Naked, Yet Not Afraid

“The path of our healing is not one of self-improvement, but rather of self-surrender.”

Today is Friday, May 17, 2019.

Day 22,345

Ten days until Memorial Day

Quote of the Day

“If you ask me anything I don’t know, I’m not going to answer.”
Yogi Berra, American athlete, 1925-2015
BrainyQuote
Perhaps we should all follow that philosophy.

Word of the Day

Palimpsest ~ writing material (such as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased; something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface

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

Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

Psalm 29:1-2

Today I am grateful:
1. For the upcoming weekend, to rest for another week of work
2. The peace which Jesus has left with us
3. That “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7)
4. That God already knows everything about me, and that I cannot hide from him
5. That Jesus will draw near when I take my eyes off of me and fix them on him

The Lord Jesus, after he had supped with his disciples and
had washed their feet, said to them, “Do you know what I,
your Lord and Master, have done to you? I have given you
an example, that you should do as I have done.”

Peace is my last gift to you, my own peace I now leave with
you; peace which the world cannot give, I give to you.

I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have
loved you.

Peace is my last gift to you, my own peace I now leave with
you; peace which the world cannot give, I give to you.

By this shall the world know that you are my disciples: That
you have love for one another.
(The Book of Common Prayer)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Jesus Draws Near,” by James Bryan Smith.

But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
Matthew 8:8

“The path of our healing is not one of self-improvement, but rather of self-surrender.” This seems so simple, yet so revolutionary. One of our biggest problems is our non-stop efforts to improve ourselves. The “self-help” section of the book store (remember those?) has grown to be possibly the largest section, and this seems to be true, even in the so-called “Christian” book stores. “When we cease from the battle of trying to think well of ourselves and turn to God in complete nakedness, we will find nothing but acceptance.”

We have this prevailing fear that God will reject us if he knows who we really are. Remember Adam and Eve in the garden? They had sinned; they had eaten whatever fruit it was that was on that forbidden tree. They knew that they were “naked” and they felt exposed. So they hid from God.

Have you ever stopped to think what an absolutely ridiculous thought that is? That we could possibly hide from God?? Let’s go back to that idea of being afraid that God will reject us if he finds out who we really are. Guess what!! He already knows who we really are!! And the moment that we acknowledge the truth of who we really are, instead of trying to whitewash it over with “positive thinking” or some other fad, God will draw near to us. We must stop attempting to control how God feels about us through forced behavior.

“‘Here I am, God. You know I am broken and wayward and foolish.’ These words dismantle our pride and allow God to penetrate our hearts.”

We must be sincere about who we are, and that sincerity begins at home, from within. Before we can be sincere with God, we have to be sincere with ourselves. “This is liberating in that we can no concentrate on the relationship that God has established with us through Christ. We can take our eyes off of ourselves and our vain notions of perfection and simply accept our failures and faults, not excusing them but seeing them as a part of who we are. We can then walk with Christ.”

Let us be honest about who we are. Then let us draw near and walk with Jesus, with our eyes fixed, not on ourselves, but on him!

Father, help me to take my eyes off of me and fix them on Jesus. Help me to be “naked” before you, that I might truly walk in fellowship with you, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Jude 1:24-25

Grace and peace, friends.

Be Constant in Prayer

Today is Sunday, December 16,2018. Third week of Advent.

Day 22,193

NINE DAYS until Christmas!!!

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Yogi Berra, US baseball player, coach, and manager, 1925-2015
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is vivify, “to enliven; brighten; sharpen.” Also, “to give life to; animate; quicken.” (Dictionary.com)

We got a good bit accomplished, yesterday. We got all the groceries we need for Christmas weekend (at least most of them . . . I think we forgot the milk). C got more of the bathroom done, finished peeling wallpaper off and one wall painted. She also went out and got another light fixture, as well as two mirrors to replace the giant one mirror that we had in there. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with the old mirror.

I got some more practice in for this morning’s worship gathering, and then spent some time in one of my favorite places, right in front of the TV holding that PS4 controller.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth, Texas. The worship gathering begins at 10:15 AM.

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

Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
Psalm 106:47

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship with my Church family
2. That I get to help lead in that worship gathering
3. For a heart that is drawn to worship the Lord
4. For a pastor who is desperately trying to “get it right”
5. That I have a willingness to listen to God and try to change what needs to be changed, or at least to allow Him to change it

“Glorify the Lord, all you works of the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

I The Cosmic Order

Glorify the Lord, you angels and all powers of the Lord,
O heavens and all waters above the heavens.
Sun and moon and stars of the sky, glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, every shower of rain and fall of dew,
all winds and fire and heat.
Winter and summer, glorify the the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O chill and cold,
drops of dew and flakes of snow.
Frost and cold, ice and sleet, glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.”

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Song of Creation, Song of the Three Young Men, 35-65)

I had to look up this reference to “Song of the Three Young Men.” I found that it is some writing that is not included in the canon of Scripture, that references Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, both during and after their time in the fiery furnace. The “Song of Creation” will continue tomorrow and Tuesday, as it has three sections.

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

The second half of Romans 12 consists of a bunch of bullet-point-like statements of conduct or behavior. “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another . . . Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” And so on. Verse 12 comes in there with, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” The NRSV translates that “persevere in prayer.”

There is a bit of difference between being constant and prayer and persevering in prayer. As I am not a Greek scholar, I don’t know which is more accurate. The KJV renders it, “continuing instant in prayer.” I’m not even sure what that means. The NIV says, “faithful in prayer,” even more simplified. The ESV has been my version of choice for more than a decade now, so I’ll go with what it says, but at the same time give a nod to the NRSV translation, because sometimes we need to persevere in prayer, not giving up.

There are always going to be circumstances in our lives that threaten our constancy in prayer. We must persevere through those. And I don’t think that Paul’s phrases are random through this section of Romans 12, either. There seems to me to be a bit of connection in the three rapid-fire statements in this verse. Tribulations stands in the middle with hope on one side and prayer on the other. Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but I don’t think so.

When we experience tribulation, if we have not hope, we are lost. We will fall. But if we have hope, then, on the other side, we can pray. I have considered this many times in my life. If I’m praying at all, then it means I have hope and faith in something. If I didn’t have faith, I wouldn’t pray. What would the point in that?? Why would you pray to anyone or anything if you didn’t have at least a spark of faith or hope?

But, to me, the crux of the message is in the last phrase. “Be constant;” “persevere.” Elsewhere, Paul would say, “Pray without ceasing.” Not as hard to do as you might think.

So, today, let us consider how to do that in our lives. First, rejoice that you have hope. Then, when the tribulation comes, have patience. This, too, shall pass. And in that hope, in that patience, be constant and persevering in prayer.

Father, help me to be more constant in prayer. I pray for Your Spirit to lead me in this. I’m still asking You to teach me to pray, even after all this time, because I know that I have not learned everything there is to know about prayer. Give me hope in all things, that I might rejoice. If I experience tribulation in any circumstance, give me patience (that’s a tough one for me). But above all, help me persevere in prayer, not giving up, but always believing.
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.

Grace and peace, friends.

Teach Me To Pray

Today is Saturday, November 10, 2018.

Day 22,157

TWO days until C’s birthday!!!!

FOUR days until Fallout 76!!!

“You can observe a lot just by watching.”
Yogi Berra, American baseball player, coach, and manager, 1925-2015
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is solmization, “the act, process, or system of using certain syllables, especially the sol-fa syllables, to represent the tones of the scale.”

Yesterday’s work day turned out to be not too bad. We only worked an hour over, this time. And the drive home only took a little more than an hour, including a stop at Sonic for our drinks!

I did get some sad news, yesterday. We lost an uncle this past week, my great uncle Wallace, my mother’s uncle, and the last of my Grandmother’s siblings. Our cousin Al sent us the news. The funeral is next Friday afternoon. I wish I could go to it, and may still figure out a way. I don’t have much PTO left, though, and I know I’m going to have to go see a doctor at some point before the year is up.

Today, C and I are going to see Bohemian Rhapsody at 2:40 PM. I have our grocery order set up to pick up between 1:00 and 2:00, so we will have that done before the movie. That’s all we have planned for today. Oh, except I will probably make a cake tonight, for C’s birthday. It won’t be that huge three-layer chocolate one, this time, though. We don’t need that much cake.

For those of you who pray, please be in prayer for California. They are on fire, again, and it’s horrific. So much so, that the word is that the entire town of Paradise has been completely wiped off the map. Malibu is also burning, I hear. They need rain . . . something to stop these fires. Pray for mercy.

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

(From Power in Prayer, Andrew Murray)
Encouragement to Pray

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.
Hebrews 12:1-2

If we have asked our Master to teach us to pray, we who are disciples of Christ, let us know and accept the lessons He has given us. “He tells you prayer is the path to faith, a strong faith that can cast out demons. He tells us if we have faith, nothing will be impossible to us. Let this glorious promise be an encouragement to spend more time in prayer.”

Andrew Murray then offers up this prayer, himself:

“Teach me, blessed Lord, that there is a place where faith can be learned and gained–in the place of prayer and fasting that brings me into living and abiding fellowship with you and with the Father.
“O Savior, you are the author and the perfecter of my faith; teach me what it is to allow you to live in my by your Holy Spirit. Lord, my efforts and prayers for grace to believe have been unavailing. And I know why; I sought for strength in myself. Dear Jesus, teach me the mystery of your life in me, and how you, by your Spirit undertake to live in me the life of faith, to see to it that my faith shall not fail. Let me see how my faith can be a part of that wonderful prayer life that you give to those who expect their training for the ministry of intercession to come not in word and thought alone, but in the anointing of the Holy Spirit. And teach me how, in fasting and prayer, I may grow into the faith to which nothing is impossible.”

Indeed, Father, teach me to pray in such a way that my faith is strengthened. Teach me how to work the disciplines of prayer and fasting, of solitude and silence, into my life. Teach me the ways of Jesus, that I may walk in your kingdom in this present day, acknowledging Your presence in every minute of every day, that my life might be a reflection of Your glory through Christ in the Spirit.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

For His Name’s Sake

Today is Saturday (whew), June 9, 2018. Day 22,003.

Eight days until Father’s Day!

“This is like deja vu all over again.” ~ Yogi Berra, 1925-2015, The Quotations Page

The word for today is shenanigan, a noun which means, “a devious trick used especially for an underhand purpose.” Also, “tricky or questionable practices or conduct —usually used in plural,” and, “high-spirited or mischievous activity —usually used in plural.”

I’ve a serious case of the “piddles,” this morning, as it is 10:50, and I have barely gotten past my word of the day! And I have to go pick up the groceries soon (between 11:00 and 12:00), as well as our traditional Saturday lunch from Freebird’s.

C has the painting bug, and I’m not talking about canvas. She’s about to start repainting walls in the house. I’ll do my best to stay out of the way. And offer helpful encouragement along the way. I got home from work, last night (after two hours of overtime), and that were paint chips all over the front hallway. “I need your opinion,” she said. “They all look great!” I said. Not really. But I did encourage her to do whatever she likes, and I will certainly let her know if I don’t like a particular shade or color. Which is not likely. I’m pretty easy going about stuff like that. Unless she picks, say, orange. Which is also not likely.

The Red Sox left their bats at home last night, and offered no run support to Chris Sale, so he lost 1-0 to the White Sox. THE WHITE SOX!! The fourth worst team in MLB! Oh, well. Can’t win them all, they say. The Sox are now at 43-21, still having the most wins in baseball, but a half game behind the Yankees.

The Rangers lost to the Astros by a score of 7-3, and are now 14.5 games out in the AL West, which is currently led by the red hot Seattle Mariners. Yes, you read that right. Seattle Mariners. And that’s with Robinson Cano on suspension for cheating.

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

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! 
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, or declare all his praise? 
Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times! 
Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people; help me when you save them, 
that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance. 
Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness. 
Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. 
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power. 
He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry, and he led them through the deep as through a desert. 
So he saved them from the hand of the foe and redeemed them from the power of the enemy. 
And the waters covered their adversaries; not one of them was left. 
Then they believed his words; they sang his praise.

Psalm 106:1-12

Again, this Psalm seems to begin by showing the mighty works of God in his deliverance of Israel from Egypt. Note the truth of verse 8: “He saved them for his name’s sake.” It is important to understand that, even though he works for our benefit, everything that the Lord does is for his name’s sake. We should mirror that. The works that we do, though they might help other people (and even ourselves) should be done for his name’s sake.

Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.
Proverbs 22:16

Father, I am grateful for all of the works that you do for your name’s sake. I pray that, as I live my life, I will be reminded by your Spirit to do all that I do for the sake of your great name. And this includes many so-called “mundane” things, too. May even the simplest act be done for the sake of your name.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

The Lord Will Not Forsake His People

Today is Thursday, May 17, 2018. Day 21,980.

Three days until Pentecost Sunday.

“If you ask me anything I don’t know, I’m not going to answer.” ~ Yogi Berra (BrainyQuote) Probably a good practice.

The word for today is paraph, a noun which means, “a flourish made after a signature, as in a document, originally as a precaution against forgery.”

The Red Sox finally beat the Athletics, last night, 6-4. Their record is now 29-14. The Yankees have been rained out twice against Washington. One game was suspended in a 3-3 tie, then yesterday’s game was postponed. So the Sox are a half game back in the AL East. The Yankees keep the best record in MLB.

The Rangers beat the Mariners last night, 5-1, splitting a two-game series. Tonight, they will be in Chicago, playing the worst MLB team, the White Sox. The Rangers’ current record is 17-27, and they are 10.5 games out in the AL West. Houston is back on top of the West, with a two game lead over the Angels.

C and I made it to the Y last night, where I walked on the treadmill for almost 40 minutes (34 minutes with five minute cooldown). We had our usual pre-workout dinner of Subway, and I will have the second half of my sandwich for lunch today. That’s a pretty cool habit we have adopted, there. I always look forward to my lunch at work when I have a Subway sandwich waiting for me.

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

Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law, 
to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. 
For the LORD will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; 
for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it. 
Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers? 
If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. 
When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. 
When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. 
Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute? 
They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. 
But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. 
He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the LORD our God will wipe them out.

Psalm 94:12-23

The Lord will not forsake his people. What beautiful words of promise and truth. And, just when we think our feet are slipping, the steadfast love of the Lord will hold us up.

Father, I praise you for your promise that you will never forsake your people. May we hold on to this truth with all of our being, as we walk before you today. May my feet not slip today, Lord, and if I feel that they are about to, may I hold on to your steadfast love. May I know your presence today, in all my doings, and may I faithfully walk in the easy yoke of Jesus.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

Abiding

“He’s not some aloof God wishing me good luck from afar; He is a loving Father. If I’m on my knees in prayer, if I’m studying His Word and begging Him to guide my steps, if I’m staying close to His side, He isn’t going to let me get lost. I’m becoming more convinced of that when my heart’s desire seeks His.”

Today is Saturday, July 15, 2017. Day 21,674.

“When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it.” ~ Yogi Berra
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is uptalk. It’s a noun. You know it well, I’m sure. It’s that annoying pitch rise that some people do at the end of every. Single. Sentence. “A rise in pitch at the end usually of a declarative sentence, especially if habitual: often represented in writing by a question mark as in Hi, I’m here to read the meter?” I found a You Tube clip of Connie Chung talking about it, way back in 1994.

Today is Gummi Worm Day. I especially like the sour ones. “Brite Crawlers,” I think they call them.

Yesterday was a busy day. I wound up working an hour over time, just to try to get somewhat caught up. I’m still behind, but will hopefully be able to get caught up on Monday.

I did manage to get some mac and cheese, yesterday! C stopped at Slim Chickens on the way home, and picked up some dinner. S and I had mac and cheese for our side dish. Slim Chickens has really good mac and cheese!

To start off the second half, the Rangers beat the Royals 5-3 in KC. They are still 16.5 games out, but along in second place. The Red Sox came back in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Yankees 5-4. This dropped the Bronx Bombers into third place, while the Rays moved into second. The Sox are 3.5 games up, in first place. Here is a video recap of the crazy ninth inning, in which the Sox scored two runs without even getting a hit out of the infield.
http://m.mlb.com/news/article/242168424/red-sox-walk-off-against-chapman-yankees/?topicId=27118122&partnerId=ed-11711041-1004818173

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 
For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Psalm 107:8-9
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
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
Psalm 8:2
I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts.
Psalm 119:141
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 
And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 
and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 
Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:1-4
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

(From Daily Guideposts 2017)

Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. 
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25:4-5

These two verses in Psalms have been close to my heart, recently. In today’s Guideposts reading, Katie Ganshert tells of a shopping adventure.

“It happened so fast, I barely had time to panic. One second, my son was lagging behind me and a friend, hiding down various aisles as he goofed around. The next, he was gone.”

She had just managed to call his name a second time when the intercom came alive. “Ms. Ganshert, please come to the cash registers. Ms. Ganshert, please come to the cash registers.”

When she got to the front, there was her son, next to a cashier, tears in his eyes. He ran and hugged her and said, “I got lost!”

“‘Brogan,’ I said, hugging him back. ‘I told you that you have to stay by Mommy’s side. As long as you’re by my side, I promise you will never ever get lost.'”

As she spoke those words, Katie remembered a decision that she had been struggling with. She was afraid of stepping outside of God’s plans for her family’s life.

“He’s not some aloof God wishing me good luck from afar; He is a loving Father. If I’m on my knees in prayer, if I’m studying His Word and begging Him to guide my steps, if I’m staying close to His side, He isn’t going to let me get lost. I’m becoming more convinced of that when my heart’s desire seeks His.”

These are true statements. And these statements are what the Spiritual Disciplines are all about. If we walk with Jesus, walking in the Kingdom, sharing the “easy yoke” with him, there’s no way we will lose our way. We must abide in him.

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Psalm 9:10
You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
Psalm 27:8
“I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right.”
Isaiah 45:19

Father, I thank you for these truths, that you will never forsake us. Help me to walk in your ways. Make me to know your ways; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me.
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.

Better Than Newspapers

Today is Tuesday, February 7, 2017. Six more days until pitchers and catchers report.

Quote of the Day

“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” – H. G. Wells

Bonus quote: “If you ask me anything I don’t know, I’m not going to answer.” – Yogi Berra

Word of the Day

BonzerAustralian. remarkable; wonderful.

Today is Send A Card To A Friend Day. I suspect this day is sponsored by Hallmark or American Greetings. However, it’s a nice idea. People don’t write letters or send cards much any more. It would be a nice thing to do, especially if there is no special occasion. Just a card, “out of the blue.”

Band practice was fun, last night. The regular conductor was out on a trip, and the HS band director led our rehearsal. He’s always nicer to us. Haha! We’ve picked up two new trombone players, this year, which is nice, especially since two of our regulars were out last night. A new French Horn player showed up last night, as well, and said she was a student at UNT. We don’t often get active students in the band.

The rest of this week should be pretty quiet and uneventful. One can hope.

18/55

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. 
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!
Psalm 84:11-12

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. Psalm 119:147

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. Psalm 13:5

The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them. Psalm 89:11

(From Living the Message)

How many people have prayed and then declared that no answer, no help came? “I prayed and cried out for help, but no help came,” they might say. But help did come, didn’t it? I’m reminded of a “preacher story,” involving a man trapped on the roof of his house, with flood waters rising. He prayed for God to help him. A boat came by, offering help, but the man refused, saying “God’s going to save me.” A helicopter came by, offering help, but the man refused, saying, “No, thanks, God’s got this!” When the man eventually died, he stood before God and complained, “Why didn’t you save me?” God’s reply? “I sent a boat and a helicopter! What more do you want?”

In all seriousness, is it possible that we are looking in a different direction and miss the help that God may have sent? “Instead of asking why the help has not come, the person at prayer learns to look carefully at what is actually going on in his or life, in this history, its leaders, its movements, its peoples, and ask, ‘Could this be the help that he is providing? I never thought of this in terms of help, but maybe it is.'”

Peterson even says that prayer gives us a better way of seeing reality than the newspapers. In The Diary of a Country Priest, the priest says, “The Word was made Flesh and not one of the journalists of those days even knew it was happening.”

Sometimes, we see the help long after it has come. I had a really nice conversation with my mother last night. We talked about opportunities that her and my father had, in the past, to move to another location. There was an opportunity, many years ago, for him to transfer to east Texas (my grandparents were still alive at the time). He passed on it. What a blessing to look back at that now and see God’s wisdom in that decision! My mother would be all alone out there, now! There were other opportunities, before they built an extra room on their house, to move to other parts of town. In the same way, the current situation bears out the wisdom of God in the fact that they chose not to move, but to build on, instead.

Prayer. Better than newspapers . . . seek the Lord. He will give an answer. We just need to be sure we are looking in all directions, and not the one whence we most expect the answer to come.

I call to you, God, because I’m sure of an answer. So—answer! bend your ear! listen sharp! 
Paint grace-graffiti on the fences; take in your frightened children who Are running from the neighborhood bullies straight to you.
Psalm 17:6-7 (The Message)

Father, help me to always be looking in the right directions for answers from you. Let me not be boxed in by presuppositions of what I believe your answer should be. Let me always be ready for a surprise. Your face, O God, will I seek!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Grace and peace, friends.

Dance

Today is Friday, January 6, 2017.

Quote of the Day

“Pair up in threes.” – Yogi Berra

Word of the Day

Factitious – produced by humans rather than by natural forces; formed by or adapted to an artificial or conventional standard.

Today is Three Kings Day, more commonly known as Epiphany. It is the day traditionally associated with the arrival of the “Three Wise Men” at the house of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. The Bible, of course, does not number the wise men, or “magi.” It has been assumed that there were three, because three gifts were brought.

We finally made it to Friday, in a week that seems to have lasted several weeks, at least to me. The current temperature is 25 degrees, and the high today is only supposed to reach 26. But I see no snow on the ground, as I suspected would happen. It’s supposed to be back up in the seventies by next Tuesday.

Tomorrow is a big day. We’re supposed to get our new oven/range at some point, and we have our monthly Night of Worship tomorrow night. I’ll be at the house for NoW by 3:00 PM tomorrow, to set up and practice, so that event takes up most of the day.

50/87

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Psa 105:4  Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!

Psa 27:7-9  Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!

Psa 76:7  But you, you are to be feared! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused?

Psa 34:4  I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

(From The President’s Devotional)

“Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.”~~Bob Dylan, Mr. Tambourine Man

2Sa 6:14  And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod.

“David, the king, the ruler of the nation of Israel, the man on whom the mantle of God rested, and from whose lineage would emerge the Savior of all humankind . . . David, in wild abandon, danced.”

David danced because God was good; David danced because he was still alive, in spite of the best intentions of his enemies; he danced to give glory and honor to “the God who had formed him in his mother’s womb.”

Perhaps we should pray for some of that wild, reckless abandon, today. “Let’s seek out the moments when the seriousness of life melts away in the heat of God’s glory, and we are free to let loose, shout, and glorify God. And dance.”

“Dear God, let me never be too serious to experience pure joy, to appreciate all that you have done, and even, when the time is right, to dance. Amen.”

(From Living the Message)

Mat 2:1-12  After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory—this was during Herod’s kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.” 
When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” 
They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly: 
It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land,
no longer bringing up the rear.
From you will come the leader
who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.” 
Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.” 
Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time! 
They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. 
In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.
(The Message)

Father, on this day of Epiphany, help me seek the face of my Savior, just as these kings from the East sought to see Jesus. And then, give me the exuberant joy that King David had. Help me to dance.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Streams In the Desert

Today is Friday, November 4, 2016. Four days until Election Day. Six days until our Glen Rose weekend!

Quote of the Day

“You wouldn’t have won if we’d beaten you.” – Yogi Berra

Word of the Day

Obdurate – unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubborn; unyielding.

Today is Fountain Pen Day. Writing with a fountain pen has become a lost art. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a fountain pen, much less wrote with one.

Our lunch, yesterday, was great. Turns out Grub Burger Bar is pretty awesome. I had a burger that actually was not on the menu, called “OMG.” It had a burger patty (had to have been at least a half pound), “Texas chili,” chorizo queso, and skinny fries (yes, fries on the burger). It was deeeeeelicious! Then I had a mint chocolate chip shake, which came with a straw as big around as my middle finger. Good thing, too, because it was chock full of mint chips and chocolate chips. I’m now hoping that they will build one of those close to where I live.

We have our monthly Night of Worship tomorrow night, and I’ll be taking my gear over to the house after work today. We are really looking forward to this event, anticipating what God will do there.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip.
Psalm 55:8-9
With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes.
Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life.
Psalm 119:145, 149
I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
Psalm 56:12-13

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Psalm 126:4-6

The “streams in the Negeb,” referred to ditches in the desert that were normally dry, but could turn into torrents of water under a sudden rain. This, in turn, would create a “desert ablaze with blossom.” Our long, dry periods of waiting before God can equally become refreshing streams of grace as God invades our lives.

“Let the rain of your Spirit fall on the dry soul of my heart, O God. Bring to blossom the seeds which have been dormant in my desert body. Restore, revive, replenish so that I may be a harvest field of ‘shouts of joy’ for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

Father, I pray for your rain to fall on me today. My soul isn’t necessarily dry, but there are frequent moments, throughout the day, when it seems to be so. I experienced a few of those, yesterday, but you refreshed me with your Spirit, after I prayed for it. Send your rain today, teach me your ways, and lift my spirit, that I might be excited about the things that excite you!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” . . . Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:15, 18)

Grace and peace, friends.

On Choosing to Suffer

Today is Wednesday, August 10, 2016. Nine more days until S turns 23!

Quote of the Day

“It’s like deja-vu, all over again.” – Yogi Berra

Word of the Day

Titivate – to make smart or spruce: She titivated her old dress with a new belt.

Today is Duran Duran Appreciation Day. What can I say about that? I like a little Duran Duran every now and then, so here you go.

Well, it’s “Hump Day” today. It’s the middle of the work week (for some people), and we tend to perceive of the rest of the week being downhill. I’m not sure that’s accurate. I can’t decide if I agree with that or if Monday is Hump Day and the rest of the week is downhill from there. Sometimes it seems like it’s all uphill until Friday afternoon. However, more and more, the older I get, the more I just look at each day as it’s own event. We spend so much time longing for that weekend. But think about this: If time fast-forwarded, and it was suddenly Saturday, I’ve just lost three days of my life. Live every day. You don’t know how many you’ve got.

The Rangers pulled off another stunning come-from-behind victory, yesterday, in an afternoon game in Colorado. So they are 2-0 in this odd four-game series that makes me believe MLB schedule makers are smoking some serious crack. They played two games in Colorado, followed by two games in Texas against the same team. I really don’t understand what they are trying to accomplish, here. Anyway, the Rangers continue to be the best team in the AL, and have a four game winning streak. They are seven games ahead of the second place Mariners.

The Red Sox beat the Yankees 5-3. Losses by the Boo Jays and the O’s get the Sox 1.5 games out of first.

Tonight, we have our semi-monthly Anchor prayer gathering. Saturday night, we’ll be having a Night of Worship, and it looks like I’ll be throwing down some keys at this event. Not literally. That’s a figure of speech. Playing. I’ll be playing keyboards.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.
He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,

the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac,
which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance.”
Psalm 105:7-11

When we see the word “covenant,” we should be reminded of the many times in which God kept his promises and led his people in spite of their rebelliousness and stubbornness. “God’s covenant is his commitment to us: he never forgets what he has decreed and never fails to keep what he has promised.”

“O God, I thank you for your unshakable decision to be my Savior and my Friend, a decision proven and ratified in Jesus Christ, by whose life I live. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

The Sacrament of the Saint

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:19

“To choose to suffer means that there is something wrong; to choose God’s will even if it means suffering is a very different thing.” No saint with a healthy view of life in Christ would purposefully choose suffering. However, he will choose God’s will, just as Jesus did, “whether it means suffering or not.” Additionally, no true saint would dare interfere in the suffering of another saint.

“The saint who satisfies the heart of Jesus will make other saints strong and mature for God.” We also dare not sympathize with those who are suffering, not in a way of having pity for them. The true saint will understand and pray for the suffering saint to be strong and endure the suffering. Jesus sought no sympathy, and when Peter attempted to sway him from the suffering that was coming, Jesus, essentially, informed him that his pity was from the devil (see Matthew 16:23).

We sometimes think that God wastes his saints, putting them in “the most useless places.” We mistakenly have this thought process that says, “God intends me to be here because I am so useful.” The moment we believe we are useful to God is when we cease being so. “God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is.”

Father let me not be concerned as to whether or not I am useful to you. Rather let me be concerned that I am living my life by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Let me be concerned that I am walking in the Kingdom and being aware of your presence in me and with me every moment of every day. May I cherish each day that I have with you, and may I always seek your will, even if it causes me suffering. For I know that, if I am following you, you will give me the strength to endure anything that comes along.

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.