Wide Awake in Prayer

Today is Tuesday, the 28th of February, 2023, in the first week of Lent.

The peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,728

It is the last day of February! Huzzah!! And it could get up to 80 degrees today. The weather to continues to act like our drunk uncle. Not that I ever had a drunk uncle. Wait . . . I might have. I did have a couple of wild uncles on my dad’s side of the family. Great-uncles, actually.

Anyway . . . we could possibly break a record for high temp today, as the previous high was 81 in 2014. The projected high for the day, though is 80. Then, in three days, it’s supposed to be back in the upper 50s. Then back to the 70s, and the last day on the ten-day forecast is 51. Up, down, all around, see my thumb . . .

Since it is Tuesday, I will be working a four-hour shift at the library tonight, from 4:15-8:15. Then I have three eight-hour shifts over the next four days, with Thursday off. S doesn’t have Club Metro this week, so Thursday should be fairly “chill.”

I should finish a book today. I’ve been reading McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories, a book I ran across at the library a couple weeks ago. It’s a book of, in some ways, genre-defying stories. I have enjoyed it, as I am a big fan of short stories. As some reviewers have noted, though, it is difficult to rate a book of short stories by various authors. One is probably not going to think all the stories in the collection are “amazing.”

I didn’t get in any music practice, yesterday, but I did exercise for thirty minutes on the recumbent bike.


Make your face shine upon your servant, 
and teach me your statutes.
(Psalms 119:135 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that you have always been gracious to us, revealing your great goodness and power in ages past and in the present. In this revelation we live, O Lord our God. You are the almighty One, who works wonders on earth and who rules the heavens so that we can be blest and helped on our earthly paths. Let your goodness and your justice be revealed throughout all the world. Arise, O Lord our God. Let your light shine in us who believe in you. Let your light shine into the whole world. Let your name be glorified. You are indeed our Father, both in heaven and on earth. You give our lives security now and in eternity. Amen.

For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens; 
your faithfulness extends to the clouds. 
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. 
Let your glory be over all the earth.
(Psalms 57:10-11 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the steadfast love (chesed) of the Lord, as high as the heavens; may He be exalted and worshiped in all the earth
  • for the grace of God that blesses us and helps us on our earthly paths
  • that no cloud of this mortal life can hide from me that steadfast, immortal love of the Father, manifested in Jesus Christ
  • for the admonition to forgive others as God, in Christ, has forgiven us
  • for prayer

Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually.
(Psalms 105:4 NRSV)
Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, 
and to those who are upright in their hearts.
(Psalms 125:4 NRSV)
As for mortals, their days are like grass;
 they flourish like a flower of the field; 
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, 
and its place knows it no more.
(Psalms 103:15-16 NRSV)
"Lord, have mercy;
Christ, have mercy;
Lord, have mercy."
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. 
May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; 
for Yours are the kingdom and the power 
and the glory forever and ever. 
"Most loving Father,
whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things,
to fear nothing but the loss of you,
and to cast all our cares on you who cares for us:
Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties,
that no clouds of this mortal life
 may hide from me the light of this love which is immortal, 
and which you have manifested to us 
in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
who lives and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
(Ephesians 4:31-32 NRSV)

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:16-25 NRSV)

Stay wide-awake in prayer.
(1 Peter 4:7 MSG)

When we pray, we connect with the almighty. There are a lot of things that can affect our prayer, and they are not all good.

The emotions and subsequent actions of Ephesians 4:31 could definitely negatively affect our prayers. Have you every tried to pray in bitterness? In wrath or anger? I have. It doesn’t go well, usually. It is apparent that some of the psalmists also did that, based on psalms such as Psalm 137. It’s in the Bible, so there’s a good reason for it. But I do not believe that I would ever be able to pray that prayer back to God. I cannot see myself asking God to reward someone for dashing anyone’s babies against the rocks.

It is impossible, in my opinion, to sincerely pray for someone with malice in our hearts. I also do not believe that a prayer prayed for someone whom we are slandering (and by the way, I learned, last Sunday, that the word translated “slander” in that verse is “blasphemia.” That’s right. Blasphemy.) can be effective.

Emotions get in the way of our prayers. Of course, they can help our prayers, too. If we are working in the framework of the positive traits in verse 31, surely our prayers are better. But emotions aren’t prayer. As much as possible, we should attempt to detach our feelings when we are praying.

I think it is interesting that, in the middle of all of the negative things in Galatians 5, is a list that gets overlooked. Probably because we tend to focus on the first few things in that list. Fornication, impurity, licentiousness . . . we like to focus on those, because most Christians don’t see themselves as having issues with those. They may or may not be right in that.

But then we get this list: idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy. Then it’s back to some that we like to point out in others . . . drunkenness and carousing.

It is also interesting that the word that is so often translated as “sorcery” or “witchcraft” in that verse is “pharmakeia.” That word literally means “medicine.” I am nowhere near knowledgeable enough to comment on that, but I have thoughts that don’t belong in today’s discourse.

The rest of that list are things that are, unfortunately, commonly found in the Body of Christ. Or are they? If we are truly part of the Body of Christ, will we engage in those emotions and activities? Probably so, sadly. I mean Paul had to constantly be writing to people in the churches he started, correcting their behavior in areas like this.

Here’s the thing, people. We are human! We will always be human. We will never be perfect on this side of glory. I can only hope that, when we transition from this lift to the next, we will miraculously be changed. I believe this to be the case. I don’t want to feel many of the things that my flesh causes me to feel. I don’t want to engage in idolatry, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, or envy. I don’t want to have malice toward anyone, much less a brother or sister in Christ. I don’t want to have bitterness, anger, or wrath, or blaspheme against my neighbor.

What I want is to be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, just as Christ has forgiven me. I want to have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

And I want to stay “wide-awake in prayer.”

“Lord, forgive us for our pride, when our faith becomes a show.” Expose our faults, Father. Show us where we are trying to cover up negative traits by both pointing out the faults of others while dressing ourselves up in fake righteousness. As we continue to move through this Lenten season, engaging in self-reflection based on Your Word and the life of Christ, may we see the truth about ourselves.

But this “truth” is two-fold (at least). Yes, we are flawed. Yes we stumble and fall into pits of malice, anger, wrath, and slander. We get jealous and envious of one another. We even find ourselves engaging in idolatry, though we are loathe to admit it. But we are also free and forgiven in Christ, bathed in righteousness, and all of our sins are erased, washed away, and cast as far as the east is from the west.

Have mercy, Father. Kyrie eleison! Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner! May Your Spirit fill us, and in that filling, chase out all of those bad emotions and actions, leaving only room for the fruit of the Spirit, which begins with love.

All things being with love, Father, so give us love in all things. Love covers a multitude of sins, said one of Your original disciples. It not only covers those sins, it erases them. And may it blot out completely all of the wrath, malice, slander, envy and other bad things in our lives.

Father, help me to stay wide-awake in prayer.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Love Your Enemy

Today is Tuesday, the 21st of February, 2023, the last day of the season of Epiphany. Lent begins tomorrow, with Ash Wednesday. Today is Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today and every day.

Day 23,721

Typical Tuesday, today. I’ll be heading to Subway for lunch and dinner for the family, and then I’ll go to work at the library at 4:15-8:15 this evening. Who knows what will happen in between? Maybe some reading, maybe some gaming. I’m currently reading The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, by Grady Hendrix. I’ve been wanting to read some of his work, for a while, now, so I finally checked this one out. So far, it does not disappoint. I’m a little more than halfway through it.


Truly I direct my steps by all your precepts; 
I hate every false way.
(Psalms 119:128 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, remember us even though we are only a few. Protect us from all evil, from all inner harm, which threatens us every day. Let your hand be over us so that at last a great power may stream out from your church into all the world, bringing the fulfillment of your promises. We thank you for all your goodness. Watch over us, we pray. Keep us in the right spirit and purpose, and help us resist all that is wrong and harmful. Grant that we serve you and not the world. Protect us this day and every day. Amen.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.
(Ephesians 5:25-27 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for my wife, faithful partner for almost 38 years
  • for the goodness of God in all things
  • for the potential of the Church to bring the light of God into the world; strengthen us to do right, Father!
  • for the steadfast love of the Lord, and His wonderful works to humankind
  • for David’s example in 1 Samuel of not doing evil to Saul

Open my eyes, 
so that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
(Psalms 119:18 NRSV)
With my whole heart I seek you; 
do not let me stray from your commandments.
(Psalms 119:10 NRSV)
Some went down to the sea in ships, 
doing business on the mighty waters; 
they saw the deeds of the LORD, 
his wondrous works in the deep. 
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, 
which lifted up the waves of the sea. 
They mounted up to heaven, 
they went down to the depths; 
their courage melted away in their calamity; 
they reeled and staggered like drunkards, 
and were at their wits' end. 
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, 
and he brought them out from their distress; 
he made the storm be still, 
and the waves of the sea were hushed. 
Then they were glad because they had quiet, 
and he brought them to their desired haven. 
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, 
for his wonderful works to humankind. 
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, 
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
(Psalms 107:23-32 NRSV)
A Psalm of David. 

The LORD is my shepherd,
 I shall not want.
 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
(Psalms 23:1-2 NRSV)

David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; when his brothers and all his father’s house heard of it, they went down there to him. Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Those who were with him numbered about four hundred.
(1 Samuel 22:1-2 NRSV)

The men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.'” Then David went and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak. Afterward David was stricken to the heart because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak. He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to raise my hand against him; for he is the LORD’s anointed.”
(1 Samuel 24:4-6 NRSV)

let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
(Hebrews 10:22 NRSV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NRSV)

See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.
(1 Thessalonians 5:15 NRSV, emphasis added)

But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.
(2 Thessalonians 3:3 NRSV)

"Father God, fill me with You until there is no more room for me." 
(Erika Bentsen, Walking in Grace 2023)

Show me how you work, GOD; 
School me in your ways.
(Psalms 25:4 MSG)

Evil will be used by God to bring about good. “All things . . .” (Romans 8:28) Not just “good things.” And, besides that, human interpretation of what is “good” and “evil” is, at best, suspect.

While we should not be naive about evil (having that “head in the sand” attitude about it), we should not be intimidated by it, either. The 2 Thessalonians verse tells us that God will guard us from the evil one. We also have Jesus’s model prayer including that bit about “deliver us from evil,” and there are some who say that it should say “evil one,” and not just “evil.”

We are not to repay evil for evil. It is my opinion that there is no circumstance that bears this out as prevalently as in driving. But it displays itself in some ugly ways in our interactions in society, as well.

We have this problem of forgetting that the “newspapers are footnotes to Scripture and not the other way around.” We spend to much time engaging with our own and other peoples’ opinions about things, especially in the political arena. “We get our interpretation of politics and economics and morals from journalists when we should be getting only information.” The meaning of the world should be given us by God’s Word. Instead we allow the world to interpret God’s Word. (Quotes by Eugene H. Peterson, from Run with the Horses, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)

Look at the example of David up there. Saul was trying to kill David. All because of some song that some women sang. “Saul has slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands,” is how the song went. I’ve always had a rather humorous vision of this in my head, as a few dozen women do some kind of Hebrew dance in the street (which involves a lot of bouncing and jingling), chanting this line repeatedly. It has a pretty good rhythm to it.

Saul was envious. Or maybe it was jealousy; I get those two confused a lot. At any rate, he was literally hunting David to kill him. David had hidden out in a cave with around 400 men. Saul stepped into the cave to take a leak (relieve himself). David’s men said, “Here’s your chance! Kill him!”

David crept up to him and cut off a corner of his robe. David would not lift a hand against Saul, even though Saul would have killed him on the spot! 1 Samuel 24:4-6 tells us. David even felt guilty for cutting off a piece of Saul’s robe!

Who are your enemies? Do you even really have any? I don’t. There are certainly people that I don’t like very much. But do I consider them enemies? My only real enemy is spiritual, at least at this point in my life. But this translates into how I treat someone I don’t like, as well.

There’s a library patron I don’t care for. I’m not alone in that. But if Jesus is having His way in my heart, I will treat this person with love, not hatred. I will do “good things” to him.

By the way, note that bit from Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5 where he says that we should “do good to one another and to all.” Oh, if only he had stopped before “and to all!”

There are Christ-followers (allegedly) who are “conservative Republicans” who seriously believe that all Democrats are their enemies. There are Christ-followers (allegedly) who are “liberal Democrats,” although the conservative Republicans believe this to be impossible, who seriously believe that all Republicans are their enemies.

There are white people who believe that all people of color are their enemies. There are people of color who believe that all white people are their enemies. There are even men who believe that all women are their enemies, and vise versa.

None of these beliefs are true. Not one. But guess what. Even if they were, if we are true Christ-followers, we are obligated to love those people whom we consider to be our enemy. It is not negotiable.

I really like Erika Bentsen’s prayer in today’s reading in Walking in Grace 2023. I quoted it up there. It’s a wonderful prayer. We should all pray that, every day. Lord, “fill me with You until there is no more room for me.”

I’ve still got too much of me in there.

Lord, have mercy! Father, have mercy on us, for we are foolish children, walking about casting hatred at one another over ridiculous things like politics. We consider ourselves each others’ enemies, when, in reality, our only real “enemy” is the devil. We wrestle not with flesh and blood, says Paul, but we are sure wrestling an awful lot with each other. Help us to unite, in the blood and name of Jesus Christ, and fight our common enemy, reaching out with love to the world.

Help us to not interpret Your Word by the morning headlines and editorials. Rather, help us to interpret what we see in the world by Your Word, instead. Help us to be filled with You until there is no more room for us in there. When that happens, there will only be love coming out of us, and the world will then see what a true Christ-follower is supposed to look like.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Do We Insult God?

Today is Tuesday, the 14th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace and love of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,714

I haven’t mentioned it at all, yet, because C and I don’t really celebrate this one, and haven’t for years. But today is Valentine’s Day, the day when we celebrate the martyrdom of a priest by the emperor Claudius II Gothicus by giving roses and chocolates to our loved ones.

Yeah, I’m still confused by that one, as well. But we leave it to the “youngsters” to celebrate.

Today being Tuesday, I will be working at the library this evening, from 4:15-8:15. It has been raining most of the night, and is sprinkling (I believe the Brits may refer to this as “spitting”) a bit, now. The wind was quite strong, last night, and is predicted to be high, this afternoon, as well. The sun should come out around midday, and the high temperature is expected to hit right at 70 degrees. Tomorrow’s high is projected to be 75, but then, in another drunk frenzy, the weather will drop the temperature 30 degrees by mid-afternoon Thursday, and then another 20 degrees to hit a low of 26 on Friday morning. Fortunately, there is no precipitation forecast for those days.

We must be in the midst of the anniversary of “Snovid 21,” when we had an ice storm that broke the Texas power grid for a few days. I say this because the record lows for the past two days were in 2021, today’s record being 10 degrees.


I have done what is just and right;
 do not leave me to my oppressors.
(Psalms 119:121 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, keep us in the grace that is ours through Jesus Christ. Uphold others also in this grace. Reveal yourself everywhere to those who trust in you and who await your kingdom. May your blessing be on our household. We thank you for helping us, and with your help we want to be faithful to you. Then when hardships come, we can be certain of your presence. We know and trust you. We know and trust the Savior, and we know and trust the Holy Spirit, in whom we can have community and be strengthened to serve your glory. Amen.

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
(Romans 5:1-5 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the grace in which I stand
  • for God’s love, poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit
  • for the beauty of our God; that should be enough to convince people to love and follow Him
  • that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7); specifically, God’s love
  • that God has not and will not abandon His people

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, 
so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
(Psalms 90:14 NRSV)
Praise the LORD from the earth, 
you sea monsters and all deeps,
 fire and hail, snow and frost, 
stormy wind fulfilling his command!
 Mountains and all hills, 
fruit trees and all cedars! 
Wild animals and all cattle, 
creeping things and flying birds! 
Kings of the earth and all peoples,
 princes and all rulers of the earth! 
Young men and women alike, 
old and young together! 
Let them praise the name of the LORD, 
for his name alone is exalted; 
his glory is above earth and heaven. 
He has raised up a horn for his people,
 praise for all his faithful,
 for the people of Israel who are close to him. 

Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 148:7-14 NRSV)

The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, worshiping the Baals and the Astartes, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. Thus they abandoned the LORD, and did not worship him. So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Ammonites, and they crushed and oppressed the Israelites that year. For eighteen years they oppressed all the Israelites that were beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to fight against Judah and against Benjamin and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was greatly distressed. 

So the Israelites cried to the LORD, saying, "We have sinned against you, because we have abandoned our God and have worshiped the Baals." And the LORD said to the Israelites, "Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, oppressed you; and you cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand. Yet you have abandoned me and worshiped other gods; therefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry to the gods whom you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress." And the Israelites said to the LORD, "We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to you; but deliver us this day!" So they put away the foreign gods from among them and worshiped the LORD; and he could no longer bear to see Israel suffer.
(Judges 10:6-16 NRSV)

[Love] bears all things, 
believes all things, 
hopes all things, 
endures all things.
(1 Corinthians 13:7 NRSV)

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
(Ephesians 4:1-7 NRSV)

Oh, blessed be GOD! 
He didn't go off and leave us. 
He didn't abandon us defenseless,
 helpless as a rabbit in a pack of snarling dogs.
(Psalms 124:6 MSG)

One of my favorite things, of late, has become trying to tie all of these Scripture passages together. In case you aren’t aware, they come from a variety of sources. For example . . . today, the first verse, Psalm 119:121 comes from my own daily reading through Psalm 119. The next passage, from Romans 5, comes from the daily prayer provided by Plough magazine, a resource that I discovered last year.

The two passages from Psalms that occur after my gratitude list are from The Divine Hours, daily readings compiled by Phyllis Tickle. The passage from Judges is from my daily readings as I read through the NRSV C.S. Lewis Bible. I am not following any particular plan on this, just reading it straight through, approximately five chapters a day.

Next come a couple of passages from Walking in Grace 2023 (formerly Daily Guideposts), and finally a verse from God’s Message for Each Day, by Eugene H. Peterson.

The reason I included that passage from Judges has to do with a C.S. Lewis passage that was included in reference to it. The key part of that passage of Scripture comes when God responds to the Israelites in verses 11-14.

And the LORD said to the Israelites, “Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, oppressed you; and you cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand. Yet you have abandoned me and worshiped other gods; therefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry to the gods whom you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress.”
(Judges 10:11-14 NRSV)

Now, remember my blog from yesterday, when I wrote that God is not ever obligated to answer us. Here, He answers, but not in a way that they would have preferred. Yet, their response was noble and honest.

And the Israelites said to the LORD, “We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to you; but deliver us this day!”
(Judges 10:15 NRSV)

They did what was right, put away their false, foreign gods, and the Lord could no longer bear to see them suffer.

Here is what the editors of the C.S. Lewis Bible chose to include on that page. It is a selection from his book, The Problem of Pain.

“It is a poor thing to strike our colours to God when the ship is going down under us; a poor thing to come to Him as a last resort, to offer up ‘our own’ when it is no longer worth keeping. If God were proud He would hardly have us on such terms: but He is not proud, He stoops to conquer, He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him, and come to Him because there is ‘nothing better’ now to be had. The same humility is shown by all those Divine appeals to our fears which trouble high-minded readers of Scripture. It is hardly complimentary to God that we should choose Him as an alternative to Hell: yet even this He accepts. The creature’s illusion of self-sufficiency must, for the creature’s sake, be shattered; and by trouble or fear of trouble on earth, by crude fear of the eternal flames, God shatters it ‘unmindful of His glory’s diminution.'”

“It is hardly complimentary to God that we should choose Him as an alternative to Hell: yet even this He accepts.”

Brothers and sisters, that sentence wrecks me. I believe that, for far too long, our opening card in evangelism has been “Accept Jesus as your savior or you’ll go to Hell.” Because of this, Jesus has become, to many people, nothing more than a “get out of Hell free card.”

What if we appealed, rather, to the exquisite, infinite beauty of God? Or, as we have seen, in recent years, to His great love for us? Look back up at Psalm 90:14. What if we were satisfied, each morning, by His steadfast love, instead of, as Lewis said, preferring “everything else to Him?”

There’s another quote of Lewis, a rather famous one that John Piper quoted in Desiring God (I think). According to Goodreads, this one comes from The Weight of Glory.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Yet, when those mud pies no longer satisfy, when those things that we thought would be better than God don’t quite pan out, there we go back to Him, crying out to Him. He would have every right to respond to us just as He did to those Israelites in Judges, who “again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.” Then, after God relented and delivered them through Jephthah (a tragic story in its own right), look at Judges 13:1.

The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.
(Judges 13:1 NRSV)

Again. And again and again and again.

But there is the beauty of 1 Corinthians 13:7. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I used to think that this chapter was nothing more than a list of ways that we ought to behave. I still believe it is that, but I also believe that it is a description of God’s love toward us. If God is “love” and “love” is and does all of the things described in 1 Corinthians 13, then this chapter also describes God.

He doesn’t abandon us, as is also referenced in Psalm 124:6. He has every right to. He could. He maybe should. But He doesn’t. And He even accepts our pathetic cries to Him after we have tried everything else, and then decided that the best reason to come to Him is to avoid Hell.

Father, forgive us. Father, have mercy! You do, I know, and we most definitely do not deserve it. You are beautiful, my God! “You are beautiful; a terrible, terrible sight!” (Terry Scott Taylor) And You are more than just a means for us to avoid Hell. Please forgive us for our feeble efforts. I know You do, because You are Love. Your steadfast love will never fail or fade, even though ours is as fickle as the wind. We are tossed about by whatever wave of popularity comes along. We stumble and fall on a daily basis.

Yet, You remember that we are but dust. And that is such a glorious verse in Psalm 103, Father. What great comfort it is that You remember this. Yet we are called to be perfect, even as You are perfect. I should think that we might also be called to be beautiful, even as You are beautiful! Help us to be that, Lord. Help us to reflect Your beauty, not some human-devised vision of Your anger that, because of Jesus Christ, may not even be true, any more, if we are to understand what “propitiation” truly means.

And forgive me, Father, for being “far too easily pleased.”

May the Holy Spirit help us to come up with a better way to draw people into Your kingdom than trying to scare them out of Hell. Help us to love people. I think a Love Revolution would be a far more effective tactic.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Incomprehensible

Today is Tuesday, the 7th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ enfold you today!

Day 23,707

Our weather continues to display signs of drunkenness. After a high of 73, yesterday, I awoke to a temperature of 61 degrees, and falling (the temperature, not me). That will be the highest temperature of the day. It should get down to around 45 degrees during the night, tonight. There is an 87% chance of rain today, and 85% chance tomorrow. This is fine, as we need the rain, and it’s not supposed to freeze this week. The next ten days are predicted to be anywhere from the low fifties to the low seventies. The average temps for this time of year are upper fifties for highs and mid-thirties for lows. We aren’t setting any records, though, as the record high for today is 77, in 1974, and the record low is 22, in 2014. I should think we should be getting close to the time when the record lows will be from 2021.

It’s my night at the library, tonight, so I’ll be working from 4:15 to 8:15, this evening. It’s also our Subway day, so I’ll be trekking over to Subway around noon today, to pick up lunch and dinner for the family. We missed it last week, because of the winter “storm.”

That’s about all I have today. Got a few chores to do, and should probably practice a little bit. Need to keep my trombone chops going (or keep improving them), and have a new vocal song to learn for February 26.


You are my hiding place and my shield; 
I hope in your word.
(Psalms 119:114 NRSV)

May this ever be true in my life.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, living source of all that is eternal in us, we come to you and plead with you to strengthen the gifts you have given us. Grant us the light of life in which we can walk in spite of the many burdens and uncertainties of our earthly life. Protect us from deception and disappointment. Strengthen our hope for your steadfast, firm, and eternal rule in us, in many others, and finally in all people. Amen.

Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that God is my hiding place and my shield (Psalm 119:114)
  • for the gifts that God has given me; may He strengthen those within me
  • for the Word of God, lamp to my feet, light to my path (Psalm 119:105)
  • for freedom in Christ
  • that the Lord delivers me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4)
  • for the Psalms

I rise before dawn and cry for help; 
I put my hope in your words.
(Psalms 119:147 NRSV)
I sought the LORD, 
and he answered me, 
and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 NRSV)
Your word is a lamp to my feet 
and a light to my path.
(Psalms 119:105 NRSV)
So if the Son makes you free, 
you will be free indeed.
(John 8:36 NRSV)
So thank GOD for his marvelous love, 
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
(Psalms 107:31 MSG)

I have a lot of thoughts going through my head, this morning, as I consider the Scripture verses that have spoken to me.

I like Eugene H. Peterson’s words, in Answering God, quoted in today’s reading of God’s Message for Each Day. “It is not possible to comprehend God. Merely to utter the name ‘God’ is to be plunged into mystery.”

I agree. We cannot comprehend God, and as soon as someone claims that they have, they lose all credibility. However, we are not roaming around in the dark, “where all cats are gray.” While we cannot comprehend God, there are things about Him that are knowable. We tend to call these things “doctrine.” Even so, there is a rather large amount of disagreement over those doctrines.

One of the great things about C.S. Lewis’s book, Mere Christianity, which I am currently reading again, along with a group of people from my church, is that what he is trying to describe fits the title perfectly. He is not interested in “denominational” differences. He says, right off the bat, that he is not going to present one communion over another. He happened to be of the Church of England, but I believe that is only mentioned once in the book, and that at the beginning.

He describes “mere Christianity,” or, in a sense, the basic beliefs which most denominations agree upon, as a large hall. The important thing is to get into that hallway. The various denominations or “communions,” as he calls them, are represented by doors that come off of that hallway. He advises us to be kind to people who have either landed in different rooms than we, or people who have made it into the hallway, but not yet found which door they need to go through.

Evelyn Underhill defines worship as simply “the response of the creature to the Eternal.” This response comes almost naturally (most definitely naturally to non-human creatures), and is, perhaps, enhanced by the fact that we do not and cannot comprehend God, as Peterson notes.

So we seek Him, and we cry out to Him, as we worship Him. We do not comprehend, and perhaps we should not attempt to. Part of the act of worship is simply doing nothing more than contemplating His beauty. Any attempt to understand or comprehend Him detracts from this, and could result in what Underhill called “egotistic piety.”

So we thank Him for His marvelous love, that “miracle mercy,” as Peterson paraphrases in Psalm 107:31.

Jesus declared that if we continue in His Word, we would know the truth and the truth would make us free. Jesus also declared that He was the Truth (the Way, the Truth, and the Life). Therefore, it is Him that we will know, and He who will set us free. And if He has set us free, then we are “free indeed.” The Greek word that is translated “indeed,” is ontos, which can be translated as “indeed, certainly, of a truth, verily, really.”

There seems to be some disagreement as to what “free” means, in this case. I will give my opinion, noting that it is nothing more than that. However, as Paul once said, I believe that I, too, have the Holy Spirit.

I believe that, in Christ, I have been made free, indeed, and that I am free from trying to comprehend something that is incomprehensible. There is a contingent of society that refuses to believe something that it cannot understand. I find this laughable, as those same people get in their car and drive to work every day, and I guarantee you that many of them don’t really understand how that works. Or maybe they get on an airplane and fly to a particular destination. And I guarantee you that they breathe, and don’t understand how that works, either!

As C.S. Lewis points out, I don’t have to understand how my dinner nourishes me in order to enjoy it.

So I don’t have to comprehend God to enjoy Him. And there are certainly times when I thoroughly enjoy simply contemplating His beauty.

Father, I praise You, even though I do not fully understand You. And I thank You that I don’t have to. Well, I can’t, that’s the truth, but I don’t have to try to. I am free from that, as well as free from other things, because of Jesus Christ. So I praise You for the Son, who has set us free, indeed, because He is the Truth, and He has shown us truth, that we may become free in Him.

I praise You for Your inexpressible beauty. This beauty is made known to us in so many ways, not the least of which is Your Creation. How I love to sit and watch the ocean, and even better, catch a sunrise or sunset over the ocean. How I love to watch a waterfall, one, perhaps that is not so readily visible without a bit of a journey. The reward is worth it. In these things, as well as in the majestic mountain ranges, I see Your beauty. I celebrate that beauty in worship.

Thank You for Your Word, which is a lamp for my feet, which lights up my path. Help me to always continue in that Word, and never forsake it. I have truly loved Your Word since before I was able to read it. I praise You for being that kind of Presence in my life for that long, Lord.

You are glorious and beautiful, and I long to be in Your Presence for eternity.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Eyes on Jesus

Today is Tuesday, the 24th of January, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,693

There’s a nice, slow rain falling outside, this morning, as I type this, our first rain in well over thirty days. It is currently 43 degrees outside, and that’s the highest it is expected to be today. Tonight’s low should be just below freezing. I suppose there is a slight chance of some snow, later in the day, as it gets colder. I do have to work tonight, but I’m not worried about travel conditions, as it has been unseasonable warm for the past week or so.

My cold is gradually getting better, but only after feeling slightly worse yesterday. It was a busy weekend, working Friday and Saturday, then having church activities on Sunday, but it’s a light work week for me, this week, and there is plenty of time to rest. I do need to get some trombone practice in, and hope that I will feel well enough to walk on the treadmill, maybe tomorrow.

The visit with the estate sale planner went fabulously, yesterday. It’s all arranged, but they are a little behind, so our sale won’t happen until the first weekend in May, which is fine with us. We are in no hurry, and we don’t have a timeline for selling the house, either. So they have ample time to look at everything in the house and determine pricing. He got a good look at everything, yesterday, and seemed mildly excited about doing the sale.


I understand more than the aged, 
for I keep your precepts.
(Psalms 119:100 NRSV)

Lord our God, we thank you for giving us your love, for letting us draw nearer to what is right and good. May your Spirit penetrate everywhere, overcoming what is false and helping people everywhere to understand the true nature of your justice. Guard us on all our ways. Protect us when our bodies and our lives are worn down by sickness and distress of every kind. Grant us your help according to your truth and righteousness. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, “Seek me in chaos.” I the LORD speak the truth, I declare what is right.
(Isaiah 45:19 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for a great meeting with the estate sale planner yesterday
  • for safe travel to and from Mineral Wells, yesterday
  • that God does not hide from us, and is not difficult to find
  • that it is the Lord who opens my eyes and ears, that I might “behold wondrous things” in His Word, and who opens my lips that my mouth may declare His praise
  • for the promise of victory in Christ

O Lord, open my lips, 
and my mouth will declare your praise.
(Psalms 51:15 NRSV)
Open my eyes, 
so that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
(Psalms 119:18 NRSV)
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, 
and I will glorify your name forever.
(Psalms 86:12 NRSV)
For who is God except the LORD? 
And who is a rock besides our God?—
(Psalms 18:31 NRSV)

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
(Matthew 10:16-20 NRSV)

You are righteous, O LORD, 
and your judgments are right. 
You have appointed your decrees 
in righteousness and in all faithfulness. 
My zeal consumes me 
because my foes forget your words. 
Your promise is well tried, 
and your servant loves it. 
I am small and despised, 
yet I do not forget your precepts. 
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, 
and your law is the truth. 
Trouble and anguish have come upon me, 
but your commandments are my delight. 
Your decrees are righteous forever; 
give me understanding that I may live.
(Psalms 119:137-144 NRSV)
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. 
May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; 
for Yours are the kingdom and the power 
and the glory forever and ever. 
"Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

But filled with the Holy Spirit, he [Stephen] gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
(Acts 7:55 NRSV)

To the leader. A Psalm of David. 

The heavens are telling the glory of God; 
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
(Psalms 19:1 NRSV)
He has made everything suitable for its time;
 moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, 
yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 NRSV)
When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: 

"Death has been swallowed up in victory." 
"Where, O death, is your victory? 
Where, O death, is your sting?" 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NRSV)

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.
(Hebrews 12:2 MSG)

In Psalm 119, the psalmist asks God to open his eyes, that he might “behold wondrous things” in God’s Word. In this verse above, the author of Hebrews admonishes us to keep our eyes on Jesus, the One “who both began and finished this race we’re in.”

In between, we see Stephen, who, as he is dying from being stoned, looks up and sees “the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

I fully believe (and have for many years) that it is impossible to gain much wisdom and understanding from God’s Word without the help of the Holy Spirit. If God does not “open our eyes,” we aren’t going to see much of the truth of His Word.

And, if God does not open our eyes, we won’t succeed in keeping our eyes on Jesus.

It’s hard enough to do that, even with my “spiritual eyes” wide open. There is so much in this world that is distracting us from keeping our eyes on Jesus. It is a daily struggle to do this, and if we relax for even a moment, we will pay the price for it.

Hence the frequent reminders from Scripture that we need our eyes opened, and we need to fix them firmly on Jesus, who, by the way, has already finished this race we are in!

How encouraging is that??

That’s another thing we need to remember. As we fight and claw to finish this race, we need to take a step back and realize that Jesus has already done it; He is finished with the race. And He is the one who gives us the strength to do it, as well. Remember the “easy yoke?”

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NRSV)

In a sense, I suppose it could be said that Jesus, who has finished the race and sits next to the Father, is also back out here running it with us. If we would but step into that yoke and follow His instruction, the burdens would drop, and we would find rest for our weary souls. Because His yoke is easy.

Open our eyes, Lord,
We want to see Jesus,
to reach out and touch Him,
and say that we love Him.
Open our ears, Lord,
and help us to listen.
Open our eyes, Lord,
we want to see Jesus.
(Robert Cull, 1976, Maranatha Music)

Father, open my eyes, that I might behold wonderful things from Your Word. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I might fear Your name. Open my lips that I might proclaim Your praises, daily. Help me to keep my eyes on Jesus, who has already finished the race in which we are running.

I am so easily distracted, Lord. And, in the words of C.S. Lewis, I am far too easily pleased. Help me to stay focused on this life, and to remember, as I read yesterday, that all sin is sacrilege, no matter how small it may seem at the moment.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us

Grace and peace, friends.

On Reality

Today is Tuesday, the 17th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,686

I watched most of the Cowboys’ playoff game, last night. After the first couple of possessions, in which nothing of any significance happened (between both quarterbacks, it took five passes before one of them completed one, and the Cowboys finally made a first down on their third possession), the ‘boys dominated the rest of the game, in spite of their kicker missing four consecutive extra point kicks. I saw three of those. At one point, later in the game, it looked like they might be thinking field goal, and I was like, “seriously??” They chose to go for it on fourth down, though. I seem to remember that they got it, made a touchdown, and then the kicker finally nailed an extra point. Final score, 34-14, Cowboys over Brady and the Bucs. Brady only looked good for a couple of series, late in the game.

It’s Tuesday of my “heavy” work week, so I will be at the library from 4:15-8:15 tonight. I had a busy day, yesterday, getting groceries, folding a couple loads of laundry, vacuuming the floor (I confess that a robot does the hardest part of that, but I do have to go around and pick up all the cat toys), practicing the trombone, and walking on the treadmill for thirty minutes. Then I cooked dinner (homemade chili made with Rotel Chili Fixin’s)(and the apostrophe in that is correct, because it replaces the “g”), while we watched an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and an episode of Bosch.

Today’s header photo is taken by Paul Militaru, Romanian photographer. Please visit his website via the provided link.


I will never forget your precepts, 
for by them you have given me life.
(Psalms 119:93 NRSV)

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that we need never feel forsaken. We thank you that we are led and guided by your hand. We thank you for all we have received from you, your care for our bodies, for our material needs, and for our inner life. We praise you, O God! Continue to lead us, we pray. Continue to work among us so that we can all see and come to know that the Good Shepherd is leading us. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

A Psalm of David. 

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures; 
he leads me beside still waters; 
he restores my soul. 
He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.
(Psalms 23:1-3 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that, in Christ, we are never forsaken; NEVER
  • for the Word of God, which has given me life
  • that He leads me in right paths for His name’s sake
  • because the Lord is my God; it is He who has made me grateful
  • that the Gospel puts us in touch with Reality

Love the LORD, all you his saints. 
The LORD preserves the faithful, 
but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.
(Psalms 31:23 NRSV)
I rise before dawn and cry for help; 
I put my hope in your words.
(Psalms 119:147 NRSV)
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; 
you are my God, I will extol you.
(Psalms 118:28 NRSV)
I hate the double-minded, 
but I love your law.
(Psalms 119:113 NRSV)

They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
(John 14:21 NRSV)

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous. 
Praise befits the upright. 
For the word of the LORD is upright, 
and all his work is done in faithfulness. 
Truly the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, 
on those who hope in his steadfast love, 
to deliver their soul from death, 
and to keep them alive in famine. 
Our soul waits for the LORD; 
he is our help and shield. 
Our heart is glad in him, 
because we trust in his holy name. 
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, 
even as we hope in you. 
(Psalms 33:1, 4, 18-22 NRSV)
Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. 
May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; 
for Yours are the kingdom and the power 
and the glory forever and ever. 
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?” And Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord burn hot; you know the people, that they are bent on evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ So I said to them, ‘Whoever has gold, take it off’; so they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
(Exodus 32:21-24 NRSV)

Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then he would return to the camp; but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent.
(Exodus 33:11 NRSV)

Moses said to the LORD, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
(Exodus 33:12-14 NRSV)

The LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Show me your glory, I pray.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The LORD’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.” And the LORD continued, “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”
(Exodus 33:17-23 NRSV)

For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the LORD your God for the good land that he has given you.
(Deuteronomy 8:7-10 NRSV)

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day. 

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, 
to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, 
and your faithfulness by night, 
to the music of the lute and the harp, 
to the melody of the lyre.
(Psalms 92:1-3 NRSV)

The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him.
(Galatians 3:11 MSG)

The Gospel puts us in touch with reality; or “Reality,” if you will. What is reality? Dallas Willard defines it a couple of ways. “Reality is what you can count on,” he says in one place. Elsewhere, he says, “Reality is what you run into when you are wrong.” Both, I believe, are correct.

In this reality, we find the God who creates, along with the people and world He has created. We find the Christ who redeems and the people whom He loves. We also encounter our various, sometimes contradictory, feelings – hope and despair, doubt and faith, as well as our acts of virtue and vice. Reality encompasses everything; visible and invisible, right and wrong, good and evil.

To be in right relationship with God is to embrace this reality and whatever God arranges for us.

(All of the above thoughts, except for the bits from Dallas Willard, are from Eugene H. Peterson, in Traveling Light, via God’s Message for Each Day)

We can live in this reality, because we have embraced God’s plan and design for us. This reality includes Psalm 23, in which we are shown that we can live a life without lack. This is further illustrated in Dallas Willard’s Life Without Lack, which compiles a series of lessons he taught on Psalm 23.

Some would look at this and think that it means that we can get whatever we want. That is not what “life without lack” means. What it does mean is that we are satisfied with what we have. When the Lord is my shepherd, when I embrace Him and His Reality, I lack for nothing. I lack for nothing because I follow His leading, and, in following Him, find the “green pastures” and the “still waters.”

And, during those times when my path takes me through the “valley of the shadow of death,” I will fear no evil, because God is with me.

Reality. It certainly means different things to different people, and that’s fair. But to me, it means the Kingdom of God, where things are much better than I could ever imagine. Even when my immediate and surrounding circumstances would tell me different.

Father, I thank You for Reality. I thank You that You have helped me embrace this Reality and whatever You have arranged for me in this life. And, as I look around, righ now, in spite of momentary and temporary inconveniences, Your arrangements for me are pleasant. You have provided bountifully for us, and have made us generous with Your provision. For the most, You have kept us well and healthy.

And You have brought us into Your community of saints, by bringing us into fellowship with Christ our Savior. I am most grateful for this.

As I go through the rest of this day, I pray that these thoughts will be at the front of my mind, and that I would walk in gratitude and praise today. Help me to act in love toward everyone I encounter today, and display Your grace and mercy to all, that they might see You for Who You are.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, 
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.
(Psalms 23:6 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Like Spokes in A Wheel

Today is Tuesday, the 3rd of January, 2023, in the second week of Christmas. It is the tenth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today and always!

Day 23,672

Three days until Epiphany.


Let your steadfast love become my comfort 
according to your promise to your servant.
(Psalms 119:76 NRSV)

Lord our God, we thank you that we may go to meet you with open hearts, with jubilant faith, and with this joyful shout, “God’s salvation is coming! Through Jesus Christ day is dawning on earth for all nations.” Stay with us and help us. Send us your Spirit to strengthen us, especially in times of trouble. Let all nations come before you. Let us tell all peoples, “Be comforted. The salvation of our God, who is also your God, is coming. In this salvation we will rejoice together forevermore to the glory of our God.” Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.’” 
Isaiah 62:11, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the steadfast love of the Lord, that has become my comfort in all things
  2. for the salvation of God, through Jesus Christ, in which day is dawning on all peoples
  3. for the marvelous, infinite, matchless grace and mercy of God, which we do not deserve
  4. for the potential of prayer, and that God listens to us
  5. that our lives are not to be compartmentalized into “sacred” and “secular;” it is one life, lived before God. Give “Caesar” what is his, and give God what is his.

Love the LORD, all you his saints. 
The LORD preserves the faithful, 
but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.
(Psalms 31:23 NRSV)
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; 
you are my God, I will extol you.
(Psalms 118:28 NRSV)
Our help is in the name of the LORD, 
who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 124:8 NRSV)
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, "I am not the Messiah." 

He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah said. 
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, "Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" 
John answered them, "I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal." 
This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing. 
(John 1:19-20, 23-28 NRSV)
When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, 
Judah became God's sanctuary, Israel his dominion. 
The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back. 
The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs. 
Why is it, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back? 
O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs? 
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the God of Jacob, 
who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.
(Psalms 114:1-8 NRSV)
Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. 
May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; 
for Yours are the kingdom and the power 
and the glory forever and ever. 

He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; 
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
(Psalms 46:10 NIV)
Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; 
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love 
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
(Psalms 26:2-3 NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)

“Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”
(Matthew 22:21 MSG)

“If you are right with Him you will inevitably be right with all your fellow-creatures, just as if all the spokes of a wheel are fitted rightly into the hub and the rim they are bound to be in the right positions to one another.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, quoted in The C.S. Lewis Bible)

There was a time in my life, when I would only listen to “Christian” music. That’s what I called it, and people still call it that. There was this one time, I even had a copy of the “Christian Yellow Pages,” a directory that only included businesses that were run by alleged Christians.

I don’t do that any more. For one thing, I have come to believe that the adjective, “Christian,” should only be applied to human beings. Because only human beings, entities with a soul, can be “Christian.” The word, itself, first used as a derogatory designation for followers of Christ (Acts 11:26). I have heard it said that the word meant, “little Christs,” but I can’t find any official evidence of this.

But I digress. That’s not what this entry is really about.

I’m talking about the compartmentalization of our lives. We shouldn’t do it. Period. We don’t have a “sacred” life and a “secular” life. We have a life, and it is all to be lived under the authority of the Holy Trinity. Everything that we do, every act in which we participate, can be an act of worship.

I believe it was Brother Lawrence who found that he could worship God while washing dishes and doing kitchen chores. He wrote a book called The Practice of the Presence of God, in which he talks about things like that.

We do say that our citizenship is in heaven, and that is true (Philippians 3:20). And we eagerly pursue the prize/inheritance that awaits us, there. “But this passion for the unseen in no way detracts from their involvement in daily affairs: working well and playing fair, signing petitions and paying taxes, rebuking the wicked an encouraging the righteous, getting wet in the rain and smelling the flowers.” (Eugene H. Peterson, Where Your Treasure Is, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)

Perhaps Paul said it best.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17 NRSV)

Father, I pray that I will be able to live my life in this way. As a follower of Christ, I believe that it is imperative that I do everything in the name of Christ, for the glory of You, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. This means that, even when washing dishes or cooking a meal for my family, I am acting in Your Name, and I am performing and act of prayer/worship. This means that when I am out and about, in public, interacting with people, other human begins, with souls, created in Your image, I must treat them as such; I must do everything in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to You through Him.

Help me to keep this at the front of my mind, and to remember that getting short or snarky with people is not acceptable, as a disciple of Jesus. It also means that I will consider others to be more significant than myself, as we are commanded to do by Your Word. Help me to be “right” with You, in order that I will be “right” with all of my “fellow-creatures.”

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

"O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Divine Hours -The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen."
(The Divine Hours - The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

Grace and peace, friends.

Revive Us Again

Today is Tuesday, the 27th of December, in the first week of Christmas. It is the third day of Christmas.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,665

Five days until 2023!

Today is my first day back to work at the library since last Wednesday. Then I don’t go back until Friday. I am scheduled off for New Year’s Eve. The library will be closed next Monday for New Year’s Day, but I never work on Mondays. I will be in at my normal time of 4:15 PM, today.

Today’s header photo is taken by Paul Militaru. Please visit his site at the link provided, and view more of his photographs!


You are good and do good; 
teach me your statutes.
(Psalms 119:68 ESV)

Jesus tells us that God, alone, is “good.” And if we believe correctly, we believe that everything that God does is also “good.” We sometimes call people “good,” but it is only good, relative. No one but God is truly good. Once, when answering the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people,” R.C. Sproul was quoted as saying, “There are no ‘good’ people.” Perhaps that is a bit extreme, but in comparison to God, none of us can be said to be “good.” When we call each other “good,” we are comparing ourselves to other humans.

Lord our God, dear Father in heaven, we come into your presence and ask you to show yourself to us as the true, great, and almighty God, who can shed light into our misery and change it all, letting us find reconciliation and redemption in Jesus Christ. Protect and help us with your mighty hand. Let every country and nation see your grace and see the victory over all sin and injustice. Let your justice come on earth, and let peace fill every heart and show in every life. May all that happens to us serve the good. Help us always look to you, our Lord and God, for you have power to rule everything and to turn everything to its right purpose. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David. 
Luke 1:68–69, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that some of our friends are having a wonderful time celebrating Christmas in New York City
  2. that everything that happens to us, in some way serves the good (Romans 8:28)
  3. for the possibility of peace in every heart
  4. for the love of God, that makes us His children, rather than slaves who fear Him
  5. for the Incarnation, the Word being made flesh and dwelling among us

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, 

"The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 
'Prepare the way of the Lord,
 make his paths straight. 
Every valley shall be filled, 
and every mountain and hill shall be made low, 
and the crooked shall become straight, 
and the rough places shall become level ways, 
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"
(Luke 3:4-6 ESV)

God was kind and decided that Christ would choose us to be God’s own adopted children.
(Ephesians 1:5 CEV)

God’s Spirit doesn’t make us slaves who are afraid of him. Instead, we become his children and call him our Father.
(Romans 8:15 CEV)

Think how much the Father loves us. He loves us so much that he lets us be called his children, as we truly are. But since the people of this world did not know who Christ is, they don’t know who we are.
(1 John 3:1 CEV)

John Henry Newman writes this on the birth of Christ:

“The Son of God Most High, who created the worlds, became flesh, though remaining what He was before. He became flesh as truly as if He had ceased to be what He was, and had actually been changed into flesh. He submitted to be the offspring of Mary, to be taken up in the hands of a mortal, to have a mother’s eye fixed upon Him, and to be cherished at a mother’s bosom. A daughter of man became the Mother of God–to her, indeed, an unspeakable gift of grace; but in Him what condescension! What an emptying of His glory to become man! and not only a helpless infant, though that were humiliation enough, but to inherit all the infirmities and imperfections of our nature which were possible to a sinless soul. What were His thoughts, if we may venture to use such language or admit such a reflection concerning the Infinite, when human feelings, human sorrows, human wants, first became His? What a mystery is there from first to last in the Son of God becoming man! Yet in proportion to the mystery is the grace and mercy of it; and as is the grace, so is the greatness of the fruit of it.” (Parochial and Plain Sermons, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin)

Will you not revive us again, 
so that your people may rejoice in you?
(Psalms 85:6 NRSV)

What is “revival?” When I read that verse from Psalm 85, I immediately thought of an old hymn, “Revive Us Again,” written in 1863 by W.P. Mackay.

We praise thee, O God, for the Son of thy love,
for Jesus who died, and is now gone above.

Hallelujah! Thine the glory, hallelujah! Amen!
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.

We praise thee, O God, for thy Spirit of light
who has shown us our Savior and scattered our night.

We praise thee, O God, for the joy thou hast giv'n
to thy saints in communion, these foretastes of heav'n. 

Revive us again, fill each heart with thy love.
May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.

In my early years as a “music minister” (that’s what it was called in Southern Baptist life, back in those days), I took part in half-week to week-long meetings that were mistakenly called “revivals.” They were not revivals, I eventually learned. They were evangelistic rallies. The problem is, there usually weren’t very many people at those meetings who needed evangelizing. It was the essence of “preaching to the choir.”

I eventually learned what true revival means. You see, you can’t “revive” someone who has never been “alive.” Paul, in Ephesians, says that, before we came to know Christ, we were dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). I believe that this hymn captures the true spirit of revival, in the last verse.

They whole hymn is a prayer. It is a prayer of praise, primarily, but with the added phrase, “revive us again.” And then, in the final verse, comes the real prayer for revival, as we ask the Lord to fill our hearts with His love, and rekindle our souls “with fire from above.”

This is a prayer by the Church, asking for God to revive His Church, rekindling our hearts with His holy fire. In the fame way, Psalm 85:6 asks for revival, “so that your people may rejoice in you.” Revival is no more for the lost than Revelation 3:20 is an evangelistic verse. But that’s a topic for a different day.

Psalm 85 is also a prayer, as are many of the Psalms. This is fitting, that both this psalm and the hymn are prayers, because true revival will not happen without prayer.

“An extraordinary spirit of prayer, urging believers to labor fervently in their supplications, is a sure sign of approaching showers and even floods of blessing. . . . If there is to be revival–a true, divine outpouring of God’s Spirit–it will correspond with wholehearted prayer and faith.” (Andrew Murray, The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer, quoted in Power in Prayer)

As 2023 approaches, I will be spending some time reflecting on the past few years. That right there is a scary thought. For the most part, I would just as soon forget every year since 2019. And not just for the pandemic. But, as I reflect, I try to keep my spiritual eyes turned on myself, not toward others. It is far too easy to be critical of other people. I struggle with that, and always have.

My reflection needs to be on what I have accomplished or failed to accomplish. And as I look forward to another year of prayer, I will be praying for true revival in God’s people; praying that the Church can step away from nationalism and “patriotism,” and focus on God’s Spirit being active in our lives. But here’s the thing. It needs to begin in me. Hence that bit about focusing more on myself than on others (understand that I’m speaking about reflection and self-assessment, not about loving others, here). And that reminds me of yet another old hymn that says, “Lord, send a revival, and let it begin in me.”

Father, I am grateful, beyond measure, for Your great love for us, the love that has given us the right and ability to be Your children, to call ourselves by Your name, and to walk in Your kingdom. However, we get too easily distracted by the things of this earth. I love the old hymn, Father, that tells me to turn my eyes upon Jesus, so that the things of the earth will “grow strangely dim.” Lord, Your Church needs this now, more than ever.

I pray that as a new year approaches, You will send revival to Your people. I pray for a Spirit of encouragement upon us, that we might be encouraged to dwell with You as You dwell with and within us. I pray that we will truly turn our eyes upon Jesus. And let this begin in me, Lord. I have been praying for and hoping for a “love revolution” within Your people, Father. That, too, must begin here, in my heart. I cannot force someone else to love, but I can hope to inspire.

Help us to embrace the Spirit of Christ in our lives, and consider, daily, what He sacrificed in order to come to us. It was more than the death on the cross. We see that as the primary sacrifice, most of the time, but John Henry Newman gave us so much more to think about, as we consider what He left behind to place Himself in the hands of mortal human beings.

Thank You, Father, for this indescribable gift.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

“Presence Changes Everything”

Today is Tuesday, the 20th of December, 2022, in the fourth week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,658

FIVE days until Christmas!

Christmas is going to be strange, this year. As previously mentioned, our Christmas Eve celebration with C’s sister and family has been postponed until sometime in January, due to health concerns (S had Covid, and sister’s husband is having shoulder surgery today, I believe). And Christmas falling on Sunday is always different. I do plan on attending a Christmas Eve service at the Lutheran church, probably at 3:00 Saturday afternoon. S has actually said she wants to attend. They are only having one service on Sunday, at 10:00, but I don’t know if I will make it or not. It kind of depends on what time people get up and about and what time we get presents opened.

We’ve got the menu all planned out for Christmas, and I have the groceries set up to deliver this afternoon. We’ll be having ham, green bean casserole, corn casserole, mashed potatoes, sopapilla cheesecake, and teacakes. Maybe some rolls, too? Probably. That’s a lot of food for only four people. On Christmas Eve, we will have tamales that I bought from one of our librarians.

I believe I am waiting on one more present to wrap, and it is supposed to arrive tomorrow. A number of presents have also been delivered to our oldest daughter’s home in Indy, and we will have some kind of Zoom-ish call with them on Christmas morning.


Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
(Psalms 119:61 ESV)

Lord our God, thank you for bringing us into glorious day. Let the rays of your grace, the grace of Jesus Christ, shine into our hearts so that we are truly born of the Spirit and serve you as your children at all times, also when hard days come. Through your might and your revelation pry us loose from all earthly things. Pry us loose from worries and from pleasures. We are your children, O Lord God. We come before you, our Father in heaven, and you will accept us so that we may be a people who prepare the way for you. May all the words you speak be a blessing to us and make us joyful in expectation for the day of Jesus Christ, which has begun in power and glory and will bring power and glory when all is fulfilled according to your merciful and perfect decree. O God, your children entreat you, “Accept us. Hear us. Set the light aflame in our hearts for the coming of your great day!” Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

This is the one about whom it is written: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you." 
Matthew 11:10, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for John the Baptizer, and all who have gone forth, preparing the way
  2. for the Word of God, constantly revealed in our hearts
  3. for the joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord
  4. for the presence of God in my life; it changes everything
  5. that God Almighty, who dwells in a high and holy place, also condescends to dwell with us who are contrite and lowly in spirit (aka not proud)

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
(Colossians 3:1-3 ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:12-17 ESV)

"Come, everyone who thirsts, 
come to the waters; 
and he who has no money, 
come, buy and eat! 
Come, buy wine and milk 
without money and without price. 
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, 
and your labor for that which does not satisfy? 
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, 
and delight yourselves in rich food.
 Incline your ear, and come to me; 
hear, that your soul may live; 
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, 
my steadfast, sure love for David."
(Isaiah 55:1-3 ESV)
"Seek the LORD while he may be found; 
call upon him while he is near; 
let the wicked forsake his way, 
and the unrighteous man his thoughts; 
let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, 
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are my ways higher than your ways 
and my thoughts than your thoughts."
(Isaiah 55:6-9 ESV)
"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven 
and do not return there but water the earth, 
making it bring forth and sprout, 
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; 
it shall not return to me empty, 
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, 
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."
(Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV)

As the Father has loved me, 
so have I loved you. 
Abide in my love.
(John 15:9 ESV)
Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 

Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 

The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." 
(John 11:21, 32, 44 ESV)

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
(Isaiah 57:15 ESV)

Take a good look at that last verse from Isaiah. God Almighty, “the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy,” dwells in the “high and holy place.” He dwells in a place none of us can reach.

But He also dwells “with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,” and, in that dwelling, seeks to “revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

What beautiful language, here; how encouraging and comforting!

This is the essence of humility. God, high and lifted up, whose name is Holy, will condescend to dwell with those who are humble. Not with those who are proud. We all need to hear this lesson.

Then, see the words of Jesus. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” Do you have even an inkling of an understanding how much the Father loves the Son?? Is it possible for us humans to even begin to comprehend the love that abides in the midst of the Holy Trinity??

Jesus loves us with that love!

I really had to stop and ponder that for a few minutes.

What does His presence mean for us? Consider that. If we are humble in heart, contrite in our presentation before Him, He dwells with us. It is true, of course, that God is present with us, with all of us, regardless of our state of heart. God is everywhere, all at one time, so He must be. But this “dwelling,” of which Isaiah speaks, is different. You can be “with” someone, but not dwell with them, not abide with them.

Mary and Martha needed that dwelling. But they had allowed their grief and worry to overwhelm them. Both of them complained to Jesus about His absence. Jesus, being God in human form, was not able to be everywhere, all at one time. “Lord, if You had been here, our brother would not have died!” they complained. At least they had that confidence about them. They had the sincere belief that, had Jesus been present, He would have healed Lazarus before he died.

But Jesus had bigger things in mind. He had a bigger lesson to teach.

Shawnelle Eliasen wrote what may be, in my opinion, the best Guideposts reading I have ever read. As she closes this reading out, after discussing Mary and Martha, and their reactions, she says:

"I often succumb to worry over my loved ones or over a tough circumstance I can't see the end of. My soul cries like a babe needing comfort. When I'm so disturbed that I'm distraught, I can be sure that I've not practiced being in the presence of Jesus.
"He brings hope. He works in ways I cannot fathom. Trusting the presence of Jesus is training myself to receive peace. . . .
"Presence changes everything."

And so it does.

Father, I praise You for Your presence. I pray that my heart will be contrite and my spirit of a lowly nature, that You would dwell with me. May I be not proud, Father, as I truly have nothing to be proud about. The only things that I would be able to boast of have come from You. Your presence truly does change everything, as Mary and Martha found in in a huge way.

May we know this presence, Father. Not just know about it, but experience it and dwell within it, ourselves. Help us to abide in the unfathomable love that Jesus describes, that love that is present in the midst of the Holy Trinity, and with which Jesus loves us. And help us to know the resurrection that comes from knowing and loving You. Jesus brought Lazarus forth from the grave. Help us to believe this and never forget it. Perhaps that is one thing that is truly worthy of “never forget,” unlike most things we are determined to “never forget.”

Now, when I am tempted to be distraught, or to allow worry to consume me, remind me of Your presence; remind me that the presence of Jesus resulted in a resurrection; remind me that Your presence changes everything.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Grace and peace, friends.

Of the Wicked, Peace, and the Good News

Today is Tuesday, the 13th of December, 2022, in the third week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you always.

Day 23,651

Twelve days until Christmas.

Update on the Covid situation at our house: S tested positive again, this morning, much to her dismay. She is feeling much better, more like her usual self, and hates having to wear a mask when she comes out of her room. C and I both tested again, this morning, and both are still negative. So that’s good. But we have activities and appointments on Thursday, for S, that will need to be canceled, I suppose. At this rate, we are going to run out of our “free” home tests.

Also, we are in a tornado warning until 8:45, this morning. It is 8:30 as I am typing this.


Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, 
who forsake your law.
(Psalms 119:53 ESV)

A lot of folks might read that verse and focus immediately on the word “wicked,” thereby justifying their own “indignation” at all people who think differently than they. I prefer to focus on that bit about forsaking God’s law. Anyone who forsakes God’s “law,” based on this, can be thought of as “wicked.” And if you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I believe that the entirety of God’s law is summed up in two commands that Jesus gave us. Love the Lord your God with all your being, and love your neighbor as yourself. It is my opinion that the majority of the people who focus on justifying their own indignation toward who they consider to be wicked, are, in fact, wicked, themselves, because they fail in at least half of Jesus’s commands.

The bottom line is that we had best be careful anytime we start feeling indignant toward anyone.

Lord our God, may our lives be awakened, for you send your Spirit to blow through heaven and earth and you stir everything to life. May we long for your Spirit’s prompting. Grant that we not be overpowered by evil and sin. May we be born anew to be fighters for the highest good on earth, which leads into heaven. Hear the prayers of all people far and near who are sighing for the Savior. We pray for them all as we pray for ourselves, and you will hear our prayer. You will send power to lift up their hearts and souls so that there may be a great throng of your joyful people on earth. In spite of all the misfortune, adversity, and danger in the world, there will be a people exulting from one end of the earth to the other, a people trusting in you and sure of victory through the great grace you give in answer to our prayers. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

I will give you a new heart and a new mind. I will take away your stubborn heart of stone and give you an obedient heart. I will put my spirit in you and will see to it that you follow my laws and keep all the commands I have given you. 
Ezekiel 36:26–27, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for all the prayers being lifted up by all the saints; in Your mercy, Lord, hear our prayers
  2. for the promise of victory in Christ
  3. for the great and everlasting love the Lord has for us who fear Him
  4. for the admonition to imitate Jesus Christ
  5. for all true followers of Jesus Christ, the community of saints

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
(Philippians 1:21 ESV)

“There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”
(Isaiah 48:22 ESV)

But from everlasting to everlasting 
the LORD's love is with those who fear him, 
and his righteousness with their children's children—
(Psalms 103:17 NIV)
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 
so great is his love for those who fear him; 
as far as the east is from the west, 
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 
As a father has compassion on his children, 
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 
for he knows how we are formed, 
he remembers that we are dust. 
The life of mortals is like grass, 
they flourish like a flower of the field; 
the wind blows over it and it is gone, 
and its place remembers it no more. 
But from everlasting to everlasting 
the LORD's love is with those who fear him, 
and his righteousness with their children's children— 
with those who keep his covenant 
and remember to obey his precepts.
(Psalms 103:11-18 NIV)
And now these three remain:
 faith, hope and love.
 But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
(Luke 5:10-11 NRSV)

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 11:1 NRSV)

Who are we imitating? How did Jesus’s disciples learn to “share the Gospel?” For that matter, what was/is “the Gospel?”

If I were to ask that last question on Facebook or some similar social media platform, I would get all kinds of answers. Most of them would probably things like, “Jesus was born of a virgin, suffered and died on the cross and was buried and rose again on the third day for our sins.” Then verses like Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8-9 would get quoted.

All of these things are true. But what is “the Gospel?” Jesus made it much simpler than all of this.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
(Mark 1:14-15 NRSV)

The Gospel, the euaggelion, the “good news,” is that “the kingdom of God has come near,” in the person of Jesus Christ, and we are called to believe that.

The way Jesus’s disciples learned to share this is that they spent approximately three years walking with Him. When I think about the kind of relationship that those twelve guys had with Jesus, I am very close to committing the deadly vice of envy.

I struggle, in the twenty-first century, to have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I believe that He is here, with me, in the person of the Holy Spirit. I do believe that. But it is a struggle to maintain the intimacy of that relationship, with everything in this forsaken world screaming at me, full volume!

Between that and the fact that I am dust, and that this “treasure” that I possess is in this fragile, feeble “jar of clay,” and there are days that I simply feel like giving up.

But I press on. Because I know that’s the right thing to do. And I pursue that relationship, that intimacy.

So the disciples had a three-year, in-depth course on walking with Jesus and sharing the good news of God. Fast forward a few thousand years, and we find week-long courses on how to “witness.” I took several of those, back in the day. I learned lots of individual Scriptures by heart, some of which are rather yanked out of context.

But there is something that is blatantly missing in all of those crash-courses on witnessing.

The relationship. We are not taught how to walk with Christ, and we are not taught that that piece of life is an absolute requirement to being able to effectively share the Gospel. Maybe it was assumed? But I think it’s a dangerous assumption to make, that everyone who shows up at a “Witness Involvement Now” course, or an “Evangelism Explosion” course, is already walking that deep, intimate relationship with Jesus.

It took twelve men walking with Jesus for three whole years before they were released into the world, and even then, they occasionally got it wrong. How on earth do we think that we can learn it in a week, without the actual presence of Jesus teaching us, Himself?? Especially when walking with Christ on a daily basis is not even mentioned as the most important piece of the “puzzle.”

There’s a verse up there from Isaiah 48. It’s the last verse of the chapter.

“There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”
(Isaiah 48:22 NRSV)

What on earth, you are probably asking, does this have to do with sharing the good news?

Maybe nothing. But I think peace has everything to do with it. Who are the wicked? Remember? According to that verse in Psalm 119, at the very top, it is those who forsake the law of the Lord.

They do not know peace. They cannot know peace.

There is a lot of “unpeace” in today’s “church.” There are myriads of alleged followers of Christ who don’t seem to have much peace in their lives. And I’ll confess that there are days when I don’t feel much peace. The last week has been a real struggle for me. There have been multiple days when I really struggled to come up with five things for which I am grateful.

When we forsake God’s law, when we fail to love Him with our entire being (all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength), and when we fail to love our neighbor as ourselves, we will not have peace. And this truth is wildly visible in the world around us, today.

And if we don’t have peace, there is no way whatsoever that we will be able to effectively share the good news that God’s kingdom is at hand. We can say the words, sure. But it will have no effect, because, truthfully, who would want any part of a “kingdom” that didn’t produce peace?

Now. Back to that business of imitating. Paul said, in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” On the surface, that may sound arrogant, and I will admit that Paul does come across as arrogant, sometimes. But look more deeply. Paul is trying to imitate Christ, so that he will be imitable. He only wants people to imitate him if he is imitating Christ.

And that should be our goal. We should all be attempting to imitate Christ to the point that others would be safe imitating us. I don’t want anyone imitating me if I am not successfully walking with Christ in that deep, intimate relationship, similar to what His disciples must have had, being right there with Him for three years.

If we can successfully imitate Christ, we will be following His commands, which sum up the entirety of the Law and Prophets, and we will have peace. Then we will be able to successfully share the Gospel with this desperately dying world.

Father, have mercy on us. It breaks my heart to see the lack of peace, in general, among those who claim to be following Jesus. Show us, Father, how to have that deep relationship, that walk with Christ, that His disciples had. By some miracle, help us to have as strong a relationship with Him as His disciples had, when He walked with them in person. I find myself envious, sometimes, of the lives of those twelve.

Help me to walk with Jesus in such a way that I am always at peace, and, consequently, be able to effectively show the good news that Your kingdom is at hand, has drawn near, and is available for any and all who desire to walk in it. But we must be, I must be walking in it, truly, before I can share that news. Otherwise, I am nothing more than a faker, a poser.

Help me to love You with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength; help me to love my neighbor as myself, and help me to love the community of Saints as Christ loves us.

Have mercy on us, O Lord.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us

Grace and peace, friends.