Friday, September 28, 2007

mercy and grace

13 People who conceal their sins will not prosper,
      but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.  
14 Blessed are those who fear to do wrong,
      but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble.
Every time I read these verses, I'm impressed with how similar they are to 1 John 1:8-9 "8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness."
How incredible and unending is His mercy and His grace, which I need every day.  Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. "
Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing yourself to us and opening the door to your throne room through Jesus Christ.  I pray that I will not only know your mercy and grace, but that I will share with others your goodness and kindness that leads us to repentance.  May I walk in your favor, according to your Will, and in step with the Holy Spirit.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

rate limiting analogy

I had lunch with a brother yesterday, and we were fellowshipping about growing in the Lord.  He shared with me a life cycle from several verses in 1 John 1:
 - experience the Lord
 - fellowship about the Lord with Brothers
 - the Lord illuminates our hearts with His light
 - He purifies us
This process repeats again and again.  The question is, will we hang up on a certain stage?  Do I read the Word and seek Him in order that I may experience Him?  Do I fellowship with Brothers about Him and how I've experienced Him (or do I only talk about sports, politics, or economics)?  Do I allow Him to illuminate the darkness of my depravity, or do I shirk from His light and try to hide in the darkness?  Do I allow Him to purify me by trusting Him and obeying His Word of Truth?
In thinking about this life cycle, I was drawn to an analogy with my academic pursuits.  Let us suppose that you have a rectangular prism vessel containing a solution of certain chemicals, and desired chemical reactions occur at an electrode surface installed at two of the opposing faces of this prism (electrodes driven by electricity). 
- [(rxn)   <---   (chemicals)   --->   (rxn)] +
Here are two major phenomena that could limit the rate at which the chemical reactions will progress at the (i.e., how fast the chemical reactions will occur at each electrode):  1) reaction-kinetics and 2) mass-transport.  If the reaction speed is very slow, then it doesn't really matter how fast you provide chemicals to the electrode surface, the reaction speed is only going to process a certain amount of chemicals.  Alternatively, if the reaction speed is very fast, then the rate at which chemicals are reacted might be restricted by the rate at which chemicals diffuse from the "bulk" region (in the middle) towards the electrode surfaces ( i.e., a slow supply of chemicals to the reaction surface).
So, here's the analogy - the Holy Spirit is the external source of power (electricity) , and the overall rate of processing chemicals corresponds to my rate of sanctification such that
mass-transport : reaction-kinetics :: reading the Bible : meditating/digesting/obeying
If I don't read very much Bible, then I'm not going to grow very fast because I'm not getting enough "chemicals to the reaction site."  ( 1 Cor 3:1-3)  However, if I don't meditate/digest/obey the Scripture that I do read, then it doesn't really matter how much I read or know ( e.g., Pharisees).
Thus, the challenge is to read enough Scripture each day to grow, but also invest the effort to meditate/digest/obey.  In this way, I will help maximize the rate at which the Holy Spirit molds me into the image of Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word that is my standard for living, your very breath.  Lord, I pray that you will help me understand and obey your Scriptures so that I may glorify your name and walk in humble oneness with your Spirit.  I pray this in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

logical inconsistency

As I was showering this morning, I prayed something like, "Lord, please help me delight in you more."  Well, this morning I read John's account of the resurrection, and it reminded me of a quote I recently heard:
"If one-tenth of what you believe is true, you ought to be ten times as excited as you are."
  - Sir Walter Moberly
Indeed, Christians realize that the Creator and Sovereign God of the universe has credited our insufficient-funds morality account with the precious blood of His only begotten Son and has infused us with His very own Spirit that raised up Christ from the grave, yet we tend to walk around defeated and deflated.  Now, if that don't just beat all.
We should live our lives in confidence of God's resurrection power; the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead can raise up this broken "life" to glorify God!  Why don't I let Him?  Pride.  Arrogance.  Selfishness.  Scaredy-cat-chicken-heartedness.  This certainly doesn't jive with the conclusion of John 20:
29Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."  30Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word that teaches me the Truth about You and me and breaks the power of Satan's lies.  Jesus, thank you for dieing to pay the penalty of my sins, and I praise You for conquering death itself.  Lord, I pray that you will fill me with your presence, that I may know the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, and that I may experience your resurrection power!  Lord, save me from myself!  Please cleanse me, wash me, and regenerate me.  Mold me into Your image, the image of Christ Jesus.  Lord, pour your Spirit through me into other people's lives that they may know you!  I pray this in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

overt subtlety

I'm amazed at how, considering Jesus's supernatural identity, He didn't make a big show.  He fulfilled so many prophetic scriptures even in the few hours before His death, and one of those I'm impressed with today is Isaiah 53:7:
He was oppressed and afflicted,
       yet he did not open his mouth;
       he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
       and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
       so he did not open his mouth.
Yet, God saw fit to place a few "road signs" along the way, both literal and figurative.  The sign nailed to the cross is classic - "The King of the Jews" written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek so that practically everyone could read it.  One of my friends recently asked me, "Why doesn't God make it blatantly obvious that He is real and He expects certain things."  Well, in some ways, I believe He did.  He may not intervene with an audible voice, but the Scriptures are practically screaming with Christ's identity.
The point of application here: am I a "road sign" that shows Jesus Christ as the King of the Jews, the savior of the world?  Just last night, a friend from school sent me an encouraging email about how he saw God's light in my life.  So, I think I'm headed in the right direction, but I'm certainly still far from the goal.  How can I love God more?  How can I increase my rate of sanctification?
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word that testifies of your love.  Jesus, I thank you for the sacrifice you gave on the cross to pay the penalty of my sin.  Thank you for giving me life with You.  Spirit, I pray that you will fill me with your Fruit so that I can be a road sign to others.  I pray that you will show me how I can grow in You and love you better.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, September 24, 2007

suburban paradise

One of my friends told me that he thought it was interesting how the Scriptures start out with the Garden of Eden, but it ends in a city.  I suppose it's logical though, since the beginning had only two humans, and the end has at least one representative from every tribe, nation, and tongue.  How cool is that?
1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
Oh, man!  I can't wait!  We'll finally know Peace and Rest, and we'll get to talk to Him.  It will be like the perfect vacation: beautiful scenery, no worries, all you can eat, and best of all, no time limit with our Savior.  That gives me peace just thinking about it.  It's amazing how powerful that scripture is that instructs us to "set your mind on things above."  No doubt, I feel my blood pressure going down right now.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word that promises eternal satisfaction to those who believe in Jesus Christ.  Lord, I pray that you will give me a compassionate heart to see others come to know you.  I pray that you will show me the gifts you've given me to serve you and your Body.  Lord, I pray that your Peace and Rest would come upon me here on this earth, and that those around me would be drawn to the supernatural joy and love that come from you.  God, I praise you for your perfect plan, and I thank you for including me.  I pray that my life will glorify you today.  I pray that I will worship you with my life.  I pray in the Name of Jesus.  Amen.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Proverbs 21

John 15

Revelation 16

Revelation 17

Well, I certainly wouldn't classify Revelation 16 and 17 as "happy" chapters.  In fact, these chapters are yet another sober reminder that those who are corrupted by this world (and the evil one that instigates disobedience) will receive a perfectly just judgement - a terrible sentence of anguish and torment for eternity.  This frightening scene both saddens me for those who have not repented and placed their hope of eternal salvation in Christ alone, and it bolsters my disengagement from worldly things.  The imagery is quite strong, and I got a sick feeling in my stomach, especially when reading chapter 17.
I am concerned for several of my friends.  I wish they could see what a joyful, peaceful, and abundant life is available by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  The alternative is quite grim; this truth seems so ethereal now, but any minute now, this world and it's desires will pass away, and the spiritual reality will be more clear than anything we see in this life.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word that explains the two simple options.  There is True Life by grace through faith in Jesus Christ; else, there is eternal death and separation from the One Who Created us, where we find our true identity and satisfaction.  Lord, please help me despise the things of this world and only find my joy and satisfaction in You.  I pray that my life will be an example to follow as I seek to become holy as you are holy.  I ask these things in the Name of Jesus, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords.  Amen.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

God's holiness part 2

Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. 7 "Fear God," he shouted. "Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water." 
Revelation 15:3 And they were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: 
   "Great and marvelous are your works,
      O Lord God, the Almighty.
   Just and true are your ways,
      O King of the nations.
 4 Who will not fear you, Lord,
      and glorify your name?
      For you alone are holy.
   All nations will come and worship before you,
      for your righteous deeds have been revealed."
For He alone is holy.  He is the definition of holiness.  He is so holy that we should fear Him because of His holiness and our unholiness - an infinite difference in holiness.  This is why He deserves our worship - He is so utterly holy that His state of existence demands our captivation!  We must glorify Him!  There is no other feasible response to His holiness.  We must be humbled; He must be praised!  We must confess our sin; we must confess His absolute and totally complete perfection!  In fact, our state of being is incapable of giving Him the worship and praise He deserves, which means it is necessary that we spend eternity attempting to do so!
Heavenly Father, I am blown away by your holiness.  As I meditate on your perfection and absolute righteousness, I am enthralled by your grace, that you would love a sinner like me.  Lord, I deserve to die because of my sin.  Yet, in your incredible mercy and grace, you afforded me an opportunity to know you and spend eternity with you, the definition of love and holiness.  Lord, may I continually give my life as an offering of thanks and praise to you.  Lord, may you be pleased with my life as an offering of worship that honors your holiness.  Lord, may I become holy as you are holy, for this is what you require.  I know that this is only possible by your Holy Spirit's sanctifying work in my heart and life, made possible through the shed blood of the perfect Lamb.  It is in His name, Jesus the Christ, that I pray.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

God vs. Satan (i.e., "hah!")

As I was reading Revelation 13, I was struck by these verses (particularly the ending):
3 I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery—but the fatal wound was healed! The whole world marveled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast. 4 They worshiped the dragon for giving the beast such power, and they also worshiped the beast. "Who is as great as the beast?" they exclaimed. "Who is able to fight against him?"
It's amazing how the world will assume that Satan (or the Antichrist) is the most powerful, which demonstrates the magnitude of this deception.  Also, I think it's interesting that the world assumes that the winner of a fight is supreme.  This is the wrong metric.  The world is asking, "Who is able to fight against [Satan/Antichrist]," but the real question is, "Who can even stand in God's holy presence!?"  Who can even sit in God's holiness?  The most amazing angels cover themselves in the presence of God.  So what depraved human can even exist in God's holiness, apart from the justifying and sanctifying work of Jesus Christ!?  NO ONE!  Yeah, that's the real question; this "fighting" business is mute.
Heavenly Father, I praise you for your holiness.  God I honor you because you are worthy to be praised.  Lord, you are worth so much more than I give you.  Please forgive me for not glorifying you as I should.  Please help me live a life that honors you in each moment!  And I pray that you will defeat the enemy, that Accuser of the Brothers that attacks us day and night.  Father, I pray for victory in my life and all the Saints, only through the precious blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ! Amen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Over the last week, the Lord has led me to two accountability partners!  I am very excited about what the Lord is doing in my life and theirs.  What's so fascinating is that the three of us are really striving towards the same thing: being the growing, scriptural leader of our marriage through daily prayer and Bible study with our wives.  How cool is that?!
In my experience this week, I have been reminded how we need to exercise humility each day.  It's like drinking water: it will last a few hours (a day at most), but there are natural processes that remove water from your body.  Similarly, I can "drink" humility today, but it won't last very long.  I really must drink humility each day; I have to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Christ each and every day.  It's like manna.  The Israelites couldn't save up for the next day; they needed the "bread of life" each day.
Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, who is the Bread of Life, who I can consume each day.  Lord, I know that man doesn't live on physical bread alone, but on every word that comes from You.  God, thank you for my Brothers in Christ who are pursuing a closer relationship with you.  I pray that you will bless us and grow us as we strengthen each other with your Word and Spirit.  Lord, I pray that as we share Christ with each other, He will make His home in our hearts.  Lord, please bless our marriages, and please help us be committed to growing in You more each day through prayer and studying your word with our wives.  I pray this in the powerful name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, September 17, 2007

theological grappling

Reading Revelation is a sober reminder of the judgement to come.  It is simultaneously both satisfying in the sense that God does finally judge the evil and wicked things of this world and saddening in the sense that there are people who will see God's mighty power but will still refuse to repent.
In the same category of theological things I don't understand is what I'm supposed to do about my grandfathers' health situations.  My paternal grandfather has not been doing well for several years, but my maternal grandfather's health has recently taken a dive.  My maternal grandmother was diagnosed with cancer mid-summer 2001 and passed away late September 2001.  We prayed and prayed and prayed for God to heal her body (which seemed appropriate considering she was a godly woman), but she wasn't healed  Hence, I'm confused, and a little discouraged regarding prayer for my grandparents' health.  I feel like it is almost a waste of time to pray for them to be healed if God is not going to heal them.  I mean, really, what's the point?  If God's going to do what He's already planned regardless of what I pray for, then, honestly, what's the point?  If that's the case, then what's all this business in Jesus's preaching about us praying and God hearing and answering our prayers.  Granted, I know I learned a lot more about God through my grandmother passing away than I would had she been miraculously healed, but I just don't know what I'm supposed to pray for.  I guess if you look at Jesus's prayer in the garden (before His arrest and crucifixion) through my jacked-up lenses, then you would consider His prayer pointless also.  Yeah, yeah, I know. This brings me back to what I've been told before: the objective of prayer is not for God to do my will, but for me to know and do God's will.  I just don't know how I'm supposed to "feel" it.  I want to pray a genuine prayer that's not a waste of time.
Prayer (how ironic)
Heavenly Father, I know that you are sovereign and in control.  In reading Revelation, I am reminded that you are the final judge, and your plan will be accomplished.  Lord, I want to be a part of your plan.  I want to pray for things and know that you care about what I'm asking for and know that you are going to respond.  Lord, I know that you know how I feel because Jesus has experienced more than what I'm experiencing, and He was still completely obedient to you.  Father, I'm going to pray like Jesus, because I am a disciple of Christ.  Lord, I pray that you will physically heal my grandfathers, and I pray that you will take them home to be with you if you're not going to heal them.  Lord, most of all, I pray that your plan will happen just like it's supposed to, even if it is uncomfortable for me.  Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief.  I pray this in the powerful name of Jesus Christ, the only means of grace.  Amen.

Friday, September 14, 2007

the identity of the God-Man

John records in chapter 8 a discussion of identity that Jesus had with the religious leaders of the day ("experts" on God).  Jesus explains that the religious hypocrites were children of Satan because of how they behaved.  Jesus, however, is the Son of God and proves this by what he does.  The conversation climaxes with Christ invoking the eternal identity of God - "I AM."  Jesus is the very same substance as the Father - He is fully Deity.  I went back and studied Exodus 3:14 and Exodus 34:6 on two of the primary names of God (the "notes" in these hyperlinks are powerfully elucidating).
Meditating on these names this morning has revolutionized my perspective of Him and myself.  Here lies the practice of a fundamental spiritual principal that's been repeated to me in several ways:  it is only through a more proper understanding of Who God Is that i realize my identity and purpose.  John 17:3 - "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."
Wow!  I am simply blown away by Who He Is.  He is indescribable.  We can not explain Him with feeble human language, yet we shall forever try!
Praise Jehovah Elohim for the incredible justifying work of His Son Jesus the Messiah and His work in and through the Church He has redeemed and is sanctifying through the Holy Spirit!  He is matchless; He is of infinite worth!  How much love we experience that He desires us to participate in Glorifying Him!  He is the Eternal One, the most sovereign King reigning forever!
Father, I beg you to humble me before your infinite identity.  Lord, I am unworthy of your mercy and grace, undeserving of your kindness.  Lord, may I live to glorify Your Name and know you more!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

opportunity to take interest

A fellow PhD candidate in my program has had a rough few years.  Yesterday, I went down to his lab (one floor below mine) and spend an hour with him.  I helped him by showing him a more efficient way to migrate his data from one of the laboratory machines to his computer for data processing.  I could tell he was down because he is intimidated with looming deadlines, and even though I didn't say or do anything remarkably revolutionary, I could tell that he was sincerely encouraged with my genuine interest in his research and his personal well being.
I think this is what God is leading me to do with all of my friends.  Genuine connections with people on their level, where they are, in their environment - to show them that I care about them, that I value their friendship and their life.  This is the practical love of Christ.  This is why people are interested in the relationship with Christ that I have, not because they are impressed with what I know but because of how I love.
Of course, there is a fine line between compassionate concern and just being sappy.  It's the peace of God, and hope in eternal life that sets the love of Christ apart from shallow compassion.  I am encouraged by the conclusion of Jude:
 20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.   22Be merciful to those who doubt; 23snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
 24To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Heavenly Father, thank you for pouring your Spirit through me.  Lord, I pray that you will magnify yourself in my life - that you may increase and I may decrease.  Lord, I pray that you will give me a genuine love and concern for all people, and that I will be focused on sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with everyone.   Lord, I pray that the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that your Spirit produces in my life will be evident and attractive to my friends who have not yet connected with you.  I pray that my life will be a testimony of your goodness and love.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Jesus is the central focus!

Independent of your perspective on transubstantiation/consubstantiation, a Christian must believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He came to earth as a real, physical man.  This is fascinating because He is both 100% Deity and 100% human.
John 6:27 But don't be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval. ... 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. ... 40 For it is my Father's will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day. ... 47 I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 48 Yes, I am the bread of life!
2 John 1:7 I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist.
You know, we can quickly dive into a lot of theological discussions from John 6, but this morning, I am impressed with the simplicity of the Gospel.  I really like John's concluding explanation in 1 John 5:
20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.
Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing yourself through your Son Jesus Christ.  Lord, thank you for giving us eternal life through faith in Jesus.  Thank you for giving us fellowship with you through Christ's broken body and spilled blood.  Lord, I praise you for your kindness and mercy.  I pray that my life will hear, look, taste, smell, and feel the power of the Holy Spirit at work.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, on Whom I do believe.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

always about Jesus

Over and over and over - the Holy Spirit repeats the same message of hope and life again and again through different writers.  Here John explains the simplicity of the Gospel:
4:9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. ... 15 All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.  God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. ... 10 All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don't believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don't believe what God has testified about his Son.  11 And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God's Son does not have life. 1 3 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. 
I wish I was as obsessed about Jesus as the Scriptures are!  I love how obedience is inextricably ingrained in Faith.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your testimony, the Spirit's testimony, and the testimony of the blood and the water.  Lord, I confess to you and the whole world that I am a sinner in need of a Savior and that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, my Redeemer, and my Master!  Lord, I pray that you will grow in me a love for people, that I will be bold about sharing the reality of my faith with those around me.  Lord, may they see your love shining through me; may they get a glimpse of Christ's love for them through me.  I pray this in the powerful name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, September 10, 2007

thirst quencher

A friend and I were discussing the story of Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman at the well, and he elucidated an interesting point:  both Jesus and the woman come to the well physically thirsty for water.  Neither of them are recorded as drinking, yet they both leave the well satisfied!  Jesus explains that He is satisfied by doing the will of His Father.
Wow!  I wish I was that focused on spiritual purpose and fulfillment.  Instead, I'm so bent on satisfying my physical thirst that I often times miss the opportunity to engage in something spiritually fulfilling.   I wonder what would happen in my life if I were to spend more time listening to the Spirit's promptings rather than my stomach.
I'm getting a nice flavor of John's perspective since I'm reading from his Gospel account and his letters.  I'm impressed with the simplicity of his summary at the end of chapter 3; it's very logical:
18 Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. ..22 And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.   23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey God's commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.

Practical.  We've got to keep this faith stuff practical.  It's not a mess of abstract spiritual hullabaloo; it is metaphysical reality that is demonstrated and proven through simple, tangible actions.


Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of eternal and practical everyday salvation through the loving actions of your Son Jesus Christ.  Lord, please help me be spiritually thirsty for more of You, and may I find satisfaction in pursuing and knowing You!  Father, make me look like Jesus through my actions.  I pray that You will give me love to give away to others.  May I be guided in thought and deed by Your Holy Spirit inside me.  I pray that your power will flow through my life in practical, tangible actions.  I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, the One who is completely obedient to the Father.  Amen.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


This is almost exactly what I've been praying for the last few months!  Here is a great list of
 3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires.

 5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God's promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

 8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

 10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father, please teach me through the Scriptures to grow in faith, moral excellence, knowledge of You, self-control, patience, godliness, and love.  Lord, I thank you that you will make me productive and useful.  Lord, may I continue to work hard for you.  I pray this in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, September 7, 2007

suffering again

My wife and I had a good conversation about suffering yesterday.  She said, "You're not supposed to go through life worrying about when the next round of suffering is going to happen and how bad it's going to be."  I concur.  There is a subtle difference between knowing that God is going to grow you through the suffering that is sure to happen versus being anxious and nervous about what the suffering will be and if you can handle it.  Indeed, it is quite dangerous to slip into a "woe is me" attitude during suffering, because then you are missing the bigger picture of what God wants you to learn through the experience - HIM!
One of the things I told my wife is that I feel like the difference this time I read about suffering in scripture is that I want to have a good attitude during suffering.  Rather than gritting my teeth and muttering under my breath about how I'm suffering (a selfish perspective), my hope is to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, and allow His Holy Spirit to produce fruit in my life during suffering that is a demonstration of His authority, control, and presence in my life.
Of course, these thoughts are not without scriptural support (1 Peter):
4:1 So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. 2 You won't spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. ... 12 Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. 14 So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. ... 19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.
What I tend to forget (during times of suffering, but also in general) is that my experience of the Lord is in the context of corporate salvation; that is, God is redeeming the Church, and I am one member with a specific function to serve the Body, to the glory of God.
4:10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word that speaks truth to me, relevant to my life.  I praise you that the Word is the definition of Truth; it is a Person, Jesus Christ, Who is the Son of God, the Light of Life, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Lord, I pray that you will give me a proper perspective and understanding of suffering and that I will be focused on learning Who you are and enjoying your authority, control, and presence in my life.  I pray that you will use me, according to your great plan, to glorify yourself.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Redeemer and Master.  Amen.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

pure life and suffering

1:13Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." 17Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. ... 22Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.
2:1Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. ...  9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. ... 16Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. ... But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
3:8Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. ... 13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. ... 18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit
The book of 1 Peter seems really practical to me.  It's like God is speaking through Peter to each and every Christian, imploring us to live pure and holy lives.  I am becoming more and more impressed with how important it is for my mind to be sharp and attentive (proactive), and for me to be "on my toes" physically - keeping myself in a continual state of check.  I also need to be expecting the suffering that we are called to endure - because we get an opportunity to behave like Christ.  Now, I'm quite sure that because of what I've just written, God is going to allow me to try it out and see if I can put my money where my mouth is.
Heavenly Father, please give me the grace to accomplish what you have called me to.  In fact, this is assignment is impossible for me to do on my own, but I know that your Holy Spirit is inside me to live the life of Christ through me.  Lord, I pray that you will humble me, purify my motives, sharpen my mind, and transform me into the image of Christ through the path you have marked out for me.  Lord, may your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control pour through my life into those around me that you may be honored and glorified.  May I lift up Christ, and I beg you to draw men and women to yourself.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, Who is completely obedient to the Father. Amen.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Last night I had dinner with a friend at school because he is interested in learning about Christianity and understanding my core beliefs.  We agreed to go through Romans two chapters per week and discuss them, which is awesome!  Well, we had a wonderful discussion that included a review of Saul/Paul's experience and objectives, the context of the letter to the church at Rome, a summary of the Gospel (beginning of Chapter 1), and of course, the pervasive problem of sin (Chapters 1 and 2).  At the end of the discussion, he told me that he is not coming into this series of discussions with the intent to become a person of faith, but he isn't coming in with a closed mind, either.  I sincerely appreciate this attitude, because I believe that as I pray for him, the Lord will open his eyes to the truth of the Gospel and its personal relevance - so that he will believe and obey, to the glory of God.  Consequently, I was frank with him that I was praying for him that he would believe so that he can experience the wonderful, fulfilling, and abundant life of love, joy, peace, and hope in Christ that I am experiencing.
Indeed, this morning's Scripture from 1 Peter 1 is relevant to my situational context:
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. ... 8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. ... 18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. ... 21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.   22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.   23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.
Heavenly Father, thank you for purchasing my salvation through the shed blood of Christ Jesus.  Lord, I pray that you would turn the lights on in my friends heart and mind.  Lord, please help him understand the Gospel message of faith and obedience in Jesus Christ alone.  Lord, may you demonstrate your love to him through my life, and may I do everything possible so that he can enjoy his implicit destiny of a relationship with you, for your glory.  I pray this in the only name that has power to save, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Labor Day weekend

It was a whirlwind of a weekend!  We drove over seven hours Friday night to see our new niece and my wife's family on Saturday.  Sunday morning I went to church where my former youth minster is now a music minister, and Sunday afternoon I met up with a college buddy.  Sunday evening and Monday morning we spent with my family, and Monday afternoon we visited my aunt, uncle, cousin, and granddad.  Of course, we drove back last night.
Our nieces are so cute, and it is amazing how the Lord gives life.  We are grateful that they are growing up in a Christian home.
My former youth minister is still a role-model to me, even though our friendship has grown since I was in high school.  It is wonderful to see him excited about the ministry God has given him, and I am excited for how He is seeking the Lord to know how He fits into the Body of Christ.
I also had a great visit with the pastor there; He is a godly man set on pursuing Christ each day.  He sincerely loves people.  I took away two major points from my impromptu discussion with these two beloved ministers:
  1) enjoy the journey - we only get to live life once, and with all the wonderful grace and mercy the Lord has given us, we must consciously enjoy the journey
  2) The Lord has a specific place for me to minister in the Body of Christ - He will use me to glorify himself with the gifts and talents He's given me
The meeting with my college buddy was profitable as well.  He is one of those people that I can just jump right into a deep theological discussion, and he will quickly add insightful comments that I don't think of.  I am impressed with his intellect.
Of course, I love seeing my family, too.  The cotton looks incredible!  The Lord has blessed us with so much rain; I pray that the crops will be fruitful.  The weather was gorgeous while we were there; I miss it.
Through all of this craziness, I really enjoyed the time with my wife.  We had some great conversations, and she was very kind and understanding with me when some of my discussions went longer than we originally scheduled.  I am learning to enjoy her company more and more, and her sweetness astounds me.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the great opportunity to visit family and friends, and thank you for such a wonderful visit.  Lord, I pray that you will help me be a motivator to my friends and family to pursue Christ on a daily basis, even moment by moment.  I pray that I will keep looking steadily into your perfect law of love that sets me free as I do what it says.  Lord, I pray that I will refuse to let the world corrupt me and learn to control my tongue.  Lord, help me enjoy the journey you have marked out for me, and please lead me in the paths of righteousness for your namesake.  I ask these things in the name of Christ Jesus.  Amen.