Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Revelation 22:17 NLT

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." Let anyone who hears this say, "Come." Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.

Heavenly Father, please keep me thirsty for the water of life.  May I drink daily.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A study of the life of Simeon

Luke 2:25-32 ESV
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,  "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word;  for my eyes have seen your salvation   that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,   a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel."

Pastor Kirksey from CityView shared some very encouraging observations this morning.  Simeon was:
- saved
- spiritual
- surrendered to the Lord
- sensitive to the Holy Spirit

Heavenly Father, as we live in anticipation of Christ's return, may we surrender our will to yours, and may we be sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in daily living. I ask in the name of Jesus.

We will overcome

Revelation 12:7-11 ESV
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

1. By the blood of the Lamb
2. And the word of our testimony

The war is won, but the battle continues.  So, in the short term, we must be focused and strategic in our battle against the enemy:

Revelation 12:12 ESV
Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!"

He fights fiercely, and dirty.  But we are not ignorant of his schemes (2 Cor. 2:11), and we are equipped to fight and stand firm (Eph 6).

One of the enemy's common strategies is accusation and discouragement.  He tries to get us focused on our failures to trick us into feeling defeated.  I heard a saying, "When the devil reminds me of my past, I remind him of his future."

We have grace in Christ Jesus, and His mercies are new every morning.  Great is His faithfulness to us!

Heavenly Father, thank you for providing the victory!  Thank you for your love, mercy, and faithfulness.  Lord, may I be confident in the work and victory of Christ, humble with respect to my own strength, and bold in the power of your Holy Spirit at work in me and through me.  Lord, may I be a consistent encourager to saints to continue fighting faithfully.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

God shows grace, even in judgement

Revelation 6-10

The judgement that is revealed through breaking seals and blowing trumpets appears in discrete stages, ascending in intensity.  God shows patience and gives unbelieving people multiple chances to trust Him, repent, and obey.  He shows grace, even in judgement.  He is kind, and He desires that none should perish. 

I believe that this aspect of God's character is also demonstrated in his relationship to his children, us who believe. He does not judge us, because Christ has already suffered God's wrath for the judgement that we deserved, but He disciplines us because He loves us.  He is patient with us in discipline; He gives us multiple chances to trust Him, repent, and obey, before He increases the intensity of the discipline.  

Matt. 12:20 (Isa. 42:3)
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out

God has been very patient with me through the years.  He has patiently and gently dealt with sin in my life.  In some cases, I have been stubborn, and so He increased the intensity of the discipline.  At one point, I almost lost my marriage, but in that moment, I humbled myself before Him, repented, and resumed walking with Him in obedience, and He showed much grace by restoring my marriage.  I am so impressed with the grace that He gave Brandi to forgive me and give me another chance.  As I play and wrestle with my sons this Christmas season, I am so thankful for the kindness and grace that God has given me.

And in the past several years, I realize that I have focused too much on my work.  I think the Lord let me experience some consequences of fear and burnout.  He has been patient with me, but He has corrected me and helped me refocus on my relationship with Him, my relationship with Brandi and the boys, and my function within the Body of Christ.  

Joel 2:13     ...
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
    and he relents over disaster.
25 I will restore to you the years
    that the swarming locust has eaten, ...
26 "You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
    and praise the name of the LORD your God,
    who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
27 You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
    and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy and faithfulness.  Thank you for the grace and kindness that you have shown through Christ.  Thank you for salvation, and thank you for daily discipline, forgiveness, and restoration.  I love you, Lord, and I want to seek you and obey you.  I want to walk with you and know you.  May others see you in the midst of my life, and may they know that you are the one true God.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, December 27, 2013


(I just found this in my drafts folder from over a week ago.) 

Hebrews 3:15 ESV

As it is said, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."

This quote from the Psalms is repeated three times in Hebrews 3-4.  Seems like it is pretty important.

I was in a store last night with the boys, and Jude didn't want to hold my hand, so I told him that I would let him go, but he had to stay with me.  Well, of course, he wanted to go off by himself, so I told him to stay with me, but he didn't respond, so I swatted him on the leg.  He gave a defiant little grunt, so I swatted him again and told him not to have a bad attitude.  He defiantly grunted again, so I swatted him a third time.  Finally, he submitted, obeyed, and walked with me.

That fallen human nature is so defiant!  We rebel against authority, especially

Heavenly Father, please help me have a tender and humble heart with you. Please help me be submissive and obedient to you.  Lord, please help me set my mind on the Spirit, not the flesh.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.


I distinctly remember feeling deceived when I found out that Santa Claus is not real.  And then when I was included in the trip to the store to purchase candy for stuffing the stockings, I felt like I was facilitating the deception.

But more deeply, I have come to believe that, while Christmas is not actually a Biblical holiday, it is an opportunity (even widely recognized by secular culture at large) to focus on Jesus and his birth.  Unfortunately, as with much of our consumerism and materialistic society, I think attention to Santa Claus is a significant distraction from the opportunity to highlight Jesus.

Brandi did some background research on Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, etc, to see if we could incorporate him as a historical figure without actually suggesting that he is alive or real today, but we didn't feel like we could incorporate Santa or St. Nik in good conscience.  Furthermore, it bothers me that Santa is attributed authority for moral evaluation (e.g., "naughty and nice") with incentives (e.g., gifts) and dissentives (e.g., coal/switches); I think that could undermine or confuse the true authority of the righteous judgement of Jesus Christ.

So, we had a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas morning this year, with cake and balloons, and a special present for each of our boys, in honor of Jesus and the gifts that he received on his birthday. We read the story of Jesus's birth in Luke 2, and we emphasized that we were giving gifts in honor of the fact that Jesus is the greatest gift ever given.

Brandi and I wondered if our boys would be envious of other children receiving gifts from Santa, especially anticipating the likely question, "What did you get from Santa?"  I overheard one of their cousins ask that yesterday, and Beau simply replied matter of factly, "I didn't get anything from Santa." 

To be honest, it made me sad when I heard him say that.  But then I realized that the reason I was sad was because our culture is materialistic (focused on receiving gifts, not giving) and secular (focused on Santa, not Jesus).  Why isn't the post-Christmas question, "What did you GIVE for Christmas?"

And I know that "belief" in Santa is pervasive, but he simply isn't real.

So in a couple of years, when other kids are having their Santa bubbles busted, I trust that the potential negative impact on my boys will have been avoided, or at least mitigated. 

I realize that my perspective on this matter is not mainstream, but at the end of this life, I will be judged by Christ, no one else.  And I believe that Brandi and I have made the choice to emphasize Christ (and mute Santa) at Christmas, in light of that final day. 

Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of Jesus Christ.  And thank you for the gift of children.  May we be careful in how and what we teach our children, and may we be faithful to raise them to fear and love you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

sabbatical conclusions

I am so thankful for the opportunity to take a sabbatical in Boston this semester.  I feel like I grew so much in many ways.  The opportunity to step out of my "normal" environment and routine, to self-reflect, to collaborate with great people at a great institution, to be validated as a legitimate professional, to connect with a thriving local church, to take my family to explore a different landscape than what I have grown up with, to see key historic places in the establishment of our nation - all of this made it an absolutely incredible experience.  I think the Lord used all of this to grow me significantly.

On the two and a half day trip from Boston back to Texas, I listened to a book:  Good to Great, by Jim Collins.  It was very impactful, and complementary to my experience in Boston.  The basic theme is that disciplined people invest in disciplined thought and take strategic, disciplined action.  A central analogy in the book is the idea of consistently pushing on a giant flywheel, daily investing in adding momentum.  The added momentum from each push may not even be noticeable, seemingly insignificant.  But over the course of years, the cumulative effects of all of those daily investments results in significant velocity and momentum.

I think this is really consistent with why I titled this blog "conservation of momentum" seven years ago. (Interesting, seven years. I hadn't noticed that before now.  A true sabbatical.)  It is ironic that the number of my blog posts per year has monotonically decreased since I started at the beginning of 2007.  Friction.  And distraction.  Lack of discipline.  But I expect 2013 to be a point of inflection.

I am encouraged, now, to see the importance and value of those daily investments.  Any given day might be thought of as insignificant, but therein lies the danger - the thought that what I do today doesn't matter.  Disciplined people see that every day can be significant, and they make it count.  Everyday sacredness.  I want to be a disciplined person.

2 Pet 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Heavenly Father, please help me consistently seek you every day.  Lord, please help me be disciplined in growing in your grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.  May my life be useful for advancing your Kingdom.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, December 16, 2013

pursuit, basis

2 Timothy 2:20-22 ESV

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.  So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

2 Timothy 3:15-17 ESV

and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

How do you pursue the Lord?  Scripture leads us to Christ; it is the basis for our faith.  Scripture is the Word of God, and it builds us up, preparing us to be useful to the Lord.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the foundation of the Scriptures, and thank you for dynamically speaking through your Word.  Lord, I want to be a vessel for honorable use.  Lord, please wash me, and fill me with yourself - to pour into others.  Lord, may I be faithful to digest your Word daily and continue growing in you, not out of religion, but in appreciation of the grace and love that you have shown me through Christ Jesus.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Life and love

2 Timothy 1:1, 10, 12 ESV

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,  ... manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, ... which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.

I want to experience and share the life that He has promised - that abundant, zoe life.  I want to know Him.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ.  Lord, may I be faithful in seeking you and walking with you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 13, 2013


James 4:6-7 NLT

But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, "God opposes the proud but favors the humble." So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Sometimes the Lord aids us in that humility process.

This afternoon, I left for the airport in plenty of time, accounting for traffic and checking my bag.  After my car GPS took me through a hundred stoplights downtown, and i kept praying for God to help me get to the airport on time, I saw a sign for the freeway and jumped on it, not noticing that I was going the WRONG DIRECTION - away from the airport.  Since it was a turnpike, it was a couple of miles to the first U-turn, but I misunderstood the exit sign and went another several miles in the WRONG DIRECTION.  By this point, I was extremely frustrated, but I kept praying, and Brandi was praying for me.  So, I got turned around, headed toward the airport, for sure this time, and hurried on my way.  Parked the car, sprinted to the terminal, and remembered that I had my pocketknife that Brandi and the boys had given me for Father's day.  So I sprinted back to the car to leave my pocketknife, and then tried to sprint back to the terminal.  Huffing and sniffling in line for security, I heard the final boarding call for my flight.  So, I realized I had a decision to make: I could stand in line and probably miss my flight, or I could humble myself and ask people if I could cut ahead.  I hate cutting, and even more so, I hate having to ask to cut.  So embarrassing!  But, I humbled myself and asked, cut in line, made it through screening, and sprinted to my gate to catch them just before they closed the door.  Thank the Lord!

I don't think this is what James had in mind when he penned this passage, but I sure felt like the Lord was teaching me humility today.  So I think it has to relate somehow.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your patience with me.  I sure hope I can figure out how to voluntarily humble myself so you don't have to run me through too many ringers to keep me humble.  I love you, Lord, and I want to be humble.  Jesus, you were humble, and I want to show your character.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Works and words

James 1-3

I think it is interesting that after James talks about faith coupled with works, the next topic he addresses is the quality of our speech:

James 2:24, 26 ESV
You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. ... For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

James 3:2 ESV
For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the faith that you have given me, and thank you for accomplishing good works through me.  May others see good works and praise you.  Lord, may the words of my mouth demonstrate the lordship of Christ and His holiness.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Godly living

Philippians 1:9-11, 27 NIV

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. ... Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. ... I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel

One word to summarize our godly living: love (agape).  And Paul prays that our love would mature with knowledge and discernment SO THAT we will live pure and blameless lives in honor and expectation of Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the love that you have shown us in Christ, and thank you for pouring your love through us.  Lord, please help me grow and mature in my love with knowledge and discernment so that I will live blamelessly to bring you honor and glory.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Monday, December 9, 2013

walk in Him

Col 2:6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. ... For in him the whole fullness of [the Godhead] dwells bodily,10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
3:12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Walk in Him.  The fullness of the Godhead is in Christ, and He is in us.  (Wow!  That makes my head explode.)

Take on His character, and live Him.  Not just live like Him, but live Him.  Consume His words; digest His teaching; metabolize His character.  We are His body, we are His ambassadors.

Heavenly Father, you are amazing!  Your plan is incredible!  Your Spirit dwells in my spirit!  And I have zoe life in you!  Hallelujah!  Lord, may my words and actions clearly communicate you!  Lord, may your power and life be evident through me.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

walk worthy

Eph 5-6, Col 1

Husbands and wives, spiritual armor, preeminence of Christ... wow!  This is rich stuff. I wish I could take more time to study these passages!

The verses that jumped out at me this morning were:

1:9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lordfully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
  1. filled with knowledge of His will, spiritual wisdom and understanding (v.9)
  2. SO THAT you will WALK WORTHY (v. 10a)
  3. bearing fruit in every good work (v. 10b)
  4. increasing in knowledge (repeat) (v. 10c)  
    (The Greek word for "knowledge" is the same in v. 9 and 10.)
This enduring righteous living is accomplished by His power, as we demonstrate patience, joy, and thanksgiving.  The core of our faith is the truth that He has saved us from sin and death to walking in the the light, the kingdom of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  We are motivated to persevere out of love and gratitude.

Heavenly Father, I want to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to you.  Lord, please correct my misunderstandings of you, and please correct my misbehavior.  Lord, I love you, and I am so thankful for the love and salvation that you have shown me.  Lord, may I be useful in the Body to help others experience you and walk worthy. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Church and godly living

(This was from yesterday; didn't quite finish it.)

EPH 3-5

I love Ephesians.  Missed blogging about Chapters 1-2 yesterday.  God's will, plan, glory... predestination, grace and faith.  Awesome stuff.

I love Paul's prayer at the end of ch. 3.  I need to regularly pray this for myself, my family, and my church family.

I love the description and objective for building the church and growing in maturity in ch. 4.

I think you could summarize the end of ch 4 and the beginning of ch 5 as a pursuit of godly living.  Not religion or self righteousness, but seeking to know Jesus and live like Him.

In the past couple of years, I have come to think that our speech is a very important aspect of godly living.  Not only what you talk about, but also the attitude with which you speak.

Ephesians 4:29 ESV
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 5:4 ESV
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

The guideline is not simply "dont say bad stuff", but rather, speak words of grace and thanksgiving.

Heavenly Father, please help me speak words of life, truth, grace, and thanksgiving.  Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. May what I say and how I say it reflect you and your love.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I'm not crazy

Acts 21-26

As Paul was being rescued from violent Jews in Jerusalem (Acts 22), he was given permission to speak, and he boldly shared his testimony of meeting Jesus, with the very people who had just attempted to kill him.  He simply told them what happened to him and how He obeyed what Jesus told him to do.

While presenting to King Agrippa (Acts 26), Paul again shared his testimony of meeting Jesus.

24 And as [Paul] was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind." 25 But Paul said, "I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words.

Paul gives us the example of simply sharing what we have experienced of Christ, even if it may seem foolish to some.  But we are sharing the Gospel - the Good News of Jesus Christ, and I believe that, as we are faithful to scatter the seed, some hearts are receptive and will produce a crop of a hundred times the original.

Heavenly Father, please help me to humbly and boldly share the truth of Christ, especially through my own experience of your goodness toward me.  I love you, and I pray that I will be a faithful witness of your love.  I ask in the name of Jesus.

Monday, December 2, 2013

elders: overseers and shepherds

Acts 20:17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them, ... 28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

Paul tells the elders (πρεσβυτέρους) that they are overseers (ἐπισκόπους) and instructs them to shepherd (ποιμαίνειν) the church (ἐκκλησίαν).

What do overseers do?  What do shepherds do?  Guide, QA/QC, care for, protect, feed, rescue, bandage, ...

Heavenly Father, please help me mature to be an elder/overseer/shepherd.  Lord, I want to serve the local church.  I want to be useful.  Lord, please make me useful.  Please give me wisdom and discernment.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

End of the semester

2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

The end of the semester is one of the busiest and most stressful times for me.  On my walk this morning, I kept praying, "Lord Jesus, please help me keep my focus on you.  Please help me seek you.  Keep my mind set on the spirit." 

It is so easy for me to think about overdue publications, reviews, homework assignments and grading, class projects, presentations, advising doctoral dissertations, masters theses, senior design projects, letters of recommendation, faculty search committees, ... not to mention family and church responsibilities - I feel my anxiety and blood pressure rise just listing these.

"Lord, I need you, oh I need you.  Every hour I need you."

I am weak and weary.  I am worn out from trying to do it in my own strength.  I must submit to His grace.  I must learn to live in a state of submission.  I have to confess my weakness and my need for Him.  I have to learn to rest in His providence.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace.  I am insufficient, but your grace is sufficient.  I am weak, but you are powerful.  Lord, please help me trust you and rest in you.  Lord, may you receive honor as I submit to you and testify to your power at work in me and through me.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.