Friday, July 30, 2010


Psalm 51-53, Acts 13

 51:7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
      wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. ...
 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
      Renew a loyal spirit within me. ...
 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
      and make me willing to obey you. ...
 17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
      You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to be washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ.  Thank you for continuing to purify me and make me holy.  Holy Spirit, wash me with the Word.  Lord, please fill me with joy from your unfailing love.  Lord, I pray that you would have your own way with me, and that my will, heart, mind, and emotions would be yielded and still before you.  May your name be praised, and may my life be an example of your grace and mercy.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Psalm 49-50

49:7Truly no man can ransom another,
   or give to God the price of his life,
8for the ransom of their life is costly
   and can never suffice,
9that he should live on forever
   and never see the pit. ...
15But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
   for he will receive me.

50:9I will not accept a bull from your house
   or goats from your folds.
10For every beast of the forest is mine,
   the cattle on a thousand hills. ...
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
   and perform your vows to the Most High,
15and call upon me in the day of trouble;
   I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me."

Heavenly Father, thank you for redeeming my life with the death of Jesus Christ.  Lord, I trust you to save my soul from death and bring me to live with you in harmony forever.  Holy Spirit, please purify my heart, mind, will, and emotions that I may live righteously to honor you.  Thank you for delivering me, and I pray that my life will bring you praise.  Thank you for your grace, which is all that I need.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

the Beautiful Christ and His Church

Psalm 43-45

Last week's discussion in Bible Life and the previous week's sermon was focused on sacrificial living from Romans 12:1-2.  These verses from Psalm 43 are stuck in the middle of Romans 8:28-39, and I think I need to meditate on this truth:

 22 But for your sake we are killed every day;
      we are being slaughtered like sheep.

But as for the title of this entry, I was impressed by the application of Psalm 45 to Christ and His Church:

 2 You are the most handsome of all.
      Gracious words stream from your lips.
      God himself has blessed you forever.
 3 Put on your sword, O mighty warrior!
      You are so glorious, so majestic!
 4 In your majesty, ride out to victory,
      defending truth, humility, and justice.
      Go forth to perform awe-inspiring deeds!

 9 ... At your right side stands the queen,
      wearing jewelry of finest gold from Ophir! ...
 11 For your royal husband delights in your beauty;
      honor him, for he is your lord. ...
 13 The bride, a princess, looks glorious
      in her golden gown.
 14 In her beautiful robes, she is led to the king,
      accompanied by her bridesmaids.

As I pray for my pastor and other pastors among my friends and family today, I ask the Lord to give them a vision of the Eternal Church as the Beautiful Bride of Christ.  I pray that we will put on Christ as our Righteous Robe, and that He will be pleased with our purity.

Heavenly Father, may your name be praised and exalted among the nations.  Lord, I pray that you will be honored by the beauty of the Church.  Lord Jesus, I pray that the Church will honor you because you are Her Lord.  I love you, Lord.  May your Church love you more devotedly.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, July 23, 2010

the Lord is so faithful and kind!

Psalm 33-34

The Lord is so kind!  He answered my prayers and blessed me with favor among my dissertation committee so that all that they asked me to do was make some revisions and corrections to my dissertation (i.e., I don't have to repeat any experimentation or mathematical modeling).

33:4 For the word of the Lord holds true,
      and we can trust everything he does.
 5 He loves whatever is just and good;
      the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth.
8 Let the whole world fear the Lord,
      and let everyone stand in awe of him.
20 We put our hope in the Lord.
      He is our help and our shield.
 21 In him our hearts rejoice,
      for we trust in his holy name.
 22 Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
      for our hope is in you alone.

34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is good.
      Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Heavenly Father, you have been so kind and faithful to me.  I am in no way worthy of your grace and mercy, but you are so loving and kind.  I pray that others will see your goodness to me and be drawn to you.  May my life be a vessel through which your pour out your goodness to others.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

defending today

Psalm 31-32

As I make final preparations to defend my dissertation this morning at 10:00am, the Psalms that I read this morning were so encouraging!  And the Lord is so kind, as Brother David was getting on the bus this morning, he prayed for me in the isle of the bus!

 31:1 O Lord, I have come to you for protection;
      don't let me be disgraced.
      Save me, for you do what is right.
 2 Turn your ear to listen to me;
      rescue me quickly.
   Be my rock of protection,
      a fortress where I will be safe.
 3 You are my rock and my fortress.
      For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger.

 14 But I am trusting you, O Lord,
      saying, "You are my God!"
 15 My future is in your hands.
      Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
 16 Let your favor shine on your servant.
      In your unfailing love, rescue me.
 17 Don't let me be disgraced, O Lord,
      for I call out to you for help.

 19 How great is the goodness
      you have stored up for those who fear you.
   You lavish it on those who come to you for protection,
      blessing them before the watching world.
 20 You hide them in the shelter of your presence,

 23 Love the Lord, all you godly ones!
      For the Lord protects those who are loyal to him,
      but he harshly punishes the arrogant.
 24 So be strong and courageous,
      all you who put your hope in the Lord!

Heavenly Father, thank you so much for your kindness and faithfulness to me.  I love you, Lord!  May you receive honor and praise from my life.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

praise the Lord!

Psalm 29-30

 29:2 Honor the Lord for the glory of his name.
      Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

30:4 Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!
      Praise his holy name.
 5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
      but his favor lasts a lifetime!
   Weeping may last through the night,
      but joy comes with the morning.

Last night, Brandi and I went to dinner to celebrate our eighth anniversary!  Praise the Lord!  He has been so kind to me to bless me with a faithful and loving wife.  She is such a beautiful woman, and she means more to me each day.  I am so thankful for her.  She is such a wonderful mother, too!

Heavenly Father, thank you so much for blessing me with a wonderful partner in life.  I know that you have brought us together for your purpose, and I pray that you will receive all of the praise and honor for the good things that you do in our marriage and through our marriage.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

desires and satisfaction

Psalm 26-28

Psalm 18:1 I love you, O LORD, my strength.

May he give you the desire of your heart
       and make all your plans succeed.

 5 We will shout for joy when you are victorious
       and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.
       May the LORD grant all your requests.

21:1 O LORD, the king rejoices in your strength.
       How great is his joy in the victories you give!

 2 You have granted him the desire of his heart
       and have not withheld the request of his lips.

 24:3 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD ?
       Who may stand in his holy place?

 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
       who does not lift up his soul to an idol
       or swear by what is false.

 5 He will receive blessing from the LORD
       and vindication from God his Savior.

 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
       who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

27:4 One thing I ask of the LORD,
       this is what I seek:
       that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
       all the days of my life,
       to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
       and to seek him in his temple.

8 My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
       Your face, LORD, I will seek.

Heavenly Father, I pray that I will desire to know you and love you.  Lord, please draw me to seek you.  I need your grace, Lord.  I am weak and distracted; please let me focus my heart, mind, will, and emotions on knowing you and loving you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

not-so-random conversations

At various points along our trip to San Diego, the Lord had us cross
paths with several people, and the Lord used these conversations to
mature my perspective of several principals.

Maria sat across the isle and slightly behind me on the flight from
Austin to San Diego. She is a mother of several teenagers and lives
in Austin. We didn't say much on the plane, but after landing, I told
her that I noticed that she was reading the Scriptures and asked her
if she was part of a church in Austin. She told me that she had been
attending a congregation, but she didn't feel like she really fit. I
invited her to visit our church and told her a little about it. She
told me that she was searching for a place with a teaching pastor. It
made me realize that so many Christians are just treading water
because too many "preachers" aren't living out their charge in Eph.
4:11-16. As we were collecting our luggage at baggage claim, she told
me, "I can tell that you have the Spirit of God in you." I was
shocked. I had never consciously thought about someone noticing and
verbalizing the presence of God in my life. When I was discussing the
conversation with Brandi afterward and how amazing it was that someone
would notice God's presence in me, Brandi said, "That should be common
place." Indeed, my desire is that Christ will increase and I will
decrease, and that I will keep in step with the Holy Spirit so that
everyone that I come in contact with will know Him and His love.

We caught a bus from the airport to the transit center where we
purchase several four-day passes. As we were paying for our passes, a
homeless lady came in carrying an infant bundled up in a blanket, and
asked loudly, "I need a day-pass; would someone buy me a day-pass."
Brandi leaned over and asked if we could buy her a ticket, so we did,
and the lady was very appreciative. Walking out of the transit
center, Brandi told me that it wasn't a baby that she was holding; it
was a stuffed animal. She was mentally handicapped. My heart sank.
Why aren't evangelical Believers of all denominations not uniting in
compassionate ministries for the homeless, widow, fatherless, and
alien? Why isn't the Body of Christ characterized by her sacrificial

Bonnie is a middle-aged lady, and she was standing at the trolley
station when we walked up. She was pleasant and very interested in
Beau. We found out that her daughter and son-in-law live near San
Antonio and enjoy the party scene in Austin. She also told us that
she is actively searching for a job; she sends out dozens of
applications and resumes each day. To give herself a break, she rides
the trolley from one end to the other - to keep from going crazy. It
reminded me that I am so blessed to have a job, especially in this
economy. I can imagine how frustrating it is to search for a job,
especially without a relationship with the Lord. I pray that the Lord
will bless her with a good job soon, and I pray that she will find the
eternal joy and peace of a walk with Him.

Scrambling to get our stroller, diaper bag, and son on the bus with us
to the zoo, we plopped ourselves down next to Shirley at the front of
the bus. She was very kind to make room for us and accommodate our
stroller stuck in between the seats. After a little conversation, she
told us that she was only a few months in San Diego - starting a new
life. She had lived several other places, but she said that she was
tired of watching life go by. She was living at the YWCA and starting
a culinary school with a focus in pastries. She told us that she
wanted to open a little bakery in a small town, sell coffee and
sweets, and call it "Just Desserts." Thinking about Bonnie and
Shirley, I am reminded of Proverbs 29:18: "Where there is no vision,
people perish..."

Waiting on a bus from the zoo back to the hotel, there was a lady who
walked up to the bus stop with her husband, and she was cursing about
the bus schedule. She went on and on about whether or not the bus was
early or late and how hungry she was, but she wanted something
substantial to eat because she was tired of eating the cheap food that
"they" were giving her, and there weren't any good restaurants near
their hotel, and they were going to have to walk from the bus stop to
their hotel because the bus didn't go all the way to the hotel even
though the guy at the hotel told them that it did, and how long were
they going to have to wait for the next bus because she was hungry,
and ... So, I thought I would try to give her some peace of mind by
reassuring her that the bus was scheduled to pick up in another ten
minutes. She began to tell me that she was diabetic and she needed
some good food. I tried to look up a bus schedule and some
restaurants for her on my phone, and while I don't think I really
helped her that much, she did seem to calm down a little. Afterward,
I couldn't help but think about her lostness; she just seemed so lost.
It wasn't like she was malicious or overtly evil or anything, just
lost. It reminded me of the foggy bus stop and subsequent
conversations in CS Lewis's The Great Divorce. One of the most
impressive points in those fictional conversations was the divergence
from the Lord of those who don't know Him and the convergence into Him
of those who love Him.

Heavenly Father, you are sovereign and good. Lord, please give me
humility and compassion so that I can be used by you to engage people
with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Lord, please fill me with the fruit
of the Holy Spirit, and may I keep in step with the Spirit as you pour
your love through me. You are so kind and gracious, Lord. I pray in
the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

seeing His face

Job 41-42

Beau fell asleep in Brandi's arms on the bus back from the zoo to our hotel. At one point, there was a loud noise and Beau was startled. He opened his eyes to see what was going on, but as soon as he saw Brandi's face, he went back to sleep.

God never answered Job's question of why all that terrible stuff happened. But as soon as Job saw God and heard Him speak, he was reassured that he could trust God with his life.

42: 1 Then Job replied to the LORD :
 2 "I know that you can do all things;
       no plan of yours can be thwarted.
5 My ears had heard of you
       but now my eyes have seen you.

Heavenly Father, please help me trust you even when I don't understand what is going on.  Lord, may I know your presence and be faithful to you.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

praise the Lord for his faithfulness

The Lord is so kind to have enabled me to submit my dissertation earlier this evening.  I am so grateful for His strength, because I could not have done this.

God's faithfulness

Job 36-37

By the Lord's kindness, I will submit my Request for Final Oral Examination to the Graduate School this morning.  I have a couple of sections in my dissertation to complete before submitting it to my committee later today.  The Lord has been so faithful and kind to bring me this far.

36:5 "God is mighty, but he does not despise anyone!
      He is mighty in both power and understanding.

Heavenly Father, thank you so much for carrying me along.  I praise you for your plan.  Thank you that your plan included grace for me.  Thank you for salvation in Jesus Christ and a purpose in your Kingdom.  Lord, please grow me and mature me into better unity with you and your will.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

sustaining grace

Job 34-35

Monday was one of the most anxious days of my life. I had been rushing to
get a mathematical model to work for three days, and the reality that it
simply wasn't going to happen finally set in. I was so worried about what
would happen. What if the committee didn't pass me?

Yesterday morning, I realized that so much of my frustration and fear
is self-inflicted. At some level, I think I am guilty of pride in
wanting to show off to the committee "Look what I did." Instead, the
Lord is using this situation to humble me and help me realize that He
has led me here, and He will carry me on. My progress/success is not
based on how clever I am, but on how faithful God is in spite of my
weakness and ignorance.

34:14 If God were to take back his spirit
and withdraw his breath,
15 all life would cease,
and humanity would turn again to dust.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your sustaining grace. I pray that I
will humbly follow you. Please deliver me from pride and worldliness.
May I work for you and not for me. May my love for you and the joy
of Life in Christ be apparent to others, especially during pressing
circumstances. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who knows real
Suffering. Amen.

Monday, July 5, 2010

fear of the Lord

Job 30-31

I am glad that I am reading Job right now.  It helps me keep in good perspective the magnitude of finishing this dissertation.  When I feel so overwhelmed with this dissertation/graduation stuff, I am reminded how much Job suffered.  More than that, I am reminded how much Christ suffered on the Cross.  This trial is small beans compared to that.

Job listed out a bunch of bad things that he would never do (like neglecting the poor, the widow, or the fatherless), and then he explained why he would never do those things:

 23 For I dreaded destruction from God,
       and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things.

If only I had that kind of fear - fear of His mighty justice.  I think I would better appreciate the suffering of Christ in bearing the weight of sin on the Cross.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy shown by Christ's sacrifice.  Lord, thank you for saving me from sin and death and for continuing to make me holy and give me Life.  I love you, Lord.  I want to know you and walk with you.  I want to serve you and honor you.  I care more about pleasing you than pleasing people.  I long to spend eternity with you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, July 2, 2010

nugget of good theology

Job 22-24, Acts 8

In the midst of a long assault on Job's character that was not only false, but quite nasty, there is buried a sweet little nugget of theology (as long as you don't mistake it for the gospel of prosperity):

 22:21 "Submit to God, and you will have peace;
      then things will go well for you.
 22 Listen to his instructions,
      and store them in your heart.
 23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored—
      so clean up your life.
 24 If you give up your lust for money
      and throw your precious gold into the river,
 25 the Almighty himself will be your treasure.
      He will be your precious silver!

 26 "Then you will take delight in the Almighty
      and look up to God.
 27 You will pray to him, and he will hear you,
      and you will fulfill your vows to him.
 28 You will succeed in whatever you choose to do,
      and light will shine on the road ahead of you.
 29 If people are in trouble and you say, 'Help them,'
      God will save them.
 30 Even sinners will be rescued;
      they will be rescued because your hands are pure."

Heavenly Father, please capture the attention of my heart!  Lord, may I desire you only, and may your Life, Love, and Light flow through me.  Oh Lord Jesus, please be my treasure!  I want so badly for my heart to undividedly and singularly desire you!  I am your servant and disciple; please draw me close to you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

temporary injustice

Job 20-21

Job's "friends" kept telling him that he must be a wicked man since all this bad stuff happened to him.  In these two chapters, Job pointed out that God doesn't always punish the wicked immediately.  (And it's a good thing, too, or else, we would all be in a world of hurt.)  Sometimes, (maybe even most of the time), God allows a wicked man to be comfortable and wealthy up to the day that he dies.  But don't confuse the comforts of this psychological life with the reality of the ZOE life.

I had a great conversation with a professor here at Texas who is a Believer and has been teaching for a couple of decades.  I asked him a couple of questions trying to get advice for my new role as an assistant professor coming up this fall.  He basically replied by saying that if I am faithful to pursue the Lord every single day, then the Lord will provide and lead me where He wants me to go.  He reminded me that the true life is the ZOE life, and all of the responsibilities that I have (family, church, vocation, etc.) should all flow out of my dynamic walk with Christ and His power through the Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, I pray that I will see my life the way you see it.  Please don't let me be distracted with the things of this world, especially the pressures of being a professor and making tenure.  Lord, may I simply love you, day-in-day-out, and may I continue to grow in the dynamic sensitivity to the Holy Spirit's guidance each moment.  I love you, Lord, and I want to be closer to you today than I was yesterday.  And I want to be closer to you tomorrow than I was today.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.