Kindness

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-eighth of September, 2022, in the twenty-sixth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,575

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God and our Father, we thank you for all the blessings you have brought into our lives and for everything we still hope to receive from your goodness. We thank you that through your Spirit you will work more and more in us and in all people, so that we are not held back by any human considerations but can go toward a higher goal. Keep us in your care. In all our special concerns may each of us experience your comfort and help, so that we may rejoice with the praise of your name always in our hearts. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
his love endures forever. 
Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story— 
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, 
those he gathered from the lands, 
from east and west, from north and south.
(Psalms 107:1-3 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the goodness and love of the Lord, which endures forever
  2. for the hope of future grace and future goodness
  3. that God is my refuge and my fortress
  4. for the kindness of God, displayed in Christ Jesus; this inspires kindness in us (at least it should)
  5. for the fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians 5; may it be visible in me today
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High 
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say to the LORD, 
"My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
(Psalms 91:1-2 ESV)

And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
(2 John 1:5-6 ESV)

The LORD reigns; 
he is robed in majesty; 
the LORD is robed; 
he has put on strength as his belt. 
Yes, the world is established; 
it shall never be moved. 
Your throne is established from of old; 
you are from everlasting. 
The floods have lifted up, O LORD, 
the floods have lifted up their voice; 
the floods lift up their roaring. 
Mightier than the thunders of many waters, 
mightier than the waves of the sea, 
the LORD on high is mighty! 
Your decrees are very trustworthy; 
holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
(Psalms 93:1-5 ESV)


This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘”You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
(Matthew 13:13-17 ESV)


Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
(Ephesians 2:6-7 NIV)

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV)


Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:24-25 NIV)


Father, today I see the conflict between walking in the flesh and walking in step with the Spirit. I see that we, as Your children, are either doing one or the other. I fully believe that it is possible to waver between the two, from day to day. I pray that I will walk in the Spirit today. Help me to display the fruit of the Spirit, today, and I especially pray for the characteristic of kindness to be more visible today.

You have called us to love one another. Part of loving is showing kindness. One person was quoted as saying “It costs nothing to be kind.” While that may not be 100% true, the sentiment is understood. We must be kind, if we are to be seen as Your children. Help us to crucify our flesh with its passions and desires. Help us to walk in step with Your Spirit, and to pray according to the desires of Your heart.

I pray that the desires of Your heart would be the desires of my heart. The way I get to this is through abiding; abiding in Christ, abiding in Your Word, and they abiding in me. Just as Christ is in You and You are in Christ, let me be found to be in You, as well, and You in me.

Help me to clothe myself, today, with compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, and humility.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Hating My Life in this World

Today is Wednesday, September 7, 2022, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today!

Day 23,554

Yesterday’s temperature reached 93, at around 3:00 PM, which is a tad higher than expected. It was still fairly warm when we left the library, shortly after 8:00 PM, but not so hard to breathe. We did not get any rain, yesterday. Today’s high is also expected to be 93. The record high for today’s date was in 2012, at 103. It is still showing that we got .88 inch of rain over the last 72 hours.

I’m off work today, as I am every other Wednesday. I will work tomorrow, 8 hours in the computer center, but I will also work 8 hours in the computer center on Friday, this week, as my schedule change is effective on Friday. Going forward, I will not be working Thursdays anymore (after tomorrow).

I have an appointment at a dermatologist, this afternoon, to check on getting a couple of cysts removed from my head. They are right on top of my head, and there is no hair there, so they are quite obvious. So I’m going to try to get them removed. It shouldn’t be an issue, as I have had this done in the past. The only question is if one of them is too large for them to do it, in which case, they will likely refer me to a plastic surgeon, which has also happened one time in the past, when I had a very large cyst right at the top of my forehead.

For dinner, tonight, I am planning to make Beef Enchilada Pasta Skillet, from my favorite cooking website, Emily Bites.

The Texas Rangers broke their losing streak, last night, winning a rare one-run game against the Astros, 4-3. This makes them 59-76 for the season, but they remain in fourth place in the AL West, a half game behind the Angels. They are eliminated from any shot at the division, but still have a slim (very slim) chance at a Wild Card spot. Their WCE# is 12, with 27 games remaining in the season.

The Red Sox fell further behind by losing to the Rays 8-4. They are now 67-70 for the season, and, even though they are 15 games out of first place, are, miraculously, not mathematically eliminated. Their E# is 12. They are nine games out of a Wild Card spot, and their WCE# is 18. They have 25 games left.

There is now a tie for the lead in the NL East division, between Atlanta and the Mets. No one has clinched a division or playoff berth, just yet.

The Dodgers won, making their MLB leading record 93-42. With 27 games remaining, they still have a slim, but unlikely chance, to beat the win record. The Nationals lost, keeping them at the bottom with 48-88. To make matters worse for them, the Pirates won. But the A’s lost, and are now only two games ahead of the Nats. At this point, being the worst is anyone’s game. The Dodgers, of course, are not guaranteed to wind up the best, but the next team is 6.5 games behind them.

The Braves have the best current win streak (which is why they are now tied for first place), at six straight games. The Marlins now have the longest losing streak, at eight games. The Dodgers improved their leading run differential to +294, and the Pirates and Nationals are now tied for the worst, with -203. The Rangers have -11, and the Red Sox are down to -45.

My hopes of having a team in the playoffs grow slimmer with each passing day. As previously mentioned, I’m pulling for the Orioles to get one of those Wild Card spots away from either Toronto or Tampa. I’m also pulling for Cleveland, who is currently leading the AL Central. Why Cleveland? Because Terry Francona, that’s why Cleveland! I really, really wish Texas could lure him away from Cleveland.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, remind us again and again of what you have done in our hearts and lives to make us certain of the resurrection. Help us to live in this certainty and to hold fast to everything good and great which you bring into our lives. Grant us the assurance that we are gaining ground in the battle for the redemption of those who are still in darkness and in the shadow of death. May we find joy in what we have here and now. Give us patience in our struggles. Give us hope for all that has gone wrong, because even what is in darkness is still in your hands. In the end everything must be brought to the light so that all humankind may glorify your great name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,
(1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for all things good and great that God brings into our lives
  2. that, in spite of what we might see around us, God is working His plan, and it will come to pass
  3. for the inheritance that is kept for us in heaven
  4. for memories
  5. that Jesus, because of His sacrifice, and He did not hold onto His life in this world, has made intercession for sinners

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
(John 12:25-26 ESV)

I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
 yes, I will remember your wonders of old. 
I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. 
Your way, O God, is holy. 
What god is great like our God? 
You are the God who works wonders; 
you have made known your might among the peoples.
(Psalms 77:11-14 ESV)

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,
(Philippians 1:3 ESV)

The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.
(Proverbs 10:7 ESV)


Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
(Isaiah 53:12 ESV)


“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life,” said Jesus. But He also said that we are to love our neighbor as ourself. How do I do that if I’m supposed to hate my life?

I believe there is a difference between “hating” my “life in this world,” and hating myself. We are never told to hate ourselves. The Greek word that is translated “life” in John 12:25 is psuche or psyche, which can also be translated as “breath” or “spirit.”

So this is not talking about wishing we would die, that our physical life would cease to be. Rather, it is speaking of the way in which we engage in this life, in this world. I believe it is a call to be somewhat detached from this life, almost aloof. Not to be careless, mind you, or irresponsible, because being careless and irresponsible can have negative impact on other people.

For a long time, now, I have had this mindset of, and this is also biblical, what can man do to me? It’s kind of like saying, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

Certainly, there are things in this life that I enjoy. I like reading my books; I like playing my games; I like listening to and playing music. But I am less and less attached to those things (you might not know that if you see how much time I spend in front of the PS4), as I long more and more for Home.

And this longing for Home is not a wish to die, either. I have no interest in dying. There are people around me with whom I enjoy spending time. There are people around me who depend on me for things. I don’t desire to leave them just yet.

But I have less and less regard for my “life in this world.”

Jesus, according to that passage in Isaiah 53, had little regard for His life in this world. He “poured out His soul to death.” In doing so, He “bore the sin of many,” and made intercession for all sinners.

That word “intercession” gets thrown around a lot, usually in regard to prayer. Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know what to pray. However, that is not the meaning of “intercession” in Isaiah 53:12.

“Intercede,” simply means, “intervene on behalf of another.” That can take many forms. In Isaiah 53:12, Jesus intervened on our behalf by giving up His life.

And in Philippians 2, we see a similar message about Jesus.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
(Philippians 2:8 ESV)

Jesus is the ultimate example of someone who “hated” His “life in this world.” He did not hate Himself. But He did not love His life to the point of trying to preserve it. And look at the results.

One result is the salvation of sinners. But another result is this:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:9-11 ESV)

The one who wished to exalt himself in this life has all the reward he is going to get. If someone does acts of charity simply to be recognized by men, that will be the extent of his reward.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
(Matthew 6:2 ESV)

That is an example of loving a life in this world.

Jesus’s “power in intercession was established by His sacrifice; intercession claims what the sacrifice has already won.” (Andrew Murray)

So if we feel like we don’t have the power to pray or don’t know how, perhaps we need to examine how much we love our lives in this world. How much do we complain about things that don’t go our way? I struggle so much with this, personally. The more I understand these truths, the less that is an issue, but it still an issue. I’m dealing with something along those lines, right now, but God is helping me to understand; He is helping me to “hate” my “life in this world.”

I don’t hate myself, and I won’t do that. No worries there. I mean, sure, sometimes I don’t like myself very much, especially when I get unrealistically angry over something petty. But in general, I try to look at myself the way God looks at me (as best as I can tell), which is through the perspective of Jesus Christ, who died for me and interceded for my sin and placed His righteousness upon me.


Father, I praise You for Jesus Christ, Your Son, who has interceded for all sinners by not loving His life and by being obedient to the point of death. I acknowledge that You have exalted Him, because of this, and have given Him the name that is above every name. I humbly and willingly bow to His name and confess with my tongue (and my fingertips) that Jesus is Lord!

I praise You for His intercession on our behalf, and for the righteousness that He has placed upon us. I have no righteousness of my own, no inherent goodness. I do not hate myself, but, according to Your Word, have a healthy hatred of my life in this world, that I might, then, keep it for eternal life in Your presence, after the resurrection.

Help me to do this more and more; help me to not love my life in this world, to set aside my desires that are not in line with Your desires. Help me to not express anger over petty things, things that do not matter, things that are only “footstool” problems. Help me to learn these things and not just repeat the same things over and over.

I am grateful for all the saints, Father, and the relationships that we have with them. I am thankful for the ones who went before us, that we might learn from them. And I am thankful for the ones that will come after us, and hope that we might do something of value that they would learn from us.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

“Peace, Be Still”

Today is Wednesday, August 31, 2022, in the 22nd week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,547

Today is the last day of August. Not yesterday.

This seems like a busy week for me, because I had personal tasks to attend to on Monday and Tuesday, then worked last night, and have a shift today beginning at 9:15. I will say that I’m running short on time, this morning, so I must get moving.

I’ll briefly mention the weather, as it seems to be settling into milder temps. Yesterday’s high was only 86, and today’s is expected to be 85. There is at least some chance of rain/thunderstorms every day for the next ten days. Hopefully, we get nothing like last Monday. The record high for today’s date occurred in 2000, and was 106.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, open our hearts to see and feel how our lives have been blest. Open our hearts to your blessings so that we may look forward in thankfulness and joy to what lies ahead. Grant that we may be faithful to what we have received from you and never again lose ourselves in the passing moment. May we hold to all you have brought to our hearts from eternity, that your name may be honored and our lives shaped anew in Jesus Christ. Give us courage to overcome the evils in life and to look with joy and confident expectation to the future, when the powers of your kingdom will be ever more clearly revealed. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
You should think of us as Christ's servants, who have been put in charge of God's secret truths. The one thing required of such a servant is that he be faithful to his master. 
1 Corinthians 4:1–2, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that my heart is open to God’s many blessings, so that I may “look forward in thankfulness and joy to what lies ahead” (Daily Prayer from Plough)
  2. for the truths revealed to us by God, through the Son and by the Spirit
  3. that as I sit here, this morning, God hears my voice; I wait in expectation to see what He is going to do today
  4. that wisdom comes to those who diligently seek her
  5. that the Name of the Lord will be exalted in all the earth

“I Want,” by Daryl Madden

Lord, you know what I want
And you know what I pray
For you know in my heart
All the words I will say

And sometimes it is
Not want I want to be
But it is for the best
Because you love me

So, Lord speak to me
Heard in a prayer
To guide me unto
Your way to appear

Not my way but Yours
One desire to share
Help me to want what
You want for me here

I’m especially moved by the last stanza, a rephrasing of “not my will, by Thine be done.” I, too, pray that what I want would be what God wants for me. Please visit Daryl’s blog site at the link provided above.


Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
(John 8:58 ESV)

and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.
(2 Chronicles 5:13-14 ESV)

Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?
(Malachi 2:10 ESV)


O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
(Psalms 5:3 ESV)

“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 ESV)

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
(Psalms 143:8 ESV)

I [wisdom] love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.
(Proverbs 8:17 ESV)

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
(Mark 4:39 ESV)


Father, these verses are all I need, this morning. I have sat before you, this morning, before going out into the world to do what needs to be done, and I have spent a few moments “being still,” so that I can know that You are God.

There are many storms, this morning, threatening many people. I pray that You, through the work of Jesus and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, may say “peace, be still” to all of those storms. For Melody who is anxious about playing piano at church, this Sunday; for Cindy, who is anxious about a diagnosis and some test results that are coming; for several who are seeking new jobs and anxiously awaiting notification on interviews; for parents who are anxious about their children; for many, many people in our land who are needlessly upset and anxious over politics . . .

Father, in heaven, I entreat You, please declare over all of these situations:

Even so, please come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Tomorrow . . . He Is Able

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-fourth of August, 2022, in the twenty-first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your heart today!

Day 23,540

The mild weather continues after Monday’s monsoon rains. We had a high of 82, yesterday, and, according to Weather Underground, we had a small amount of rain in the area. The record high for yesterday’s date is 107. Today’s anticipated high is 86, and the ten-day forecast shows temps ranging from 87 to 94.

My evening at the library went fine, yesterday, and I shelved a couple carts of adult books. There was almost a whole shelf of Spanish language books on one of them, which was unusual. When I commented on that to one of our adult services ladies, she said that she thought we recently got some new Spanish books, so that probably explains that.

I have to take S to the doctor, this morning, for a routine check. It’s been about a year since she has seen the doctor, so it’s overdue. Neither one of us is looking forward to it, but it’s part of the deal I “signed up for” when we agreed that I could retire last year. And, as “they” say, “this, too, shall pass.” In fact, the appointment is at 9:00, and we should be there by 8:45, because there will no doubt be paperwork to fill out. This means I will have to finish the blog entry after we get back home.

The Texas Rangers lost another one-run game, last night, to the Rockies, 7-6. However, in the course of the game, Adolis Garcia extended his hitting streak to twenty games, which is the second longest Rangers hitting streak, behind Josh Hamilton, who had 23 in 2010. Garcia also logged his twentieth stolen base, which, combined with his twentieth home run, hit in Minnesota, has put him in the “20/20/20 Club,” being only the second Rangers player in history to have twenty home runs, twenty stolen bases, and a twenty-game hitting streak. Pudge Rodriguez is the other one.

The Rangers are now 56-67 for the season, in third place in the AL West, 22.5 games out of first place, and eleven out of a Wild Card spot. They play the Rockies again, today, at 2:10 CDT. They have 39 games left in the season.

The Red Sox also lost, last night, to the Blue Jays, 9-3. They are now 60-63 for the season, in last place in the AL East, 15.5 out of first and seven out of a Wild Card spot. They also have 39 games left, and play the Jays again tonight at 7:10 EDT.

The LA Dodgers have now won 85 games, and have a MLB-leading 85-37 record. With forty games left, at the rate they are going, they could break the record of 116 games in a season. That record is shared by the 1906 Cubs (who only played 152 games), and the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who played 162. I would say that’s unlikely, though, as they would have to win 32 of their last 40 games. They are currently winning 60% of their games, which would give them only 24 more wins for the season. At any rate, they should easily win over 100.

The Nationals, on the other hand, could lose 100, as they have the worst MLB record of 41-83. The Tampa Bay Rays (BOO) have the current longest winning streak, at four games. The Twins, Angels, and Pirates all have four-game losing streaks. The Dodgers have a +269 run differential, and the Nationals have a -211 differential. The Rangers are at +4, and the Red Sox have dropped to -43.

Tonight, I plan to cook Chicken Taco Rice Skillet, from Emily Bites, one of the family’s favorites. For the record, I use two chicken breasts, which might be slightly more than one pound, and I increase the rice to 1.5 cups. I also use brown Minute Rice, which decreases the simmering time.

Update: The doctor appointment went well. S struggled a bit with anxiety, at the beginning, but by the time it was over, she was good. I’m very proud of her.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we long to come into your light, to live in your strength, that we may do what pleases you and furthers your kingdom on earth. Protect us from evil and do not let us be wounded by the flaming arrows of the evil one. Make paths for us whenever we do not know how to go forward. We always know you are our Father. Because you are our Father, we want to be courageous and persevere to the end so that you can make our lives bear fruit for you, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
And, with all these, take up the great shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 
Ephesians 6:16, NEB

Today I am grateful:

1. for the shield of faith; may I take it up consistently
2. that S's doctor appointment went well
3. that Jesus holds my tomorrows in His hands
4. for the power of music and song
5. that I would rather love people into the Kingdom than try to scare them in
6. that He is able . . . able to accomplish what concerns me today, able to handle anything that comes my way, able to do much more than I could ever dream

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
(John 6:16-21 ESV)

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:34 NIV)

Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?
(Job 38:41 NIV)

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
(Luke 12:24 NIV)

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
(2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV)


This is a theme that arises frequently in this blog. Tomorrow. When I read the above four references, I immediately thought of an old hymn, written by the great Ira Stanphill.

I don't know about tomorrow,
I just live from day to day.
I don't borrow from its sunshine,
For its skies may turn to gray.
I don't worry o'er the future,
For I know what Jesus said,
And today I'll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

Refrain:
Many things about tomorrow,
I don't seem to understand;
But I know who holds tomorrow,
And I know who holds my hand.

I don’t really know what else to say. I certainly can’t add to this. God cares about us. He loves us. And while it is true that Jesus is the only doorway into the Kingdom, I would much rather try to love people into the Kingdom than try to scare them in.

There must be thousands of songs that speak of this same sentiment. There is a quote that is attributed to C.H. Spurgeon: “God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to make a mistake. When I can’t trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.”

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
(C.D. Martin)

That song even speaks to my constant longing for Home. If I’m trusting Jesus the way I claim to be, perhaps my sights shouldn’t be so fixed on “Home,” but on Jesus and the presence of His Kingdom, here and now.


Father, You know my heart, and You know how quickly it leans toward worry. It’s not that I don’t trust You. I do trust You. And I feel, so often, like that father from the New Testament, who proclaimed, “I do believe! Help my unbelief!”

Maybe the problem is that, while I trust Your ability, I don’t always trust what You want to do. That needs to go away. It really does. I need to embrace the truth of Your love in my life. You love Your children, and You are faithful to provide and protect us. Help my unbelief. Help my lack of trust. Help me to know that You will provide, and that You will hear my prayers and, as Jesus said, whatever I ask for in His name, You will do.

Help me to remember . . . You are able to accomplish whatever concerns me today, You are able to handle anything that comes my way, and You are able to do much more than I could ever dream.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Wonderful Revelation

Today is Wednesday, the tenth of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in you today!

Day 23,526

Only nine more days until S turns 29! And we have a day planned for that day. Lunch at Martha’s Mexican Cocina, pedicures, bowling, a cookie cake, and there will be presents! Should be quite a day.

We did hit 100 degrees, yesterday, but almost immediately after (shortly before 3 PM), the temperature dropped about twenty degrees as some light rain moved into the area. So that was our 42nd day of 100+, and began a new streak of two days. Today’s high is also predicted to be 100, followed by four days of less than 100. S’s birthday is the last day visible in the ten-day, and it is currently predicted to be 93! Let’s hope that holds true!

The Texas Rangers lost to the Astros, last night. They started out strong, but faded quickly, and Martin Perez had a rare loss in the game. Final score 7-5. The Rangers are now 48-61, thirteen games below .500. They are still in third place in the AL West, 22 games behind first place, and ten games out of a Wild Card spot. They play the Astros again tonight at 7:10 CDT, in Houston. They aren’t likely to win because a) Glenn Otto is starting, and b) Justin Verlander is pitching for Houston. He is 39 years old and has a 1.73 ERA.

I think we need to have his DNA checked, because I’m pretty sure he is not human.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox lost to the Braves, 9-7, to drop to 54-57 for the year. Significantly better than the Rangers, but still in last place in the AL East. Seventeen games out of first and five out of a Wild Card spot. They play again tonight at 7:10 EDT, in Boston.

The Dodgers remain on top of MLB, with 76-33 record (the Yankees have dropped to fourth), and the Nationals remain on the bottom, with 37-75. The Dodgers are still winning, now with a nine-game winning streak. The Athletics now have the longest losing streak, with four straight losses. The Red Sox just ahead of them, with three. And the Dodgers are still on top with a run differential of +233, and the Nationals remain on the bottom with -198. The Rangers dropped to -3, and the Sox to -32.

It’s my light week, this week, so I’m off today. I don’t know what I have planned for the day, other than a “surprise” meal for the family dinner, tonight. I’ll give a small hint . . . it involves macaroni.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God! What can separate us from your love? Can trouble or fear or persecution or hunger or nakedness or peril or the sword? In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Dear Father in heaven, we long for courage. You will answer our prayers and again and again grant us strength, the power of your Spirit, the only power that can strengthen us. We thank you for all you have done for us. Help us onward from victory to victory until everything on earth is won for the good, to your honor among all humankind. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 
(Romans 8:35, 37 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ!
2. for the power of the Holy Spirit, from which we gain all strength in this life
3. for the "still, small voice" of God
4. for the confidence that, if we ask according to His will, God hears our prayers
5. that Jesus came to make His Father our Father

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
(2 Corinthians 11:30 ESV)

“What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it. But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”
(Habakkuk 2:18-20 ESV)

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
(1 Kings 19:11-12 ESV)

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
(1 John 5:14 ESV)

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
(Ephesians 1:15-21 ESV)

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
(Matthew 6:9-13 ESV)


When we acknowledge our weaknesses, it makes us stronger. Paul learned that, and tried to teach his churches the same thing. Our modern culture resists that, though. We flaunt things that make us appear “manly” or “tough,” forgetting the things we are taught by God’s Word.

God, of course, has no weaknesses. Yet, when He deals with us, He deals with us gently (except for a few exceptions, like when Jesus knocked over the tables of the folks who were cheating people).

There are connections in the above passages. A solid reason that we should “keep silence” before God is shown in the passage from 1 Kings. An important point of prayer is that silence is involved. Why? Because, when we are always talking, we are not listening! Note that the voice of God was not in the fire, not in the earthquake, and not in the boisterous wind. There are, certainly, times that God must speak loudly to us, but that is usually because we are not paying attention.

As Elijah waited patiently for the Lord to reveal Himself, the voice of God finally came through in that “still, small voice” the KJV references, or, in this translation, a “low whisper.”

The first thing that Jesus teaches us, in His model prayer, is that God is in heaven, and that His name should be hallowed. What does “hallowed” mean? “Greatly revered and honored.”

Jesus, the master of prayer, gives us words to use when we are praying. He not only taught us how to pray, He demonstrated it, as well. There’s a whole chapter in John (17) that is a complete prayer of Jesus.

But in this model, Jesus gives us “a prayer that breathes the freshness and fullness of eternal life, so simple that a child can learn it, so divinely rich that it covers all we need.” (Andrew Murray) I don’t believe that, when Jesus said, “Pray then like this,” that He meant “pray these exact words every time you pray.”

I believe He was giving us a pattern to use. There aren’t many things that we can pray for that wouldn’t fit somewhere in this pattern.

Of course, there is certainly nothing wrong with reciting this prayer. I do it frequently. It has a centering and calming effect when I do it.

There’s another important thing, though, here. That word “Father,” preceded by the word “our.” The word “our” may be the most important word in the prayer. Why? Because, up to that time, no one in Scripture, none of the saints of old, had ever referred to God as “Father.”

“The invocation places us at once in the center of the wonderful revelation that the Son came to make His Father our Father.” (Murray, emphasis his)

“The knowledge of God’s Father-love is the first and simplest–but also the last and highest–lesson in the school of prayer. It is in personal relationship to the living God and fellowship with Him that prayer begins.” (Murray)


Father, thank You for this revelation. I give praise to You for making this relationship possible through Jesus Christ. This is, truly, a “wonderful revelation,” as described by brother Murray. Help us to walk in this knowledge, to know this “Father-love” that is so readily available to us. The thing that amazes me is that this love of Yours is lavished on everyone on the planet . . . not just the people who acknowledge it! As Scriptures says, you send rain on the just and the unjust alike. There is air for the atheists to breathe, as well as the believers.

And You could very easily make it not so.

Your patience with mankind is staggering. I pray for the same patience, that I might love people as You love them. Help me to be a channel of that love, that, as it passes through me, it might spread out, fan out into the world and touch everyone around me.

Help me to keep silent before You, when appropriate, that I might hear Your “low whisper.” Teach me the ways of meditation and contemplation that I might know Your presence without having to speak, that I might gain knowledge of You in the stillness of Your presence. I want to be immersed in You.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus!


“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.” ~ L.R. Knost

Grace and peace, friends.

An Aroma of Christ to God

Today is Wednesday, the third of August, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,519

Sixteen days until S turns 29!

We hit 102 for a high, yesterday, our 37th day of 100+ temperatures for this summer, and third in the current streak. There was no rain, but at least we got a little bit last week. The current ten-day forecast shows some possibility next week, around the weekend. There are three days at the end of that forecast with highs below 100. Today and tomorrow are expected to be 105 and 104.

The great Vin Scully has died. He was 94 years old. He was the broadcaster for the LA Dodgers for, I believe, 67 years.

The Texas Rangers lost again, to the Orioles, this time 8-2. It’s like they’ve given up, or something. But Martin Perez is pitching today (miraculously, they didn’t trade him), so maybe they will win. But they have to score runs to win. They are 46-57 for the season, still in third place in the AL West, still twenty games out of first, and eight games out of the Wild Card race. They play an afternoon game against the O’s today, in Arlington.

The Red Sox beat the Astros again! 2-1. Which is why the Rangers are still twenty games out instead of more. and with that, they have won their first series in over a month. They still have one game, but if they lose, they still win the series. They are now 53-52 for the season, but still in last place in the AL East, thanks to the Rangers continuing to lose to the O’s. There’s some kind of wicked trade off going on here. Anyway, the Sox are seventeen out of first, and now only two out of the Wild Card race.

The LA Dodgers are now a full game ahead of the Yankees, with the best MLB record at 70-33. The Nationals continue to hold the worst record, at 36-69. There are three teams sharing the best current win streak. The Braves, Padres, and Reds (??) have all won four consecutive games. The Miami Marlins now have the longest current losing streak, at five games. The Yankees still have the best run differential, at +210, but the Dodgers are only five runs behind them. The Nationals still have the worst, at -168. The Rangers have dropped to a zero run differential, while the Sox improved to -15.

It’s my Wednesday to work, so I’d best get moving.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that we may be your children. We thank you for giving us your Spirit so that we may truly be your children. Gather us into community with you so that our minds and hearts and all that is in us may realize what joy can come to us through your gifts. Though the world today is in turmoil, in doubt, lost in material things, grant us inner quiet to receive from you the power of faith. For through faith we can learn to know what you are and what you will be to all humankind one day, through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
(John 1:9-12 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the true light of the world, Jesus Christ
2. for the joy that comes to us through the gifts of god
3. for the power of faith in a world lost in material things, doubt, and turmoil
4. for the possibility of being "the aroma of Christ to God" (2 Corinthians 2)
5. for the strength God gives us to move forward and not get bogged down in whatever light affliction we may be experiencing

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.
(2 Corinthians 2:15-17 ESV)

And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
(Luke 11:2-4 ESV)

The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.”
(Exodus 14:15 ESV)

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
(Isaiah 35:3-4 ESV)

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
(2 Corinthians 4:8-10 ESV)

I sit here, day after day, doing this ritual of devotion. Not because I want to become famous on WordPress (I don’t mean to brag, but this blog is read by well over ten people, world wide), or TikTok (I have a whopping less-than-three-hundred followers there), but because I desire true fellowship with God in Christ.

This is a place of relative quietness, occasionally disrupted only when S wanders in to see how I slept last night and ask “what’s the plan for today?” It is a place where I can be alone with God and strengthen my spiritual life.

Why do I blog it? I started doing this instead of keeping a handwritten journal, a couple of decades ago. So my “journal” is online instead of on paper. And, I figured, maybe someone might be inspired by my ramblings.

Andrew Murray says, “The superficiality of our Christian service comes from having so little real contact with God.” I believe this. Way back up there, look at that first Scripture that I shared, from 2 Corinthians. See that bit about being “the aroma of Christ to God?”

I read that, this morning, and all I could think about was the number of people out there, who claim to be Christians, who do nothing but whine and moan and complain, as well as spread anger and hatred toward people who think differently about world issues than they. It seems that they are most certainly an “aroma” in this world, but it certainly isn’t a pleasant one. “Stink” is more like it. They are a stink that drives people away from Jesus, rather then draw them toward Him.

Not that I’m perfect, mind you. I complain plenty, although I try to only do that among my immediate family and with the Lord, Himself.

I can’t help but wonder how much “real contact with God” these folks have?

“If it is true that God alone is the source of love, goodness, and happiness, and that to have as much as possible of His presence, His fellowship, and His blessing is our highest joy, then surely to meet Him alone in the morning ought to be our aim.”

I don’t necessarily believe that it has to be “in the morning.” That idea can become quite legalistic, and has been in the past. I mean, I’ve heard sermons that declared that “You must have a ‘Quiet Time’ every morning!” “Quiet Time” was the cliche name that we gave our morning devotional, beginning back in the seventies.

It is important, though, to spend some real time along with God, at some point during the day. It might even be wise to both begin and end the day in such a manner. The ancient folks had this practice at the end of the day, called “Examen,” in which they took a look back at the day, looking over their failures and successes.

Anyway . . . that’s why I’m here. That’s why I do this. I want to be an “aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

Today's sources:
Daily Guideposts 2022
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, please help me be an aroma of Christ, today, in the world around me. May I be a pleasing aroma to all in the world, to those who are being saved, to inspire them to carry on and move forward in their lives, and to those who are perishing, that I might, in some way, draw them to Christ.

I pray that all who call the name of Jesus would have this same desire, and that Your Holy Spirit would have free reign in our hearts.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Measure of Faith

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-seventh of July, 2022, in the seventeenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,512

23 days until S turns 29!

I apologize in advance for the length of this entry.

The heat wave continues, as yesterday’s high reached 103, for eleven straight days of 100+ temps, the longest streak so far, this year. That will likely continue today. We have had 31 days of triple digits, so far this year, and no relief in sight. There has been no rain for 53 days. The average high and low for yesterday are 97/73, and the record high for the day is 104. Today’s high is predicted to be 103, and the next ten days are predicted to be at least 100 degrees.

The Texas Rangers blew another one, last night. They had gone ahead by scoring in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, but then the bullpen blew the save in the bottom of the ninth and lost the game 5-4. They are now ten games below .500, at 43-53. They are still in third place in the AL West, though, still twenty games out of first (the cheaters have lost two in a row), and 8.5 out of the Wild Card race. They play Seattle again, this afternoon, at 2:40 CDT. That’s a strange time for a game.

The Red Sox lost to the Guardians, 8-3. So they are back at .500, with a record of 49-49. And they have dropped to last place in the AL East, a half game behind Baltimore. They are seventeen out of first, and 3.5 out of the Wild Card Race. Now what does it say about a division when the last place team is at exactly .500?? The AL East is the only division that has any team below third place with a .500 record. In some cases, even the third place team is below .500. The Sox play the Guardians again tonight at 7:10 EDT.

The Nationals, in spite of a three-game win streak, continue to hold the worst MLB record, at 34-65. The Blue Jays continue to hold the longest current win streak, at seven straight games. The San Francisco Giants have the longest current losing streak, at six games. The Nationals also keep the worst run differential, at -154. The Rangers are at +5, and the Red Sox have dropped to -15.

It is somewhat odd that the Rangers have a positive run differential, yet are ten games below .500. Almost every other team with a positive number in that category has a winning record, with the exception of the Giants, who are only one game below .500. The Orioles have a -5 differential, yet are one game above .500.

I guess that’s just how baseball go.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, bring us together as one. Give us your Spirit so that we may know you, so that joy may fill our hearts, not only for ourselves but also for others. Root out evil from the earth. Sweep away all that offends you, all lying, deceit, and hate between nations. Grant that all people may come to know you, so that disunity and conflict may be swept away and your eternal kingdom may arise on earth and we may rejoice in it. For your kingdom can come to people even while on earth to bring them happiness and to make them your own children. Yes, Lord God, we want to be your children, your people, held in your hand, so that your name may be honored, your kingdom may come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
(John 10:16 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the hope of unity in Christ
2. for joy that fills my heart and soul, not only for myself, but for others, as well
3. for the "measure of faith" given to us that we can obey God's commands to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought, and to not judge others, and to give generously and freely
4. that I can trust God and not be afraid, because the "universe is a perfectly safe place for us to be" (Dallas Willard)
5. that God is able to use anyone, anywhere, no matter what the weakness
6. for the power of intercessory prayer

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-13 ESV, emphasis mine)

The word for today, from Pray A Word A Day, is “measure.”

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
(Romans 12:3 ESV)

The actual reading for today is so ridiculous I’m not even going to mention it. And they take the phrase from the verse completely out of context. So I’m winging it, here.

The NASB translates the last phrase in that verse, “as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” For today’s reading, it is truncated to simply, “God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

While that is a true statement, we need to realize the reason for this measure of faith, and to do that, we must look at the whole verse. And the purpose of the verse is to instruct us to “not think of [ourselves] more highly than [we] ought to think, but to think with sober judgment.”

“Measure” could easily be thought of as “amount.” Yes, each of us has been given an “amount” of faith, and we need to use that faith to obey the commands of the Lord.

There are other uses of the word, as well. Jesus used the word when He cautioned us against judging.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
(Matthew 7:1-2 ESV)

Then there was this somewhat vague usage in Mark 4.

And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
(Mark 4:24-25 ESV)

Then, He kind of wraps it all together in Luke 6.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
(Luke 6:37-38 ESV)

So how would I use the word “measure” in prayer? After all, this is the point of this whole devotional book, right? I would pray for God to help me use my “measure” of faith to obey His commands to not think more highly of myself than I ought, and to not judge others, and to give generously and freely.


“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”
(Isaiah 12:2 ESV)

“There is none like God . . . who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
(Deuteronomy 33:26-27 ESV)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
(Psalms 46:1-3 ESV)

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; 
my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, 
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, 
beholding your power and glory. 
Because your steadfast love is better than life, 
my lips will praise you. 
So I will bless you as long as I live; 
in your name I will lift up my hands. 
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, 
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 
when I remember you upon my bed, 
and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 
for you have been my help, 
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 
My soul clings to you; 
your right hand upholds me.
(Psalms 63:1-8 ESV)

Have you ever been afraid? Is that a dumb question?

I’ve been afraid. Many times in my life. At least one or two of those times were caused by my own stupidity or rebelliousness. Some of them are humorous, as I look back on them.

One of the times, C, R, and I were driving to east Texas to visit grandparents. C was driving, as she normally does on the road trips. It had been raining heavily, and as we passed through Dallas on I-30, we encountered some standing water. At roughly sixty miles per hour or so. The car began hydroplaning and drifting toward the center lane (we were in the left lane). C was desperately turning the wheel to the left, but with no result. There was a pickup pulling a trailer in the center lane, and we were headed straight for the back of the trailer, when suddenly, the wheels caught ground, and turned sharply to the left and struck one of the cement barriers on the side of the road. R, being a toddler, at the time, slept through the whole thing in her carseat. Some paint was scraped off the front bumper, and that was the only damage.

Then there was the time we lived in west Fort Worth, near White Settlement. R was a few years older, and S had not yet come along. C was going to night school to finish her college degree. When we lived in that part of the world, we frequently got pounded by thunderstorms. They always came from the west, and they always hit us head on, with full force. That night, C was at school, and one of those storms hit. Tornado warnings went off (back then, a tornado “warning” meant that there was one on the ground somewhere; these days a “warning” is what we used to call a “watch”). R and I got pillows and huddled in a hallway in the middle of the house. We had been watching a lot of Scripture song VHS tapes (remember those?) back then, and one of them was a Steve Green tape, I think it was called “Kids Sing Praise.” One of the songs was based off of Psalm 56:3-4.

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

Turns out it wasn’t “Kids Sing Praise,” but “Hide ‘Em In Your Heart.”

Anyway, R suggested we sing that song while we sat in the hallway with the storm raging outside and C somewhere in between Euless and our house, coming home from her night class.

Then there was the night before R’s birthday, I believe it was the year 2000. We were putting a basketball goal together, which she had asked for, outside in the driveway. At that time, we lived where we currently live. Clouds began building, and storm warnings began occurring. A tornado was coming, and it was heading straight toward us. I mean, it was miles away, at the time, but still on a trajectory to hit our area. We huddled in a bathroom (S was with us by then), and ate pizza, which had been delivered before the storms started. We prayed. Other people we know were praying, as well.

Here’s the thing. That tornado/storm did something really weird that evening. It took a hard left turn (“left” is totally arbitrary, there) and went through downtown Fort Worth, hitting the Bank One building the hardest. But it was after 5:00 PM, so no people were injured, because there was hardly anyone there.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You.” “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid.”

Indeed.

Once again, I am reminded of some words by Dallas Willard, these coming from his book, The Divine Conspiracy. “Jesus brings us the assurance that the universe is a perfectly safe place for us to be.”


More words from Alan Paton, author of Cry, the Beloved Country:

“No Christian should ever think or say that he is not fit to be God’s instrument, for that in fact is what it means to be a Christian. We may be humble about many things, but we may never decline to be used.”

“The gospel is full of reassurances to us, some of them startling. You are salt to the world! You are light to all the world! Even the hairs of your head have all been counted! These words were exciting to those who heard them. Things might be dark but they were to be the light of the world. They were given a new sense of their value as persons. Especially was this true of women.”

“There are therefore two things for us to do. The first is never to doubt that God can use us if we are willing to be used, no matter what our weaknesses. The second is to see that God can use any other person who is willing to be used, whatever his weaknesses, and if need be, to assure him of this truth.”

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


Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. 
“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 
“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
(Luke 11:5-13 NLT)

“In true, unselfish prayer there is little thought of personal need or happiness. If we would be delivered from the sin of limiting prayer, we must enlarge our heart for the work of intercession.”

Our faith will be stirred, says Andrew Murray, by interceding for others. Murray lists these elements of “true intercession”:

Urgent need – In order to learn to pray as we should, “we must open our eyes and heart to the needs around us.

Willing love – “It is the very nature of love to give up and forget itself for the sake of others.”

The sense of powerlessness – In Jesus’s example, the friend admits that he has nothing to give.

Faith in prayer – What he doesn’t have, someone else does have. “To get from God and then give to others what we ourselves receive from day to day is the secret of successful ministry.”

“Intercession is the link between our powerlessness and God’s omnipotence.”

(From Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray)


Father, I do sincerely pray that I might use the “measure of faith” that You have allocated to me, and that I might not think more highly of myself than I ought, nor judge people, and that I might give freely and generously to those in need, as You direct me.

I thank You for the gift of intercessory prayer, and that You have led me, in this task, to pray for others and their needs. I know that I have nothing to give, but You do, so I can ask You to do things for others that I cannot do, and that they cannot do for themselves.

I praise You for the reassurance that You can use anyone, at any time, for Your glory, no matter what kind of weakness we might think we have.

I thank You that I can trust You and not be afraid, because, in Your kingdom, as we walk in You and trust in Christ, this universe is a perfectly safe place for us to be.

I continue to pray that You would bless us with some rain, Lord. We are in desperate need, and there are people all over the world who need relief from this heat wave. Have mercy, Father!

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Bonus points if you’re still reading.

Grace and peace, friends.

May the Good in Our Hearts Bloom

Today is Wednesday, the twentieth of July, 2022, in the sixteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,505

Thirty days until S turns 29.

The heat wave continues, and it’s not just in Texas. In fact, the world is, quite literally, burning. There are wildfires in Texas and California, that I know of. There are also fires in Europe, where temperatures are reaching record highs. DFW reached a high of 109, yesterday, just shy of the predicted 110. Today is predicted to be 109, as well. For a little bit, it looked like tomorrow would be below 100, but this morning, the forecast for tomorrow shows a high of exactly 100. I’m still hoping.

We still desperately need rain, as do many other areas. The last day DFW had recorded rain was June 3. This, of course, is recorded at airports, so there may have been pockets of rain in some areas last Thursday, but not where I live.

I don’t have much else, this morning. I need to get moving, because it’s my early day at the library, and my shift begins at 9:15.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, you want to be our God and you want us to be your people. Give us the inner integrity and the power to discern and reject what does not come from the heart, so that everything may be genuine among us. Then no lies and deception will creep in, and honesty and goodness will flow from our hearts to the glory of truth, to the glory of the gospel and the great hope you give us through the gospel. Guard our hearts. Protect the good that is planted in them, that it may grow and thrive and bear fruit. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. 
(Jeremiah 32:38–39 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that there is good planted in our hearts; may it grow and thrive and bear fruit
2. that God desires us to be His people
3. for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus
4. for flowers and the inspiration that we can get from them
5. for God's ability to do miracles and answer our prayers

Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light, as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him. Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?
(Amos 5:18-20 ESV)

Whenever I read this passage, it gives me pause in thinking about how eager some folks are for the return of Christ. I have stated before how I long for Home. And I do end my daily prayers with “Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus.” But there is a sobriety to that prayer, and I don’t pray it flippantly or even, necessarily, eagerly. Because I understand that the second coming of Christ is going to be a dark and dreadful day for much of humanity.

And I will also admit that there is much that I don’t understand about Biblical prophecy and its fulfillment. Much of Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70, when the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed. Enough that there are even people known as “preterists” who go so far as to believe that all Biblical prophecy has already been fulfilled.

I don’t fall into that category, because if that were true, what are we doing here? Why are we still here?


The word for today, from Pray A Word A Day, is flower.

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” ~ Lady Bird Johnson

There is truth to that statement, and “flower” can be a verb, as well as a noun. Initially, when we see the word “flower,” we think of something like this.

But “flower” can also be a verb, and pretty much means the same thing as “bloom.” Hope blooms where flowers grow, is the statement by Lady Bird.

I like to think of something else, though, when I consider the word “flower.” I like to think of what Jesus said about faith and anxiety, about how much we worry about things that aren’t worthy of it. I’m going to use Peterson’s translation.

All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
(Matthew 6:28-33 MSG)

When I start worrying about things, I need to, as a popular song once said, “stop and smell the roses.”


I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
(Psalms 118:17 NIV)

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
(John 5:8 NIV)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

I believe in the power of prayer. If I didn’t believe, I wouldn’t pray. But some of my brothers and sisters and I wonder, at times, why we don’t see the kind of results that people in biblical times saw. I’m not going to get into a lengthy philosophical discussion, here (partially because I don’t have time), but I will say that I do still believe. I believe that God can heal and deliver, because He is all-powerful. My questions have never been about the ability. My questions are about the willingness. I know that He can, but will He?

There are many of us praying for rain and relief from the heat wave. And we believe.


Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But 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 upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:12-14 ESV)

Let us not mistake what Paul is pressing on toward. He is not striving to get everything out of this life that he can get. He is striving, pressing on, toward “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

“God has done the decisive act in Jesus Christ. God calls us. He calls us to be his; he calls us to be in relation to him; he calls us to know him. The upward call is not the call to make the most of ourselves, to get the most out of life, and to give it the old college try. We are talking not about a task but about faith.”

This call is about what God wants us to get out of Him. This call does not diminish us. “His call does not distract me from my essential being but confirms it. His call does not diminish my core identity.

“His call establishes it.”

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


Father, I confess that time is short, this morning, and I must get on with things. But I will pray, still. I thank You for the flowers and how they teach us of Your love and care for us, and teach us that anxiety and worry are things that should not concern us. Please keep teaching us these things, especially during these challenging times.

Father, I pray for everywhere that is on fire, right now. Please send rain and cooler temperatures to all places that are in danger right now. I pray for the forecasters to be wrong. I pray for rain to come out of nowhere to drench the burning wildfires in our country and in other countries across the world.

I pray that Your upward call will reign in us, and that our faith will grow, increasingly, and be strong. I pray for the good that is planted in our hearts to bloom and grow, that it will thrive and bear much fruit.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Now you've got my feet on the life path,
 all radiant from the shining of your face. 
Ever since you took my hand, 
I'm on the right way.
(Psalms 16:11 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

Transformation

Today is Wednesday, the thirteenth of July, 2022, in the fifteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
(John 14:27 ESV)

Day 23,498

We have already been to the dentist, and Mama’s crown was successfully placed. It only took about thirty minutes, and we were back home within an hour of the appointment time, in spite of a delay by a train on the trip to the office.

There really isn’t anything else on my “plate” for today. I think I have a load of laundry to fold, but that’s about it. And I have a meal planned for this evening, which I’ll start cooking around 5:00-ish. Maybe I’ll get some quality reading done, today.

The Texas Rangers blew it big time, last night. They were behind for a good part of the game, but then tied it up. They went into extra innings, went behind in the tenth, but tied it back up in the bottom of the tenth. Then came the top of the twelfth inning. Oakland scored eight runs! Santana (not Carlos) was responsible for six of those, and why he was allowed to keep pitching for that long, I have no idea. The Rangers came back with only one run in the bottom of the twelfth, and lost the game 14-7. To the worst team in baseball. This puts the Rangers five games below .500, at 40-45. They remain firmly in third place in the AL West, a comfortable 3.5 games ahead of the Angels, four behind Seattle, and 16.5 out of first place, occupied by the Cheaters. The Rangers and Athletics will finish their series tonight, at 7:05 CDT.

The Red Sox lost another game to the Rays, 3-2. It is said that Chris Sale, back from the IL after a lengthy recovery, “dominated.” Maybe so, but it’s still an “L” in the stats. The Sox are now 47-41, and also now in third place in the AL East, a half game behind Tampa. They are 14.5 out of first place, and now occupy the second of the three AL Wild Card spots. They play another game with the Rays tonight, at 7:10 EDT.

Oakland continues to have the worst MLB record, at 30-59. Baltimore is now the sole owner of the longest winning streak in MLB, with nine consecutive games. The Mariners are right behind them with eight. The Angels and Cubs both have five game losing streaks. The Nationals continue to have the worst run differential, at -142.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our mighty God, look upon us in our poverty, for you call us your children and give us of your Spirit. From your fullness we constantly need to receive strength for the struggle meant for us in life. Grant that light may come wherever darkness still reigns, especially where it is so black that we do not know which way to turn. Hear our prayer for all people, and let your justice and your truth alone be victorious. Let all people receive what you have promised them, and let them realize that no matter what happens, they remain your children. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 
(1 John 3:2 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that God calls us His children and gives us His Spirit
2. that nothing can take that away from us
3. that true transformation of the human character is possible by practicing Spiritual Disciplines
4. that, by the grace and mercy of God, my eyes "see" and my ears "hear," that I might be transformed
5. for God's "consuming fire," which both purges me from impurities in my life and gives me the ability to leave a mark in this world
6. for the hope of eternity with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, 

"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." 

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
(1 Corinthians 1:18-25 ESV)
"Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." 
(1 Corinthians 1:31)

The LORD utters his voice before his army, for his camp is exceedingly great; he who executes his word is powerful. For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome; who can endure it?
(Joel 2:11 ESV)


The word for today, from Pray A Word A Day, is transform. I’m not going to reference the quote they use, because it’s a Joel Osteen quote, and I don’t like him. That’s all I’m going to say about him.

The reading is also not very good. It makes reference to something the writer calls “sudden deliverance through grace alone.” That is not what “transformation” is. Changes within us do not take place suddenly, just like changes in real life don’t take place suddenly, at least not most of them.

There are far better quotes that they could have used. One really good one is from Romans.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
(Romans 12:2 ESV)

I mean, why quote Joel Osteen when you can quote Paul, right?

But Dallas Willard had a lot to say about transformation, as well. In fact, he wrote several books about it. One is called Renovation of the Heart. Another is The Divine Conspiracy. And in these books, along with The Spirit of the Disciplines, he shows the process of transformation to be, not instantaneous (or “sudden”), but a lifelong journey of practicing Spiritual Disciplines.

True transformation is possible. But, unlike our initial salvation, that takes work on our part, and it’s not easy work. I can attest to this.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV)


But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
(Matthew 13:16 ESV)

The fact that my eyes “see” and my ears “hear” is two-fold. One, it is by God’s grace. He began that process by calling me to Jesus Christ and enabling me to choose to follow Him. But the rest of it has largely been up to me. And this, again, is where this business of “transformation” comes into play.

As I have grown older, God has placed this desire in my heart, perhaps because I have more and more “delighted in Him.” And one of my favorite Psalms says:

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalms 37:4 ESV)

Too many people interpret that to say that if I delight myself in the Lord, then I can get whatever I want. That’s a double-edged sword, because, if you are allegedly delighting yourself in the Lord in order to get a mansion or a Ferrari, then what is your delight truly in? It most certainly is not the Lord.

I have, for a while, now, interpreted that verse to mean that, if I delight myself in the Lord, He will transform the desires of my heart! He will give me new desires. I do realize that the word that is translated “desires” can also be translated “petitions” or “requests.” I get that. But once again, those petitions and requests, if I am truly delighting myself in the Lord, will not be for things that will only benefit me.

The desire that I have, that the Lord is giving me, is to do exactly what Romans 12:2 says, to be transformed by the renewal of my mind, which is happening, gradually, not suddenly, by the practice of Spiritual Disciplines.


Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
(Zephaniah 1:18 ESV)

This is a somewhat frightening verse, and I don’t want to focus on the part that seems to indicate the end of the world. I just want to focus on the fire.

You see, part of the process that I have been describing above, that of the gradual transformation of the human character, is purging. And while I am practicing Spiritual Disciplines, the Lord will also work to purge impurities from my life.

Eugene H. Peterson writes a little bit about this “consuming fire” in On Living Well. We know that fire has many uses. Peterson writes of his experience as a youth, watching ranchers do a controlled burn of a field that had been overrun by weeds and thistles. When it was done, there was nothing left but black ashes. This is an example of how God’s consuming fire works in our lives.

He also writes of watching ranchers brand their cattle. In this case, the branding iron was placed in the fire, which did not destroy it, but made it so hot that it quickly left its mark on whatever it touched.

While Peterson doesn’t mention the Holy Spirit in this, but that is what comes to my mind when I think of this use of fire. The Holy Spirit presented as flames of fire on Pentecost. When the fire of the Holy Spirit touches us, it creates a “heat” within us that will leave the mark of God on anything we touch.

There can, of course, be negative connotations here, and I don’t want to dwell on those. Needless to say, I believe that God’s fire in our lives should only be to make us a more positive force in the world. And this is where, like all analogies, this analogy of cattle-branding falls apart. The branding causes the cow much pain, I can only imagine. And when I leave God’s mark on someone or something, I most certainly do not want to cause them pain. I want it to be a mark of love, because God is love.

One other quick word about this fire. It is also preparation; preparation for us to spend eternity with the One we love.


Father, I thank You that transformation is truly possible, and that You have made a way for us to be transformed. I do thank You for the grace that brings us into Your Kingdom, for that journey seems to have a sudden beginning. But the rest of the process lasts a lifetime, as You prepare us for eternity with You.

I am so grateful for the Cross of Christ, that which began the journey for all of us, and erased the debt of sin from our lives. But there is so much more to this story, and I long to embrace it in its entirety. Let Your consuming fire burn away everything within me that is not of You. I pray that I might fully delight myself in You, that I might receive the desires of my heart, and that the desires of my heart will be transformed to match the desires of Your heart.

Father, prepare me for that eternity. May my heart, soul, and mind be transformed for the rest of my days, until the point where, when I step into eternity, I won’t notice any difference.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
(1 John 3:2 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Consider

Today is Wednesday, the sixth of July, 2022, in the fourteenth wee of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be in your heart today!

Day 23,491

Last night was a pleasant and fine evening at the library. I had plenty to do, and enjoyed several conversations with some of my favorite people. There was one humorous moment when, as I was shelving a cart of DVDs, a patron who was looking for, apparently, nothing in particular, started browsing my cart (I was away from it, putting away a handful of DVDs). Of course, I don’t mind if they do that, because, hopefully, they will decide to take some and that is less for me to put back on the shelf.

Unfortunately, in this case, he was also rearranging them as he browsed. I actually chuckled about it, and, rather than approach him, I walked away and told a couple of my workmates what he was doing, and they got a good laugh out of it, too. One of them told me that, back when they had many more carts to shelve, they would just bring all of the DVD carts out and set them up by the circulation desk, and let people browse them there, hoping that they would check them out. Makes sense.

The “damage” was minimal, in my case, and I was able to re-sort the ones that had been mixed up in just a few minutes. That may have been the most full DVD cart I have ever put away, though. The cart has three shelves on each side, and one whole side was full, plus on shelf on the other side. The second shelf on the other side was about 3/4 full of audio books, which are near the DVDs in proximity.

Today, I’m working 9:15-6:15 in the circ department.

The Rangers lost again, last night, to the Orioles, 10-9, in a bit of a slugfest. And it was, once again, in extra innings, so the stupid “zombie runner” was in play. I really detest that practice. I can almost understand putting something like that in during the ridiculous pandemic season of 2020. But they should not have kept it. It reeks of Little League. I think what Manfred and his cronies don’t seem to get is that the true baseball fan doesn’t want a quicker game! I’ll never forget that World Series game in 2018. It was game three, and Boston was up 2 games to zero, against the Dodgers. Game three went eighteen innings!! Eighteen! That’s two complete games. I stayed up to watch the whole freaking thing (I think it was Friday night, so I didn’t have to work the next day). Of course I was disgusted when the Dodgers won it in the bottom of the eighteenth inning, but that is baseball, folks! The sad thing is that Nathan Eovaldi, who became a Boston hero after that game, took the loss. The reason he became a hero was because he came in and pitched most of the second half of the game. It was the longest World Series game in history, both by innings and time. What one Boston fan reminded us, though, was that it took the Dodgers eighteen innings and nine pitchers to finally beat the Red Sox in a WS game. And it was the only game Boston lost in that World Series.

Speaking of Boston, they also lost, yesterday, 8-4, to the Rays. So it wasn’t a good baseball day for me. The Rangers play Baltimore again, tonight, and the Sox play the Rays again tonight. Texas is now two games behind Seattle, in third place in the AL West, 15.5 out of first place and 5.5 out of the Wild Card. Boston is still in second place, one game ahead of Tampa, 13 out of first and still in the first Wild Card spot.

Oakland continues to have the worst record, at 28-55, but they have won a couple of games. The Astros must still have their trash cans, because they have now won EIGHT straight games. The Giants and Nats are still duking it out to see who can lose the most, both having lost six straight games. The Blue Jays (Woohoo!) are trying to catch them, though, with a five-game losing streak. The Nationals have now been outscored by 129 runs. The Rangers have gone down to +11, and the Sox are back at +59, after yesterday’s loss to the Rays.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, open our hearts to the wonder of being able to call you Father, the wonder of being united with you. You are the source of all life and strength. In you is redemption, and we need to be redeemed before we can live rightly. Take from us the pressures forced on us by the flood of events. Make us completely free as people led by your hand, people who may be joyful because everything will be overcome through the power you grant us in Jesus Christ. Protect us from fear and from all evil. Show more and more clearly your good and wonderful goal for all people on earth, so that in expectation they may find happiness even in all the stress of today. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.
(Romans 8:14-15a NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for our Father in heaven, the source of all life and strength
2. for the sparrows and lilies; I need to consider them
3. for The Choir and their music
4. for the work of the Holy Spirit, especially when I don't know He's working
5. for how much we, the community of saints, need one another

Today’s word, from Pray a Word a Day, is consider. I rather like this word.

Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.
(1 Samuel 12:24 ESV)

To “consider” something means to take some time, look at it, think about it, maybe even contemplate. “Consider the lilies,” Jesus said in Matthew 6. It’s interesting to me (not necessarily relevant, but still interesting) that Matthew actually uses two different Greek words. In verse 26, the KJV says “Behold,” and the ESV says “Look at,” in reference to the birds. The Greek word is emblepo, which literally means to “look on,” or “observe.” In verse 28, the Greek word, translated “consider” in most translations, is katamanthano, which means “learn thoroughly” or “consider.” Two different terms that mean pretty close to the same thing.

One of the reasons that I take the time every morning to do this is so that I can do exactly that: consider, look upon, learn thoroughly, behold. It takes time and attention. This life is way too busy. I had a conversation with a coworker, last night, about that. I had expressed hope that maybe, just maybe, the pandemic might have slowed us down a little, as a society. And it seemed that maybe it had.

But now, I don’t think so. We are still as busy as ever. The sad thing is that we make time for the things that are important to us, which is why the phrase “I don’t have time,” is usually a lie, or at best delusional. We have time for whatever we truly want to do. We make time.

What we need to take more time for is considering. There’s a song that I like by one of my favorite bands that most people have never heard of. The band is The Choir, and the song, as it turns out, is simply called “Consider.” And yes, the album is called “Chase the Kangaroo.”

Consider your laughter
Consider My tears
Consider My love
Consider your fear

Consider one small child
Consider your cross
Consider the hope that withers like a flower
Consider My loss
Consider the fire
Consider the night
Consider the truth
Consider the light, my love
Consider your heart

Consider your heart
Consider your heart

Consider My love, my love
Consider the darkness
Consider My love, my love
Consider the flame
Consider My love, my love
Consider the Ghost of the living Savior
Remember My love
Remember My name

Consider your heart
Remember my name

Consider your heart
Remember my name

Consider your heart

As we go about our day today, may we take time to stop and consider; consider His love; consider His cross; consider our hearts; remember His Name.


“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:8 NIV)

I think it is safe to say that most of the time, we are not aware of the Spirit’s leading and guiding in our lives. And I think that might just be intentional.

Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice.
(Deuteronomy 4:12 NIV)

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
(Isaiah 30:21 NIV)

My ears will not always hear a voice telling me to turn right or left, or saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” In fact, as I can recall, I have never heard an audible voice.

But I can say that I have felt the Spirit “nudging” me in a particular direction. One time, I specifically remember, I didn’t follow. I still, to this day regret that. Regrets, though, are like . . . well, I don’t know what they are like. I shouldn’t have started that sentence. They can be good or bad. If we spend too much time regretting things, we won’t move forward. I have most definitely moved forward from that time, which was well over three decades ago. But I still think about it, from time to time, and wonder what would look differently today, had I followed the Spirit that time.

One of the things that we need to do, in light of this, though is (wait for it!) . . .

CONSIDER!

I love when it works out this way!

Yes. We the “voice” of the Holy Spirit is something that we must consider. While I do still believe it to be true that He leads us, at times, without us even knowing it, there are definitely still times when we need to be stopping and considering; we need to stop and contemplate or meditate or look upon or observe whatever might be in front of us. Those sparrows and lilies are there for a reason, friends!


As I continue to consider (see?) the issues that the Church is experiencing with modern worship practices, Eugene H. Peterson brings up this word “interdependences.”

While we are truly “interdependent” upon many things economically and physically, many of us don’t consider how interdependent we are, spiritually, as well. And this is, once again, reflected in modern worship music that is almost totally “me-centric.” We begin to feel that we don’t need anyone else. Oh, sure, we need Jesus (or do we, really??), but we can be a “Christian” by ourselves, right? We don’t need all those other people around us to worship, right?

Wrong.

“The church is the most complete expression of all these interdependences. It is an expression of them in terms of God’s grace – a grace that surrounds us and moves through us as people created to enjoy (and depend on) the praise of his glory.”

If you think, for one minute, that you don’t need anyone else in your spiritual life, you need to re-read Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. The first one. Specifically chapter 12.

Saints, we all need one another. We are, indeed, interdependent.

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


Father, as I go through this day, help me, remind me, to stop and consider. Help me to consider Your love for us; help me to consider my heart; to consider Your Cross and my/our Savior. Help me to just stop and be mindful of all the things that You have done for, through, and in us, Your Body of Christ.

Thank You for the Holy Spirit and His interaction in our lives. Help us to be more aware of His work, as we walk through our days, to, once again, consider what He is doing in and for us.

And I am grateful for the community of saints and how much we need each other to get by in this world. May we never forget that, and may we reverse the trend of thinking we can do this life alone.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
(1 Corinthians 12:12-13 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.