We need to “develop lives that connect what God did in the past with what he will do in the future. Will we live in spasms and jerks, in fits and starts, in fads and fashions? or will we live coherently and organically, believing that God will complete what he has begun? The expectant command is for us to love.”

Today is Saturday, the twenty-sixth of March, 2022, in the third week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,389

I’ve been looking forward to this day for a couple weeks. Why? Because, today, C and I are going out to “celebrate” my birthday, which was two weeks ago. She had to work that weekend, and I had to work last Saturday, so we now have this Saturday to get out and do some things.

She has one thing planned for us that is a surprise. After that, we will have lunch and then head to Grapevine for a couples’ massage. I’m really looking forward to that. I have no idea where we will have lunch, nor do I really have a clue what the first activity will be. I do know that it’s not axe-throwing.

Next week will be busy, but not bad. I have a podiatrist appointment Monday morning, and a vein clinic appointment on Thursday morning. I work Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, so there is something going on every day. It will be okay, though.

My schedule may change slightly, going forward. One of the aides who works exclusively in the Computer Center got a job at the Irving library. he is not quitting Hurst, but may have to shift hours some, which may leave a whole in Computer Center coverage. Not sure what that will look like, just yet. But my manager told me yesterday about it, during our monthly one-on-one. It won’t increase my hours, and it sounds like the sixteen hours a week in circulation will stay the same, so I may not be doing shelving every Tuesday. We shall see.

Speaking of my manager, who is the coolest ever, well, let me give a tiny bit of back story. We have posters spread around the library, that simply have the word “READ” on them, featuring various celebrities holding books. There is one in particular, on the back wall in the non-fiction section, that I had expressed interest in having, should they ever change them or replace them. I believe I expressed said interest multiple times.

When I arrived at work, yesterday, there was a rolled-up poster in my inbox.

My boss is awesome! And yes, I might have a bit of a “crush” on Rachel McAdams.


"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)

No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
(Matthew 5:15-16 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for this lovely Saturday and its forthcoming events
2. that we, followers of Christ, are to be light in this world; go forth and shine!
3. that our relationship with God gives us dignity; may we extend that same dignity to our fellow human beings!
4. for the expectancy that God is going to move and that He will finish what He started
5. that I am loved, and that you are loved; YOU ARE LOVED!!!!!!!!!!!!! ❤ ❤ ❤ 

Today’s prayer word is “light.” Now, there is a word that is replete with meaning. I mean, how many different meanings can you think of for the word “light?” In this case, it refers that that which obliterates the darkness.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
(Ephesians 5:8 NIV)

Now, what I find interesting in this verse (and admit having not noticed it before) is that the verse, at least in my favorite translations (ESV, included) states that the recipients of the letter WERE darkness and ARE light. This is a state of being, not a characteristic that was possessed. NLT and MSG indicate that the people were once full of darkness, but now have light. Honestly, I’m not a Greek scholar, so I don’t know which one is correct.

But the idea that one could be so full of darkness that one actually becomes darkness, and the resulting change of knowing Christ is that one actually becomes light . . . that idea appeals to me, greatly. And we have the admonition, that is pretty much the same in each translation, “Live as children of light.”

The writer, known only as “Becky,” speaks of entering a friend’s home, shrouded in darkness, as the friend wallowed in depression, and throwing open curtains to allow the light in. I like that example.

“Maybe that’s what Jesus wants me to do – throw open the curtains for others, allowing His light to illuminate the darkness around them.” I like that. But here’s what that doesn’t mean: It doesn’t mean noisily and hatefully expressing our opinions in the name of “right” or “light.”

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
(1 John 1:5 ESV)

But, the following is also true:

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
(1 John 4:8 ESV)

And . . .

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
(1 John 4:16 ESV)

So don’t go trying to be “light” without also being “love.”

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
(Psalms 133:1 ESV)

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
(Proverbs 27:17 ESV)

Two are better than one, 
because they have a good reward for their toil. 
For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. 
But woe to him who is alone when he falls 
and has not another to lift him up! 
Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, 
but how can one keep warm alone? 
And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, 
two will withstand him—
a threefold cord is not quickly broken. 
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV)

So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
(1 Corinthians 12:24-26 NLT)

As God’s people, we should live lives of expectancy. Instead, a large number of us seem to live lives of reaction. We react to circumstances around us, and we are not reacting well. We are complaining and whining about minor inconveniences, as though we believe the world is about to end. It may be about to end, but that is not because gas prices hit $4 a gallon again.

God’s typical movement is to approach us. He “comes,” He does not “leave.” He comes and He speaks, and we need to be awake to this truth.

We need to “develop lives that connect what God did in the past with what he will do in the future. Will we live in spasms and jerks, in fits and starts, in fads and fashions? or will we live coherently and organically, believing that God will complete what he has begun? The expectant command is for us to love.”

And then this:

“We ought to cultivate the skills that equip us to live in cheerful anticipation of what God will do tomorrow. Will we live anxiously, complaining and querulous, because we don’t have all we want or because we don’t know what is coming next? Or will we live in confident joy, sure that God’s next move will be a good one? The expectant command is for us to rejoice.”

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

So let’s pull this all together, here. We are light. We are expected to imitate Jesus in being the “light of the world.” We are also supposed to be love, as God is love. So we can be light, removing the darkness, not by violence and fighting, but by shining and loving! When you turn on a lightbulb in a room, there is no fighting or violence. There is no explosion, and there is no noise. The lightbulb simply and quietly shines.

Father, oh, Father! My heart is full of praise and expectation in this moment! You have filled me with light, and love! Thank You for the Light of the world, Jesus! And thank You for infusing us with that same Light, so that we might also be light in this world. I pray for us, Your children, Lord, that we might truly shine as light, blocking the darkness. But remind us, oh, please remind us, that we do not accomplish this with violence and fighting, but simply by allowing Your light to shine through us.

I pray for unity within Your Church, Lord. And I desperately pray that, if there are those who will not be unified, that they would just leave. I’m serious. I would love to see the ones who insist on fighting, complaining, and whining, just get out. Let them go start their own “church.” Let Your Church be filled with people who want to live and walk in the words of Jesus Christ, loving You and loving others as themselves. Let the witch hunters and haters be brought down, Lord. There is no place for hatred in Your kingdom!

That being said, I would rather see said folks repent and begin to shine and love.

Help me to live a life of expectancy, being awake to Your coming and speaking in my life, being filled with love, fully believing that You will finish what You started, both in me and in this world/universe, and rejoicing, believing that what You are going to do next will not only be good, but will be excellent and praiseworthy!

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

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Songs of Joy

Today is (hang on, let me look) Friday. Yes, Friday, the tenth of December, 2021, the second Friday in Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,283

Fifteen days until Christmas.

You might recall my struggles, yesterday morning. It got better in the afternoon, but not before I had an unfortunate encounter at the Albertson’s store. I was putting multiple bags of grapes in the shopping cart, when I heard someone speaking sharply in my direction and saw a store associate looking at me. When we made eye contact, she repeated, “You can only have two bags,” again much more sharply than necessary. She pointed at the sign in front of the grapes, which I had neglected to see.

When I asked why, the answer was vague, and, again, more sharply delivered than socially acceptable, especially when in the business of “customer service” (does anyone remember what that is, any more?). The answer ended with “I have a right to do that.” To which I responded, “and I have a right to shop at a different store” and stormed off, leaving my basket where I was standing.

I eventually went back and got my two bags, informing the associate that I thought she was rude, which she, of course, denied and offered nothing even remotely resembling an apology. She once again asserted her right to limit people to how many bags of grapes they could buy. As I approached the bananas, I came very close to asking her if I could have more than two bananas.

Here’s the thing. Two bags of grapes will last less than twenty-four hours in this house. Nevertheless, I felt very badly about the way I responded, and it added to what was already a ponderous morning, emotionally. If I had seen her again, I would have apologized for my behavior. Here’s the other thing. Never mind if she was rude, and I still believe that her behavior is completely unbecoming for one who is employed in any kind of customer service role. That does not excuse my response which was completely unbecoming for one who is supposed to be walking in the kingdom of Christ.

Later, I discovered that the store was completely out of our favorite flavor of Nick’s ice cream. If I had seen that to begin with, I would not have gone back and gotten two bags of grapes and continued my shopping. I would have gone across the street to Kroger.

Life is weird, sometimes. And the lessons we learn (hopefully) can be quite painful. After I had my lunch (I stopped at Subway and got lunch for S and me), I got up and swept the house and took out the garbage and recycling. Suddenly, my life seemed to have more purpose. More than just doing housework, mind you, but an attitude of service and sacrifice, as well. That relates totally back to the way I responded to the store associate.

Our people are so caught up in so-called “rights,” these days. But if we are disciples of Christ, we have surrendered (or at least we are supposed to have done so) those rights to the Lord. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and take up our cross, daily. I failed at that, yesterday morning. And I’m not afraid to admit it and confess it. I failed. Hopefully, the next chance I get, I will remember.

Today, I work a full day in the computer center at the library. One thing is certain. The interactions that will come my way are unpredictable. It could be like last Friday, when the fax machine was the busiest I have ever seen it, or it could be a day where hardly anyone needs my assistance. Either way, I’m there to serve and assist anyone with their needs, as far as I can.

I learned something this morning. I have not spoken much (if any) of this, here, but I have been slowly learning Spanish from an app on my phone, Duo Lingo. But I learned something in Spanish, this morning, that I have yet to see on the app. I learned that the Spanish word for “handcuffs” is esposas. Do you know what the Spanish word for “spouse” is? You might guess where I’m going, here. It is either esposo (husband) or esposa (wife).

Now, the first thing that hit my brain was that this was the cruel joke of a cynic. But, upon further reflection, and thanks to my blogging friend Benjamin, over at Brother’s Campfire, it becomes a metaphor of being bound to one’s spouse. This is in the context of his wife having a pretty bad stroke, a short while ago. She is still in the hospital, recovering. And it was one of the nurses on duty that shared this with him. So, while it might be a bad thing to be in handcuffs (depending on the kinkiness of your lifestyle), and, while some people feel negatively bound in a spousal relationship, to people like me and Benjamin, it is a beautiful metaphor of the nature of our relationships with our wives.


I ran across two great poems, this morning, and can’t decide, so I will share them both. One is very short, a haiku. I will share it first.

A Light Within, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

Let your
light so shine,
do good…

©2021 S. Michaels
All Things Bright
(Haiku 2-3-2)

The Core of Our Faith, by Daryl Madden

The core of our faith
The bible speaks of
To know in our soul
That God is love

Father as the lover
The Trinity, declared
The Son is the beloved
The Spirit, is love shared

That God is seeking us
Fall into His embrace
Nothing that is earned
For everything is grace

And we are invited
Not just to sit and wait
But sharing in His love
To participate

The fruit of our faith
When Jesus we meet
That we know His joy
And our joy is complete

I love the message in the haiku, so simple and plain . . . and I especially love the middle stanza of Daryl’s poem, falling into the embrace of the Almighty, and learning that “nothing is earned,” because “everything is grace.” Please check out their other poems, at the links provided.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, 
but only such as is good for building up, 
as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, 
by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you,
 along with all malice. 
Be kind to one another, 
forgiving one another, 
as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:29-32 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the cross of Christ, which unites us in peace
2. for increasing measures of humility, gentleness, patience, and love, no matter how painful it is to acquire these
3. for the dwelling of the message of Christ among us, in "psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit"
4. that those who sow with tears shall reap with songs of joy
5. for Your "refiner's fire"

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
(Colossians 3:16 NIV)

I cried out to God for help;
 I cried out to God to hear me.
 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; 
at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. 
I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
 I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. 
You kept my eyes from closing; 
I was too troubled to speak. 
I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; 
I remembered my songs in the night. 
(Psalms 77:1-6a NIV)

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



are the light that keeps me safe. 
I am not afraid of anyone. 
You protect me, 
and I have no fears.
(Psalms 27:1 CEV)

I pause, briefly, in this quiet moment, to consider Your presence in my life, and the lessons of humility, gentleness, patience, and love that You are teaching me.


A song of ascents. 

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, 
we were like those who dreamed. 
Our mouths were filled with laughter, 
our tongues with songs of joy. 
Then it was said among the nations, 
"The LORD has done great things for them." 
The LORD has done great things for us, 
and we are filled with joy. 
Restore our fortunes, LORD, 
like streams in the Negev.
 Those who sow with tears 
will reap with songs of joy. 
Those who go out weeping, 
carrying seed to sow, 
will return with songs of joy, 
carrying sheaves with them. 
(Psalms 126:1-6 NIV)


"I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty. 
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.
(Malachi 3:1-4 NIV)


As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. As I slowly repeat them, meditating on them, I pray my thoughts, desires, needs, and feelings to God, enjoying His presence.

Could it be, Father, than when all is restored to the way it should be, when our Savior returns to make everything right, that it will be like a dream? I can easily see that our mouths will be filled with laughter and our tongues filled with songs of joy. My heart leaps at this thought; my soul can scarcely wait for the day.

You have, indeed, done great things for us. When we “sow with tears,” we eventually will “reap with songs of joy.” How long will it be before this takes place? We do not know, only You know, and it is different for each of Your children. We do not all have the same experience. Our weeping will be turned to rejoicing, and that rejoicing will last for all eternity. I believe that, when Your Word tells us that You will wipe every tear from our eyes, that You will also wipe away the memories that caused those tears. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; I cannot attain it.

It is said that the Day of the Lord, His returning, will be sudden. We will both be ready and not ready at the same time. Some will not be ready at all and be totally surprised. Many of us may be prepared, but it will still surprise us, I believe. But let us not be overly eagerly for this day. While I am eager to be Home, I am also aware of what a terrible day it will be. Oh, yes, I sing with joy songs like “What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see.” But it will be a horrible day for many; the worst in history. Dare I be eager to see this? Would I not rather see you delay so that all can be saved? I confess . . . I waffle between those two perspectives. I am selfish, sometimes, and want to be rid of this earth and its mortal coil.

So, I can easily pray, “even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus,” while praying, as well, for the salvation of all people. May Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Father, give us all the ability to deny ourselves, forsake those “rights,” and serve others. Give us all the commitment to do justice and love mercy. And I pray for mercy for the refugees, those seeking asylum from oppression.

"Coming Jesus,
how can I face Your refining fire?
I know I am broken and confess that I have sinned.
Thank You for the rich comfort and confidence that You, 
my judge,
have already stood trial in my place;
You have removed from me the whole curse and court is adjourned.
How can I thank You enough?


Trust the LORD! 
Be brave and strong and trust the LORD. 
(Psalms 27:14 CEV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 
let us also lay aside every weight, 
and sin which clings so closely, 
and let us run with endurance 
the race that is set before us,
 looking to Jesus, 
the founder and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy that was set before him 
endured the cross, 
despising the shame, 
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

On Unity

What it does mean is that we agree that there is something higher, something more important, at stake! The very unity of the Body of Christ. I don’t have to change my opinions for us to be in unity in Christ. You don’t have to change yours, either. We just need to “agree to disagree,” and move on with doing things like helping the needy, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoners and the sick, and so on . . . all of those things that Jesus said we should be doing for “the least of these.”

Today is Saturday, the twelfth of June, 2021.

May the peace of God be with you!

Day 23,102

Eight days until Father’s Day.

The weekend is here, and we are looking forward to a restful time. Of course, as always, there are things that must be done, but nothing really out of the ordinary. I need to get my car inspected, and license tag ordered, but I have until the end of June to do that.

There was a brief conversation about the possibility of going up to Winstar casino today. But then, C is going to Vegas this coming Wednesday night, for the USBC “team-building” event, to bowl in their Open Championship.

We do have our WW workshop at 10:30, this morning, and we are all signed up for it, this week. I’m expecting to neither lose nor gain, this week, as my home weight, this morning, is exactly the same as last Saturday’s. That’s a good thing, considering the effects that the medication changes have had on my body over the last couple weeks.

And, as far as I know, our church group will be meeting in person tomorrow, at the host’s home.

We didn’t put in a grocery order last night, because C went earlier in the week, on one of those days she worked from home. We do need a few things, but not a lot, so one of us will likely make a trip to the store. Thos are the only things that really need to happen, this weekend.

I’ve never really mentioned this, but each day, when I log into WordPress, there are “spam” comments on various blog posts. But the WordPress filters are really good about catching them and sending them to a spam folder. What is interesting is the subject matter. They are pretty equally divided, lately, between comments about CBD oil or hemp, vaping shops, or random, senseless comments where the web site linked is something about “extra proxies.” I’m not 100% sure what that is, but it has something to do with a gateway between me and the Internet.

Oh. I almost forgot. My uncle had hip replacement surgery, yesterday. We knew this was imminent, but we weren’t sure when it would be happening. I got a text, from one of my cousins, yesterday morning, shortly after 8:00 AM, that he was in surgery. It seems to have gone rather quickly, but apparently, it went well, and he was in a room, talking to his kids, by noon. We will be praying for quick recovery, and that this surgery will help in his mobility issues.


"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."

Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.
(Psalms 27:14 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the weekend, a time to rest and renew for the upcoming week of work
2. for times of worship and praise, scattered throughout the day
3. for the power, intricacies, and complexity of music
4. for a deeper understanding of unity within the Body of Christ
5. for all of the things appointed in my life, which have brought me to where I am today

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



How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
(Psalms 133:1 NIV)

I pause to consider, to remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, asking His Spirit to guide me into worship and meditation and prayer.


A song of ascents. Of David.

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
(Psalms 133:1-3 NIV)


Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
(Romans 13:8-12 NIV)


As I read these passages, I look to see how God is speaking to me, this morning. His Spirit and His Word are alive as I read.

I see how important unity among the Church is to our God. How His heart must break at the division within His Church, today. And the blatant refusal to even try tells me how unimportant God’s heart is to some folks.

I will reiterate what I have come to believe in recent years. We have two jobs. Love God and love people. Our opinions on “controversial” issues are not included in the job descriptions for those two jobs. Trust me, I struggle mightily with this. But if our opinions on things don’t agree, that should not affect our relationship as brothers or sisters in Christ.

Carry this thought into the Romans passage. I have shaken my head at times, hearing people use Romans 13:8 as an argument against using credit cards. “The Bible says we aren’t supposed to have debt!” While I will agree that debt is, for the most part, a bad thing, I am fully persuaded that that is not the context of this verse. But, hey . . . many folks care nothing for context, right?

In fact, the only mention of money in the context has to do with taxes! Just look at verse 7.

Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
(Romans 13:7 NIV)

In fact, the entire paragraph before the one quoted above deals with government authority. So to yank verse 8 out and preach that debt is forbidden is quite a stretch. The “debts” referred to are taxes, revenue, respect, and honor. And the definition of “revenue,” seems to have to do with income, and especially state income.

Now, concerning our two jobs, what this passage does tell us is that one of those jobs sums up the entirety of the law. Jesus agreed with this. “The commandments,” says Paul, “are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

In order to do this, I have to set aside my opinions about politics. I have to set aside my opinions about race (which have evolved to a really good place, in my own assessment, but that means that I might have to ignore your opinions about race in order to fulfill that command). I have to set aside my opinions about gays and lesbians (and all those other letters). I even have to set aside my opinions about abortion.

Here’s the thing, though. In order to love you in the way that Jesus has commanded, I also have to set aside YOUR opinions on those things. This is where, I believe, it becomes the most difficult for all of us. And let it be known that I am writing this “on the fly,” this morning. I believe that the Holy Spirit is inspiring me as I type.

Look up there at my parenthetical comment on race. That applies to all of these “controversial issues.” Not only do I have to set aside my opinions about these things, I also have to set aside your opinions about these things. If your opinion about politics is causing a rift between us, and we are both believers in Christ, we have to, we MUST set those aside!


What it does mean is that we agree that there is something higher, something more important, at stake! The very unity of the Body of Christ. I don’t have to change my opinions for us to be in unity in Christ. You don’t have to change yours, either. We just need to “agree to disagree,” and move on with doing things like helping the needy, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoners and the sick, and so on . . . all of those things that Jesus said we should be doing for “the least of these.”

We need to wake up from our self-obsessed slumber, because “our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”

Father, I confess that I have not done well with these commands. I have allowed opinions of brothers and sisters to separate. Forgive me and help me to be more like what I am writing, this morning. Show us all the path to unity in these days of darkness. I also pray that You would hasten the daylight. Bring on the return of Christ, to fix all of this. But Your mercy reigns over all things. Delay it as long as You need to in order to save as many as You have ordained. I pray, desperately, that You would help us all to set aside our imperfect, selfish, opinions, that are dividing Your Body. Help us to live in unity with one another, love one another as Christ loved us, honoring one another more than ourselves, sacrificing ourselves for one another. Have mercy, Lord, have mercy!

Compelling Lord and Savior,
thank you for the beauty of a gospel-centered life.
Your kingdom-calling isn't that we merely avoid evil and keep our noses clean,
but that we work for the good of those around us.
So plunge us deep into gospel living in our neighborhoods,
exhibiting a patient,
gentle life of love that protects others and seeks the good of all,
even our enemies.
(Heidelberg Catechism 107)


I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love.
(Ephesians 3:16-17 NIV)

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:12 NIV)

LORD, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them? They are like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow.
(Psalms 144:3-4 NIV)

Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.
(Proverbs 3:13-16 NIV)

Some of the gatekeepers were assigned to care for the various articles used in worship. They checked them in and out to avoid any loss. Others were responsible for the furnishings, the items in the sanctuary, and the supplies, such as choice flour, wine, olive oil, frankincense, and spices.
(1 Chronicles 9:28-29 NLT)

Now the LORD had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.
(Jonah 1:17 NLT)

And the LORD God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant. But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die. “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed.
(Jonah 4:6-8 NLT)

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
(Psalms 139:16 NLT)

So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.
(2 Thessalonians 1:11 NLT)

You may wonder what some of these passages have to do with each other. But there is a common thread, believe it or not. In Chronicles, the people mentioned were appointed for the various tasks. In Jonah, the great fish was appointed (or arranged) to swallow Jonah. Likewise, the shade plant was appointed, the worm was appointed, and the scorching heat was appointed. Each of those passages features the same Hebrew word.

The passage in Psalm 139 does not use that same word, but does have the thought that all of my days were recorded before any of them came to pass. “Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

A passage that is not included here (I just thought of it) speaks of good works that were planned for us, long ago.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
(Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

“Planned” seems to me to be very similar to “appointed.” Paul is praying, in 2 Thessalonians, that the people be empowered to accomplish all the “good things your faith prompts you to do.”

“Everything happens for a reason,” we have all heard it said. While that may not be the best thing to say to someone who has just suffered a tragedy in their lives, I do believe it is true. What this means is that those challenges and trials, those “bad things” that may happen to us, all serve God’s purpose in bringing about our maturity, or to “bring [us] to the appointed place of His calling in [our lives].”

Embracing this truth is one of the things that can enable us to “be thankful in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, I thank You for this time, today. It has been quite illuminating. I praise You for the teaching of the Holy Spirit, showing me things that I have not ever considered before. I’m aware that I am likely not the first person to think of these things. But please, by the power of Your Spirit, enable me to live them out. Help me to start a love revolution, Lord.

Lord, I pray that we, Your Church, may work together for the common benefit of all people (even, and especially, for those we might consider “enemies”). I ask that “deep care, bold love, and rich community” be experienced within the Church. And for those who are seeking work or trying to decided on a career path, may Your Holy Spirit guide them to what is best for them.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

Shalom Aleichem

Today is Monday, the seventeenth of May, 2021, in the seventh week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,076

THREE days until our Glen Rose trip!

We had sous vide cooked steak again, last night, along with corn on the cob, and it was, in my opinion, the best we have ever had. It has to be the meat, because I didn’t do anything different. This time, C picked up two top sirloins and a ribeye (the ribeye may have been accidental). After cooking at 129 degrees for ninety minutes (I increased the time for the corn), that ribeye virtually melted in our mouths. It was amazing. The sirloins were excellent, as well.

I can tell that work is causing a bit of anxiety for me, because of my dream last night. In a rare occurrence of a dream that I could remember (I don’t normally remember dreams after awaking), I dreamed (dreamt?) that I was summoned to the general manager’s desk before logging in at work, this morning. Fearing the worst, I made my way to his desk, only to be told that I was to order pizza for everyone for lunch. But it wasn’t just regular pizza, you know, like Pizza Hut. It was specialty pizza, like Pie Five, or Blaze, or California Pizza Kitchen. Then I had to go find someone who knew from experience what everyone liked. It was very strange.

Not surprisingly, according to my Fitbit, even though I logged seven hours and seven minutes of sleep (that’s a good number for me), it was only 63% below resting, last night. That percentage is normally in the high eighties or even low nineties.

Work anxiety is no fun, y’all. The good news is that this is only a three-day work week for me, because we head to Glen Rose, our favorite place on earth with our favorite cabin, the Cedar House at Paluxy River Bed Cabins. And even though the forecast gives us well over 50% chance of precipitation for all the days we will be there, we don’t care. We’ll just sit out on the deck in our rocking chairs (or in the hot tub) and watch it rain. And if we get some time without rain, we’ll take our canvas chairs down by the river and sit and just watch the river. And read, probably. Or listen to podcasts.

Enough of that. On to what is real and important. No. I take that back. Life is real. The things that we do are real. I don’t want to imply that only “religious” stuff (and I don’t see any of this as “religious,” anyway) is “real.” What follows in this blog is what keeps me centered, so that what is “real” actually matters.


"Here I sit in my own little swamp,
festering in my needs and wants,
stuck in my self-pity and worries,
suffocating in my humanity.

Help me raise my eyes to you.
Pull me from the mud and lift me up.
Bring me to the shore
and let me dive into you.

Allow me to float in your river of grace,
bobbing and drifting in your warm embrace,
feeling the light of your love shining on me,
drawing me ever closer.

I don't ask to be freed from trials and challenges--
only to place them in your control,
always from your perspective,
seeing everything through you.

O Father, you are the way.
Help me focus on you.
Help me just let go
and trust and rejoice in you."

(Daryl Madden, "My Own Little Swamp," in On a Bench of Wood: Reflections of God's Grace)
Praise the LORD! How good to sing praises to our God! How delightful and how fitting!
Sing out your thanks to the LORD; sing praises to our God with a harp.
(Psalm 147:1, 7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • for being allowed to float in Your river of grace
  • for pulling my focus away from myself on onto You for a few moments
  • for Jesus’s High Priestly prayer in John 17, praying for our unity
  • that my heart has been steadfast, throughout the decades
  • for Your shalom

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



"Since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. . . . Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
(Hebrews 4:14,16 NIV)

I pause briefly, this morning, to quietly reflect on the grace of God, and how it’s not all about me.


My heart, O God, is steadfast;
I will sing and make music with all my soul.
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, LORD, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, higher than the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
Save us and help us with your right hand,
that those you love may be delivered.
(Psalm 108:1-6 NIV)


"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one--I in them and you in me--so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world."
(John 17:20-24 NIV)


As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, this morning, helped along by the wonderful poetry, above, by Daryl Madden, I linger over these passages for a brief time, allowing the Holy Spirit to direct my thoughts and meditations.

My initial thought is that my heart is not exactly what I would call “steadfast.” It wavers. A lot. But then, I realize, yes . . . it is steadfast. In the long run, in the big picture (how many more clichés can I come up with?), my heart remains steadfast, leaning on the Lord. For over fifty years, my heart has remained steadfast, while I have witnessed childhood, adolescent, and young adult friends fall by the wayside.

Trust me, I boast not in myself or my own ability. Just like Paul, my boast is in God alone, because it is fully His doing that has enabled me to stay strong, to stay steadfast, and to, hopefully, finish this race. Were it not for Him, I would have sat down on the sidelines, long ago, and begun to pursue hedonistic delights.

But here I sit, typing away, reading His Word, focusing my spirit on Him.

I continue to sing His praises, playing “skillfully” (seriously trying to maintain that skill).

As Jesus continues his High Priestly prayer in John 17, He does something remarkable (as though anything He did was not?). He prays for you and me. We are among those who have believed because of the message of the ones who were with Him that day.

Sadly, we seem to be failing in this whole “unity” thing. But here’s the thing. Our lack of unity is not God’s fault, okay? It’s not because Jesus’s prayer didn’t work. Rather, I think, it’s because we tend to get sidetracked (score one for the enemy) by our own concerns.

But if we, as Jesus prayed, walk and live in God, as Jesus is in the Father and the Father in Him (this gets complicated, doesn’t it?), we will, in effect, be one, and be dwelling in unity.

I have found this easier, as I get older. I don’t think the age necessarily has anything to do with it. But I have striven to walk in unity with my brothers and sisters. I have, and continue to, tried to ignore peripheral differences. It’s hard sometimes, especially when those differences are so sharp.

I am in Christ. Christ is in me. Christ is in the Father. The Father is in Christ. The Holy Spirit is in me. And, because the Father is in Christ, and Christ is in me, the Father is also in me.

This is true for every believer in Jesus.

So, even when we don’t necessarily act like it, we are still “one,” just as Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit are one.

"We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord;
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord;
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.
And they'll know we are Christians by our love,
by our love;
Yes, they'll know we are Christians by our love."
(Fr. Peter Sholtes, some time in the sixties)

Father, I pray, along with Jesus, for this unity. Not that we all have to be Catholic or Baptist or whatever. But that we all love one another the way Jesus intended. That we walk in a way that demonstrates that He is in us and You are in Him and You are in us and we are in You. I pray, desperately, that we would set aside differences of opinion on things that are truly not that important, and that we would worship You and You alone; that we would depend on You only for our deliverance, our sustenance, and our salvation. There is no human being who can provide these things for us. And there is no human being who can bring true unity. Only You, through the Son, and by the Spirit, can bring this into being. Work in us, Father. May we allow Your Spirit to dwell within us, that “they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

Lord Jesus,
in your ascension you brought me into fellowship with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the eternal community of divine persons.
May your church be one as you are one, 
God in three persons,
and may that unity catch the attention of a broken world.
(Belgic Confession 27)


"To him who sits on the throne and unto the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"
(Revelation 5:13 NIV)
All of you together are Christ's body, and each of you is a part of it.
(1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT)

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:5 ESV)

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
(John 20:19-21 ESV)

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
(Colossians 3:15 ESV)

Father, I praise You for this “peace,” this shalom, promised and spoken upon us by Jesus. May it reign in our hearts today, in all of us who call Your name.

Lord, give me eyes to see Your work in the world around me, that I might join in with You in that work. I pray for Your care in areas where natural disasters have occurred, as we watch creation groan for its redemption. I pray specifically, this morning, for veterinarians, zookeepers, and others who care for animals in Your creation.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“May you be blessed with safety, with rest, with prosperity, with wholeness, with completion, with fullness, with soundness, with well-being . . . and with peace.” (Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries)

Shalom Aleichem

Grace and peace, friends.

Bind Us Together

Today is Sunday, February 23, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,627

Three days until Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.

Today is the last Sunday of Epiphany.

Nothing noteworthy happened after my late publication of yesterday’s blog, so I’ll march right on into today’s devotional. I will say that we are getting ready for our first official worship gathering as The Church that meets at Brandon and Kristin’s house. We will gather at 10:15 to devote ourselves to the Apostles’ teachings, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers. One thing that will be slightly different in this version is that we will sing a couple of worship songs, as well. The house is at 4033 Jackie Lee Street in North Richland Hills, TX. Anyone is invited. No one is excluded. We will have no “membership” because all who follow Jesus are already members of his Church! We are all members of one another (Romans 12.5).

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
(Psalms 30:4-5)

Today I am grateful:
1. That joy comes with the morning and that His favor lasts for eternity!
2. That this is the day that the Lord has made (Psalm 118.24)
3. That the Lord hears the cries of His people
4. That He was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53.5)
5. That Christ has made us one and broken down the dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2.14)

I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
(Psalms 142:5)

“Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sins of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.”
(Gloria in Excelsis)

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
(Psalms 118:24)

“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!”
(Luke 12:49-50)

Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD: that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, that they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD, and in Jerusalem his praise, when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the LORD.
(Psalms 102:18-22)

“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 care on you who cares for us: Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide me from the light of that 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. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53:1-6)

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
(Ephesians 2:14)

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
(1 Corinthians 1:10)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
(Colossians 3:12)

In light of these scripture verses, I want to quote a prayer from Robert Fitts’s book, The Church in the House: a Return to Simplicity. I think it sums up how I feel right now.

“Father, in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord, I do acknowledge that I am a member of your spiritual Body, the Church in this city, and throughout the world. I do accept and receive every one of your children as my brother or sister because you are our Father. It doesn’t matter where they live. It doesn’t matter what race they are, what peculiar beliefs or practices they may have, or whether they are post, pre, or a-millennialist. It doesn’t matter if they baptize by sprinkling, pouring, or by immersion, whether they are Arminianists or Calvinists. It doesn’t matter if they go to church on Saturday, Sunday, Monday or Tuesday; whether they are Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox or Jew. I don’t care if they are Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or Foursquare. I do now declare in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord, the son of God Almighty, that I am one with every other born-again believer that lives, that has lived, or ever will live in time and in eternity. I will accept them; I will receive them. I will love them and support them. I will pray for them. As you direct me, Lord, I will co-labor with them, and i will endeavor to keep this unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Amen.” (Robert Fitts, The Church in the House: a Return to Simplicity)

I would also throw in that I don’t care if they are Republican, Democrat, or independent, Conservative, Liberal, or Progressive. Anyone who calls on the name of Jesus Christ is my brother/sister.

There have been too many divisions for far too long. It’s time for the Church to come together.

Father, bind us together as one in You, in your grace and mercy. Break down the dividing walls of hostility.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

“God Is In Control, So Chill Out!”

A good Tuesday morning to all. A little groggy this morning because of slight allergy problems. It’s that time of year. I will report that Stephanie had one of her best days at school in a while, but the evening at home was a little strange. I think her stomach was a little upset though, either because of the increase in meds or because it’s very close to “that time of month.”

I wanted to give a brief overview of Sunday’s message in yesterday’s blog, but I have to hurry so much on Monday that I didn’t have time, so I’ll do it today. The message was called “We Will Not Forget What Really Matters,” and was the final of the series based off of the 9/11 anniversary. Joel started off with a “top ten” list of the top ten things that most worry Americans. Here they are, as he gave them.
1. Deficit out of control
2. Terrorism
3. Health care system at risk
4. Stubborn unemployment
5. Inflation
6. Rogue nations such as North Korea, Iran, etc.
7. China
8. Crime
9. Housing Market
10. Political uncertainty

That’s probably a pretty accurate list, I would guess. All of this led him to the main thesis of this message. Seeking Christ is what really matters and seeking Christ leads to unshakable security.

The Scripture passage for the message was a very familiar one, but one worth returning to frequently. It was Matthew 6:25-34. The first point was “God is in control, so chill out!” He said that when he started writing that one, he first had it sounding all deeply theological, but finally just simplified it to that. I think that’s a great way to state it. If we could all remember that one thing every day, our lives would be a lot less stressful. We need to remember that our God has established what is called “covenantal” (that word just looks all kinds of wrong…) relationship with us. Joel also reminded us of a truth found in Psalm 109:21. But you, O GOD my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me! Everything that God does, he does for his own name’s sake. I may have alluded to this idea yesterday. God works for his own glory, not for ours. I know that sounds self-seeking and arrogant to some. But he’s the creator. And the creator has every right to do whatever he wants with his creation. And, ultimately, everything he does, in the “Big Picture,” is good for us. It may not seem like it at the moment (for example, 70 day of 100+ temperatures in north Texas this summer…), but it is. We have to remember that God is in control, so chill out!
Joel also quoted Proverbs 12:25, which says, Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. Then he told us that many Christians live their lives as “practical atheists.” What that means is that we say that we believe that God is sovereign, but then we live a life of worry and anxiety over every little thing. Sad but true.
Point number two was that “Faith in God’s goodness separates us from unbelievers.” There may be a lot of times that our lives may not look much different from the lives of unbelievers, especially when we get caught up in the same pursuits, but there is one thing that, if we are true Christians, will separate us and that is our faith in his goodness. I would like to say that my faith in God’s goodness is unshakable. I would love to say that. But I’m not sure I would be honest. Most days it is. Most days, I will will proclaim to you that God’s goodness is true and firm. But every now and then, I doubt. There have been some times in the midst of Stephanie’s biggest meltdowns that I have come dangerously close to thinking God had abandoned us. But he didn’t! And he never will. I know that in the deepest part of my heart. My head might freak out and disagree sometimes, but, ultimately, my heart will win out. We need to stop doubting God’s ability to handle our lives!
The final point was from the last two verses of the passage, verses that have been quoted and sung for years. I’ve been singing Matthew 6:33 since I was a youth in church. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Of course, when I was a youth, we sang King James Version…it’s pretty much all we had. Yeah, I’m that old. My quotes are always English Standard Version, unless I say otherwise. Then verse 34, Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Those two verses make point three of the message, which was simply, “The secret to success.” Yes. It’s that simple. Or is it? Seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness. Don’t worry about self. Don’t worry about food, drink, clothes, and stuff. Seek God and his righteousness, and you will have all those other things. Ultimately, it’s not what matters, but who matters.

Today’s Bible readings:
Ephesians 4:1-16; 2 Kings 21; 2 Chronicles 33; Proverbs 16:9-17

Paul begins Ephesians 4 with an admonition. I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (vv. 1-3) Again, it’s important to point out that the “walk” he calls for is not to earn that calling. We not told to walk in such a way as to not lose our salvation. We are simply called to walk in a way that shows that we are Christians. And what does that walk look like? Humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love, and eagerness to maintain unity. The next couple of verses have a bunch of “ones,” illustrating this need for unity. And basically, the rest of this passage is about unity, how we are one body and we are to grow together and mature. Let me say, though, that truth is never to be sacrificed for the sake of unity. There are many who would do that. Unity becomes the end, rather than a means to an end.
Verse 11 lists some of the “offices” that have been appointed for the purpose of equipping the saints. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. All for the single purpose of equipping the saints “for the work of ministry.” And what is the purpose of that ministry? … for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (vv. 12b-16) There are multiple points in this. One is that the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are NOT supposed to do all the work! They are to equip the rest of us to do the work. Another is that we are supposed to mature in the faith, building up the body of Christ in love.

It’s been a while since we visited 2 Kings. In chapter 21, Manasseh, son of Hezekiah has become king in Judah. Hezekiah was a good king. Manasseh was an evil king. He pretty much undid everything that Hezekiah accomplished during his reign. In fact, it says that Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel. (v. 9) This made God very angry. Angry enough to say this: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria, and the plumb line of the house of Ahab, and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. (vv. 12-13) When Manasseh died, his son Amon picked up where he left off. His servants conspired and assassinated him, but the people of the land put the servants to death. Josiah, Amon’s son became king at the ripe old age of eight!
The interesting thing is that 2 Chronicles includes some information about Manasseh that the writer of 2 Kings chose to leave out. After the Lord made the prophecies and Manasseh didn’t listen, God sent Assyria, which captured him and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God. (vv. 12-13) The cynical side of me wants to say, “Sure, who wouldn’t??” But we have to note that God was “moved by his entreaty.” You see, God knows the heart, so God knows that Manasseh was not just “repenting” to get out of trouble, like we do most of the time. And the “proof in that pudding” (I still don’t really understand what that phrase means…I’ve never proven anything with pudding) was the actions of Manasseh when he returned. He took down all of the false altars that he had built. He restored the offerings to the Lord that he had previously forsaken. So even the most evil kings can repent and serve the Lord.

Proverbs 16:9 fits right in with the message from Sunday. The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. God is in control, so chill out!

In Grace For the Moment, Max Lucado gives two readings for the day. Morning and evening. I always read both readings in the morning, mainly because I kept forgetting to read the “evening” reading. Both of today’s are worthy of sharing, I think. The morning reading is called “God Knows What He’s Doing.” Seems to be a theme this week, huh? Max begins by stating that it’s easy to be thankful when God does what we want. “But God doesn’t always do what we want. Ask Job.” Job is probably the oldest book in the Bible. Many people feel that the story of Job even predates Abraham. I’m not smart enough to know about that. But what I know is that God allowed Satan to pretty much destroy Job’s life. Job went to God to plead his case. God answered. “Not with answers, but with questions. An ocean of questions…” Finally, Job responded with this: Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. (Job 42:3) He got the point. “God owes no one anything. No reasons. No explanations. Nothing. God is God. He knows what he is doing.” God is in control, so chill out!
The evening reading is called “God Goes With Us.” I don’t think I have ever seen a morning and evening reading go hand in hand so well together. In Genesis 28:15, God says, Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go… Max says, “When God calls us into the deep valley of death, he will be with us.” God said to Moses, in Exodus 33:14, My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. God said to Jacob in Genesis 28:15, Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go… God said to Joshua in Joshua 1:5, Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. God says all of these things to us. He knows what he is doing, and no matter where he leads us, he will be there with us.

Those are words to get you through the day!

Father, I praise you that you know what you are doing! Because I’m not sure what I’m doing, and a lot of times, I don’t know what you’re doing, either. But I have faith in your goodness; I have faith that you know what you are doing. I believe that you will never leave or forsake me, just like you promised your Old Testament people. You have made that promise even more sure by giving us Jesus and then providing our Helper in life, the Holy Spirit. I thank you for your constant presence in my life, Father! Help me to be more aware of it each day, each hour, each minute.
I need help to not worry. I know that the things our pastor said Sunday are true! My heart knows them. Most of the time my head knows them. But sometimes my head goes walkabout. It takes off on its own and forgets what the heart knows. So I need help to always know and believe that you are in control of all things and that there is absolutely no reason to worry or be anxious for anything! I’m working on that this week. You seem to be giving me some good lessons, too.

I pray for this day, Father. Stephanie is feeling a little “under the weather.” I think it’s mostly allergy-related. But she’s going to school today, and I pray she can make it through the day. I pray for Christi’s day today. And I pray for mine, as well. Let us have good work days today.

God is in control, so chill out!

Grace and peace, friends.