Monday, January 31, 2011

building the Church

Matthew 16:1-20

 15 Then he asked them, "But who do you say I am?"  16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."

 17 Jesus replied, "You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means 'rock'), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven."

I was really challenged by Nate's sermon yesterday about spiritual reproduction.  I am excited about putting this into action in two ways.  First, there is an older Brother who lives just down the street a couple of blocks, and I have been wanting to meet with him regularly this past semester and never put forth the initiative to find a consistent time to meet.  Yesterday afternoon, we spoke on the phone, and it looks like we are going to try to fellowship every Friday morning.

Second, Brandi and I plan to branch out from the Paseo-Home (church home group) that we have been attending and start a new Paseo-Home in a couple of weeks. This will definitely stretch us, but since coming out of the teaching position at Great Hills, I have been wanting to get involved in leadership here at Paseo.  The goal with the home group is to build community and foster discipleship with the intention of branching out and forming new home groups within a year.  I think there are several couples that might come who are in graduate school, which would give us all something in common to help us build community very rapidly.

Heavenly Father, thank you for answering my prayers about giving me a mentor and giving me a leadership opportunity.  Lord, thank you for the truth that Jesus is the Messiah, which is the foundation of the Church.  Lord, may I be a faithful worker in the harvest, and may I be faithful in being a disciple and making disciples.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, January 28, 2011

so little faith

Matthew 14:22-36
Peter asked Jesus to call him out on the water, but then when Peter began to sink, Jesus asked him why he had so little faith.  I don't feel like I even have faith to jump out of the boat and walk on water in the first place.  How little my faith must be.
How do I get more faith?
Gal. 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
I think it is through obedience that we grow in our faith.
Heavenly Father, I want to know you.  Jesus, I want to know you.  Holy Spirit, I want to know you.  Maybe if I knew you, then obedience would be more obvious and simple.  Not necessarily easier, but at least more straight forward, because I would be able to see that obedience leads me closer to you.  Lord, please show me how to obey you in faith in my every day life.  How do I live in the body by faith today, Lord?  How do I know what you want me to do?  Your Word promises that there will be a voice that tells me which path to take; would you please speak to me today?  I love you, Lord, and I need you, because my life is a waste if it is outside of you.  Please draw me close to you so that I can know you and enjoy you.  And so that when you do call me out on the water, I will stay focused on walking with you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Matthew 14:1-21
14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
Later that day, he fed all 5000 men plus women and children.
If our King has compassion for people, then it seems like we should be compassionate.  And if Christ's compassion moved Him to action, then perhaps our "compassion" isn't compassion until we've done something about it.
But how do you know when to stop?  How do you know when you've done enough?  I could spend all of the money that I earn trying to help the homeless people in El Paso, and my family would be homeless before I even helped half of them.  I could spend all of my winter and summer breaks traveling around the world trying to help people get clean water, but what about the people living in the Colonias just outside of El Paso?
Heavenly Father, thank you for your compassion on us to send Jesus to rescue us.  Jesus, thank you for your compassion for us to give your life as a ransome for ours.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your compassion for us to comfort us and intercede for us with the Father.  Heavenly Father, I want to do your will.  Lord Jesus, I want to show your compassion to others.  Holy Spirit, please let me hear your voice to know what I am supposed to do when I see injustice and how far I should go to try to fix it.  Lord, please make me an agent of grace.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

infecting and believing

Matthew 13:31-58

 33 Jesus also used this illustration: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough."

54 He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, "Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?" 55 Then they scoffed, "He's just the carpenter's son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. 56 All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?" 57 And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.   Then Jesus told them, "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family." 58 And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.

I think if we truly believe in Jesus, then we realize that He is the hope and cure for the whole world - so we need to spread His message of love to the whole world.  But it starts with infecting the people around us.

Heavenly Father, may my love for you be purified and exposed to the people around me so that I may be like that Kingdom yeast.  Lord, I want to believe you and trust your Word so that you will accomplish your Will in my life.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

soil and seed

Matthew 13:1-30

We discussed this parable of the four soil types this past Thursday in our homegroup meeting.  Steve led the discussion and helped me see the importance of applying/sharing the Word.  Jesus explained that the Word was scattered on various soils, and no fruit was produced in three of them, but a huge multiplication was produced in the fertile soil.  Then Jesus said that if you listen and understand, then you will be given more understanding.  But if you don't, then what little you have will be taken from you.  It seems to me that we are certainly supposed to digest His Word and allow Him to grow it in our hearts, but we must also share His Word with others.  I need to be more faithful about sharing God's principles with other people.

Heavenly Father, please help me be fertile soil.  Lord, please dig up the rocks and weeds that are in my heart that prevent your life from growing and producing fruit in me.  Lord, please help me share your powerful, living Word with others so that they may know you and experience the joy of your life.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, January 24, 2011

a matter of the heart

Matthew 12:22-50

 33 "A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. 34 You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. 36 And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. 37 The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you."

Sometimes I don't feel like I have a good heart.  I don't feel like I love God that much.  I feel like I'm caught in a rat-race, and while I'm running and running and running - I don't feel like I'm really going anywhere.  I feel like I should be making a bigger, more observable contribution to the Kingdom.

So, what do you do when you don't "feel" like your heart is good and you really love God?  What if you feel like your heart is mixed with kind words and cutting words? 

Heavenly Father, please purify my heart.  God, I want to love you with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength, and I want to love my neighbor as myself.  Lord, please purify my heart so that I will seek you.  Lord Jesus, please grow your character and mind in me.  Holy Spirit, please produce in me the fruit of the spirit.  Please help me crucify myself so that I will be resurrected in the life of Christ.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

tough love

Matthew 10:24-42

 37 "If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. 

Maybe for someone with a bad homelife, this wouldn't be that big of a deal.  But my parents are loving, godly parents, so I love them very much.  And now that I have a son... well, this is a very difficult statement.  In fact, it is even more difficult than evaluating relationships and love - it goes all the way back to your own estimation of the value of your life:

38 If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. 39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

So how do I properly see my life as bought by the blood of Christ, and therefore already (but not yet) spent for Him and His Kingdom?  How do I love Him more than anything else and offer myself as a sacrifice to Him like He did for me?

Heavenly Father, thank you for Christ's sacrifice and the freedom that you bought for me.  Lord, please use my life as a sacrifice that is pleasing to you, and may I love you with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength so that your love will flow through me into my family and friends.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Matthew 10:1-20

 16 "Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. 17 But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. 18 You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. 19 When you are arrested, don't worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. 20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

It seems to me that we have taken for granted the "spiritual freedom" in this country.  It seems like when we say "freedom" here in the U.S., we really mean "comfort".  I am sure that some would argue that the words of Christ quoted above were intended for an ancient Jewish dozen of radicals in an ancient Jewish culture, but I can't help but wonder what kind of ruckus our lives would invoke here in the U.S. if we were truly preaching Christ as boldly as He wants.

Heavenly Father, I want to be a witness for Christ the way you want me to.  Lord, may I be as shrewd as a snake and as harmless as a dove.  May I walk with you daily, minute by minute, so that I will be in tune with your Spirit to speak through me.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

the harvest

Matthew 9:18-38

These are some of my favorite verses:

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

It shows the basic elements of Jesus's ministry, and it shows the basic plan.  He loves people, so He heals them physically and spiritually.  And He has a purpose for His disciples: to love people all over the world by healing them physically and spiritually.

Last night, Brandi prayed for the Lord to send more workers and to use our family.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus and His model of what we are supposed to be doing as His disciples.  Help me see the simple principle of loving you and loving people today.  Lord, please help me be the leader of my family and a leader in my congregation of following Jesus into the harvest.  And Lord, please send more workers.  May we be faithful and disciplined witnesses and disciple makers.  I ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Friday, January 14, 2011

narrow path

Matthew 7:15-29

Jesus is the Narrow Gate.  And a tree is recognized by it's fruit, which means that if my life is producing the fruit of the flesh, then I may not be a true follower of Christ.  Then Jesus drops this bomb:

21 "Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, 'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' 23 But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws.'

Heavenly Father, I want to do your will, but not just because that's the way to "get to Heaven".  I want to know you: Father, Son, and Spirit.  I want to be one with you - united in purpose and cooperating in movement.  Lord, please keep me on the narrow path, and anoint me with your Holy Spirit today so that I can love you and love people, be a witness for Jesus, and make disciples.  May your fruit be shown in my life for your honor and glory.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

narrow gate

Matthew 7:1-14

I was impressed with the gravity of these statements:

13 "You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

If, by the grace of God, He has led me to find the Narrow Gate, then shouldn't it be my highest goal to be used by Him to lead others to the Narrow Gate?

Heavenly Father, please use me to direct others to you.  Lord Jesus, you are the Narrow Gate.  I need you, Lord, and everyone needs the mercy of Jesus Christ.  Please use me today to lead others to you.  Lord, please keep me on the narrow way, and may I lead my family to follow you, as well.  I love you, Lord.  Thank you for your grace, which covers me; and thank you for your blood, which washes me.  I pray in the mighty name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

pay it forward

Matthew 6:19-34

19 "Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.  ... 24 "No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.  ... 31"So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Spiritually speaking, I see two points here with the "pay it forward" concept.  First, it is not karma (e.g., you do something nice for someone else, and then something nice will happen to you).  The truth is, the things of this world are corrupt, so we should invest as little as possible into the things of this world, but only as they may be used to advance the Kingdom.  It's a no-brainer when you look at it from this perspective: invest what will decay and disappear (money and time) into what will last forever (God and His Kingdom). The second point that I see is that it is not the action alone that secures the investment in eternity, it is the action coupled with the attitude of your heart.  If you love money, but you grudgingly "give" to the church, then you are only fooling yourself.  We must have a joyful and cheerful heart before the Lord, and then He will motivate our hands to give humbly to Him out of a loving response to His infinite love.

Heavenly Father, please purify my heart so that I will joyfully and cheerfully give the time and money that you have trusted me to steward for your Kingdom.  Lord, please use my life to honor you and grow your Kingdom.  Lord, please guard me from wasting my life and the opportunities that I have on silly things of this world that are really not silly but evil and wicked.  Lord, please turn my heart away from greed, pride, and lust.  Lord, I need to see you so that I will know how valuable you are and seek after you only instead of being distracted by the things of this world.  Lord, please give me your eyes to see my life, my opportunities, and the people around me from your perspective so that I will know how I can cooperate with you in your Kingdom.  I love you, Lord, and I need you.  Please take hold of me and use me today through the anointing of the Holy Spirit so that I can be a witness and disciple-maker for Jesus.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

purity of heart: pride

Matthew 6

3 But when you give to someone in need, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. ...
6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. ...
14 "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. ...
17 But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. 18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Why do I care so much about what people think?  When we were singing praises at our church gathering on Sunday morning, I was really enjoying singing with Brandi since it was the first time that Beau wasn't acting so crazy in the nursery that we felt like we should take care of Him.  Then Pastor Greg walked up and stood by us.  Then my mind was hijacked by my pride as I thought, "I wonder if Greg can hear me singing.  I wonder if he thinks I am a good singer.  Maybe he will suggest that I join the praise team."  So much for worshiping God; I was only worshiping myself, and I'm not even that good of a singer.  How pathetic - to waste time being narcissistic when I could have been worshiping the Almighty God who deserves all praise.  Man, I wish I could kill that pride.

Heavenly Father, I am sorry that I am so self-centered.  Please forgive me and purify my heart from the pride of flesh.  Lord, please set my mind on the Spirit.  I need to know you, to hear you, and to obey you.  Lord, please use me to honor you instead of myself.  I love you, Lord.  I need Jesus, and it is in His name that I pray.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Matthew 5:17-48 
 You are the Salt and Light. Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. Then He extended the law from actions only to apply to thoughts and attitudes, and He gave us a few case studies like anger and lust.  Then He raised the bar again:
48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Unfortunately, if this was a high-jump competition, the bar just went from a tough 6'2" to an impossible 30,000'.
Heavenly Father, I need you.  Lord Jesus, I need you to crucify my flesh and resurrect yourself in me.  Holy Spirit, I need my heart, mind, and soul to be controlled by you and not my flesh.  Please set my mind on the Spirit today, and may I be obedient to you.  Lord, please make me perfect in Christ.  I ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

slow it down

Matthew 3:13-17

I figured out a plan to read the whole New Testament in one year.  If I have counted and added correctly, then you can read "half" of a chapter each day through the 89 chapters of the Gospels (which will take 178 days, almost half of a year), one chapter per day through the 28 chapters of Acts, half of a chapter each day through the 16 chapters of Romans, and then one chapter per day from 1 Corinthians through Revelation for a total of 365 days of reading.

The reason I want to do this reading plan is so that I can slow down to really study the Scriptures, not just read through them.  I plan to read through Witness Lee's commentary on the New Testament as I go along.

Here is one comment from Witness Lee that I found especially encouraging (his fourth note on Matthew 1:17):

"Luke's record begins with Jesus and traces back to God.  Matthew's record proceeds from Abraham to Christ.  Luke goes back and up to God; Matthew comes forward and down to Christ.  All the generations were directed to Christ and brought in Christ.  Christ is the goal, the consummation, the conclusion, the completion, and the perfection of all the generations; as such, He fulfills their prophecies, solves their problems, and meets their needs.  When Christ comes, light, life, salvation, satisfaction, healing, freedom, rest, comfort, peace, and joy all come with Him.  From this point on, the whole New Testament is a full expounding of this wonderful Christ, who is everything to us.  Hallelujah, Christ has come!"

Heavenly Father, thank you for Christ.  Thank you for arranging His ancestors and showing us that Christ brings salvation to the whole world.  Thank you for showing that by faith, I can come to you, and you will clean me up and use me for your purposes.  Lord, I want to be used by you.  Please help me stay focused on you and your kingdom.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

beatitudes, salt and light

Matthew 5
  • poor in spirit
  • mournful
  • humble
  • hungry and thirsty for righteousness
  • merciful
  • pure hearted
  • peaceful
  • persecuted for righteousness
  • mocked and persecuted for following Christ
These are the ones who will see God, know Him, know His will for their lives, and do His will.  I also think this list of attributes describes Jesus, who I am following.

I taught several lessons through "Becoming a Contagious Christian" several months ago, and the attributes of salt and light that we focused on were:
  • Salt: close proximity and high potency
  • Light: clear communication of reality/truth
I think this passage matches well with James's statement that faith without works is dead.  If you are a disciple of Christ, then you are salt and light.  If you are salt and light, then you will necessarily impact your sphere of influence.

Heavenly Father, please help me be focused on you and your character.  Lord, please continue to grow your character in me so that I look more and more like Jesus.  I know that you are doing this anyway, but I want you to know that I want it.  Lord Jesus, I am following you, and I know that this means that I will be in conflict with the world and the enemy.  But I know that you have already overcome the world!  Holy Spirit, please speak to me and through me today.  Jesus, you are my King!  Father, I pray in His name. Amen.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Words of Christ

Matthew 4

4 But Jesus told him, "No! The Scriptures say,

   'People do not live by bread alone,
      but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

7 Jesus responded, "The Scriptures also say, 'You must not test the Lord your God.'"

10 "Get out of here, Satan," Jesus told him. "For the Scriptures say,

   'You must worship the Lord your God
      and serve only him.'"

I have often overlooked the, "Get out of here, Satan." statement in Jesus's third response to the Devil's temptation, but now that seems important.  My goal today is to meditate on these three statements of Christ.  Also, I am impressed with the fact that the message of John the Baptist was the same as the message of Jesus:

17 From then on Jesus began to preach, "Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near."

It seems to me that the message we preach as disciples of Christ is the same in preparation for His Second Coming as it was for His First Coming.  I need to be more faithful in preaching this simple message and sharing my experience of the Lord.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your Son Jesus.  Lord, thank you for your life-giving words.  I need you, Lord - more than I know.  Please rescue me from my selfish pride, and give me strength to humbly follow you.  Holy Spirit, please speak to me, and may I be quick to obey.  I love you, Lord, and I ask in the name of Christ Jesus.  amen.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Matthew 1

I have a few goals this year. I read through the whole Bible last
year, so I think I will slow down and read the New Testament thIs year
with Brandi. I want to learn to meditate. Also, I want to get into
several mentoring/discipleship relationships, which includes me being
mentored and me mentoring. I also need to grow in prayer and Scripture
memory. And I need to be a better husband, father, friend, and
professor. Of course, several of these goals need quantifiable metrics
to make them measurable and attainable.

Heavenly Father, please help me be a better disciple of Christ this
year. Thank you for the growth that you have given me this past year.
Please help me stay focused on knowing you and seeking you. Holy
Spirit, I need your touch - more than ever before! I want to walk
with you and obey you. Please use me. I ask because of Christ. Amen