Tuesday, July 31, 2007

joy and assurance

This is a nice follow up from yesterday.  I was impressed by the concluding thoughts in each of the chapters I read from 1 Corinthians:
1:21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us. ... 24 ... We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm.
2:14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ's triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?  17 You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ's authority, knowing that God is watching us.
It gives me great assurance to remember that God is closely watching me, and I think this assurance augments my joy.
Heavenly Father, thank you for watching me and taking care of me.  Thank you for allowing me to be a part of Christ's triumphal procession, and I pray that my life will be a sweet, life-giving perfume to many.  Lord, give me sincerity with Christ's authority, confidence that you are watching me, and much joy as I stand firm in the faith you are growing.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, July 30, 2007

victorious life in Christ

A Brother who recently moved to Dallas was back in town this morning, so we got together for coffee.  We had a very encouraging conversation about the Lord providing jobs for him and his wife, their involvement in their new church, and personal growth in Christ.  He is really praying that the Holy Spirit will reveal his spiritual gifts and show him how he fits and contributes to the body of Christ.  We also talked about how we have an enemy who is very real and intends to harm us, but "greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world!"  I praise God for the wonderful work He is doing in our lives; he leads us to a closer walk with Him and glorifies Himself through our lives.
This ties in well with what I read this morning in 1 Corinthians 15:
54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

   "Death is swallowed up in victory.
 55 O death, where is your victory?
      O death, where is your sting?"

 56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

This hope of resurrection and eternal life has practical consequences: we are empowered through Christ's death and resurrection to obey the Holy Spirit as He guides us to follow the will of the Father in a victorious, joyful life of grace and peace!  Hallelujah!!!
Heavenly Father, thank you for the atoning work of Christ Jesus that justifies me before your awesome wrath and sanctifies me to a holy work for your glory!  Lord, I praise You for your wonderful, supreme plan of mercy and grace.  I thank you for allowing me to be a part of your Kingdom.  Lord, I pray that you will humble me as I obey the Spirit and You show me how I fit into your ultimate plan.  Lord, I offer my life to you as a sacrifice of praise.  May you be honored and glorified!  I pray this in the powerful name of Jesus Christ, my Redeemer! Amen.

Friday, July 27, 2007

religion versus utility

At the beginning of Matthew 27, Judas was remorseful when he realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, so he went to the temple to return the blood money (thirty pieces of silver):
4 "I have sinned," he declared, "for I have betrayed an innocent man." "What do we care?" they retorted. "That's your problem."   5 Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.  6 The leading priests picked up the coins. "It wouldn't be right to put this money in the Temple treasury," they said, "since it was payment for murder."

Wow!  Look how steeped in religion those wicked priests and leaders were.  They were so deceived by their own religion that they would gladly murder Jesus, but they wouldn't accept blood money into the treasury!   That's where religion alone will take you - straight to hell.  I am reminded of James 1:26-27:

26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Contrast the religion of the pharisees with the utility of Paul's life (i.e., his fulfilled purpose):

19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

 24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.


Heavenly Father, thank you for Christ's substitutionary death, and thank you for stripping my own religion from me.  I pray that I would only have as much religion as you want me to have, and that it would be characterized by compassion, love, mercy, and faith.  Lord, please help me find my purpose in glorifying you and leading others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Please help me run in such a way as to get the prize - disciplined, focused, purposeful.  Lord, may you receive all the glory from my life.  I pray this in the name of Christ Jesus.  Amen.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


The following verse (1 Corinthians 8:6) resounded in my conscience this morning; it just seems like it is the Christian's simple creed:
But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.
I love fundamental statements like that.  It's like recalibrating your compass, and you're confident you're headed in the right direction. It's such a sturdy statement of truth that it refreshes your soul and gives you confidence to persevere and enjoy this abundant life in Christ.
Now, how do I practically fit into that statement (i.e, the last few words of each sentence in that verse)?  Well, I really like the explanation in 1 Corinthians 7:22-24:
22 And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ. 23 God paid a high price for you, so don't be enslaved by the world. 24 Each of you, dear brothers and sisters, should remain as you were when God first called you.
This seems to indicate that God intends to use you right where you are.  God doesn't want you to become a monk and hide from society; He wants to empower us with His Holy Spirit to live courageous lives that make a difference in the lives of people around us.  According to Jeremiah 29:11-13, God has a good plan for each of us, and you will know Him when you seek Him with all your heart.  So, I ask myself the question: "Am I seeking God and loving Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength?"  This is the question my wife and I pondered together yesterday evening as we read the testimony of a lady being called by God to be a university law professor.  I believe that God has a great plan for me that is going to be exhilarating; I just need to make sure I'm focusing on the right things and not getting too BUSY that I loose sight of Christ and the end goal.
Heavenly Father, I praise you for being the sovereign creator of everything.  I praise you that you exist in a holy Trinity that we humans can't understand.  Lord, I thank you for giving me life through your Son, Jesus the Christ.  I ask you to move in power in my life.  Change me for your glory.  Use me where I am to communicate your love to those around me.  Lord, please help me seek you with all my heart.  I want to hold nothing back; I want to live the dream you've called me to.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

evangelism chicken

Prov. 25
Matt. 25

I Cor. 5
I Cor. 6
When I got to the bus stop this morning, there was one guy standing there with a backpack and a briefcase. I engaged him in conversation to discover that he is a fellow graduate student ... and I discovered that he believed some extra stuff beyond the Bible. I didn't know how to proceed with evangelism with someone who incorrectly considers him/herself a Christian. It's one thing to share the Gospel with someone who has never heard, or even with someone who has heard but doesn't believe for one reason or another, but it is entirely different when someone thinks that he/she is in the same category as you.

I need to research this. http://www.christiananswers.net/evangelism/beliefs/

Heavenly Father, thank you for helping me realize that I need to learn more about how to minister to someone who is deceived into thinking he/she is already a Christian. Lord, please guide me as I learn, and please give me another opportunity to share the Love of Jesus Christ with someone who does not know Him. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

geeks part two

My wife and I had a heart-to-heard discussion about the "geeks" post two days ago (which involved a few emails with a couple in our Sunday School class).  My wife told me honestly and frankly that she detects a hint of pride and a condescending attitude when I use big words or discuss science and engineering.  She knows me better than anyone else on the planet, so I trust what she says about me (I think she even knows me better than I know myself; she's just that perceptive).  It stings a little to be humbled, but since I've been praying that God will humble me ... well, I guess I asked for it.  It's fascinating that this morning's reading includes some verses that directly apply:
1 Cor. 4:3 As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don't even trust my own judgment on this point. 4 My conscience is clear, but that doesn't prove I'm right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. 5 So don't make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.
So, I believe that God has used this situation to make me aware of previously unconscious or semi-conscious pride.  Clearly, I need to change.  The question is, "How?" On the one hand, God has given me gifts and talents to be used to glorify Him, but on the other hand, any form of pride or arrogance (great or small) is evil, wicked, worldly, and satanic.  I need wisdom to know when it is appropriate for me to discuss certain things and when it is not.  I pray that God will make this clear to me.
Heavenly Father, I thank you for speaking to me through this situation, and I thank you for humbling me because I know that you stiff-arm the proud but give grace to the humble.  Lord, I ask you to give me grace and humility.  Lord, I want to glorify you and not myself.  I am not worthy of honor or praise; it is You who deserve all glory, and I dare not share in any.  Thank you for revealing my hidden motives, which you not only judiciously scrutinize, but you also compassionately sanctify.  Lord, please show me the proper way to live, and help me be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading.  I ask that you strip away from me anything that does not reflect your holiness.  I ask you to continue to humble me.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Christ is the Wisdom of God

Prov. 23Matt. 23I Cor. 1I Cor. 2

I am amazed at this every time I come across it: Christ is the Wisdom of God. I believe that the personification of Wisdom in Proverbs 8 and 9 is based on Christ, as supported by the following verses in 1 Corinthians 1:

23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it's all nonsense. 24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength... 30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, "If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord."

Now, chapter 1 is mostly in the context of justification (when a person places their faith in Christ). But chapter 2 addresses the Mind of Christ and the Spirit of God at work in our consciences in the context of sanctification (growing in our faith in Christ). Not only is the Gospel message considered foolish by those who are perishing, but they don't understand our lifestyle either - how we make decisions in obedience to the Holy Spirit, which goes against the "natural" things of this world:

12 And we have received God's Spirit (not the world's spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. 13 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit's words to explain spiritual truths. 14 But people who aren't spiritual can't receive these truths from God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can't understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. ... 16 For,

"Who can know the Lord's thoughts?
Who knows enough to teach him?"

But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing the truth of the Gospel to me, and thank you for giving me your own Spirit to guide me according to your plan for my life. Jesus, I confess you to be the definition of Wisdom; I humble myself before your perfect wisdom and I ask you to make my mind like the Mind of Christ. Lord, I pray that my life would be a validation that your plan is good, pleasing, and perfect, and that other people will see your kindness, mercy, and grace in my life and want a personal relationship through Christ Jesus. I pray that I will not care that the world doesn't understand my lifestyle, but that I will only care what you think of my lifestyle - living in obedience to the Holy Spirit, moment by moment. I pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ. There is power in that name. Amen.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I suppose that I had not consciously recognized the extent of my geekiness until I married my wife, and she (along with certain friends) periodically make me acutely aware of my peculiar and especially geeky behavior.  I assure you that I do experience internal conflict in regard to appropriate social behavior, and I sincerely attempt to maintain the status quo ( i.e., an image of normalcy), but that usually only lasts about half an hour, at most.  Indeed, my geekiness is exacerbated proportionally to my proximity to and duration of contact with other engineers/scientists.  Hence, at social gatherings that involve other engineers/scientists, it is highly improbable that I should be able to restrain all my geeky tendencies. 
The tangential spiritual conflict arises as a tension between two extremes: (1) revealing/sharing my true thoughts with my acquaintances and potentially appearing arrogantly conceited, versus (2) remaining silent and potentially appearing a snob.  So, you see my dilemma - I'm danged if I do and danged if I don't.  Thus, I generally resort to the former, as I feel it is the lesser of two evils (not to mention that it is liberating and generally easier) to be a transparent, conceited monomaniac than to be a deceptive, snobbish recluse.  Who knows, maybe it is therapeutic to verbalize my curiosities, and someday I will have simply run out of questions.  My true challenge then, is to take extra care to be extremely humble in my thirst for knowledge, especially in a social atmosphere.  I need wisdom to know when it is appropriate to be open with my curiosities, and when I should be quiet because it is distracting.  I am reminded of 1 Cor. 10:23-24:
23"Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
Heavenly Father, thank you for making me the unique person that I am.  Lord, please continue to shape me into the person you want me to be.  Lord, do not let me be proud, arrogant, conceited, or snobbish, but please help me be humble, kind, compassionate, personal, and transparent.  Lord, I pray that you will give me wisdom to know when it is beneficial for me to share my curiosities with others and when it is distracting.  Lord, I don't want the center of attention to be on me, because you alone are worthy of all praise!  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

best anniversary celebration yet

Prov. 21Matt. 21Rom. 13Rom. 14

My wife and I celebrated our anniversary yesterday, and we had a wonderful time. We had fun driving through downtown on our way to our favorite Mexican food restaurant (we received a gift card to this restaurant from my parents at Christmas, so we were excited about eating there for our anniversary).

When we arrived, the hostess informed us that there was a 45 minute wait, so we perused the menu and decided what we would have for dinner. Then my wife suggested that I open my gift. She gave me a very sweet and genuine card that was very special, and she told me that the enormous gift bag had several gifts inside it. (This is one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever received; she told me that she has learned a lot about me since we were married, and she brainstormed items to give me in honor of those things she has learned about me.) She instructed me to draw them out one at a time, and she would explain the significance of each gift...
- Frisbee - we are both adventuresome and enjoy outdoor activities and having fun playing games
- package of socks - she enjoys and wants to take care of me, and she is glad that God has given her the opportunity to be my helpmate
- Unveiling Islam (Caner and Caner) - for my personal growth in Christ and encouragement as I seek the Lord's direction for our family
- automotive fuel treatment - she feels blessed that God has given me handyman skills to help our family and others with automotive maintainance
- precision mechanical pencils - I've been a collegiate engineering student the whole time we've been married
- coin-role wrappers (not Jamaican musicians) - she is thankful that I am frugal
- Easy Cheese - she knows I used to get it as a treat when I was a kid... and I'm pretty cheesy sometimes
- Frappuccinos; Toblerone and Ferrero Rocher chocolates - she thinks I have a sophisticated side, and she likes to treat me
- Corn Nuts - I have certain idiosyncrasies that she does not like, but she accepts me anyway
- photo album - she looks forward to the future that God has planned for us

All of these gifts were very sweet and thoughtful, but the most valuable gift she gave me was a bottle of Liquid Paper correction fluid. She told me that the Lord is so gracious that He is whiting out my past mistakes that have hurt her heart. I was sincerely moved, as was she, and I just held her there in the waiting area of that restaurant for a few moments, thanking and praising God that He is so merciful to forgive my sins, purify me, and bring healing to our souls. This is what is so sweet about a marriage centered around Christ - He is actively involved in our hearts and minds, sanctifying our relationships, and bringing the Father glory. The joy and peace of a Christ-centered marriage is indescribable; He gives us the strength to persevere and the abundant life He promises to those who trust Him.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, who not only died on the cross to pay the debt of my sins, but He lives in my heart today, and He works miracles in my marriage - all for your glory! Lord, I pray that you will continue to purify me and mold me into the husband you want me to be - an example of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the same way, I ask that you continue to work in my wife's heart to shape her into an example of the Church - the bride of Christ. Spirit, I pray that you will fill our marriage with your fruit, and that other people would be drawn to a relationship with you through the testimony of our life. Lord, I pray that you will lead us along the path of righteousness that you have planned for us, and may we always give you the praise and honor you so richly deserve. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, July 20, 2007


The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful wife!  As I reflect on our marriage, I am amazed at how God is working to grow us together in our faith in Him so that we are truly one entity under God.
My wife is beautiful and sweet, kind and gracious, tender and humorous.  Her hair is gorgeous, and her eyes sparkle like the diamond earrings I gave her in honor of our anniversary and what the Lord is doing in our marriage.
I met with a Brother recently, and he helped me realize what a wonderful wife the Lord has blessed me with.  Indeed, I take her for granted so quickly, but she truly is unique.  The more I learn about her and the closer we grow together, the more I realize that God arranged our marriage.  I believe He brought us together and that He has a special plan for our life.  This challenges me to seek His will, to wash my wife in the Word, and shoulder the responsibility of leading our family into His perfect will for our life (this, of course, means that I am following closely to Christ - for it is He that leads; I am only a disciple.)
Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing me with a wonderful wife.  Jesus, help me keep my eyes fixed on you as we follow your will for our life together.  We trust you, and we know that you love us and will continue to take care of us.  Spirit, I pray that you will fill our marriage with the Fruit of the Spirit so that you receive glory from our relationship.  Lord, I pray that you will bless my wife by revealing yourself to her so that she will grow in her personal relationship with you.  Lord, may we always find ultimate satisfaction in you alone, and secondary satisfaction in the opportunity to illustrate the love of Christ and His Church in our marriage; may our marriage always be founded and centered on the Rock of Christ Jesus, and it is in His name that I pray. Amen.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

salvific exclusivity

Prov. 19
Matt. 19

Rom. 9
Rom. 10

I had a great time catching up with a buddy over dinner last night. He brought up the Pope's recent statement that all non-Roman Catholic denominations are defective and unable to provide salvation. First of all, salvation belongs to the LORD ( i.e, Jehovah, Jesus, & Spirit), not to any man or church! Second, salvation is extended from the LORD to anyone who places their eternal salvation in the sacrificial work of Jesus, the Christ. Albert Mohler provides an outstanding explanation of the implications of this statement - No, I'm Not Offended.

"Coincidentally," I came through Romans 9 and 10 this morning which ties in perfectly, and I have selected a few of the pillar verses that explain the salvation situation precisely:

9:30 What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow
God's standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this
took place. 31 But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God
by keeping the law, never succeeded. 32 Why not? Because they were trying to get
right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled
over the great rock in their path. 33 God warned them of this in the Scriptures
when he said,
"I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that
makes people stumble, a rock that makes them
fall. But anyone who trusts in
him will never be disgraced."
10:1 Dear
brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the
people of Israel to be saved. 2 I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it
is misdirected zeal. 3 For they don't understand God's way of making people
right with himself. Refusing to accept God's way, they cling to their own way of
getting right with God by trying to keep the law. 4 For Christ has already
accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who
believe in him are made right with God. ... 9 If you confess with your mouth
that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made
right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11
As the Scriptures tell us, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced."
12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who
gives generously to all who call on him. 13 For "Everyone who calls on the name
of the L ord will be saved."

So, how does this apply to me, since I already believe this? Well, the following few verses engage the personal challenge:

14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And
how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they
hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell
them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, "How beautiful are the
feet of messengers who bring good news!"

Prayer Heavenly Father, thank you for offering salvation to everyone in the world through Jesus's death on the cross to pay the penalty of sin. Lord, thank you that anyone can come to you through faith for eternal salvation. Lord, I praise you for your goodness, kindness, love, mercy, and grace. Now, Father, I pray that you will send me to tell those who have not heard the Good News message of Jesus Christ! Father, I pray that the people around me would hear the Gospel message and would believe and repent. Lord, I pray for my friends around me, and especially the friend I met with last night, that they would see your overwhelming love and kindness that is explained in the Bible and demonstrated in my life. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

LIFE in Christ

There are so many great promises and truths in Romans 8.  Whenever you come across a passage like this in systematic study of scripture, it is like you are on a hike and the trail has led you to a magnificent vista at a clearing near the edge of the mountain and you are able to see the beautiful valleys and nearby mountains - you pause and soak it in.  As I mentioned several blogs ago, I am really being challenged to live an abundant life that is evidenced by joy and peace.  So, in that context, the following verses resonated with me this morning:
3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin's control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.  5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to DEATH. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to LIFE and peace.
9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. ... 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you LIFE because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give LIFE to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.  12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will DIE. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will LIFE.
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. 31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, "For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.") 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.  38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the encouraging vista in Scripture this morning.  Lord, I pray that you will lead me to a more accurate understanding of your love, and that I will consequently seek you more diligently.  Jesus, I thank you for your sacrificial death that gives me LIFE and PEACE.  Holy Spirit, I pray that you will lead me to produce fruit that proves that you are working in my life, and that others would praise the Father because of it.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I met with a Brother last night, and we talked about fellowship (in the context of the Promise Keepers blog I posted a few days ago).  He pointed out that fellowship is not just hanging out together, it's serving the Lord together.  I need to be teammates with someone who is committed to pursuing the Lord and challenging me to grow.  That teamwork must be grounded in serving the Lord together.
This notion of influencing each other's lives was confirmed by one of my buddies.  He left a comment on my blog saying that my blog encouraged him to pursue the Lord.  This is incredible to me.  There is so much joy in the community of Christ when we encourage one another.  His simple comment truly bolstered my attitude towards continuing to be a transparent Christian.  This is like what Brad Stine was talking about at Promise Keepers - he confessed that he wasn't perfect, but that he was trying to get better.  This is what Christians (and skeptics, for that matter) want - an honest, transparent pursuit.  Hey look, I'm not perfect, but that's my goal; not so that I can be condescending, but so that God may receive the glory He deserves (implicitly from my lifestyle as well as explicitly from my verbal praise).
It's true.  We need each other - the body of Christ.  We help each other practically.  A lot of times, God uses people to help people.
Heavenly Father, thank you for my Brothers in Christ.  Thank you that I have a support team around me.  Thank you that my wife is a strong Believer and challenges me to grow in my walk with Christ.  Lord, please lead me to an accountability partner that will challenge me to grow.  Lord, thank you for the opportunity to share life together with other people; please help me be a blessing to other people.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, July 16, 2007

joyful person

Proverbs 16, Matthew 16, Romans 3, Romans 4
This is not really related to the scriptures I read today, but it's something on my mind.
My wife and I were discussing the Bible Life Group (Sunday School) lesson and the Pastor's sermon from yesterday, and I asked my wife how I can practically engage people around me in spiritual discussions.  She said it can be very easy on Mondays because you simply ask someone about their weekend, and then when they ask you about yours, you give them several details about what you learned that weekend.
The other thing she mentioned that really challenged me was being a joyful person.  We have some friends that are missionaries in Russia, and they are some of the sweetest people - overflowing with joy.  My wife and I want to be like them.  I need to consciously think not only about being positive and encouraging in the things I say, but in the way I act, so that people see Jesus's redeeming power at work in my life.
Heavenly Father, thank you for helping me grow through Bible studies and comments from my wife.  Lord, please help me be a sincerely joyful person - not shallow happiness, but true joy that comes from knowing and loving you.  Father, fill me with your Spirit, and lead me on your path of righteousness.  Lord, I ask that you would use me to bring souls into your kingdom.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Promise Keepers

I had the great joy to go to Promise Keepers with my dad and my father-in-law.  The conference was pretty good, and there were several points that I took away from the handful of speakers.
   A. Men avoid honest relationships of accountability with other men because:
      1. they don't want to upset the status quo (laziness)
      2. they want to maintain their image (pride)
   B. You need another man to grow in faith together
   C. "Ego is the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity."
   D. The two earthly things that will impact your life the most in the next five years are:
      1. your friends (Who are you hanging with?)
      2. the books you read (What are you reading?)
   E. It does not matter how long I live, but how I live.
2. Brad Stein - Wussification
   A. Males need to stand up and be MEN!
   A. Woman
      1. created by God
      2. made from man, for man (helper)
   B. God's vision for Adam was to be in charge of the Garden before Eve was created.
      1. What is God's vision for your life, marriage, and family?
      2. Are you leading your wife into God's vision for your family?
      3. Are you leading your wife (and children) to grow spiritually?
   C. We submit to Christ and follow His leadership so that when she submits to us, she is really submitting to Christ.
I came away from this event with two practical tasks:
1.  I need to be leading my wife (and children someday) to the vision that God has given me for our family.  I will accomplish this through praying, reading the Bible, and openly communicating with my wife about how God is leading me each day.
2.  I need to be systematically meeting with an accountability partner each week that will challenge me to grow in my relationship with Christ Jesus.
Heavenly Father, thank you for speaking to me at Promise Keepers.  Lord, I pray that you will help me be the spiritual leader that you want me to be.  Please help me be consistent in prayer and daily Bible reading with my wife, and please help me be open and honest with her as you work in my life so that she can trust me that I am following you whole heartedly.  Lord, please help me develop an accountability partner that is what you want.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Matthew 13 records several of Jesus's parables, some of which use farming illustrations.  I think that's really neat.  At the end of the chapter, Jesus cruises through Nazareth, but the people didn't believe Him, " 58And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith."
This got me thinking.  How many of my prayers have not been answered because I prayed with no faith?  Or, more generally, have their been times in my life when God didn't move as powerfully because of my lack of faith?
Tonight I am going to Promise Keepers, and I am excited that my father and father-in-law are going.  I have faith that God is going to radically impact each of our lives tonight and tomorrow morning.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you would increase my faith.  Lord, I am expecting to meet you this evening and tomorrow morning.  Lord, I pray that your Holy Spirit will move in power in my heart, and the hearts of my dad and father-in-law.  Lord, please humble us, convict us of sin, and challenge each of us to a closer walk with you.  Lord, show us how to be better husbands and fathers.  Lord, I pray that you will place the words in the speakers' mouths.  I pray that you will tear down the enemy's fortresses and strong-holds and raise up godly men of integrity that glorify your name.  I pray this in the powerful name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


The dichotomy is clear and simple (Proverbs 11:14):
The truly righteous man attains life, 
but he who pursues evil goes to his death
Here is Jesus's offer of Life (Matthew 11:27-30):
"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Paul made the choice to follow Christ, whatever the cost (Acts 21:13):
Then Paul answered, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
In the same chapter, the Jews in Jerusalem had Paul in the middle of a riot (Acts 21:36):
And the crowd followed behind, shouting, "Kill him, kill him!"
Each person falls into one of two categories:
  1. justified by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ and declared righteous by God, eternally set apart with Him
  2. condemned with the world
When we are with God, the enemy of our souls comes against us, and we will be treated in much the same way as Christ (e.g., Acts 21:36).
Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing yourself to me through your Son, Jesus the Christ.  Lord Jesus, I am willing to live for you today and every day, because I am also willing to give my life in obedient service to you.  My life is not my own, because you bought me at a price.  Lord, please help me bow humbly before you as I resist the enemy.  I know that the victory belongs to you.  I pray that you will continue to teach me and grow me, and I thank you for your simple and easy yoke.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

fundamental purpose

My wife and I are reading a book called Made to Count that discusses the purpose of our lives to show others the way to know God the Father through Jesus Christ.  This was confirmed in my reading today in Acts 20:24 -
24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
Some Brothers from our Bible Life Group at church met at a coffee shop to discuss plans for a weekly Bible/book study.  After determining all the details of reading, prayer, and accountability, we discussed the purpose of having a men's Bible study.  This is what I believe - our most fundamental purpose is to glorify God.  Not only is He worthy of all our praise, He deserves it.
Heavenly Father, I thank you for the saving grace you have revealed to me.  Lord, I pray that you will help me understand more clearly the specific plan you have to use the gifts and talents you gave me, so that I can glorify you and be used by you to lead others to know you through the Messiah/Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.  I want to find my fulfilment in you.  It is in Jesus's name that I pray.  Amen.

Monday, July 9, 2007

life goes on

My wife starts two graduate summer courses today.  It's kind of ironic because she is a kindergarten teacher working on her master's degree, so she is both student and teacher.
About a year ago I met a guy at the bus stop that rode the same route.  He consistently read the Bible on the bus like I do, so we had several good conversations, and I invited him to attend our church.  Long story short, he professed faith in Jesus Christ several months ago, and our almost daily discussions of scripture continued.  Well, this Brother got domesticated (got married and bought a house on the south side of town), and he finished moving out of his apartment today.  So, I guess we're going to have to meet for lunch during the week to have our discussions of scripture reading.
It's amazing how God keeps people in flux.  It's like we need change, else our pride sneaks up on us and we think we can handle everything on our own.  When things are consistently changing, it challenges us to seek Him and rely on His strength.
Heavenly Father, thank you for always being there for me and supplying my every need.  Lord, I thank you for taking my Brother in Christ to the next phase of life, and I ask you to bless him richly in the knowledge of your Word of Truth.  Lord, please bless my wife as she learns and studies.  May you continue to guide us, and may we continue to seek you through all our lives.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, July 6, 2007

God's desire is for the nations

What did I learn about God?  Acts 11:18 - When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, "We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life."  God's plan from the beginning has been to extend salvation to the nations.  The Jews couldn't believe it at first (and some of them were offended at the thought), but God clearly demonstrated by the giving of His Holy Spirit to the Gentiles that salvation belongs to the Lord!
What applies to me?  In the Sermon on the Mount (particularly Matthew 6), Jesus instructs us in several practical measures.  First, perform your good deeds in secret (humbly, not looking for recognition).  (Of course, this presupposes that I am doing good deeds in the first place, which really makes me squirm.  Am I doing any good deeds?  How am I caring for the alien, fatherless, and widow?)  Second, don't worry.  I sincerely need to learn to apply this, because my blood pressure is accusing me of being to anxious.
Heavenly Father, thank you for desiring the nations to come to salvation through Jesus Christ.  Thank you for pouring your spirit upon those who place their faith in Jesus Christ.   Lord, please help me be bold in sharing the Gospel message.  Jesus, I want to do good deeds, but I want to do them with the right motive. So, please lead me to the works you want to accomplish through me, and help me be humble as I execute your plan.  Please help me be selfless and content, not anxious about anything.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

seeing Christ in the Scriptures

I met with some Brothers today, and we had a great discussion.  One Brother shared how he is reading Song of Solomon now, and he sees the books from Solomon in the following light:  Proverbs sets the ground rules for wisdom, virtue, and righteousness; Ecclesiastes explains how the personal pursuit of anything in this world (including wisdom et al) boils down to vanity and is eternally worthless; but Song of Solomon explains how the relationship with Christ gives us joy.  It's kind of like the Old Testament and the New Testament - the Law shows us what righteousness is and that we don't measure up, and the mercy and grace explained in the NT gives us hope of a relationship with the Father through the Son.
What I really appreciated about meeting with these Brothers today was that they weren't puffed up with themselves, and they had a simple focus of finding Jesus in the Scriptures.  It's all about Him.  It is so easy to make it about us.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the refreshing focus on Christ Jesus today.  Jesus, I pray that you will help me know you and enjoy my relationship with you instead of focusing on self-righteousness.  Lord, please teach me to love other people from a genuine overflow of my heart.  God I praise you because I know that you are already working this out in my life.  May you be glorified in my life, and may you strike down my pride and humble me - truly for your glory.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Proverbs 3:5-6 is so encouraging to me because it is so simple.  I need that kind of humility.
I am very encouraged and convicted by the bold stands of John the Baptist in Matthew 3 and the apostles in Acts 5 and 6.  They clearly saw who Jesus was, and they believed Him wholeheartedly.  Is there anyone today that really believes in Jesus like the apostles did?  If so, then why aren't miracles and preaching changing lives like a wildfire?  If I really believe that sin condemns us, but Jesus can forgive our sins, then why do I not tell every person I know about what He has done and is doing?  Well, basically, because I'm a little chicken.
Heavenly Father, thank you for guiding my life.  Help me humble myself before you and trust you with all my heart.  Lord, I want to believe you so much that it changes my life and the lives of those around me.  Jesus, please pour your power into my life through the Holy Spirit.  Give me the opportunities and boldness to preach your name, unashamedly.  May my life be blameless and full of virtue to validate what I preach.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, July 2, 2007


I don't know what to write about today.  I read several good passages.
I love Proverbs 2.  I love the idea of searching for God and Him revealing Himself.
Matthew 2 is awesome because it shows how God is involved in the intimate details of our life.
I love Acts 3 and 4 because Peter is so bold.  He just steps up and delivers.
Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing yourself to us when we seek you.  Lord, please help me seek you with all my heart, and teach me to choose the right path every time.  Lord, thank you for being involved in my life, and I pray that you will clearly lead me as you guided Joseph and Mary.  Lord, please help me be bold like Peter.  Please help me see opportunities in my life for you to pour out your power for your glory.  I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, July 1, 2007


I'm impressed with how fundamental prayer was to the apostles and early church.  They were consistently gathering for prayer, which is interesting because they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray only a couple of years before.  It is also interesting to me that God does amazing things during/after corporate prayer events.  It's almost like prayer actually accomplishes something.
Heavenly Father, thank you for choosing to work in our lives through prayer.  Of course I don't fully understand it, but I know that you teach us to pray, then we pray, then you answer, then we thank you and praise you, and you get all the glory.  Lord, please teach me how to pray, and help me develop a disciplined life of prayer.  Lord, I want to fellowship with you through prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.