Life is Too Short for Anger and Arguments

Today is Tuesday, the seventeenth of May, 2022, in the fifth week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,441

Things went smoothly, yesterday, at the podiatrist. The offending toe nail was dealt with, and all is well. C feels much better this morning, and is working from home. It being Tuesday, I will be working at the library from 4:15 to 8:15, this evening.

The Texas Rangers beat the LA Angels, last night, 7-4. Most of those runs were scored in the first inning. We tuned in at the bottom of the first, and the Angels were ahead 3-0. We moaned in despair, but that despair was short-lived, as the Rangers chased LA’s starter out in only 2/3 of an inning, with a 6-3 lead! The Angels would get one more in the top of the fourth, but the Rangers would answer that one with a Jonah Heim solo shot in the bottom of the seventh. Jon Gray got his first win, and Joe Barlow got a save, and is now seven for seven in save opportunities.

The Rangers are 15-19 for the season, now, and are in a virtual tie for third place, although they are .003 percentage points behind the Mariners. They are seven games out of first, and two games ahead of the Athletics. They will play the Angels again tonight at 7:05 CDT in Arlington.

The Boston Red Sox helped the Rangers last night, but beating the Astros 6-3, scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth to win this one. The Red Sox are now 14-21, in fourth place in the AL East, a half game ahead of Baltimore. They are 12 games out of first, and four and a half behind the third place Blue Jays, so they have their work cut out for them. They will play Houston again, tonight, at 7:05 EDT in Boston.

The Yankees (26-9) continue to hold the best MLB record, and still have not lost ten games. Ugh. The poor Reds (9-26) still have not won their tenth game. The Detroit Tigers continue to hold the longest win streak, at four games, and the Baltimore Orioles have the longest losing streak, also at four games. The Yankees have overtaken the Dodgers with the highest positive run differential, at +73. The Red and Pirates are tied with the highest negative run differential at -65. In case you don’t know what that means, it means that the Yankees have outscored their opponents by 73 runs, and the Reds and Pirates have been outscored by their opponents by 65 runs. By comparison, the Red Sox and Rangers are both close to the middle, with run differentials of -9 and -10, respectively.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we look to Jesus Christ, who is at your right hand, through whom you have promised help for the whole world. Unite us with him so that we may receive authority to help all people according to your will. May your name be kept holy among us, for your children have every reason to rejoice in the Savior you have given them. We thank you for everything you have shown to those who believe in you. We pray to you, hasten the time when your day shall come with glory, the day when you will give the glory to Jesus Christ, when he will reign and triumph over all evil and bring the peace you have always wanted to give the world. We wait and long for this. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
(Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for a good night's rest and a new morning, alive with God's grace
2. for the beginnings of a love revolution that will draw many people into God's kingdom; may we draw with love and not fear
3. for an understanding of the brevity of life
4. for the peace in my soul, when I consider God's kingdom
5. that God is my refuge and my strength, always ready to help in times of trouble

For the choir director: A song of the descendants of Korah, to be sung by soprano voices.

 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. 
So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
 Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! 
Interlude 
A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. 
God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. 
The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts!
 The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.
 Interlude 
Come, see the glorious works of the LORD: See how he brings destruction upon the world. 
He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 
“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” 
The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.
 Interlude
(Psalms 46:1-11 NLT)

The prayer word for today is “admire.”

Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.
(Colossians 4:6 NLT)

The definition of admire is, “regard (an object, quality, or person) with respect or warm approval.” There are those who desire to be admired, and there are also those who obviously do not care if anyone admires them or not. More often than not, this assessment is able to be made based on words and speech, more so than actions, although I will say that I have much more admiration for people whose actions speak louder than their words. Unless, of course, those actions contradict those words, and that’s an entirely different matter.

There is a fine line in this desire to be admired. Do we want to be admired so much that we will compromise our beliefs? Do we come across more like Hamilton‘s Aaron Burr (“Talk less. Smile more. Never let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.”)?

Here’s the thing. Sure, I want people to like me. If I think someone that I’m around on a regular basis doesn’t like me, it bothers me, and I’m curious to know why. However, I’m also insecure enough that I will never ask them. Which means that I’m just nervous around them all the time.

But I also want people to know what I stand for. Hopefully, I make that relatively clear in this forum. I stand for Jesus. But here’s another thing. That may not mean what you think it means. I stand firmly for Jesus, as portrayed in the Gospels, not for “Jesus” as portrayed by a very vocal group of people in the USA, today. I stand for the Jesus who tells me to love God and love people, to surrender my rights and freedoms to the Lord in order that I might serve my brothers and sisters. I stand for the Jesus who invited prostitutes and tax collectors and “sinners” to break bread with Him.

Jesus was admired by those people whom He invited to fellowship with Him. He was not admired by the religious leaders of His day, and I truly do not think He would be admired by today’s “religious leaders” if He showed up today,

I want to be admired by those whom I am supposed to be reaching with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is that the Kingdom of God is here, now, and available to all who want to walk in it. And in order to do that, my words and actions need to be those that build up, not tear down. So I will endeavor to make my conversation gracious and attractive, or “seasoned with salt,” as another version puts it. Or, perhaps, Eugene Peterson says it best:

Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.
(Colossians 4:6 MSG)

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, please make my speech to always be gracious and attractive, seasoned with salt, that I might bring out the best in people in conversation, and that I might be admired by them, not just so they like me, but so that they are attracted to You. I know, from experience, that the harder I try to make You look good, the worse it goes. There is nothing that any human being can do to make You more attractive than You are, other than to allow Your Spirit to walk and talk through them. The harder I work at it, the more I mess it up. So I pray that, by Your Spirit, the words I say and the things I do will honor You and make You be admired by others, to the point that they desire to fellowship with You and walk in Your kingdom. I pray for the voices in today’s society that are bringing You down to be silenced. I pray for a love revolution that will bring many into Your kingdom. Please cause Your people to draw people in with love and not fear.


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

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 ESV)

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
(James 3:17 ESV emphasis mine)

It was a tongue-in-cheek literal interpretation of Psalm 90:12 that inspired me to start “numbering my days” at the beginning of each day’s blog. I’m still keeping up with that, as you can see, up to 23,441 days. That sounds like a lot. Sixty-four years, plus a handful of days. How many days fit in your hand? As many as you want, I suppose, since a “day” is an intangible thing.

No, I’m not smoking anything, and I’m not drinking. It’s not even noon, yet.

I like a couple other translations of the Psalms verse.

Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!
(Psalms 90:12 MSG)

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.
(Psalms 90:12 NLT)

The last one is more the context of today’s meaning. Life is, in comparison to the universe and eternity, very short. It is brief. It’s like a breath in the face of eternity. If we consider this, we are more likely to allow that peace of God to guard our hearts and our minds.

And here is my main takeaway from this bit, today. Life is too short to spend your time being angry and arguing about things. Especially political things. There are too many people who simply seem angry all the time, on social media. And it’s always about the “flavor of the month.” Right now, everyone is angry and arguing about abortion. Right to life; right to choose. Both sides are angry; both sides are arguing. And this is a non-winnable argument, because both sides are arguing from a completely different perspective. Apples and oranges.

Before that, it was anger about Russian and Ukraine. Then, for the past two years, it was anger about Covid-19 mandates and restrictions. Ironically, the crowd that is on the “pro-life” side of abortion was making the most noise about “my body/my choice” during the mask and vaccine mandates. Go figure.

I will quickly confess that I got swept up in some of that, briefly. But I’m over all that anger. Now, I only get angry when technology doesn’t work right, or when I can’t watch the PWBA bowling finals on Sunday afternoon because I wasn’t paying for the right tier of DirecTV Stream.

Again, tongue is firmly planted in cheek, there, but there is, sadly, some truth to it. The point I’m getting at is that life is too short to be swept up in these things. I don’t think a single one of us is going to step into eternity wishing we had been a little more angry about X, Y, or Z. Rather, I truly think that, if we were allowed any regrets, which I don’t quite see being the case, especially considering that every tear will be wiped away, and there will be no sorrow or mourning, those regrets would be that we didn’t love enough, or that we weren’t generous enough.

You see, all of these things that we are being so angry about, in this life, are things that we might very well be wrong about, or at least partially wrong. The Bible does tell us that we will know all of these things, eventually. I wonder how we will feel when we find out that the majority of our opinions were held in complete and utter ignorance?

Because most of what we think about God and truth, in this life, is based on ignorance. We don’t know God nearly as well as we believe we do. Too many of us think that God agrees with us. Too many of us think that God is on “our side.” I’m a firm believer that the only “side” God is on is His own side, and that I had best be sure that I am on His side.

I’ve digressed just a bit, but I’m coming back to my point. We need to understand the brevity of life, and this understanding will give us more wisdom to live that life. And the wisdom that we need in order to live this life, according to James, is what?

Pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

I’m not seeing a lot of that in today’s society.

Father, I pray desperately that we, Your people, would strive harder to be all of the things that James said in that verse. I pray for wisdom; wisdom that we might know that our lives are too short to waste so much time being angry and argumentative. We really need to stop and consider whether our anger and arguments are drawing people into Your kingdom or pushing them away from it. Teach us to live, Father, wisely and well, in the country of forgiveness and grace, kindness and mercy. Teach us to love. Lord, as Jesus has loved us.


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:5-7 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Love Beyond Reason

Today is Tuesday, the tenth of May, 2022, in the fourth week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ find you today!

Day 23,434

Yesterday seemed a little busy, but not terrible. I got C’s oil changed and filled up her car with gas, as planned. I also got several loads of laundry completed, and then cooked chili for us for dinner, last night.

Mama and I watched most of the Texas Rangers game in NYC, but they lost, 1-0. It was obviously a very close game. Both pitchers pitched well, the Yankees pitcher flirting with a no-hitter. In the end, the Rangers got 2 hits and the Yankees only got 3, but they were able to plate the run. John Gray, the starter, did pretty well, and was not pegged for the loss. The Rangers are now 11-16 for the season, still in fourth place in the AL West, one game ahead of the Athletics, who broke their losing streak yesterday. The Rangers begin a series with the KC Royals today at 7:05 CDT, in Arlington.

The Boston Red Sox did not play, yesterday. That’s good, because it meant they didn’t lose. Hopefully, the rest did them some good, and they can maybe refocus and win a few. They face the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta tonight at 7:10 EDT.

The Yankees are back on top of MLB, with 20-8 record, being the third team to have 20 wins. The LA Dodgers (19-8) are only a half game behind them. The Cincinatti Reds have a win streak! They have won TWO IN A ROW! They still have the worst MLB record, at 6-23, but they are only 2.5 games behind the Tigers. There are now only three teams who have yet to win 10 games; the Reds, the Tigers, and the Royals. Let’s hope the Rangers can keep that true for the Royals. The Astros continue to hold the longest win streak at 7, and the Tigers now have the longest losing streak, at 6. The LA Dodgers have, by far, the biggest run differential, at +70, while the Reds have the biggest negative at -74.

It’s Tuesday, so I work tonight, from 4:15 to 8:15, at the library. It’s my “heavy” week, so I will also be working tomorrow and Thursday, have Friday off, and work Saturday. I think there might be plans for C and Mama to go to Mineral Wells on Saturday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, our Father in heaven, bless us who have become united in our hope in you and in our expectation of your help on this earth, where people live in all kinds of foolish ways. Bless your Word within us. Grant us your Holy Spirit to restore life and gladness to our hearts, even in grief and suffering. Grant this not only in the distress of the whole world, but also in our own lives as long as we remain on this earth. Let signs be seen on every hand that you help us and give us a strength we can rely on. You help us in all circumstances every day, every year, ever anew. For this we thank you and praise your name. Amen.
(Today's daily prayer from Plough)
Trust in the LORD and do good. 
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. 
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. 
Commit everything you do to the LORD. 
Trust him, and he will help you. 
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, 
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
(Psalms 37:3-6 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the safety that I feel in the presence of God
2. that, in Christ, there is no difference between any of us; we are all equal in Him
3. for the hope of the full realization of my salvation, my inheritance in heaven; may I wait patiently and confidently
4. that God cares for us more than He cares for the birds of the air; this should give us great confidence in Him
5. for the various platforms of social media that are available to spread the positive message of the Kingdom of God; I pray that people would stop using them to do harm and spread harmful words

Then the LORD said to Job, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” Then Job replied to the LORD, “I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.”
(Job 40:1-5 NLT)


Today’s prayer word is “differences.” Author Tom Robbins is quoted as saying, “Our similarities bring us to a common ground; our differences allow us to be fascinated by each other.”

In many ways, everyone is different. According to science, everyone has a unique DNA string, with very few exceptions. In many ways, we are alike, as well. Everyone has at least one doppelganger in this world.

While Mr. Robbins has a good point, all too often, we focus too much on the differences. Much ado is made about the differences between, say, male and female. And there are people out there that are proud of their difference. Some people want to be known as outside the norm.

But here’s the thing. According to the Bible, in the eyes of God, there is no difference. No, that doesn’t mean we are made out of cookie cutters. It doesn’t mean that we are rolled out like doughnut dough and run through that machine that cuts out fifty doughnuts that all look exactly the same.

What I mean by this, and what I believe Paul meant, is that, in Christ, we are all equal. It has been said, and I have quoted this here, before, that “the ground is level at the foot of the cross.” Here’s what Paul says:

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:26-28 NLT)

Here is another passage that brings the same kind of message:

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
(Romans 3:21-24 NLT)

Where the NLT says “no matter who we are,” the NIV says, “there is no difference.”

So, yes, let us celebrate differences, as long as we are looking at them in a positive light. As soon as you use “differences” as a way to place yourself ahead of someone else or make yourself feel more important than someone else, you have crossed a line into sin. Because, here’s another word from Paul:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
(Philippians 2:3-4 NLT)

(Inspired by Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I thank You for the differences in all of us that keep things interesting. But I pray that we not use differences as a way to discriminate against others. It makes me sad that I see a lot of that going on, these days, and, at times, even using Your name as an excuse. That ought not be, Father. I pray that Your Spirit would intervene in these cases and change hearts and minds to view everyone as equal under Your gaze. This, I believe, falls under Your command to love one another. So, please help us to do that. May we embrace differences, but not use them.


King Nebuchadnezzar sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you! “I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me. How great are his signs, how powerful his wonders! His kingdom will last forever, his rule through all generations.”
(Daniel 4:1-3 NLT)

We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
(Romans 8:24-25 NLT)

This is the essence of hope. We are looking forward to something that we do not yet have, and we wait. Sometimes not so patiently, and most definitely, not always confidently.

If I’m being honest (isn’t that a strange phrase? I mean, shouldn’t we always be “being honest?), I do not always wait patiently. If my wife would read that statement, she might fall on the floor laughing. I do believe I’m getting better, though. Confidence is another thing entirely.

I’ve always had this problem. My faith is not an issue, when it comes to what I believe God can do. I’m just not always confident that He wants to or He will. So I wait, sometimes not patiently, and sometimes not very confidently.

But there are things that I am both patient and confident about. One of those is the “future grace” (a John Piper-ism) of my inheritance in “heaven.” This is something that I hope for, because I do not yet have it. In one sense, I do have it, because it is, I believe, set aside for me. But in a more tangible sense, I do not yet possess it, because I cannot see it or experience it.

So I hope. And, even though I have been “saved,” I do have salvation, I am also still waiting for salvation to be fully realized. I long for the reality of this, yes, with all my heart. But I wait. Patiently and confidently. And that changes the way I look at the world.

Father, I thank You for this hope that I have. For if I was not confident of my eternal inheritance, I would have no hope. And, frankly, I do not see how anyone can survive, in this world, without hope. My hope in Christ is what allows me to look around me and see all the trouble and still keep going. That hope is what keeps me from despair. And that hope is also what keeps me from chasing after “causes” that are not relevant to Your Kingdom. Help me to walk more confidently and patiently in that hope, Father.


Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
(Matthew 6:26-27 NLT)

Here is something that addresses that struggle that I have with confidence in my waiting. In The Place of Trust, Martin Luther also addresses this, and, quite handily, puts us to shame as he speaks of the birds being our “schoolmasters and teachers. It is a great and abiding disgrace to us that in the Gospel a helpless sparrow should become a theologian and a preacher to the wisest of men.”

Finally, he says, “Now, since the birds have learned so well the art of trusting Him and of casting their cares from themselves upon God, we who are His children should do so even more. Thus this is an excellent illustration that puts us all to shame. We, who are rational people and who have the Scriptures in addition, do not have enough wisdom to imitate the birds. When we listen to the little birds singing every day, we are listening to our own embarrassment before God and the people. But after his fall from the word and the commandment of God, man became crazy and foolish; and there is no creature alive which is not wiser than he. A little finch, which can neither speak nor read, is his theologian and master in the Scriptures, even though he has the whole Bible and his reason to help him.”

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

I find this both amusing and shaming. Amusing because of the way Luther presents it to us, but shaming, because it is true. Any amount of worry that I might experience falls to the ground when I consider the truth of Jesus’s words. And, when I acknowledge the truth of those words and embrace it, the weight that is taken from my shoulders is immense. We have no excuse, my brothers and sisters, to worry about anything. We have ever reason to live like the birds. Not that we don’t need to work for our living, because that is our lot in life. We need to do that for which we were created. The birds can do that for which they were created, and the Lord takes good care of them. We have our own purpose, and when we are walking in that purpose, we will have all that we need.

Of course, “need” is the operative word in that sentence.

Father, I thank You for the truth of these words, and I thank You that they arrived on the heels of a brief discourse about my struggles with confidence. There will always be doubt in my mind when it comes to certain prayers that I lift up. I don’t know if it is Your will or plan to heal someone from a disease. I don’t know what You have in store for someone who is suffering or struggling with something. But I do know that You are there with us, and that everything we do, we do in Your presence. I also know that You love us beyond measure and beyond human reason.

If we could fill the ocean with ink and make the sky a parchment, and attempt to write Your love on that parchment, it could not contain all the words, and it would drain the ocean dry. Help me and help all of us to embrace this love, this love beyond human reason, and to live our lives in confidence that You will care for us like You care for the sparrows.


These words from Eugene Peterson, to a large degree, sum up the way I feel about my presence here, and on other forms of social media.

“My first and continuing pastoral purpose in this pulpit is that you confess Christ personally. As a pastor, I have never wanted to be a moral policeman. Your morals are not that interesting to me. I am not interested in rewarding you when you are good or punishing you when you are bad, nor as a pastor have I wanted to gather large crowds here for religious entertainment. It makes little difference to me whether there are many or few in this place. Religious crowds are the easiest crowds to gather. But increasing the number of people under one roof has never been a conspicuously successful way of involving people in what is essential. The pastoral act that is central to me is to introduce God at his personal best (Jesus, the Christ) to human beings at their personal best.

“That is exactly what I hope happens here each week. I don’t want merely to tell you about this great story I have been reading in this book (the Bible); I want you to meet the Author. And he has told me that he wants to meet you–to involve you in a new story he is making. I can arrange the interview.

“Do you see why I have little interest in entertaining you with gossip about God? Do you see why I have little interest in lecturing you about what kind of life you ought to lead? There is something far more interesting and more to the point about introducing you personally to the personal God so that you no longer talk about God but to him. I long for you to confess Christ personally and get in on the new creative work that God is writing: the story of your salvation.”

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

Obviously, I’m not a pastor with a pulpit. But I am a person with a forum, a form of media that I use to proclaim a message. I might be guilty, at times of “lecturing,” but that is only because I desire to see people doing what Jesus commanded us to do, which is to love God and love people.

One thing I do not do is beg for followers or try to manipulate people into following me. That is something that I find quite annoying on TikTok and other social media platforms (YouTube, as well, although, at this point I do not have a YouTube channel), the constant begging and trying to attract followers. I couldn’t care less what that number is. Oh, sure, I’ll admit that it felt good to see that I now have over 1000 followers on WordPress, but that is not my intent; that is not my purpose. That just means that there are that many more people who will be introduced, in some way to Jesus.

My favorite part of the piece by Peterson is the bit where he says he wants people to be talking to God, rather than talking about Him. And that is why I include my prayers in this blog. I want to encourage everyone who reads this to not only think about, meditate on, and contemplate God and the Scriptures, but I want to also encourage people to pray.

Father, I thank You for this platform that has been provided, and the freedom I have to express my beliefs on said platform. I thank You that this goes out all around the world, and that it is available for people to see almost anywhere. I do realize that there are exceptions to this, because of various circumstances. I pray for this blog to reach people for Your kingdom, for Your “cause.” I believe with all my heart that Your cause, the Gospel of Christ, is the only cause worth following and fighting for. I pray that someone will read these words, today, and get a glimpse of You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that they might being to experience Your love beyond reason.

I don’t even have to know about it. I send out these words with the confidence that You will work through them. I have the same confidence in Your Word, because You have said that Your Word will not return to You without serving its purpose. I also pray that You would, as far as it serves Your purpose, “redeem” all forms of social media, that they would be used for good and not harm. All praise and glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.


Grace and peace, friends.

I Tell You Three Times

“Money offered freely to Christ is given back to us changed in some deep and interior way. It can change us and the world around us. Generosity is our most reliable and useful means for turning what we have into a gift. The act of tithing is like leaven: all our money gets infected with the spirit of generosity and enjoyment. The tithe pulls all our possessions into lives and adoration and celebration.”

Today is Tuesday, the third of May, 2022, in the third week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ find you today!

Day 23,427

So there really isn’t a lot to write about, this morning. Not a lot happened yesterday, and there was no baseball. Okay, there was baseball, sure. But the Rangers and the Red Sox didn’t play, which means, for me, effectively, there was no baseball.

The Rangers play the Phillies today at 5:45 CDT (that seems really early), and the Red Sox play the Angels at 7:10 EDT (a much more normal time).

I work, this evening, at the Hurst Public Library, from 4:15-8:15, doing shelving. This is probably my favorite activity at the library, because I get to interact with books more than people. Heh. I have a sticker on one of my metal cups that says, “Books are better than people.” I realize God doesn’t agree with that sentiment, and, in reality, I don’t either. However, I would still rather interact with a book than another human.

C is working from home today, which is always nice, and I will venture out into the wild suburbs, in a little while, and get lunch/dinner for us from Subway and Sonic.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Vine Life,” by S. Michaels, LightWriters

Keep on
abiding
in Me…

©2022 S. Michaels
Into the Light
(Prophetic Promises Haiku 2-3-2)

Please check out more of this inspiration poetry at the link provided above.

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. 
Remain in my love. 
When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, 
just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 
I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. 
Yes, your joy will overflow! 
This is my commandment: 
Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 
You are my friends if you do what I command."
(John 15:9-14 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for coffee and breakfast; and chocolate
2. for water to take showers
3. for the peace that comes from keeping one's minds fixed on God
4. that our God is always near
5. that in His presence, there is fullness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11)
6. that everything that I have (for I truly "own" nothing) belongs to and was given to me by my Father in heaven
7. for the spirit of generosity and sharing that He has placed in our hearts, that we do not hoard any of the aforementioned gifts for ourselves

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
(Isaiah 26:3 NLT)

“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.”
(Isaiah 30:15 NLT)


For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
(Job 33:4 NLT)


Today’s prayer word is “near.”

Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the LORD. “No, I am far away at the same time.
(Jeremiah 23:23 NLT).

One of the most comforting things about this journey in Christ is the constant nearness of God. There’s a fifty-dollar word we use to describe our belief about God’s presence. It is “omnipresent.” It means pretty much the same thing as “ubiquitous.” He is everywhere, and all at the same time.

At least a decade ago, I started calling God “omnichronological,” as well. The reason being that God also exists outside of time. So not only is God everywhere at once, He is also everywhen at once.

So, considering the truth that God is always near, then I might also consider that God is near me, now and here; God is near me at my birth; God is near me on my deathbed (or wherever I am when that time comes).

Psalm 139 is another Scripture that states this very well.

You go before me and follow me. 
You place your hand of blessing on my head. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! 
I can never escape from your Spirit! 
I can never get away from your presence! 
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
 if I go down to the grave, you are there. 
If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.
(Psalms 139:5-10 NLT)

“To know He is near–to practice His nearness–is to be filled with the pleasure of God.”

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)

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I abide in Your nearness; I relish and embrace the truth that You are always with me. It brings me great comfort to know that, no matter where I go, I cannot get away from Your presence. And, while it is difficult to grasp or comprehend, I am grateful that You are already with me in my future, whatever it may hold. I am also grateful that You are present in my past, and have been watching over me my whole life. May I always know Your nearness, Father, even when I am not looking for it.


You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
(Isaiah 26:3 ESV)

You are not imagining things. That verse has already occurred in this blog once, up above. And when it showed up in my Daily Guideposts 2022 reading for today, I figured that means it’s important.

To illustrate that verse, Erin MacPherson uses a personal experience with her dog, who, when afraid of something, would keep his eyes on hers, constantly, until the “danger” was past. Her conclusion: “When things are frightening, scary, or just new, I want to keep my eyes trained on the One I can trust.”

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

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 ESV)

Oh, Father, if we would only learn the truth of these things; if we would only learn that, if we keep our spiritual eyes fixed on You, that we would have unbreakable peace, even in the most unstable circumstances. I have know this peace, but I confess that I have also been nearly shattered by similar circumstances, because I failed to keep my eyes on You. Your Word tells us that You will give us “perfect” peace, if we keep our eyes fixed on You. There is very little in this world that I would consider perfect. Okay, there is nothing perfect in this world. We use the word to describe a lot of things, but, in truth, only You are worthy of that word of description. Only You are perfect, and Your peace is perfect because it comes from You.

James tells us that “whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from” You, and that You never change. Keeping my eyes fixed on You also means that I will never lean on my own understanding of things, but, rather, acknowledge You in all my ways. This doesn’t mean that I don’t use my brain. Heaven forbid! You gave me a brain, and I intend to use it. But when I rely more on my own thinking than on what You and Your Word tell me, then I create trouble for myself. So, help me to keep my eyes fixed You at all times, and to remember that, no matter what happens in my life, You are going to work it out for my good, because You are good and You only do good.


Eugene Peterson continues talking about money in today’s reading. Yesterday’s referred to the stewardship of all things that God has given us, and today singles out the resource of money, which Peterson describes as “holy.” He points out that not everyone believes that money is holy, but states that this is a “Christian and biblical conviction.”

He then begins to discuss the ancient concept of “tithing.” This is a practice that puts the aforementioned conviction into practice. “it is an offering of the firstfruits of our labor to the God who made this world of soil and rock, barley and grapes, silver and gold and tin–up to and including embossed plastic credit cards.”

Traditionally, the tithe was the first ten percent of any moneys received through our labor. “It is based on the conviction that we would have gotten nothing from all our sweat and exertion if God had not first given us ground to use, muscles to work, brains to think, and communities to live in and be employed in.”

Remember–yesterday’s reading asserted that everything that we see (and even things we can’t see) was created by God and given to us to use. And remember James 1:17, quoted in my last prayer, tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from God. So whatever we accomplish in our work is accomplished using things and resources that we got from our Father. Therefore, we give back to Him a portion of what we receive from that labor.

Peterson maintains that, “if we do not being with giving . . . we inevitably become dominated by the spirit of acquisition: getting and getting and getting. We become obsessed with keeping control of what we have. We scheme and covet. And in so doing, we profane our money. We violate the holiness of our money.” Does this sound or look familiar to us?

“Money offered freely to Christ is given back to us changed in some deep and interior way. It can change us and the world around us. Generosity is our most reliable and useful means for turning what we have into a gift. The act of tithing is like leaven: all our money gets infected with the spirit of generosity and enjoyment. The tithe pulls all our possessions into lives and adoration and celebration.”

We must be careful, though, and remember these words of Jesus:

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”
(Matthew 23:23 NLT)

Tithing can feed pride. “It can create snobbish elitism. . . . It can develop into self-righteousness that assumes that God is now obligated to take special notice.”

And we all out to rest assured that God is never, NEVER “obligated” to us for ANYTHING!!

Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.
(Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 ESV)

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


A lot of this all boils down to another thought from Jesus, found in Matthew 16.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”
(Matthew 16:24-25 NLT)

If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we will not be focused on “things,” and our “right” to possess them. This, after all, is one of our biggest problem areas in today’s culture (I speak only for Western culture). We are all about our rights and what is “mine.” Tragically, even modern “Christians” (for so they believe themselves to be, even though their actions and words contradict that belief) have been loudly proclaiming their rights and ownership of possessions, recently.

But, as A.W. Tozer insists, in The Pursuit of God, this “self-life” is actually my enemy. And if I allow this enemy to live, I will lose everything. This is why I must keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Him. And this mindset, this way of life, produces a kind of generosity that can change the world, if not the entire world (for what can one man do to change the world?), at least for one or two souls.

Father, I praise You for the spirit of generosity that You have placed within my family. You have created in us a mindset of sharing, of not holding on to possessions, of not hoarding money. Certainly, we do save some, and even that might be an indication of a small lack of faith, but we do believe in being prepared. But we are not hoarding, thinking that it is “never enough,” to the harm of our fellow travelers on this earth. We do ask for discernment, that we might know when a person’s need is truly worthy of our support, if it is legitimate, lest we fall for scammers. But even then, it is the thought in our heart that is most important, and if someone is scamming, they must, in the end, answer to You for misusing resources provided by You.

All that I have is Yours. I have nothing, I “own” nothing that You did not give me. Once again, in the words of Horatius Bonar, my sin is the only thing that I have that can call my own. Everything else comes from You. All praise and glory belongs to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, Steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit.
(Isaiah 26:3 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

Think . . . Thank

“Thanking that is not preceded by thinking is shallow and inadequate, but thinking that does not transform to thanking is arid and sterile.” ~ Eugene H. Peterson

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-sixth of April, 2022, in the second week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,420

It’s a normal Tuesday around here, which means that everyone is home, this morning. C is in her easy chair with her work laptop, working from home. I’m back here in the study churning out words on the keyboard, and Mama is in her room reading her Bible readings for the day.

In a little while, I’ll be making a trip to the grocery store, and, hopefully, picking up Subway for lunch for us. Then I will go to “work” at 4:15, this evening.

The Texas Rangers rallied late, last night, to beat the rival Astros 6-2. Initially, the game was a pitcher’s battle, marred only by a second inning home run for Houston, a second inning error that allowed a Texas run, and a fluke pop single for Houston in the sixth. But Texas scored 2 in the bottom of the seventh (which got Dunning off the hook that he shouldn’t have been on to begin with) and another three in the bottom the eighth to seal the deal. Willie Calhoun was stellar as a pinch hitter and DH, going 2 for 2, and Adolis Garcia had a bases-clearing double for 3 RBIs in the bottom of the eighth. It was, at the end, quite exciting.

This makes the Rangers 6-10 for the season, only one game behind the Astros (7-9) in the AL West. They play again, this evening, at 7:05 CDT. Taylor Hearn (0-1) will take the mound for Texas.

The Boston Red Sox dropped another game to the Blue Jays, last night, 6-2. How weird is that . . . the same score? They are now 7-10 for the season, only a half game better than Texas. But they aren’t in last place, because they are in the AL East, with Baltimore. But Baltimore has the same record as Texas. The Red Sox play the Blue Jays again today, at 7:07 EDT.

The LA Dodgers continue to hold the top spot in MLB, at 12-4. The NY Mets, at 13-5, are in a virtual tie, mere percentage points between them. The Giants are 12-5, a half game behind. The Cincinnati Reds must not have played yesterday, as they are still 3-13, bringing up the rear of MLB. The Rangers and Orioles are fifth from the bottom, now, with Royals, Diamondbacks, and Nationals between them and the Reds. The Tigers and White Sox are a half game above them. It’s so early in the season that everything could change in the space of one game.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Today is the day
The Lord created for us;
Rejoice and be glad!
(Inspired by Psalm 118:24)

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.
(1 Peter 1:3-4 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I am alive and breathing
2. for the great expectation of that priceless inheritance
3. for the constant presence of God in my life
4. for the promise of hope and a future in God's plans for me, which make it possible for me to persevere in "doing good" (Galatians 6:9)
5. for the relationship between thinking and thanking

"God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. 
He wraps the rain in his thick clouds, and the clouds don’t burst with the weight. 
He covers the face of the moon, shrouding it with his clouds. 
He created the horizon when he separated the waters; he set the boundary between day and night. 
The foundations of heaven tremble; they shudder at his rebuke. 
By his power the sea grew calm. By his skill he crushed the great sea monster. 
His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and his power pierced the gliding serpent. 
These are just the beginning of all that he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of his power?” 
(Job 26:7-14 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “presence.” You have to be sure to read that word correctly, and not just say it. The word is “presence,” not “presents.” I am, of course, being mildly facetious, but there are people out there who believe that God’s sole purpose is to give His children “presents.”

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.
(1 John 4:16 NLT)

You may notice that our prayer word is not in that verse. The actual word may not be, but the idea is.

I’m one of those people who grew up in church. I’m a “lifer.” I was on the “cradle roll.” I’ve said this before, but I’m sure my parents had me at church, as an infant, as soon as it was safe to take me out of the house. And, back in 1958, I would dare to venture that it was safer sooner than it is in 2022.

For those of you who have attended some kind of church for most of your lives, do you remember “that person” who was always there? There is a word for that – ubiquitous. “Ever-present.” “Present, appearing, or found everywhere.”

Mr. Crump was one such person. I have fond memories of Mr. Crump. At various points in my life he was my bus driver, my Sunday School teacher, and the church custodian. But he was always there; he was there before we got there, and he was still there when we left. For all I know, he lived there.

There is a certain comfort in life when you see people like that. And God is exactly like that. The fifty-dollar word we like to use for Him is “omnipresent.” That basically means the same thing as “ubiquitous.” He is always there, everywhere. He is there before you get there, and He is still there when you leave. He is there when you wake up from surgery or some medical procedure. He is there when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. He is there when you are celebrating a promotion or some other significant life event.

And here’s the thing. Sometimes, His presence is known in the presence of other human beings. Like Mr. Crump.

He is present. And we can know and feel that presence if we open ourselves up to it.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, thank You for being here, and thank You for making Your presence known to me every day. I praise You that You have created within me that longing for Your presence, and the fact that I can feel it and know that You are here. My heart’s desire is that all people, all around the world, would know Your presence and acknowledge it. To me, knowing and feeling Your presence is even better than knowing my own salvation. Yes, that salvation is amazing and wonderful, but it pales in the knowledge of Your presence, right here, right now.


For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
(Galatians 6:9 NIV)

Initially, there might not seem to be much in common between these three passages of Scripture. But it is the last word of the 1 Corinthians passage that ties them all together for me.

“. . . always perseveres.”

Because of the promise of God in Jeremiah 29:11 (I know that statement was made specifically to Israel, but how could it not be true for all of God’s children??), that He has plans to give us a hope and a future, we have the ability to “always persevere,” which is also part of the definition (or one of the characteristics) of love.

It might also be noted that 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is, to a degree, a description of our Father.

Because of that promise of hope, because of that characteristic of love that “always perseveres,” then we can “not become weary in doing good;” we can “not give up.” And I will proclaim with my dying breath that it is the presence of God that makes all of that possible.

I thank You, Father, that Your plans for us are not plans for disaster and harm, but, rather, plans for hope and a future. Our problem is that we get caught up in what’s happening right now, and forget about that hope. Or we get caught up worrying about that future, instead of hoping and trusting in what You are already providing for us. Help us to focus on what we are doing now, while at the same time looking forward (not worrying, big difference) to what You have planned for us.

I praise You that I am able to not grow weary in doing good because of the promise of a hope and a future, and because You are constantly with me, reminding me of these things. Help me to always be aware of Your presence with me, so that I may also always be aware of that hope that I have for the future, that great expectation of a priceless inheritance that is waiting for me/us.


“Think.”

“Thank.”

Two totally different words with only a vowel different between them. “The change of a single vowel triggers a quantum leap in meaning.”

To think is to employ the intellect. To thank “is an expression of the whole person. Thanking that is not preceded by thinking is shallow and inadequate, but thinking that does not transform to thanking is arid and sterile.”

I’m going to type that last sentence again, because I perceive that it is extremely profound (as is par for Eugene Peterson, right?).

“Thanking that is not preceded by thinking is shallow and inadequate, but thinking that does not transform to thanking is arid and sterile.”

Says Peterson, “It is our acts of gratitude that complete our processes of worship and remembrance. We recollect all that has happened among us by Christ’s design. We praise the Lord, who makes our lives, like all things, work together for good. Is there any other place in our society where so much is remembered and praised as here among Christians in worship, where there is such a concentration of memory and such exuberance in gratitude? I think not.”

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

Father, I read these words, and I am grateful that You have given me a brain with which to think. We humans, these days, are quick to accuse others of not thinking. But if the truth be known, we all think. It is only when we combine that thinking with thanking that we are complete. And I praise You that You have led me down this path of constant gratitude for the past few years. That gratitude, that “thanking,” is most certainly preceded and accompanied by thinking, and I am grateful for this. Help me to continue to use my mind, and to always include thinking with my thanking, that my worship of You can be complete.


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Live Quietly and Mind Your Own Business

Today is Tuesday, the nineteenth of April, 2022, in the first week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,413

I had a great night of sleep, last night, and slept until almost 8:30, this morning. In fact, I might have slept even longer, had someone not called me. I didn’t figure out what was happening in time to catch the call, but I didn’t recognize the number, so I won’t be calling them back.

I had thought to make a trip to the grocery store, today, but it’s not urgent. I will be heading out, in a little while, to pick up lunch/dinner for everyone at Subway. That’s our Tuesday tradition, since I work my four-hour shelving shift on Tuesday evening.

We are finally getting rid of the grand piano, hopefully, today. C found someone who wants it, and is supposedly having professional movers come by this afternoon, to get it. That will free up a large amount of space in the front “dining” room, which we are considering converting to a reading area, with chairs and a couple bookshelves. We can then move the exercise bike up to the front living room, next to the treadmill.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that we, who have been raised with him, may abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Tuesday in Easter Week)

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb. For I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God! “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”
(Deuteronomy 32:1-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for a really good night's sleep
2. for Your justice, righteousness, and faithfulness
3. for the desire in my heart to stir up love and peace, rather than anger and harshness
4. for the tasks that You have given me, praying that I might do those things while living quietly and minding my own business
5. for my brother and sisters in the faith, and the relationships You have built between us.

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!
(Job 19:25-27 ESV)


The prayer word for today is “stir.” This word could mean a number of things. The reading provides this verse for context.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
(Proverbs 15:1 NIV)

I used to be one who loved to argue. My father and I would engage in spirited debates, often. But, as I grew older, I found myself thinking more like he thought. I have also learned that arguing is no longer fun. Part of that is because it has gotten more hostile, for which I blame social media.

These days, arguments on social media are not “won.” No one’s mind is changed, because no one wants to have their mind changed. Everyone wants to be right, and “truth” or “facts” don’t enter into the picture whatsoever.

Because of this, I have made it my practice, my goal, to only stir up love and peace. It’s not easy to be a peacemaker, these days, because no one wants peace. They want to be right. They want the other side to . . . well, to be perfectly honest, I think that a lot of people would only be satisfied if the “other side” ceased to exist.

It’s hard to not engage. I have typed many a comment or reply on Facebook, only to delete it and not post it, because I knew it wouldn’t be helpful. So I just keep scrolling, and do my best to be one who stirs up love and tries to make peace.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV)

Somehow, I don’t think calling other people “stupid,” “idiot,” and “snowflake” does a thing toward spurring one another on toward love and good deeds.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.
(The Prayer of St. Francis)

I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 ESV)

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
(1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 ESV)

We all have different tasks to do in this world. Paul goes on at length, in Corinthians, about the different gifts and body parts that we fit into. Here, we are admonished to love one another (where have I heard that before?) by minding our own business (!), and tending to the work that is set before us, no matter what it may be. Why? So that we may “walk properly before outsiders.”

I am seeing a lot of instances where people are 1) not living quietly, and 2) not minding their own business, and 3) not walking properly before outsiders.

Things look a lot better in the world when you can manage to do those things. I’m not advocating a “head in the sand” mentality. Not at all. It’s good to be aware of what’s going on in the world. But the truth is, we have no control over most of it. And spouting off our “expert” opinions about the latest current affair tends to have no effect whatsoever, other than making us look somewhat foolish. Because very few of us are “experts” about anything.

Father, help me to pay attention to what is my business, to mind my own affairs, and to live quietly, so that I may walk properly before “outsiders.” It is in this way that “outsiders” might be drawn closer to becoming “insiders.” I thank You that You have drawn me more and more toward being one to attempts to stir up love and peace, rather than stirring up anger with harsh words. I pray that I may be more and more like this.


What is one of the first things we tend to ask people when we first meet them?

“What do you do?” Implied, of course, in the question, is “What do you do for a living?”

Eugene Peterson recounts a time when he asked that of a person, and received a twenty-minute discourse on all of the daily activities of the person. However, at the end of it, Eugene still had very little idea about what the person actually did.

But another friend shared a similar account, in which, upon being asked what he did, another person’s answer was, “I’m changing the world.”

That is, in a way, the job description of the Church, and every person who is part of the Church. We are changing the world. I am changing the world. No, I’m not solving the problems between the Ukraine and Vladimir Putin (let’s be honest . . . Ukraine doesn’t have a “Russia” problem, they have a “Putin” problem). I’m not going to solve world hunger, or create clean water resources for third world countries.

But I’m changing the world, doing my best to influence people toward “love and good deeds” in my own little corner of the world, in what Dallas Willard would call my own little “kingdom.”

Is that what we have in mind when we prepare for worship each week? “Maybe you just expect a little inspiration or solace. Maybe you just want to get away for an hour or two from life’s daily clutter and be refreshed by some beauty and sacred order. Maybe you are following an old habit. But we are changing the world.”

Creation is in motion every time the Word of God is spoken. When we invoke the Holy Spirit, “salvation is in motion.” “Every time we open our mouths in praise, confess our faith with our lips, and believe in our hearts, the world is changed.”

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

Wait. I thought you said we were supposed to live quietly and mind our own business.

I am firmly convinced that both are possible. You see, there are people who believe that the only way to express their faith and belief is angrily, with loud shouting. (I once worked for a manager who subscribed to the belief that he who talks the loudest wins.) My brothers and sisters, this should not be! It is possible to express our faith, to confess our beliefs, and believe in our hearts, meekly and quietly, and while minding our own business.

Father, I pray that You would help me to change my world, quietly, and consistently, without anger, without condemnation, and by stirring up love and peace. That is my desire, that is my goal. I want to know You, and I want to present You to this world, in my little “kingdom,” as the God who is there, the God who loves and cares, the God who IS compassion, and the God who saves.


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends

In Wonder, Now

It is Tuesday, the twelfth of April, 2022, in the sixth week of Lent, Holy Week.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,406

It was a pretty lazy day, yesterday, but I did manage to get a few things done. I never left the house, though, except for going to get the mail and retrieving the trash/recycling bins from the curb. Today, I will be going out to get lunch and dinner for everyone. Our tradition Tuesday meals are Subway, since I work late on Tuesdays. I get enough food for C, Mama, and S to have something for dinner while I am at work.

Tomorrow, we are going to try something new in the crockpot. I found this recipe for Slow Cooker Creamy Italian Chicken Soup at Emily Bites. We have found a few good recipes there, and they are all WW friendly. This one will cook while I am at work on Wednesday. And, since I am also working Thursday, now, I’ll make sure the crockpot is clean Wednesday night so I can cook our other chicken soup dish Thursday.

The Texas Rangers lost their home opener, yesterday, thanks to a couple of errors by Cory Seager, and a really horrible review call from the folks at MLB in NYC that ended the game. The current regime of “leadership” in MLB is ruining the game, in my not so humble opinion. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. The final score was 6-4 in ten innings. The Red Sox lost their game to the Tigers, 3-1, so both the Rangers and the Red Sox are at 1-3 on the season. The Rangers sit in last place in the AL West, a position they have gotten far too comfortable with, and the Red Sox are also in last place in the AL East.

The Tampa Bay Rays lost, yesterday, so after only four games, there are no undefeated teams in MLB. Houston, Tampa, and Chicago continue to lead the AL, while Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Diego lead the NL. The Rangers play the Rockies again tonight, at 7:05 CDT. The Red Sox play the Tigers in an afternoon game, in Detroit, at 12:10 CDT.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The Sense Of,” by Daryl Madden

A sense of the morning
Of what is to be
To draw a new breath
Of possibilities

A sense in life daily
Past stress and of fear
A whisper of calling
To pause and draw near

A sense in the sunset
Of grace here to flow
Regrets of the should done
And letting it go

The sense of the Spirit
To foster and grow
With a prayer of moment
To let God’s love flow

I love the end of the third stanza, “Regrets of the should done And letting it go.” Please check out more of Daryl’s inspirational poetry at the link provided above.

Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, “Teacher, get your disciples under control!” But he said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.”
(Luke 19:39-40 MSG)

That’s why I’m thanking you, GOD, all over the world. That’s why I’m singing songs that rhyme your name.
(2 Samuel 22:50 MSG)

Today I am grateful:

1. for chocolate covered toffee, such as Heath bars
2. for "now," the only time that we truly have; may God help us stop worrying about the past and the future and focus on the now
3. for the beauty, majesty, and glory of God's creation, and how He has revealed Himself to us
4. for unexpected encounters with God
5. for the faith that helps me always be ready to give an answer

Today’s prayer word is “now.”

God reminds us, I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me, I was there to help. Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped.
(2 Corinthians 6:2 MSG)

How much time do we spend rehashing the past or worrying about the future? Both activities create much unnecessary stress in our lives. “Eac removes us from the present and cheats us of the full blessing of this life, this day, this moment – this ‘now.'”

I love the way that “Bob” words this next part. “The single, simple word now can be a way of awakening yourself to the beauty of your own life, a way of fully breathing in and breathing out the blessing of being alive . . . now.”

The past is gone, nothing can be done about it. The future is not yet, and while you may be able to do something to have an effect on it, worrying or stressing about it is strictly forbidden by our Lord. Praying “now,” that simple word, may be a way to focus on the only time that we can call our own, this very moment.

(From Pray a Word a Day)


Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, “Teacher, get your disciples under control!” But he said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.”
(Luke 19:39-40 MSG)

“‘How can anyone see mountains and not know there is a God?'”

That’s why I’m thanking you, GOD, all over the world. That’s why I’m singing songs that rhyme your name.
(2 Samuel 22:50 MSG)

Sing to GOD, everyone and everything! Get out his salvation news every day! 
Publish his glory among the godless nations, his wonders to all races and religions. 
And why? Because GOD is great—well worth praising! No god or goddess comes close in honor. 
All the popular gods are stuff and nonsense, but GOD made the cosmos! 
Splendor and majesty flow out of him, strength and joy fill his place. 
Shout Bravo! to GOD, families of the peoples, in awe of the Glory, in awe of the Strength: Bravo! 
Shout Bravo! to his famous Name, lift high an offering and enter his presence! Stand resplendent in his robes of holiness! 
God is serious business, take him seriously; he's put the earth in place and it's not moving. 
So let heaven rejoice, let earth be jubilant, and pass the word among the nations, "GOD reigns!" 
(1 Chronicles 16:23-31 MSG)

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)


It was just a normal average weekday when the “woman at the well” found herself discovering God in her life, as she did a normal average task that she had done countless times before, drawing a bucket of water.

“This kind of thing happens all the time. And it happens to all of us. We meet God when we least expect it in places that we never would have guessed. In the middle of routines, a sudden longing is released and comes out into the open. While passing the time of day, we hear God’s Word spoken and life is changed.”

As we go about our daily, ordinary lives, as ordinary people, we mistakenly think that God is a million miles away, but then Jesus engages us in some conversation, out of the blue, and changes our lives. “There is no style of life that exempts us from these meetings, there is no day of the week on which it may not happen, and there is no work that may not provide the scene for an encounter.”

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

On the other side of that coin (the rest of this is my thoughts), there is no place that makes it more likely to happen, no day of the week that makes it more likely to happen, and no vocation that makes it more likely to happen. Sunday isn’t special. It’s just another day of the week. It is not the “sabbath.” It’s just Sunday, and God can interact with us just as well on Thursday as He can on Sunday. (I originally typed Wednesday, but then remember that a lot of Baptists still have meetings on Wednesday evenings.)

I have met God listening to Pink Floyd on the radio in my car. I have had encounters with God on what appeared to be prank, random phone calls.

The woman in John 4 thought she was just going to the well to get a bucket of water. Not only was her life changed, but the lives of everyone she knew were changed, as well.

Another thought. This reading seems to be pointing in the direction of being the woman, who has the unexpected encounter with Jesus. We who follow Christ should also be prepared to be Jesus in that scenario. We should be ready to have an unexpected encounter (I realize that Jesus never had an “unexpected encounter”) with a “woman at the well.” This is why, I believe, that Peter admonishes us to always be ready to give an answer.

Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.
(1 Peter 3:15 MSG)


Father, help me to always be ready to give an answer, to explain the reason for the way I live, the way I am, for the joy that overflows my soul, most of the time. I’m not joyful all the time, I confess that. I don’t know very many people who are. Also help me to always be ready for that unexpected encounter with either You or with someone else who needs an unexpected encounter with You. Help me to be that channel of Your grace, Your steadfast love and mercy, Your compassion. Let me never get so caught up in the “ordinary” that I forget to look for You.

Thank You for opening up my heart, my eyes, my soul, to wonder. I know the truth of “I see the stars; I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed.” My soul has, many times, sung “How great Thou art,” as I look around me. I, too, wonder how anyone can look at a scene like the one pictured above and not believe that You exist. I don’t get it. But I do know that it is true, and will go to my grave proclaiming Your glory and majesty.

And, finally, I thank You for “now.” I am one who spends way too much time rehashing the past (“I should have said”) or worrying about the future (“What if??”). I still beat myself up over that day, in seminary, at the Thanksgiving chapel, when I didn’t do what I felt Your Spirit urging me to do! There is no point in that, though. I can’t change the past, and there’s not an awful lot I can do about the future, either. Even preparations for the future can be derailed by unexpected encounters! So help me focus on “now,” help me “know You in the now.”

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”
(Psalms 39:7 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Love Extravagantly

“We do not qualify as biblical simply by quoting the Bible.
“We are biblical only when we share life in the wilderness with those who are tempted and fall, when we carry the cross of Jesus, and when we love extravagantly in Jesus’s name.”

Today is Tuesday, the fifth of April, 2022, in the fifth week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,399

We had some “weather” last night. Thunderstorms rolled through a bit later than originally expected, hitting us late in the evening, and going on until around 11:00 PM or so. As far as I know, we just got heavy rain and wind. I never heard any hail and didn’t see evidence of anything else. But it rained quite a bit. There were tornado warnings southeast of us.

I don’t have much on my agenda today. I’ll go out and get Subway for lunch for S, Mama, and me, and will include dinner for them and C, because I will be at work this evening, from 4:15-8:15. Typical Tuesday, in other words. I’m also really close to finishing my current read, an ARC of When Earth Shall Be No More, a science fiction novel by Paul Awad and Kathryn O’Sullivan. I’m 92% through, and, unless something drastic happens, I can already tell you it’s getting a five-star rating. I’ll also try to get in an episode or two of The Stand miniseries.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Everything comes from him; 
Everything happens through him; 
Everything ends up in him. 
Always glory! 
Always praise! 
Yes. Yes. Yes. 
(Romans 11:36 MSG)

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”
(Luke 6:27-31 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the rain received last night, and that we had no damage from the storms
2. for the "golden rule"
3. that our Father delights in us, and surrounds us with His shield
4. that God gives me songs to glorify Him in thanksgiving
5. for the hope and ability to love extravagantly

Today’s prayer word is “favor.” That’s a dangerous word, there, and I feel it is misused by many. But let’s see the referenced Scripture verse.

Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
(Psalms 5:12 NIV)

This is also a word that is dependent upon a particular translation of the Bible. NIV has “favor,” ESV has “favor,” and KJV also has “favour.” But the NLT says this:

For you bless the godly, O LORD; you surround them with your shield of love.
(Psalms 5:12 NLT)

And here is The Message:

You are famous, GOD, for welcoming God-seekers, for decking us out in delight.
(Psalms 5:12 MSG)

Interestingly, when I look at “KJV+” in my Bible app, it shows that the Hebrew word translated as “favor” in most translations can also mean “delight.” Well-played, Mr. Peterson.

My problem with the word “favor” is that, to many people, it indicates “special treatment.” Even the writer of the reading, the ubiquitous “Bob,” says, “Even so, I beg for Him to single me out and toss me a rose, so to speak.” (You would have to read the rest of the reading for that rose bit to make sense.)

I’m not comfortable with that. I’m not comfortable asking God to single me out. It’s like asking Him to help me “win.” Of course, I want to win. Who doesn’t? But the Christian life isn’t about “winning.” It’s about sacrifice and giving.

Side note: Part of my dislike of the concept of the word has to do with one particular person who, when asked a simple greeting question that we all usually ask one another, “How are you?”, would respond with, “Blessed and highly favored.” Ugh.

So when I think of the word “favor,” or “delight,” I see God delighting in all of His people! In the NIV, it is the “righteous” who are surrounded by God’s favor, or decked out in delight, as The Message says. “The righteous” is a group of people. It is all of the followers of Jesus.

I will, occasionally, pray for favor, but not so much for myself. I might pray for someone to find favor when going for a job interview or something like that. But I prefer to think of this one more in terms of “delight,” as Peterson rendered it. God, our Father, delights in us, in all of us! And, in that way, He shows US favor.

(From Pray a Word a Day)


Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
(1 Chronicles 29:13 NIV)

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
(Psalms 69:30 NIV)

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
(Psalms 100:4-5 NIV)

My regular readers will note that I have a gratitude list up at the top of the devotional section each day. There are always at least five things, sometimes more. This has been a practice of mine for several years, now, and it launched out of dissatisfaction upon seeing people suddenly get thankful because it was November.

That’s the month in which Thanksgiving occurs in the United States, for my readers who live in other countries. I find it somewhat . . . I don’t know what the word is . . . it’s not “hypocritical,” necessarily. But it chafes me that people who grumble and complain the other eleven months of the year are suddenly all thankful for thirty days.

So I took that and ran with it, and kept it going, and have done it ever since. Every day. It’s not for show; it’s not to appear “religious;” it is not to appear more “favored.” It is to inspire others to be thankful. It is to display an attitude that, even in the toughest of times, I can find something for which to be thankful. Some days, it is hard to come up with five things. Other days, it is hard to keep it to only five. Because frequently I find that I have the same mindset of the composer of Psalm 23. “My cup overflows.”

At some point, a few months ago, I decided to wade into the murky waters of TikTok, and I started publishing a short video of my gratitude, where I read the Scripture passage that is before my gratitude list, along with the points of gratitude. I also post the list on Facebook, as well as a daily post asking, “What can I pray for you today?”

Again, I want to be clear: I am not “tooting my own horn,” here. I am not attempting to look like I’m super-spiritual. I am anything but super-spiritual. I sin; I fall short; I do grumble, much more than I should; I forget about the many blessings that I have in my life (see yesterday’s blog). But in my imperfect state, I want others to see that you don’t have to be perfect; we just have two jobs to do, you know. Love God and love people. You can make that as complicated as you want, but it still boils down to those two jobs. And that’s what I’m trying to do.

In today’s reading, Shawnelle Eliason (one of my favorites) writes this prayer. “Lord, forgive me when grumbling lives where gratitude should. Amen.” I heartily echo that plea.

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)


And to kind of go along with what I said up there about the two jobs, here is this from Eugene Peterson:

“We do not qualify as biblical simply by quoting the Bible.
“We are biblical only when we share life in the wilderness with those who are tempted and fall, when we carry the cross of Jesus, and when we love extravagantly in Jesus’s name.”

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


Father, I thank You for making me grateful. Yes, I am grateful that I am grateful. But it is because You have placed that spirit of gratitude within me. I could never do that by myself. Everything I do, at least anything that is positive and worthwhile, comes from You.

I praise You that we, Your people, are covered by Your delight. Yes, You “favor” us, You delight in us. But let us not get all selfish and self-centered about that delight, because it is not about me, an individual. It is about us, Your people, the saints, the Church, the Body of Christ. As an individual, I have a place to fill in that Body, so I pray for the ability to fill that place. I do not pray to be singled out, to be thrown a “rose,” or to receive special favors. I don’t want that. But I do desire to know that delight that You have for all of us, and I desperately want to pass that delight along to others.

Which brings me to that last bit. Lord, help me to be truly “biblical,” in the sense that I “share life in the wilderness with those who are tempted and fall,” that I can successfully carry the cross of Jesus (which, no doubt, means different things for each of us), and that I can “love extravagantly in Jesus’s name.” That last one, to me, is the most important and the most desirable.

Help me, O my Father, to love extravagantly.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


"Love one another;
This is how they know you're Mine;
Love one another."
(Inspired by John 13:34-35)

Grace and peace, friends.

Larry Norman can be heard on this song.

In Solitude, But Not Alone

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-ninth of March, 2022, in the fourth week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today!

Day 23,392

As expected, my work schedule is changing, pretty much immediately. It’s not a terribly drastic change, and there is only a mild down-side to it. I was asked, yesterday after noon, if I would consider switching from Fridays to Thursdays for my every-week Computer Center shift. I will be working from 11:15AM to 8:15PM every Thursday, going forward. The down-side to this is that it will be two nights a week that I basically don’t have any family time. But, I now have Fridays off, and every other week, I will have a four-day weekend! Of course, it is also true that every other week I will be working three consecutive days, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

As this is beginning right away, I will be off this Friday, but will not work Thursday until next week, as I already have twenty hours scheduled for this pay period. The pay week begins on Fridays, so for the next pay week, I will be working Saturday, Tuesday, and Thursday for my twenty hours. Another bonus is that I will now be off for Mama’s birthday, which is a week from this Friday!

C and I enjoyed the couples massage so much that we are scheduling one for Mother’s Day.

And today is R’s birthday. Happy birthday to R!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"God of grace and truth,
make me whole,
a person of integrity who heals and makes peace.
I pray for eyes that see what's best in others,
a graceful and candid mouth,
hands that never twist but hold up truth,
a heart that aims to encourage,
and feet that pursue my neighbor's best.
Amen."

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
(Numbers 23:19 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that "God is not a man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind" (Numbers 23:19)
2. for times of solitude, essential for re-energizing the spirit
3. for Biblical accounts of dreams and visions
4. that there is no condemnation for those of us in Christ Jesus
5. that nothing, not even my sin, can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus (see number 4 if you doubt that)

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
(Matthew 23:12 ESV)


Today’s prayer word is “solitude.” To me, this is not so much a word to be used in prayer as it is a condition that is helpful to prayer. Solitude is one of the classic spiritual disciplines, going hand in hand with silence, meditation, and prayer.

I find the quote at the beginning of the reading to be interesting. “The happiest of all lives is a busy solitude.” (Voltaire)

The thing is, when we observe solitude, we are not truly alone. To be certain, there are no other humans around, and, hopefully, we can find a place where the outside noise is either at a minimum, or purely nature sounds. I can sit in my back yard and be in solitude, but there is a lot of noise around. Even so, I am not “alone,” because my Father is with me, via the Holy Spirit.

Here’s another thing about solitude. My wife and I have sat in canvas chairs, on the banks of the Paluxy river, in Glen Rose, and I have felt “solitude.” So, yes, I believe that solitude can be observed or practiced, even in the presence of another.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
(Mark 1:35 NIV)

At about that same time he climbed a mountain to pray. He was there all night in prayer before God.
(Luke 6:12 MSG)

In the Luke passage, I believe solitude is implied. We see, in the life of Jesus, that He spent both time with people, and time alone with God. Both are important. As a mostly introvert (INFJ), I can recognize this, but being around a lot of people is tiresome for me, especially when I don’t know some of them. The INFJ person is energized by alone time, but also prioritizes people and emotions.

So solitude is important, not just for introverts, but for anyone who desires discipline in their lives, especially discipline regarding prayer and meditation.

(From Pray a Word a Day)


I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.
(Psalms 104:33-34 NIV)

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
(Joshua 1:8 NIV)

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.
(Psalms 77:11-12 NIV)

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.
(Psalms 119:147-148 NIV)

These are also verses that go well with the concept/discipline of solitude.


I’m reading, in Spiritual Classics, an excerpt from a book by John Wesley, called The New Birth. In this excerpt, said to be from Chapter 3, he is discussing sin and condemnation. We are all familiar with the popular verse from Romans 8.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
(Romans 8:1 ESV)

And, when we read the Old Testament, we see all kinds of sacrifices and provisions for unintentional sin, sin that might occur either by accident, or simply out of ignorance. But for intentional sin, or flat-out disobedience, there doesn’t seem to be any provision.

I like what Wesley has to say about this. “Believers who are weak in faith may be overcome by these assaults; they may become inordinately angry or think badly of others with only a very slight concurrence of the will.” God will show us, in such cases, that we have “acted foolishly,” and convince us that we have “swerved away from the perfect law, from the mind which was in Christ.” As a result, we will feel “grieved with a godly sorrow and lovingly ashamed before God.” However, there is no need, he says to feel condemnation! “God does not charge them with folly, but has compassion, even ‘as a father has compassion on his children’ (Ps. 103:12).” We have the confidence to say,

See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The LORD GOD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.” With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!
(Isaiah 12:2-3 NLT)

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


“Most of life consists of what we cannot usually see. Dreams and visions are means of seeing the reality that is inaccessible to our senses.”

Thus begins a reading by Eugene Peterson, called “On Dreams and Visions.” He goes on to describe the implements that we use to see very small things (microscopes) and things very far away (telescopes). But, he says, “we use dreams and visions to see the truth.”

For modern Christians like me, this is a difficult thing to “wrap my head around.” Sure, I’ve had dreams. But not the kind, at least as far as I know, that reveal truth. And, to my knowledge, I have had no “visions.”

Nevertheless, this world fights to “externalize us.” In other words, it wants to “diminish the rich interiors of our lives and reduce us to what we can see and pick up and buy.” Even the most well-meaning Christians fall prey to the extravagance of showy production “worship services” with flashing lights, smoke machines, and loud, boisterous music.

“We define ourselves by what we can put on a job description. God gives us dreams and visions so that we have access to the whole thing: the world for which Christ died, the whole person in whom Christ lives.”

The Bible is full of accounts of dreams and visions: Abraham, Jacob, Balaam, Solomon, Mary, and Joseph, to name a few. I have to ask, why would it be different for me, for us? I read about these remarkable events, and my life deepens and my world changes a little bit.

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

And, I come around, full-circle again, to the prayer word.

Solitude.

Solitude, which accompanies and enhances the discipline of meditation and contemplation, which is where we know the strength of God, His great salvation, His awesome forgiveness (and lack of condemnation), our hope, our success and prosperity (not necessarily material, mind you), and reflection on His wonderful and mighty deeds, both in our own lives and in history. And solitude, where the possibility of dreams and visions increases.


Father, I’m not worried about dreams and visions. In the same way that I’m not all that concerned that I don’t witness astonishing miracles that people in biblical times saw. I do wonder, sometimes, why we do not see those, but it does not shake my faith, any more than questioning things that I grew up believing shakes my faith, because that has happened, as well. I guess it could be said that, for me “deconstruction” is nothing new . . . I’ve been doing that since I got to college, and here I am today, with faith as strong as ever.

I praise Your marvelous and holy name that there is no condemnation for my sins, even for those of outright, blatant disobedience, because of the fact that I am in Christ Jesus. Doesn’t mean I don’t feel sorrow for those sins, or shame because of my failure. Those are the same thing as condemnation. I firmly believe that my sin does not separate me from You (there are some who still teach that, and I think they are wrong). But I thank You that Your Holy Spirit is there to convict me and remind me when I do fall into doing/saying/thinking things that a follower Christ should not do/say/think.

I thank You for the times of solitude that I am able to find. Sometimes, they are simply the act of sitting here, alone in my study, reading Your Word, meditating on Your truth, and praying to you. My favorite times are when I can get away from all the technology and noise and simply sit outside somewhere and observe Your creation while contemplating Your presence and Your glory. Thank You for those times and those places. I pray that we will be able to escape to one of them, soon.

I will say, though, Father, that, should You choose to bless me with dreams and/or visions, I would welcome them. I would welcome anything in my life that would draw me closer to You, both in body and in spirit.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


"Love one another;
This is how they know you're Mine;
Love one another."
(Inspired by John 13:34-35)

Grace and peace, friends.

Sing Over Me

Today is Tuesday, the fifteenth of March, 2022, in the second week of Lent. The Ides of March.

Peace be with you.

Et tu, Bruté?

Day 23,378

The day is starting out busy, already. The tire pressure light came on in C’s car, yesterday evening, as she drove home from work. I went out and checked her tires while the cinnamon toast was cooking, and found that, while all of them were down a little, the right rear was down to 19 PSI, and should be 32 when cold. So she went to Kroger after we finished eating, and put air in all of them.

Before I went to bed, I went out and checked the lowest one again, and it was down to 27. This morning, it was down to 24. I told her to take my car to work, and I will run up to the local tire store and try to get it fixed, this morning. I don’t have to go to work until 4:15 today, so I have the time to get it done.

Yesterday, we managed to get Mama’s bank account set up for online management, and got her water bill set up to be done by automatic draft. Hopefully, we did, that is. We got the form filled out and I emailed it back to them. We also got her electric company set up for bill pay through her banking site. The rest of the bills, we will have to wait until we actually have the bill in hand, in order to have the mailing address where the bill goes.

However, we also decided that the cable/Internet and the landline can be shut off asap, as she does not plan to spend any more time in the house in Mineral Wells. C will take her back there on Saturday, pick up the mail, and begin the process of address change with the Post Office. We will leave the electricity and water on for now, as we will be still going back to the house for an indeterminate amount of time. But the process is hastening on.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"I am with you, child;
a mighty one who saves you,
and quiets you with my love."
(Inspired by Zephaniah 3:17)
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
(Psalm 61:1-2 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for simple things in life, like a quiet cup of coffee at my desk
2. for many conveniences that we take for granted, like central heat and A/C, running water, indoor bathrooms, and so on
3. for love; I know that word comes up frequently, but in this case, I'm simply grateful for love, in general, the fact that it even exists is quite miraculous, to me
4. for music, music, music! Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that God sings over us and quiets us with His love
5. for questions that make me think and ponder

Today’s prayer word is “music.” The Scripture referenced is Zephaniah 3:17.

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)

This verse has been somewhat special to me for a number of years. I believe that it is not possible to overstate God’s love for us. I realize that Zephaniah is a book of prophecy to Israel, and that I am not part of Israel. But I am one of God’s children, and I believe, with all my heart, that He feels this way about all of His children.

I believe that He rejoices over us with gladness.
I believe that He quiets us with His love.
I believe that he exults over us with loud singing.

It’s been close to thirty years since I was introduced to the concept of God singing over me. It was the music of Dennis Jernigan that did that, and his music continues to have a special place in my heart, especially since it was his music that tended to put skin to the concepts of Zephaniah 3:17 in the life of our autistic daughter.

I cannot even imagine a world without music. It might as well be in black and white, with no color, whatsoever. It would be even duller than that.

Thank you, Lord, for music! And for singing over me!

Just sit back and listen to that song and feel the love of God pouring over you!


Eugene H. Peterson asks a question, in On Living Well. The reading is called “An Unanswered Question.” The question is, “What gets our attention?”

It is a question worthy of pondering. What gets your attention?

“We are bombarded with ideas, invitations, arguments, and enthusiasms that claim to make us better or happy or safe. We are yelled at, bartered with, urged, and pushed. All of it can’t be true. All of it can’t be important. But some of it must be.

“How do we distinguish between the central and peripheral? Where do we get an orientation in this dizzying whirl of argumentation? How do we find our way home through the blinding storm of controversy? How do we purchase a personal place to stand in the pushing and jostling crowd of people who claim to tell us the truth of our lives?

“What gets our attention? The loudest voice? The cleverest slogan? The biggest promise?” (The italics are my addition, as I found that question to be most intriguing.)

I’ve quoted the entire reading, and you will note that the question does, indeed, go unanswered. It is for you and me to consider.

What gets my attention? Who/what do I listen to?

I’m choosing, at least for today, to listen to that One who quiets me with His love, who rejoices over me with gladness, and who exults over me with loud singing. And that is how I find my way Home.


Father, I praise You for Your love. That is what I am most grateful for. Besides being simply thankful that love exists at all, I am thankful that You love me, and that You have spared no expense to display that. I pity the soul who cannot see that. I wonder how such a soul can possibly survive in this world.

I thank You for music, especially the music that You sing over me. Oh, how You quiet my soul with Your love; Oh, how You exult over me. And oh, how I never seem to cease to fail You or let You down.

Yet, You remember that we are but dust. So I find that I believe that You are not surprised, and maybe not even disappointed when I fail You, because You remember that. I cannot ask for forgiveness for being dust, because dust is whence I came. I have no control over that. However, I can repent of failing You; I can consider my ways of thinking and point my feet in a different direction.

And I can listen to those songs, both the songs of quiet love and the songs of loud singing that You sing over me. Help me to hear them all, and, whenever possible, help me to join in the singing.

Help me also to know Your voice, and shut out all of those other yelling, urging, and pushing voices in this world. Keep me focused on the voice that leads me Home, let that be the voice that gets my attention. And if that takes regularly getting to a place of quiet so I can hear that voice, then help me to do that, as well.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends. And music.

Pause . . . Pray

Good morning. Today is Tuesday, the eighth of March, 2022, in the first week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,371

Yesterday was an interesting day. I had scheduled a grocery delivery (a rather large one) to be delivered between 10-11 AM. This was set up the night before, as C, Mama, and I sat around discussing the grocery order. The order arrived right on time, but as I brought everything in, it appeared that some things might be missing. So I checked items off of the receipt as I put them away. Sure enough, it appeared that the driver (or a store associate . . . I will never know exactly whose fault it was) didn’t get a couple of bags. All of the cat treats were missing (oh, the horror!!), and none of the items that would be from the area by the pharmacy were there (toothpaste, ibuprofen, and so on). I was also missing one of the three Healthy Choice meals that I ordered.

I found a customer service number on one of my emails and called them. They helped me quickly and courteously, and said they were going to process a refund. After finishing my blog for the day (the grocery delivery interrupted that), I was getting ready to go to a grocery store and pick up the items that were missing, and I got a text telling me that my Albertson’s order would be delivered in a few minutes.

Wait, what?

Apparently, they found the missing bags at the store and immediately arranged for them to be delivered. Everything was there except for the Healthy Choice meal. So I took off my hat and shoes and had some lunch. As of this moment, I have seen no evidence that the refund was ever processed, so I’m glad about that. I don’t want to have to deal with trying to get me to charge me again for those items.

In the meantime, I was also wondering if a scheduled appointment with Milestone was going to happen. When the electrician made the repairs last week, he set up an appointment for a plumber to come by, yesterday, to look at my outdoor faucet in the back yard. The window as 11-2. By noon, I had heard nothing at all, not even a confirmation of the appointment, so I had assumed that they weren’t coming. But around 12:30 or so, I got a text and a phone call telling me that someone was on the way.

He arrived, and was extremely professional and friendly. However, after going over what needed to be done, and then giving the estimate, we elected to not have them do the work. They are outrageously high on their prices. We probably won’t be calling them again. They wanted over $500 to fix the outdoor faucet, and C found an average price of around$150-$300. I think, when the A/C folks are here tomorrow, I will ask them if they have any plumbing recommendations. Or I may check with our “handyman,” who doubles as a Walmart store manager. Hahaha!

Today, I don’t have much going on. It’s a normal Tuesday for me, which means I work this evening, 4:15-8:15. I’ll run out and get Subway for lunch for S, Mama, and me, and pick up stuff for them and C to have for dinner. I might get something for me to have for a late dinner, as well.

Winter is giving a final gasp (I hope?) at the end of this week, as we will have yet another bout of freezing temperatures overnight on Friday to Saturday morning, with chances of rain and snow showers. Actually, some of the snow could occur while I’m at work on Friday afternoon. Yuck.

My Lenten fast continues to go fairly well. On the physical side, I have had no candy. On the spiritual/emotional side, I have not been perfect, but have made progress. Last night, in fact, I stopped myself, mid-sentence, just about to say something critical about someone. C and Mama both approved, and also stopped talking about what we were talking about. It was a cool moment.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

When I am afraid,
    I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
    in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can flesh do to me?
(Psalm 56:3-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that today is a new day; none of yesterday's anxiety is welcome; none of tomorrow's worries are allowed; it is today, and it is the best day; it is all we have
2. for the power of worship
3. for the scenes of worship in the book of Revelation, especially those that include people "from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages"
4. for the pauses that God places in my life
5. for the wisdom He gives me to notice those pauses and to pray through them

John Henry Newman gives us three examples of Old Testament fasting. First, he mentions Jacob, whose account occurs in Genesis 32. Jacob had separated his entire camp into several groups, in preparation for meeting up with his estranged brother, Esau. Jacob was scared. He was sure that Esau was out for revenge.

After crossing the Jabbok, with his wives, children, and a few servants, Jacob spent the night wrestling with “a man.” It doesn’t specifically mention fasting in this context, but if he was wrestling all night, he was fasting. And the end result of this was a blessing.

Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 
(Genesis 32:28 ESV)

The next example is Moses, who, after coming down the mountain to find Israel worshiping a golden calf and generally partying, went back up the mountain for forty days and nights, to intercede for them.

“So I lay prostrate before the Lord for these forty days and forty nights, because the Lord had said he would destroy you. And I prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord God, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.'"
(Deuteronomy 9:25-26 ESV)

The end result of this fast was that God didn’t wipe out Israel. Would He have done that, anyway? I don’t know. You don’t know. None of us know.

Tomorrow, we will look at the third example, which is Daniel.

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


The final chapter in Eugene H. Peterson’s Symphony of Salvation is, rightfully, on the book of Revelation, and called, “Worship.”

“The Bible ends with a flourish: vision and song, doom and deliverance, terror and triumph. The rush of color and sound, image and energy, leaves us reeling. But if we persist through the initial confusion and read on, we begin to pick up the rhythms, realize the connections, and find ourselves enlisted as participants in a multidimensional act of Christian worship.”

It starts with the four “living creatures” in chapter 4, who are said to be chanting night and day, never taking a break,

Holy, holy, holy
Is God our Master, Sovereign-Strong,
THE WAS, THE IS, THE COMING.

And, with the twenty-four elders joining in,

Worthy, O Master! Yes, our God!
Take the glory! the honor! the power!
You created it all;
It was created because you wanted it.
(Revelation 4:8, 11 MSG)

By mid-book, all the “saved ones” have joined in:

Mighty your acts and marvelous,
    O God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Righteous your ways and true,
    King of the nations!
Who can fail to fear you, God,
    give glory to your Name?
Because you and you only are holy,
    all nations will come and worship you,
    because they see your judgments are right.
(Revelation 15:3-4 MSG)

Regardless of everything you have ever read about the book of Revelation, the central theme of John’s book seems to be worship. I love how Eugene Peterson has brought this out, in his different writings about Revelation. John was worshiping when he received the vision, and is responsible for “a circuit of churches on the mainland whose primary task is worship.”

“Our times are not propitious for worship. The times never are. The world is hostile to worship. The Devil hates worship. As Revelation makes clear, worship must be carried out under conditions decidedly uncongenial to it. Some Christians are even killed because they worship.”

Consider this scene from chapter 19:

I heard a sound like massed choirs in Heaven singing,

Hallelujah!
The salvation and glory and power are God’s—
    his judgments true, his judgments just.
He judged the great Whore
    who corrupted the earth with her lust.
He avenged on her the blood of his servants.

Then, more singing:

Hallelujah!
The smoke from her burning billows up
    to high Heaven forever and ever and ever.

The Twenty-four Elders and the Four Animals fell to their knees and worshiped God on his Throne, praising,

Amen! Yes! Hallelujah!

 From the Throne came a shout, a command:

Praise our God, all you his servants,
All you who fear him, small and great!

Then I heard the sound of massed choirs, the sound of mighty rapids, the sound of strong thunder:

Hallelujah!
The Master reigns,
    our God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Let us celebrate, let us rejoice,
    let us give him the glory!
The Marriage of the Lamb has come;
    his Wife has made herself ready.
She was given a bridal gown
    of bright and shining linen.
The linen is the righteousness of the saints.

And Peterson doesn’t even mention on of my favorite Revelation passages:

I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing:

Salvation to our God on his Throne!
Salvation to the Lamb!

All who were standing around the Throne—Angels, Elders, Animals—fell on their faces before the Throne and worshiped God, singing:

Oh, Yes!
The blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving,
The honor and power and strength,
To our God forever and ever and ever!
Oh, Yes!
(Revelation 7:9-12)

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
(Ephesians 1:5 NLT)
But you, O Lord,
    are a God of compassion and mercy,
slow to get angry
    and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
(Psalm 86:15 NLT)
For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.
(Romans 8:16 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “comma.” Another good one, when taken in context, here. Obviously, the word is likely not in the Bible anywhere. I’m not going to go to the trouble to verify that right now, but I don’t think it is.

The quote at the beginning of the reading is from Christian musician TobyMac.

"Practice the pause. 
When in doubt, 
pause. 
When angry, 
pause. 
When tired, 
pause. 
When stressed, 
pause. 
And when you pause, 

pray."

Commas are interesting. I remember an English class I had in college, taught by a TA. I would write an essay for an assignment, and there would be a note written in the margin, “Comma not necessary.” Then, the next time, “You could put a comma there.” I was, like, “MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!”

But that’s the funny thing about commas. I’m a staunch supporter of the “Oxford comma,” so I use more commas than some. I was going to launch into this long, drawn out example, but there’s nothing spiritual about that, so never mind. But a comma in a sentence is a place to pause, perhaps to breathe.

Sometimes, God puts commas in our lives. Sometimes, those commas are at very inconvenient places. Over the last couple years, we have had a very large comma, haven’t we?

As written by one who is only referred to as “Barbranda,” “[God] inserts a comma in various spots in my life because He wants me to stop and rest or learn a lesson. Sometimes I recognize it as such; other times I think I’m facing a defeat or the end. But it’s only the Lord’s comma – a pause, not a period.”

We would all do well to ponder this, especially the next time a “pause” is forced upon us. I’m not necessarily an “everything happens for a reason” person. But there are times when those things do happen for a reason. Side note: that reason is, in my opinion, never to make you feel guilty or helpless or anything like that. But that’s a discussion for a whole ‘nother day.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
    loving look at me, your High God,
    above politics, above everything.”
(Psalm 46:10 MSG)

Father, thank You for the pauses. I’m even grateful for this gigantic pause we have had since the beginning of 2020. That doesn’t mean that I am thankful for the million deaths we have had in our country. It doesn’t mean I am thankful for Covid-19. There are, unfortunately, some who would read that that way. But I am grateful for the “reset” that has been forced upon us, the opportunity to step back and realize that there are most definitely things that we can live without. And, when some of the things we like are not available, we survive . . . we can adapt and get by. We can do without! Thank You for showing us that.

Thank You for the magnificent displays of worship that we see in the book of Revelation. And I thank You for the work of Eugene Peterson, who, at this moment, is likely enjoying one of those scenes of worship, in helping us to reframe our perspective on the difficult book of Revelation. It isn’t quite as difficult after hearing Eugene talk about it. You know, Father . . . I love worship, and I miss the act of worship in my life. This past Sunday was, for me, a great time of worship. I know that not everyone responds to the kind of worship setting that we were in, but my soul resonates with it. Help me to get back into the habit of worship, especially in my daily life. And that’s not a call for more music or singing, although I could definitely do more of that. It is a call for my life to be worship. For I believe that worship is something that are, more than something we do.

Thank You for the way my fast is going, and I pray for strength to continue it and to improve. Thank You for adopting me as Your son, through Christ Jesus. I believe that this adoption is permanent, and that no man can snatch me out of Your hands, per the words of Jesus. I praise You for this. Keep me growing in You, and learning more about You.

By Your Spirit, help me to pause and pray more often, today.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
(Revelation 5:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.