Friday, August 30, 2013



Wow.  The Old Testament is long.  And the end is depressing.  The depravity of our flesh is disturbing.

From chapter 34, shepherds should:
- feed their sheep
- take care of the weak
- tend the sick, bind up broken wounds
- protect the flock
- go out searching for the lost and wandering
- give them clean water to drink.

God will hold the shepherds responsible for what happens to the flock.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Heavenly Father, please help me be a good shepherd, helping people know the Good Shepherd.  Lord, please help me be intentional and consistent in shepherding.  I love you, Lord, and I want to help care for your children.  I ask in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Boston in the fall

Jeremiah 29:4-7 ESV
"Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare."

As i think about the Christian life in an analogy with the Israelite's experience, I think we are on our way back to the promise land (Heaven).  I think there is a general principle here of the importance of doing good and being an agent of peace and beauty in the communities in which we reside here on earth as we pursue the Lord and walk with Him.

Jeremiah 29:10-14 ESV
"For thus says the Lord : When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord , plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord , and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord , and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile."

While this promise is in the context of the Israelites in exile and captivity in Babylon, I believe there is a general promise of the Lord's goodness to us and His promise of restoration and reconciliation with Him.  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Oh, that I would seek Him with all my heart!

The Lord has given us an amazing opportunity to live in Boston this fall semester.  A sabbatical, in many ways.  I wasn't looking for such an experience, but I believe the Lord has opened the doors for us to be here.

Yesterday was our first full day here.  We met Jon and Adria for lunch; their hospitality is inspiring.  I really look forward to working with Jon.

I think I will really learn a lot from the faculty and students of Olin, and I believe that God has given me favor with them.  I think God has given me opportunity to be a blessing here.

Also, I think a very important aspect of this sabbatical is to invest in my relationships with my wife and sons.  I need to invest in them according to the priority that they are.  I must confess that I have allowed work to dominate my attention, to the neglect of my family.  Brandi has been very patient with me, and my boys have been forgiving.  But I can't take their grace for granted.

On the drive up here, the boys did really well overall, but several times I became frustrated with their whines and misbehaviour.  I think a sign of maturity is not becoming aggravated and frustrated with someone else's immaturity.  I need to be disciplined and grow in this.  Patience and self control are fruit of the spirit, and I need to walk in Him so that His character is infused into mine.

Last night, I received a call from Brother Tom in Austin.  It has been a while since we visited; it was such an encouraging conversation.  His mentorship in my life has meant so much to me.  He is a great example of a faithful, joyful, and grateful disciple of Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your abundant kindness to me and my family.  Lord, please help me grow in maturity and faithful obedience.  Lord, may I be an agent of your goodness, kindness, grace, and love, and may others see and experience Christ through me.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Friday, August 9, 2013


Reading: Jeremiah

I have been discussing by email some of my recently developed perspectives on church leadership (especially the role of elders) with a Brother I used to ride the bus with in Austin.  I summarize some of my perspective here:

I agree that in many congregations in the US, there is an under-appreciation of spiritual authority and an over-emphasis of individuality and personal liberty.

However, I think the authority of an elder should be built up through consistent, personal investment of time and love such that each follower voluntarily submits to the authority of an elder.  This is in contrast to the authority expected/demanded by an "elder" who is designated as such by title. I think love is the key, not title/office.

Elders are not a board of directors.  I think that is a worldly model.  Christ gave an example of serving through much personal fellowship.  And He washed their feet.

Discipline, then, would be in the context of a deep, personal relationship, and would carry a great deal of weight due to that love, not due to a title or chain of command.

I am continually impressed with Eph 4-5.  I believe that the function of an elder is consistent with the shepherd-teacher role.  And I think the unity described in Eph 4 is accomplished through loving personal and corporate discipleship.  In this way, the elders will "equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ".

Heavenly Father, please help me continue to mature in my understanding of the role of elders in your Body.  Lord, please give me wisdom to know how to serve in your Body, and please help me grow in the practice of shepherding so that one day I will be useful to you as an elder.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the Head of the Body.

Monday, August 5, 2013


Isaiah 40:28-31

Greg preached about reflection this morning.  I was really encouraged to refocus my time in the mornings on reflecting on the Lord and his word.  He speaks, and the art of life is to get his message.

I need that time with the Lord every day.  This is eternal life, to know the one true God, and the one he has sent.

Heavenly Father, I want to seek you and know you.  I want to hear you and obey you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Genuine reading

2 Kings 23:2-3 ESV
And the king went up to the house of the Lord , and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD. And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.

It is pretty easy to slip into routine, religious reading.  "...all his heart and all his soul", King Josiah committed himself to the Lord.

2 Kings 23:25 ESV
Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.

Heavenly Father, please help me soften my heart toward you.  Lord, teach me to walk in your ways.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Read and obey

2 Chronicles 34:21 ESV

"Go, inquire of the Lord for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book."

Josiah found the Book of the Law, and he took it as the normative standard for living.  What would my life look like if I lived by the Book?  Jesus.  Fruit of the Spirit. 

Heavenly Father, please deliver me from the flesh.  It is so easy to want to focus on pleasure and recognition.  Lord, may I be pure and useful to you, and may I obey your teaching.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.