Monday, March 31, 2014


LUKE 7:29-30 NIV

(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus' words, acknowledged that God's way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God's purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?  Well, of course, the chicken.

But with baptism, I think there is a compounding nature to faith and obedience.  The Lord gives us faith to believe, and then we respond in obedience by being baptized, which I think the Lord somehow uses to secure and compound our faith, so that when we hear his words, we respond in faith and obedience, which gives us more faith.

(Then again, I tend to be fairly quantitative, and I don't know that faith is something to be quantified.)

Heavenly Father, thank you for the faith that you have given me.  Please help me listen to you and respond in obedience.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Ecclesiastes 1:3 ESV
What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?

I'm pretty disappointed with some situations at work.  Some people didn't do what they were supposed to do.  And I don't think i have the power to change it.  My inclination is to withdraw to a state of apathy; you can't be disappointed if you just don't care.

LUKE 5:4-5 ESV
And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."  And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets."

But alas, I have to keep working.  Can't give up.  Need to get my attitude straight.  Hard to change your attitude.  Pride gets in the way.

Heavenly Father, please help me have a good attitude and persevere.  Lord, please help me honor you.  Please help me starve the pride.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Luke 4:1-32

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone.'"

I used to think that Jesus fasted to make himself weaker so that the the temptation was even stronger; but now I think He fasted to make his flesh weaker and his spirit stronger so that He could see the temptation more clearly.  Of course He was hungry!  He had not eaten for 40 days!  But in those 40 days, He proved that "Man does not live on bread alone."  In fact, without the providence of God, man does not live at all; and even without bread, God can still sustain a man.  Our lives are in His hands.

This past Sunday, I shared some observations from the life of Moses.  I think the Lord lovingly leads us into the wilderness to deliver us from our own self and flesh, and to allow us opportunity to choose to set our minds on the spirit and allow Him to grow the character of Christ in us.

I feel like I am in a couple of seasons of wilderness right now.  Boys not sleeping through the night is hard for me.  (I know, I don't lose as much sleep as Brandi, but she is tougher than I am with respect to losing sleep.)  The way some hiring and not-hiring decisions at work have me pretty frustrated, and I couldn't sleep last night.  I need to learn how to turn these things over to the Lord.  Brandi tenderly reminded me (in the middle of the night) to be thankful for all of the things that the Lord has provided, and I have been voicing those thanks for several hours, now, but I feel like i have to much pride involved in the situation.  I feel like I expect things to work the way that I want them to; I know in my spirit that it's not about me, but my flesh doesn't want to hear it.  Just like it is hard for Beau to let go of that toy that they want to play with (because he had it first).  Selfishness.

Perhaps the most effective method for defeating the flesh is starvation.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your loving-kindness.  Thank you for your patience with me.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your example of the spirit-led, spirit-filled life.  Lord, I want that.  But I don't want the pain of starving the flesh.  My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak.  Lord, please give me strength to be diligent in starving my flesh.  My selfishness is so strong; please give me power by your Holy Spirit to overcome my flesh.  I love you, and I want to be useful to you.  Please make me holy as you are holy.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Holy and righteous living

Luke 1:68-75 ESV

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people  and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,   as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,   that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us;   to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant,   the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us  that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Jesus has redeemed us and saved us; He has shown mercy, and He is faithful.  He has done this so that we "might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days." Blessed to be a blessing.

Heavenly Father, thank you for mercy and grace in Christ Jesus.  I praise you for your loving, compassionate desire to save, your power to save, and your faithfulness to your promises.  Lord, may I serve you faithfully through holy and righteous living.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

the Great Commission

Mark 16

Jesus died.  He was resurrected on the first day of the week.  He spoke with a couple of ladies early in the morning, and He spoke with a couple of guys walking to Emmaus.  These folks told the disciples that they had seen Jesus, but the disciples didn't believe them.

Mark records only a few things that Jesus said after his resurrection.  When Jesus showed up with the disciples, He rebuked them for not believing the testimony of the others that they had seen Him.  And He told them to go tell the whole world about Him:

15 And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

It really is pretty simple when you think about it.  Believe in Jesus and be baptized into following Him, and He will save you from self-destruction.  

Heavenly Father, thank you for saving us in Christ.  Thank you for allowing us to participate in your work of salvation.  Please help me be useful to you today.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

humility of Christ

Mark 14

When Jesus was falsely accused by the Sanhedrin, He did not defend Himself.  When the high priest asked Jesus if He was the "Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One", Jesus replied truthfully:

"I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven."

They responded by accusing Jesus of blasphemy.  But He didn't defend Himself.  They mocked Him, insulted Him, and struck Him, but He did not defend Himself.

I am usually so quick to defend myself, even over simple things that don't really matter.  But Christ demonstrated humility and steadfast obedience to the Father's will. 

Heavenly Father, thank you for the example of humility in Jesus Christ.  Lord, please transform my character into the character of Christ.  Lord, may I demonstrate the humility of Christ.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

dust and mist

I have been frustrated at work with some recent hiring decisions.  It is tempting for me to slip into a cynical, fatalistic perspective.  Simultaneously, I have received positive reviews of three journal papers submitted in January, which is encouraging.  It is tempting for me to slip into a self-focused agenda and disengage as a team player.  But I realize that these are not God-honoring perspectives.

At the same time, I am realizing that I am so blessed with a wonderful wife and three healthy boys.  I have invested so much time in work these past several years, and I am realizing that this is an unsustainable investment.  I need to trust that the Lord will lead and provide in my work, and I must not neglect my family.  

As I was recently driving home from the office, I felt in my spirit that I needed to feed my soul with some Christian music, so I just turned on the radio instead of calling someone.  I was really encouraged by these words from the recent Gungor song, "I am mountain.":

"I am mountain, I am dust
Constellations made of us
There's glory in the dirt
A universe within the sand
Eternity within a man"
"We are ocean we are mist
Brilliant fools who wound and kiss
There's beauty in the dirt
Wandering in skin and soul
Searching, longing for a home"

Man is but a breath, and then he is gone.  The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord stands forever.  We are temporary; but we are sojourners toward eternity, and this is not our home.

Heavenly Father, may I keep my eyes on you.  Lord, may my heart be set on the Kingdom and eternity with you.  Lord Jesus, thank you for enduring the cross and leading the way.  You are the Way.  Please forgive me for allowing my heart to focus on things of this world.  I love you, and I want to pursue you each day.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Greatest commandment(s)

Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

Previously, I saw these as two separate statements, but now I think the "second" is really a corollary of the first.  If you love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, then you will learn to love what He loves.  And God loves people.  He loves us so much that He sacrificed his own Son for us.  And as we love Him and grow in Him, then His love for people will flow through us, and we will love our neighbors (everyone) as ourselves.

Heavenly Father, please help me grow in my love and devotion to you.  And please pour your love through me so that I will supernaturally love others as myself.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

unity in the Body

Mark 9:30-50

Sons of Thunder (James and John) probably started arguing about who is the greatest.  Jesus explained that "greatness" in the kingdom is correlated with servanthood.  

John reprimanded someone for casting out demons in the name of Jesus, but Jesus explained that we are all united in Christ.

Then Jesus generalized the conversation to unity, sin, life, and punishment.  It seems that there are two fires: (1) Gehenna ("hell") for those who are not disciples of Christ, and (2) a purifying/refining fire for those who are disciples of Christ ("everyone will be salted (purified/preserved) with fire").  And then he tied it all back to Body Life and unity.  Don't let your self get in the way of unity in the body.

Heavenly Father, please help me see my selfishness and sinfulness, and please help me submit to your purifying fire.  Lord, please guard me against being divisive, and please help me work toward unity in the body.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Brandi is an incredibly strong woman.  She is devoted and committed.  Her commitment to have natural births with our three boys was motivated out of her care for the child and her own body.  She is willing to endure pain temporarily to decrease the risk of birth complications or chronic pain.  Watching her endure the intensity of that pain allows me to see how committed she is to something that she believes in.

When we get home from the hospital, and Rhett needs to eat in the middle of the night, Brandi is still committed to care for him.  She has had interrupted and inconsistent sleep in most nights for more than four years, but she is unwavering in her faithfulness.

Her character is strong.  And she is getting stronger.

Heavenly Father, thank you for such a strong wife.  Thank you for a woman who is faithful and committed - devoted to do what is right, whatever it takes.  Lord, would you please give her strength and rest.  Please let Beau, Jude, and Rhett all sleep through the night so that she can get good sleep.  Lord, please let her know that you are near.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.