Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Mark 16:9-20

It is impressive to me that the four Gospel accounts conclude in much the same way, and especially an emphasis on global evangelism/discipleship.

And then he told them, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.  Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.  ... When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God's right hand.  And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs. (Mark 16:15-16, 19-20 NLT)

Not that we should limit our study and application to the conclusion, but it seems to me that the concluding thoughts and imperatives of the four Gospel accounts should weigh heavily on our minds and hearts.

Heavenly Father, please help me see the big picture movement of the Kingdom of Christ, and please help me see how you want me to participate and cooperate in preaching the Good News around the world. I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

W. Shane Walker, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Civil Engineering
The University of Texas at El Paso
500 W. University Ave.
Civil Engineering A-246
El Paso, TX 79968
(915) 747-8729

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ropes Disciple Now 2012

Mark 15:21-47

Brandi and I drove to Lubbock on Friday evening.  Saturday and Sunday, we had a great time with youth from Jeremy's and Dusty's churches.  Jeremy had invited us to prepare and teach on the subjects of "What does it mean to be a godly man/woman?".  I learned so much as I studied and prepared for this weekend.  The basic principle that Brandi communicated was that "Godly women S.H.I.N.E.", and I tried to communicate that "Godly men are spiritual warriors".  I humbly believe that the Lord used us to minister to these students.

It was also a refreshing time for me, personally, because I didn't think about work for 48 hours.  This was helpful to cut the accumulating stress at work.  I feel a lot more focused this morning than I have in the past several weeks.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to be used by you to invest in the lives of others.  Lord, thank you for the opportunity to focus on you and your Kingdom.  Please use the words and Scriptures shared this weekend to continue to encourage and challenge these students to grow into godly men and women.  Please help them be bold in living and sharing their faith.  And thank you for a refreshing weekend with Brandi; thank you for blessing me with a godly wife.  I love you, Lord.  Thank you for loving me.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Christ's return

Mark 13:21-37

26 Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory. ...  29 In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that his return is very near, right at the door. ... 37 I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!"

As I practice a more devoted lifestyle of a disciple of Jesus, I think I will be considering more and more our physical reunion with Him.  I realized that Scripture teaches that we are already one with Christ in spirit, but I think our daily lives should be impacted by the imminent return of Christ.  I want to think about His return on a daily basis; I want to expectantly hope for His return on a daily basis.  I want to think about meeting Him in person.  I want to think about what I can do to help other people meet Him in person.

Heavenly Father, please help me think about Christ.  Lord Jesus, I want to know you and walk with you in the Spirit so that our reunion will be so rewarding, not shaming.  Lord, please help me see how you are using me to serve you each day.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

the essence of Christianity

Mark 12:28-44

This passage is becoming more and more important to me:

29 Jesus replied, "The most important commandment is this: 'Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. 30 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.' 31 The second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' No other commandment is greater than these."

If only we could do that.  But I can't do either one without Christ.  It is only the life of Christ lived through me, in step with the Holy Spirit, which can accomplish these two commands.

I was impressed the other day with a moment of grace.  Brandi had already told Beau not to do something (like pester his brother) several times, and he did it again!  I was already aggravated by his orneriness and disobedience, so I jumped up out of my chair in anger to swat him and scold him, but my hands simply picked him up from the floor, and the words that came out of my mouth simply instructed him to listen to and obey his mother.  I know that the Holy Spirit had given me a moment of grace, because it felt like I responded more like Christ than I wanted to. 

I want to love like Christ does.  I want to love the Father like Christ loves the Father.  I want to love people like Christ loves people.

Heavenly Father, please help me. I want to love, but love only comes from you.  Please help me be kind and compassionate to my wife and gentle and instructive to my sons.  I love you, Lord.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, March 19, 2012

death and taxes

Mark 12:1-27

17 "Well, then," Jesus said, "give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God."

I am thankful that my parents taught me from an early age the principles of tithing/giving and paying taxes.  I am so blessed to have been trained to think about financial stewardship.  I am thankful that my parents set an example for me of being honest in paying taxes.

26 "But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—haven't you ever read about this in the writings of Moses, in the story of the burning bush? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said to Moses, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' 27 So he is the God of the living, not the dead. You have made a serious error."

Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing me with godly parents who love you and taught me basic principles of financial stewardship.  Please help me honor you with the financial resources that you have placed in my management.  Thank you for providing money to take care of my family.  I love you, Lord.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

focus on the real world

Mark 10:1-31

 29 "Yes," Jesus replied, "and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30 will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. 31 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then."

Heavenly Father, please help me keep my focus on you and your Kingdom.  Please deliver me from the distractions of trying to "get ahead" in this world.  This life is valuable in as much as it is lived as an investment in eternity.  I love you, Lord.  Thank you for adopting me into your family.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Mark 9:30-50

49 "For everyone will be tested with fire. 50 Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other."

Not sure I like the sound of "testing by fire"; sounds painful.  And here I am, a desal guy, and Jesus wants me to be salty?  :)  I assume His reference here is consistent with the salt and light discussion in Matt. 5:13-16.

Heavenly Father, help me be salty.  Lord, I want to be  used by you to help others know you and walk with you.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

help my unbelief

Mark 9:1-29

23"What do you mean, 'If I can'?" Jesus asked. "Anything is possible if a person believes."

 24 The father instantly cried out, "I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!"

I don't doubt that He can; I question whether He will.  I don't know if that is the same thing.  But I want to believe that He will.

Heavenly Father, I know that you have taken care of me all along this journey, and I know that you allow us to go through testing to grow our faith.  Please give us strength, and help us keep our eyes and trust on you.  I love you, Lord. I ask in the name of Jesus.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Mark 8:22-38

Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. (Mark 8:34, 35 NLT)

I think these two verses are a concise logical extension of Matthew 28:18-20 (even though these words recorded in Mark 8 were actually spoken before those in Matthew 28). Jesus commanded us to make disciples, but what does it mean to be a disciple?  We give up our lives to follow Him and spread his message of love.

I don't think it was clear to me as an early believer what it meant to be a follower of Christ.  I think I thought the focus was on being a good person, but now I think understanding Christ's basic message and living incarnationally is the essence of being a disciple.  That is, to be a disciple is to make disciples; to participate in the chain reaction of walking with Christ.

Heavenly Father, please help me be a real disciple.  I don't want to confuse real discipleship with the false religion of "American Christianity".  Please teach me what it means to really follow Christ.  Please show me what selfish ways I am currently insisting, and please teach me what it means to "take up my cross".  I love you, Lord. Thank you for purchasing me with your blood.  Please fill me with joy and peace.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

rowing hard

Mark 6:30-56

My heart is definitely too hard to take it in:

47 Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. 48 He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o'clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. 50 They were all terrified when they saw him.

   But Jesus spoke to them at once. "Don't be afraid," he said. "Take courage! I am here!" 51 Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, 52 for they still didn't understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.

If Jesus saw that they were in trouble, then why did He intend to go past them?  That seems crazy to me.  I feel like I am rowing hard.  I feel like my wife is rowing hard and struggling with sleep deprivation.  And I feel like Jesus is just walking past us.  Why won't he just get in the dang boat?

Heavenly Father, would you please help us?  How long do we have to keep rowing hard and asking for help before you give us a break.  Seriously.  A little rest would go a long way.  Please.  I don't have any difficulty believing that you can solve problems and work miracles, I don't know if I believe that you want to solve my problems.  Please help us.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

spiritual authority

Mark 6:1-29

7 And [Jesus] called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits. 8 He told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick—no food, no traveler's bag, no money. 9 He allowed them to wear sandals but not to take a change of clothes. ... 12 So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. 13 And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil.

Jesus sent the disciples, and they became apostles.  Pretty simple instructions.  Simple means.  Focused on the spiritual reality.

Heavenly Father, please help me stay focused on the spiritual reality.  Please don't let me be distracted by the things of this world.  Lord, I want to love you with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength.  Please use me to help people know you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

faith and suffering

Mark 5:21-43

Jairus came to Jesus to ask Him to heal is daughter.  As they were traveling, a woman in the crowd had faith to touch Jesus's robe and was healed. 

34 And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over."

Promptly, Jairus was informed that his daughter had died.

 36 But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, "Don't be afraid. Just have faith."

I am frustrated because I don't feel like I really understand what Jesus means by "faith" or "suffering". 

With this context, a reader might be inclined to perceive "faith" as "believing that Jesus will remove your suffering" or perhaps more generally, "believing that Jesus will remedy some situation or matter of concern".  I thought faith was believing that Jesus will remove your sins and fill you with His Holy Spirit. 

How bad does the suffering need to be before Jesus cares enough to remedy the situation?  My wife is exhausted, and we keep asking God to let our boys sleep through the night, but He doesn't.  Of course I believe that He can, but I am doubting that He will.  Catch twenty-two.  Dang.

Heavenly Father, I don't know how to trust you.  I feel like you are rather capricious with respect to healing people of their suffering.  Some religious nuts say, "name it and claim it", but I don't think that's right.  And hyper-calvinists might think that everything is already predetermined, so there is no sense in asking you for anything.  I feel like the truth is somewhere in the middle, but it feels really random.  Sort of like a pin-ball machine.  If I could just get the flipper to send the prayer at exactly the right time, with just the right words and momentum, I might hit the button that activates the suffering alleviation.  I want to trust you, but I don't think I do.  I love you, though.  And I am thankful for Jesus dying on the cross.  I want our relationship to be more than that, but not focused only on suffering minimization.  But suffering is hard, so I don't really know how to deal with it.  Please help me.  I pray in the name of Jesus.