Hello Boldness, Goodbye Discontent

30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31  proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. – Acts 28:30-31 (ESV)

The book of Acts has no Hollywood ending.  The apostle Paul doesn’t mount his trusty steed and ride off into the sunset.  Rather, Luke ends his history of the early church rather abruptly.  I say “abruptly” because we know Paul had about another five years after this point to minister before his execution during the reign of Nero.  During these years Paul wrote his pastoral letters to Timothy and Titus.  If tradition is correct, this would have been the period when the apostle traveled to Spain (although no mention of such a trip is made in Scripture).

But Luke ends his account in a manner most befitting of the self-proclaimed least worthy apostle .  If Paul was nothing else, he was bold.  He understood what it meant to stand strong in Christ.  He knew the Lord was with him always.

And he understood all too well that physical circumstances were no indicator of the presence of the Lord:

11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV)

Paul’s boldness was hard earned.  In 2 Corinthians 11:23-29, he lists the painful hardships he had endured for the sake of the Gospel:

24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27  in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. – 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 (ESV)

I find it remarkable that this man did not merely withstand such hardship.  He thrived in it!

How?  Here is the key:

9 (Jesus) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)

Boldness is not a matter of puffing ourselves up and acting strong.  When we live in our own strength alone, we are like a straw house that seems sturdy, until a strong wind blows us over.  The key is to seek the Lord first, be content with His grace (as opposed to our circumstances), and humbly realize that any true strength we have is from God, Who amply supplies for our every need.

It is the grace of God that enabled Paul to not only survive, but thrive through otherwise unbearable situations.  Any one of the hardships Paul recounts to the Corinthians would be enough to derail even the heartiest of Christians (at least those of us who live in considerable ease in the western world).

But, by God’s grace, Paul soldiered on.

And, by the end of Acts, we see Paul imprisoned.  Not manacled to a wall or in chains, but living alone with a guard, supporting himself without having a job or source of income, receiving guests and proclaiming the Gospel.

The simple truth is that discontent saps us of God’s power, because it draws our attention inward, not upward.  I wonder what Paul would say if he saw my reaction when I can’t connect to the coffee shop’s wireless Internet, or when I am cheated out of the pickle that is missing from my Super Bacon Wacky Burger Deluxe.  With cheese.  (Actually, that may be God’s way of telling me to lay off the Wacky Burgers.)

When we refuse to be discontented by the discomforts of this life, or overly enchanted with the trappings of this world, and focus instead on God’s will and path and purpose, we find the boldness and strength through the grace of God to be joyful anyway.  The hardships of this life are a fleeting instant when compared to greatness of our Lord Jesus and the wonder of God’s great plan.

Keep your eyes on the purpose and prize of Christ!  Be bold in Him, and refuse to be discontent.

Not Hopeless

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for theLord shall renew their strength;they shall mount up with wings like eagles;they shall run and not be weary;they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:28-31 (ESV)

You are not hopeless.

Your situation is not hopeless.

Your life is not hopeless.

Your circumstances are not hopeless.

Now, here comes the caveat, the big “but”… Nothing is hopeless if your hope is in the right place.

Your hope is deeply rooted in your desires – your needs (perceived and real) and wants.  Some hope for a different station in life.  Some hope for change.  Some hope for a new job.  Some hope for children.  Some simply hope for the pain to go away.

None of these are bad things to hope for.  But, there is one overarching hope that needs to come first.

4  Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. 6  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. 7  Be still before theLord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,over the man who carries out evil devices! – Psalms 37:4-7 (ESV)

Look at verse four.  The message is not that God will give us whatever we want.  Rather, when we seek God – when our hope is in Him – He changes our heart’s desires.  We begin to see things differently, more clearly.  We see that all is not lost.  We see that God has a far larger, greater plan, and our lives are but a very small part thereof.

I write this message today with a heavy heart.  Not over one person or situation, but because so many people I know and love are hurting.  They are facing trials and heartaches and problems that seem insurmountable.  Some are grieving a loss unimaginable.  Others are worried about the outcome of the day ahead.  Some need stability, some need work.  Some need healing.  Some are simply hurting and worried and anxious about life.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12, ESV).  Today I want to ask you – and myself: where is your hope?  Is it in a surgeon’s scalpel?  Is it in your 401(k) or the hoped for benevolence of an employer?  Is it in circumstances that are beyond your control?

We have only one true hope: God and His great love, mercy and grace.  It is in adversity that we find God.  It is when we finally come to the conclusion that this life is fraught with danger and pain and an appalling lack of fairness that we begin to see just how lost and hopeless we are without Him.

But… all is not lost.  You are not hopeless.  Your life is not hopeless.  The Lord is with His children.  Always.  Through the hardships.  Through the moments of pain and loss.  Through the fearful and worrisome times.  Through the hurt.  Through the darkest of nights and the valley of death.

We were never promised ease or comfort.  But we have the promise of strength and joy and hope – immeasurable and overflowing – when we choose to trust God and put all our hope in Him.  He will never leave you, nor forsake you.  You have not been – and never will be – abandoned.  Take it on faith.  Despite how you feel, God is with you.  His grace goes with you.  His love for you is beyond compare.

Seek Him first.  Latch onto God’s Word, even if it makes no sense or just doesn’t resonate in your heart. Don’t look at the storm.  Don’t stare at the waves.  Look to Jesus.  Focus on God and take Him at His word.  Rest in the Lord.  Find His peace.  He is our hope.

The Thornbush Harvest

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?” – Luke 6:46 (ESV)

It’s a more than fair question, and more than worthy of our consideration. It lies at the heart of what is in our hearts.  It speaks to how much we have continued to conform to the patterns of this world, and how much we have been transformed by God and His Word.  After all, if we are not following Him, seeking His kingdom first in all things, our transformation will be limited.

In the verses immediately prior to the above passage, we see this is part of a larger teaching about how to discern (as opposed to judging), and the clarity required to clearly suss out the truth about another person or situation.  We have a huge, sinful log in our own eyes that blinds us from the ability to see the reality behind the surface.

We see rightly when we view the fruit being born from a person, or ministry, or business, or community… When you see the tree for the fruit it bears, you can discern accurately.  Grapes don’t grow on thorn bushes.

I find it interesting to clear the editor’s subtitles away and read Scripture as it was intended: a cohesive whole, flowing and orderly, not chopped up into bite-size passages.  In doing so – in reading the narrative as a whole – we find something quite interesting.  Jesus says (as recorded in Luke 6:45), “…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  Then, immediately following, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?”

I imagine Jesus pausing – a Selah moment – between those two sentences.  He doesn’t expect an out-loud verbal answer.  He doesn’t need one.  He already knows.

What Jesus is doing is putting in motion the thought processes of the listener.  In the moments of intimacy, in conversation, in discussion… When we are at our most honest, our most authentic, being real… what flows out of our mouths?  Does what we say mesh with what we do?  More importantly, does why we say what we say mesh with why we do what we do?

If what we claim to be Christians, we need to back up our words with right action.  It doesn’t mean we are perfect, or that we expect perfection from others.  It doesn’t mean we try to present ourselves anything we are not, and we are nothing without Christ.  We are imperfect, filthy sinners, given a gift of salvation – a second chance (or third, or fifth, or one-hundredth) to be set right by Our Lord and Savior.  We should be humble, not haughty.  Justified, but imperfect (our perfecting being a lifelong process called sanctification).  Utterly unworthy yet wholly (and holy) redeemed.  A vessel for filling.  A lump of clay for forming.  A slave to freedom and righteousness.

What we say and do need to line up, as do the reasons therefore.  If we call Jesus our Lord, we need to be following His example, seeking His will, submitting to Him with our whole hearts, trusting Him in all things.  It is in doing so that we find our house to be a well-founded structure, able to withstand the storms that rage against us.

Frankly…

The Bouville Diarist has a new addition to the website.  It’s called “Frankly…” because, frankly, there are things I feel God has put on my heart that don’t necessarily fit the mold of the Bouville Diarist posts.

Frankly, I want this to be the place to get more personal, dig a bit deeper, take a step or two off the usual mark and run with it.

Frankly, it will be a bit freer.

Frankly, it is more like a letter than a proper article.  (As if every Bouville Diarist piece were a proper article.)

And, frankly, when people write letters, they like responses.

So, can we be frank here?  I want to invite you to visit The Bouville Diarist, read the articles on the main page, and click on the tab up top labeled “Frankly…”  Comments and dialogue are not only welcome, but hoped for.

The goal is still the same: finding peace, comfort, joy and purpose by seeking God first in all things and integrating the realities of Christ with the “realities” of life.  It’s just that, on this page, we’re a bit more… well… frank about it.

Transformitive Humility

6  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11  To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5:6-11 (ESV)

Tonight has been a night of prayer and preparation, seeking and expecting, letting go and looking up.  And, as I studied God’s Word tonight, one word in 1 Peter 5 stuck firmly in my mind: humble.  The act / art of lowering one’s attitude toward themselves, to “not… think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Romans 12:3, ESV).

Peter tells us to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand.  In other words, we are to submit to God and His will.

And stay submitted.

Just before Paul warns us against thinking too highly of ourselves, he tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2, ESV).  If we want to be transformed in our thinking – truly changed from the inside out – we have to start with humility.

Humility lets go.  When our thoughts are Godward, anxiety isn’t an issue.  Worry evaporates.  Troubles shrink.  This is because being humble requires faith.  Faith that God is in control.  Faith that He knows every circumstance that will come our way, every stone to stub our toe, every obstacle in our path.

We have to humbly trust that God knows what He is doing in our lives.  If we feel stuck in a painful circumstance, perhaps there is a lesson to be learned, or another person we are to help.  Any way we look at it, there are no accidents.  We are where we are, when we are and why we are because of God’s purposes.

And when we stay focused on ourselves… well, that just isn’t what God has in mind for us.  We are called to love, to put others first and above ourselves.  We are instructed to cast our cares to God and trust that He has it all under control.

We are to be sober-minded.  Not anxious or fearful, but calm and faithful, filled with joy and peace, resting in the Lord.  Humbly.  In faith.  It is humble firmness in faith that sends the enemy running.

Humility helps us focus where we ought, by focusing our efforts in the right place: Godward.

Be transformed.  I like that.  I pray that for us all.

Back to the Old House

The old house on Billtown Road, where I lived for the first five years of my life, still looks the same as I remember it all those years ago.  The front porch – where my dad stood with me during rainstorms to show me I had no reason to fear thunder – is still there.  The door to the basement, the only defense my brother and I had against the evil, demented monkey that lived down there, is probably still standing. The kitchen must look different from 1970, when I used to watch fuzzy black-and-white images of Sesame Street from a distant public television station while Mom did dishes.

When I’m back home, I like to drive past the old house.  I slow down and quickly soak in the memories.  But I don’t stop.  I can’t just walk in the place.  I can’t shimmy through the bathroom window where dad once lowered me onto the toilet when we were locked out of the house.  And, even if I could, I certainly wouldn’t go down in that basement.

You see, it isn’t my home anymore.  Walking in the door is no longer coming home.  It is now breaking and entering.  Besides, even if I could just walk into the old house, it would feel… well, weird.  It is someone else’s home now.  None of my stuff is there.  And I certainly can’t go next door and go tadpoling with friend Jimmy.  He, too, is grown up and gone.  As is his old house.

And, besides, I’m not five years old anymore.  I have grown considerably since my tadpole catching days.

There are times when it feels good to look back at the past and remember.  It warms the heart to talk with family and friends and reminisce about the old days.  But, there are also times past that are less enjoyable to revisit.  Times of sorrow and loss, of shame and embarrassment, of pain and harshness.

Either way, whether good or bad, the past is gone.  The old house is just the shell where you spent those days.  Just as, one day, our bodies will be no more than the shells where we spent our earthly days.

The apostle Paul certainly had a past.  He used to terrorize Christians.  This man who wrote roughly one-third of the text of the New Testament (or half of the books thereof) was at the very least an accomplice in the stoning of Stephen.  Yet the Lord got ahold of Saul, and made a change in him so thorough and complete and amazing that his very identity changed (Saul becoming Paul).  And Jesus righted the wrong path of his past.  Saul’s sins were forgiven; Paul’s new path in Christ was set.

And Paul was not about to let the past drag him back:

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. – Philippians 3:12-16 (ESV)

The past is gone.  You can do nothing about it.  The future is not guaranteed to any of us.  Not on this earth.  While we have the promise of eternity with God in Heaven, in this life all we have is now.  This very instant.  This moment.

What are you going to do with this moment?  Will you waste it on a past that is no longer there?  Or will you press on in Christ, realizing that you are His, and free from the tentacles of days gone by?  Don’t bother fretting about – or pining for – what was.  Don’t look back.  Keep your focus joyously on Christ, and on the road ahead.

Besides, most monkeys don’t live past thirty or forty years.  That menacing primate in the basement is probably long dead by now.

The Butterfly Effect

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. – Romans 5:18-19 (ESV)

The theory goes like this: a butterfly in Indiana is doing what any butterfly does.  He is flapping his wings.  However, the butterfly is doing his fluttering at the precise place and time that the waves he creates move through the air and grow until they become a hurricane over the Atlantic.

Ridiculous, right?  It is hard to look at the destruction left behind by one of these storms and say, “A butterfly did this.”  And yet, there is a kernel of truth in all of this.

It is quite clear that everything we do, everything we say, effects the people around us in some way or another.  We joke, people laugh (or, in my case, they usually moan).  We yell, people respond negatively.

But, that effect goes farther than our immediate audience.  Each person we encounter, every life we touch, is impacted.  Something as seemingly small as a kind word of affirmation can make a change in another.  Think about it.  You can be talking with a co-worker, or friend or family member, who is facing a difficult situation.  You may have just the right words, or actions, and just the right time and place to inspire that individual, giving them new found strength or joy or whatever that person needs.  They, in turn, may do the same for someone else.  And so on and so forth…

Some may call it the Butterfly Effect.  I call it the work of God through His people.

When we follow God’s lead and do as He commands us – that is, to love one another – we unleash the power to impact people, to change lives, to show others that love is the more excellent way.  Love can bring hope to one who sees no hope, warmth to those who feel no warmth.  And, in turn, inspire them to do the same.

What we do, what we say, may seem like small, insignificant acts.  But, whether we realize it or not, with every interaction we are investing in others and making an impact.  We are inspiring – for better or for worse – and affecting those around us.  Making a negative impact is easy.  Look at Adam: he didn’t plot to disobey God and eat the apple.  He fell in a weak moment.  And look at the effect we feel to this day, thousands of years later.

Now look at Jesus: everything He did was measured, purposeful, meaningful.  And look at the impact His love has on us today, some 2000 years later.  Indeed, both brought effects that are eternal: Adam introduced us to death, Jesus offers eternal life!

So, today, consider the impact you may have on the people around you.  Be deliberate in your words and actions.  Love others – even / especially those it is hard to love.  Each of us is influencing the people in our spheres of life.  A small event, forgettable in it’s seeming inconsequence, can cause a major effect.  What impact will you make today?

How to Get Your Neighbors Really Annoyed At You

…without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. – Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)

I have seen a lot of things in my life thus far.  (Most of them on television, but that still counts, right?)

I watched as man first walked on the moon.  (OK, I was two years old at the time, but my mom propped me up on the couch and had me watch as Neil Armstrong descended the ladder and step onto the powder of the lunar surface. Or the surface of the Nevada desert, as some believe.)

I saw the Soviet Union fall, and the Berlin Wall pulled down.

I saw Friends get renewed on prime time TV not once, not twice, but for ten seasons.  An entire decade!

One thing I have never seen: a man constructing a huge wooden ship in his landlocked front yard.

Noah’s ark was massive: 450 feet long (that’s one-and-a-half football fields, folks), 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.  My yard is about 10 foot square, with an anemic little tree plopped in the center.

Noah built this huge gopher wood vessel by hand.  Astounding, right?  Not as amazing as the fact that Noah built the ark not only because God told him to, but with plans God Himself revealed.

So, who was Noah?  What made him so great?  All we know is that Noah was a man who “found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8, KJV), a man of righteous integrity.  A rare find to be sure in a day so populated by such great evil that it made God sorry He had ever created man.

And Noah did what God said.  Despite how crazy it seemed.  No matter what the neighbors thought.  (I cannot imagine how freaked out my neighborhood association would get.  Or the city.  I wonder if Noah pulled a permit…)

All joking aside, I think about Noah’s great faith and then I compare it with my own.  Noah built a huge ship, by hand, following God’s instructions.  No engineers.  No power tools. No factory or rigging or power tools.  No dock.  Then he filled the thing with two of every animal (which begs the question: did Noah have a problem with unicorns and jackalopes?).  He did all this, facing what had to be the biggest case of peer pressure ever… (Of course, Noah – being the righteous man he was in such a profane and sinful time – was already the odd man out.)

Then I think about my faith.  I think of the much smaller things God asks of me that I do not do.  I wonder how many opportunities to be Noah pass me by – pass us by – because I am too uncomfortable, or too preoccupied, or too busy, or too lazy.  Could anything be more blessed than seeking the LORD, hearing His voice and heeding His instruction?  What if God said to me, “Build an ark.”  Would I say, “I think you have the wrong guy.  Bob Vila doesn’t live here.”  Or would I say, “Yes LORD.”

With faith, nothing God asks of us is impossible.  Our abilities pale in comparison to might of God working through His people.  Without faith…

Put That Down, Atlas

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. – Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. – Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)

Confession time: I am a control freak.  I overthink everything.  I need to know what the outcome of any action will be so I can weigh the possible pitfalls and calamities before I decide to proceed.  I’d probably be a great risk analyst for some insurance company.

There is great wisdom in counting the cost before moving forward.  However, it is important to understand this: we are not in control.  None of us decides the outcome of any endeavor in our lives.  Indeed, the results of our very lives themselves are wholly and entirely in the hands of God.

You have probably seen the sculpture of Atlas, the Greek mythological titan.  There he stands, straining to carry the entire world upon his shoulders.  An apt illustration of those of us who strive for perfection, or feel it is our job to be in control of everything.

What egos we have…

The lesson here is simple, but not always easy to apply.  We make our plans.  We do what we feel we ought.  But, when it comes to the outcome, we need to not worry.  We are called to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness – His will and His ways.  We are not called to worry about the end results.

The simple fact of the matter is none of us is Atlas.  The world will crush us beneath it’s immense weight.  We are human.  We make mistakes.  Calamities and actions outside of our “control” happen all the time.  It is impossible to know the outcome of our actions.

The only assurance we have in this world is God and His Word.  We are called to have faith, to trust the Lord.  And, in that trust, we find our rest.  Go, do your best.  Commit your work as if unto the Lord.  But, don’t try to carry the world on your shoulders.  That is just way too much for our pay grade.

Run (or Location is Everything)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. – Psalm 46:1-3 (KJV)

I keep scanning the real estate ads for just the right spot to run to: “Secluded cave, 500 sq. ft., wooded surroundings.  Close to home yet far from civilization.  Electric, water, high speed Internet.  Ideal hiding place to escape all that stress!”

I have yet to find such a listing.

There are days I just want to run.  Run away from the stress.  Run away from the doubt and worry.  Run away from myself and everyone else.

The problem with problems is that they are an inescapable fact of life on this earth.  “In this world, you will have trouble,” or so Jesus warned us.  But He didn’t stop there: “Take heart!  Be happy! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33).

When facing life’s obstacles, we are not supposed to run away from them.  The only running we are to do is to God.  In Him we find our shelter, our strength, our guidance – whatever equipping we need to face today and the challenges we face.

Paul, when hounded by “a messenger of Satan”, begged the Lord three times to rid him of this “thorn in my flesh”.  But Jesus did not remove the thorn.  He did not take away the problem.  “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV).

When we try to run from our problems and fears, all we do is make things worse.  We can take a vacation from them, perhaps.  But after a week on the beach, we return home to discover those problems are still there.  Perhaps the Lord is trying to tell us something.  Maybe, just maybe, He has a purpose for all those nagging troubles that keep plaguing us.

When you run, where are you going?  Are you trying to run away from the things that trouble you or cause you pain?  Or are you running to our Loving Heavenly Father for help?

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. – Psalm 121 (KJV)