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.