Monday, February 27, 2012

following Jesus' example

Mark 1:21-45

14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God's Good News. 15 "The time promised by God has come at last!" he announced. "The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!"

Yesterday, as I was changing Beau's dirty diaper, I was thinking about a spiritual analogy with our Heavenly Father cleaning us up from the mess of sin.  God doesn't want us mostly clean, He wants us completely clean.  God doesn't want any residue of sin in our lives, because He knows that it will irritate and infect.

35 Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, "Everyone is looking for you."

 38 But Jesus replied, "We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came." 39 So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.

As I think about our trips to Ecuador with clean water filters, I realize that the spiritual healing is the primary goal.  I also realize that, like Jesus, we are not going to heal everyone all at once.  We are limited by our humanity.  But we can follow the will of God if we take time to seek Him and listen to Him, as Jesus did.

Heavenly Father, please help me seek you.  Please help me listen to you and obey your Spirit.  God, I want to serve you and follow you.  Lord Jesus, I want to help people in your name so that they will meet you and trust you.  Lord, please open my eyes to how you can use me to help meet peoples' physical needs and share the Living Water which heals all spiritual needs.  I love you, Lord, and I need you.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Matthew 28:1-15

Yesterday, I went to the weekly La Fe InterVarsity meeting on campus (for which I am the faculty "advisor").  I haven't been a very good advisor recently with all of my crazy work schedule.  It makes me sad because these students are very genuine, and I feel like God has me here for a reason, and I want to be supportive of the Christian ministries on campus.  We have a mutual responsibility to help people meet and follow Christ.

We studied the parable in Luke 8 about the widow seeking justice from an unjust judge.  My first question is, what is justice?  For example, I think it is justice for God to allow my sons to sleep through the night, but I realize that God does not owe me anything, so I'm not sure if that is justice. 

My second question is, if Jesus tells us to "always pray and never give up", does that mean we should keep praying for the same things, or is it OK to stop praying for something when He doesn't deliver, as long as we start praying for something else?  For example, it's been a couple of years, and my sons still don't sleep through the night, so maybe I should start praying for God to keep me and Brandi from having heart attacks from chronic sleep deprivation.

Heavenly Father, I don't know what I'm doing.  I don't understand.  I want to obey, but I'm really confused.  Please help me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Matthew 27:11-66

I'm tired.  Brandi is even more tired.

I read about Jesus being falsely accused, unjustly sentenced, flogged, and crucified.  He must have been tired.  I feel bad because I am so tired that it is difficult for me to be sad about what Jesus went through for me.  I know that He loves me, but I guess I think I should be moved by reading about Jesus's sacrificial death.

I just don't understand what the Lord is trying to teach us.  I wish He would just tell us so that we could learn it and move on.

Heavenly Father, please help us.  We are tired.  I am guessing that you are trying to teach us something, but it doesn't seem to be a very efficient learning process.  Please give us strength to persevere.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

our battle is not flesh and blood

Matthew 26:31-75

This one really impresses me:

 52 "Put away your sword," Jesus told him. "Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don't you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? 54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?"

Jesus was fully aware that the physical conflict was trivial.  The angels could have stopped the whole skirmish in a heartbeat, but Jesus understood that it was the spiritual conflict that needed resolution.

Heavenly Father, please help me see my life and situation through your eyes.  Please deliver me from being so focused on the physical, and help me see the spiritual reality so that I can cooperate in advancing your Kingdom.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Friday, February 17, 2012

my friend Kirk

Matthew 24:23-51

Yesterday, my friend Krik from Austin posted on his facebook profile that he has terminal cancer.  He went to the doctor several weeks ago with back pain, and in the next few weeks they discovered that he had rapidly advancing cancer.  They told him a week ago that they couldn't really do anything for him.

Kirk is one of the most sincere and genuine people that I know.  We didn't get to hang out much, but we were in a couple of Bible studies together, and we had some great conversations.  In my mind, Kirk has a great sense of perspective on spiritual truth and practice.  He is almost finished with seminary.

It frustrates me that it seems like God has shortened Kirk's time here.  Why not let the serial killer or the abusive father get cancer?  Why not let Kirk be a pastor?

I spoke to my Brother Jeremy about the situation yesterday on my drive home from work.  I was asking him something about whether or not it was appropriate to pray for healing for Kirk.  I mean, it seems pretty obvious that it is the Lord's will to take Kirk home.  Jeremy made a fair point that any illness or sickness or injury is just as easy for God to heal.  True.  But I guess I'm pretty jaded by three previous situations.  My hometown friend Ryan got leukemia in high school.  He died.  My Grandma (a very godly woman) got leukemia.  She died shortly after 9/11.  My Aunt Jean got pancreatic cancer.  She died a few years ago.  I feel like I prayed diligently and sincerely for healing for each of these three, but God didn't heal them (physically).  So, I feel like God is 0 for 3 in my own personal network of people.  That's not a very good percentage.  So, I'm skeptical that it actually makes any difference asking God to heal someone with cancer.  It is easier to be a Calvanist.

Anyway, I am very sad that Kirk is experiencing such pain, and I am sad for his family.  Today is his birthday.

I wanted to send him a message, but I didn't know what to say.  What do you say to someone who has terminal cancer?  Especially when you don't believe that God is going to heal them? As I was thinking about what to tell him, I realized that we are all dying.  We just aren't as conscious or aware as Kirk.  We just don't know how much time we have left.  I realized that what I wanted to tell him is what I want for him to experience in his last days here.  I realized that what I want for him is what I want for me and my family.  Here is how I ended my message to Him.

"May the Lord bless you with knowing and experiencing His presence, and may you be filled with the hope and joy of knowing Christ and walking with Him in this life and for eternity. Grace and Peace to you in Christ."

It doesn't matter how much time we have.  We just focus on living in His presence, enjoying life with Him.  And sharing Him with others.  This is the essence of life.

Heavenly Father, please minister to my Brother Kirk and his family.  Please reveal yourself to them.  It would be nice if you would heal Kirk, but I don't expect you to.  Lord, please help me enjoy every moment with you, and please deliver me from distractions.  Help me see what really matters.  I love you, Lord.  I pray in the name of Christ.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Matthew 23:1-22

11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Jesus could say this with integrity because He lived it. 

Why is it so hard to be a servant?  My flesh wants to be recognized for all of the "great" things I can do.  How do I "deny myself" and follow Him in servanthood?

Heavenly Father, please help me live a life of servanthood.  Please give me humility to serve, and strengthen my spirit to starve the flesh and deny my pride.  Lord, please help me.  I love you, and I want to live the life of Christ.  I pray in the name of Jesus. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Jesus knew what He was getting into

Matthew 20:1-19

 17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. 18 "Listen," he said, "we're going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. 19 Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead."

It is amazing to me that Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen to Him, and He went through with it anyway.  He must love us a lot.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love.  Thank you for sending Christ to pay the penalty of death for our sin.  Thank you for forgiveness, reconciliation, restoration, and hope.  I love you, Lord.  Please help me walk in the hope of your life.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Matthew 19:13-30

27 Then Peter said to him, "We've given up everything to follow you. What will we get?"  28 Jesus replied, "I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.

This morning is another morning that I wake up stressed about all of the stuff I need to get done today at work.  It is easy to see all of the responsibilities that are expected of me and think that (1) I am not a very good worker because I can't get all of this done and (2) that I might lose my job if I don't get more accomplished.

As I was picking out clothes out of my closet to wear today, I asked myself, "Why am I so tired?...all the time?"  I am really tired of working so hard, and I know that it is because I am working as if my security is in my own hands.  I have got to figure out how to trust God for security.  How can I let go of the desire to keep my job?  I just don't know how.

Heavenly Father, I feel like I might be working harder than I need to.  I don't know how to trust you, even though you have always taken care of me.  Lord, please turn my heart to love you and enjoy you instead of fearing the world and being anxious and stressed about work.  I need you, Lord.  Please help me.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Matthew 19:1-12

 4 "Haven't you read the Scriptures?" Jesus replied. "They record that from the beginning 'God made them male and female.'" 5 And he said, "'This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.' 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together."

I am so thankful that God brought me together with Brandi.  She is such a wonderful person, and it is easy to take for granted how great her friendship and companionship are.  She is so supportive and sweet.  I need to make sure that I am supporting her and taking care of her.

Heavenly Father, please help me be a good husband.  I want to be a demonstration of Christ to her.  Please give me humility and boldness to lead my family the way you want me to.  And please protect our marriage and show me how I can better love my wife.  I love you, Lord.  Thank you for such a wonderful partner.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Friday, February 3, 2012

a good father

Matthew 17:14-27

 14-16At the bottom of the mountain, they were met by a crowd of waiting people. As they approached, a man came out of the crowd and fell to his knees begging, "Master, have mercy on my son. He goes out of his mind and suffers terribly, falling into seizures. Frequently he is pitched into the fire, other times into the river. I brought him to your disciples, but they could do nothing for him."

I can't imagine what that father was thinking when he told his wife that he was going to take his son to see Jesus. Maybe he was determined.  Maybe he was scared.  For sure, he wanted his son healed.  "Do you think you will even have a chance to see Him", his wife might have asked.  The father might have been disappointed when the disciples told him that Jesus had gone for a hike and they didn't know exactly when he would return.  But somehow the disciples discovered that the boy was tormented, and then one of the disciples took the chance to try to cast out the demon, but it didn't work.  So then maybe one of the other disciples tried, but that still didn't work.

I can imagine that the father was pretty disappointed.  Probably frustrated, too.  Then he had to make a decision.  "Do I wait here for Jesus with all of these people staring at me?"  But he waited.  And he begged Jesus to heal him.

As I think about being a father, I realize that I need to take my children to see Jesus.  I need to make sure that they experience the power of Christ.

Heavenly Father, please help me be a good father.  I want to show my children who you are, and I want to help them experience Christ.  I love you, Lord.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

simply focus on Jesus

Matthew 17:1-13

 5While [Peter] was going on like this, babbling, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and sounding from deep in the cloud a voice: "This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of my delight. Listen to him."

 6-8When the disciples heard it, they fell flat on their faces, scared to death. But Jesus came over and touched them. "Don't be afraid." When they opened their eyes and looked around all they saw was Jesus, only Jesus.

This is one of my favorite encounters of the Disciples with Jesus.  It is easy for us to get distracted and pay too much attention to other stuff going on around us, but at then end of the day, we simply need to focus our attention on Jesus. 

Heavenly Father, thank you for your Son, Jesus.  Thank you for His life, death, and resurrection.  Thank you for giving us the Bible to know Him.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your love and patience.  Holy Spirit, please turn the attention of my mind, heart, and soul to Jesus.  I want to love you and follow you.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

good run

Matthew 16:21-28

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

I went for a run with Sam this evening after our home group.  It was incredible!  The farthest I have run recently is about a mile and a half, but I ran about three miles this evening with Sam!  Sam is a proficient endurance/distance runner, and he gave me some tips as we got started.  One of his most helpful points was that the first four or five minutes are anaerobic, which feels terrible, but after that, your body engages aerobic, and you can actually keep going if you just push past the gross part at the beginning.  We had a great conversation, and I am so encouraged by this experience. 

I realize that such a large part of the progress is due to the accountability and friendship.  We need each other in this process.  We can't follow Jesus alone.  No such thing.  Just like Sam was patient with me and helped me run farther than I thought I could, we need each other spiritually to run the distance.

Heavenly Father, thank you for friends like Sam who you use to help push me out of passivity and complacency into proactivity and intentionality.  Jesus, thank you for a group of Brothers and Sisters to help me follow you.  I love you, Lord, and I want to turn from my selfish ways, take up my cross, and follow you.  I give you my life for your sake.  Please use my life to help others experience your life.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.