Monday, July 30, 2012


Romans 3:21-31
I feel like these verses are a very clear communication of the Gospel:
22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
How do I respond to this?  I feel like most of the time, I just take it for granted.
How should I respond to this?  Gratefulness. Humility. And boldness in sharing with others.
Heavenly Father, please help me see the enormous price that was paid for my freedom from sin and death.  Lord, please help me be grateful and humble with your grace.  Lord Jesus, I want to help others experience your grace.  Lord, please help me.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

new house, good neighbors

Romans 1:1-16

We finished moving all of the junk (except the backyard toys) on Monday evening.  I hate moving.

But our neighbors on both sides are very friendly.  We prayed that the Lord would lead us to a house where he wanted us to be.  My uphill-side neighbor is an electrical engineer with three boys (two of them close to our two boys' ages), and my downhill-side neighbor is a professor at the local community college.  It seems like both of these families are people of peace.  (I wish I had thought about that where we lived the last two years.)

16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life."

Heavenly Father, please help us practically show the love of Christ to our house neighbors, as well as all of our "neighbors".  Lord, I pray that your light and love will shine through us, and that our paganism and religionism will not hinder them from seeing you.  I love you, and I pray that you will reign in our hearts today so that your Kingdom will be expanded.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

new house, dear friends, family

Acts 23

We closed on our house yesterday afternoon just before 5:00pm.  Rented a UHAUL truck.  Adam, Mark, Caleb, Noe, Isaac, and Lorely helped us move most of the furniture and big stuff last night.  I drove to work this morning from our new house.

It is embarrassing how much junk we have.  It is also humbling that the Lord has given us dear friends who love us enough to put up with our junk and help us move it.

Heavenly Father, thank you for providing us a house to live in.  I pray that it will be a place of peace and love that you will use to expand the Kingdom of Christ.  And thank you for integrating us into your Body in El Paso.  Thank you for providing us family here.  May we be servants to them in a way that honors their service, which honors Christ.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

importance of learning Spanish

Acts 21

37 As Paul was about to be taken inside, he said to the commander, "May I have a word with you?"

"Do you know Greek?" the commander asked, surprised. 38 "Aren't you the Egyptian who led a rebellion some time ago and took 4,000 members of the Assassins out into the desert?"

39 "No," Paul replied, "I am a Jew and a citizen of Tarsus in Cilicia, which is an important city. Please, let me talk to these people." 40 The commander agreed, so Paul stood on the stairs and motioned to the people to be quiet. Soon a deep silence enveloped the crowd, and he addressed them in their own language, Aramaic.

I think one of the reasons that God moved us to the desert was to learn to speak Spanish.  Brandi and I have wanted to learn Spanish since before we moved to El Paso, and now, next to complete immersion, we live in one of the best places to learn Spanish.  I think God wants us to learn to speak Spanish because He intends us to use that skill to expand the Kingdom of Christ.

It is so exciting and rewarding to me to learn Spanish with Brandi.  I feel like it is a practical way that we are intentionally growing together.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to learn to speak Spanish.  Lord, would you please give us rapid understanding and opportunities to practice so that you can use this skill to connect with people and share the love of Christ.  Lord, please help us follow you.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Monday, July 16, 2012

multiplying churches

Acts 20

My cousin Neill and his wife Lindsay came to visit us several weeks ago to share the vision for their new church planting ministry.  Based on what I knew, I invited our pastor Greg and his wife Jill to join us for lunch so that we all could discuss.  It was so exciting to see the common vision for developing reproducing churches!

I was not expecting it (but not exactly surprised) when Greg invited Neill and Lindsay to move to El Paso and continue their ministry here!  Neill and Lindsay promised that they would pray about it, and now Brandi and I are thrilled that they feel like God is leading them to move here within a month or so!

Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to participate in your Kingdom.  Lord, please send out more workers, and help us be diligent workers.  Lord, please unify us in the work so that we will be cooperating with you.  Please bless Neill and Lindsay as they follow your leadership.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

life-changing experience

Acts 16

27 The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted to him, "Stop! Don't kill yourself! We are all here!" 29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31 They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household." 32 And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. 33 Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized.

The jailer had a life-changing experience.  He wasn't ready to live until he was ready to die.

I think this is the condition of most middle and upper class Americans; most are apathetic toward the Gospel until they realize that we are mortal and that we can't solve all of our problems with more money.  But I'm not sure how to engage people with the Gospel if they don't care to hear it.  Then again, it is the work of the Holy Spirit in someone, not my work, that opens and leads them to Christ.  I am a relationship builder and messenger.

Heavenly Father, please open the hearts of people around us to be ready to hear the Gospel, and please lead us those who are ready to hear the Gospel.  Please give us boldness to share the good news of Jesus.  Please send out more workers into the harvest.  I want to be used by you.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Prophets and teachers

Acts 15

13:1 Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called "the black man"), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul.

15:32 Then Judas and Silas, both being prophets, spoke at length to the believers, encouraging and strengthening their faith. 33 They stayed for a while, and then the believers sent them back to the church in Jerusalem with a blessing of peace. 35 Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch. They and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord there.

It seems to me that the concept of an individual preacher in a local church is different from what Paul and Barnabas experienced.  I'm not saying that it's wrong to only have one preacher, it just seems insufficient.  It seems to me that we should always be training up new preachers and teachers.

I am glad that the leadership in Paseo sees the value of multiple preachers/teachers.

Heavenly Father, please use me as you desire.  I would like to have more opportunities to teach, if that is your will.  I want to be useful to you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

church planting movements

Acts 14

21 After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, 22 where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. 23 Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.

Brother David in Austin has been telling me to read David Garrison's book, Church Planting Movements (2004), for several years.  I started reading it on our cruise this past week because I was inspired after my cousin Neil and his wife visited us last weekend.  Neil attended a conference where David Watson (cited many times in Garrison's book) described his observation of church planting movements in India.

Basically, church planting movements are the exponential growth of disciples through house churches.  It seems logical to me that house churches more effectively facilitate the rapid expansion of churches/discipleship for mainly two reasons: (1) no "church" building to tie people down or limit attendance, and (2) typically no paid "clergy" or paid pastors.  These are two of the practical/logistical limitations to rapid church growth in the U.S.

Brandi and I are part of a church that emphasizes the importance of our home groups.  But, I am wondering if we need to be even more intentional/explicit in recognizing each home group as an independent house church.  I am beginning to pray that God will use us in a church planting movement in El Paso that will cascade into South America and around the world.

Heavenly Father, please help us see your Kingdom here on earth.  Please help us see your vision for the Church.  Lord, please use us to expand your Kingdom, and please let us participate in exponential growth in discipleship.  Please show me what my role is here.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, July 9, 2012

anniversary cruise

Acts 13

Last week, to celebrate our 10-year anniversary, Brandi and I took a cruise that included stops at Progresso and Cozumel, Mexico.  We had a great time!

It was hard leaving the boys at home, but it was a great opportunity to reconnect as a couple.  It was also hard for me to let go of work for a week.

We had a lot of time to talk and just hang out.  It was nice to share three meals with Brandi every day.  We went to the gym and exercised three of the five mornings that we were on the ship.  We also had some great conversations with Jon and Lauren, who went with us.  I learn a lot from them.

Brandi is such a fun person.  She is so kind and good-natured.  Her smile and laugh are so contagious.  She is a strong woman, too.  I wish I was a better husband and father.

We did miss the boys; it was great to see them this weekend.  They are precious.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the time to spend with my wife.  Thank you for blessing me with such a wonderful woman to be my partner.  Thank you for how you use her to grow me.  Lord, please help me be a better husband and father.  Help me stay focused on your Kingdom.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.