Thursday, January 31, 2008

all those names

After ignorantly but valiantly wading through a hundred and fifty names in 1 Chronicles and Genesis that were transmutilated into English from the original Hebrew, I thought to myself, "Maybe I should investigate the proper pronunciation of the Hebrew names."  I did a quick search and found two interesting websites:
Now, I have no way of confirming the validity of these claims, but it seems consistent with what I've heard a few respected, seminary-educated Brothers say.  Henceforth, I shall attempt to integrate these rules of pronunciation into my reading of the Scriptures.  Granted, it doesn't make an enormous theological difference, but it does help elucidate some of the meanings.  And it helps me get into the cultural mindset of the ancient Israelites, which is fun.
I think this is cool - Gen. 47:7-10:

7 Joseph then brought his father Jacob and presented him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 8 Then Pharaoh said to Jacob, "How many years have you lived?"   9 Jacob said to Pharaoh, "My pilgrimage has lasted 130 years. My years have been few and hard, and they have not surpassed the years of my fathers during their pilgrimages." 10 So Jacob blessed Pharaoh and departed from Pharaoh's presence.

Not only did Jacob bless Pharaoh (as opposed to the other way around, which subtly indicates Jacob's superiority over Pharaoh), but I just think it's cool that Jacob used the term "pilgrimage."  It's like John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress; we Christians are on a pilgrimage of sanctification from spiritual birth (justification) to final glorification.  It's neat to see an OT example of someone on a mission/journey of following the LORD.


Heavenly Father, I pray that I will live in your presence today.  LORD, I want to know your will and obey you in a humble and genuine fellowship.  Lord, I ask that you will use me in my pilgrimage to help others get started on a pilgrimage and to encourage others along in their pilgrimage.  Lord, I ask that you bless me and expand my territory.  May I live according to your grace.  I pray this in the name of my Savior, Iesous Christos.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

meeting with Pastor

I had a wonderful meeting with the Pastor of our congregation this afternoon.  I posed a couple of theological questions and a few practical/lifestyle questions.  He confirmed several of my theological conclusions, which I believe are now not regurgitated doctrines, but internalized, tested, and approved.  To be academically honest, I momentarily suspended the beliefs taught to me as a child and tested them against Scripture, and I feel like, even though what I now believe is very similar to what I was taught, it is genuinely "my own" theology, in as much as anything could be "mine".
The main point that I came away with regarding the practical questions of financial and time stewardship is that we must keep a balance, closely in-tune with the Holy Spirit.  We must live our lives in awareness and appreciation of the presence of God.  The passage he directed me to was 2 Timothy 2:15-22 about working to live a life of purity and approval of the LORD (which is another confirmation in itself - I chose 2 Timothy 2:22 as the mission statement verse for the Bible Life Group we started a few weeks ago!).
Praise the LORD for Pastors who care for the people in their flock.  Praise the LORD for speaking through His Scriptures and His servants.  Praise the LORD!

Lordship attributes

45:5 ... It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.
Joseph is a picture of Christ.  The Father sent His Son to suffer and then sit down at the right hand of the throne of God.  He did this so that you and I could be saved from spiritual starvation.  From the perspective of the theologian John Frame, it is a demonstration of His "Lordship attribute" of control; He is able to save, and He does save.
I also think it's cool that God confirmed Jacob's move from Canaan to Egypt (46:2-4).  This is not only a confirmation of God's prophecy to Abraham in Genesis 15 (thus demonstrating His Lordship attribute of authority), but it is also a demonstration of His Lordship attribute of presence.  It is so comforting to know that our God intervenes in our lives, and He speaks to us.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to suffer the Cross - your obedient Servant.  Lord, I praise you for your goodness.  I praise you for the way you were tender with Jacob, that you comforted him and assured him.  Lord, I pray that you will speak to me.  Please give me guidance; I am lost without you.  I am nothing apart from you.  Lord, I want to abide in you; please abide in me.  I pray this in the name of the True Vine, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

reading deep

The concept of substitutionary punishment glistens in this story:
42:19 (ESV)  ... let one of your brothers remain confined where you are in custody, and let the rest go and carry grain for the famine of your households ...
Maybe I'm reading too deep, but I think this verse is a picture of Christ.  He bore the punishment of our sin, our sin against Him.  Not only are we released from custody, but by grace through faith we become Brothers with Christ, and we are enabled and commanded to "go and carry [spiritual food] for the [spiritual] famine of [mankind]."  How cool is that?
Again, I may be over-analyzing, but I think there is a picture of the trinitarian-unity in Genesis 44:30:
(BBE)  ... because his life and the boy's life are one ...
(CEV)  ... He loves him so much ...
(GNB)  ... His life is wrapped up with the life of the boy ...
(LITV)  ... his soul being bound to his soul ...
The Father and Son are One in Life, Love, and Spirit.  Pretty sweet!
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word that gives pictures of your principles.  Lord, please turn my heart toward you.  I pray that I will live your Word by sharing the hope of being set free through Christ's substitutionary punishment.  I pray that I will be one with You as Christ prayed that I will be one with You.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Jehovah's Sovereignty

I am impressed with a "small-scale turbulence" or "local variable" sovereignty (to use an environmental fluid mechanics term or computer programming term, respectively) complimenting a "large-scale turbulence" or "global variable" sovereignty.  Jehovah is clearly in control of Joseph's life, and He even works good from Joseph's brothers' intended evil.  They meant it for harm, but Jehovah used their ploy to (1) develop Joseph's character and (2) place him in leadership of the most powerful nation in the world.  Joseph was then able to administrate one of the most widespread and sustained hunger relief programs in history!  Joseph's steady, faithful obedience allows him to be used by Jehovah, and Joseph is faithful to give Jehovah the credit. (Genesis 15:12-14) And that's just the small-scale sovereignty!
The "large-scale turbulence" sovereignty plays off of Genesis 15:12-14,  where Jehovah promises Abraham that his descendants will be slaves for 400 years, but that He would save them.  Jehovah allowed/controlled these circumstances such that Jacob and his family would end up in Egypt, so that their descendants would become slaves, so that Jehovah could show His power and reveal His identity to the Israelites.
Truth:  Jehovah allows/ordains trials to grow my character and reveal Himself to me and others in my life.
Heavenly Father, I praise you for being in control.  Thank you that you never allow me to be tempted or tried beyond what I can bear, but by grace through faith, I may obey you.  Lord, I pray that I will seek your face and not only your hand.  I beg you to reveal yourself to me, and may I demonstrate a faithfulness toward you like Joseph did.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


I attended a retreat this weekend with about 50 men from our church, and the emphasis of the retreat was implementing evangelism and discipleship strategies through activities that men enjoy (like golf, hunting, fishing, running, etc.).  After a great message from our Pastor last night and wonderful prayer time, I was excited about reading my Bible this morning, and I prayed for the LORD to speak to me.
I was blown away by 35:1-10.  God told Jacob to go to Bethel.  He told his family to purify themselves for their trip.  The fear of the LORD fell on those around them as they travelled through, and Jacob built an altar to the LORD at Bethel and worshiped Him.  "God appeared to him again and blessed him,"  and God changed his name to Israel.
Application: When the LORD gives us direction, we must purify ourselves and obey.  When we have worshiped with obedience, He will reveal Himself to us, and we will find our identity in Him.
Heavenly Father, thank you for this wonderful weekend of spiritual renewal.  Thank you, LORD, for speaking through your Word to me this morning.  Lord, I pray that I will obey you in faithful purity - that I will offer myself as a holy and pleasing sacrifice in faithful obedience through the grace of your Son.  Lord, please reveal yourself to me, and may I find my true identity in You.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

the LORD's blessing

As Jacob is running away from his immediate family (to his paternal uncle's family), the LORD revealed Himself to Jacob in a dream and renewed His covenant with Abraham and Isaac.  The LORD proceeds to bless Jacob with wives, sons, and wealth as he works for his uncle Laban for at least 14 years.
It is a blessing even to know of the LORD, but it is incredible to know Him personally!  What's more, by grace through faith, we may cooperate with Him to accomplish His superior plan!  Can you believe it?!!!  The thought of a weak, depraved, and finite being like myself actually cooperating with the perfectly-holy, infinite Creator of the universe just boggles the mind.  How absurd!  No, dear friend - it is made possible by the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.
The LORD has blessed me more than I could realize, even if I spent the rest of my life trying.  He has blessed me with my compassionate and beautiful wife (my high school sweetheart) who seeks the LORD.  He has saved my marriage from destruction and turned my drifting heart toward Him again and again.  He blessed me with godly parents, wonderful brothers, and a great life growing up on the farm.  Plenty of food, clean water to drink; elementary, middle, and high school, collegiate, and graduate educations; these are blessings that even many in the US are not afforded. 
Why did God choose to bless Jacob?  Why has He blessed me so much, while others do not experience so much blessing, and some have not even heard His Name?  Is it because of something I did?  No way!  It is because of His mercy and grace!  I am humbled when I think about how He has blessed me, because I am worthless - before Christ, I was just an object of wrath.  ( Ephesians 2:1-10)
Lamentations 3:22-23
22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
       for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
       great is your faithfulness.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your infinite love that keeps us from the fires of Hell and damnation.  Thank you for revealing yourself to us, not only so that we may know of you, but that we may know you as a dear Father through the Son.  Lord, it is hard to believe that when in Faith I obey you, then I am actually cooperating with you to accomplish your good plan for my life and others around me.  Lord, as you blessed Jacob in the Abrahamic covenant, I pray that you will bless me in the New Covenant.  Lord, I pray that you will make me an Overcomer!  I ask you this in the precious name of Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb that takes away the sins of the world.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Abraham lied at least twice to political authorities about his relationship with his wife Sarah, saying they were only brother and sister (only a "half-lie").  Isaac lied at least once to political authorities about his relationship with Rebekah, saying they were only brother and sister.  Jacob shimmied Esau's birthright (extra portion of inheritance) out of him for a bowl of stew when he knew Esau was hungry enough to do something stupid.  Jacob lied at least three times to his father Isaac when he was pretending to be Esau as he stole Esau's blessing (another privilege of the firstborn).
To think that these patriarchs of our faith were perfect is absurd!  They pulled dumb stunts just like we do.  Here's the amazing thing: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not some mean and wrathful giant up in the sky looking for a chance to crack somebody over the head with a lightning bolt, He is a forgiving God of mercy and grace.  In spite of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob's failures, God is still faithful to His promise.  God is sovereign over all creation, and He uses depraved humans to accomplish His good will.
Here's another truth: GOD NEVER LIES!  Satan is the father of lies.  When we tell the truth, we behave like God.  When we deceive, we behave like Satan, the enemy of our souls.  Under NO circumstances is it acceptable to lie!  Just imagine how much better the stories would have been if Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had not lied in all of those situations - God would have done some amazing stuff!  Satan's disease is spread through the filth of our disobedience, but God's holiness is magnified in the lens of our obedience.
Lifestyle Application - No pretenses; only straight-up honesty.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy and grace.  I praise you for working your good will in spite of all of the mess I make.  Lord, please make me an honest man of integrity.  Lord, I pray that your goodness and mercy would be evident by the joy in my life, and I pray that people will sense your holiness by the way I live my life.  I pray this in the precious name of Jesus Christ, the embodiment of universal and absolute Truth itself.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Having just been through some of the most incredible stories of faith with Abraham, and seeing the LORD's mighty hand at work, why in the world does Abraham need another wife/concubine (Ketura), let alone six more children?  The child of the Promise was already there!  The text has no record of the LORD instructing Abraham to have more children, so I'm speculating that Abraham just got a hankerin' to do his own thing.  From my retrospective assessment, I think I can honestly say, "That was stupid, Abraham!  What were you thinking?!"
Sadly, it's true to real life.  We go through some great experience with the LORD, and then we turn around and do something stupid.  I was just talking to a Brother yesterday about how many American "Christians" are guilty of the sins of complacency and drifting from the LORD.  In fact, our previous Sunday School lesson was about the Israelites miraculously coming out of Egypt, receiving the Ten Commandments, and then balking the entrance to the Promise Land.  I asked the question in Sunday School, "What do we do to ensure that we don't drift away from the Lord?"  The answers are obvious and practical: read the Scriptures daily, pray consistently and genuinely, and maintain accountability in fellowship with other Believers.  Faithful iimplementation is the challenge.  You also have to be careful not to turn into a Pharisee.
Heavenly Father, don't let me slip away.  Lord, I want to draw close to you, and I pray that you will draw close to me.  I need you, Jesus, to be right here with me; thank you that you are.  Lord, turn my heart toward you, and may I despise the things of this world.  Lord, please sanctify me for your work; may I live the Overcomer's life today.  Lord Jesus, I ask for victory in your name!  Amen.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Christian heritage

My wife and I went to visit our families this past weekend.  My Granddaddy has not been doing well recently, and since my dad and two aunts were going to be there, we decided to make a visit.  I was glad we did.  Shortly before we left, we went into my Granddaddy's room and had a brief time with him.  Though he couldn't talk, he would still smile with such joy; and the look in my Grandmother's eyes was such a testimony of her faithful love.  My Granddaddy taught Sunday school for 62 years, and my dad has taught many years as well.  I just started full-time teaching last week, and I am humbled to follow in their footsteps.  My wife and I are so blessed to have Christian heritage on both sides of each of our families.
Proverbs 20:7 The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.

monumentals (part 2)

The analogies are so rich!  Abraham loved God so much that he was willing to sacrifice his own son, his "only" son.  Abraham is a picture of our Heavenly Father who, in fact, did NOT spare His only begotten Son, but sent Him to be a sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin.  It was a three day journey for Abraham and Isaac, so Isaac was as good as dead for three days - an accurate prophecy of Jesus's death, burial, and resurrection ( Hebrews 11:17-19).  What's even more is that Isaac carried the wood on his shoulders up the mountain - just like Jesus bearing the cross on the road to Calvary!  And what blows my mind, is that Abraham and Isaac may have climbed the very hill of Calvary! ( 2 Sam. 24:15-25, 2 Chron. 3:1)  It was on the hill of Calvary that the plague of sin and death was conquered by our LORD Jesus Christ!
The story of Abraham's servant going to find Isaac a wife has great figurative extension.  The servant (a picture of the Holy Spirit) goes to get a wife (the Church) for Isaac (the Son, Jesus Christ).  On Sunday evenings, our pastors have been preaching about prayer.  I really loved reading about the servant's honest and genuine prayer, based on the promise of God.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word that explains your heart.  Thank you for loving the world so much that you sent your Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Lord, thank you for your Holy Spirit that brings me to Christ, according to your promise of redemption and regeneration.  Lord, I pray that I will learn to pray honestly and sincerely according to your Word, that your will may be done on earth as it is in Heaven.  Lord, I beg you to make me an Overcomer in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Today's reading included several events in Abram's life that were not only huge to him at the time, but are still monumental for us today.  For instance:
God reveals Himself to this bum from Chaldea (Abram), tells him to go to Canaan, and gives him a seven-fold blessing (which is evangelical in itself).  What does Abram do?  He obeyed.  Wow!  How simple - God tells you to do something, and you do it! 
Lot (Abram's nephew) gets picked on by some bad guys, and Abram gets some of his buddies to go with him to take care of Lot.  As they're coming back, this King of Salem (Jerusalem, Peace) named Melchizedek comes out of nowhere and blesses Abram.  What really struck me like a gong this morning is that the Scripture says he brought BREAD AND WINE!!! Ding-Ding Ding-Ding Helloooo!  Who else do we know that busted out with some bread and wine at a significant point in His life?  Coincidence?  I think not.
The other pivotal event that I'll mention here is Abram's covenant ceremony with God.  As Abram was motionless in a semi-conscious state, God prophesied of the nation of Israel's bondage in Egypt for 400 years, and then a "smoking firepot and flaming torch" passed between a bunch of chopped up animals (as a symbol of God's unilateral covenant with Abram).
Here's the kicker for me.  Abram was just some dude that God got a hold of.  He is a type of all Christians.  He's minding his own business; God jumps into his life; he believes and obeys; God does all of this really cool stuff in his life.  15:6 And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.
Heavenly Father, thank you for breaking into my depraved world and yanking me up out of the mess I was in.  Lord, thank you for your Word that has pictures and illustrations of how I'm supposed to live.  Heavenly Father, I know that you have blessed me through Abram, in fulfillment of your covenant to Him.  You always keep your promises.  You are so gracious and kind; You are so merciful.  I am humbled that you have rescued me.  I pray that I will live my life in devoted service to you and that you will receive all of the glory for your amazing work in my life.  Jesus, thank you for your body and blood that are the bread and wine of the New Covenant.  I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Big Finale

similar thoughts as yesterday
Again, God spoke to Job from the storm/whirlwind.  This reaffirms the distinction between Job's experience and Elijah's experience.  Elijah received encouragement; Job received a rebuke.
40:1 Then the Lord said to Job, 
2 "Do you still want to argue with the Almighty?
      You are God's critic, but do you have the answers?"  
3 Then Job replied to the Lord
4 "I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers?
      I will cover my mouth with my hand.
Job illustrates that our natural response to being in the presence of the LORD is awareness of our depravity and humble recognition of His holiness.  When we are away from God, we are egotistical and proud.
In the LORD's final discourse with Job (i.e., the "big finale"), He discusses two principles - His justice and His creative work.  Of all the things God could have said to Job, these are two powerful identities:  1) He is Holy and Just, and 2) He is the Creator.
Another observation this morning is that God also rebukes three of Job's knuckleheaded friends, but He does not rebuke Elihu (the youngest that waited to speak).  This suggests to me that Elihu was on the right track, a type of prophet, if you will.
Heavenly Father, I praise you for being Holy, Just, and Creator.  As Job said, I echo:  You are so amazing that there is no way I can even approach understanding you.  Even a glimpse of you would wipe me out.  But Lord, I pray that I may dwell in your presence, because I know that it is when I am close to you that I experience reality.  It is when I draw near to you that I recognize my sinful nature and inability to do anything good.  Lord, I want to be close to you so that I will not be proud and self-centered.  I want to be close to you so that I can hear your voice, know your mind, and experience the joy of life with you.  Lord, I want to be close to you, and your Word says that if I draw close to you, that you will draw close to me.  Lord Jesus, I beg you to reveal yourself to me and keep me close to you.  Please humble me in your presence; I want to be your faithful and obedient servant.  I ask you, in the name of the Holy One, the Righteous Son, the Creator of all, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The LORD speaks

First of all, I love it that God answers Job at all; He didn't have to, but He chooses to reveal Himself to us.  Second, I think it is very interesting that the LORD speaks to Job in a storm/whirlwind (38:1, maybe referring to Elihu's final comments).  It contrasts the story with Elijah in 1 Kings 19:9-13 where God was in the whisper, not in the storm.
When we were studying Abraham and Sarah in Sunday school a few months ago, I asked the question, "How is Sarah disciplined for doubting the Lord's prophecy, but Abraham is not disciplined in Genesis 15?" My friend Jon explained that while we may be able to read the peoples' words, we cannot see their hearts.  God knows people's motives, so we must look carefully at the way the LORD responds to each person to understand his/her heart.  Here, sadly, Job is rebuked for arrogant ignorance, not commended for faith.
Finally, I appreciated reading about how the LORD takes care of all the other stuff that goes on in this world around me.  I am so egocentric.  I am so selfish.  God has a master plan through the whole world for all of time.  I need to stop thinking about me so much and more about getting on board with Him.
Heavenly Father, I help me seek first your Kingdom and your Righteousness.  Lord, I know that you are sovereign and omniscient.  I want to obey you.  Lord, please use me to reach others for your namesake.  Lord, help me think about you more and me less.  Lord, please share with me your agenda and show me how I fit into your big picture.  I pray that you will grow me, mature me, humble me, and guide me.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Elihu's preface

After all of Job's whining, it is refreshing to hear someone talk about God's sovereignty and majesty.  Elihu is the last person to speak before God rebukes Job personally.  It's almost like Elihu is preparing Job for God's address.
One verse that really ministers to me this morning is in Job 36:
16 "God is leading you away from danger, Job,
      to a place free from distress.
      He is setting your table with the best food.
This reminds me of Psalm 23, and it is a summary of the Christian life and a promise of the hope of everlasting life with God in Heaven.  How sweet of a thought, that we can be focused on the goodness to come - that such a focus is encouraged.  If we focus on the things here and now, we will be depressed like Job.  All this stuff is going to pass away, but we can set our eyes on Jesus Christ and His future glory.  We can, in a way, escape the troubles of this life by setting our thoughts on things above.  At the same time, we recognize that the Lord uses the troubles of this life to shape us into little pictures of Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word that shows us who you are and that you are always in control.  Lord, thank you for giving me hope of eternal life with you through the blood of Jesus Christ.  Lord, I pray that my hope will be evident to those around me, and that you will use me to bring hope to others.  Lord, I pray that I will have the proper attitude of persevering through trials because I know that you are using all things for your glory and my good.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, January 14, 2008

another Messianic prophecy

Job 32-34
One of my goals this year is to really focus in on the Messianic prophecies sprinkled throughout the Old Testament.  Here again, in Job 33, is another proof of Jesus:
 23 "But if an angel from heaven appears—
      a special messenger to intercede for a person
      and declare that he is upright—
 24 he will be gracious and say,
   'Rescue him from the grave,
      for I have found a ransom for his life.'
 25 Then his body will become as healthy as a child's,
      firm and youthful again.
 26 When he prays to God,
      he will be accepted.
   And God will receive him with joy
      and restore him to good standing.
 27 He will declare to his friends,
   'I sinned and twisted the truth,
      but it was not worth it.
 28 God rescued me from the grave,
      and now my life is filled with light.'
 29 "Yes, God does these things
      again and again for people.
 30 He rescues them from the grave
      so they may enjoy the light of life.
What Great News!  We were separated from God because of our sin, but Jesus Christ, the Redeemer and Anointed Messenger, has rescued us from the eternal grave and put us on a new path of enjoying the Light of Life!
One such enjoyment is when God calls you to do something, and you obey.  Yesterday was my first Sunday as a full-time Bible study teacher.  I'm excited!  I know that God is going to grow me tremendously, and I hope that He does amazing things in the lives of my Brothers and Sisters in the class.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the Grace and Mercy you offer through the Lord Jesus Christ.  Thank you for not only rescuing us from damnation but restoring us to a new life with you, full of joy, peace, and love.  God, I pray that you will grow me and my class.  I pray that you will whittle me to exactly what you want me to be.  I pray that I will be a good teacher, only speaking your words of Truth.  Lord, please bless me now.  Lord, please give me strength and discipline as I start this semester today.  I pray this in the name of Jesus.  Amen.


As you read through Job's monologues and his "friends's" rebuttles, you might begin to question whether or not he is actually blameless.  But when you read Job 31:1, you realized what a man of integrity he is:
1 "I made a covenant with my eyes
      not to look with lust at a young woman.
He is not only speaking about actions, but attitudes.  It is an attitude of the heart.  Many in todays society will argue that as long as you don't perform an act of wrongdoing, then you are OK, but Jesus (as well as Job) explain that moral character begins with the attitudes of the heart.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I will be a man of integrity to the core.  Lord, I make a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at any woman.  Lord, make me pure in your sight.  I pray that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart will be pleasing in your sight.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

God is always in control

Job 27-29
As we wrestle with the potentially permanent consequences of a certain family member's rebellious decisions, we must simply believe that God is always in control.  In some supernatural way that we can not understand, He affords each individual the opportunity to demonstrate some measure of freewill, and He can rightly and justly determine the extent to which He intervenes in that individual's life to steer him/her away from his/her choice.
I am reminded of Romans 8:28-30:
28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.  
A passage from Job 28 also reaffirms the LORD's position of sovereignty:
23 God understands the way to [wisdom] 
       and he alone knows where it dwells,  
24 for he views the ends of the earth
       and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When he established the force of the wind
       and measured out the waters, 
26 when he made a decree for the rain
       and a path for the thunderstorm, 
27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
       he confirmed it and tested it. 
28 And he said to man,
       'The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
       and to shun evil is understanding.' "
It is amazing that an infinite, all-powerful, and all-knowing Deity would create an environment where His finite, weak, ignorant, creations are given the opportunity to dynamically interact with Him.  So, as we wrestle with what may or may not occur (this afternoon), we must continue to trust that the LORD knows what He's doing.  He is capable to send an angel or do something miraculous, but if He doesn't, He is no-less sovereign, and He is no-less caring.  He will have His way.  He knows best.
Heavenly Father, I praise you because you know what you are doing.  I praise you because you are so creative that you allow us to interact with you.  Lord, I pray that I will hear you and obey you.  Lord, I pray that you will have your way with our family member.  We thank you for loving us so much that you sent your Son to die on the cross for our sins.  We know that you are ultimately in control, and we want to submit our lives to your direction.  We know that you will glorify yourself, and we pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, January 11, 2008

faithful where you are

Job 22-26
More of the same. 
Job - "I've been so wronged.  God punishes righteous people, and he blesses the wicked.  God hates me.  Wah. Wah. Wah."
Friends - "It's because you did something really bad."
Job - "You're a lousy friend."
Friends - "You're a lousy person.  No wonder God doesn't like you."
Tragically, such a small proportion of their rhetoric is true.
Anyway, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit with some long-term missionaries in Hong Kong.  My wife and I have been interested in missions, tentmaking, or Business as Missions (BAM) for a couple of years.  We submitted ourselves to the call of the LORD this past year - wherever He leads, we'll go.  No we are trying to figure out where He is leading.  The principle that I walked away from our visit with was that I need to be faithful with what the LORD has given me, and He will lead me beyond that in His timing.
Application - I am currently working on my pHd (I like to write it like that because my dissertation research involves a lot of chemistry, and I think it's funny that, since it's in development, the cases are all wrong - true ironic humour), I need to take three courses this semester (a huge graduate load), I need to write my dissertation proposal this semester, I need to get some laboratory research done, I am going to start teaching a Sunday School class this Sunday, I need to be a good husband, I need to be a good friend, I need to invest in personal Bible study every day ....   So, I really wrestle with, "What is my best?"  I simply can not devote all of my time and resources to each of my responsibilities, so I must find a compromising balance between all of my responsibilities.  All of that to say that the missionary's words to me last night were right on the money.  I need to seek the LORD's wisdom about how to be faithful with where He has placed me.
Heavenly Father, thank you that you are an ever-present, God-with-us through Jesus Christ and your Holy Spirit.  Thank you for hearing, caring about, and answering my prayers.  Lord, I pray that you will give me wisdom to know how to invest my time and energy to glorify you.  I pray that I would not neglect any responsibilities you have called me to, and that I will drop any selfish ambitions.  Lord, I pray for your Will to be accomplished in my life this semester.  Lord, I pray that I would have the right attitude - do not let me groan and be miserable like Job, but may I be full of your Spirit and His Fruit.  I pray that you will glorify yourself, and I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Job's gettin' pretty sassy, and he's fairly audacious in chapter 21 where he accuses God of punishing the innocent and prospering the wicked (directly the opposite of many Psalms and Proverbs).  I know he's embittered by his circumstances and the fact that his friends and family don't believe him (chapter 20), but some of the stuff he says is heresy.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, it is so critical that we are careful with our theology, especially under the influence of emotion.
For instance, the parents of the rebellious family member I mentioned in a recent blog are faithfully trusting that the LORD will work in this person's life.  I know that they have a lot of emotion associated with this person and circumstance, but I believe that they are sincerely trusting God and not making any interpretations about who He is based on what happens in this situation.  God is infinitely good, loving, and kind - always, forever - regardless of our perception.
In spite of Job's egocentricity, God still speaks some great Messianic and eschatelogical prophecy through his rhetoric:
19:25 "But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
      and he will stand upon the earth at last.
 26 And after my body has decayed,
      yet in my body I will see God!
 27 I will see him for myself.
      Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
      I am overwhelmed at the thought!
Heavenly Father, thank you for being unchanging.  Help me believe in you even when I don't "feel" like it.  Why am I so swayed by fleeting emotion?  Help me be stayed on the eternally stable foundation of Jesus Christ.  I know that my Redeemer lives!  Thank you for the hope of resurrection life with my Savior.  I am overwhelmed at the thought!  I pray in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

prophetic dialogue

I really enjoy the Messianic prophecies in Job.  Maybe it's because of their stark contrast to all the doom and gloom, but I just think it is fantastic that we see so many Messianic prophecies between the protoevangelion in Genesis 3 and the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12.  Jesus is the central theme of all of Scripture, and it is so sweet to find Him every morning:
16:19 Even now my witness is in heaven.
      My advocate is there on high.
 20 My friends scorn me,
      but I pour out my tears to God.
 21 I need someone to mediate between God and me,
      as a person mediates between friends.
 22 For soon I must go down that road
      from which I will never return.
Job 18:5-21 reminds me of Psalm 1.
Heavenly Father, I praise you because you are the same yesterday, today, and forever - you are the unchanging, "I AM"!  Lord Jesus, thank you for being my mediator to the Father; you are my friend.  Thank you for giving me hope and assurance of salvation beyond the grave.  Lord, I pray that you will use me to show others that Jesus is the mediator between God and man.  I pray this in His mighty name.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Over two years ago, the LORD delivered me from a habitual sin and a lifestyle of deception.  I refer to that turning point as my personal Awakening when the LORD got a hold of me and turned my heart toward Him.  Since that point, the LORD has humbled me, broken down Satan's strongholds, set me on the path of righteousness, and given me another chance at a life of integrity.
I have a family member who is experiencing a similar struggle with the world and selfish desires.  I have wrestled with whether or not it would be appropriate for me to speak with this person regarding a disobedient lifestyle.  I didn't know if it was just my frustration with this person or if the LORD truly had a Word to speak through me.  Well, yesterday, I pondered this question, "Would my concience be clear, having not spoken to this individual?"  The answer was no.
So, I called several of my close Brothers and Sisters and asked them to pray for me as I contacted this person.  I prayed about it and found three Scriptures that specifically addressed the situation.  The first time I called - no answer.  I waited five minutes - no answer.  I prayed that if the LORD wanted me to share those Scriptures that the person would answer.  Third time - ANSWER.   I simply shared what was on my heart and the Scriptures the LORD had brought to mind.
Though there was no immediate acknowledgement of truth and repentance from disobedience, I believe that the LORD's Word will not return void.  Also, I believe that I simply obeyed the Holy Spirit's prompting in my heart.  That is a testimony of what the LORD has done in my life to change me from the person I was just a few years ago.
I want to live my life in complete obedience to the Father's perfect will, and I want to hear and obey the Holy Spirit's direction in my life.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the Truth of your Word that gives us clear guidance.  Lord, thank you for the regenerating work you are doing in my life to lead me into a lifestyle of Spirit-filled integrity.  I pray that you will deliver my family member from their lifestyle of disobedience.  I pray this in the name of the Victorious Warrior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, January 7, 2008

awesome and prophetic, yet still imperfect theology

Job walked in close fellowship with the LORD, but it's amazing how our theology gets warped by certain emotions.  Some of Job's statements are right on the money, giving evidence to his humility and great understanding of God - awe inspiring:
 9:4 For God is so wise and so mighty.
      Who has ever challenged him successfully? 
 5 "Without warning, he moves the mountains,
      overturning them in his anger.
 6 He shakes the earth from its place,
      and its foundations tremble.
 7 If he commands it, the sun won't rise
      and the stars won't shine.
 8 He alone has spread out the heavens
      and marches on the waves of the sea.
 9 He made all the stars—the Bear and Orion,
      the Pleiades and the constellations of the southern sky.
 10 He does great things too marvelous to understand.
      He performs countless miracles.
Job recognizes that even if he considers himself blameless, he is still sinful compared to God's perfection.  However, some of Job's statements (while honestly expressing his immediate temporal feelings) diverge almost sarcastically from reality.  Job implies that God just likes to see him suffer (Job 10:3-9) and he suggests (you might want to sit down for this one) that God is sadistic towards all of humanity (Job 9:22-24).  This is the truth of all humanity.  We are unable to know God completely because He is infinite and we are finite.  We are swayed by our feelings.  It is so critical that we cling to the truth of His Word and the subjective leading of His Holy Spirit.
In fact, God is not malicious at all but incredibly benevolent, and He has shown His great love for the whole world; the highlight of my reading today is about Jesus, right there in Job 9:
 32 "God is not a mortal like me,
      so I cannot argue with him or take him to trial.
 33 If only there were a mediator between us,
      someone who could bring us together.
 34 The mediator could make God stop beating me,
      and I would no longer live in terror of his punishment.
 35 Then I could speak to him without fear,
      but I cannot do that in my own strength.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus as a mediator between God the perfect judge and sinful humanity.  LORD, you would be correct to destroy us all because of our disobedience - every one of us.  But because of your great love, Christ's perfect blood was offered as an atonement for the sins of all who Believe.  Jesus, I am saved because of you!  Hallelujah!  Amen!

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Job 1
1 There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.
From the previous, it's not surprising that he responded to all of the disasters with the following:
 "I came naked from my mother's womb,
      and I will be naked when I leave.
   The Lord gave me what I had,
      and the Lord has taken it away.
   Praise the name of the Lord!"
What a stud!  And, what a great perspective on eternity.  The stuff in this world is cheap.  The only think that matters is the LORD.  Amen.
Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing yourself to me.  Thank you for the Holy Spirit sanctifying me.  Lord, I want to be a man of integrity that fears you.  Lord, please teach me!  Fill me with your spirit!  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Justification and Baptism

Genesis 5, Genesis 6, Genesis 7
Genesis 5:23 Enoch lived 365 years, 24 walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

Genesis 6:9 ... Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.
I want to be a man that walks with God.
Genesis 7:13 That very day Noah had gone into the boat with his wife and his sons ... Then the Lord closed the door behind them.
Salvation belongs to the LORD!!! What a great picture of justification - PURE GRACE! Another illustration of how salvation comes through faith in the LORD! Interestingly enough, it is also another illustration that baptism comes after justification - hmmm.... Baptism cuts us off from the wickedness of the world.

(This is also another interesting case study for open or closed election.)

Heavenly Father, you are so gracious! I am in awe of your salvation! You are my salvation. Thank you, Jesus, for my salvation!

Cain and Abel as types

Cain and Abel each bring offerings to God.  God accepts Abel's but rejects Cain's.  Despite God's warning, Cain gets mad and kills Abel.
Cain is a type of humanity.  He knew what God expected, but he tried to go to God on his own merits (which God does not except).  God accepts FAITH and OBEDIENCE.  Instead, he let sin have him.
Abel is a type of Christ.  He knew God's will and did it.  He was OBEDIENT with the right attitude.
Cain is a further type of humanity in that he (humanity) killed Abel (Christ).  The sinful one killed the Obedient One.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your son to live a completely obedient life and die for my sin.  Lord Jesus, thank you for offering your righteous life to pay the penalty for my sin, so that I might become the righteousness of God.  I pray that I will live a life of faith and obedience in step with the Spirit.  I pray this in the name of the perfectly rightous ONE, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, January 4, 2008

days of creation

I have wanted to create a graphical representation of the days of creation for some time.  I am a visual person, so the task of creating the conceptual graphics of each day will help me remember the order and events of creation. 
I think it is fascinating that God took six days to create everything.  He could have simply thought it all into existence instantaneously, but He chose to make it a process.  It reminds me of my sanctification.  God could do it all at once, but He has ordained it to be a process over my whole life, and my final "day" will be the Rest of Glorification with Him forever!
Heavenly Father, I praise you for the work of creation.  I praise you because you are perfect and all-knowing.  Lord, thank you for taking time to refine me and create me into the image of Christ.  I pray that you will glorify yourself in my life.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

a picture of the cotton harvest

I took a picture with my cell phone of the cotton harvester I was operating on my dad's farm.

Happy New Year!

(Wow, it's been a while since I've blogged.)
Our Christmas and New Year break was great!  We got to see my family and my wife's family.  I helped my dad harvest cotton several days; it's the best crop EVER!!!  You just get goose bumps walking around out in the field!  It was great to see so many stars in the sky on a clear, moonless night; you can really admire God's handiwork out there in the flatlands.
On our way back home yesterday, my wife and I discussed some New Year's resolutions.  As I had resolved last year, I want to read the Scriptures each and every day.  In addition, this year I want to make diligent efforts towards developing a purposeful and strategic prayer regiment.  I still haven't figured out what I'm going to do about Scripture Memory, but I need some kind of systematic memory system like I did last year ( i.e., weekly verses).  The other major resolution is much more ambiguous, and I really don't know how to frame a metric for monitoring the success of my goal, but I really want to become more disciplined with my time.  I need to make every second count, and I see at least four primary categories: spiritual, marital, academic, and social.  I need to work towards a more appropriate balance of time and energy investments in each of these categories.
Heavenly Father, thank you for a limitless number of new beginings in our life through Jesus Christ.  I praise you that it is never too late to start doing what is right!  Lord, use me.  I beg you to do great and mighty things in my life in this upcoming year.  I want to be an overcomer with Jesus, and I pray this in the powerful name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.