Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Revelation 21:10-11, 22 NIV
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. ... I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

Revelation 22:1-2 NIV
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

I finished reading The Chronicles of Narnia with the boys this afternoon.  It was a great experience, and I have really appreciated Lewis's allegories of the spiritual life.  I especially appreciated the conclusion and it's parallel with Revelation.  In the end, we will find that it is only the beginning.  Too many times I am guilty of thinking too much of this life, but eternity with Christ will be so much more rich and satisfying than this life.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your patience with me.  May I turn ever more towards your holy mountain, and may I run with perseverance the race marked out for me.  May I finish well.  Thank you for the blessings of this year, and may I pursue you even more faithfully and diligently next year.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

More heart, less attack

My dad had a mild heart attack yesterday.  I am thankful that the Lord answered our prayers and gave us more time here with my dad. 

I am thankful for Mr. Ellison giving my dad nitroglycerin in the field, for my mom giving him aspirin and taking him to the ER, for Dr. Alley and the other attendants caring for my dad in the local clinic before transporting him to Lubbock.  I am thankful that the doctors were able to treat him without major surgery.

I realize the warning of my grandfather and father having heart blockage in their early 60s. I know that I need to be disciplined about eating healthy and exercising regularly.

I also realize that I need to lower my stress level.  My grandmother once gave me a bookmark that simply said, "RELAX".  I know that I need to learn to turn things over to the Lord and not get so worked up about things.  Reminds me of a song, "More heart, less attack" on Needtobreathe's recent album, "Rivers in the Wasteland":

"Slow to anger and quick to laugh
Be more heart and less attack
I stuck my hat out, I caught the rain drops
I drank the water, I felt my veins pop
I'm nearly sanctified, I'm nearly broken
I'm down the river, I'm nearly open
I'm down the river, to where I'm going"

Heavenly Father, thank you for healing my dad and blessing us with more time with him.  Lord, thank you for your patience and grace.  Please help me grow to be more patient in character like you.  Please help me rest in your sovereignty.   I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Love of God

(Just found this one in my drafts from Dec 7.)

1 John 3:1, 11, 16, 23-24 NIV
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God's commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

1 John 4:7, 9-13 NIV
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.   This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.

Several observations from these two chapters:
- God is the source and initiator of love
- We are commanded and expected to love one another as God has loved us
- We live in the presence of God as we love one another
- He has given us His Spirit for dynamic fellowship with Him

I'm not sure that I have consciously thought about the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit with respect to us loving one another.  I guess I have always thought of the Holy Spirit as One who speaks truth and conviction and gives gifting and power.  But I suppose that the Holy Spirit would also know something about this "love" that John speaks of.  Perhaps I should pay attention to the Holy Spirit, and then I might know something about love, as well.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love, and thank you for your Holy Spirit.  May I be open to your love, and may I share your love.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Humble to repent

REV 16:8-11 NIV
The fourth angel poured out his bowl ... but they refused to repent and glorify him.   The fifth angel poured out his bowl ... but they refused to repent of what they had done.

Heavenly Father, may I be humble and willing to repent.  Lord, may I soften my heart to you and yield to your discipline.  Lord, thank you for your patience.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, December 22, 2014


We celebrated Christmas with my family today.  I am thankful for a loving family and great times eating, talking, and playing games.  My brothers make me laugh, and they also make me think.  I miss our time together when we were all at home.  I am very blessed to have generous parents and brothers who are my closest friends.

I got to help my dad harvest cotton this afternoon.  I was thinking about how foolish I was when I was in school.  I am thankful that God has been so gracious to me, He has changed me, and He continues to grow me.  I want to be a spiritual man.

I am so thankful for my sweet and patient wife, and I am thankful for my precious sons.  My life is so rich.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your loving-kindness and you patient faithfulness.   Thank you for providing for me, protecting me, and growing me.  I love you, and I want to grow in fellowship with you.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sometimes we have to eat things we don't like

Jude doesn't want to eat his food this evening.  I told him that sometimes we have to eat food we don't like.

I had a conversation with someone about something in their life that I don't think honors the Lord, based on several scritpures.  Sometimes certain scriptures don't taste good because, in order to obey, we would have to change the way we live.

Heavenly Father, please help me be humble as i walk with you and eat your Word.  Holy Spirit, convict me of sin, lead me to repentance, and help me walk in obedience.  Lord, give me grace to walk closer with you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Elder roles

When I was waking up this morning, I was thinking about the role of elders in the church.  I think the principal role of elders is shepherding.  Also, I think the principal role of parents is shepherding.  In that way, you might also draw an analogy that elders are like spiritual "parents" or guardians.  Biological parents and spiritual guardians are responsible for seeing that their children grow and thrive, which generally involves loving them, feeding them, teaching them, and disciplining them.

Then, while reading Revelation this morning, I was encouraged and challenged with the concept that elders also serve the church as lead worshippers:

Revelation 4:4, 10-11 NIV
Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. ... the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:   "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."

Heavenly Father, please help me grow as a spiritual guardian and a lead worshipper.  May I lead out of an overflow of my relationship with you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Guidelines in Acts, connected in Revelation

In Acts, the Apostles agreed on a simple set of guidelines for instructing non-Jewish followers of Jesus.  I have wondered before if these were simply man-made, or if God really inspired the Apostles to give these guidelines:

Acts 15:28-29 NIV
It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.

In Revelation, it seems that Jesus reiterated the significance of these guidelines:

REV 2:14, 20 NIV
Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality.  ... 
Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

Sexual immorality is so pervasive in our culture.  We must be diligent in guarding our hearts and minds.

Heavenly Father, I want my life to honor you and please you.  Please keep me pure and undefiled by the world.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


On Sunday morning, it impressed me that there were two people who came up for prayer who don't have much in the world's eyes.  Seems like those of us who have what we want don't really need God.

Last night, Beau watched a show on a Christian channel about people traveling through China and Africa sharing the Gospel.  He told me, "Everybody needs to hear!  Even people in Boston and New York."  Then he said, "Dad, we should go tell people about Jesus."  I agreed, and I told him that was why I travel to Ecuador every year.  He said, "Dad, why didn't you tell me that before?!"

Heavenly Father, may I be a humble man, realizing that all good things come from you.  Lord, please bless Beau with boldness in sharing the Gospel.  May he have beautiful feet.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


1PET 5:1-4 NIV
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ's sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

As an elder-in-training, I am trying to learn what it means to be an elder. It seems pretty clear from this passage that being an elder is serving as a shepherd, not just wearing a title. Elders should be emulating the Chief Shepherd.

What do shepherds do?  They feed and guard the flock.

1PET 5:8-9 NIV
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

I need to be watching out for myself, my wife and boys, the people in my home group, and our church.

Heavenly Father, please help me keep my focus on you and also be aware of the enemy and his attacks.  Please help me learn how to be a shepherd.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Helping my dad bring in the harvest

On Friday, I got to go help my dad harvest cotton at one of his fields, and I was impressed with some of the spiritual parallels. 

First, my dad asked me if I wanted to go with him to harvest.  I believe that our Heavenly Father invites us to join Him in the harvest.  He isn't demanding, and He doesn't crack a whip. It is an opportunity to enjoy working and fellowshipping with Him.

I rode over to the farm with my dad, and he towed a fuel trailer. Our Heavenly Father provides the way and the fuel for us to join Him in the harvest.

Over the years, my dad has trained me how to drive a tractor, run a module builder, and run a cotton stripper; this time, I learned how to operate a boll buggy.  Our Heavenly Father gives us spiritual gifts, and as we work with Him in using our gifts, He grows us in maturity and proficiency in using our gifts to help build the Church.

I was running the boll buggy and the module builder while my dad was driving the cotton stripper.  Sometimes my dad sends a signal letting me know what to do, like when he slightly raises his basket to indicate that he is ready for the boll buggy.  It was important for me to be paying attention to where my dad was in the field and keeping track of what he was doing.  I think our Heavenly Father regularly communicates to us with signs and signals, and it is important for us to be watching Him intently and anticipating what He will want us to do.  For example, I think God gives us signs and signals through what other people tell us and what He reveals to us in dreams.  We need to be aware and attentive.

But other times I needed to speak directly with my dad, such as in coordinating how many baskets to put on the next-to-last module so that we would have enough baskets to make the last module.  I think our Heavenly Father speaks to us in our spirit when we pray and when we read the Word.  It is so important that we are regularly reading and meditating on the Word, and constantly praying.  I think many times, I think of "praying" as mostly "supplication", but while supplication is an important part of prayer, I have recently felt that the Lord wants me to spend more time simply talking and fellowshipping with Him.

Discussing these ideas with my father-in-law this morning, he added that there is an important aspect of me understanding my dad's plan to finish the field.  As we join our Heavenly Father in the harvest, we get a picture of His vision for every tribe, tongue, and nation to recieve salvation through Jesus Christ.  And participating in the harvest, we focus our lives on eternity with God, which brings us joy and significance, instead of being distracted with temporary worldly things that steal, kill, and destroy.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy and grace.  Thank you for the opportunity to join you in the harvest.  Thank you for your love and fellowship.  Lord, please send out more workers into the harvest.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


I am thankful for Jesus, for the faith that He has given me, for my wife and boys, family and friends, church, and a good job.  A few days ago, I was thinking that I am thankful for the spiritual gifts that He has given me and the opportunity to serve with Him.

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me and caring for me.  Thank you for allowing me to be in your family and work in your Kingdom.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Advent: the Lord is coming soon

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.

1PET 1:8-9, 13 NIV
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  ... Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.

As the Israelites waited patiently for the Messiah to come,  so we wait expectantly for Christ to return.  As the advent season approaches, I want to celebrate Jesus's birth, life, death, and resurrection, and I want to keep an attitude of hope and expectation of His return.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the promise of Christ's return, and thank you for the hope and joy of our salvation.  Lord, may I be alert, and may my attitude in expecting Christ be pleasing to you.  I love you, though I have not seen you.  It will be so good to see you when you return. Holy Spirit, thank you for your sanctifying work; please help me desire to be holy as you are holy. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tough words for the wealthy

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 

Sounds like this passage could apply to most Americans. So much opportunity to help people around the world, but we mostly spend it on ourselves.  I wonder when we get to Heaven, how ashamed will we be at the level of comfort and luxury in which we have indulged ourselves?

Heavenly Father, please help me live in a humble, generous, and sacrificial way.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Faith in my academic context

Hebrews 11:1, 6, 16 NIV
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. ... And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. ...  Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

By faith, Abraham left his family and culture.  By faith, one person after another chose to obey God and reject the social status quo.

In the academic context, it is my observation that the tenure-track culture expects 65-75 hours per week.  I have recently been reflecting on the underlying motivation for such a large fraction of professors to work so insessantly. (And most, I have found, are fully aware   I assume that some are driven directly by the desire for prestige, while others cloak that desire behind a false pretense of gaining more opportunities to "help people".

It seems to me that the main function of professors is mentorship through an integration of teaching, research, and service.  Certainly, more can be accomplished by working more hours, and certainly there should be a minimum number of hours committed per week for effectiveness, but I am beginning to question why I am so captivated by this perverse, workaholic culture.

"Don't envy the rat for the cheese in his trap." - Lecrae

I think, instead of faith, it comes down to my own efforts to establish my own value.  If my value is not determined by any or all of the quantitative metrics for research productivity, then what is my value?  Well, God established my value in the death of Jesus.  But the world rejects that priceless worth and replaces it with something proportional to labor or productivity so that it effectively makes us like Matrix energy generators, and the objective of the world is to maximize the extraction of energy from us.

Drawing from the perspective of The Gospel Coalition, Academia must be redeemed, including the professorship.

Practically, then, I must learn to strategically limit my commitments to what sums to less than what I am used to.  I have to decrease my obligations.  By faith, I must trust that my value is not determined by what I produce, but by Christ.  By faith, I must follow Christ in building His Kingdom, not mine.  I am beginning to see that a very important part of my participation in building that Kingdom is making disciples of my own family, and I need to strategically limit my work time so that I can invest sufficiently in time with my family.

Heavenly Father, thank you for these examples of faith.  Lord Jesus, thank you for proving my worth.  Holy Spirit, may I keep in step with you and walk in obedience as we honor Christ.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lean in

HEB 10:39 NIV
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Greg uses the phrase "lean in" to describe a predetermined attitude of choosing to draw closer to the Lord in spite of suffering or apathy.

But how do you actually will yourself to lean in? 

Perhaps these preceeding verses are applicable:

HEB 10:24-25, 36 NIV
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ...  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

I think that the group of people with whom you spend significant time is the most significant spiritual influence in your life.  If the group is really devoted to growing in the Lord (not just cruise control), then it will incubate a spirit of pursuit.  Brandi and I are in a group like that now.  It is very encouraging.

Heavenly Father, thank you for inviting us to pursue you.  And thank you for the spiritual group that you have given us.  May we go on to greater heights with you.   I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Holiness is painful

HEB 10:10, 14 NIV
And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  ... For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Holiness hurts. My flesh doesn't want it.  But my spirit wants it.

Done.  Finished.  Completed.  But still working on it.  Sometimes it's hard to imagine the finished product.  But we have to persevere.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the sacrifice of Jesus which made us holy.  Lord Jesus,  thank you for enduring the pain so that I can endure the pain.  Holy Spirit, thank you for sanctifying me.  I love you, and I want to want to be holy.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Substitutionary atonement

HEB 9:22, 24-28 NIV

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.  ... For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

We talked about sin, sacrifice, and substitutionary punishment at the dinner table with Beau this evening.  Then I read him these verses.  I think he is getting close to believing and putting his faith in Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Christ to bear the full measure of your wrath.  Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me and taking the punishment for my sin, once and for all.  Holy Spirit, please fill me with joy in knowing that I am redeemed.  And please lead my sons to faith in Christ at an early age.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Knowing the Lord

HEB 8:10-11 NIV
This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.   No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.

For the past several weeks in our home group, we have been discussing how we hear from God.  It has been very encouraging to me to hear how the Lord is speaking to and through the folks in our group.  He speaks through Scriptures, music, dreams, thoughts, impressions, and other people. We need to be open to hear, and we also need to ask Him to speak to us.

I need to be consistent in meditating on Scripture and journaling daily.  Not just reading, but meditating.  Soaking on it.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your new covenant of knowing you.  Thank you for writing your law on my mind and in my heart.  Thank you for allowing us to know you.  Please help me be consistent in pursuing you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Knowing the Lord

HEB 8:10-11 NIV
This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.   No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.

For the past several weeks in our home group, we have been discussing how we hear from God.  It has been very encouraging to me to hear how the Lord is speaking to and through the folks in our group.  He speaks through Scriptures, music, dreams, thoughts, impressions, and other people. We need to be open to hear, and we also need to ask Him to speak to us.

I need to be consistent in meditating on Scripture and journaling daily.  Not just reading, but meditating.  Soaking on it.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your new covenant of knowing you.  Thank you for writing your law on my mind and in my heart.  Thank you for allowing us to know you.  Please help me be consistent in pursuing you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hope in Christ

Hebrews 6:19-20 NIV
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Our hearts take hope and find encouragement in knowing that Christ is our forerunner in communion with God.  Christ is the mediator between God and man.

Heavenly Father,  thank you for Jesus making the way for us to be reconciled to you.  Thank you for your eternal promises.  Thank you for the hope and encouragement we have in Jesus.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Priesthood; obedience through suffering

Jesus was appointed by God as a high priest.  And his priesthood transcended the Levitical and Aaronic types to the order of Melchizedek (priest and king).

Hebrews 2:10 NIV
In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.

Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 5:5, 8-10 NIV
In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father."    ... Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

I don't think Jesus's moral character was purified through suffering, because He had no sinfulness.  I'm just speculating, here, but perhaps the human body retains an unsinful instinct to avoid death (self preservation), and Jesus learned to obey God by setting His mind on the Spirit in the midst of pain.  In my opinion, this is an essential experience which allows Jesus to empathize with us in our weakness and to sympathize with us in our obedience in the midst of pain.  Thus, it seems to me that the "perfection" in these passages speaks more to completion of the subjective/experiential process.

Of course, God also led Christ to obedience through suffering as an example for us, and He promises that we will have similar opportunities to choose to obey when it hurts.  Perhaps there is even a cascade of priesthood associated with our experience of obedience in suffering, coupled with our joining Christ in His ministry of reconciliation.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us Christ as our high priest.  Lord Jesus, thank you for persevering through suffering and for setting the example of righteousness. Holy Spirit, may I be faithful in setting my mind on you in the midst of pain, and may I be filled with joy in knowing that you are always with me and empowering me to live the life of Christ.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our high priest forever.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Beau and Jude went with me on my walk this morning.  (I used to look forward to fall time change, but now it just means that your kids wake up an hour earlier.)  Beau asked some good questions, like why God made evil.

Titus 2:11-14 NIV
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Has it appeared to all people, or is it offered to all people.  I think it is the latter, but I wish it was the former.

Heavenly Father, please help me receive your grace and extend your grace.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Growing up fast

Beau celebrated his fifth birthday.  And lost a tooth.

He likes sword fighting, pizza, and spaghetti.

We had a good discussion this evening about why Jesus had to die.  I think he is getting close.

Heavenly Father, please help me make disciples of my children. Help me be intentional about spending time with them. Please help Brandi and me guide them to discover their gifts and use them.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Richy Rich

1TI 6:6-10, 17-19 NIV
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  ... Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

It is not wrong to be wealthy, but it is wrong to love wealth. 

What if in Heaven, our eternal wealth will be what fraction of our earthly resources we invested in the Kingdom?   If you are strategically leveraging all of your resources to advance the kingdom, then it doesn't matter how much money you have. 

Heavenly Father, we are rich in your love, mercy, and grace.  May we keep an eternal, kingdom perspective.  Lord, please deliver me from the desires of the flesh.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


1 Timothy 4:12-16 NIV
Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.   Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

When I was in the youth group in high school, we were regularly encouraged with 1 Tim 4:12.  But I appreciate another aspect of Paul's encouragement to Timothy - Timothy was shepherding before he was an elder.  And Paul challenged him to persevere in shepherding, especially preaching and teaching.

1TI 5:17-18 NIV
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For Scripture says, "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages."

Two thinks occur to me here.  First, preaching and teaching are reiterated as important functions of elders.  Second, it is good to pay full-time shepherds who devote themselves to preaching and teaching.

Heavenly Father, I want to grow as a student and teacher of your word.  I want to understand your truths and help others understand so that we can all better worship you in spirit and in truth.  Please help me grow in maturity and in using the gifts that you have given me to bless the Body.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, October 24, 2014


1TI 3:1 NIV

Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.

I have been considering myself an elder-in-training, but I think what I really meant was overseer-in-training.  The way I train to be an elder is to get older. But I think serving as a shepherd or overseer is how you grow in that capacity.

It takes work, intentionality, and investment.

Heavenly Father, please help me grow in maturity. Please help me serve the body.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


In the past several weeks, I have assumed that the lack of involvement of some people in certain church activities was an indication that they were not very committed.  Come to find out, they were going through some very difficult situations.  I am sorry that I was not compassionate and shepherding; I should have called them and checked on them.

Heavenly Father, help me grow as a shepherd.   please help me think of other people and take care of them. I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, October 20, 2014


2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NIV

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am thankful for friends who are helping me grow in my walk with the Lord.  I want to know the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  I want to have a pure heart and invest in the kingdom.

Heavenly Father, thank you for being with me. Thank you for your grace and mercy.  Please help me continue seeking you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Don't scratch the itch.

1 Thes 4

Well, I got some kind of athlete's foot on the inside arch of my left foot several months ago (probably in Ecuador), and originally, it was just a nuisance, but then it worsened. Spiritual analogy, part 1: fleshly junk, sin, or disobedience in your life, when ignored, will always get worse.

Several weeks ago, I finally decided to start treating it with a creme.  Apply twice daily for four weeks.  Spiritual analogy, part 2: prayer and Scripture should be applied to our souls multiple times per day, and in most cases, the cure is not instantaneous.) Of course, it itched like crazy, but I resisted the urge to scratch, and I only got a small amount of satisfaction in the quasi-itch of applying the creme. 

Well, a couple of days ago, the spot on my foot was showing good improvement.  But it itched.  I still had my sock on, so I indulged in just a little scratch.  But of course, the little scratch never satisfies the itch.  So, a few seconds later, I tried again.  But then the itch grew in intensity, so I needed a stronger scratch.  You know the story.   Before long, I was itching like a hound dog.  Unfortunately, I still had my sock on, so I did not realize that I was scratching hard enough to peel off the outer layer of skin.  Yep, within five minutes, I was really regretting my decision to scratch.  Probably set me back two weeks.  Spiritual analogy, part 3: scratching the fleshly itch only shifts your focus to the flesh, and sin and flesh always cause you more pain and harm than you ever expected.

I should have learned my lesson.  Tuesday evening, I tried to start a fire in our outdoor chimenea with the remaining lighter fluid.  Unfortunately, a few minutes later, the fire was out.  Well, I was frustrated and cantankerous, and I had some two-year old weedeater gasoline in the garage, so I figured I could get the fire started with that.  I gave it a hybrid sprinkle-baptism, and then tried to light it.  But the lighter that I had just used didn't work.  (I am pretty sure that an angel was sitting there snuffing out the tip every time I tried to light it.)  Then it worked.  Boom.  Hot.  Singed hair; burned skin.  Fortunately, the Lord protected me (maybe the same angel) from major injury, but the hair on my right forearm is gone, my beard is shorter, and the tips of my nose and right ear got roasted.  I shouldn't have scratched the itch.

This was particularly embarrassing, because Steve and Tamara were over for homegroup.  Steve prayed a kind prayer for healing before they left, and I know that the Lord answered his prayer.

I was just thinking earlier this week that the Lord sometimes allows us to learn wisdom by making mistakes.

Heavenly Father, please help me set my mind on the spirit.  I want to be a man who loves you and walks with you.  Please deliver me from the temptations of this world and the impulses of my flesh.  Lord, may I be diligent in resisting the urge to scratch, and may I be faithful and patient in applying the salve of Scripture and prayer in the process of sanctification.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Praying for healing

I had a good conversation with a Brother yesterday.  We were talking about prayer, and he said that instead of praying for people to be healed, he prays that they will have a good attitude.  He said that instead of praying for the persecuted saints to be liberated, he prays that they will persevere and not recount their faith.

At this moment, I can't think of anything in Scripture to suggest that we shouldn't ask God to heal us or deliver us from trouble.  Of course, God doesn't always heal us the way we want, but this shouldn't prevent us from asking, either.  We can approach God for healing because He is gracious and merciful. So, I think we can pray for a good attitude and healing, perseverance and liberation.

I feel like God is 0 for 4 on answering my prayers for healing cancer (Ryan, Grandma, Aunt Jean, Uncle George).  Maybe I feel like God owes me an answered prayer.   Maybe I am learning that I can confidently ask God to heal and expect Him to answer, but also not be angry at Him if He does not answer my prayer.

Heavenly Father, please help me trust you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Overseers and deacons


Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God's holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons :

This verse caught my attention this morning because I have recently been thinking about the synergistic value of the collaboration of these two functions within the church body.  In this passage, Paul used the term 'overseer' (ἐπίσκοπος), but throughout the New Testament, this term is used interchangeably with 'shepherd' and 'elder'.  This role is the shepherd the flock (lead, feed, and protect).  The role of the deacon (διάκονος) is to serve (like a waiter/waitress). (Paul outlined qualities of people in both of these roles in 1 Timothy 3.)

Jon Houser explained to me the difference in these roles with this short saying: elders are servant leaders, and deacons are lead servants. 

When you have elders trying to do the work of deacons or visa versa, people get frustrated.  When you have elders and deacons genuinely serving the Lord through their repective roles, then there is harmony and grow in the body.

Heavenly Father, please help me understand my role in the local body, and help me do it well. Lord, please help our church be intentional about identifying Brothers and Sisters who can serve in specific roles within our body, according to the gifts that you have given them.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Discipline in love


Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

For the last several months, up to a couple of weeks ago, I was in a season of thinking that when Beau or Jude misbehaved or disobeyed, they should get a spanking straight away.  My rational was that prompt and persuasive disciplinary action would result in better behaved children. 

But Brandi suggested to me that one of our most important roles as parents is presenting to our children an accurate representation of our Heavenly Father, and our Heavenly Father is quite patient with us.  He does not promptly spank us every time we make a mistake.

I need to make sure that they way I discipline my children is loving, intentional, and instructing,  not reactionary.  And discipline is more than just correction of mistakes, it should be as much about guiding them into good lifestyle practices, as well.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your loving patience with me.  Thank you for guiding me and correcting me.  Lord, I want to clearly communicate your character to my boys so that they will know you and pursue you all their lives. Please give me wisdom in disciplining my boys.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Throne room

EPH 3:12 NIV

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

On a plane headed home.  The Lord continues to care for me and my family.

I had a great time visiting with my PhD advisor and other colleagues the last several days.  I feel like the Lord is growing me professionally.

I also received a couple of emails from colleagues who were encouraged by me talking about my involvement in my church in my presentation.

I need to be consistent in spending time in the throne room.

Heavenly Father, thank you for taking care of me.  I need to trust you more. I love you, and I want to live in your presence. I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Seeking and enjoying Christ

Eph. 2:22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

I had an encouraging visit with Ari this morning here at the WEFTEC conference in New Orleans.  He reminded me that we need to daily focus on seeking the Lord to enjoy Him.  The enemy seeks to distract us and entangle us with the world and our flesh, but we have to see past the illusion of temporary, worldy things and focus on the eternal kingdom of Christ.

At lunch, Brent told me that he appreciated that I was transparent about my faith in my presentation on Tuesday.

It is so important to have regular meetings with Brothers to encourage us.

Heavenly Father, may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Lord, please help me keep my mind set on the Spirit and my focus on loving you and obeying you.  Lord, please deliver me from getting caught up in the rat race.  Please use me to advance your kingdom and bless people with the love of Christ.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Busy week

Eph 1

I know that being busy is not a valid excuse for not journaling.  I have been very busy the past couple of weeks, and I feel myself falling further behind.  I have been reading the Word in the mornings and then rushing to work thinking that I would journal in the evenings, but I am so tired after putting the boys to bed that I fall asleep before book reading or journaling.  I want to be diligent and consistent in journaling.

This week, I had a couple of experiences which the Lord used to improve my attitude toward work. I have been second-guessing my role as a professor because of the significant time requirement and my competing desires to spend more time with my family.   I have been so focused on the busyness and stress of deliverables that I have missed the sense of joy and privelege that I should have. 

A recent graduate from our program came by my office to review some of his ideas for developing his home town in Africa.  He also shared that he is training to get into the NFL,  but he had a job opportunity in petroleum engineering.  Though I felt very busy with other responsibilities, I took time to talk with him, and I realized that it was a privelege for me to talk about developing water and wastewater treatment infrastructure in Africa, and it was a privelege for me to advise and encourage him to seek to honor God with his opportunities in the NFL and engineering.

On Saturday morning, I had the opportunity to brief a delegation of dignitaries from Malaysia who are UTEP alumni.  They are interested in developing an academic partnership, and I realized that it was a privelege for me to meet international political leaders and develop collaborations for sustainable infrastructure and resource management.

The Lord has also been working with me to help me grow as a spiritual leader.  I think I have been wrestling with whether or not I should be taking an active role in spiritual leadership, and I think the Lord confirmed that I should be diligent in growing as a spiritual leader.

On Wednesday evening, the elders met to make some decisions about staff roles and responsibilities and improving some management systems/processes so that the church leaders can more effectively lead the church. While I still consider myself a shepherd in training, I think I have to opportunity to humbly learn by doing.  I don't think you can learn all you need to know before trying; I think you have to try and seek the Lord for wisdom and grace.

On Thursday evening, we were blessed to host Robin, a Brother who spoke at a retreat for us in the spring.  He has a gift of hearing from the Lord specific words of encouragement to people.  One of the things that he told me was that I can serve a helpful role in leadership in our church body.  That was encouraging and challenging because I have been wondering if I can serve in this capacity without compromising my effectiveness as a husband and father. I also talked a little bit with Robin about my desire to help people get clean water and Living Water, around the world.  He encouraged me by assuring me that I need to make my family a priority during this season of life and not to try to travel too much.  He also encouraged my by reminding me that we as Americans get so obsessed about the "exact will of God for my life", when perhaps the Lord's will tends to be more perceptive and less prescriptive. 

Sunday evening, Brandi and I rode our bikes (with kids in tow) to a park, and the Fitzgeralds met us there.  It was really nice to have a good chat with friends and watch the kids play.

This morning, I am flying to New Orleans for the WEFTEC conference, and this afternoon,  I have the privelege of presenting in a technical session about water treatment in developing countries.   What a privelege for me to talk about my experiences in Ecuador and El Paso, and to learn from others in how to more effectively help people get clean water!

Heavenly Father,  thank you for your rich kindness in Christ Jesus.  Thank you for the blessing of my family and the privelege of serving my wife and sons.  Thank you for the vocation that you have given me and the privelege of serving students and working with people around the world.  Thank you for the local church that you have led us to, and thank you for the opportunity to grow in maturity and leadership.  Lord, may I be a humble and Spirit-led man today.  I want to be salty and bright today, showing the joy and love of Christ. I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, September 22, 2014


2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV

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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I sure feel weak, but I am afraid that it is not for Christ's sake.  I think it is because I am a knucklehead.  I feel so scattered and tired.

Heavenly Father, please help me know what I am supposed to be doing.  Help me trust you and the sufficiency of your grace.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Take time to stop and smell the rosemary ... and thank God for hiccups.

I woke up at 6:45 to go for my prayer walk. Sure enough, Jude came walking in to my closet as i was about to put my shoes on, and he asked if he could go with me on my walk.  He hadn't walked past more than a couple of houses, and he wanted to stop and smell the rosemary. 

But my life is too busy for me to make time for my son to stop and smell the rosemary.

We made it a little further, and as I was thanking God for things, Jude chimed in, "And thank you, God, for hiccups."  I realized that he had the hiccups. Pretty good attitude, really.  Hiccups are unwelcomed interuptions, and uncomfortable,  as well.  But the Scripture teaches us to be thankful in all circumstances.

Throughout our walk, Jude kept telling me, "My teacher said, 'God made everything.'"  That is right, Jude.  Faith like a child, right?

Heavenly Father, please help me see things from your perspective.  Lord, please help me spend my time here and now on the basis of eternity.  Help me work in the Kingdom,  not for my own glory.  And please help me enjoy it instead of being burdened and burned out.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Friday, September 19, 2014


2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NLT

We are human, but we don't wage war as humans do. We use God's mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

I am an angry person.  I get frustrated so easily.  And I let that frustration turn into anger.  Unrighteous anger.

My thoughts are rebellious to the reign of Christ.  I need the power of God to demolish the stronghold of flesh in my heart and mind.

Heavenly Father, please save me from myself.  Please forgive me for being angry.  Please fill me with the fruit of your spirit as I abide in your presence.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Good discussion about healing

We read the first part of Matthew 8 this evening, and Jesus healed a bunch of people.  I asked if healing is universal.   Through significant discussion, the conclusions that we came to were: (1) God is good, and He desires to heal everyone, (2) but God doesn't heal everyone; (3) we should be faithful in praying for everyone to be healed, regardless of point number two because, (4) the point is to know God and do His will in faith and loving obedience.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Brothers and Sisters to encourage me through this journey.  Thank you for the example of Jesus and His willingness to heal.  I want to join you in your work.   I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ministry of reconciliation

These are some of the most mind blowing verses in the Bible:

2CO 5:17-21 NIV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We went to Lubbock this weekend to see cousins and go to Rutledge's first birthday party.   I went to the mall to get my hair cut yesterday, and the barber who cut my hair was pleasant and conversant.  He told me that he grew up in southern California,  but he got into trough and ended up moving to Lubbock.  He said that he was blessed because he had some family here who helped him get on his feet.  I asked him if he was part of a church.  He replied that he was "not very religious", grew up Catholic, married a Baptist.  I was trying to think of a follow up question when he simply volunteered, "I think when I die, I will continue to be part of the universe in some way." I told him that a speaker at a retreat that I attended told us, "God sees you; He knows you; He loves you; and He has a good plan for your life."  I told him that I believe that if you believe in Jesus and have a relationship with Him, then you will spend eternity with Him.

But I wish I had been more bold.  I wish I had told Him what it says in 2 Cor 5.  Jesus makes us new.  He has reconciled us to Himself, and as an ambassador of Jesus, I implore you to be reconciled to God.  He is not counting your sin against you because Christ Jesus bore that punishment.  And now we are adopted into His family, and we join with Him in accomplishing His good will.

Heavenly Father, please help me share the good news of Jesus Christ.  Lord, as your ambassador, please help me be bold in this ministry of reconciliation.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


2CO 4:1, 7-11, 16-18 NIV

Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. ... But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. ... Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Man, it is so easy to fix our eyes on what is seen.  I am so guilty of that perspective these past several weeks.  But we must keep our perspective on the eternal reality.

We face death every day so that the life and resurrection power of Jesus can be demonstrated clearly through us.

Therefore we do not lose heart.  We choose to believe and maintain our trust in Christ, even when we are attacked and we can't see Him.

Heavenly Father, please help me maintain a good attitude and keep my perspective on you.  You are so loving and kind, and I need to focus on you.  May my life be a blessing to others, and may the light of Jesus Christ shine brightly through me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Words of encouragement

2 Cor 2

A couple of weeks ago, a former student asked for some advice about jobs and licensure.  She sent me an email today saying that she received a job offer, and she is signed up to take the FE. She thanked me for the encouragement.

I felt impressed to send an encouraging email to my pastor yesterday.  He replied and told me that it was very timely because he was feeling down after his parents left.

This morning on my prayer walk, I felt impressed to speak a word of encouragement to one of my colleagues.   She worked diligently on a project that didn't go as planned, so i told her that she shouldn't take it personally and that this is the nature of research (a lot of shoulda, coulda, woulda).  She told me later that my encouragement was perfect timing.  I told her that if anything good comes from me, it is not me but God working good through me.

About eight years ago,  Pastor Lewis told me that I have a gift of encouragement.   Looking back, I think the only reason that I was on the high school basketball team was because I worked hard in practice and encouraged people.

I was a bad pessimist until about six years ago.  I think the Lord changed my perspective.  Now I think I need to be sensitive to listen to the Holy Spirit telling me words of encouragement to share with others.

1 Cor 15 a couple of days ago... Jesus conquered sin and death, and he has made us co-victors.   But how do I appropriate that reality in my tired and frustrated daily life?  How do I maintain a good attitude and encourage others instead of getting burned out and cynical?

Heavenly Father, thank you for your faithful love and kindness.  Thank you for the privelege of colaboring with you in your Kingdom.  Please help me grow in maturity and wisdom in the gifts that you have given me.  May I be useful to you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Good conversations

Wednesday,  I went to lunch with a colleague, and he told me that he is going to church but doesn't consider himself a believer.  He said that, as a scientist, he can't believe in the supernatural because it is not observeable.  He asked me what I thought about him practicing the moral principles of Christianity (like humility and selflessness) without believing, and I told him that I think there are a lot of Americans who think they believe, but they do not even practice what Jesus taught.  He said that he wants to be a good person.  I asked him what his definition of "good" is, and he said that was a good question.  He said that hurting people is bad.  I agreed with him.  I told him that I had read 1 Cor 12 that morning, and I believed that God has given each of us certain spiritual proficiencies (gifts) to use in collaboration with Him to accomplish the good things that He has prepared for us (Eph 2:10).  I hope we get to visit again soon.

I drove to a research facility on Friday with a grad student, and we had a good conversation.  I said something to him about the difference between being a convert and a disciple.  He asked me how many disciples I've made.  I shared my story of how I realized that being a disciple is a lot more than being a convert.  I told him that I am still growing as a disciple maker.

Yesterday morning, Brandi hosted a baby shower, and I ran a 5k (pushing Beau and Jude in the stroller).  We went over to Steve F's house until the shower was over.  It was good to visit with him. And I think the implicit accountability of his friendship helps me be a better dad, especially in disciplining my boys.  (At lunch today, too.)

Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to talk and listen.  Lord, please help me share you clearly to my colleagues,  and please help me be a disciple maker.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Role model

It was never more clear than last night.  Brandi was helping Beau with his "All about Beau" poster for his new pre-K class, and she asked him, "Beau, what do you want to be when you grow up?"  He replied, "I want to do what dad does."  Brandi said, "You want to be a professor?"  Beau replied, "Yes, a professor of water.  I always want to do whatever dad does."

Man, it hit me like bricks.  That kid looks up to me.  That is a sobering responsibility. 

Why don't I look up to my Heavenly Father that way?  Jesus said, I do whatever I see the Father doing. ... My food is to do the will of my Father. ... As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.

This really convicted me about how I discipline my boys.  The higher goal is not to make my boys act they way that I want them to, because that is simply behavior modification.  The higher goal is to clearly show them the person and character of our Heavenly Father and lead them to love Him with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength.  Thus, I need to discipline them with kindness and patience that reflects our Heavenly Father.  More deeply, every day, but especially in those frustrating moments, I need to set my mind on the Spirit and put to death my flesh so that Christ can live through me, and my boys will see Him in me.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to be a father.  Lord, thank you for helping me realize that I need to lead my boys to follow you, especially during this season when they look up to me, because I know that it is brief.  Lord, I want to look up to you the way my boys look up to me.  I love you, and I want to follow you. I want to be just like you. I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Potlucks and the Lord's supper

Biblical support for potlucks:

1 COR 11:20-21, 33 NIV
So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. ... So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together.

But seriously, I think celebrating the Lord's supper inherently preaches the death, resurrection, ascension, and return of Christ:

1 COR 11:26 NIV
For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Verse 26 bookends His death and return, but I suggest that His resurrection and ascension are distinct and necessary intermediates.

Heavenly Father, thank you for salvation through faith in Christ and His death, resurrection, ascension, and promised return.  Thank you for your grace and love.  Holy Spirit, please lead me in growing in my faith and sharing this faith with others.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Love always believes the best

We went camping with our church in Cloudcroft this Labor Day weekend, and aside from minimal sleep due to children and cold nights, it was great.

We went hiking yesterday, and on the hike, Beau started crying because he had left his stick somewhere on the trail.  I told him that we weren't going back for it, and he proceeded to have a meltdown.  I was growing very frustrated, but I maintained my composure in spite of his beligerance.   After several minutes, Beau started to settle down.  Fitzgerald commended me privately for being so patient with Beau.  I told him that his words meant a lot to me because I am generally not patient, but it makes me want to live up to his impression of me being a patient man.  (I think I was pretty patient before we had kids.) As followers of Christ, I think we have a chance to believe the best in our brothers and sisters, and see them rise to the challenge and grow into the image of Christ.  I feel like Fitzgerald spoke life into me in that moment. 

Heavenly Father, thank you for Brothers who see the best in us, who see Christ in us, even when we can't see it ourselves.  Lord, thank you for showing us the way and for giving us teammates to carry the load when we are tired.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Beau woke me up this morning (in the middle of a dream that I was an archeologist) and wanted to go for a walk.  I tried to go back to sleep but couldnt, so we got up, got dressed, then Jude woke up, got him dressed, and went for a walk.

On our walk, I picked what looked like a ripe desert willow seed pod to try to sprout some seedlings.  (I was previously successful, but when I transfered them to a planter, someone flooded it with water and killed them.)  On our way back to the house, Beau asked where plants came from, and I told him that plants grow from seeds.  He asked, amazed, "All plants come from seeds?"  I answered,  "Yes", a slight over-generalization, but I figured we could discuss rizomes, grafting, etc at a later time.

Yesterday, a former student came by my office to discuss preparation for the Fundamentals of Engineering exam.  She also asked about maintaining your faith in a tough working environment.   I don't know that I had anything to say that was particularly revelational, but I hope that our conversation was a seed of encouragement.

Later that afternoon,  I was returning to my office from the lab, and I saw one of my colleagues standing in the hall with a stressed look on his face.  I asked him if he was taking a break, and he said that he had to step away from his computer for a few minutes.  I suggested that we go throw the Frisby outside for a few ninutes, which we did.  I hope that our brief chat and Frisby toss was a seed of peace and encouragement.

The amazing thing about planting seeds is that it really doesn't take that much work.  You can plant a lot of seeds.  (Now, three of the four soil types will not produce a harvest, but maybe we can be optimistic and realistic, simultaneously.) 

Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to plant your seeds of Gospel truth and spiritual life.  Lord, may I be faithful to plant lots of seeds and trust that you will water them, grow them, cultivate them, and produce a harvest for yourself.  I want to participate in your kingdom. I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, August 29, 2014

So that by all possible means

1CO 9:19-24 NIV

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.   Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Is that really the way that I live?  Am I trying to connect with all people?  Or are there some who I don't really try to engage, either because of cultural differences,  or just because I am lazy. 

Am I running to win?  Athletes go into strict training, if they really want to win.

Heavenly Father, I want to press on toward the prize for which you are calling me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  I want to run the race with perseverance.   I want to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.   Lord, please help me keep my priorities straight.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

opportunity to impact

1 Cor 8

Yesterday, I think my classes went much better than my first class on Monday.  I hope that our introductions and discussions were engaging.

I was impressed with how many international students I have in my classes this semester - Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria, and Iran.  I have an opportunity to impact students from four continents this semester.  That is pretty cool.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to engage people from around the world.  Lord Jesus, you have called me salt and light; I pray that I will be salty and bright.  May I be a useful vessel for you to dispense yourself.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Good prayers

We had good prayer time last night at our homegroup.  I was really encouraged through praying together. 

And I think it carried over into my prayer walk this morning.  I felt like I really prayed what I was supposed to pray.  Not that I should be governed by feelings, but it is encouraging when you feel like you are connecting with God.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your kindness.  Thank you for always being with me.  Help me remember and be confident of your presence.  I want to walk with you and keep in step with you. I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First day of school

1 Cor 7

I was nervous on Saturday and Sunday, but as I was driving to school yesterday morning, I was getting excited about teaching.  I prayed about my teaching, and I dedicated this semester to the Lord.

And then the computer didn't work in my first class.  Sure was frustrating.   I didn't blow my top, but I have to admit that it was pretty discouraging.  I hope my students don't think that I am incompetent.  And I hope that I can keep my chin up and maintain a good attitude.

I also need to work on not allowing frustration to turn into anger or bitterness.  The enemy likes to discourage.

Heavenly Father,  thank you for your faithfulness.   Please help me be faithful.  Deliver me from the world and my flesh.  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. May I keep in step with the Holy Spirit. I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Spirit-filled, Spirit-led

1 Corinthians 2:4, 10-12 NLT

And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. ... it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God's deep secrets. No one can know a person's thoughts except that person's own spirit, and no one can know God's thoughts except God's own Spirit. And we have received God's Spirit (not the world's spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

I am growing in the realization of how much we need to be tuned in to the Spirit.   We recieve the Holy Spirit in faith, but it seems to me that we need to actively submit ourselves to listen and obey Him.

His Spirit is in me, and I have the opportunity to know the thoughts of God.  That's pretty incredible when you think about it.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your presence through the Holy Spirit.  Thank you for revealing yourself to me.  Lord, may I be faithful to share you with others.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Romans 15

Friends are an important part of the growth process.  In this chapter, Paul lists many Brothers and Sisters.  Today, I am thankful for the people in my homegroup; they help me grow, learn, and they believe in me, even when I don't believe in myself.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the friends who have helped me grow in my walk with you.  I want to grow more; I want to know you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

great friends, great life

Romans 11

On Sunday, as we were driving into Austin, Brandi posted on Facebook a general invitation for all of our Austin friends to join us at a burger and ice cream place (with a playground) on Monday evening.  We were so blessed that several families came to eat with us, and it was so encouraging to visit with them!  After a few minutes of catching up, I thought it was awesome that our conversation naturally transitioned into discipleship and applied theology.  I also realized that 60% of the families that came had financially supported my mission trip to Ecuador a month ago.  Man, I miss these folks!

As I think about the Lord blessing me with another year of life, I think about how He has blessed me with so many good relationships.  First of all, He has blessed me with a relationship with Himself; I want to be genuinely grateful for His grace and mercy every day.  

I am so grateful for such a loving and forgiving wife; she has given me many second-chances.  I am also grateful for three healthy sons. It is a privilege to train these boys to be disciples of Christ.  And I am so thankful for parents who taught me to follow Christ, and for brothers who encourage me and challenge me in my walk with Him. 

I am thankful for a heritage of grandparents who followed Jesus.  I am thankful for the many people who have discipled me throughout the years: Rick, Neill, Russ, Jason, Mitch, Ken, Jon, Mark, RF, Greg, and Steve.  These men have made such an impact on me.  

And, I am thankful for a vocation of teaching, researching, and serving clean water and sharing the Living Water.

Isaiah 61  
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a ]2        to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Heavenly Father, thank you so much for great friends and family who love you and love us.  To whom much is given, much is expected.  Lord Jesus, may my life be useful and profitable in advancing your Kingdom.  Holy Spirit, more than any other year, I pray that this year I will listen to you daily, moment by moment, and walk in obedience as you pour the love and life of Christ through me and empower me to make disciples.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


ROM 6:3-7 NIV
Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.   For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Wow.  Baptism is pretty important.  I would dare to say, necessary (but insufficient).  Of course, the first counter argument is the thief on the cross next to Jesus.  Not sure how to reconcile that.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the ordinance of baptism.  Thank you for the opportunity to be baptized into the death of Christ.  Wow, that is pretty incredible.  Thank you for the opportunity to be dead to sin and made alive in Christ. Lord Jesus, thank you for the hope of resurrection life.  Holy Spirit, thank you for living in me and empowering me to live the resurrection life.  May your life and power be shown clearly through me.  Forgive me for darkening your light, especially to my wife and boys.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Romans 5:1-5 NLT
Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Jude puked twice last night, and Rhett couldn't breathe because he was so congested.  I dont know how Brandi is so resilient, because I know that she is exhausted.

The Scripture says we can rejoice when we face trials of many kinds because endurance feels so good.  Wait.  That's not what it says.  Endurance hurts, but pain is temporary,  and it points us to eternal glory. And we are reminded of the suffering and endurance of Christ.  Our character is being shaped into the character of Christ, and He ahows His love and hope ever more clearly through us.

Romans 5:17 NLT
For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace and mercy shown through Jesus Christ.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence, and thank you for strengthening us.  Please give Brandi strength. Jesus, thank you for your victory over sin and death.  Please help us live in awareness of your eternal reality, in spite of these temporary trials.  Please fill us with your peace, hope, and love.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Resting in Cloudcroft

Man, I need to do this more often. 
I need to spend more time with my wife and boys.  We went for a walk this afternoon, and it was so refreshing. I really enjoy holding Brandi's hand.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to come here and rest. Thank you for the hospitality of my aunt and uncle.  I praise you for the beauty of the trees, the crisp stillness of the air, and the golden sun on the horizon.  Please help me breathe.  Help me see past the stupid rat race and focus on loving you and expanding your kingdom.  Please help me see from your perspective.   I love you, and I want to walk with you.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Sad day

Romans 1

We found out today that my cousin's baby died just a few weeks before full term.

It is situations like these when we must fight to believe that God is good and that His plans for us are good. We have to realize that our perspective of "good" is limited.  We have an opportunity here to continue to thank Him and praise Him in all circumstances. We have to set our minds on the spirit.  Relentlessly.

Heavenly Father, thank you for faith in Jesus Christ.  Thank you for the life of this child.  I praise you because I know that he was fearfully and wonderfully made, and you are sovereign over all things.  You are good and kind; you are faithful and just, even when I don't feel like you are. My perspective is limited, but you know all things. I choose to believe in you; I choose to trust you and follow you.  Holy Spirit, would you please minister your comfort and peace to everyone involved in this situation?  I trust you to work all things for the good of those who love you and are called according to your purpose.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Lord is here

Acts 28

On Sunday, Steve and Tamara preached from Phil 1, and Tamara shared that the first thing that she prays in the morning is "The Lord is here".  I have been praying this the past several mornings, and it has been very encouraging.   Brandi and I have discussed before how sometimes we feel like our prayers don't make it past the ceiling, and God is somewhere far away in outer space.  And we wonder if we are just crazy people talking to ourselves.  But He is near; He is here.  I need to see the reality that He is right here with me.  His name is Immanuel.

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me, and thank you for being with me.  Holy Spirit, thank you for filling me and anointing me.  Thank you for your presence.  Please help me share your presence with others around me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Shepherding - vision

Yesterday evening, the elders/shepherds of our church met to discuss a proposed vision by three of our pastors.  I really appreciate the simplicity of this vision and it's consistency with Ephesians 4.  It was so encouraging to see a vision discussed and considered. 

Heavenly Father, please help us listen to you and follow you.  Holy Spirit, please guide us in your truth, and teach us to walk in community and fellowship with you as we engage the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ. I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Consistency in Scripture memory

Acts 24

Beau has been in Vacation Bible School this week, and they assigned daily memory verses for the kids.  Beau is not even in kindergarten, so I assumed that this would be too much for him, but he has done very well.  This has helped us realize that we should begin a consistent weekly scripture memory routine with our boys. I need to be memorizing, as well, so it would be good for me, too.  The key is consistency.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word, and thank you for revealing yourself to us.  Lord, may we be consistent in hiding your word in our hearts so that we will know you and walk with you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Well, here it is, Wednesday already, and while I have had good intentions to blog, I have not disciplined myself to do it.  Slacker. 

I preached on Sunday about God's refining fire (Mal 3).  Perhaps the Lord is allowing me to be tested with being busy.  Or maybe I shouldn't be so busy.  Maybe I should be more of a slacker.

Heavenly Father, I am confused about what I am supposed to be doing. (Or at least, how much.)  It seems like there are many things that I could do, but what should I be doing?  More and more, I realize what little time I actually spend with my wife and sons; and yet, I have the greatest opportunity to lead them to Christ.  What is my motivation for being so busy?  I think I really percieve my intrinsic value in proportion to my work productivity; please help me find my value in Christ's purchase on the cross.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ecuador 2014 - Part 2


Our host and hostess were such sweet people.  May the Lord bless them for their hospitality and kindness.

In the morning, Steve, Janet, and I had the opportunity to visit the municipal water treatment plant in Samborondón.  They currently have a traditional aeration and chlorination treatment of groundwater, but they have recently installed and are soon to begin operation of a  new state of the art water treatment plant including pre-sedimentation, pre-ozonation, coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, sand filtration, and post-chlorination for residual disinfection.  It was so encouraging to see the development of civil infrastructure in this region, especially since the treatment process was designed and manufactured on Ecuador.  It also gave me confidence that what I teach in my courses is generally applicable around the world.

On the drive from Samborondón back to El Recreo, Steve, Geovanni, and I discussed relational evangelism and how we have to be intentional and bold in sharing the Gospel, but we also have to be genuine in our love and relationship with people as we share the Gospel.  After packing up clothes for a few days, we talked about discipleship as we drove from El Recreo to Olon (on the coast, northwest of Guayaquil).

We stopped at a gas station, and Geovanni talked me into coffee... soon, everyone had a snack.  We had a great time conversing, but it was especially encouraging for me because it is the first time that I remember understanding a conversation well enough that I understood a joke in Spanish, and we all laughed together (without someone having to explain it to me in English).  I have wanted to learn Spanish for so many years, and I feel like I noticed significant improvement.

Friday afternoon, we had a late lunch on the beach before making it to Olon.  We had the great privelege of providing a marriage retreat for the leaders of the regional Iglesia de Cristo Iberoamericana (ICI) churches.  I was so exited to help provide a retreat that I would have loved to have participated in myself.

While the couples were in their first session, we snuck into their hotel rooms and left them chocolates on their pillows.  That was pretty fun.

Our team had another discussion based on the book Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.  We were pretty honest and transparent with each other, and I had opportunity to pray for one of our teammates regarding a troubling health condition.


When I woke up, I went for a swim by myself in the ocean.  It was pretty brisk, but I don't have the opportunity in El Paso, so i wanted to take advantage.  I was impressed with the loudness and power of the waves. After showering, I searched for Scriptures with "waves" and found Psalm 93:3-5

"The floods have lifted up, O Lord , the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.  Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty! 

After the morning session, we oversaw a couple of games for the couples to play together in competition against the other couples.  I think it was really important to have these games to balance the serious sessions.

Saturday afternoon, while the couples had time to walk the beach, we distributed filters in San Jose and Curia.  In the last house, they offered us some homemade salted fish.  I have never eaten sardines before, but these looked like little white minnows. I tried not to think about it too long, and I just ate it quickly. Man I was glad that I kept it down.

During the third session (that evening), our team spent time praying for the couples.  I prayed especially that the Lord would encourage them in their marriages and in their ministries.  I need to be more intentional about praying for the marriage relationships of leaders in Paseo.


Steve and I woke up early and went for a swim in the ocean. I told Steve about a bad dream that I had that night; he listened and responded with grace.  Steve is a good friend.  I am not sure why I haven't been more intentional about hanging out with him.  He is a kind and genuine man, and I should be a better friend to him.

After breakfast, during the fourth and final marriage session, Steve and I walked around the town in search of bread and wine for our team to have communion together.  We had a great conversation about emulating the ministry of Christ, especially the balance between fostering communal living among disciples, as well as living missionaly and engaging people of peace.  I believe we share a common perspective.  It was special to take communion together as a team.

After the last session, I felt impressed to encourage Karen with a word that the Lord had given me for her.  The local culture where she is serving is very oppressive of women; they are treated like property.  On Wednesday, someone had called Karen and said some very mean things to her, discouraging her to the point of giving up.  I told her that I believed the enemy was attacking her because she is being salt and light in that community.  I told her that she is a powerful woman because Jesus is in her, and "greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world".  I encouraged her to persevere in her ministry to women, because she is working to change culture, and that takes time.  And then I shared 1 Cor 15:57-58, which Karen said was very encouraging to her:

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.   Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."

After returning to El Recreo Sunday evening, we packed up our luggage for an early departure on Monday morning.  At that point, it was very late in the evening, but we went ahead with a debriefing with Marcelo, Geovanni, Kathy, and Luis.  They were so appreciative of our time, investment, and partnership with them.


They called us "missionaries".  Slowly accepting some of that identity.  On the ride to the airport, Geovanni told me that I am not a missionary, I am family.  I read to Geovanni the great commission (in Spanish), and I told him that I believe that they are making disciples.

Heavenly Father, you have blessed me so richly!  Thank you so much for allowing me to participate in your kingdom work.  May I be faithful to love you and obey you, and may you recieve all of the glory. I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.