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.