My Psalm 98

Here's a new song to you, Lord:

You have done marvelous things;
you have conquered
with your right hand and your holy arm!

You have trumpeted your salvation
and bannered your righteousness
for all to hear and see!

You have written your love
and faithfulness to your people
on my heart
and in my heritage.

I will shout for joy to you, LORD,
I will loudly sing your praises!
I will make music to you with my lips
and tongue
and hands
and feet
and eyes
and smiles
and laughter
and gifts,
for you are my King.

Let the waves of the sea crash with your praise,
let everything in the sea sing to you,
the world, and all who live in it,
the rivers
and peaks
and lakes
and streams.

But let me join the chorus,
let me always be among them,
let me not hold back,
for you are righteous and fair,
you are glorious and awesome,

You Said

You said, Ask and you will receive
Whatever you need;
You said, Pray and I'll hear from heaven,
And I'll heal your land.

You said your glory will fill the earth,
Like water the sea;
You said, Lift up your eyes,
The harvest is here, the kingdom is near.

You said, Ask and I'll give the nations to you.
O Lord, that's the cry of my heart!
Distant shores and the islands will see
Your light, as it rises on us.

O Lord, I ask....

A Prayer of Twila Paris, slightly revised

God, you are in control!
I believe that your children will not be forsaken.
You are in control;
I will choose to remember and never be shaken.
There is no power above or beside you, I know;
You are in control.

You have never let me down;
Why start to worry now?
You are still the Lord of all I see,
And you are still the loving Father
Watching over me,
every little sparrow,
every little thing.

(from the Twila Paris song, God is in Control)

Prayer in a Time of Debt

Almighty, everlasting God, we beg of You to help us soon to pay off our debts to our fellowmen. Give us strength and courage to persevere until the last penny is paid. Give patience to those to whom we are in debt, and let them not treat us unjustly. Help us have great confidence in You and in the workings of Your providence, trusting that You will always direct things to our greatest good.

Make us also fully realize that no debt to our fellowmen can begin to equal the debt that we owe You on account of our sins, to say nothing of the immense debt we owe You for the gifts of Your divine grace. These we could never pay at all but for the coming of Your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. To Him be all honor and thanksgiving, now and forever. Amen.

(shamelessly borrowed from Michael Rich's In-Formatio blog)

My Psalm 97

LORD, you reign, and we should all be glad!
Even those who are far from earth should be grateful
for your sovereign and loving reign.

You could swarm us with darkness, but you don't;
your rule exudes righteousness and justice.

You could send down fire to earth
and consume your foes on every side.
You could light up the world with lightning
and throw one catastrophe after another at us.
You could make the mountains melt like wax
and cause us to tremble in fear
before your unlimited power.

Yet the heavens declare your righteousness,
and we breathe in your mercies like the atmosphere.

Those who worship idols should be ashamed,
for there is no God like you.
Even the gods of man's imagination
are pale imitations.

We should all rejoice constantly
that YOU are the one in charge;
there should be universal gratitude
because of your judgments, O LORD.

For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
Those who love you should say so,
and reject evil,
for you guard the lives of your faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

You shed light upon the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.

I rejoice in you, LORD,
you who make me righteous by the blood of the Lamb,
and praise your holy name.

A Prayer of St. Basil the Great

Almighty God, Lord of angels and all creation, Who dwell on high yet care for the lowly, Who search the heart and know every hidden thing, eternal and unchanging Light, we trust in Your great mercy to hear the prayers offered from our unclean lips. Forgive the sins we have committed in knowledge or in ignorance, in thought, word, or deed; and cleanse us, body and soul, from every stain. Allow us to pass through the darkness of this present life watchful and alert, always expecting the coming bright day of Your Only-begotten Son, our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ. He shall come in glory to judge all people and reward us according to our deeds. Help us to put away laziness, be full of courage, and be found doing His work ready to enter His glorious kingdom with joy. You are the true light of every creature, and to You all creation sings.


A Prayer of St. Philaret of Moscow

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace, help me in all things to rely upon your holy will. In every hour of the day reveal your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that your will governs all. In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by you. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray. And you, yourself, pray in me. Amen.

Bless the Lord

You give and take away
for my good,
For who am I to say what I need,
For you alone see the hidden parts of me
That need to be stripped away,
And as you begin to refine,
I’m learning to let go,
To rely
On the One who walks with me,
as hard as it may be.
You’re teaching me all the while
to say,

Bless the Lord, O My soul, all that’s in me bless Your Name;
Forget not your power untold, not your glory or your fame,
For you came to heal the broken, to redeem and make me whole;
Bless the Lord, O My soul.

(From the song, Bless the Lord, by Laura Story)

Show Yourself Mighty

Show yourself mighty,
Show yourself strong.
Show yourself awesome
In the midst of the storm.
In the time of trouble,
you will give us a song.
Show yourself mighty,
Show yourself strong.

(From the song, Show Yourself Mighty, by Albert Jamison)

My Psalm 96

Lord, I sing to you.
I sing a new song to you this morning.
I sing praises to your beautiful name;
I proclaim your salvation and your mercies,
as new as the sunrise.

I declare your glory to those around me,
I marvel at your deeds to all who will listen.
For your are great, LORD,
and unspeakably worthy of praise;
you are to be honored above all gods.
For all the gods we humans turn to
are mere idols,
while you, LORD, made the heavens.

Splendor and majesty are your servants,
strength and glory are your attendants.

I ascribe to you, LORD,
all the glory and strength
and honor and praise
my heart and mind and voice
can summon.

My offering I bring into your courts,
my sacrifice I make to you again today.

I worship you, LORD,
in all your splendor,
in all your holiness,
in all your fearsome, awesome majesty.

You reign.
This world you have made is firmly established,
it cannot be moved;
you will judge all its inhabitants justly.

The heavens sing to you,
the earth celebrates you;
the seas resound with your praise,
and should all their teeming multitudes
join the trees of the forest
and the flowers of the field
in song to you,
it would be inadequate.

Let me always be heard among them, though,
singing your worth to all who may hear,
my LORD,
my God,
my righteous judge.

(The illustration is the initial C (Cantate Domino canticum novum; Sing unto the Lord a new canticle) of this psalm from the Macclesfield Psalter, produced in England, ca. 1330)

The Last of Five Hundred Thanks

Oh, my Lord,
when I am finished with this prayer, I will have given you five hundred thanks in the past five days, and yet I confess I have not even begun to thank you. You have been so very loving and kind to me, so longsuffering and so gracious, that five hundred times five hundred thanks would not exhaust all that you have done for me.

Thank you for the infinite variety of your Creation,
thank you for hanging stars and planets in space
and painting clouds on the sky.
Thank you for lobsters
and crabs
and dolphins
and whales
and grouper
and crappy
and trout
and worms
and grasshoppers
and butterflies
and cardinals
and red-tailed hawks
and gazelles
and mule deer
and alpacas
and bananas
and savannahs,
and Saharas and so much more.
Thank you for all the varieties of rice,
and various kinds of corn,
and potatoes
and sweet potatoes
and cucumbers
and squash
and cherries
and grapes.
Thank you that I have been privileged to visit the Grand Canyon
and the Sedona
and Mount Zion
and the Sea of Galilee
and Cape Cod
and Mackinac
and Machu Pichu
and Westminster Abbey
and the Smithsonian
and Niagara Falls and so much more.
Thank you that I survived high school!
Thank you that for my college degrees.
Thank you for the School for Officers Training.
Thank you for Dr. Beeners
and Colonel Rader
and Brigadier Ditmer
and so many, many others.
Thank you for considering me faithful, appointing me to your service (1 Tim. 1:12).
Thank you for sending me and Robin to Lancaster.
Thank you for sending us to Cincinnati Temple,
then to National Headquarters,
and then to Youngstown.
Thank you for our year at Bunker Hill Haven,
and for the ten years I spent writing full time.
Thank you for the privilege of partnering with the Holzworths and Lillibridges and others to start Cobblestone.
Thank you for those who were there at the beginning.
Thank you for those who remain to this day.
Thank you for those who have joined that wonderful family along the way.
Thank you for those who will soon enlist in the mission.
Thank you for the many servants who tirelessly keep the ministry going.
Thank you for my awesome fellow staff members.
Thank you for my godly leadership team.
Thank you for the people I’ve had the privilege of teaching in writers’ conferences,
thank you for the friends I’ve made in that ministry,
thank you for the fine people of Nelson/Word,
and Tyndale House,
and Christian Publications,
and Broadman & Holman,
and Howard Books.
Thank you for Dave Bellis,
and Steve Laube, and their help over the years.
Thank you for the many magazines I’ve been blessed to write for.
Thank you for the places I’ve spoken, from Nova Scotia
to Seattle
and points in between.
Thank you for the grace you give me to pray,
and to read my Bible.
Thank you for patiently helping me to become the man you want me to be.
Thank you that I’ve never missed a meal out of poverty,
thank you that I have never broken a bone except the one in my nose,
and thank you that I have so few scars.
Thank you for the things I’ve learned from faithful friends
and from unfaithful friends.
Thank you for the baptisms.
Thank you for the weddings.
Thank you even for the funerals, for it’s a great privilege to grieve with those who grieve.
Thank you that I learned how to read music and play an instrument.
Thank you for all the softball games I’ve played.
Thank you for the many miles of hiking I’ve enjoyed.
Thank you for the Reds’ games I’ve attended,
the Bengals game,
the Redskins’ and Redhawks games,
the circus,
the fairs,
the theatrical productions (especially Les Miserables),
the concerts,
and the many picnics at Brookdale Park with Robin and the kids.
Thank you for giving me my dream woman to marry,
and fulfilling my every hope in her
and in my children
and in their spouses,
and in their children,
in Jesus’ name, amen.

And Still 100 More Thanks

Lord God, Abba,
thank you for creating us male and female,
thank you for ocelots,
and pandas,
and hummingbirds,
and otters,
and puppies,
and blowfish,
and chameleons,
and daddy long legs,
and chipmunks,
and all the wonders of your amazing animal creation.
Thank you for my reasonably healthy teeth,
for my reasonably sharp mind,
for my reasonably good eyesight,
and my reasonably good education.
Thank you for freckles,
thank you for fingernails and toenails,
thank you for eyebrows and eyelashes.
Thank you that I didn’t get everything I wanted growing up.
Thank you that I don’t have everything I could want now.
Thank you that my parents gave me such a good example,
of being faithful to a church,
of giving to others,
of helping others,
of working hard,
of living simply,
and laughing often.
Thank you for foster parents,
and for people who adopt children.
Thank you for people who sponsor children.
Thank you for Juan Miguel, our sponsored child in Peru.
Thank you for air travel,
for the interstate highway system,
for speedometers,
for gasoline,
for gas stations,
for oil companies,
for medical technology,
for pharmaceutical companies,
and pharmacists,
for photography and cameras and pictures.
Thank you that my wife is such a great mom,
that Aaron and Nina are such great parents,
that Aubrey and Kevin are such a loving aunt and uncle to Miles and Mia.
Thank you for meatloaf.
Thank you that I have a wife I can trust,
a mechanic I can trust,
a plumber I can trust,
and friends who own pickups.
Thank you that I’ve never been on America’s Most Wanted or Maury.
Thank you that I’ve never spent a moment in jail,
thank you that my children never ran away,
thank you that my home has never burnt down.
Thank you for my earliest pastors and mentors,
from Mr. and Mrs. Reed
to Major and Mrs. Weyant
and Major and Mrs. Schramm,
and Major and Mrs. Bender,
and George Krider,
and Norm Murdoch,
to Captain and Mrs. Wright, who became my in-laws.
Thank you that I was a virgin when I married,
and that my wife was, too.
Thank you for summers at Camp Swoneky in the 70s,
and for the mischief they saved me from.
Thank you for horses.
Thank you for the Smoky Mountains.
Thank you for checks that come in the mail,
thank you for direct deposit,
thank you for free checking,
and thank you for compound interest.
Thank you for our washer
and dryer.
Thank you for our sump pump.
Thank you for our shower.
Thank you that honesty still exists in this world,
and decency,
and faith.
Thank you for fireworks in July
and pumpkin pie in the Fall
and carols in December.
Thank you for place names like Kinnikinnick
and Hoboken
and Rabbit Hash.
Thank you for the privilege that is mine of marrying people,
and praying with people,
and teaching people,
and counseling people.
Thank you for the times I could have been falsely accused, and wasn’t.
Thank you for the times I could have been rightly accused, and wasn’t.
Thank you for the many things I don’t have to own to enjoy.
Thank you for the kindnesses I have enjoyed over the years,
from the cabin of my friends Jim and Annie,
to the loan of a book from Brad.
Thank you that I’ve never had to fire a gun.
Thank you that I’ve never punched anyone.
Thank you that I’ve never been drunk or high.
Thank you that I can’t recall a moment of not knowing you,
of not being confident that you exist,
and that you love me.

100 Yet More Thanks

Lord God, Adonai,
thank you for your presence in my life.
Thank you that you never leave me.
Thank you that you always hear me.
Thank you for my fifty-one years of life (so far),
thank you that more than thirty-five of them have been with Robin,
thank you that I’ve known nearly twenty-eight years of pride in Aubrey,
and thank you that I’ve had over twenty-six years of joy in Aaron.
Thank you for creating laughter,
thank you for giving me and mine a sense of humor,
thank you for giving me a sense of place,
thank you for having made Cincinnati my home fifty years ago,
thank you for a family name to be proud of,
and for coming generations to be so optimistic about.
Thank you for my memories of my mother,
thank you for my father’s long life,
thank you for my mother-in-law and father-in-law,
thank you for the fine schools I have attended,
thank you for the classes I have taken,
thank you for Shakespeare,
thank you for Dickens,
and Twain,
and Faulkner,
and Austen,
and Chesterton,
and C. S. Lewis.
Thank you for earphones.
Thank you for “Clare de Lune”
and “Mood Indigo”
and “Brick House”
and “Tupelo Honey.”
Thank you that I’m not in eighth grade anymore, or ninth grade or seventh—among others!
Thank you that I can sit upright.
Thank you that I can stand.
Thank you that I can keep food down
and my pants up.
Thank you that nothing (other than my belly) is swollen.
Thank you for freedom from pain in my joints,
thank you for freedom from toothache,
and kidney stone,
and migraine,
and respiratory infection,
and a hundred other things that could be wrong with me, but aren’t right now.
Thank you for servers in restaurants,
thank you for ushers in church,
and ticket takers in theaters,
and cashiers in stores,
street sweepers,
mail carriers,
professional counselors,
computer experts,
publishers and editors,
doctors and nurses,
and this nation’s soldiers wherever they serve.
Thank you for yard sales and auctions,
thank you for thrift stores,
thank you for fountain pens,
thank you for walking sticks,
thank you for trails in the forest,
mountain streams,
split rail fences,
sandy beaches,
and the way a leaf curls skyward when it’s about to rain.
Thank you for bookmarks,
thank you for moleskine notebooks,
thank you for words,
thank you for language,
thank you for writing,
thank you for sentences and paragraphs,
thank you for the way my wife laughs,
thank you for baby Mia’s first tooth,
thank you for baby Sawyer’s safe arrival,
thank you for my unborn granddaughter Calleigh’s “ninjy” kicks and “judy” chops.
Thank you for artists,
thank you for musicians,
for songwriters,
for booksellers,
and bookbuyers.
Thank you for blue jeans,
and shorts,
and sandals,
and pockets.
Thank you that I don’t have to listen to rap,
thank you that I don’t have to commute,
thank you that I don’t have to eat my vegetables,
thank you that I don’t have to go to bed without dessert.
Thank you for my hand-eye coordination,
and for my bladder control.
Thank you that I can walk,
that I can run,
that I can leap,
that I can balance,
that I can bend over,
that I can sing,
that I can smile,
that I can pray.

100 More Thanks

Abba, God, my Father,
thank you for this day,
thank you for every ray of sunshine you give me to enjoy,
thank you for this mild summer,
thank you for the coming Fall,
thank you for weddings,
for marriage,
for my marriage,
for sex in marriage!
Thank you for my marriage bed,
thank you for clean sheets,
thank you for my pillow,
thank you for my peaceful bedroom,
thank you for the blessing of sleeping next to the lovely Robin,
thank you that there are no sounds of gunshots out my window,
thank you for the absence of screeching tire sounds,
thank you that there are no truck airbrakes to keep me awake.
Thank you for a house free from bugs,
thank you for a dry basement,
thank you for a quiet street to live on,
and a roof that doesn’t leak.
Thank you for iTunes,
thank you for high-speed internet access,
thank you for wireless internet access,
thank you for XM Radio,
thank you for Pandora,
thank you for Blogger,
thank you for Facebook,
thank you for Twitter,
thank you for Gmail,
thank you for iCal,
and iPhoto
and my iPhone.
Thank you for hearing me when I pray,
thank you for holding me when I cry,
thank you for pursuing me when I stray,
thank you for loving me every single day.
Thank you that you loved me first,
thank you for loving me before I loved you,
thank you for loving me before I woke this morning,
thank you for loving me far beyond my capacity to love you back.
Thank you that my bills are paid,
thank you that there’s a little money in my bank accounts,
thank you for my credit score,
thank you for my health insurance,
thank you for my life insurance,
and every investment you’ve empowered me to make.
Thank you for a job that challenges me,
a church that loves me,
friends that sharpen me,
a family that does me proud.
Thank you that my parents taught me to be faithful to a church,
thank you that my brothers didn’t kill me before I grew up,
thank you that I’ve grown up enough to love being a kid.
Thank you for our dishwasher,
thank you for our vacuum cleaner,
thank you for our refrigerator and stove and sink,
thank you for working toilets,
thank you for weekly trash pickup.
Thank you for freedom of speech,
freedom of religion,
the right to vote.
Thank you for freedom from sin,
thank you for freedom from legalism,
thank you for my liberty in Christ,
thank you for my assurance of salvation,
thank you for the Psalms,
thank you for the Proverbs,
thank you for the Law and the Prophets,
thank you for the Writings,
thank you for the Gospels,
thank you for the Acts and the Epistles,
thank you for The Revelation.
Thank you for moving in my life,
and teaching me something new every day.
Thank you for inventors and their inventions,
for phones,
for movies,
for electric lights,
for cars,
for television and radio,
for clocks and timers and alarms and stopwatches.
Thank you for ice,
thank you for closets,
thank you for porches,
thank you for shade,
thank you for sweet tea.
Thank you for people who know when to speak and when to refrain from speaking,
thank you for people who know the worst of me but speak only the best,
thank you for people who wave me ahead of them in traffic,
thank you for people who wave back when I wave at them.
Thank you for sweet rolls,
thank you for coffee,
thank you for steak,
thank you for potatoes with butter
and glazed donuts.
Thank you for the joy of watching my grandson eat ice cream,
thank you for the blessing of seeing my granddaughter’s smile.
Thank you for date nights with my wife,
thank you for family time with my family,
and times of communion with you,
in Jesus' name, amen.

100 Thanks

God, thank you for this day,
thank you for my salvation,
thank you for my life,
thank you for my health,
thank you for my lovely wife,
thank you for my daughter Aubrey,
thank you for my son Aaron,
thank you for my daughter-in-law Nina,
thank you for my son-in-law Kevin,
thank you for my grandson Miles,
thank you for my granddaughter,
thank you for my soon-to-be-born granddaughter Calleigh,
thank you for your Word,
thank you for your Church,
thank you for the churches I grew up in,
thank you for my coworkers in the Gospel,
thank you for my sight,
thank you for my hearing,
thank you for my sense of smell,
thank you for my sense of taste,
thank you for my sense of touch,
thank you for books,
thank you for my ministry,
thank you for the privilege of preaching,
thank you for the way you’ve enlarged my faith,
thank you for your mercy and grace toward me,
thank you that you have never forsaken me,
thank you for the parents I was born to,
thank you for the brothers you gave me,
thank you for prayer,
thank you for worship,
thank you for my Journey Group,
thank you for the flock I’m a part of at Cobblestone,
thank you for music,
for the ability to sing,
for the strength to get out of bed in the morning,
for the peace to sleep at night,
for the safety and comfort of my home,
for the cars in my garage,
for the safety and good repair of the streets I drive on,
for the many friends of mine who have stayed faithful,
for the heritage of faith passed down in my family,
for the training in righteousness I received as a child,
for the teachers who have taught me over the years,
for the doctors who have helped me,
for the nurses who have waited on me,
for my counselors,
for pharmaceutical companies and their products,
for grocery stores and their products,
for restaurants and their products,
for publishers and their products,
for computers,
for the internet,
for the ability to type,
the ability to read,
the ability to think,
the ability to feel,
the ability to receive and give love,
the ability to lift my grandchildren into my arms,
thank you for the unifying influence of the Spirit,
thank you for your discipline,
thank you for teaching me,
for correcting me,
for speaking to me,
for calling me,
for gifting me,
for being so very patient with me.
Thank you for planes that bring friends closer,
for compliments I have received,
for your comfort in times of sadness,
your stamina in times of despair,
your energy and industry through times of challenge,
for words “fitly spoken” when I needed them.
Thank you that I get to see my children and grandchildren often,
thank you that there are clothes in my closet,
food in my fridge,
water in my pipes,
strength in my bones,
and hair on my head.
Thank you for eyeglasses,
thank you for air conditioning,
thank you for my furnace,
thank you for reliable utilities,
thank you for a safe place to live.
Thank you for art,
thank you for beauty,
thank you for courage,
thank you for faith.
Thank you for The Loft,
thank you for Camp Swoneky,
thank you for the Abbey of Gethsemani,
thank you for the classes I’ve attended,
thank you for the conferences and seminars I’ve learned from,
thank you for the authors who enrich me,
thank you for the preachers who pastor me,
thank you for the saints who tolerate me,
thank you for the broken roads I’ve traveled,
thank you for the mountains and the valleys,
thank you for every victory and defeat,
thank you for the grace to thank you,
in Jesus’ name, amen.

Lord, You Have My Heart

Lord, you have my heart,
And I will search for yours.
Jesus, take my life and lead me on.

Lord, you have my heart,
And I will search for yours.
Let me be to you a sacrifice.

And I will praise you, Lord.
And I will sing of love come down.
And as you show your face,
We'll see your glory here.

(From a song written by Martin Smith ©1994 Curious? Music UK).

No Good Reason

Lord God, there is NO good reason not to praise you today!!!

God of Almighty Love

God of almighty love,
By whose sufficient grace
I lift my heart to things above,
And humbly seek your face.

Through Jesus Christ the Just,
My best desires receive;
And let me in your goodness trust,
And to your glory live.

Whate'er I say or do,
Your glory be my aim;
My offerings all be offered through
The ever-blessed name!

Jesus, my single eye
Be fixed on you alone:
Your name be praised on earth, on high;
Your will by me be done!

Spirit of faith, inspire
My consecrated heart;
Fill me with pure, celestial fire,
With all you have and are.

(A hymn by Charles Wesley, slightly revised and updated)

A Prayer of Ambrose, Slightly Revised

Lord Jesus, I follow you,
but I can only come
at your bidding.
No one can make the ascent
without you,
for you are my way,
my truth,
my life, my strength,
my confidence,
my reward.
Be the way that receives me,
the truth that strengthens me,
the life that invigorates me.

Prayer from Words by Martin Luther

One of the most amazing things about you, God,
is the way you redefined reality with words.
You looked into chaos and spoke the hopeful words of creation.
You looked into the chaos of my sin and declared me righteous in Christ.
By speaking those words, coupled with my belief in them,
you reconstituted my reality.
If you had declared me lost you would have spoken truth,
but you spoke a greater truth by recreating me with your words.

Others might tell me I am
a failure, an idiot, a clown, evil, incompetent, vicious, dangerous, pathetic etc.,
and these words are not just descriptive:
they have a certain power to make me these things,
in the eyes of others and even in my own eyes,
as self-doubt creeps in and the Devil whispers in my ear.

But you speak louder, and your word is more powerful.
Others may call me a liar, and they speak truth, for I have lied;
but since you declare me righteous,
then my lies and their insult are not the final word,
nor the most powerful word.
I have peace in my soul because your word is real reality.
That’s why I need to read the Bible each day,
and hear the word preached each week,
and come to you in prayer,
and hear words of grace from other brothers and sisters
as I seek to speak the same to them.
Only as you speaks your word to me,
and as I hear that word in faith,
is my reality transformed,
and only then do the insults of others,
of my own sinful nature,
and of the evil one himself,
cease to constitute my reality.
The words of my enemies, external and internal,
might be powerful for a moment,
like a firework exploding against the night sky;
but the Word of the Lord is stronger, brighter, and lasts forever.

(paraphrased into a prayer from the writings of Martin Luther)

For Those Who Are Persecuted

Grant, O Lord, to your servants and followers who are persecuted for righteousness' sake that their conversation may be as becomes the gospel of Christ; that they may stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; that terrified in nothing by their adversaries they may be bold in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him but also to suffer for his sake, who lives and reigns, ever one God, world without end, Amen.

My Psalm 95

I sing for joy to you, LORD;
I shout aloud to you, the Rock of my salvation,
the foundation of all my joys,
the only source of any righteousness I have.

I come to you this morning with thanksgiving
and sing your praises from my heart.

For you, LORD are the great God,
the great King above all gods.

You hold the Mariana Trench in your hand,
and balance the peak of Everest on your fingertip.

The whole sea is your plaything, for you made it,
just like you made the continents of the earth.

I bow before you;
I bend the knee,
I press my face to the ground in worship,
for you are the LORD my Maker;

you are my God
and I am your wayward lamb,
one of the flock under your care.

I hear you, Shepherd King.
I hear your voice.
Though I have strayed from you many times,
I am not straying now.
I crave your favor,
your touch,
your rest.

Come anew to my heart, Lord Jesus,
there is room in my heart for Thee.

Thee Will I Love

THEE will I love, my strength, my tower,
Thee will I love, my joy, my crown;
Thee will I love with all my power,
In all thy works, and thee alone;
Thee will I love, till the pure fire
Fill my whole soul with chaste desire.

I thank thee, uncreated Sun,
That thy bright beams on me have shined;
I thank thee, who hast overthrown My foes,
and healed my wounded mind;
I thank thee, whose enlivening voice
Bids my freed heart in thee rejoice.

Uphold me in the doubtful race,
Nor suffer me again to stray;
Strengthen my feet with steady pace
Still to press forward in thy way;
My soul and flesh, O Lord of might,
Fill, satiate, with thy heavenly light.

Give to mine eyes refreshing tears,
Give to my heart chaste, hallowed fires,
Give to my soul, with filial fears,
The love that all heaven's host inspires;
That all my powers, with all their might,
In thy sole glory may unite.

Thee will I love, my joy, my crown,
Thee will I love, my Lord, my God;
Thee will I love, beneath thy frown,
Or smile, thy sceptre, or thy rod;
What though my flesh and heart decay?
Thee shall I love in endless day!

(from a hymn by Johann Scheffler, translated by John Wesley)

My Psalm 94

O LORD, my God,
God who avenges,
shine your light.

Stand up, Judge of all the earth;
and give the proud
what they deserve.

I'm so tired of seeing the wicked
have their fun
and wreak their havoc
while so many good people
suffer at their hands.

They make evil assumptions,
spread rumors,
tell lies,
and never once reflect on their own arrogance
and spitefulness.

They enrage me
and they crush your people, LORD,
and hamstring the church.

They don't stop to think that you see--
and why should they,
for it looks for all the world
like you intend to let them get away with it all.

Give me patience
to wait for you
and trust your justice
and your timing.

You formed the ear; you hear everything.
You fashioned the eye; you see all.
You discipline whole nations,
and you are adequate to teach puny haters
a lesson.

You know the thoughts of man, LORD.
You know that they are futile.

Let me be the man you discipline, O LORD,
let me be the man you teach from your law;
grant me relief from the machinations of petty people,
and surround your people with protection.

LORD, I know you will not reject your people;
you will not forsake the flock
nor let them be ravaged by wolves in sheeps' clothing.

You yourself will rise up against the wicked.
You yourself will stand against evildoers.

How many times would I have been lost
if you, LORD, had not given me help?
How many times, when my foot was slipping,
did your loving hand reach out to me and find me
and lift me to safety?

When depression dragged me down,
your consolation brought joy to my soul.

I entrust to you
all those who band together against the righteous
and condemn your redeemed.

You are my fortress,
and the rock that shelters me from harm.
I trust you to save me
and your flock
from all who seek our destruction,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Streams Upon Streams

Giver of All Good, streams upon streams of love overflow my path.
Thou hast made me out of nothing,
hast recalled me from a far country,
hast translated me from ignorance to knowledge,
from darkness to light,
from death to life,
from misery to peace,
from folly to wisdom,
from error to truth,
from sin to victory.

Thanks be to thee for my high and holy calling.
I bless thee for ministering angels,
for the comfort of thy Word,
for the ordinances of thy church,
for the teaching of thy Spirit,
for thy holy sacraments,
for the communion of saints,
for Christian fellowship,
for the recorded annals of holy lives,
for examples sweet to allure,
for beacons sad to deter.

Thy will is in all thy provisions
to enable me to grow in grace,
and to be meet for thy eternal presence.

My heaven-born faith gives promise of eternal sight,
my new birth a pledge of never-ending life.
I draw near to thee, knowing thou wilt draw near to me.

I ask of thee, believing thou hast already given.
I entrust myself to thee, for thou hast redeemed me.
I bless and adore thee, the eternal God,
for the comfort of these thoughts,
the joy of these hopes.

(from The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers, edited by Arthur Bennett)

My Psalm 93

You reign, LORD!
Your very robes are majesty,
lined with power and might!

You laid the foundations of the world
and it cannot be moved.

Your throne is ancient,
and you are everlasting.

The seas roar with your praise,
their mighty waves thunder applause.
But you, LORD, are mightier still,
mightier than their crashing waves.

Your statutes are like pillars,
your holiness like a beautifully decorated frieze
adorning your house


Empty Me

Empty me of the selfishness inside,
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride,
And any foolish thing my heart holds to,
Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with you.

Cause everything is a lesser thing,
Compared to you, compared to you.
Cause everything is a lesser thing,
Compared to you. So, I surrender all!

Empty me of the selfishness inside,
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride.
Empty me of the selfishness inside,
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride,
And any foolish thing my heart holds to.
Lord empty me of me so I can be,
Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with you.
Oh, filled with you.
Empty me.

(From the song, Empty Me, by Chris Sligh)