Naked

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the fourth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,247

Eight days until C’s birthday!

Yesterday wasn’t a great day for me. I didn’t get enough sleep, but that was because I woke up sneezing like crazy. The whole day was one of those days when my nose wouldn’t dry up at all. I took several doses of over the counter meds (Sudafed and Dayquil), and there were brief periods where things dried up, but I emptied at least two boxes of Kleenex, during the day.

Needless to say, I didn’t get much accomplished. I took Nyquil before going to sleep, last night, and had a really good night’s rest. I’m definitely feeling better, this morning, so we’ll see what happens.

I have found myself experiencing mild anxiety over what I should be doing today. C and I agreed that this is silly. There is really nothing that needs to get done. I feel like I should practice some music or write a song or something. And if that happens, great. But I need to stop allowing myself to feel guilt or anxiety if it doesn’t happen. After all, retirement is not supposed to create anxiety, right?

I don’t work today, and, barring special events, will not ever work on Thursdays. Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays are days when I will always be off. Tuesday evenings and Fridays are the days that I will always work. Wednesdays and Saturdays are the “every-other-week” days.

I’m currently reading The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life, by Robert E. Webber.

I watched the movie, The Haunting, yesterday. I was pretty impressed with the way they followed the book. You don’t see that much, these days. It was made in 1963, so special effects really didn’t exist. The sounds were not very realistic (there’s a lot of banging on walls and such in the book), but for when it was made, it was a pretty good movie. They changed the names, slightly, and the whole reason for the doctor’s wife showing up at the house was changed. Plus the teacher/headmaster, Arthur, wasn’t in the movie at all. In my opinion, the best acting was done by the person who played Theodora (Claire Bloom). Although, I will say that Julie Harris did a pretty good job of crazy, playing Eleanor.

Today is Men Make Dinner Day. Well, I’m already doing that, because I started a soup in our crock pot this morning. Hah!

The word for today is bellwether, “a person or thing that shows the existence or direction of a trend; index.”

Today’s quote is from Mignon McLaughlin, an American journalist. “The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.”

Birthdays on November 4:

Augustus Montague Toplady, English hymn writer (Rock of Ages), 1740-1778
Will Rogers, American humorist and actor, 1879-1935
Walter Cronkite, American journalist and news anchor, 1916-2009
Art Carney, American actor (The Honeymooners), 1918-2003
Freddy Heineken, Dutch beer brewer, 1923-2002
Loretta Swit, American actress (MASH), 1937 (84)
Laura Bush, U.S. First Lady, 1946 (75)
Markie Post, American actress (Night Court), 1950-2021
Matthew McConaughey, American actor (Interstellar, Dazed and Confused), born in Uvalde, TX, 1969 (52)
Augustus Toplady wrote this hymn
Walter Cronkite
Loretta Swit
Markie Post

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

His divine power;
Precious and great promises;
All I need for life.
(2 Peter 1)

You are my God,
and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God;
I will extol you.
(Psalms 118:28 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are my God
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for Your divine power, Your great and precious promises, all I need for life and godliness
4. that You have led us away from the love of money and wealth
5. for creating a generous, open-handed spirit within me

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

“This God is our God forever and ever;
he will lead us for all time to come.”
(Psalms 48:14 GNB)

As I pause, during this quiet moment, I am considering God’s divine power, which has given me everything I need for life and godliness. He is truly my Shepherd, and I truly lack for nothing!

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents.

I call on the LORD in my distress,
and he answers me.
Save me, LORD,
from lying lips
and from deceitful tongues.

What will he do to you,
and what more besides,
you deceitful tongue?
He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows,
with burning coals of the broom bush.

Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek,
that I live among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I lived
among those who hate peace.
I am for peace;
but when I speak, they are for war.
(Psalms 120:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.

As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
except to feast their eyes on them?

The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich,
their abundance permits them no sleep.

I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when they have children
there is nothing left for them to inherit.
Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb,
and as everyone comes, so they depart.
They take nothing from their toil
that they can carry in their hands.
(Ecclesiastes 5:10-15 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, a read these passages again, attempting to notice how He might be speaking to me through His Word. I dwell on a word or phrase that jumps out at me, allowing my heart to respond to Him in prayer and meditation. I take refreshment in His presence.

There is some real depth in both of these passages today. Just as the unnamed psalmist, I think we should all be wary of “lying lips and deceitful tongues.” There is a problem in our culture, today, though. It is reflected by a single statement I saw a rather ignorant person post on Facebook, the other day.

“All liberals are liars,” he said.

What a ridiculous statement. What an ignorant statement. Unfortunately, it reflects the mindset of approximately half of the country today.

Any statement about any group of people that begins with the word “all” is not even worthy of consideration. Blanket generalities are ignorant and lazy. As tempting as it is to say “all politicians are liars,” that would be no different.

On the other hand, I dare say that 100% of all humanity has told a lie at some point, so it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that “all humans are liars.”

“Save me, LORD, from lying lips and deceitful tongues.” That’s a worthy prayer. But diligence and wisdom are required, that we might know whose tongues are deceitful and whose lips are lying. Great discernment is needed, and this is something we can gain from the Holy Spirit and meditating on God’s Word.

The psalmist closes out this “song of ascent” with a chilling statement. “Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” He prefaces this by calling out “woe” because he dwells in “Meshek,” among the tents of “Kedar.”

What on earth does that mean? It is likely a euphemism for rude and barbaric people. Suddenly, I have images from January 6, 2021, in my head.

I, too, find that I seem to dwell in the midst of people who hate peace. My desire, in life, these days, is love and peace. Anyone who has read this effort, regularly, knows that I keep coming back to that idea of loving one another. And I know a lot of people who speak words like that out of one side of their mouth, but out of the other side, they spew nonstop hatred toward anyone who thinks differently than they do about pretty much any issue.

“All liberals are liars.”

That’s the kind of nonsense that comes out of people like that.

I am for peace; they may not be for “war,” but the are certainly not for peace. I guess they would be for peace if everyone agreed with them.

And from that, we move into a passage about the love of money and material wealth. Ecclesiastes 5:10 is spot on. “Whoever loves money never has enough.” We know that Paul tells Timothy that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Throughout the years, people have misinterpreted/misread that to say that money, itself, is evil. Again, that’s taking the lazy way out.

I love what Dallas Willard says about money. In one of his books, he recommends making as much of it as you can. So you can give it away.

But if we love it (the Hebrew word in that verse indicates having affection for something), we can’t get enough of it; we are never satisfied with our income. And I love the question the Teacher asks in verse 11, regarding “goods.” “What benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?”

This is a question that deserves some serious pondering. It’s also one of the reasons that, a number of years ago, I essentially stopped “collecting.” What good are all these things? As someone else has mentioned, it will just be a bunch of stuff that someone has to clean out of the house after I die.

Believe it or not, this is not leading me down a path toward depression, this morning. More or less, I am simply “thinking out loud,” doing what the “dwelling” portion recommends. These are lines of Scripture that have “jumped out at me,” and I am pondering them, meditating on them, expressing my thoughts with my fingers on the keyboard.

There is, inherently, nothing wrong with “collecting.” If it makes you happy, knock yourself out. More power to you. It is just something that I have ceased to see any value in. I don’t need to “feast my eyes” on all of my stuff any more.

I also don’t want to be the person mentioned in verse 13 . . . “wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners.” Again . . . there is nothing wrong with saving money, maybe for that “rainy day,” or maybe for some kind of special event or something. Or, in the case of a few of us, for the eventual helping of someone who is in dire need of something. We actually do save money for that purpose.

But, there is a warning, as well, here. The Teacher speaks of wealth lost through some misfortune. This would, I believe, cautious us against saving money in any form that is too risky.

The bottom line is in verse 15. I was naked when I came out of mother’s womb, and I will, effectively, be naked when I leave this plane. “You can’t take it with you,” is essentially what the wisdom of the teacher is telling us. Saving money just for the sake of saving money is meaningless. Hoarding is useless. It is “a chasing after the wind.”

Father, thank You for these reminders. Naked, I came into this world, naked I will leave. Nothing that I have worked for and toiled for, in this life, will exit this world with me. While there is nothing wrong with leaving some kind of “inheritance” for my children, all things need to be tempered with moderation and good sense. I do confess that I have never claimed to have an overabundance of that. So I can always use Your help when it comes to common sense things. In all seriousness, though, I am grateful that Your Spirit has led me down a path of generosity and open-handedness. Help us to have our eyes and hearts open, though, so that we might see any need that we can help meet. As the year draws to a close, I would like to not have anything left in that “tithe” fund, at the end of the year. I’m not treating that as a “hoard” or “emergency fund.” That money, in my heart, belongs to You, so help us to use it wisely.

I do truly pray that You would deliver us all from lying lips and deceitful tongues. It’s too easy to say that all of a certain class or type of people are liars. Please lead us away from that kind of lazy and ignorant thinking. Give us discernment to know when someone is not speaking truth. Most of all, help us to not put our trust in humans instead of You and Your Word. Holy Spirit, lead us into all truth, and show us the path on which to walk. Help us to love one another more than we love our politics or our money.

I pray for spiritual renewal in Your Church, and in our land. May You grant Your people deep repentance and point us in the good direction. May You strengthen any relationships that I might have with “non-Christians,” that I might have some kind of positive influence on them, showing them Your true nature, and Your love.

"Covenant God,
money is a blinding,
demanding master,
never satisfied,
and a thief of joy.
Remind me that what doesn't possess me I'm free to give away.
Uncurl my grip on money and its clutches on me,
springing open a generosity that shares with those in need.
In my true Master's name,
amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!”
(Matthew 5:10 GNB)

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”
(Exodus 3:14 ESV)

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me shall not hunger,
and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
(John 6:35 ESV)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,
“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 ESV)

I am the door.
If anyone enters by me,
he will be saved and will go in and out
and find pasture.
(John 10:9 ESV)

I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(John 10:11 ESV)

I am the vine;
you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5 ESV)

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,”
says the Lord God,
“who is and who was and who is to come,
the Almighty.”
(Revelation 1:8 ESV)

You are enough.

Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
(Psalms 57:8 ESV)

Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious,
merciful,
and righteous.
(Psalms 112:4 ESV)

The night is far gone;
the day is at hand.
So then let us cast off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light.
(Romans 13:12 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Fan Into Flame

Today is Saturday, May 18, 2019.

Day 22,346

Nine days until Memorial Day

Quote of the Day

“I’m not a real movie star. I’ve still got the same wife I started out with twenty-eight years ago.”
Will Rogers, US humorist and showman, 1879-1935
The Quotations Page

Word of the Day

Aginer ~ A person who is against something; one who opposes a proposal, course of action, point of view, etc. Also more generally: a person having a habitually negative attitude; one who opposes any change as a matter of principle. (The Oxford English Dictionary) This is pronounced like “a-gain-er.” One who opposed something is “agin it,” shortened from “against it.”

We seem to be in the path of some pretty bad storms, which will be passing through Mineral Wells and Weatherford before they get here, so we have decided to postpone our trip to Mineral Wells until tomorrow, right after church.

Not a lot has happened, of any note, during this past week. I did receive some great compliments from one of our customer’s managers the other day, so that was nice. And it was a short week for us, since we took Monday off. I didn’t have to work terribly late yesterday. I think we were finished by 4:50 PM, so that wasn’t too bad.

The Texas Rangers are on a bit of a tear, lately. After losing one game to the Royals, they came back and whipped them up big time, beating them 6-1 Wednesday, and then 16-1 on Thursday afternoon. They continued winning by beating the Cardinals 7-3 last night. Choo and Odor both hit home runs in that game. Jose Leclerc “opened” the game, pitching a great first inning. Adrian Sampson came in and 5.1 good innings and got his first win of the season. The Rangers are now 20-22, working their way back to .500. They are in third place in the AL West, only .001 behind the Angels. They play the Cardinals again, at 3:05 PM this afternoon, weather permitting. Ariel Jurado will take the mound for Texas.

The Boston Red Sox scored first, but couldn’t hold on in last night’s game with the Astros. They lost 3-1. Rick Porcello took the loss. The Sox are 23-21, and are in third place in the AL East, 4.5 games behind the Yankees, who took over first place last night. They will play the Astros again at 6:15 CDT today. Hector Velazquez will take the mound for Boston. For the record, the Astros are now 30-15, a formidable opponent.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever. 
May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

Psalm 29:10-11

Today I am grateful:
1. That I didn’t have to work too late yesterday
2. For a weekend to rest for the next work week
3. That the perfect love of God casts out fear (1 John 4:18)
4. That in the love of God, I can exercise my gifts without fear
5. That the Lord is my light and my salvation (Psalm 27:1)

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your
family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be
betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer
death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(The Book of Common Prayer)

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7

The word “fear” in this verse has also been translated “timidity” (NIV). Eugene Peterson renders it this way in The Message: God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.

We all have some kind of gift from the Holy Spirit. Some peoples’ gifts are more dynamic and outward than others. Some people have gifts that are exercised in the wings, off stage, so to speak. They are, in a sense, “helpers.” They go about their business quietly, and, in many cases, invisibly. Some of us have gifts that are front and center. I’m a musician, and am on “stage” every Sunday morning, leading worship with a couple other guys. But my gift is no better than the gifts of those who are invisible. In many ways, those “invisible” gifts are more important.

The point, I believe, of this verse in Paul’s letter to Timothy, is that we should not be afraid to exercise whatever gift we have. And I believe, in the context, the NIV rendering of “timidity” is not inaccurate. For it is, indeed, shyness or timidity that sometimes keeps us from exercising the gifts that God has given us.

Right before this verse, Paul tells Timothy to “fan into flame” the gift that God has given him. The concept, here, is that of blowing on, or fanning, a spark of fire, in order to make it grow into a burning flame. We are not to hide our gifts; rather, we are to fan them into flame and let them shine brightly. Motivation is key, of course. We don’t shine brightly for our own glory. We shine for the glory of God.

1 John 4:18 says, There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. Then we have Psalm 27:1, The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 

Let us take these encouraging words to heart and love God, using our gifts without fear, because he loves us. If we are loved by him, his love casts out fear. If God is my light and my salvation, whom, then, shall I fear? What can man do to me?

Father, help me to not be shy, timid, or fearful with that which you have given me. Rather, help me to fan into flame those gifts that you have given, that I might shine for your glory.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Grace and peace, friends.

God is All-Sufficient

Today is Monday, April 22, 2019.

Day 22,320

Seventeen days until our Vegas trip!!

Quote of the Day

“The best doctor in the world is the veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what is the matter-he’s got to just know.”
Will Rogers, U.S. humorist and showman, 1879-1935
The Quotations Page

Word of the Day

Intoxicate ~ poison. Also, to excite or stupefy by alcohol or a drug especially to the point where physical and mental control is markedly diminished; to excite or elate to the point of enthusiasm or frenzy.

We had a wonderful Sunday morning with our church family. The breakfast was delicious, the conversation was good, and Jacob’s teaching was, as always, excellent. As expected, he spoke to us about the next phase of our church, which will be what he called “gathered/scattered.” What he means by that is that, on the second and fourth Sundays of each month (beginning this coming June), we will meet together at the YMCA, as we have been doing. But on the first, third, and fifth when applicable, we will be “scattered” into individual homes. His idea is that, by doing this, we will be taking the church out into the communities. There are other reasons for this, as well, which I don’t have time to go into. I’m excited about this next phase, as I see it as being much closer to what the New Testament church was like.

The Texas Rangers tried their darnedest to lose a nine-run lead, yesterday afternoon. Having been ahead at the midway point, 10-1, they barely hung on at the end, after Jose Leclerc gave up a home run and then walked four batters in the top of the ninth. Final score was 11-10, with go-ahead runs on base. The starting pitcher, Shelby Miller, got the win, because the Rangers never fell behind. There were five more pitchers in the game, including Shawn Kelley who replaced Leclerc and got a save out of it. Hunter Pence and Logan Forsythe hit back-to-back home runs for the Rangers. The Astros had a total of five home runs, including two back-to-back homers, as well. There were a total of twenty-one hits in the game. The Rangers won the series, and are now 12-8, in third place in the AL West, 1.5 behind the Seattle Mariners. They are on the west coast to play Oakland tonight, at 9:07. Mike Minor will take the mound for Texas.

The Boston Red Sox swept the Tampa Bay Rays. They won in extra innings, yesterday, 4-3. Marcus Walden (?) got the win, and Ryan Brasier picked up his sixth save. The Sox are now 9-13, in fourth place in the AL East, 5 games behind Tampa Bay. The Yankees finally got up to where they have a winning record. They will be back in Fenway tonight, hosting the Tigers, at 6:10 CDT. Chris Sale will pitch, still seeking his first win. It’s his turn.

We purchased season tickets for Bass Performance Hall’s 2019-2020 season, this morning. We will get tickets for eight different shows in the upcoming season, one of which will be Hamilton. That is the main reason for the purchase. We decided that we would probably pay more than the season ticket price for one show of Hamilton, when the individual tickets go on sale. Plus there are seven more shows we can see, including Phantom of the Opera, Hello Dolly, Miss Saigon, and Jesus Christ Superstar.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. 
He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 
Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah.

Psalm 24:3-6

Today I am grateful:
1. For the wonderful time of worship and fellowship we had Easter morning
2. That because of Jesus Christ, my hands are clean and my heart is pure
3. For the many blessings that we have received from our God
4. That God is all-sufficient
5. That God doesn’t need my help

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we who celebrate
with reverence the Paschal feast may be found worthy to
attain to everlasting joys; through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one
God, now and forever. Amen.
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Monday in Easter Week)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “God Doesn’t Need Our Help,” by A.W. Tozer.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
Acts 17:24-25

Almighty God does not need support. He does not fawn over us to win our favor. In short, he does not need us at all. It was by his good pleasure that he created us at all. We are not necessary to God, and he would not “be less if we did not exist.”

Twenty-first century man really needs to take a step back and realize this. Even the evangelical community seems to believe that God needs our help to “save the lost.” The fact that he utilizes our work is his own doing, and designed for our own benefit.

This is not to say that we are not valuable to God, or that we are not worthy at all. We are made worthy by the blood of Christ, and because of that, we are also valuable to him. We just step out on some really thin ice, so to speak, when we begin to think that God needs us.

Father, I, for one, am glad that you are not depending on my reliability to get things done. I am glad to be of use to you, and I am happy that I have some value to you and your plan. But I am even happier that you are all-sufficient, and that you need no help from anyone to work your plan. In fact, I am depending on that truth for my life.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

A Divided Mind

Today is Thursday, December 27, 2018. The third day of Christmas.

Day 22,204

Five days until 2019!

“This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”
Will Rogers, US humorist and showman, 1879-1935
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is ataraxy. It means, “Freedom from disturbance of mind or passion; stoical indifference.” (Oxford English Dictionary)

It was very quiet at work, yesterday. A number of our people work Tuesday-Saturday, so they aren’t usually there, anyway. Plus most people who work for our client are off between Christmas and New Year’s anyway. The driving was quite nice, as well. To illustrate, I left work, yesterday, about twenty minutes late, as I wanted to finish what I was doing before leaving. It was pouring rain for the second half of my trip. I stopped at Sonic, as usual, for our drinks. I got home at the same time I usually do when I leave on time. Hopefully, the traffic will be that light for the rest of the week.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;
Psalm 136:3

Today I am grateful:
1. For rain that replenishes the earth, even when it comes in the form of storms.
2. For the easy driving conditions at this time of year.
3. For the way prayer helps people, encourages them.
4. That God has placed the ministry of prayer in my heart.
5. That God continues to teach me about prayer. You’re never too old to learn.

You are God: we praise you;
You are the Lord: we acclaim you;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.
To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
   Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
   heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you;
   Father, of majesty unbounded,
   your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
   and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When you became man to set us free
you did not shun the Virgin's womb.
You overcame the sting of death
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God's right hand in glory.
We believe that you will come and be our judge.
   Come then, Lord, and help your people,
   bought with the price of your own blood,
   and bring us with your saints
   to glory everlasting.

(The Book of Common Prayer, You Are God)

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

I am not a Greek scholar (that is the understatement of the year), but I have learned that the Greek word generally translated as “anxious” or “anxiety” is a word that means “divided” or “distracted.” Chuck Swindoll says that it is a combination of two words, one meaning “to divide,” and the other, “the mind.” That makes sense, doesn’t it?

You see, when we worry, our minds are divided and distracted. I like that concept. Especially in light of my “life verse” from Psalm 86:11. “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” If I am worried or anxious, my heart is divided. I am asking God to unite my heart, unite my mind, that I might be walking in the way that I should be walking.

Swindoll also says, “Worry occurs when we assume responsibility for things that are outside our control.” (The Finishing Touch, p. 633) A simple, yet profound definition, and full of truth. That is exactly what worry is. When I am worrying about something, it is hardly ever something that I have any control over.

Now, you would think that the opposite of worry would be faith. But take a look at Dallas Willard’s definition of grace. He says that grace is, “God’s action in our lives to accomplish what we cannot accomplish on our own.” Now, I suppose that if we have faith in that aspect of grace, it is the opposite of worry. But the truth is that God has things under control. He can and will accomplish, in my life, what I cannot accomplish on my own.

The problem is that most of us have an overestimated sense of what we can accomplish on our own. We tend to not go to God with something until we have exhausted all of our own natural resources. Have you ever heard someone proclaim, “Well, it’s in God’s hands, now!” NOW?? Are we so ignorant that we don’t understand that it has always been in God’s hands?? Well, yes. Sadly, we are.

Matthew 6 contains some of the best words about anxiety in all of Scripture.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

(Matthew 6:25-34)

Father, show me where I am needlessly anxious about anything today. Teach me to trust in You. Unite my mind and my heart, that I might know that You are in control, and that You are, indeed, working in my life to accomplish what I cannot accomplish on my own.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Soli Deo gloria!

What Did God Do?

Today is Friday, October 19, 2018.

Day 22,135

Four days until the World Series begins!

“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”
Will Rogers, American actor, 1879-1935
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is linchpin, “a locking pin inserted crosswise (as through the end of an axle or shaft),” or, “one that serves to hold together parts or elements that exist or function as a unit.”

I’m a bit sleepy this morning, but it was worth it. The Red Sox finished off the ALCS by beating the Astros 4-1, last night, in a game where all the runs were scored on home runs. J.D. Martinez started it off with a solo shot in the third, and then Devers sealed the deal with a three run shot in the sixth. The Astros managed to get one back in the seventh, but that was it. David Price had excellent command and dominated the game. And even Craig Kimbrel pitched well to get the save in the ninth. The World Series will begin next Tuesday. I’m hoping the Brewers can pull it off and get there. If not, it will be the Dodgers. Again. Either way, I’m confident (not over-confident, mind you) that the Sox will win.

That’s all I got, so on to the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

“Blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers;
praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou for the name of thy Majesty;
praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou in the temple of thy holiness;
praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou that beholdest the depths,
and dwellest between the Cherubim;
praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou on the glorious throne of thy kingdom;
praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou in the firmament of heaven;
praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
praised and exalted above all for ever.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, A Song of Praise)

In the category of “things that make you go ‘hmmm,'” I’m reading Daniel, beginning today. I’ve noticed this before, but I find it interesting that we traditionally call Daniel by his Hebrew name, which is Daniel. However, we traditionally call Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah by their Babylonian names, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I wonder why that is? Daniel’s Babylonian name was Belteshazzar.

I guess Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego go better in songs.

No extra charge for that bit of trivia.

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
God’s Answer to a Fallen World

“What did God do? First of all He left us conscience, the sense of right and wrong: and all through history there have been people trying (some of the very hard) to obey it. None of them every quite succeeded. Secondly, He sent the human race what I call good dreams: I mean those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men. Thirdly, He selected one particular people and spent several centuries hammering into their heads the sort of God He was–that there was only one of Him and that He cared about right conduct. Those people were the Jews, and the Old Testament gives an account of the hammering process.
“Then comes the real shock. Among those Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world Who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.”
(From Mere Christianity)

Father, may I take the words of this man, Jesus, of which Lewis speaks, more seriously every day. Help me to listen to Him, to whatever He says. When I read Your Word, may it take root in my soul and flourish with the watering of Your Holy Spirit.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Cry of the Poor

Today is Friday (finally!), June 8, 2018. Day 22,002.

Nine days until Father’s Day!

“There’s no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.” ~ Will Rogers, 1879-1935, The Quotations Page

The word for today is whelm, a verb which means, “to turn (something, such as a dish or vessel) upside down usually to cover something : cover or engulf completely with usually disastrous effect.”

The Red Sox and Rangers both lost, last night. The Sox to the Tigers, 7-2, and the Rangers to the Astros, 5-2.

Time is getting away from me, this morning, so I need to move on.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Then he brought out Israel with silver and gold, and there was none among his tribes who stumbled. 
Egypt was glad when they departed, for dread of them had fallen upon it. 
He spread a cloud for a covering, and fire to give light by night. 
They asked, and he brought quail, and gave them bread from heaven in abundance. 
He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it flowed through the desert like a river. 
For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant. 
So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing. 
And he gave them the lands of the nations, and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil, 
that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws. Praise the LORD!

Psalm 105:37-45

“Egypt was glad when they departed.” Indeed, at least the people were. The Pharaoh, as we know, changed his mind. But I’m sure those people were truly glad to get those Israelites out of there. So glad that Israel was able to plunder Egypt on their way out.

Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.
Proverbs 21:13

Father, you have been gracious and generous to us, blessing us beyond what we ever imagined. We certainly still have needs, but you have met all of our needs through your provision in our lives. Help us to remain faithful and to have faith in your future grace to meet any needs that will arise. And in that faith, help us also to be attentive to the “cry of the poor” around us. Show us how we can help and who we can help.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Peace

Today is Wednesday, May 23, 2018. Day 21,986.

Five days until Memorial Day.

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” ~ Will Rogers (1879-1935) The Quotations Page

The word for today is flubdub, a noun which means, “pretentious nonsense or show; airs.”

C and I made it to the Y, last night, even though we didn’t really want to. That’s a big key, I think. Going even when you don’t feel like it. There are some nights when we give in to that, and don’t go. But last night, we made ourselves go, and we will be better for it.

The Red Sox beat the Rays in the first game of their series, 4-2, as Chris Sale got win number five. Mookie Betts hit his league-leading sixteenth home run to drive that win.

The Rangers beat the Yankees!! The Rangers beat the Yankees!! The Rangers beat the Yankees!!! 6-4 behind the pitching of Cole Hamels, who got his third win. Profar started the scoring in the bottom of the first with a three-run homer.

This means that the Sox are back on top of the AL East, as well as the whole MLB, by a half game, with a record of 33-15. They will continue their series with the Rays tonight, while the Rangers have another shot at the Yankees tonight.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! 
Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 
Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 
For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

Another beautiful praise psalm. I remember a hymn we used to sing when I was a child. “Serve the Lord with Gladness,” by the great B.B McKinney.

“Serve the Lord with gladness in our works and ways.
Come before His presence with our songs of praise.
Unto Him our Maker, we would pledge anew
Life’s supreme devotion to service true.

Serve the Lord with gladness, thankful all the while
For His tender mercies, for His loving smile.
Blessed truth enduring, always just the same.
We will serve with gladness and praise His name.

Serve the Lord with gladness, this shall be our theme.
As we walk together, in His love supreme.
Listening, ever listening for the still small voice.
His sweet Will so precious, will be our choice.

(Chorus)
Serve Him with gladness, Enter His courts with song.
To our Creator, true praises belong.
Great is His mercy, wonderful is His name.
We gladly serve Him, His great love proclaim.”

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.
John 14:27

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

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

Peace. The Lord has promised us peace. Sure, there are conditions, just as there are to all of his promises. But if we fulfill those conditions, the promises are good and faithful.

“Peace, bring it all to peace
The storms surround me
Let it break at Your name

Still, call the sea to still
The rage in me to still
Every wave at Your name

Jesus, Jesus. You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus. You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus. You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus.”

Thank you, O my Father, for the peace that passes all understanding!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

In A Mirror Dimly

Today is Sunday, February 11, 2018. Day 21,885.

Three days until Ash Wednesday.

Will Rogers (1879-1935, not his birthday) said, “The more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. The one that’s out always looks the best.”
The Quotations Page

The word for today, from Dictionary.com, is berceuse, a noun which means, “a cradlesong; lullaby.”

As suspected yesterday, neither one of us made it to church this morning. It’s hard to tell if C feels better. She said her coughing hurts more, this morning, and her temp was 98.8, which is not high, but not normal, either. As for me, I woke up with snorting and coughing, but am breathing a little better now. I still have not experienced any fever. In fact, my temp has not even reached 98.6. I’m not sure what is up with that.

Hopefully, C will feel like going to work tomorrow, but, at this point, it’s impossible to tell. I just talked to her again. She says she feels worse than she did, yesterday. Ugh.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him, 
but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming. 
The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright; 
their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. 
Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked. 
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous. 
The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever; 
they are not put to shame in evil times; in the days of famine they have abundance. 
But the wicked will perish; the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures; they vanish—like smoke they vanish away. 
The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives; 
for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

Psalm 37:12-22

“Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.” (Verse 16) Too often, we look at the wrong things. We see the prosperity of the wicked, and we complain. But the complaint comes because we have our eyes on the “stuff of earth.” Where is our treasure? Where your treasure is, there will your heart be, also. (See Matthew 6:21)

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)God’s Love Has no Limits

“The doctrine of the Incarnation would conflict with what we know of this vast universe only if we knew also that there were other rational species in it who had, like us, fallen, and who needed redemption in the same mode, and that they had not been vouchsafed it. But we know none of these things. it may be full of life that needs no redemption. It may be full of life that has been redeemed. It may be full of things quite other than life which satisfy the Divine Wisdom in fashions one cannot conceive. We are in no position to draw up maps of God’s psychology, and prescribe limits to His interests. We would not do so even for a man whom we knew to be greater than ourselves. The doctrines that God is Love and that He delights in men, are positive doctrines, not limiting doctrines. He is not less than this. What more He may be, we do not know; we know only that He must be more than we can conceive. it is to be expected that His creation should be, in the main, unintelligible to us.” (From Dogma and the Universe)

This is quite a ponderous reading. But I agree with what I see as the main thrust. We cannot pretend to know things about God that are unknowable. Oddly, this reading reminded me of a Larry Norman song. In his song, “U.F.O,” he wrote these lyrics:

and if there’s life on other planets
then i’m sure that He must know
and He’s been there once already
and has died to save their souls

You see, we just don’t know, do we? And if we make declarations that we can’t know, we’re rather foolish, don’t you think? It’s okay to speculate. It’s one reason I have loved Science Fiction and Fantasy ever since my father first introduced me to the writings of Arthur C. Clark, Isaac Asimov, and so on. We very well may be on the only planet in the universe that has any form of life on it. But we don’t know that, and we won’t know that until we see Him face to face. And then? It won’t matter at all, will it?

Father, I praise you for the mystery of your creation. There is much that we know, and it is beautiful and wonderful. There is even more, though, that we do not know, and besides being beautiful and wonderful, it is so very mysterious. And I love that. I love that there is mystery, things that we will not and cannot ever know, both about you and your creation. At least not until we cross that veil and, as Paul says, “I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). For now, I am satisfied to “see in a mirror dimly,” as long as, in that mirror, I can get at least a partial glimpse of you. I long for the day when that glimpse becomes face to face beauty and wonder, and all mysteries are made clear.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

What You See Is What You Get

“Anyone entering one of these buildings expecting entertainment or relief from a dull and boring life is not likely to come back a second time.”

Today is Saturday, November 4, 2017. Day 21,786.

Daylight Saving Time ends tonight (2:00 AM Sunday)!

Will Rogers, who was born on this date in 1879 (died 1935), said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” (Thanks to my cousin Al for that one.) He also said, “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”

The word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is stridulate, a verb, meaning, “to make a shrill creaking noise by rubbing together special bodily structures — used especially of male insects (such as crickets or grasshoppers).”

Today is World Numbat Day. What’s a numbat, you say? Well you might ask that, because that’s the same thing I said. I don’t recall every hearing of a numbat until today. I’ve heard of wombats. I’ve heard of Numfars.

(I have it on good authority that “Numfar” is none other than Joss Whedon, himself.)
Anyway, I’ve not heard of a numbat until today. The numbat is also known as a “banded anteater, marsupial anteater, or walpurti.” It is a native to Western Australia.

Kind of cute, don’t you think?

C seems better this morning. She wasn’t feeling great yesterday evening, but seems much more alert and happy, this morning. I believe the pain is gradually getting better, and her mobility is increasing. She is still using the walker, and probably will be for a bit, and I’m still helping her with things like getting her cold water machine hooked up and covers straightened, as well as bringing her water, coffee, food, etc., when necessary. This afternoon, I’ll be doing some chores, such as dishes, laundry, trash, and so one. I would say that the recovery is going very well, thus far.

People are bringing us food, which is different. Of course, we haven’t been in a situation to need anything like, and aren’t necessarily in that situation now. But it’s a ministry of the church, and we need to allow people to fulfill that ministry when they want to. Serving is sometimes an easy thing to do; allowing oneself to be served is not always so easy. We like feeling independent. But, in truth, we really are not. That’s one of the beautiful things about the church.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! 
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! 
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psalm 103:20-22
Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. 
Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. 
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

Psalm 5:1-3
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

Isaiah 26:3; 30:15
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
Psalm 33:11
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 
“Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 7:9-17
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
Psalm 33:11
O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? 
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; 
who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; 
in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; 
who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.

Psalm 15:1-5
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
Psalm 33:11
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
Isaiah 9:2

(From Practice Resurrection)

(Pages 113-115)

Now that Paul has dealt with the idea of individualism, he moves on to the church. “the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Says, Peterson, “Church summarizes all that God does, all that Christ is, all that we are in Christ. Church comprises all that is involved in living the mature life in Christ.”

This is a pretty important idea, here. We don’t become mature in Christ by taking a class or reading a book. Church is not something that can be experienced discreetly. “There is far more to the church than meets the eye.”

For the most part, what meets the eye is a building. We seem church buildings on our neighborhood streets. Living in north central Texas, we see church buildings quite frequently, and many times next door to each other. They usually look like churches.

But not always.

Either way, there is usually a sign out front that identifies it as a church.

If you’re like me, and you are, sometimes, you were brought to church as a child. I was probably in church as soon as my parents could get me there. I’m what they call a “lifer.” I was on the “cradle roll.” And, unlike a lot of my friends, I’m still attending church. Not the one I grew up in, of course, but still going, still active. And, with the exception of about six months, when I was mad at the Baptists, I’ve been a “Baptist” all my life. The current church doesn’t have the word “Baptist” in it, but it is, essentially, Baptist.

Others don’t make their way into a church building until later in life, sometimes out of curiosity, or at the invitation of friends. “We go to this church most Sundays. We get to know the names of the people who go there; some of them become friends.” We sing; we pray; we take The Supper. Sometimes there are baptisms.

For many others, church is a place where they only go for weddings of funerals, and then, only because of love for the people involved, or to show their respects to those who have passed on.

What takes place inside these buildings is, for the most part, pretty ordinary. No training is required (although there might be some that are more ritualistic, where the outsider might feel a bit lost), no skill is needed. You don’t really have to know how to sing to “make a joyful noise.” It is just “people praying and singing and listening, exchanging vows, being blessed, receiving Jesus in the bread and wine, celebrating marriage, honoring the dead.”

Here’s an important statement, though. “Anyone entering one of these buildings expecting entertainment or relief from a dull and boring life is not likely to come back a second time. Anyone entering a church hoping to see a miracle or have a vision will almost certainly leave disappointed. . . . What you see is what you get. And what you see is painfully ordinary.”

Father, I thank you for the ordinariness of our church. I thank you that you have moved us away from trying to entertain people or thrill them. Your presence is thrilling enough for me. And if someone doesn’t come back because we didn’t entertain them, we’re okay with that. However, keep us faithful to preach, teach, and live out your message in Christ, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

What’s the Rush?

Today is Wednesday, August 9, 2017. Day 21,699. Only ten more days until S’s and J’s birthday!!

Quote of the Day

“A fool and his money are soon elected.” ~ Will Rogers
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Garble ~ “to sift impurities from;” “to alter or distort as to create a wrong impression or change the meaning;” “to introduce textual error into (a message) by inaccurate encipherment, transmission, or decipherment.” An example of garbled lyrics would be, “Excuse me while I kiss this guy,” instead of “Excuse me while I kiss the sky,” or “There’s a bathroom on the right,” instead of “There’s a bad moon on the rise.”

Today is one of my favorite days. It is Book Lovers Day. I’m not sure where I got my great love for books. Oh, who am I kidding? I know exactly where I got it. Just look at my mother’s house! So many books; so little time!!

The floor is shaping up nicely! Yesterday, they finished the hallway and big “family room,” or whatever it’s called.

I’m not sure, but I think the plan today is the hallway and two bedrooms in the front part of the house.

Tonight is our normal bowling night, but we aren’t bowling tonight, as our team mates are in Fort Davis. We plan to make up tonight’s games next Monday night.

The Red Sox beat the Rays, 2-0, last night, behind some great pitching by Chris Sale, and the Yankees lost to the Boo Jays, so the Sox are now up by four games in the AL East. Meanwhile, the Rangers lost a close one to the Mets, 5-4. The Astros lost to the Other Sox, so the Rangers remain 18 games out in fourth place. Only four games out of the wild card race, though, which is currently occupied by the Yankees and the Rays. And Kansas City.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.

Psalm 149:2, 4
Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts!
Psalm 125:4
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. 
Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!

Psalm 72:18-19
May the LORD give you increase, you and your children!
Psalm 115:14
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 
therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Matthew 9:35-37

(From The President’s Devotional)

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 
And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 
And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 
Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”

Luke 13:6-9

One thing this parable teaches us is to “give our strategies time to play out.” Better yet, give God’s strategies time to play out.

God’s plans usually don’t happen the way we would like them to. “The yield is not always immediate, but there may still be a harvest on the horizon.”

God is patient. Sometimes, (most of the time?) his plans “unfold over months and years.” There may be things that he has planted deep within us that need more time to become fruitful.

Never give up on God; never give up on yourself. If you are struggling with wondering why God doesn’t seem to be working in your life right now, stay faithful and wait. Many of us know the popular verses:

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Also, remember the words of Dallas Willard: “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

Father, give me the same kind of patience that you have. Just let me know that you are there, working. I don’t need to see immediate results. I just need to know that you are there. May it be your timing and not mine. Give me acceptance of that.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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