Thursday, February 27, 2014


Praise the Lord!  Rhett was born last night - 9 pounds, 20.5 inches!

The Lord answered so many prayers!  We prayed that Rhett would be healthy, and we prayed that the Lord would give Brandi strength and peace through the delivery.

I thought it was so special that Brandi's mom, my mom, and Lindsay were in the room when Brandi delivered.  They had all prayed with Brandi earlier in the afternoon, and I believe I saw the evidence that the Lord heard our prayers and lovingly answered them! 

Rhett, I proclaim over you that you will be a holy man of God.  You will be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.  The Lord will do great things in your life and through your ministry.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your loving kindness and tender mercies! Thank you for hearing our prayers and caring for us.  Thank you for Rhett and the joy of new life.  May we be faithful stewards to lead him to you; please give him spiritual birth at an early age and use him in building your kingdom.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Mark 6:7, 12-13 ESV
And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. ... So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.

It seems to me that the great commission is not different from this commissioning, but inclusive and superseding.  Could it be that "make disciples of all nations" might also include preaching repentance and healing illnesses?

Heavenly Father, please help me faithfully preach the good news of Jesus Christ.  Lord, I believe that you have sent us into the world; please help me see myself as an apostle (in the generic sense) and ambassador of Christ.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Mark 5:19 ESV
[Jesus] said to him, "Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."

I think we usually underestimate the power of a simple testimony of our experience with the Lord.  A spiritual conversation can get derailed by complex logical/philosophical arguments (which do have value in certain conversations), so I think it is important to take the opportunity to simply provide first-hand account of how the Lord has saved us, changed us, and walked with us.

Revelation 12:10-11 ESV
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.

Heavenly Father, thank you for saving me and rescuing me from destruction.  Thank you for loving me and giving me a life and a future.  Thank you for the opportunity to be an ambassador for Christ and announce the good news of His reign.  Lord, please help me be a faithful witness - to share how you have loved me and restored me to sonship.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

spontaneity of the divine life

Mark 4:26 And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."

The first man scattering is Jesus sharing the seed of the Gospel.  By faith, we believe, experience spiritual germination, and receive the divine life, the Holy Spirit, living in us.  In Him, we grow into His image, the prototype and essence of our zoe life.  As we collaborate with Him, the soil of our hearts bears His life, and His life bears fruit - more of His divine life.  This is spontaneous; He is faithful to accomplish the growth of His life in us as we submit to Him and participate with Him in spiritual living.  And so, He produces the fruit of His character in us, along with the multiplication of His life in other hearts (soil).

Eph. 3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your life and salvation.  Thank you for Jesus and the Gospel.  Lord, may the soil of my heart be good soil for you to grow your life in me and bear a crop of righteousness for your glory.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  

Thursday, February 20, 2014


I lost my temper last night.  Almost got home after a 13 hour shift (two classes, two research meetings, and an unwieldy to-do list), came on the scene of an accident (bicyclist wiped out, laying unconscious in the middle of the road in the dark), stopped to render aid, gave police report.  Finally get home and find out my boys have given Brandi a hard day.  So, I yelled at them.  Scolded them.  Took it out on them instead of realizing that it is my fault for not being home enough.

Time to change.  I have to be committed to spend time with my family.  And I have to realize that NO MATTER WHAT the situation, I must exhibit patience.

Heavenly Father, please forgive me for losing my temper.  Lord, help me not do that again.  And help me live a lifestyle of caring for my family.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

He is compassionate

MRK 3:9-10 ESV
And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him.

Instead of retreating from a mob of diseased people, He allowed them to approach Him.  He anticipated their clamoring for healing; He made Himself available.

With so many hurting people around us every day, it is easier to keep our eyes averted, but Jesus engaged.  It is easier to retreat, but Jesus made Himself available to their need.  And since we have the Holy Spirit in us, I believe we will see God's healing power work through us, as well.

Heavenly Father, I want to be available to help people.  You have rescued me from destruction; please use me in your kingdom to help others.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Waiting for his arrival

MRK 1:1-3 ESV

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.   As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way,   the voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'"

Just like the Jews were waiting for the Messiah to arrive, we wait expectantly for Christ to return and fulfill his promises.

I have observed a similarity in waiting expectantly for our son Rhett to be born.  Brandi has weekly doctor check ups at this point, and this past visit, the doctor told Brandi that she is in "pre-labor", so it could happen any day, or it could still be a couple of weeks.  The past several weeks, Brandi has been "nesting" - she has cleaned the whole house, washed all of the clothes, organized the closets, and even put the infant car seat in the car.

It reminds me of the parable that Jesus told of the servants waiting for the master to return; when he returns, will He find the house in order.

If Jesus returned today, would He find my life in order?  Would He find me taking care of my wife and sons, my Brothers and Sisters, tending to the Master's Kingdom; or would He find me working on things that are not important?

That past two weeks, I have been working very late nights on a research grant proposal.  Is it really worth sacrificing sleep and time with my family?  Is this work really going to matter in eternity?  I need to make sure that the things that I commit to have lasting value.

Heavenly Father, thank you for making me a servant and prince in your Kingdom.  Lord, I want to be a faithful servant and prince - reinforcing the Lordship of Jesus and faithfully serving in the Kingdom.  Lord, please help me realize the gifts and talents that you have given me for your work, and please help me know how to invest those gifts for your good work and glory.  Lord Jesus, I want to live in constant expectation of your return.  I want to be ready on that day.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Making disciples

MAT 28:18-20 ESV

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

If you boil it down, it seems like the 'make disciples' part is the essence.  Disciples study and obey all of Jesus's teaching, especially in loving God and loving one another.

Heavenly Father, please help me focus on making disciples.  Help me be a disciple, genuinely committed to following you, and making disciples.  Lord, I want to invest in your kingdom.  Please help me see where you are leading and join you in your work.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day

Brandi's mom posted a figure on Facebook with an acrostic of the word 'VALENTINE' using John 3:16.

This evening, Brandi and I went to dinner at a local restaurant.  We waited over an hour for a table; the host skipped us, which was even more disappointing, because I had called ahead to fe our name on the list.  

Patience is a very important part of marriage.  Maintaining a good attitude even when you are hungry and on a time budget is also important.  My wife really helps me keep a positive perspective on things.

Heavenly Father, please help me have a good attitude.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Substitutionary atonement

MAT 27:26, 30-31 ESV

Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. ... And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

When the crowd was demanding the release of Barrabas, Pilot asked what he should do with Barrabas:

27:22b They all said, "Let him be crucified!" ... 25 And all the people answered, "His blood be on us and on our children!"

I have always read that in the sense of the crowd accepting guilt/responsibility for Jesus's death, but this morning, I wonder if God allowed a benevolent irony in the sense of the Levitical sprinkling of blood.  The blood of the Lamb is applied to us, and we are forgiven.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die for my sin.  Lord Jesus, thank you for enduring the punishment in place of me.  Thank you for your forgiveness and love. I want to daily remember your sacrifice and genuinely and humbly appreciate your mercy and grace. I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


MAT 26:75 ESV

And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.

I wonder how many times I deny Jesus, and I don't even realize it.  Makes me sad to think about it.

Heavenly Father, please forgive me for all the times I have denied Christ.  And please forgive me for being so calloused that I don't even realize it.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


MAT 26:41 ESV

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Too many midnights this past week.  Red-lined.  Over-clocked my CPU.  Too many deadlines.  Overcommitted.  Need to say "no".  Don't know why I keep committing myself to more things.

Heavenly Father, please help me stay focused on the spirit.  I need to be prayerful and listen to you instead of operating on gut reactions.  I love you; please help me. I ask in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

religion versus grace

Matt. 25:44 Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' 45 Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

So, if we see someone stranded on the side of the road or if we see a homeless person and we don't give them something to eat, and we don't stop and help them, does that mean we go to hell?  Well, that sounds pretty extreme, so maybe we only have to stop and help the majority (i.e., >50%) of people we encounter who need our help.  Both of these conditions sound like religion to me.  I'm not sure exactly how Jesus evaluates our righteousness, but if I were to speculate, it seems to me that if you have accepted Christ's sacrifice and received forgiveness of your sins, and He has given you His righteousness, along with the Holy Spirit to guide you, then the criteria is met by His righteousness, and we are privileged to be His hands and feet, accomplishing His goodness in obedience to the Holy Spirit.

In follow up from yesterday's post, Lindsay and Madelyn hosted a baby shower for Brandi yesterday at Lindsay's house, and they invited several ladies from our church, as well as several of Brandi's friends from other engagements in the city.  At one point in the shower, each lady shared briefly how Brandi has been a blessing in their life, and this was very encouraging and meaningful to Brandi.  I am thankful for the spiritual investment that God has allowed Brandi to make in their lives, and I am very grateful for the spiritual investment that all of those ladies have made in Brandi's life.

Heavenly Father, I pray that I will not have a perspective of religion in wanting to do enough good things to merit something from you, but rather that I will meditate on your grace and be motivated by gratefulness for your grace and love to pursue you and keep in step with you as you lead me to accomplish the good things that you have planned to do through me.  Lord, please cleanse me so that I may be a vessel that you will pour yourself through.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


MAT 25:20-21 ESV

And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.'  His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'

The Lord wants us to invest what He has given us for the Kingdom.  The truth is that the profit is His responsibility; we must be faithful to invest.  And when we do, we will share in His joy.

When I was in Boston last semester, I resolved to be more intentional in living a lifestyle of consistent spiritual investment in my family, church leadership, teaching, and one-on-one discipleship.  I have been investing more time and energy in these activities for the past month, and I see that it takes dedication and intentionality, and I have to be careful to protect the time with my family.

We helped support a couple who were missionaries in Russia for several years.  Watching the opening ceremonies of the winter Olympics last night in Sochi brought back a flood of memories for them.  I think spiritual investments make an impact  deep in your soul and last for eternity.

Heavenly Father, may I be a faithful servant who loves you and invests what you have given me for the Kingdom.  Lord, please help me stay focused on eternity, not the temporary things of this world.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Faithful servant

Matthew 24:45-46 ESV

"Who then is   the faithful and   wise servant,  whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time?  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.

I want to be a faithful and wise servant.  The Scripture promises that the Lord gives wisdom generously to those who ask.  But I'm not sure how to get faithfulness; that one sounds like it is my responsibility.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to serve in your kingdom.  Lord, please give me wisdom in serving.  Lord, I want to be faithful to you; please deliver me from the distractions of this world.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

big picture

Matt 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

I want to be faithful to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.  I want to partner with other Christ-followers to share His message.

Heavenly Father, please help me stay focused on the Kingdom and your work and not become distracted by the things of this world.  It is easy to get caught up in the routine of work and lose sight of the real work of sharing the truth of Christ with every nation.  I love you, and I want to stay focused on your work.  Please help me keep pursuing you.  I ask in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


MAT 23:11-12 ESV

The greatest among you shall be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

I have to confess that last night I got a little frustrated with how much time I have been asked to invest in service over the past several weeks.  In this american culture, it is easy to focus on ourselves (work, family, etc), but Christ teaches us to focus on others.  Also, I think even my role as a professor is mainly to serve others, not myself.

Heavenly Father, please help me change my attitude from focusing on myself to focusing on helping others.  Lord, I love you, and I want to honor your sacrifice and selflessness by living the same way.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Tithing and paying taxes

MAT 22:17-21 ESV

Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why put me to the test, you hypocrites?  Show me the coin for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?"  They said, "Caesar's." Then he said to them, "Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."

Of course, everything belongs to God, and He has specifically requested honoring Him by cheerfully giving more than 10% of our income.  My parents taught me to be disciplined in tithing and giving when I was a kid working on the farm.

My parents also taught me how to file my taxes, even before I was actually legally obligated to file.

I am so thankful to my parents for training me to be disciplined in honoring God through tithing and honoring the authority of the government (which God has set up) through paying my taxes.  I am also very grateful that God blessed me with a wife who is like minded in disciplined and faithful stewardship.  I think my life would be very different had my parents not taught me or if my wife was not in agreement.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me parents who loved me by teaching me spiritual disciplines of stewardship.  Thank you for my wife who is a co-laborer in Christ.  Lord, thank you for the blessing of walking in your way, even in the details of financial management.  I love you, and I want to continue honoring you in godly financial stewardship.  I pray in the name of Jesus.