Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Another chance

When I was a kid, I was very mean to my brothers.  Both of them were really sweet kids, but was really harsh with them.  Often I have wished that I could go back in time and be kind to them.  So many things that I wish I could take back and do better.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the tractor with Rhett, and I told him that he reminds me of my brother, Jeremy.  Then it hit me.  The Lord has given me "another chance" to be kind, tender, and compassionate: to my sons.

As I choose to set my mind on the spirit instead of the flesh, I quench anger and allow the Kingdom of God to be manifest through the fruit of the Spirit and His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Heavenly Father, I really want 2017 to be a year marked by my patience and tenderness with my boys.  Thank you for another chance. Holy Spirit, produce more of your fruit in my life. I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.


Yesterday, we had our birthday party for Jesus, and then we opened gifts.  I think our boys understand why we celebrate Christmas by giving gifts.  I am thankful that I have the opportunity to give gifts to my children.

Then we went into town to meet with my parents' church.  The preacher pointed out that Christmas is celebrating the presence of God and that His presence brings comfort and commission.

Heavenly Father, I really enjoyed our time together as a family yesterday.  It was a very special day.  I am so thankful for my family, and I am thankful for the Greatest Gift of all.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Preaching the Gospel with signs and wonders

Romans 15:17-19, 29 NIV
Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. ... I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.

From Paul's perspective, the signs and wonders are part of preaching the Gospel, and I think that is associated with the full measure of the blessing of Christ.  God cares about our spiritual and physical well-being.  He doesn't guarantee that our physical circumstances will be peachy, but sometimes He intervenes in supernatural ways to demonstrate His love and power.  I want to open myself to be a vessel for Him to use to pour out His love and power.

This past Saturday, I went with Shaun to pray for people who were waiting in line at Raelene's tattoo shop. Shaun and I prayed for a lady in line, and her back pain was gone immediately.  It was cold and windy, so a local church opened their building, so people didn't have to stand outside.    We prayed about five times for a lady on crutches who had torn her ACL and MCL.  By the end of the day, she walked on it with no pain.  I shared the Gospel with a young couple, they guy was an accounting student; they didn't accept the invitation, but I prayed for them, and I could tell that they were touched.  We prayed for a guy who was troubled, and he showed some improvement, but I am still praying for complete deliverance for him.  

Praise the Lord for His love and power!

Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to step out in faith and minister to people.  Lord, I want to share the Gospel with signs and wonders so that even more will trust you with their lives and become fully devoted followers of Christ.  Holy Spirit, give me boldness, and flow through me your love and power.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Righteousness credited by faith

Romans 3:22‭-‬24 NIV
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Romans 4:3‭, ‬10‭-‬11‭, ‬16‭, ‬23‭-‬25 NIV
What does Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." ... Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. ... Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abrahamʼs offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. ... The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Justification is by grace, through faith in the promise of God.

If baptism is the new covenant fulfillment of the old covenant sign/seal of circumcision, then I suppose that baptism is not required for justification but is essential for sanctification (if the two can actually be dissected).

Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace.  Thank you for giving me faith and counting me as righteous, including me as a descendant of Abraham.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice to accomplish justice.  Holy Spirit, lead me to a deeper appreciation of this reality.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Sowing generously and cheerfully

2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

2 Corinthians 9:6‭-‬11 NIV
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: "They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever."  Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

I taught on giving/tithing back in the summer, and as I studied Old Testament and New Testament passages in preparation for teaching, I developed a sincere belief that the tithe is a starting point and that God does promise blessing in return for our generosity and charity.  You have to be careful to avoid the doctrinal ditch on either side of orthodoxy: the prosperity gospel on one side and the poverty gospel on the other.  Giving should not be used as a means to get rich, and being poor should not be used as a means to become righteous.  Money, riches, or wealth is not inherently evil, but it can be a tool for good or a tool for evil.

Recently, I heard a sermon from Bill Johnson that cemented what I had studied and begun to believe this summer - that tithing to your church and giving consistent offerings to other ministries is good practice of Christ followers, with the desire to continually increase your giving and the expectation that God will give you more resources as you faithfully invest what He has already given you.

This sowing and reaping concept in 2 Cor 8-9 seems so clear to me now.  Jesus sowed His eternal life into humanity to reap a harvest of eternal Brothers and Sisters.  We have the opportunity to sow generously by giving love, encouragement, money, etc and reap a harvest of righteousness.  And the Lord will refill our seed silos so that we can sow more next time.

God has implicitly embedded a pattern/fractal of exponential/geometric increase into the framework of generosity (sowing and reaping).

The terms "sparingly" and "generously" are relative terms - relative to what you have, not what you don't have.  The Lord loves the grateful, cheerful, childlike heart that continually wants to give more to be more like Jesus, who gave it all.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your kindness and mercy.  Thank you for your generous gift through Christ.  May I celebrate your generosity, especially this Christmas season.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your example.  Holy Spirit, please help me listen to your promptings and obey.  Please grow a harvest of righteousness for your glory.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Jesus is our 'yes'

2 Corinthians 1:19‭-‬22 NIV
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not "Yes" and "No," but in him it has always been "Yes." For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

We had a great home group meeting on Sunday night.  We talked about hearing God's voice in the context of spiritual gifts, and we prayed for two of our group members. 

We also discussed a little about the practical details of how to pray for someone who is sick.  Shaun said that he usually doesn't ask God to heal because that implies that God might say 'no', but Jesus is 'yes'.  God has already communicated that it is always His desire to heal, so we are authorized to command sickness and pain to leave.  Some people get caught up in why some people don't get healed, but we shouldn't assume that it is because God didn't want to.

Heavenly Father, thank you for being a good father and giving good gifts to your children.  Jesus, you are our yes.  Holy Spirit, please teach me to walk in your truth and power.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Spiritual gifts

1 Corinthians 12:7‭-‬11‭, ‬27‭-‬31 NIV
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. ...  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. ...

He gives these gifts to manifest Himself, and that is for the good of everyone in the world.

Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing yourself through us by way of spiritual gifts.  Lord Jesus, thank you for sending the Spirit to empower us.  Holy Spirit, thank you for the grace you have given me through the spiritual gifts that you have chosen to give me.  Help me be aware of those gifts, and help me mature and become proficient in allowing you to flow through those giftings to reveal your goodness and love.  I want to be like the man in the parable who doubled the return on investment.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Supernatural annointing

Acts 19:11‭-‬12 NIV
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

I am taking baby steps toward the healing anointing that Jesus, Peter, and Paul demonstrated.  Yesterday, I prayed for the swelling and pain to leave Brenda's hand immediately.  Well, it didn't leave immediately like I wanted, but she sent me a message this morning telling me that her hand is less swollen and painful this morning.  Praise the Lord!  I will keep asking the Lord for more!

Heavenly Father, I praise you for your goodness.  You are good, and you give good gifts to your children.  You desire wholeness for us, and you use us to bring wholeness to each other.  Thank you for the examples that Jesus, Peter, and Paul demonstrated.  Please grow me into that level of anointing.  Holy Spirit, please annoint me and use me today.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22‭-‬25 NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

I want to live by the Spirit.  I am crucified with Christ, and He now lives in me (2:20); I have been crucified to the world, and the world to me (6:14).  The Lord is producing in me a crop of righteousness.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy of sacrificing Jesus to pay the penalty for my sin, and thank you for the grace of giving me your Spirit of freedom.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your example of life lived in freedom, demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit.  Holy Spirit, please produce more fruit in me, and continually remind me that my flesh has been crucified.  I want to walk in step with you. May others see your goodness and good work through me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, November 28, 2016

seed, sons, and heirs

Galatians 3:14, 26-29, 4:4‭-‬7 NIV
He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. ... So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. ... But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba , Father." So you are no longer a slave, but God's child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

I believe in Christ, and I was baptized into Christ, and He gave me His Spirit.  I am a son of God and an heir of His Kingdom.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace through faith.  Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice and victory.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence.  Help me live as a son of God and an heir of the Kingdom.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Stop letting anger control you

James 1:19‭-‬20; 2:12-13; 3:10,18 NIV
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. ... Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. ... Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. ... Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Pretty clear.  The issue with this passage is not with understanding the principle, but with the degree of implementation and obedience.

The Lord is convicting me to be more gentle in how I speak to my boys, especially when they have been disobedient or disrespectful.  I want to sow seeds of peace in their hearts so that they grow a crop of righteousness.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love, gentleness, and patience with me.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your example of gentleness with sinners.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your conviction in my heart.  Deliver me from anger, from angry behavioral habits, and flow your peace through me into the lives of my children.  I love you and thank you for your work of sanctification.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Simple Gospel

I want to more faithfully preach the Gospel message.  I love how Peter preached to Cornelius's gathering:

Acts 10:34‭-‬43 NIV
Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.  "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

I want to share these fundamental truths, this simple message of Good News, with people and invite them to come to the altar in Heaven where Christ's blood was given to pay the sin debt for every person, once for all.  The Father's arms are open wide.

Heavenly Father, thank you for stirring me to share the good news of Christ. Jesus, thank you for the privilege of being your ambassador.  May I be a faithful witness of your love, sacrifice, and power to heal and restore.  Holy Spirit, empower me to demonstrate your authority and power, so that people will put their faith in Jesus and be part of God's eternal family.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Collaboration with angels

Yesterday morning, I asked the Lord to show me something that I have never noticed before. 

Acts 8:26‭-‬29 NIV
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means "queen of the Ethiopians"). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."

It is interesting to me that an angel told Philip where to go, and then the Holy Spirit told Philip to stand by the chariot.  I have known that angels on our side who help us, but I don't think I've thought about intentionally trying to listen to them.  As I think about the whole canon of Scripture, there are a lot of interactions between people and angels. I am particularly curious about the case when angels came and ministered to Jesus after 40 days of fasting and being tempted by Satan. My conclusion is that it might be beneficial to our Kingdom work to be aware of the presence of angels and to be prepared to listen to them. 

I feel like I'm still a novice at listening to the Holy Spirit, let alone angels, but the Lord is gracious.  He will help me.

Heavenly Father, I want to be mindful of you and your work.  Jesus, you focused on saying and doing what you saw the Father saying and doing.  I trust that you will increase my spiritual sensitivity to be aware of angels and how we collaborate to advance your Kingdom.  Also, please improve my understanding of the role and type of work of angels so that I can more effectively partner with them in our collaboration.  Holy Spirit, please lead me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hearing God's voice

On Monday afternoon, I was helping a PhD  student try to find an error in her modeling code that was returning negative chloride concentrations in the RO concentrate.  We had tried to figure this out several times over the previous weeks, so she was frustrated with the program.  I whispered to the Lord, "Please help me figure this out." I had a pen and a note pad, and I suddenly got the idea to try to think about a different way of calculating the concentrate concentrations.  Within about five minutes, we had generalized the algebraic calculation of the concentrate concentration to a multiplicative form instead of a difference form, and that solved the problem.  This was a significant breakthrough for my student to continue moving forward in her research, and I wish I had prayed out loud for her to hear the prayer and see the Lord answer.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love and goodness.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your faithfulness in speaking to me and helping us solve that coding problem.  Help me be bold in speaking to you for others to observe you.  I want them to see you and your kindness.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Healing in the name of Jesus

It is interesting to me that, in the Gospels, sometimes Jesus (a) rebuked the sickness/illness, (b) cast out a demon/evil spirit that was causing an illness, or (c) told the person to do what they previously could not do (e.g., "stretch out your hand", "get up and walk", etc.). In Acts 4, Peter and John emulated style (c). My question is, how do you know which style to do?  (Or is that an ignorant question?)

Acts 3:6‭-‬8‭, ‬16 NIV
Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. ... By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

The priests and Sadducees arrested Peter and John and questioned them the next day.

Acts 4:8‭-‬12 NIV
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is " 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.'   Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved."

After Peter and John were released, they continued to heal and preach.  And even after Ananias and Sapphira messed up, the disciples continued to heal and preach, even to the point that they were following Jesus's example:

Acts 5:12‭-‬16 NIV
The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.

They looked like Jesus!  They were operating just like Him.  They even began to fulfill Jesus's prophecy that they would do even greater things than He.  The grace of the Holy Spirit was so strong that even Peter's shadow was anointed.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace and love.  Jesus, thank you for your example.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence and power.  Please give me boldness to show your healing, and give me discernment to know how to approach each situation.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Prophetic words

Over the last several years, Brandi and I have been growing in appreciation of the gift of prophecy within the Body.  When the Lord gives a personalized message for someone, it is very encouraging and helpful.

We are participating in the Global Legacy Leadership Development Program (LDP1), and this word of prophecy was shown to us this week from the leaders of the program:

"Shane & Brandi Walker- United States
John 4:35-38 You're spiritual harvesters in your region. You've planted spiritual seeds and now is the time to reap the harvest. New heavenly downloads that bring fresh kingdom ideas are being released to you right now. Your sphere of influence increases as you continue to seek His perspective. Incredible increase and anointing is on your lives as you usher in His glory."

John 4:35‭-‬38 NIV
Don't you have a saying, 'It's still four months until harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.  Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.  Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true.  I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor."

Heavenly Father, thank you for your kindness and love.  We are your beloved children.  May it be to us according to your word.  Thank you for your grace. Holy Spirit, may we be attentive and obedient.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Living out Jesus's commission

Mark 16:15‭-‬20 NIV
[Jesus] said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."  After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

I want to live this out.  Except the snakes and poison stuff.  But seriously, I want to drive out demons, speak in new tongues, and heal sick people.

What does it take to actualize? Read a bunch of books?  I think it is a do-learn process.  I think I just have to try.  Step out in faith and try to be obedient.  And He will direct me.  (It is a lot easier to direct a moving car than a parked car.)

Heavenly Father, thank you for always calling me deeper with you.  Jesus, thank you for your example and commission.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence and power.  May I respond in loving obedience.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sentness, empowerment, and grace

On the evening after Christ was raised from the dead, He appeared to His disciples, gave them the Holy Spirit, and commissioned them:

John 20:19‭-‬23 NIV
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.  Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."  And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

How did the Father send Jesus?  I think Jesus answered that in by explaining His Messianic calling in Luke 4:18-19 (quoting Isaiah 61) and Luke 7:22 (responding to John the Baptist's disciples).  And He has sent us in that same Messianic calling.  We, the Church, are His Body, and He told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for His same empowerment by the Holy Spirit:

Luke 24:46‭-‬49 NIV
He told them, "This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."

The Lord is so gracious.  He sends us and empowers us, and He also meets us where we are and takes us to where He wants us to be.  The Lord knew that Peter was messed up in his soul because He betrayed Jesus, and it seems like Peter had invalidated himself.  Jesus appeared to them on the shore of the lake, blessed them with an abundant catch of fish, fed them breakfast, and then addressed Peter's soul wound:

John 21:15‭-‬17 NIV
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?"  "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."   Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"  He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."   The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"  Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.

As previously discussed (https://texasfarmboy.blogspot.com/2014/06/peters-reinstatement.html), there is a difference between agape (the Greek word for "love" that Jesus used in the first two questions), and phileo (the Greek word for "love" that Peter replied, and Jesus used in His third question).  I think Jesus was asking Peter to choose to love Him unconditionally, but perhaps Peter felt like he couldn't.  Maybe Peter felt like he had disqualified himself.  But I think Jesus met Peter where he was.  Perhaps, the third time, Jesus was basically saying, "If you feel like you can't agape me, but you can only phileo me, I'll still take it.  I'll take you where you are, and we will go on together to where I want you to be."  Whatever love you have for the Lord, small as it may be, give it to Him.  He will take it, use it, bless it, and grow it.

Jesus had planted something in Peter.  Over their past three years together, and especially on the shore of the lake that morning, Jesus planted something in Peter's heart.  And within the following two months, it sprouted, grew, and produced a crop of righteousness when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, and Peter preached for thousands of people to become disciples of Jesus.

Heavenly Father, I feel like my love for you is so fickle. Jesus, I want to agape you.  Holy Spirit, empower me, and take me on higher with you.  I am excited to see what you will do with me in the next two months.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Peace and Joy

On the night before Jesus was crucified, Jesus summarized a lot of teaching with his disciples.  I am impressed with two aspects of the fruit of the Spirit that Jesus wants for us, which I want more of in my life: peace and joy.

John 14:27 NIV
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

John 15:11 NIV
"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

John 16:24 NIV
"Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete."

John 16:33 NIV
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

John 17:13 NIV
"... but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them."

So, if Jesus wants these for me, how do I let Him increase them in me?  I want to abide in Christ.

Heavenly Father, I want to abide in your presence.  Lord Jesus, I want your peace and joy.  Holy Spirit, please increase peace and joy in me.  Shine your glory through increasing your fruit in my life.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, November 4, 2016


"I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am.
John 13:19 NIV

I like this translation of this verse.  On the night before He was crucified, Jesus washed his disciples' feet and told them that one of them would betray Him.  And He told them why He was telling them, "... so that you will believe that ἐγώ εἰμί".  That is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew version of "I AM", God's name that He told Moses.  Jesus was effectively saying, "...so that you will believe that I am who I say I am. I am the Messiah.  I am the God of the Israelites.  I am the I AM."

Heavenly Father, I love you.  Thank you for prophecy that proves that you are eternal, and you see the beginning from the end.  Lord Jesus,  you are the Messiah, the Son of God, and the great I AM.  You are one with the Father in a way that is beyond my comprehension.  Holy Spirit, help me be in more awe of who you are, and how you are one with the Father and the Son.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The end of the world

Mark 13:10 NIV
And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.

Matthew 24:14 NIV
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

I was thinking this morning about how the remote places of the nations probably need clean drinking water and sanitation.  I want to partner with other organizations to meet people's basic needs and share the love and good news of Jesus with them.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to partner with you in your kingdom.  Lord Jesus, I want to help people experience the goodness of your lordship.  Holy Spirit, please guide me in partnering with others to help more people around the world.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Running blind

Luke 18:35‭-‬39 NIV
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by."  He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"  Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Isn't it sad that the leaders of Jesus's entourage tried to prevent Bartimaeus from meeting Jesus?  May I never block anyone from meeting Jesus.

I love the passion in Bartimaeus.  He knew that His only hope was Jesus, and he cried out even louder.  May I pursue Christ with that passion every day.

And I love how Bartimaeus ran to see Jesus, even though He could not see.  He did not cling to his meager belongings, and he was willing to trip over something or run into someone for the sake of getting to Jesus:

Mark 10:49‭-‬52 NIV
Jesus stopped and said, "Call him."  So they called to the blind man, "Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you." Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.   "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see."   "Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me eternal life, but may I be consciously aware of my constant need for more mercy and grace to continue growing in maturity.  Lord Jesus, may I run with abandonment to you for mercy and grace. Holy Spirit, lead me to more spiritual sight. I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


John 10:2‭-‬4‭, ‬9‭-‬10 NIV
The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. ... I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  They will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Jesus is the Shepherd and the gate.  And His intention is not only survival, but abundance.

I just spent two days at the ACCORD Network WASH conference.  Yesterday morning, a pastor shared a devotional about wine and wineskins.  He talked about how water is essential, but wine is abundance.  (I think it is analogous to what I've been thinking about how salvation is essential, but Holy Spirit anointing is abundance.) The pastor shared about how new wine (juice) is poured into new/renewed wineskins.  After a wineskin has been used, the wineskin can be renewed by soaking in water and oil (Holy Spirit).  The pastor encouraged us to be humble and open to being renewed.

I realized that I work on water technology development because I believe that survival is a necessary step toward abundance.  I want to be a minister of the full Gospel of Jesus, not only salvation, but abundance in Him.

Over the past 36 hours, I have made a lot of contacts in the faith-based WASH sector.  I am very encouraged by the work and collaboration that is ongoing.

At lunch this afternoon, a professor at a Christian college spoke powerful words of encouragement to me.  He told me that what I am doing is important, and I will be able to help these organizations.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Living Water, and thank you for the wine and oil of the Holy Spirit.  Thank you for the opportunity to collaborate with you and your children to bring more children into your family so that they can enjoy your abundance.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, October 24, 2016

More than possessions

Luke 12:15‭, ‬22‭-‬23‭, ‬30‭-‬34 NIV
Then [Jesus] said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions."  ... Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. ... For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.  But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.    "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.  Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I took Beau and Jude on our first Cub Scout camp out this weekend.  We went to Caballo Riversite State Park.  I have been thinking recently about how if I want to raise my children to be disciples of Jesus, then I need to spend quality time with them.  And I want them to see ana accurate perspective of our Heavenly Father.  He is pleased to give us the kingdom.  I don't think that means that I should give my kids a bunch of toys, but I do think it means I should be intentional and strategic about giving them time and resources to learn and grow as disciples of Christ.  I want my children to see me seeking His kingdom.  I want them to see that the Lord is my treasure, and my heart is with Him.  Which means, I want the Lord to actually be my treasure.  How do I make Him my treasure, instead of being distracted by the things of this world?

Luke 12:47‭-‬48 NIV
"The servant who knows the master's will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows.  But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

In my opinion, this is one of the most sobering statements of Jesus, especially because I think He has entrusted me with much.  He has given me a lot of opportunities and resources.  Oh, Lord, may I be humble, faithful, and profitable with your investments in me.

This afternoon, I am scheduled to travel to North Carolina for the two-day annual summit of the Accord Network. This is an association of Christian organizations that focus on ending poverty around the world.  The subject of this year's Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) meetings is collaboration, even between Christian and "secular" organizations (such as public universities).  Since early college, I have wanted to help give people clean drinking water and living water, and I feel a sense of expectation and destiny associated with this conference this week.  I believe that God is going to show me how I can use my skills and opportunities as a professor at a research university to collaborate with evangelical organizations around the world.

Heavenly Father, thank you for taking care of us.  Thank you for providing for our needs.  Thank you for salvation, my family, and my vocation.  Lord Jesus, I want you to be my treasure, and I want you to have my heart.  And I want the same for my family.  Holy Spirit, please anoint me as I travel today, and give me awareness of your presence and direction.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Full of joy

At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit ...
Luke 10:21 NLT

... For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2 NIV

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.
John 15:9‭-‬14 NIV

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!
Philippians 4:4 NLT

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Galatians 5:22‭-‬23 NLT

I want to be full of of the joy of the Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the hope that I can be a joyful person, thanks to your grace.  Jesus, I want to be full of joy like you.  Holy Spirit, please fill me with joy.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Mark 9:20 So they brought [a boy possessed by a demon]. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
21 Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"
"From childhood," he answered. 22 "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."
23 "'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for one who believes."
24 Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again."
26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, "He's dead." 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

I believe that Jesus lived an example for us to follow, even to exceed.  I want to walk in the lifestyle of Jesus, with constantly growing maturity.  And I really resonate with the genuine and transparent cry of the boy's father.

Heavenly Father, I do believe, but I feel like it is small, and sometimes I feel like my unbelief outweighs my belief.  Lord, help me overcome my unbelief and walk in faith and obedience.  I love you, and I want to know you and make you known, because you are good.  Holy Spirit, lead me in truth and righteousness.  I want to walk in more maturity today.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The death of me

And [Jesus] said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."   Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Luke 9:22‭-‬23 NIV

Just as Jesus was getting really popular, it was like He changed His plan.  But it was really part of the plan all along.  Just didn't make sense to people like us.  Especially Peter.  "No, Jesus, snap out of it.  We are not going to let that happen to you.  Too much on the line, now.  You've finally made it to the big-time, and we need to capitalize."  But thank God that He didn't listen to Peter.

So, what does that mean for me.  If Jesus sacrificed His career and His skin for me, should I do the same for Him?

I've been thinking of Lecrae's lyrics in After the Music Stops:
"I don't do this for the money.  I don't do this for fame. I don't do this so the industry can know my name. I do it in hopes to glorify Yeshua who came."

What does it look like to carry my cross?  What is my cross, anyway?

Heavenly Father, I love you, and I want to walk with you.  Help me see past the temporary things of this world, and help me see my life through the lens of eternity.  May my life be spent in eternally profitable endeavors. Give me understanding on what my cross is and what it means to bear it. I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Show and tell

I remember a show and tell when I was in a summer school program when I was in primary (I think between kinder and first).  I remember that my mom let me take something that she had from England, and I remember the fun of sharing something special with my friends.  (I hope she got it back.)

Matthew 15:29‭-‬31 NIV
Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

The show and tell was two-fold.  The people brought their sick and hurt and told Jesus about their pain.  Jesus brought the presence of God, showed them the Father's goodness and the Spirit's power, and told them the Gospel.

Sunday evening, we met with a couple who is interested in joining our church, and Shaun told us about them going to pray for people to be healed.  He told us about praying for a woman waiting in line at a tattoo parlor who was deaf, and the Lord healed her on the spot.

I want to participate in the show and tell.  I want to join in the fun of sharing His goodness and power.

Heavenly Father, I love you, and I know that you are good.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your example.  Holy Spirit, I know that you are with me, and you are growing me to hear you and walk in obedience.  I believe that you want to use me to heal people to show your goodness and love.  Show me the next step.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Just believe

Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." ...  "For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."  ... Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." ... "Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life."
John 6:29‭, ‬33‭‭, ‬35, 47 NIV

This is one of my favorite passages.  Jesus wasn't seeking popularity.  He had a chance

This morning, I was thinking about how hard it would have been for the Jews to understand Jesus because He kept telling them to eat his flesh and drink his blood, which God had explicitly forbidden. "How could Jesus claim that he was from God if we know his parents and he is saying things directly against what God commanded?"  Jesus was speaking metaphorically, but His statements were so literally offensive that most people couldn't get past it.  But at the core of these statements is an invitation to believe and experience eternal life.

Heavenly Father, thank you for challenging us to believe in Christ and experience eternal life.  Lord Jesus, you said a lot of things that are outside my box.  Please help me get past my limited (and often literal) interpretation, and give me deep spiritual understanding and revelation.  Your words are at the same time so profound and also simple.  I believe that you are the bread of life; your body was broken, and your blood was shed so that we have forgiveness and restoration.  Help me never lose sight of this singularity.  And also take me deeper in you.  I want to hear your voice moment by moment. I want to live in constant communion with you, like digesting bread and wine.  Holy Spirit, I want to be digesting the Word all day long and assimilating you into my life.  Lord, I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Supernatural power

This morning, I read about Jesus calming the storm and healing the demon-possessed man in the Gerasenes.  I used to think that these were artifacts of His divinity; that is, that He was able to accomplish these supernatural works because He was God.  Of course, I still believe that Jesus is God, but I think He lived a human life empowered by the Holy Spirit.  He performed these supernatural works as an example for what we can do in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, please anoint me today, and use me to demonstrate your love, authority, and power.  I want to participate with you in supernatural works to reveal your glory and goodness, and for my joy.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Knowing and growing

This morning, I read Jesus's parable of the sower, seed, and four soil types in Mark, Matthew, and Luke.  as a teacher, it is interesting to me that in Matthew's record of Jesus's explanation of the parable, a critical factor is explaining the Gospel message clearly so that people can understand it and receive it:

Matthew 13:19 NIV
When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

Every time I read this parable, I feel a challenge to produce fruit.  Of course, it is a collaboration with the Lord.  This morning, I am thinking about the original planted seed (the Word of God) being reproduced in my life and planted in others' lives.

Mark 4:20 NIV
Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown."

As a farm boy, I think about how the seed is in the fruit.  As the fruit of the Spirit is produced in my life, the Gospel message is there with it.

Heavenly Father, please grow your Word in me.  Produce fruit and seed in my life, and plant it in others.  And may I be a disciple maker who leads them to produce a hundred fold increase, as well.  Holy Spirit, grow me and use me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Jesus's mission included setting people free and healing people

What was Jesus's mission?  What was He doing here?

Luke 4:16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

    because he has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

    and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19     to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

I love this passage because Jesus quoted a Messianic prophecy from Isaiah 61 which gives a strategic framework to Christ's ministry and work.  It is like goals and objectives, which then allows us to evaluate His performance.  Did He accomplish what He set out to do?  From my perspective, Jesus did exactly that.  He traveled around (1) healing people and then (2) preaching the good news of the Kingdom OR (1) preaching the good news of the Kingdom and then (2) healing people.

What struck me in the reading this morning was that Matthew connected Christ's work with another one of my favorite Messianic prophecies in Isaiah:

Matt. 8:16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

"He took up our infirmities

    and bore our diseases."

From a New Testament perspective, we can read Isaiah 53 and see that Messiah was the Suffering Servant who bore the righteous wrath of God for the sin of all people in the world.  But that is not all: Jesus came to heal, physically.  God does not only care about our spiritual condition; He also cares about our physical condition.

Later, Jesus sent out His disciples to do His work.  And we continue this same mission and work.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending the Messiah.  Lord Jesus, thank you for suffering wrath and death on my behalf.  And thank you for your example of a man empowered by the Holy Spirit to collaborate in accomplishing the work of God.  Holy Spirit, please anoint me and empower me to continue the mission and work of Christ.  I want to join you in preaching the good news of the Kingdom and demonstrating your love and power through healing people and setting them free in Christ.  If the Son sets you free, then you are free, indeed.  Lord, please use my life to bring freedom, peace, and love to people around me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


As I read the account of Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), I was impressed with the physical reality of Jesus's thirst.  He was tired and thirsty, and it was midday.  I think about how thirsty I would be if I had been walking all morning in El Paso during the summer.

The Samaritan woman was shocked that Jesus spoke to her.  In her mind, Jesus broke ethnic and gender taboos by speaking to her.  I don't imagine that Jesus was concerned with the cultural expectations; I think He was really thirsty.  But then He changed the subject:

10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

I used to think that Him asking for a drink of water and then changing the subject was a bait and switch.  And, depending on how you read it, it might even sound a little arrogant.  But Jesus is not tricky or arrogant.  I think He genuinely started the conversation because He was physically thirsty.  And I think, when He looked at the woman, He was spiritually sensitive to notice her spiritual condition, and He addressed her need out of compassion.  The Holy Spirit gave Him insight to see her spiritual need.  In spite of His strong biological impulse for a drink of water, Jesus was still able to perceive the spiritual situation and respond in love:

13 Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Heavenly Father, I am thirsty for more of you.  Lord Jesus, fill me up and overflow me with a spring of living water.  Holy Spirit, help me be attentive and perceptive to spiritual needs around me, even amidst normal daily routine activities.  I want to worship you in spirit and in truth.  Please teach me what that means.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Baptism of the Holy Spirit

I think it is interesting that when he was asked if he was the Messiah, John the Baptist contrasted his baptism of water with Jesus's baptism of the Holy Spirit:

Matt. 3:11
"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Mark 1:8
I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Luke 3:16
John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

And then after John baptized Jesus, John said:

John 1:33
And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'

As I was reviewing these passages, I noticed that Jesus himself said something very similar before He ascended:

Acts 1:5
For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

I have previously thought that the water baptism and baptism of the Holy Spirit were coincident/simultaneous, but it seems to me that John the Baptist and Jesus differentiated the two.  

Heavenly Father, please give me wisdom and understanding regarding water baptism and baptism of the Holy Spirit. I feel like I don't understand this, but I want to know you and walk with you, and you promise to give wisdom to those who ask.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus, who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

His faithfulness and grace (sometimes "delayed")

This morning, I started the New Testament!  Hooray!

I am especially impressed by how God directly fulfilled the final prophecy of Malachi through the life of John the Baptist:

Malachi 4:5‭-‬6 NIV
"See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction."

Luke 1:16‭-‬17 NIV
"He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

There are several "delays" in this story that I think are significant. 

First, the record of God speaking to his people is silent between Malachi and the time of Jesus and John the Baptist.  The angel, Gabriel, appeared to Zechariah after over four hundred years of silence, approximately the same duration that the Jews were slaves in Egypt.  Of course, to a people struggling with corporate moral purity and subjugation by pagan nations (not unlike their time in Egypt), they needed a savior, the Messiah.  To me, four hundred years seems like a significant delay. I wonder, why did God wait so long to send the Messiah?  Of course, I can't answer that question, but I do believe that God was intentional, not capricious, in his timing:

Romans 5:6 NIV
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

As I think about Advent season in a few months, I see a parallel.  As the Israelites were waiting for the Messiah for over four hundred years, so we have waited two thousand years for his return, but we do not grow weary in expecting Him to appear any day.

Second, I think there was a significant "delay" in the the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth.  I can imagine that they prayed and fasted fervently for a child when they were young.  I imagine that they begged God every day for years, maybe more than a decade, to bless them with a child.  And maybe at some point, Zechariah gave up hope and didn't believe that God would grant them a child.  Maybe he stopped asking God for a child decades before Gabriel visited him in the temple. 

Luke 1:13 NIV
But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.

My paraphrase of Zechariah's response in Luke 1:18:
"What do you mean, 'my prayer has been heard'?  I stopped praying that prayer decades ago.  Now my wife and I are too old.  You are too late.  God waited too long to answer that prayer."

Sometimes God answers a recurring prayer with "not yet" for so long that we assume the answer is "no.  But God even answers the prayers that we have given up on and stopped praying, and He is intentional in his timing in answering our prayers:

Luke 1:19‭-‬20 NIV
The angel said to him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time."

Third, Zechariah was "delayed" in offering incense in the temple. I wonder what some of the people waiting outside were thinking (v. 21):

"Zechariah has been in there a while.  Do you think he is OK?  You don't think that maybe... I mean... What if, you know... What if he wasn't holy enough to go in there? ... You know, they never did have a child.  What if it was his fault? What if he had some hidden sin?"

It is easy for us to slip into speculation and judgement, similar to Job's "friends".  I want to be a friend who believes in people and hopes with them.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your faithfulness and grace in accomplishing your good purpose in the world, our lives, and the lives of our friends.  You are good, and what we perceive as "delays" by you, you use to grow our faith and mature us.  May I be a man of faith and hope that you do fulfill your promises, and you are compassionately aware of the details of our lives.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

No resource limitations in the Kingdom

A few nights ago, Beau was reading Jesus's parable of the enemy planting weeds in the field.  When the workers discovered the weeds growing up with the wheat, they asked the owner if they should pull up the weeds.  The owner told them not to pull up the weeds because they might damage the wheat and that the weeds would be sorted and burned when they harvested the wheat.

I don't know why I haven't thought about this before, but growing up on a farm, you learn to pull/hoe weeds whenever and wherever you see them for a couple of important reasons: (1) weeds steal water, nutrients, and possibly sunlight from the crop, which decreases production, and (2) if you let the weeds produce seed, you could have 100 times more weeds next year.

I think the Lord pointed out to me that there are no resource limitations in the Kingdom.  He is not worried about weeds stealing resources from the wheat.  His focus is on growing wheat, and He has unlimited resources to grow the wheat.  It is not a competition between wheat and weeds.  He is fully capable of providing all of the water, nutrients, and sunlight that the wheat needs to grow and produce a harvest of 100 times the original (to mix parables).

Heavenly Father, thank you for taking care of us, and thank you for the promise that you will always be with us and work for our good.  Thank you for your kindness and abundant favor to us.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Seeking His face, rest

Katelyn is teaching me what it looks like to rest in the Father's presence.  When I hold her, she sets her chin on my shoulder and is content.  Sometimes I think she went to sleep, but her eyes are open, and she is content to be with me.  She doesn't have to do anything.  As Brandi pointed out yesterday, she doesn't even have to hold on because she is held.

I feel like I am a hyperactive little boy with the Father: always running around in circles trying to do stuff, asking Him to fix something, or asking questions and studying something.  I need to learn how to be still with Him.

I have read the Scriptures about seeking His face and heart, but I think it is more about being still with Him than running around exhausted trying to accomplish more for Him.  I think it is like Jesus withdrawing to pray and spend time being with His Father.  Christ's miraculous works of the Holy Spirit were in balance with significant time spent in quiet stillness with the Father.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me a picture of being still with you.  Help me grow in daily time spent with you in stilling my soul with you and being content in your presence.  I want to seek your face and know your heart.  I want to rest in your love.  Jesus, thank you for your example.  Holy Spirit, guide me into a deeper relationship with you, Jesus, and the Father.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Messianic foreshadowing

Psalm 105:16‭-‬22 NIV
He called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food; and he sent a man before them— Joseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true. The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples set him free. He made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed, to instruct his princes as he pleased and teach his elders wisdom.

Joseph is a type of Christ, who came in humility and suffered the wrath of God for our redemption from sin and death.  The Father raised Him from the dead and made Him preeminent. Christ is the head of the household, and we seek his wisdom.

The meaning of Jesus's name is similar to the meaning of Joshua: "YAHWEH is salvation"

Zechariah 6:11‭-‬13 NIV
Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jozadak.  Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.'

Jesus is the Tender Shoot (Isa. 53:2). He is the Vine (John 15). He is the Branch (Zech. 6:12).  And we are His temple (1 Cor. 6:19).

Heavenly Father, your plan is amazing! I am so impressed with your sovereign plan to save us through Christ and make us your temple.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your sacrificial love.  Holy Spirit, increase in me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

You won't relent

This song really resonated with me this morning:

You wont relent until you have it all
My heart is yours
You wont relent until you have it all
My heart is yours

Come be the fire inside of me
Come be the flame upon my heart
Come be the fire inside of me
Until you and I are one

He wants all of me.  And I want to want all of Him, but He is infinite, so that means, I want the next logarithm of Him.

Heavenly Father, thank you for wanting me.  My heart is yours.  I am all yours, Lord.  Holy Spirit, fill me with your fire!  Give me more of you today!  Take me to the next level with you. Increase my desire for you. I want to be one with you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Pursuing and waiting on the LORD

Sunday evening, in our monthly Leadership Development Program meeting, we were discussing the concept of hosting the presence of God. 

Carlyn pointed out the importance of pause.  Often we notice what God is doing and/or hear Him speaking when we take pause.  Pausing is hard for us busy Americans, and I think I am beginning to realize that for me, an overcommitted person, pausing is actually the most important part of the effectiveness of spiritual journaling,  taking pause to notice Him and respond to Him.  I want to pursue God.  And that means I need to spend time not only reading the Word (logos), but waiting on Him for fresh spoken words (rhema).

Yesterday morning, I was thinking about what we had discussed about pursuing Him and seeking His manifest presence and anointing, and I was listening to praise music.  Several songs came on that were very encouraging:

Fall Afresh (Bethel)
Waiting Here for You (Jesus Culture)
Called Me Higher (All Sons and Daughters)
Be Still (Bethel)

The lyrics from the beginning of Called Me Higher were representative of my heart:

I could just sit
I could just sit and wait for all your goodness
Hope to feel your presence
And I could just stay
I could just stay right where I am and hope to feel you
Hope to feel something again

This morning, I echo the lyrics of the song Set A Fire:

Heavenly Father, "set a fire in my soul ... I want more of you, God".  Lord, please increase my desire for you.  Lord Jesus, I want to be your disciple.  Holy Spirit, please anoint me with your presence today, and grow the fruit of the spirit in me today. May I be faithful in taking pause to seek you. I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Priestly role

Ezekiel 44:15‭, ‬23 NIV
" 'But the Levitical priests, who are descendants of Zadok and who guarded my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat and blood, declares the Sovereign LORD. ... They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.

As a priest, I see two roles highlighted here: (1) drawing near to God and serving Him and (2) demonstrate the difference between holy and common.

First, we approach the Lord through the mercy and grace of Christ Jesus.  I believe that we have an opportunity to bless God as we approach Him with a joyful desire to love Him and enjoy Him.  I want to be more intentional about doing this.

Second, our lives should demonstrate a difference between holy and common.  We are set apart for Christ and his purposes; our lives should not be full of worldly stuff.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the blood of Christ that opens the door for relationship with you.  Lord, may I walk into your presence boldly with intention to know you and enjoy you.  Holy Spirit, you are making me more into the image of Christ; help me be a spiritual man, not a carnal man.  Lord, show your love and power in my life.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

spiritual prophecy

Ez 37

God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones to assemble, and then He told him to prophesy for them to receive breath.  I don't think I have noticed before that the spiritual activity was prophesy.  When we prophesy something, we are speaking into effect the reality that God desires; we are agreeing with God to accomplish His will.  

This may be heresy, but maybe you could say that in the beginning, God prophesied the creation of the universe.  The first revelation of the character of God in the Bible is that He is the creator, and He created us in His image, as creators.  He has given us authority and creative agency, so as we listen to the Holy Spirit, He will tell us what we should prophesy about people for their healing, restoration, and empowerment.

Heavenly Father, I praise you for your creativity and power, and I thank you for giving us some of that creativity and power.  Thank you for involving us in your good works.  Jesus, thank you for sending us out as your apostles.  Holy Spirit, thank you for speaking to us, guiding us, and empowering us.  Lord, please help me be an active agent for advancing your Kingdom. I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, September 2, 2016

To know you is to love you

After I finished writing my blog yesterday morning, I turned on Pandora to the Bethel channel, and I told the Lord, "Hit me with some good worship music." The first song that came on was Love Came Down by Kari Jobe, and the lyrics resonated perfectly with what I had just blogged:

If my heart is overwhelmed
And I cannot hear Your voice
I hold on to what is true
Though I cannot see
If the storms of life they come
And the road ahead gets steep
I will lift these hands in faith
I will believe
I'll remind myself
Of all that You've done
And the life I have
Because of Your son

Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
I am Yours
Lord I'm forever Yours
Mountains high or valley low
I sing out and remind my soul
I am Yours
I am forever Yours

I was standing by the TV, raising my hands in praise as I was singing to the Lord, amazed at how personally and quickly He had responded to me through the lyrics of that song.  Then I heard Jude say, "Good morning, daddy."  I suddenly felt caught!  Then Jude said, "I saw you praising God."  And I thought to myself, what a blessing for my son to "catch" me genuinely praising the Lord! 

Heavenly Father, thank you for answering me and speaking to me!  Lord Jesus, may my love and devotion to you be so dynamic, frequent, and transparent that my children will have that as the basis for normalcy in their life.  Holy Spirit, please give me more!  More experiences with you!  I want to love you more, and my love grows as I experience more of your goodness!  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Love and rescue

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: " Lord, save me!" The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
Psalm 116:1‭-‬5 NIV

I read this passage a couple of days ago, and it continues to resonate with me.  I was in the hospital less than a month ago with an aggressive and potentially fatal infection.  I think I am a relatively slow emotional processor, and i think it is just now setting in how clearly the Lord rescued me from death.  He has given me more days.  In the intensity of my pain, I did cry out to the Lord for mercy, and He did heal me. 

I feel like because He has not only rescued me from eternal death through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but He has also rescued me from physical death and extended my days, He has doubly bought me for Himself, and I should be doubly devoted to Him.

Heavenly Father, I love you.  You have shown me so much mercy and grace.  Lord Jesus, I am yours.  Please live your life through me, and use me to advance your Kingdom of love and rescue.  Holy Spirit, please open my eyes and heart to see you and love you, and anoint and empower me to do your work of love and rescue.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

sickness and healing

Last Tuesday afternoon, I got a headache, and it progressively got worse, so Brandi took me to the ER last Wednesday evening.  After a spinal tap and MRI, they tentatively diagnosed me with non-bacterial meningitis.  Thursday and Friday, I was on morphine every two hours, so it was pretty bad.  Friday and Saturday, I got the signature red spots on my hands and feet, so they diagnosed me with meningitis caused by Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (very rare).  Fortunately, Brandi had told them that we had traveled to the hill country and had seen a tick (not on me), so they had already started me on doxycycline.  I began showing improvement on Friday.  I was in the hospital five days, checked out Monday afternoon. I have felt better each day.  

Several people prayed for me to be healed in the hospital, and my parents, in-laws, and friends and family all of the world have been praying for my recovery.  While I wasn't miraculously healed instantly out of the hospital bed, I do believe that the Lord is supernaturally healing me more rapidly than the doctors expected.

This illness seems quite random to me.  (If the blood test confirms it, I will be the first case of RMSF that my doctor has ever seen.)  I don't believe that God gave me this illness, but in one way or another, He allowed it.  I am not sure what He is doing with this, but I believe that no pain is wasted.

Rom. 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

On Thursday or Friday, the attending doctor came to check on me, and apparently I was in a lot of pain and was rude to her (though I do not remember).  I wish I was a nice person at the core.

On Monday morning (before being discharged), the attending doctor and an entourage of other doctors and residents came to visit me and were so impressed with my rapid recovery.  Why didn't I tell them that many people were praying for me, and that God was supernaturally accelerating my healing?  I could have given a testimony of the goodness of God, but I missed the opportunity.

Heavenly Father, thank you for taking care of me, and thank you for providing for me.  I believe that you are good, and that you do not desire any bad thing for me, but you do want me to mature through difficulties.  Lord, please change my core person to be gentle and kind, and may I seek to advance your fame in every situation.  Lord, may I be considering how to leverage every opportunity to advance your Kingdom.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sabbath and fellowship

We came out to the cabin at the hills (west of San Antonio) for a few days.  It is good to be completely off the grid for a few days.  On Friday morning, I woke up before everyone, fixed myself a cup of coffee and spent time reading the Bible, singing, and praying.  It was a very refreshing time with the Lord.  Yesterday morning, I got to have some fellowship and prayer time with my father-in-law.  Part of our prayer time was prophesying blessings over each other and our families.  It was so powerful; I felt the anointing of the presence of the Holy Spirit more intensely than I think I have ever felt it.  I felt the weight of His presence and Him pouring into me.  Previously, I have felt an anointing of His presence on my left leg, but this time, I felt it on both legs.  I really think it was a significant increase in my experience of the Holy Spirit!

Heavenly Father, thank you for time to rest.  Help me do that more often.  Thank you for meeting me where I'm at.  You are so patient.  Help me go after you more intentionally.  Holy Spirit, I want more of you.  I love you.  Make today sacred with your presence, and grow your fruit in me today, especially joy.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.