowl a 300 game! I’m pretty sure that was the first time I have ever witnessed that. He lost the final round to D.J. Archer, who finally won his first title match ever. It was a great match that went down to Archer’s final shot in the tenth frame. We spent the rest of the evening watching episodes of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia on Netflix. I probably shouldn’t admit that I like that show.

Back to work today, for three days, off Thursday, work Friday. Last holiday until Memorial Day. I would like to have a serious conversation with whoever thought that up. Why are all the holidays in the last seven months of the year?


(From The Divine Hours)

Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psalm 103:20-22
Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high.
The LORD judges the peoples;

Psalm 7:7-8
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Psalm 115:1
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
Psalm 118:14
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,
to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

Psalm 92:1-4
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to
be born of a pure virgin: Grant that I, who have been born again and made your child by
adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through my Lord Jesus Christ,
to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Thoughts for the New Year
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Psalm 51:6
Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
Psalm 28:26

Today’s Gospel Reading

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
Matthew 22:15-22

At this point, it is possible that Jesus has grown visibly weary of this constant badgering by the religious leaders, as he calls them out on this question. That’s just my speculation, however. His answer to their question shuts them up to the point that they “marveled . . . left him and went away.” But the Sadducees are coming next.

Jesus’s advice holds true for us today. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Coming in Glory.”

“Contemplating the crib (meaning, looking at Jesus while loving him), the Christian’s faith flames into joyous expectation that the Christ who came in history will one day come in glory.” We read Paul’s words in Colossians 3:4, When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Paul is obviously referring to an event yet to come. “Christmas arouses longing for the Parousia, the Second Coming. It awakens hope in that heralded upheaval, that upcoming earthquake that makes radical discipleship possible, ushering in as it will the ultimate fulfillment of human history.”

This goes hand in hand with our recent sermon series at church, in which our pastor said that the fact that Jesus came once, combined with the promise that he will come again, compels us to make disciples.

I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have,
so that no one may seize your crown.

Revelation 3:11

Father, as the new year approaches, that time when we make a really big deal out of starting over (in reality, it’s just another day, isn’t it?), I pray that my thoughts would be drawn to gaining wisdom from you, that I might not be found a fool in your eyes. Help me to not care if the world thinks me a fool, as long as I am doing what is expected of me in your Kingdom. Teach me to number my days, that I might gain a heart of wisdom. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. Teach me to commit my work to you and to trust you implicitly.

I also pray that I might look at Christmas in such a way that my faith is indeed flamed into joyous expectation of your Second Coming, and that, in doing so, I am compelled to obey your commands to make disciples. Take away the fear that has crippled me so badly over the years, in this endeavor. Give me the boldness and confidence that can only come from you, that can enable me to share the Kingdom.

I pray for this day, that our travel to work will be smooth and safe. I pray for the work day ahead, that it will not be stressful, and that, in all things, our hearts will be set on you, and that we might love you, follow Jesus, and share the Kingdom. I pray for Stephanie, that you would show your unfailing, overwhelming love to her.

As this new year approaches, look to the manger to excite your faith about the promise of the return of Christ in glory.

Grace and peace, friends.


Good morning. It is (checks calendar) Sunday, December 29, 2013. Only two more days left in this year. 48 days until pitchers and catchers report. 92 days until Opening Day.

Today is “Tick Tock Day.” Did you accomplish all your goals this year? Well, you have two days left! Tick tock, tick tock. 😀

No pressure or anything. . .

I think Rachel and Justin are coming over for lunch today. Christi’s making more Kahlua fudge, and then going to cook another batch of mashed potatoes and green bean casserole (say whatever you want, I love that stuff), heat up the other ham, and then send a bunch of food home with R & J. Good times. I don’t know what else is planned for the day.

We had a good worship celebration last night, I think. Jacob preached another good message, the last in his series he called “Glad Tidings.” This one, however, was not about Christmas, but, rather, about Jesus’s promise to return. He used John 14:1-7, a popular passage.

After church, we went to Staples to get some ink for one of our printers. Staples just happens to be two or three doors down from Marble Slab. So we got some ice cream. Yum! I like Marble Slab. We grabbed something at Sonic, then headed home for a couple more episodes of Parenthood (we’re into season 3, now), and then off to bed.

Three more days off.

Today’s birthdays are Charles Goodyear, 1800, Andrew Johnson, 17th President, 1808, Pablo Casals, violinist/conductor/composer, 1876, Ray Nitschke, NFL, 1936, Mary Tyler Moore, actress, 1936, Jon Voight, 1938, Ray Thomas, The Moody Blues, 1941, Cozy Powell, drummer, 1947, Ted Danson, actor, 1947, Dave McKean, artist (works with Neil Gaiman), 1963, Dexter Holland, The Offspring, 1965, Ashleigh Banfield, journalist, 1967, Kevin Weisman, actor, 1970, Jude Law, actor, 1972, and Theo Epstein, baseball GM, 1973.

Cozy Powell played drums for a lot of bands, including Whitesnake, the Jeff Beck Group, Rainbow, and Black Sabbath. He even did a brief stint with Keith Emerson and Greg Lake, temporarily filling in the “P” of ELP. I saw them in Dallas, on the tour featuring the song “Touch and Go.” Powell died in 1998, following a car crash while driving 104mph in bad weather on the M4.


(From The Divine Hours)

The Feast of St. Stephen

Psa 146:1-2 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!
I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

Psa 141:3-5 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies!
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.

Psa 115:1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Psa 19:7b The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
Psa 31:1-5 In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!
For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

“Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him,
and to be born of a pure virgin: Grant that I, who have been born again and made
your child by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through
my Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now
and for ever. Amen.”

Today’s reading in A Year With God is “Our Mouth Was Filled with Laughter.” The scripture reading is Psalm 126:1-6.

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.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

This Psalm, a “Song of Ascents,” was one of the songs sung by the people of Israel as they made their yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem. This particular one seems to celebrate their return from the Babylonian exile. It bursts with joy, mouths filled with laughter and tongues with shouts of joy, to the point that the surrounding nations exclaim, “The LORD has done great things for them!” “God’s marvels on our behalf deserve extravagant celebration.”

There is a Yiddish proverb that says, “What soap is to the body, so laughter is to the soul.” Reader’s Digest magazine has had, for years, a joke page called “Laughter, the Best Medicine.” When I was growing up, we had a subscription to Reader’s Digest. I hardly ever read the articles, but, as soon as the magazine came in the mail, I went straight for the joke pages. Laughter is good for us.

Just as observed yesterday, we are not supposed to live our lives in sour sobriety, never cracking a smile. We should be able to literally sing, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart! (where?) Down in my heart! (where?) Down in my heart!” And if that joy is “down in my heart,” it should reflect on my face, as well. Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean we should always be walking around with a huge grin on our faces. And it doesn’t mean we will always be smiling when we sing songs of praise at church. (And please stop asking me if I would rather be at church or having a root canal done. That’s one of the most asinine questions ever asked from a church stage.) We will experience sadness; we will experience trials; we will experience deep sorrow in our lives. Israel went through hundreds of years of captivation in Babylon. I doubt there was much laughter during those years. But when they returned. . . there was great joy, laughter, shouting, and celebration! And I guarantee you, it felt really good.

Father, help us to laugh. Help us to find reason to rejoice in the great things you have done for us. When we experience sorrow, we will not laugh. But you will always deliver us out of that sorrow, somehow, and when that happens, help us to laugh, to laugh out loud! Let our mouths be filled with laughter, and our tongues with shouts of joy! Let us laugh so hard that people around us know that you have done great things in our lives! Teach us to celebrate.

I pray for this day. Keep Rachel and Justin safe as the travel to and from our house today. May our time together today be a time of joyful celebration. May we find plenty to laugh about. Let this day be a day of joyful rest.

I pray you can find something to laugh about today. Maybe this will help. . .

Grace and peace, friends.