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Psalm 136:1

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 136:1

Dear God, this is another moment for just some worship. This psalm is 26 verses and each one of them includes the line, “His faithful love endures forever.” That’s what I want to do right now. I just want to worship you. I do have some friends for whom I’m concerned. Some family. Some clients at our nonprofit. Some coworkers. I want your best for each of them. I want your powerful hand to move, heal, protect, grow, and guide. I want all of that. Please help all of that happen.

But now I just want to sit in your lap and be with you. I want to worship you. I have a dog who is incredibly needy. She came up to me this morning and wanted some loving. I’m never able to sit with this dog without having to pet her or she will go away. She never just wants to sit with me. It’s a very transactional relationship. But I tried something this morning. I put her in my lap when I started this and now she seems to be happy to just lie down while I type. She is content just to be in my lap. Not getting anything for herself except to know that she is a loved dog.

That’s what I want right now. I just want to sit in your lap and not ask for anything. I just want you to know that I am content just being your child. I know you love all of the people on my heart. I know you have them in your hands. So I can let all of that go for the moment and just be happy in your presence. Why? Because your faithful love endures forever.

I pray all of this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2022 in Psalms

 

1 Chronicles 16:8

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
    Let the whole world know what he has done.

1 Chronicles 16:8

Dear God, a friend sent me a Tik Tok today with an unnamed preacher saying that Isaiah says that worship is like a coat. I think the reference is Isaiah 61:3, but I’m not sure. Basically, the analogy is that when there is bad weather we put on a coat and the coat doesn’t change the weather, but it changes our body’s response to the weather. Worship, like the coat, when applied by us, does not change our circumstances, but it changes how we respond to our circumstances. That was pretty good.

This verse of the day from 1 Chronicles fits into that as well. Not that it makes that analogy, but it reminds me to give thanks to you. David is telling me (actually he wrote this song for the Levites to sing as they brought the Ark of the Covenant home) to worship you and give you thanks. To let the whole world know you are my God.

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, I cannot begin to give you adequate worship and praise. I simply cannot give you enough. Anything of offer isn’t even a drop in the ocean compared with what I owe you. You are You and me. Last week, you gave my wife two amazing divine appointments after a difficult event. You care about the small details. You see us in our need. I cannot count the times you have answered my prayers–both by saying yes for my good and by saying no for my good. I have no wisdom outside of you. I have no words outside of you. I am sorry for my sin. I am sorry for my selfishness. I am sorry for my lethargy. But even in my human frailty you make a way for me. You love me. It’s unfathomable. Thank you. I ask nothing of you except your presence. I want nothing from you but your peace. Use me as you will to bring yourself into this world.

I pray this only because you have benevolently allowed and enabled me to,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2022 in 1 Chronicles

 

“Mara” (Ruth 1:20-21)

20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?”

Ruth 1:20-21

Dear God, I was listening to one of my favorite Newsboys songs this morning that reminds me of Naomi’s situation. It’s called “Lord (I don’t know).” Here’s a link to the song:

The message of this song is wrapped up in the chorus: “Lord, I don’t know where all this is going or how it all works out. Lead me to peace that passes understanding. A peace beyond all doubt.” This could have been Naomi’s song to you. It is all of our songs–especially those in pain this morning.

What Naomi didn’t realize was you were there. You gave her Ruth. You had a plan for this pain. I’m not going to say you wanted her sons and husband to die, but you certainly used it for the benefit of Israel. You used it for the benefit of Ruth. Now, ultimately, it cost Naomi people–loved ones–she could never replace. But you made it count.

I know people today who are suffering. I know a family who just lost a relative in a terrible car accident one week ago this morning. I know of a woman who has a difficult cancer diagnosis and no funding or easy path to treatment. I know people who are recently widowed. I myself have some pain this morning–a metaphorical cloud over me. What am I to do? Am I to claim the name “Mara” and pronounce myself bitter to the world? Or am I to take a look around and acknowledge a few things. 1.) You have given me great love in this life. Love that is often beyond reason. 2.) You have given me a “Ruth” through a relationship with a relative that, well, if I didn’t have it I might be in total despair this morning. And 3.) you might just be using the pain I’m feeling to accomplish things I will never know or understand.

Father, help me to not miss you today. Help me to see you and your blessings all over the place. Please be a comfort to those I mentioned who are suffering and those I’ve forgotten are suffering. Show me the role you have for me to play in their lives. And please help the people in Ukraine. I don’t even know how to pray for the, but, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, please help these poor people. Provide for their needs. Make this stop. Please, make it stop. And use this for your ultimate glory.

I love you, and I thank you. I pray this by the name of Jesus,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2022 in Hymns and Songs, Ruth

 

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“This World” by Caedmon’s Call

There’s tarnish on the golden rule
And I wanna jump from this ship of fools
Show me a place where hope is young
And a people who are not afraid to love

This world has nothing for me
And this world has everything
All that I could wanted
And nothing that I need

This world is making me drunk
On the spirit of fear
So when you say who will go
I am nowhere near

This world has nothing for me
And this world has everything
All that I could wanted
And nothing that I need

This world has nothing for me
And this world has everything
All that I could wanted
And (absolutely) nothing that I need

But the least of these look like criminals to me
So I leave Christ on the street

This world has held my hand
And has led me into intolerance
And now I’m waking up
And now I’m breaking up
And now I’m making up for lost time

This world has nothing for me
And this world has everything
All that I could wanted
And nothing that I need

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Aaron Tate

Dear God, this song has about 10 layers of truth to it, and I’m not sure where to start. My wife played it for me yesterday morning, and I thought, “I really need to spend some time with this.” In fact, I’m not sure I have enough time this morning to do it justice and really think through it with the Holy Spirit as my companion–revealing to me where I have embraced the things I want in the world that I don’t need.

In the first stanza, when the write says that there is tarnish on the golden rule and they want to jump from the ship of fools, I wonder if he (Aaron Tate) is referring to the church. Disillusionment with the people in the church. Frustration with the selfishness and grasps for power that we see. Disappointment in our failure to love our neighbor as ourselves. Is he looking for a place where “hope” has not yet been jaded by disillusionment, frustration, and disappointment? Where people are not yet afraid to love.

In the second verse, the idea of being drunk on the spirit of fear is real. And it comes with a hangover. Just ask anyone who watches too much news. Fear. Fear. Fear. Be afraid. Be afraid of the future. Be afraid of the present. Be afraid of the past. Be afraid. Come and consume my content. I will feed your fear until you are numb, and when you are done you will be in a stupor. As for me, I can certainly enjoy getting this itch scratched, but the itch is like poison ivy. The more you scratch it the more you must scratch it, all the while you are only making it worse. And then when you say, “Whom shall I send,” I’m either too afraid or too entrenched in my ideology, prejudices, and presuppositions to help anyone do anything.

In the bridge we get the allusion to Jesus saying we did not help him when we saw him (Matthew 25:31-46). They are too hard to help. I heard someone present at Rotary yesterday, and he laid out a scenario of seeing someone in need and asked what we would do in that situation. When I honestly asked myself what I would do, I didn’t live up to the standard Jesus set out here. I would probably have thought the problem was too big and moved on.

The final verse is ironic because the “world” thinks it teaches tolerance, but ultimately pursuing the things of the world–allowing the thorns to grow in my soil (Matthew 13:22)–just puts be further into my selfish World War I trench and keeps me from coming out to love all of your children. But if I can come to you in moments like this…if I can wake up, then I can start to be the man you call me to me.

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, work in my heart today. Get me out of my trench. Be with me in my conversations. Bless the fruit of the work I do in your name and help me to be a steward of the things you give me.

I pray all of this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2022 in Hymns and Songs, Matthew

 

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Acts 4:13

13 The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. 

Acts 4:13

I was listening to the Bible in a Year Podcast from Ascension Press this morning and Father Mike highlighted this verse. I thought it would be a good prayer for me to pray over myself today. If I am to be bold, will they recognize me as an arrogant person who is foolish, or will they see that I am a man who has been with Jesus (you)?

Oh, Father. Oh, Jesus. Oh, Holy Spirit, please forgive me of my sin. Forgive me of my pride. My self-pity. My sense of independence. My need for approval from the world. My craving for things of this world. I am sorry. All of them get in the way of others seeing you in my life. They all get in the way of my branch being attached to your vine. When people look at me, I want them to simply see you and wonder what they might do to have the wonderful gift I’ve been given through Jesus’s life, death and resurrection. Through the Father’s love. Through the Holy Spirit’s presence with me. Help me to be all of those things.

I pray this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2022 in Acts

 

Luke 20:27-40

27 Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. 28 They posed this question: “Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife but no children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name. 29 Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children. 30 So the second brother married the widow, but he also died. 31 Then the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them, who died without children. 32 Finally, the woman also died. 33 So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her!”

34 Jesus replied, “Marriage is for people here on earth. 35 But in the age to come, those worthy of being raised from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage. 36 And they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection.

37 “But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—even Moses proved this when he wrote about the burning bush. Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, he referred to the Lord as ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 So he is the God of the living, not the dead, for they are all alive to him.”

39 “Well said, Teacher!” remarked some of the teachers of religious law who were standing there. 40 And then no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Luke 20:27-40

Dear God, I’ve come across this passage several times over the last few weeks. Are you trying to tell me something? I talk a lot about idols and trying to identify the idols in my life. How much is my wife an idol for me? How much do I look to her to provide what the Holy Spirit should be providing in my life? How much do I get my sense of worth from her instead of you.

I heard someone recently describe the relationship we will have with our spouse in the next life as a “special relationship.” Much like we will know our children, parents, and other special people there, we will know our spouse. But what Jesus is saying is that we will have moved beyond the human needs that are met through marriage and into a new angel-like existence That exists around you. I have to tell you, the idea of existing on that reality plain is very appealing to me. I’m good here. I’m happy to live the life you’ve given me here on earth. Frankly, mine is very easy compared to most of the world. I’m happy to try to hear what you’ve called me to do and then follow your calling. But I also have a great hope that this is nothing compared to a pure existence in the timeless reality of your presence.

It makes me think of a Rich Mullins song called “Land Of My Sojourn.” There’s a line in the song that says, “So I’ll call you my country, but I’ll be lonely for my home.” Yeah. I’m happy to be an American, but I don’t find my peace in that. I’m happy to live in my community. I’m happy to be the husband you need me to be for my wife. I’m happy to do whatever it takes to be the father you need me to be for my children (although it feels like I’ve been a failure on many levels there). I’m happy to serve my community. But it feels like the closer I get to you the more loosely I hold onto all of it.

Father, Holy Spirit, Jesus, show me even more today what it means to call you my God. Show me how to be my wife’s husband. Show me how to find my love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness faithfulness, kindness, self-control, etc. in you and not look to her to give me those things. Sharpen me through her. Make me into the man you need me to be through her and the other relationships in my life. Be glorified in all of this.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2022 in Luke

 

Luke 21:9-18

“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

12 “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13 This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15 for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

Luke 21:9-18

Dear God, I was listening to the Bible in a Year podcast from Ascension Press this morning, and this was part of the reading. The part that caught my ear was verses 14 and 15: “So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand.”

I have a meeting later today that concerns me. I’m not entering it with any malice in my heart, but I am afraid that others might be coming with malice. I just want to help. I want to help people in our community. I want to bring your light and hope into the world, but from the ground up, not the top down. Hearts need to be changed. People are walking in a fog. Parents are overwhelmed. Teachers and school personnel are, for lack of a better phrase, charging hell with a water pistol. I want to be your presence in that room today. I want to show others how much you love them. I want to show others what the fruits of the Spirit look like by first attaching my branch to your vine as securely as I am capable and then allowing your Holy Spirit to do the rest.

Father, make me a servant, humble and meek. Lord, let me lift up those who are weak. And my the prayer of my heart always be, “Make me a servant, make me a servant, make me a servant today.”

I pray this through Jesus’s life, death and resurrection, which allows me to come to you in prayer,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2022 in Luke

 

1 Peter 3:13-18

Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong! Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.
1 Peter 3:13-18

Dear God, I was listening to the Bible in a Year Podcast from Ascension Press this morning and Fr. Mike was talking about the passage in Luke 12:49-53 where Jesus talked about coming to set the world on fire and he would end up separating father from son and mother from daughter. It’s a tough thing to hear. It’s a tough thing that I’ve experienced. It’s a heaviness I carry with me every moment.

So what am I to do? Love you with all my heart, mind, and strength, and love my neighbors like myself. Follow Peter’s instructions here. Live a life buried in yours and let the chips fall where they may. But do it humbly. Do it compassionately. Do it lovingly.

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, my God—three in one—I pray that you help me be exactly who you need me to be today. Whisper in my ear.

I pray all of this in your name,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2022 in 1 Peter

 

Psalm 27:4-6 (a psalm of David)

Psalm 27:4-6

A psalm of David.

The one thing I ask of the Lord—
    the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
    delighting in the Lord’s perfections
    and meditating in his Temple.
For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
    he will hide me in his sanctuary.
    He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
Then I will hold my head high
    above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
    singing and praising the Lord with music.

Dear God, I got this praise song I remember from my church in Waco 20 years ago in my head this morning. I couldn’t find it on my iPod, which disappointed me, but I thought I might just go to the source material. Here is the chorus of the song I remember:

This one thing have I desired / that which I seek, that I might dwell in the presence of God / And that we may behold the beauty of the Lord / That we might seek him in His house.

I just want to be with you this morning. I want to worship you. I can’t sit with my wife in church this morning because she will be in the choir in the balcony, so I am going to visit a different church that I prefer. While I’m there, I just want to completely submit myself to you. Oh, how I get tempted to think too much of myself. To buy my own “press.” But I am flawed. I am a speck of dust. I am a vapor. My job is to simply love you with all my heart, mind, and strength and love my neighbor as myself. Let this be a day of that kind of worship.

I pray this through Jesus life, death, and resurrection,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2022 in Psalms

 

Colossians 1:9

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Colossians 1:9

Dear God, maybe this is how I need to start praying for fellow believers. I supposed it has the third element of the “Serenity Prayer” from Alcoholics Anonymous to it. It’s a good thing to pray for myself too.

What would it be like to have complete knowledge of your will? To have spiritual wisdom and understanding? To hear your still, small voice at any given time and peacefully follow it–whether into action or inaction? So often I am impetuous and I act before I think. And I think before I pray. There have been times when I’ve screamed at you to understand your will and heard silence. In retrospect, those were times when you just needed me to wait.

Father, Holy Spirit, Jesus–especially Holy Spirit in this case. As the Father’s presence with me now and throughout this day, help me to have your wisdom. Help me to take in the world through your eyes and ears. Help me to be the friend you need me to be for the friend I’m about to spend several hours with. Help me to be the husband and father you need me to be. I confess to you that I have pride. I want to take glory for myself. All glory to you. I pray that you will increase through me and that when people see me they will see you instead.

I pray this through Jesus,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2022 in Colossians