Come; Listen; Seek

Today is Friday, the twelfth of March, 2021, in the third week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,010

23 days until Resurrection Sunday

Yesterday was a wonderful day! After I finished blogging, C and I got bowling gear together and headed up to the local Bowlero house. I know. It’s a stupid name, and I hate it. But they pretty much rule bowling, now, having even purchased the PBA. I had a fourteen-pound ball that needed drilling, so we started at the pro shop. We had to wait a little bit, as there were people already in there, and a sign on the door said only two customers at a time. Masks were “suggested” at the front door of the bowling alley, but required in the pro shop.

We finally got inside the pro shop, and the young man inside took measurements and told me to give him around a half hour. We both figured he was being a bit liberal with that estimate, and it turns out, we were right. It took closer to an hour, but that’s okay. We went ahead and started our two hours of bowling with another ball I had brought along.

Ironically, I bowled a 235 in the first game, starting out with four straight strikes. With no warming up. It was crazy. And the thumb hole on my older ball was too big, because, you know, I’m down a hundred-plus pounds. We finished two games before the new ball was done. The second game, I bowled 166, which is more realistic. Then I got the new ball. It’s an Ebonite Nitro, and it’s pretty porous, even more-so than the Hammer I was using. But it fit perfectly! I bowled a 186 with that ball. It felt great.

However, by the end of that game, I had a muscle in my forearm that felt strained or pulled or something, so I only made it through about four frames of the last game, which C finished out. I think the pain was starting before I got the new ball, because I noticed some pain between my ring finger and pinky finger on my right hand, due to the way I was having to try to grip the ball, because the thumb hole was too big.

It was a great time, though, and I have a great new ball to use. And, bonus, my left knee never hurt at all. Oh. That reminds me. I remember mentioning the possibility of drilling the new ball for left handed. I decided not to try that.

After bowling, we ordered Applebee’s for whatever meal you want to call that (it was somewhere around 3:00 PM), and picked up Sonic. We ate our food, and then I settled in for some Playstation time.

Today, we plan to check out the Electric Starship Arcade, during the early afternoon. I have also done prep on a new recipe we are going to try for dinner tonight. From the Emily Bites website, it’s called “Crispy Onion Dip Chicken.” The “onion dip” is made from fat free Greek yogurt, onion powder, and chives. The chicken needs to marinate in the dip for a few hours (up to eight), so I’ve already prepped it and have it in the refrigerator. I will update tomorrow on how it turns out.


God, my Father,
You have promised to remain forever with those
who do what is just and right.
Help me to live in Your presence.
The loving plan of Your Wisdom was made known when
Jesus, your Son, became man like us.
I want to obey His commandment of love
and bring Your peace and joy to others.
Keep before me the wisdom and love
You have made known in Your Son.
Help me to be like Him in word and deed.

(Prayer to Live in God’s Presence)

for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
(Psalms 63:7-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • For the wonderful day we had yesterday; thank you, C, for what is going to be a wonderful birthday weekend!
  • For my beautiful and marvelous wife, and the wonderful marriage we have
  • For bowling; that was great fun!
  • That You extended the invitation to come to You
  • That You gave me ears to listen to You
  • That You caused me to seek You and call upon Your name while You can still be found
  • That You have had mercy and have freely pardoned me
  • For Your wonderful words of life!

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year



And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:3 NIV)

Spend a moment in silence, resting in the shadow of His wings, enjoying His presence.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)


Of David.

To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.
(Psalms 28:1-2 NIV)

Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
(Psalms 28:6-7 NIV)


“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”
(Isaiah 55:1-3 NIV)

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
(Isaiah 55:6-7 NIV)


As I sit in His presence, I see some beautiful words, this morning. The entire passage in Isaiah 55 is an invitation. It is threefold, at least. For the moment, I’m focusing on three words. You might be able to guess what they are.

First, is “come.” To all who are thirsty, and to all who are hungry, the Lord says “come.” Come to the waters; and if you have no money, it doesn’t matter. The word “come” appears four times in verse 1. The door is open, the invitation is given. God does not make Himself hard to find. It is human pride that makes God hard to find.

The second word is “listen.” Between verses 2 and 3, “listen” occurs three times, and a once, it is repeated immediately. “Listen, listen.” The fact that it is directly repeated like that adds emphasis. If you include “give ear” in verse 3, then that invitation is also given four times. The reason is found in verse 3. “Listen, that you may live.”

There’s another old hymn that I remember. I grew up Southern Baptist in a small town in north central Texas, minutes away from DFW. All we sang were hymns. Worship “choruses” and contemporary worship music didn’t come on the scene until at least eighties, at least as far as adult “church” was concerned. We had our youth songs, like “Pass It On,” and “I Wish We’d All Been Ready.” But in “church,” we only sang hymns.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Here you go. By the great hymn-writer, Philip P. Bliss.

1. Sing them over again to me,
wonderful words of life;
let me more of their beauty see,
wonderful words of life;
words of life and beauty
teach me faith and duty.

Beautiful words, wonderful words,
wonderful words of life.
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
wonderful words of life.

2. Christ, the blessed one, gives to all
wonderful words of life;
sinner, list to the loving call,
wonderful words of life;
all so freely given,
wooing us to heaven.

3. Sweetly echo the gospel call,
wonderful words of life;
offer pardon and peace to all,
wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior,
sanctify forever.

I know some of you are singing this, right now.

I love that line, “wooing us to heaven.” God’s Word is life. The words that He speaks are words of life! And He bids us come and listen to Him, that we may live! To refuse to do so is simply and utterly foolishness!

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
(Psalm 14:1 NIV)

The third word is “seek.” Only used once in verse 6, we are encouraged/admonished to “seek the Lord while He may be found.” This, of course, implies that there will come a time when He will not be found. When will that be? After the final judgment, when everything is said and done. Then, and only then, will there be a time when humanity will not be able to seek and find the Lord. Until that day, there will always be a chance. As Led Zeppelin famously sang, “There’s still time to change the road you’re on.” I suppose I should clarify that it is also too late, once one has passed on from this life, at least as far as I understand things.

The final result of all of this coming, listening, and seeking is found in verse 7.

Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
(Isaiah 55:7 NIV)

He will have mercy, and He will freely pardon.

FREELY!! Liberally! At no cost to us, because the high, high cost of salvation has already been paid!

Father, I praise You, this morning, for the truth of these words, these “wonderful words of life.” I thank You that You bid me come, so many years ago. I thank You that You gave me ears to listen to you (although they still fail to do so, at times). And I thank You that You led me to seek you and call on Your name, before it was too late. Thank You for Your great mercy, and Your free pardon! Thank You for Your Wonderful Words of Life!

True God,
who can save?
So many pretenders
serve up hollow promises,
but it's all foolishness.
No one else can release me
from my punishment;
no program can set me right with you.
Turn me again to Jesus,
the only true deliverer,
and clear me from my sin.
(Heidelberg Catechism 14)


Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
(Psalms 32:1-2 NIV)

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
(Psalms 145:18 NIV)

You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows.
(Job 22:27 NIV)

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
(Psalms 17:6 NIV)

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”
(Revelation 2:12-17 NIV)

The chapter of This Hallelujah Banquet that treats this letter to the church in Pergamum is called “The Test of Our Truth.”

We live in an age where “word making” is a huge enterprise. It’s one of the biggest businesses going. The computer age hastened this along a great deal, and, now that they are everywhere and small enough to hold in the palm of your hand, making words is even easier.

“Words are big business.”

Says, Peterson, “With this great emphasis on words, you might think they are studied and valued and understood more than ever before.” (Keep in mind that these words were part of sermons preached in the 1980s!) Unfortunately, that is not the case, and it is even more true than ever, today, in 2021. Social media has exacerbated this problem, along with the ignorance of the masses.

Words are used “badly, sloppily, carelessly.”

In fact, the actual words seem less important than the effects they can cause. “Words are used in order to influence, to sell a car or a candidate, to seduce, to persuade, to win for propaganda, or for advertisement. The skill of our times is not using words as words but using them as weapons, as tools.” (Emphasis mine)

“One of the large and persistent tasks of living the Christian life is learning to tell the truth.” Unfortunately, we continue to lie quite a bit, even when we don’t realize it. “Lies are not usually blatant falsehoods. In order to be successful, they have to be mostly truth.” And, the root cause of most lies is laziness. “Most people tell lies with the best of intentions. They think they are helping the cause of their country or company or their own fortunes and that this is the best way.” Lying is easier than doing the work to make sure we are telling the truth.

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I pray earnestly for us, Your people, today. Help us discern truth. As we deal with people on social media, may we be more diligent to do the work to make sure that we are always telling the truth. Help us to stop spreading lies because of our affinity to a political party or candidate, or because of our support for some “cause” that is not You. We have fallen far, Lord, in the cause of truth. Jesus is The Truth! Help us to always remember this, and to make sure that we are not telling lies, even unintentionally.

Lord, I pray that, today, You might cause me to think seriously on the Cross of Jesus Christ, and its benefits to my life. I pray for all who are currently living in poverty and suffering injustice. May Your people rise up and help, Father, and may we send more than “thoughts and prayers.” I pray for all who face temptations today (that should be everyone, right?), that You would give us all the strength to withstand the temptation and find the escape route that You promise.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
(Isaiah 51:11 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Who Am I?

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), November 19, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,897

Seven days until Thanksgiving. And I just noticed that the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the first Sunday of Advent!

As the weekend approaches, I realize that I’m not sure if we are doing anything this weekend. The topic of geocaching has not come up, yet, but it might. And I think I would gladly be up for a few hours of that activity. Obviously, it’s not for the silly little trinkets you find in the caches, but more just being outside, moving around, and being with the people you love. It’s also something that can be done safely, in these times.

On the topic of my mental state, I got a phone call from my mother, yesterday evening, just to tell me that my father suffered from similar occurrences, so I may have inherited this. That was good to know. I’ve also begun to seriously look for some kind of therapy. I didn’t get very far with that, last night, because I was already winding down for sleep, but I looked on my health plan app (Cigna), and found that there are many choices out there. There are also some virtual counselors available, meaning that they will “see” you totally online. I haven’t decided if I want to opt for that or not. There is something calming about the serene setting of a therapist’s office. But we’ll see what happens.

I don’t think I mentioned it, but we have started watching “The Crown,” on Netflix. It is a wonderful show that begins at the time when the young Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II. It is very powerful, and we like it a lot, so far, having watched three episodes of season one. We continue watching the comedy, “Schitt’s Creek,” which consists of thirty-minute episodes, and we started season three, last night. I believe that there are six seasons. A new season of “The Crown” just dropped this past week, I believe.

The U.S. had 173,768 new cases of Coronavirus, yesterday, and almost two thousand deaths. Texas had over thirteen thousand new cases, yesterday, which may be a record high for our state.


Lord my God, I believe in you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 
Insofar as I can, insofar as you have given me the power, 
I have sought you. 
I became weary and I labored. 
O Lord my God, my sole hope, help me to believe and 
never to cease seeking you. 
Grant that I may always and ardently seek out your countenance.
 Give me the strength to seek you, 
for you help me to find you and you have more and more 
given me the hope of finding you. 
Here I am before you with my firmness and my infirmity. 
Preserve the first and heal the second. 
Here I am before you with my strength and my ignorance. 
Where you have opened the door to me, 
welcome me at the entrance; 
where you have closed the door to me, 
open to my cry; 
enable me to remember you, 
to understand you, 
and to love you. 
(Prayer to Seek God Continually, St. Augustine of Hippo)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
(Psalms 95:6-7 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. Another day of life
  2. For Your righteous judgments
  3. For the Good Shepherd
  4. That You know me fully and completely
  5. That all of Your Word is truth

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:12 ESV)

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.
(Psalms 18:1-3 ESV)

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.
(Psalms 101:6 ESV)

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
(Revelation 22:1-5 ESV)

Arise, O LORD, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.
Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high.
The LORD judges the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.
Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous— you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God!
My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart.
God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.
(Psalms 7:6-11 ESV)

Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!
(Psalms 70:1 ESV)

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. 
"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
(John 10:7-18 ESV)

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,”
(2 Timothy 2:19 ESV)

O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
(Psalms 139:1-4 ESV)

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,
(John 10:14 ESV)

But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
(1 Corinthians 8:3 ESV)

Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law.
Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!
Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your statutes.
Great is your mercy, O LORD; give me life according to your rules.
Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, but I do not swerve from your testimonies.
I look at the faithless with disgust, because they do not keep your commands.
Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love.
The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
(Psalms 119:153-160 ESV)

The last verse of this stanza, verse 160, says, “The sum of Your Word is truth.” The NIV renders that, “All Your words are true.” NLT says, “The very essence of your words is truth.” And The Message says, “Your words all add up to the sum total: Truth.”

That is a powerful statement. God’s Word is truth. All of it. “It must be followed, regardless of our emotional likes, cultural custom, or popular opinion.”

It is also stated that God’s “righteous rules” last forever. They do not go out of date. “We do not need to modernize, correct, or supplement” the Word of God.

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Now, before you start focusing on the dietary laws of the Old Testament, let me remind you of something. I’m reminding me, too. Jesus makes the bold statement, in the New Testament, that the two greatest commands sum up the entirety of the law. What are those two commands?

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
(Mark 12:30)

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Mark 12:31)

So when I hear Jesus say, “If you love me, you will keep My commands,” I think of those two commands, both of which center on love: love for God, and love for others.

A quick word about the passages above this section. There is great comfort in knowing that God knows me. I don’t have many “pet” names. C and I don’t really use those. I have a given name, and I have the name that most people call me.

My God knows me by my most intimate names. He knows me by names I may not even know myself. And no matter what I think of myself (think back to Monday and Tuesday), my Savior knows the truth about me. He knows who I really am, and that identity comes, not from my parents, not from my work, not from my hobbies, but from HIM!

There’s an old song that I used to really like, called “I Will Change Your Name.” It goes like this:

I will change your name
You shall no longer be called
Wounded, outcast, lonely or afraid

I will change your name
Your new name shall be
Confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one
Faithfulness, friend of God
One who seeks my face

I actually found a recording of it, not the original one, but a Celtic version.

Father, I praise You, this morning, that who I am depends not on what I do. It does not depend on my personality, and it does not depend on my failures and weakness. Who I am depends solely on who You say I am. There are many things that You say about me (indirectly) in Your Word, which is the embodiment of Truth. And there are things that You know about me that I do not even know. This gives me great comfort, especially as I rise up from mentally disturbed days like this past Monday. I give You praise today, both for the truth of Your Word, truth that never changes, and for the fact that You created me as I am, and You have gifted me and known me intimately.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Seek Me and Live

It’s Saturday morning, I’ve had my coffee, and I’ve written in my OTHER BLOG. So it’s time to get down to the spiritual…or should I say “ascend” to the spiritual. Hopefully, that’s what I’ll be doing.

Today’s Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
Matthew 1:18-25
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Mat 1:22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Matthew is all very “matter-of-fact” about this. He’s just writing down what happened. Some important notes: 1. The betrothal was a legal arrangement. They were practically already married, and this is evidenced by the statement that he was going to “divorce her quietly.” In modern times, it is not necessary to have a divorce if you break off an engagement. But their betrothal was much more serious than today’s engagements. It was a legal arrangement. 2. With all due respect to any Catholics that might read this, Mary was not a virgin forever. Verse 25 says that Joseph “knew her not until she had given birth to a son.” The word “until,” implies that Joseph did, in fact, “know” Mary after Jesus was born. Of course, further proof of that fact is that Jesus had brothers. 3. I also think the wording of verse 21 is important. It is said that Jesus would “save his people from their sins.” It does NOT say he will save the entire world from their sins. I believe that “his people” refers to those of us who were chosen “before the foundations of the earth” to be followers of Christ. Of course, I might be wrong about that one.

Amos 5
The most important phrase in this passage, in my opinion, is, “Seek me and live.” (v. 4) Verse 6 amends it slightly to “Seek the LORD and live.” Then, in verse 14, “Seek good, and not evil, that you may live.” I find a comparison to our modern society in verses 10ff. They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks the truth. Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins– you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate. Indeed, “truth” is frowned upon in our day of “moral relativism,” unless you’re talking about cigarettes, then “truth” is fine. But if anyone tries to speak “truth” today, he is summarily dismissed as being “narrow minded.” But God continues to say, “Seek me and live.”
In verse 18, there is a warning to anyone who desires “the day of the LORD.” Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light, as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him. Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it? As eager as we are for the Lord’s return, we must keep in mind that “the day of the LORD,” is a horrible event, worse than any holocaust ever imagined.
Beginning in verse 21, he speaks of the importance of the heart behind the actions. That is not explicitly mentioned, but their feasts and sacrifices are actions without repentance and such are condemned elsewhere in Scripture. (See Micah 6:6-8 for one.) “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. “Seek me and live,” says the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 1
This book starts off with a bang. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. (v. 2) And then he proceeds to prove it. People come and people go, but the earth remains. (Of course, we know it will not actually remain “forever.”) The sun rises and the sun sets. The wind blows one way, then it blows another way. I especially like verse 7. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. That’s actually kind of a mystery if you think about it. All those rivers pouring into the ocean, and it never overflows. Except when there’s a hurricane. Or a tsunami. Then he goes into the heart of man…the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. (v. 8 ) It’s never enough. (Funny…I always have to put a space between the “8” and the “).” Otherwise, I get this: 8) )What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. (v. 9) If you doubt that, listen to pop music for a few minutes. Lady Gaga’s first single from her new album was a carbon copy of Madonna’s “Respect Yourself.” Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” sounded identical to Joe Satriani’s “If I Could Fly.” (It really does…I listened.) Everything Greenday does is plagiarism. (Okay, maybe not EVERYTHING…) Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. Sure, we have new ways of doing old things. For example, in 1976, who would have ever thought that I would be listening to music from a device the size of my thumb? And that a little box sitting on my desk, no bigger than a paperback book, could hold my ENTIRE COLLECTION OF RECORDS AND CDS?? That one boggles my mind. But the music, itself, is really no different. It’s still melody, harmony, and rhythm. What’s even worse is that, eventually, no one will remember me. (v. 11) The writer of Ecclesiastes calls all of this “vanity,” and “chasing after the wind.” At the outset, it’s a little depressing. But it does get better. I’ve read this before.

In today’s reading from Grace For the Moment, Max Lucado gives us some “time-tested” truths.

1. Love God more than you fear hell.
2. Make major decisions in a cemetery.
3. When no one is watching, live as if someone is.
4. Succeed at home first.
5. Don’t spend tomorrow’s money today.
6. Pray twice as much as you fret.
7. God has forgiven you; you’d be wise to do the same.

All of these are worthy advice. Especially number 3. And number 4…this one especially goes for pastors. I’ve known too many pastors who were horrible fathers. Number 5 is one that we have violated way too many times in our life. And I struggle mightily with number 7.

Father, I want to start out this morning with a special pray for a friend and her family. A friend of ours has a sister in bad health. That’s all I’m going to say about it, because you know the details, Lord. We pray for a miracle in their lives. We also pray for your hand of comfort on them during this time.

I also want to pray for all who were involved in this tragedy last night. Christi knows someone who was evacuated. It’s someone that is working on their big project this weekend.

I’m also praying for the people affected by the tragedy in Norway. I was shocked about that. Who on earth could possibly have anything against Norway?? I pray for justice, Lord.

I pray, Father, that I would be less guilty of “chasing after the wind.” It seems like I have spent a lot of my life doing that very thing. Help me to chase more after you and your wisdom. Help me to pray twice as much as I fret. Help me to succeed at home. My family is more important than anything but you. Help me to have a better attitude about helping Christi with her mother.

I thank you that Mary and Joseph were obedient to the instructions given them by your angels. We would still have a savior…I have no doubt about that. But your plan worked just the way you made it. And it always will. I thank you that I am one of your chosen; that I am one of “his people.” I bless you, Father. I praise your name. Let me sing praises to you with every breath, Lord.

“Seek the Lord and live.”

Grace and peace, friends.

What Is Truth?

Tuesday morning. I feel like I’m running behind, and I also feel like I’m not really awake yet. I got a pretty good night’s sleep, though. It’s getting to be the really hot time of year, here in north Texas. It’s starting to hit mid to upper nineties every day, and only cooling down to the mid to upper seventies in the mornings. Well…it’s 72 right now, I guess that’s not too bad. But it’s supposed to hit 102 today. Ack!

Not much to talk about from yesterday. We’re having to get the guts of our shower replaced, so a guy came out and gave us an estimate on that. It’s a lot more involved than I thought it would be. Oh, well. It’s supposed to be fixed by Wednesday or Thursday.

Rangers got whooped by the Tigers last night. Can’t win ’em all, can you?

Today’s Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
John 18:28-40
Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die. (28-32)

Now the real shenanigans start. All of this is taking place in the middle of the night, so it’s already illegal. Then when they get Jesus to Pilate, the Jews won’t even go inside, because they don’t want to defile themselves and not be able to eat the Passover. How hypocritical can you GET?? Pilate immediately catches on and tries to brush them off. But they are too stubborn and clever. They want to put him to death, but their law won’t allow that.

So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.

Jesus answers Pilates questions with more questions. But then he declares that his “kingdom” is not an earthly kingdom, otherwise, his followers would be fighting to keep him from being captured. Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” has been the subject of many discussions. Is he sincerely asking, or is it just an offhanded comment with the wave of a hand, to indicate that he doesn’t really believe there is any such thing? Once again, Pilate tries to free Jesus, based on the custom that one man is released from prison at Passover. The Jews (no doubt spurred on by the religious leaders) cry out for Barabbas, a robber, and, by other reports, a rather dangerous criminal.
The author of the book says that there is no doubt that Satan was at work here. I have to question this. We know that Satan was aware of Biblical prophecy. Do we really think for a minute that Satan wanted Jesus to die? Was he not tempting him to abandon his mission way back when he tempted him those three times? I discarded the notion that Satan celebrated the death of Jesus years ago. I believe that Satan and his demons were cowering in fear during the three days that Jesus was in the grave. I believe that Satan knew what was coming, and was terrified of it.
But that’s just my opinion.

1 Chronicles 27-28
In chapter 27, we get military divisions and leaders of tribes.
In chapter 28, David gives a charge to Israel. Now therefore in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the LORD, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek out all the commandments of the LORD your God, that you may possess this good land and leave it for an inheritance to your children after you forever. (v. 8)
After the charge to Israel, David gives a charge to Solomon. And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever. Be careful now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong and do it. (vv. 9-10) David then gives all the plans to Solomon and finishes with these final words. Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished. And behold the divisions of the priests and the Levites for all the service of the house of God; and with you in all the work will be every willing man who has skill for any kind of service; also the officers and all the people will be wholly at your command. (vv. 20-21)

Psalm 109
This is a pretty brutal prayer. David is asking for some pretty bad things to be done to his enemies. I’m not sure I would ever feel comfortable praying such curses against anyone.

Father, I thank you for the plan that you worked out, to save us. The work of Jesus, his sacrifice, his resurrection…all of this was part of your plan, and to think that Satan had any kind of upper hand in any of this, to me, is reprehensible. If Satan had any involvement, he was doing exactly what you wanted him to do, so it was still part of your plan. I believe that you are sovereign in all thins, Lord. I believe that you are in control of all things. I don’t understand everything that happens, because I am not privy to your ultimate plans (outside of what is given us in Scripture). Nevertheless, I trust you, because I’ve read the end of the book, and I know that you win. You’ve already won. It’s just playing out, according to your plan.
I pray for the faith to continue believing. I’ve seen many friends become weak in their beliefs. People what I once worshiped with now are nowhere to be found. People that I used to discuss theology with have “lost” their faith (I don’t really believe that to be possible, but for whatever reason, their faith has diminished). I pray that this will not happen to me. I know that we have struggled for weeks now, to find a place to worship, and there have been several weeks that we haven’t worshiped anywhere. I pray for a place to belong. I pray that we find a piece of the Family to worship with and fellowship with.
I pray for Christi’s work day today. Let it be productive, but without anxiety. I pray for Stephanie’s day at home, as her summer break continues. And I pray for my work day. I forget to pray for myself a lot. Let today be a day without any issues. I pray for the companies that Christi and I work for. I pray for their prosperity so that our jobs can continue to be productive and successful.
I pray for my friend in California, that you would protect him from any relationships that would be harmful to him.

What is truth? In spite of what many say, I believe we can know this. I believe there IS truth, and it is found in Jesus.

Grace and peace, friends.