Monday, June 30, 2014


I need to be more gentle with my boys.  I have been considering how the Lord operates with us, and He is so incredibly gentle with us.  I think it is my job as an earthly father to try to communicate the character of our Heavenly Father to my boys.  I think that even in disciplining us, our Heavenly Father, shows kindness and gentleness.  He does not discipline us out of wrath; Jesus bore the wrath of God that we deserved.  He disciplines us out of love.  Now, discipline may be painful sometimes, but it is still administered with gentleness.

Oh, and gentleness is also listed with the fruit of the spirit.

Heavenly Father, I want to grow in your character.  I want to emulate you.  I want to know you and walk with you.  Lord, I want to be a godly father so that my boys will know their Heavenly Father.  Please help me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


On Sunday morning, one of my students was baptized, and this was very encouraging to me.  I gave him a hug after he came up out of the water, and it soaked the front of my shirt.  Brandi observed the metaphor that the freshness of his baptism was transferred to me. 

It is such a privilege to share the Lord with people and see them experience the love and grace of Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for my new Brother in Christ.  Thank you for your mercy and grace that you have shown to me and my household, and may I be diligent and faithful to share with households of all nations. Lord, may I be faithful in prayer for the saints and the advancement of your kingdom. I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

More signs and wonders

ACTS 5:12, 16 NIV

The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. ... Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.

We discussed this a little two evenings ago with Steve and Tamara.  I shared about John Frame's basis of three LORDship attributes: power, authority, and presence.  It seems to me that, as the Holy Spirit indwells us and anoints us, He deputizes us to be an extension of the LORD.  (I have to be careful with here not to be heretical.  To be sure, I am NOT saying that we BECOME God.) In this way, we are living as Christ lived, in the sense that He was commissioned, annointed, led, and empowered by the LORD.  Thus, as deputies and ambassadors of the LORD, by delgated AUTHORITY, we are commissioned and emPOWERed to bear His PRESENCE. 

We must have a relationship with Him to dwell in His presence.  Fundamentally, this relationship is sonship.  In His presence, we find rest and healing, and the focus and attention of our hearts is turned to celebrating His goodness and greatness.

How can I grow in relationship with Him so that I will be faithfully carry Him and dispense Him into the world around me?  Perhaps the basic spiritual disciplines of prayer, meditation on Scripture, and fellowship with the saints are helpful for us to grow in our closeness with Him so that He would be more effectively communicated through our living.

Heavenly Father, please help me draw near to you.  May I be faithful in the disciplines to seek you and know you.  May I be faithful to righteousness;  to be holy as you are holy.  Please use me as your instrument - a vessel for you to dispense yourself into others.  I love you, and I want to be useful to you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Jesus's exit strategy

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

ACTS 2:1, 4 NIV
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. ... All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

ACTS 2:16-18, 36-38 NIV
... this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:   " 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.   Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. ...
"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah."   When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"   Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the stealth person of the Trinity.  Not much notoriety, especially among the churches in which I was raised.

So, the question remains: Is this Holy Spirit stuff descriptive or prescriptive?  In other words, should every Christ-follower be baptised in the Holy Spirit, and should we all speak in tongues and make miracles?

Tamara made a point last night at Bible study about power and authority.  This resonated with what I read from John Frame about God's three principal Lordship attributes: power, authority, and presence.  Hmm.... if I have God inside me and working through me, then perhaps the net effect would be similar to Jesus.

Heavenly Father, it would be pretty cool if you would show up here with a bang like you did on Pentecost. Then people would have to at least make a decision about whether we are full of God or full of wine.  It would be pretty exciting to be part of something exciting (by definition, I suppose).  What am I really living for? Incremental change by living a quaint, unoffensive lifestyle, or substantial, exponential impact by living a bold, powerful, radical turn-the-world-upside-down God-pouring-through-me-every-minute life?  I would ask you to tell me what im supposed to be doing, but I imagine that you already have, so please help me listen to you and obey.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Peter's reinstatement

JOHN 21:15-17 ESV

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."  He said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."  He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.

In His first two questions to Peter, the Greek word that Jesus used for "love" was ἀγαπάω (G25), but the Greek word for "love" that Peter used in his reply was φιλέω (G5368). The third time that Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, Jesus used the word φιλέω.

A Brother recently challenged my interpretation of this passage, which is based on the difference in meaning of these two words. He claims that since the English Bible translators translate both of these Greek words simply as "love", then there is no significant difference, and therefore, an interpretation of the passage based on the difference of these two words is manufactured.  After thoughtful review and study, I disagree.

First, it is my belief that the Holy Spirit inspired the Gospel writer to record these words for a reason.  If there was no significant difference in the meaning of the words used, then wouldn't the Gospel writer simply used the same Greek word in all six occurrences of "love"?  (I believe that the words recorded in Scripture are neither random nor capricious.)

Second, in his definition of Greek terms, Strong articulated a subtle, yet significant difference in the meaning of these words:

Strong's Definition for φιλέω (G5368): From G5384; to be a friend to (fond of [an individual or an object]), that is, have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling; while G25 is wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety: the two thus stand related very much as G2309 and G1014, or as G2372 and G3563 respectively; the former being chiefly of the heart and the latter of the head);

Thus, I maintain my opinion that there exists a significant difference in the meaning of these terms, at least in this account, and that there may exist one or more profitable lessons/observations to be gained from analyzing and interpreting the differences of these words for "love" used in this account. 

Heavenly Father, you love us with an intentional and unconditional love, not based on feelings, which may be subject to change.  You have set your mind to love us, and you have demonstrated your love by giving your only begotten Son.  Because of your great love, we are not consumed.  I love you, and I pray that your love would be shown through me as you mold me into the image of Christ.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Empty tomb

John 20

God arranged it so that Jesus would be buried in a virgin tomb, so that when the tomb was empty, there was no confusion over who the missing body was.  Jesus's was the only body placed in that tomb, and He rose from the dead!

Heavenly Father, thank you for tending to the detail of Jesus being the only person buried in that tomb.  Thank you for making that part of the story very clear.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who died and rose again.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


As the seasons of life change, the overall optimization is still to glorify God and seek first the Kingdom, but the details of the objective function changes with the seasons in life.  When I was a college student and grad student, I think it was important for me to invest most of my time studying.  I think I assumed that, as an assistant professor, the objective function had not changed that much from grad school.  But now that I have a wife and three boys, I think I am realizing that I am in a different season, and the objective function in this season has a much higher value on tome invested with my family. 

Heavenly Father, I want to honor you in the way that I live my life, and I want my life to be spent in meaningful and impactful ways.  Lord, help me know how to live in this season.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Monday, June 9, 2014


On my walk this morning, I prayed for Brandi and me to be filled with joy in our walk with Christ.  Then I came across this verse in my reading this morning:

JOHN 17:13 AMP
And now I am coming to You; I say these things while I am still in the world, so that My joy may be made full and complete and perfect in them [that they may experience My delight fulfilled in them, that My enjoyment may be perfected in their own souls, that they may have My gladness within them, filling their hearts].

Joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit.  Joy is not that obnoxious, fake optimism or "positive energy".  Joy is a deep abiding gladness that comes from abiding with Him.  I think that as we abide with Him and see His glory, holiness, and love, we are compelled to be glad for the salvation, sonship, and fellowship thst He gives us.  And perhaps, even more deeply, we are glad simply for who He is.

Heavenly Father, you are holy, glorious, and kind.  Thank you for allowing me to know you as my Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ.  Holy Spirit, please produce the fruit of joy in my life so that others around me may see your goodness and desire to experience your life.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Learning and growing

John 15

I was in Boston this week for the Olin Collaboratory Summer Institute, and it was, once again, a wonderful experience.  Learning Olin's theory and philosophy of education is really empowering to me as a professor, and more generally, as a person.

One of the impressive points to me was on the subject of intrinsic motivation.  First, the intrinsic motivation of a person is situationally dependent. Second, as a professor, I have agency in creating a situation that fosters intrinsic motivation in my students toward deep learning.  Third, there are three important factors for fostering intrinsic motivation: autonomy, relatedness, and competency.  This is incredibly powerful with respect to the vocation of education, which assumes, at its core, that education empowers people to greater (self)actualization.

Another impressive topic was that of self-discovery.  I think it is very important for me to more thoughtfully consider who it is that God has made me and what He has made me to do, as well as how I can facilitate that discovery in other people. Coupled with this discovery process is the goal to continue growing into the character of Christ, as well as into His work.

This week, I have been convicted of the urgent reality for me to facilitate self-discovery and intrinsically motivated learning for my wife and sons.  I want to encourage and help them to grow and mature into the people who God has made them, and I want them to enjoy being who they are in Him.  Similarly, as a leader in our church, I think it is important for me to serve as a catalyst for other Christ-followers to grow and mature in who they are in Christ.

On the T from dinner back to the hotel last night, I was taking in the beautiful green foliage and landscape, and I thanked the Lord for the opportunities that He has given me to learn and grow.  I felt like in that moment, I realized that it doesn't really matter so much where I am as long as I am with Him and investing in the Kingdom.  I want to be focused on His will and His work.  I want to be a harvester in His fields.

On the return flight this afternoon, several children chirped excitedly as the plane took off, which reminded me of the marvel of air travel. I prefer an aisle seat, but I was sitting in a window, so I took the opportunity to survey the Boston harbor and downtown skyline as we took off. (I have flown out of Boston several times, but I dont recall viewing Boston from a plane.) Coincidentally, our flight path was southwest toward West Roxbury where we lived in the fall.  As I was looking for the street and house where we lived, we climbed into the clouds and I lost sight of the town.  It felt symbolic of how we feel sometimes in life when the Lord gives us a glimpse of where we have been or where we are going, but He typically doesn't let us gaze, because He wants us to maintain our focus and attention on Him.  And then, just like that, the clouds were open, and I realized almost immediately that I was looking right at the Olin College campus.  I'm not sure how to interpret this experience (or even if I should), but I felt like it wasn't coincidental, because only moments later, we were in the clouds again and then soon above them with no view of the ground. 

The reality is that we dont need to know or see where we are going because He is our destination; He is our prize. And simultaneously and just as importantly, He is the Way.  He is the vine, and we are the branches.  As we abide in Him (as we live in Him), He abides with us, and He produces His fruit in us.

Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing me to learn and grow.  Thank you for life in Christ, and thank you for the opportunity to be connected with others in your life.  Lord Jesus, I really want to serve my wife and sons to help them grow and mature into the people you have made them to be.  They are beautiful people, and I know that you will be honored by their lives.  Holy Spirit, please guide me and empower me to serve the Body by helping others grow in their walk with you.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


John 12:9, 17 NIV

Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. ... Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word.

One of the simple, yet essential, functions of a disciple of Jesus is testifying to the person and work of Christ in your life. I feel like the Lord has given me favor with some of the academics who I work with, and I want to be faithful to share what God is doing in my life.  (This avoids the digression to pointless philosophical/doctrinal arguments.)

Heavenly Father, please help me grow in maturity and sincerity in sharing how you are working in my life.  I want to experience you daily and be faithful to genuinely share your love with others.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.