Monday, June 29, 2015

our Heavenly Father gives good things to His children

On my walk this morning, this promise from Luke 11 came to mind:

11"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

I want to believe Him and trust Him for this truth.  I want to ask Him for good gifts, believing that He gives generously and joyfully, but I don't quite know what my hesitation is.  On the one hand, maybe I think this sounds like the "prosperity gospel", but Jesus said it, so it must be legitimate.  On the other hand, I think I have unconsciously bought into the "poverty gospel", so I feel like it is not good to ask our Heavenly Father for good things. 

And I want to be anointed by the Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, help me see you for who you are.  Jesus, thank you for your promise of a loving and generous Heavenly Father.  Help me believe you and trust you.  I want to have confidence to ask.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I want to be like my Daddy

Today is Father's Day, and I am so thankful that my dad taught me the Scriptures and led me to love the Lord.  I am thankful that he has been an example for me to follow.  I am thankful that he continues to seek friendship with me.

Recently, Beau has been wanting to spend time with me, dress like me, and work with me.  Yesterday, Beau said that he wanted to be like me.  I told him, "Our Heavenly Father wants us to be like Him, too."

John 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.

I want to want to be like my Heavenly Father.  I want to demonstrate His character.  I want to know Him well enough to call Him "Daddy".  I want to genuinely believe that He is my hero.  I want to believe in my heart that He is kind and strong.

Heavenly Father, thank you for my earthly dad.  Bless him with more of your presence and power.  Thank you for my sons, who are examples for me to follow in loving you, following you, and believing that you are the best. Bless them with the desire to want to be like you.  May I have faith like a child.  Please help me want to be like you, and use me to draw them closer to you. I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

trusting His sovereignty

Yesterday, I submitted my application for promotion to Associate Professor with tenure.  I was encouraged this morning by several verses in Proverbs 16:

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
    and he will establish your plans.

In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.

Before I emailed my application to the chair of my department last night, I told the Lord, "I submit my plans to you.  I trust you to lead me where you want me to go."  I am really feel a sense of peace in knowing that the Lord is in control.

As I was working on my application, I was reflecting on the privilege of being a professor and the opportunities for impacting people.  I think the main way that I can impact people is through my words.  I was impressed with these verses this morning:

13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips;
    they value the one who speaks what is right.
21 The wise in heart are called discerning,    and gracious words promote instruction.
23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,
    and their lips promote instruction.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your promise of watching over me and guiding my path.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a professor, and thank you for giving me the strength to do the work that is at my hand.  Thank you for your peace.  Lord Jesus, may my attitude and actions honor you and clearly reflect your lordship.  Holy Spirit, please fill my mouth with your words of grace and life.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Jesus wasn't afraid to get His hands dirty

I don't know if it was a dream I had last night or what, but I woke up with this clear thought in my mind, "Jesus wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty".  And on second thought, I don't think He even cared about rolling up His sleeves first.

Jesus wasn't worried about becoming "unclean" by touching an unclean person or by an unclean person touching Him.  Jesus wasn't scared of "unclean" people, Pharisees, or demons. 

Jesus said it is what is inside you that makes you clean or unclean.  And I want rivers o living water to flow through me, keeping me clean, and healing and cleansing others.

And Jesus had no image to maintain.  He didn't need to look clean or put together.

Heavenly Father, thank you for encouraging me.  Holy Spirit, thank you for speaking to me in my dreams.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your example of ministry that I can follow.  I want to be your disciple and apostle.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Difficulty applying grace to myself

The other day, a Brother sent me a text message asking if I was OK.  I replied that I wasnt.  I was working on my tenure application and felt like a failure.  He called me and told me that the grace that I extend to others, I need to apply to myself.

I am having difficulty applying grace to myself.  I suppose that it is pride that hinders me from doing so.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace.  Please help me receive it.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

living a questionable life, speaking words of life

At work yesterday, a lady whose office is across the hall from mine asked me in the hallway, "Why are you always so happy?"  (It was ironic, because at that particular moment, I was really frustrated with some bureaucratic barriers to getting my new research projects going.)  I replied, "It is my relationship with God that gives me peace and joy."  She said something like, "You can tell that you have peace and joy."  This was such an encouragement to me, but I feel like I really dropped the ball in taking the opportunity to clearly share the source of forgiveness, peace, love, hope, and joy that we have through Jesus Christ.  Recently, the teaching team of our church preached a series about being brave, living a questionable life.  Hopefully the Lord will give me another chance.

This morning, I was challenged by these verses in Proverbs 10 about my words being a source of life:  

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
   but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,
    but the heart of the wicked is of little value.
21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,
   but fools die for lack of sense.
31 From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom,
   but a perverse tongue will be silenced.

Heavenly Father, thank you for shining your light through me, and thank you for the opportunity to provide a simple testimony of your love.  Lord Jesus, may I be faithful to share your love and truth clearly to those around me.  Holy Spirit, please pour your words of life through my words.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, June 8, 2015

working together in mininstry

I had the opportunity to preach at my brother's church yesterday.  It has been a while since I preached, and it was really encouraging for me.

As Jeremy was leading the music, I was so thankful to the Lord for how He has worked in our lives to redeem us from foolishness and lead us into ministry.  And it was a special privilege to work together in ministering to the Brothers and Sisters in his congregation.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to partner with you in your Kingdom.  Thank you for your unfailing love and delight in us.  Holy Spirit, thank you for the opportunity to preach yesterday, and thank you for encouraging me.  Lord, may I be faithful to make disciples of all nations.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

To keep growing, you have to keep doing new things

Growing up on the farm, it was not uncommon for my dad to give me some basic instructions and then send me off to do something that I had not done before.  But I actually saw my dad do this himself on many occasions, so he was actually teaching me a lifestyle.  For example, I watched my dad regularly disassemble and repair broken farming machinery without any manuals.  He taught me to just try to do stuff and figure it out while you are doing it.  Now, of course, while you are figuring out how to do stuff, you will probably make some mistakes, but you will learn so much. 

A couple of days ago, my dad and I loaded up cotton seed in a planter that I haven't used before, and he gave me some basic instructions for getting rolling.  At first, I was a little uncomfortable with the ambiguity, and then I realized this lesson:

If you want to keep growing, you have to keep doing new things.  

You have to keep pushing past the awkwardness of not knowing how to do something, and just do it.  You have to be willing to make mistakes and learn as you go.

And of course, this applies to spiritual growth, as well.  I think Jesus wants current, modern-day disciples to try to live like He did, even as He sent out the seventy two disciples to preach and heal.  I think He wants us to continue growing into the maturity of Christ, such that we would operate with similar authority and power.  And to get to that level of maturity, I think I am going to have to start stepping out into some things that make me uncomfortable, and see the Holy Spirit work things out.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your desire to grow me into the image of Christ.  Thank you for the challenge to continue stepping out of my comfort zone, even thought it makes me feel nervous.  Help me see that life with you is abundant and vibrant.  Heavenly Father, thank you for your loving kindness.  I want to run with you.  Holy Spirit, give me boldness to jump when you tell me to jump.  I love you, and I want to operate like Christ.  I ask in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Spiritual Analogies

Since junior high, I think God has spoken to me through spiritual analogies.  But recently, I have been too busy and tired to hear much from the Lord.  Makes me sad.

The last couple of days, we have been visiting with family, and it has been so good for my soul to rest from my work.

Yesterday morning, Brandi and I went for a good walk and had some good prayer time together.
The Lord gave me several spiritual analogies yesterday.

When I am too busy, it is like driving too fast and having a bunch of bugs splatting the windshield.  It doesn't take too long before you can't see where you are going, but that's not going to slow me down!

I am trying to grow in speaking affirmation of beauty over my wife, but she has difficulty receiving it. I think Christ speaks affirmation of beauty over His Bride, the Church, but I think we have difficulty seeing ourselves from His perspective.

I want to have a close relationship with my Heavenly Father.  I regularly give my boys a hug and kiss them on the top of their heads, but I don't feel like I know God that well to hug him and let Him kiss me on the top of the head.

Yesterday morning, I gave the cows two sacks of cake in the muddy cattle pens.  I wasn't wearing mud boots, but I didn't think I needed to because the top layer was crusty and I did OK staying on top as I made my way out into the middle of it.  But I think sin is like that crust-topped muddy cattle pen.  You think you are ok, and then in two quick steps, you've lost both of your shoes, and you are stuck knee deep in soggy poop.

Heavenly Father, thank you for speaking to me through analogies.  Lord, please give me more.  I want to know you, and I want to have good conversation with you.  I want to be faithful to share the analogies that you give me with others.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Reflections on the Taste Retreat

We had a great retreat this weekend.

Thursday evening, the discussion about praying for healing was very encouraging to me.  Basically, it's not so much about how much faith you have as actually using what faith you do have.  Just pray for people, and believe that God will heal them.

Duncan's message Friday evening about salvation and our relationship with God was very encouraging to me.  Duncan involved several people in a powerful visualization of the progression through original sin, spiritual separation from the holy God, death of Christ, death with Christ, burial of Christ, burial with Christ, resurrection of Christ, resurrection with Christ, dwelling with Christ in the heavenly realm, and the Holy Trinity dwelling with us.

On Saturday, two of the most impressive points were our identity as adopted sons of God and God's infinite riches.  Duncan shared a helpful framework for thinking about our relationship with God.  First, sonship; you are a son of God by the adoption of God.  Second, friendship; you can avail yourself to growing in your friendship with God.  Third, partnership; our Heavenly Father has a family business, and you can invest yourself in helping Him in his business.

Heavenly Father, thank you for making me a son.  Please help me grow in my awareness of this reality.  I want to grow in emulating the model of sonship that Christ demonstrated.  I want to grow in my friendship with you; I want to be call you, "Abba."  Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence and power.  I want to grow in partnership with you.  I want to listen to you and make use of you infinite resources to advance your Kingdom.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.