Sunday, October 30, 2011

a lifestyle of relational discipleship

2 Timothy 2

As the years go by, and I think about the commission of our Lord (Matt. 28:28-20), chapter 2 of 2 Timothy means more and more to me.

2 Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. 2 You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. 3 Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. ... 8 Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach. ... 10 So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen. ... 15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. ... 21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.  22 Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.

I am thankful for Brothers (like Jon Houser and RF Pennington) who have shown me examples of what it looks like to live out these verses.

Heavenly Father, I want to be obedient to Christ, and I want to be used by you to make disciples.  Please help me focus on the important things and not get distracted by theological/spiritual knowledge, which can turn people into Pharisees.  I want to live a life of relational discipleship, being used by you in a cascade of disciples.  I love you, Lord.  Please help me focus my attention and heart on you only.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

limited atonement?

1 Timothy 4

The "L" in the "TULIP" of "Calvinism" stands for "Limited Atonement" (  I'm not sure that I understand the exact theological meaning of "Limited Atonement", but from what I have heard, the basic idea is that Jesus died only for those who believe.  But when I consider the following verses, it seems to me that Christ died for ALL:

John 3:16 "For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

1 Tim. 4:10 This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace and mercy through Christ.  Lord, please help me share your good news with everyone, and help me be a disciple of Christ and make disciples of Christ.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Christ.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

great mystery

1 Timothy 3

16 Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith:

   Christ was revealed in a human body
      and vindicated by the Spirit.
   He was seen by angels
      and announced to the nations.
   He was believed in throughout the world
      and taken to heaven in glory.

The term "mystery" does not mean that it is not understandable (Albert Barnes).  This is only a "mystery" in the sense that it was not revealed until Christ fulfilled it (1 Cor. 2:7).  Verse 16 provides a nice snapshot of Christ's deity and humanity, His ministry and mission on earth, and His eternal glory.

I want to participate in announcing to the nations and helping people believe throughout the world so that we can all spend eternity with Christ.

Heavenly Father, please help me be useful to advancing the Kingdom of Christ.  Lord, if you desire me to serve in a position as an elder or deacon, then please prepare me and my family for that spiritual responsibility.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, October 24, 2011

grace alone

1 Timothy 2

1 Tim. 1:14 Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. 15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.

1 Tim. 2:4 [God] wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

It is only by the grace of God that I know Him.  It is only by His grace that He saves me through Jesus Christ.  It is His grace that I have air to breath, water to drink, food to eat, shelter to live in, and a job to work.  It is His grace that I have a sweet wife who loves me and cares for me and our boys.  It is His grace that I have two healthy boys to train to follow Christ.  It is His grace that I have a local church to be connected to as we love God and love people together.

Heavenly Father, you are so kind and generous.  You are taking care of me, and I want to be grateful and thankful for how you have blessed me in Christ.  Lord, please use me; I want my life to be useful to you.   Please give me your joy and peace.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

sons of the light

1 Thess 5

5 For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don't belong to darkness and night. 6 So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. 7 Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. 8 But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.

 9 For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. 10 Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. 11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

We must let our light shine before men so that they may see our good deeds and praise our Father in Heaven.  We are following the Light, and we are reflecting Him so that others may be drawn to Him and experience His mercy, grace, love, forgiveness, peace, joy, and hope.

Heavenly Father, please help me be sober-minded and focused clearly on you.  Though we walk in a dark world, please help us shine your light and lead others to experience your love.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Spiritual viscosity

1 Thess. 3

In the study of fluid mechanics, viscosity is the property of the fluid which accounts for the transmission of the momentum of a small packet of fluid to it's adjacent neighbors. That is, viscosity quantifies the tendency of one packet of fluid to influence the speed of it's neighboring packets of fluid. For example, if a fluid has a very high viscosity, then the whole mass of fluid will tend to flow all together (like honey). However, if the viscosity is low, then some fluid may move quickly, while adjacent fluid moves slowly.

I think the communication to our Brothers and Sisters in Christ of our spiritual faithfulness to the Lord (i.e., "accountability") is spiritual viscosity:

So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith.  It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 3:7, 8 NLT)

It is essential that we communicate our faithfulness, as well as our struggles, to our Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  It is through this accountability that we can take care of each other and ensure that we all stay moving forward together.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the encouragement of my Brothers who are pursuing you faithfully.  Lord, please help me be an encouragement to my Brothers and Sisters.  Please help me walk with you and keep in step with you, and please help that rub off on the Brothers and Sisters that I am running this race with.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

live your lives in Him

Colossians 2

 6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

In the church I grew up in, I feel like an enormous emphasis was placed on "accepting Jesus as Lord", but it didn't seem like there was a rigorous training on "continuing to live our lives in him".  I think you can teach about spiritual disciplines (e.g., praying, reading the Scriptures, meditating, praising, evangelizing, etc.), but unless they are practiced together with other Brothers and Sisters in a small group environment, I think they become more mechanical movements of a religion instead of an expression of the life of Christ in us.  I think I need to do a better job of living my life in Christ with His Body.

Heavenly Father, I want to be connected to you through Christ.  I want to be connected to Christ through your Holy Spirit and through the Body of Christ.  Lord, you have blessed me with some genuine Brothers and Sisters here; please help us walk with you all together.  We want to know you deeply and experience your love and grace together. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Colossians 1

Yesterday, I read Philippians 4, and I think I really need to focus on these verses for a while:

 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I have been pretty stressed and anxious about work, and I need to rejoice in the Lord and trust Him instead of worrying.  But it is not as easy as just saying it.  It truly requires a focus of the mind and heart.

I think verses 11-14 of Col. 1 reinforce where our peace comes from (i.e., focusing on God and His goodness instead of ourselves and our weakness):

 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Heavenly Father, thank you for redeeming us from death and sin and bringing us into your kingdom of light, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  Thank you for forgiving us and empowering us through your Spirit to live a life worthy of you.  We want to please you and bear your good fruit so that others may taste and see that you are good.  Please strengthen us with endurance and patience so that we can run this race to finish and honor you.  Please deliver us from distractions and temptations; help us set our eyes and heart on Jesus Christ.  I love you, Lord.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Friday, October 7, 2011

utilitarian perspective

Phil 1

OK, so it's not exactly utilitarianism, but I usually see my faith and my experience with Christ centered on me and for my benefit instead of centered on Christ and advancing His Church:

20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don't know which is better. 23I'm torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. 25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. ... 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. 30 We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.

Heavenly Father, please help me see my faith and my experience of you as a part of your plan where the focus is on Christ, not on me.  Lord Jesus, please help me see myself as your servant instead of you as my servant.  Lord, please help me see my life and death as beneficial to you and your Church, and help me live that way.  I love you, Lord.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

spiritual reality

Ephesians 6

 10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Many times I get so busy that I forget about the spiritual reality.  It is easy for me to get so busy with my schedule and all of the stuff I need to accomplish that I forget that we are in an epic battle that counts for eternity.

Heavenly Father, please help me be aware of the spiritual reality, and please help me be prepared for spiritual battle.  Please deliver me from myself and empower me with your Holy Spirit so that I can be used by you to defeat the enemy and lead other people into a relationship with you for eternity.  I love you, Lord.  Please give me a sober and clear mind to see the importance of every hour of every day for eternity.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

children of God, children of the Light

Ephesians 5

 1 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. ... 8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! 9 For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. ... 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

What does the Lord want me to do?  He wants us to love and worship Him, and love people.  He wants us to make disciples.  He wants us to not let the world corrupt us, but instead shine His light by consistently obeying the Spirit's leading in our lives.

For me, right now, I think I need to grow in joy and peace and not be so anxious and stressed.  I need to learn how to rest in God and trust Him.  I need to realign the focus of my life to honor God and follow Him.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your kindness and love.  Thank you for adopting me as your child.  Lord, I am a child of God by faith in Jesus Christ, and the life of Christ is living in me.  Please help me die to myself daily and let the life of Christ fill me.  Holy Spirit, please sharpen my heart and mind to hear you and obey you.  I want to follow you, and I want to be used by you.  I love you, and I need you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

things that matter

Ephesians 4

I realized this morning that my mind is often focused on things that don't really matter in eternity.  I think these are some very important truths, things that do matter for eternity:

11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

 14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

... 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

Corporate and individual (though they are inextricable).  Unity with the Body, and unity with Christ.  Loving people, and loving God.  These are practical objectives/metrics for the Church.  Are we making disciples of Christ; am I living like a disciple of Christ? 

A disciple of Christ is a disciple-maker.

Heavenly Father, I love you.  Thank you for your grace and mercy through Jesus Christ.  Holy Spirit, please empower me with inner strength today.  I want to be focused on the eternal things; I want to be focused on you.  Please help me love you and love people through my work.  I'm feeling a disconnect these days; please renew my understanding/vision of what my ministry is here so that I can express you for others to find you and walk with you.  Show me how to be a disciple maker and unity promoter here.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, October 3, 2011

eternal plan

Ephesians 3

I am so thankful for a healthy, beautiful baby boy.  The Lord has blessed us with our second son, Jude.  One of the reasons I liked the name Jude was for Jude 24-25:

 24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

This weekend, we drove up to Albuquerque to see the hot air balloon fiesta.  It was great!  Beau loved it.

When I read in Eph. 3 about God's mysterious, eternal plan being revealed and accomplished through Christ and His Church, I am both encouraged and overwhelmed.  As I consider the routine of my daily/weekly schedule, I feel like my life is not so eternal.

 12 Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God's presence. ...

 14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

I know that I should be maturing spiritually, and I should be growing closer to the Lord.  I want to experience these verses, but I feel pretty tired these days.  I feel like my tiredness precludes me from experiencing these verses.  I guess, sometimes I feel like that dusty maroon balloon we saw yesterday, struggling to get inflated and off the ground.  But I suppose that I simply have to trust that if I submit myself to the Lord's plan and timing, he will carry me home.

Heavenly Father, I love you, and I need you.  I am nothing without you.  I know that you have blessed me so abundantly with faith in Christ, a wonderful family, a great job, .... but sometimes, I feel like an old farm truck spinning it's tires.  Please help me make traction and move forward, or up, depending on the analogy.  I know you are working, and I know it is an opportunity to grow in my faith when I can't exactly see it, but it's tough sometimes, you know?  Holy Spirit, please empower me with inner strength, and lead my heart to rest in Christ and trust Him.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, my savior.