Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ask and you shall receive

John 15:7-8 ESV
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

John 16:24 ESV
Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

We ask for what we believe will facilitate the bearing of fruit.  And we take joy in seeing our Heavenly Father take care of us.

Heavenly Father, there are many matters in my life that, in the flesh, lead me to anxiousness.  But this is not right, Lord.  There are two matters in particular, that are on my heart and mind this morning. First, Father, would you please take care of Rhett and give him a strong healthy heart before he is born.  Lord, would you please bless us with a good report from the pediatric cardiologist today.  Second, would you please provide the human and financial resources for Paseo to fulfill the mission and function that you desire in El Paso.  Lord, please help us clearly hear you and obey.  Father, I am asking these things because I believe in Jesus, and I believe that these things will bring glory and honor to you and help advance the Kingdom of Christ.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus, the True Vine.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The way and the destination

John 14:4, 6, 11 ESV

And you know the way to where I am going." ... Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ... Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

He is our goal and prize.  And He is the way.  Walking with my Savior daily, towards eternity with Him.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the Holy Spirit, who guides us into truth.  Lord Jesus, please help me focus on you, obeying you, and help me show that I love you by enjoying walking with you and obeying you.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

calculated timing

Matthew 26 
1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, "As you know, Passover begins in two days, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."

At that same time the leading priests and elders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest, plotting how to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. "But not during the Passover celebration," they agreed, "or the people may riot."

John 13
27 When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, "Hurry and do what you're going to do." 28 None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant.
Here we see Jesus in control of His own betrayal - the sovereignty of Christ, even in the timing of His own death.

I wonder if Jesus planned to be betrayed at night so that His trial would be at night and avoid possible interference from people trying to rescue Him.

Heavenly Father, your plan to redeem us was so sacrificial.  It was planned.  It wasn't an accident.  Not even down to the timing of the betrayal of Christ.  Lord, I am so impressed with your care and the premeditated intention of your love.  Jesus, thank you for your love for us and your example of obedience to the Father.  Please help me share your love and walk in obedience. I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Watching for Jesus's return

Matthew 24-25

No one knows the day or hour, but Jesus repeatedly stressed, through multiple parables, that we are to be diligent in watching for His return.

25:13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Mark 13:36 Don't let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. 37 I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!"

I want to live each day anticipating Christ's return.  I can't get distracted with the things of this world.

Heavenly Father, please help me stay focused on you and keeping in step with the Spirit.  Lord, please keep me sober-minded.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Temple cleansing

Mark 11:15-17 ESV

And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers."

Apparently, this was the second time Jesus cleansed the temple.  The first time was at the first Passover of Jesus's ministry, soon following His first miracle (John 2:13-25).  I think of these as two bookends on Jesus's ministry, and I think they highlight the consistency and intensity of Jesus's  passion for pure prayer and worship.

It seems to me that Jesus did not want people to commercialize worship or mechanize the worship process.  So, woe to the modern-day television "preachers" who use people for money; I believe they will spend eternity in hell.  (I am shocked by the audacity of some of the claims that I have heard.)

But more personally, I think I need to be careful to evaluate the prayer and worship process/experience in my own heart.  Are there any ways that I am changing money (i.e., exchanging the Jewish temple shekel tax for roman currency) for a profit?  Am I selling doves and livestock at a hefty markup?  Am I letting business/profession govern my life instead of genuinely worshipping, following, and obeying the Lord?

Paul teaches in his first letter to the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 6:19-20) that our bodies, as Believers of Jesus, are the temple of God, so we need to honor Him with our bodies.

Heavenly Father, you desire pure worship in Spirit and in truth.  Lord, please help me see how I am commercializing religion instead of worshipping in Spirit and in truth.  Lord, I love you, and I want to worship you purely.  I ask in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


John 12:1-3, 9-11 ESV

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. ...
When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

Martha served Jesus.  Lazarus lived and fellowshipped, implicitly testifying of the redemptive power and work of Christ.  Mary loved and worshipped Jesus.  What beautiful imagery for us within the Church!

Heavenly Father, thank you for redeeming me from destruction and giving me zoe-life in Christ. May my heart be inclined to love you, worship you, serve you, and fellowship with you.  And may I be faithful to tell others about what you have done for me.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Matthew 19:23-24 ESV

And Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."

The US national debt is greater than our GDP.  Financial debt and physical obesity are pervasive in our culture, individually, corporately, and nationally. We consume more than we earn/burn.  We are trying to satisfy our insatiable thirst for eternity.

It makes me sad.  Too many people pretending to be "Christians", but the real motivation of their life is money and stuff, not Jesus.

This weekend, I actually spent a little time playing ball outside with Beau.  He said, "Dad, you are the best dad I ever did have."  Makes me sad. 

Heavenly Father, please deliver me and my family from the desire for wealth and worldly things that will never satisfy.  Lord, please help me invest in relationships, especially my family.  I want to take care of them.  I want to invest in making disciples.  Lord, help me want you above everything else.  I ask in the name of Jesus.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Good Shepherd, Son of God

John 10

I think these are becoming some of my favorite passages about Christ:

To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. ... 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 

33 The Jews answered him, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God." 

I have heard people say, "Jesus didn't claim to be God."  But, indeed, He did.  The Jews attempted to stone Jesus for it on the spot, but He slipped away from them.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for us.  Lord Jesus, I believe that you are God, and I want to know your voice and follow you.  Lord, please help me listen to you today.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sight claims

John 9 ESV

25 [The healed blind man] answered, "Whether [Jesus] is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see."

41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains.

It is not arrogant to claim that you have sight, if Jesus gave you your sight.  It is actually a humble statement if you acknowledge that sight is received, not self-produced.  We don't even have to have perfect theology, we just have to be faithful to point people to the One who has given us sight.

Contrast that with the Pharisees, who claimed to have sight, but Jesus told them that they didn't.  They were arrogantly claiming that they had it all figured out.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me spiritual sight through Jesus Christ.  Lord, please help me humbly and boldly share the sight that Jesus has given.  May I never think that my sight is a result of my effort.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

keep on asking

Luke 11:9 "And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. ... 12:31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

I need to keep asking God to let Beau and Jude sleep through the night so that Brandi and I can sleep through the night.  (At least, I think that is what would be good for us.  Maybe God doesn't think that would be good for us.  Medical research shows that sleep is good for people, but God's agenda is not limited to maximization of of medical health.)

Heavenly Father, I think it would be really nice for our boys to sleep through the night so that my wife and I could sleep through the night.  We think continuous sleep is nice.  So, I guess we should keep asking you this until you either answer the prayer or tell us that we should be praying for something else.  I love you, and I know that you care for us.  Please help us have a perspective of seeking first your Kingdom and trusting you to take care of us.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Matthew 18:32-35 ESV

Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?'  And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.  So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

Wow.  That sounds pretty black and white to me.  Forgiveness is not an option if you are a follower of Christ.

Even in Jesus's model prayer, He coupled God's forgiveness of us with our forgiveness of others.  And then He reiterated the contingency of God's forgiveness on ours.

That's pretty sobering.  This makes me think I should ask the Lord to bring to my attention any unforgiveness in my heart.  Dangerous.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your incredible forgiveness and love.  Thank you for your kindness and mercy.  Lord, may I be faithful to extend mercy as you have to me.  Please show me any unforgiveness in my heart, and deliver me from my selfish pride that falsely entitles me to sit in judgement and demand justice.  You have spared me of judgement through the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ.  Lord, any offense of another person against me is a small debt compared to my infinite sin-debt against you.  Please fill me with the joy of salvation in Christ.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Daily living

Luke 9:23-24 ESV
And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Several years ago, one of my New Year resolutions was to grow in consistent prayer.  Some time later, I coupled that with going for a walk in the mornings.  But I would say that only in the past month or two have I realized that Jesus went for a prayer walk every day.  So, for the past several weeks, by the grace of God, I have been much more consistent in going for a prayer walk every morning because I want to follow the example of my Lord Jesus.  I want to be a fully devoted follower of Christ.  If this is what Jesus did, then this is what I will do.

Practically, I have started trying to wake up at about the same time every morning, including the weekends.  This helps me be consistent in prayer and reading the Scriptures.  It is so tempting to sleep in on the weekends, and I think, perhaps, sometimes it is profitable to do so.  But I think consistency for me is very profitable.  And I believe that, as I follow the example of Christ in consistent prayer, I am sure that He will use this to grow me and strengthen my relationship with Him.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your faithfulness and grace.  Thank you for your patience with me.  Lord, please help me be consistent in following you daily, in walking in the Light.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Matthew 15:30 NLT

A vast crowd brought to him people who were lame, blind, crippled, those who couldn't speak, and many others. They laid them before Jesus, and he healed them all.

This verse is very encouraging to me.  I think Jesus was really compassionate toward everyone.  I think He cares that people are hurting.  And He healed them.

I need to think about the needs of the people around me and how I can be used by God to help those people.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love and compassion.  Lord, please give me your eyes of compassion and discernment to know how you are working in people and how I can join you in your good work.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I attended a presentation on Tuesday about mindfulness and meditation.  The focus of this type of meditation is actually not "emptying your mind", but rather, exercising focused and sustained concentration on a singular thought.  (You could think of it as the opposite of multi-tasking.)

While this secular presentation was focused on the body and the mind, I was impressed with a few redeemable principles.  First, we need to be "present" and "aware" (that is, "mindful") in order to be well and effective. I agree that this is valuable.  Indeed, we are to care for our bodies as temples of God, and we must be mindful of the state of our minds.  But to generalize, I believe we need to be mindful of the body, soul, and spirit.  Second, we must proactively train our minds; we must intentionally focus our minds in the way that we intend to train our minds.  We have to set aside time to intentionally focus (meditate) on who Christ is and how we relate to Him.

Rom 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. ... You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.

What an amazing truth that the Spirit of God dwells in us who are disciples of Jesus.  And He is both transforming us and leading us!
Rom 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect 
Gal 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. ... 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

Pastor Lewis called it "practicing the presence of God".  I believe we have an amazing opportunity to be mindful of God working in us and through us.  As we keep in step with Him, we co-labor in what He is doing around us.

Heavenly Father, I pray that I will be mindful of you.  Lord, please help me set aside time to seek you each day, and more and more, moment by moment.  Lord, I want to be aware of what you are doing and join you in your work.  Lord, thank you for transforming my mind and growing the fruit of your spirit in my life.  I love you, and I want to keep in step with you.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

wasted life

Matt. 9:37 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." 

10:38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

I think both of these statements are powerful.  First, we should be focused on the Kingdom, but I think most of the time I am focused on my own life.  I need to pray for the Lord of the harvest to send out more laborers.  I think if I was consistently praying for the Lord to send more workers into the harvest, I would probably be more involved in the harvest.

Second, the consequences of not dying to yourself are severe.  We must follow Jesus.  We must "lose" our lives for His sake.  It is so counter intuitive: "waste" your life (from the world's perspective) so that you can enjoy the eternal life with Christ.

I need to think less about how to be famous and more about how to make Christ famous.

Heavenly Father, please help me focus on you and your Kingdom.  Please help me keep my eyes open to the harvest.  Please help me keep my focus intently on Jesus and off of myself.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, October 7, 2013


I heard an encouraging sermon yesterday about Nehemiah and their perseverance in building the wall in Jerusalem, in spite of fierce opposition and discouragement.  These verses really encouraged me:

Neh 4:13Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. 14After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."

I was thinking about how important it is for us, as leaders of local churches, to stay focused and persistent in building a strong church so that we can have a community of spiritual refuge and growth.  I was thinking about the analogy to military strategy and the significance of gaining a strong fort.  I think the enemy has had a strong grip on El Paso and Boston, but as we are faithful to the Lord's calling on us, we will take it by force (Matt. 11:12).  We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of our testimony.  And I believe the Lord is using us (along with other churches in these cities) to gain significant positions in these regions.  We have to maintain an important balance between maintaining a secure fort as well as launching strategic attacks to gain more ground and press forward.

The Lord has continued to challenge me with what I shared last Saturday morning regarding discipleship.  I believe that it is critical that we develop a clear and concise plan for triad discipleship groups (Ecc. 4:12).  I think each of us needs to commit to two guys and meet consistently for six to twelve months to model what we want to replicate, and then we need to replicate.  I was thinking it might be helpful to make a simple conceptualization of discipleship groups so that we can model and teach it easily (e.g., transparent life discussion, scripture discussion, scripture memory, and prayer). (But we have to be careful not to create a legalistic checklist.) I know we (leaders) have been saying that small-scale discipleship is important, but I don't think we have really developed a strategic plan and executed.  I don't think ad hoc is going to work.  I think we need to make it part of the DNA of discipleship.  Programs and classes may be helpful for communicating doctrine, but we need life-on-life character transformation.

Heavenly Father, please give me wisdom to know how to engage in three-strand discipleship for making disciples who make disciples.  Lord, I want to be part of your Kingdom, and I want my life to be useful to you.  Lord, please use me, and give me wisdom to know how to press forward.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Friday, October 4, 2013


Matthew 11:28-30 NLT

Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."

I think most people I know need rest for their souls, myself included.  In this Western culture of "more, more, more!", perhaps it is actually that we need LESS of this world and more of Christ.  More time talking with Him, more time listening to Him, more time thinking about His life and teaching, more time thinking about eternity.  More time spent with family and friends in building quality relationships and showing the love of Christ.  More time resting and relaxing.  More focus on enjoying the presence of God.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love and care for us.  Thank you for Jesus and eternal rest.  Thank you for your presence.  Please help me be at peace knowing that you are with me and that you love me.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Luke 6:38 ESV

give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.

This morning, before I left the house for work, Beau took a toy from Jude.  I have been trying to explain the concept of "sharing" to Beau, but he still doesn't quite get it.  This morning, I told him that people have given them toys for them to enjoy, but it makes Brandi and me happy when he shares toys yo make others happy.

I was thinking that our Heavenly Father has entrusted us with resources to take care of ourselves, but how pleased He must be when we share with others so that they will see our good deeds and praise our Father in Heaven.

I think it is a pretty strong statement that Jesus made.  Not a guarantee of financial prosperity, but a guarantee of return on investment.  Perhaps the greatest return that we can get is a closer walk with Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for generously giving up your Son, and thanks you for your consistent care (most of which we take for granted).  Lord, may I be generous in response, following the way of Jesus.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Matthew 5:9 NLT

God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

I am reminded of what the angels announced regarding Christ's birth: "peace on earth..."  Jesus brings peace between us and God, and He brings peace among us humans.  When we are peacemakers, we are like Christ, and God calls us His children. 

How great is the love, lavished on us all, that we should be called the children of God.

Heavenly Father, please help me be a peacemaker. Thank you for your great love toward us in Christ, and thank you for growing Christ in us.  Thank you for being our Father.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Titles of Jesus

Matthew, Mark, John

Son of God - John 5:16-26 - Jesus is able to save us.

Son of Man - John 5:27-30 - Jesus has authority to judge.

Eternal Life - John 5:39-40 - The Pharisees thought they could algorithm their way into Heaven, but Jesus is the essence of eternal life.

Lord of the Sabbath - Mark 2:23-28 - The sabbath was made by God for us because He cares for us; Jesus knows us because He has experienced life as a human, and He understands our weakness.  He knows that we need rest in Him.

Hope of all the World - Matthew 12:15-21 (Isaiah 42:1-4) - I heard a song by Imagine Dragons on the radio today that I interpreted as surprisingly transparent to the depravity of humanity and the hopelessness of life without Christ.  In the context of Jesus's fulfillment of Isaiah 42:1-4, I am reminded of and impressed with the significance of the hope I have in Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for hope and eternal life in Jesus Christ.  Lord Jesus, I know that you are the Son of God and Son of Man, uniquely qualified to save and to judge humanity.  Lord Jesus, may I rest in you, trusting you to provide for me and care for my soul.  I love you, and I ask that you will reveal yourself to me and through me.  I ask in the name of Jesus.