Friday, January 29, 2016

spiritual fathering

This first month in the Global Legacy Leadership Development Program, we have focused on God's ordained structure of the Kingdom of Heaven, and that government is family.  One of the primary ways that we can expand God's Kingdom on earth is by having a good relationship with our Heavenly Father.  Fundamentally, we must recognize that God is good, and we can trust Him.  He is like the father in the story of the prodigal son: 

Luke 15:20 So [the son] got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22 But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

Our Heavenly Father watches for you and runs to meet you. He restores your honor and glory by putting Christ's robe of righteousness over you. He restores your sonship authority by filling you and anointing you with the Holy Spirit. He puts sandals on your feet, which I assume were not bottom-of-the-line sandals, but probably nice, and therefore representing His desire to bless you with good things.  And He celebrates your return with the whole family.

Having a good relationship with our Heavenly Father is essential to us operating as fully empowered sons.  It also helps us have good relationships with other Brothers in Christ who serve as spiritual fathers by helping us mature in our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

I have had a number of people who have served as spiritual fathers to me, but recently, I have been especially appreciative of the spiritual fathering of my dad and my father-in-law.

Growing up, my dad told me that he wanted to have a good relationship with me.  He was intentional about asking me what I was thinking. And every morning before he went to work or before I went to school, my dad hugged me and told me that he loved me and that he was proud of me.  And he would frequently look me in the eye and ask, "Do you know that I love you?  Do you know that I am proud of you?"  He made sure that I knew his love.  When I was in primary or elementary school, I remember my dad telling me that he wanted to teach me everything he had learned before I graduated high school so that I could build on what he learned and I could go farther than he did.  I believe that these are the essence of spiritual fathering.  Our Heavenly Father wants to have a good relationship with us, and He wants to empower us to do great things (which He has prepared in advance for us to do).  I also remember how much my dad talked about evangelism and missions, and I think my dad demonstrated God's heart for people to know Him and have a relationship with Him.  I am so thankful for my earthly father being a spiritual father to me by emulating the Heavenly Father.

When I was in high school, my father-in-law led a weekly prayer and praise time for our small town on Saturday evenings.  We rotated where we met among several different congregations, and we sang praise songs and prayed for God to work in each of our congregations.  I think this experience was very helpful for me to see a big-picture of the Kingdom of God and appreciate Brotherhood in Christ across denominational boundaries.  I am thankful for my father-in-law being a spiritual father to me by helping me see a holistic Kingdom of Christ-followers.

I am encouraged to be intentional about being a spiritual father to my children.  I want to pay-it-forward by taking the spiritual foundation that I received and compound it to my children.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your kindness and love.  You are a good father.  Thank you for the examples of you that I have seen in my dad and father-in-law.  I want to be a good father to my children.  Please help me show them an accurate picture of you.  Please help me shepherd them into a relationship with you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

dreams and promotion

Gen 40-41

Joseph faithfully carried out his responsibilities with excellence, even in the dungeon of a prison, even though he was sold into slavery and then falsely accused and sent to prison.  And God promoted Joseph from prisoner to CEO of the most powerful country in the world in the amount of time that it took him to shave and change his clothes.

I need to stop worrying so much about my circumstances or blaming other people for limitations in my work.  I need to do what I believe God is leading me to do, and do it with excellence.  I need to trust God for promotion in His timing, not mine.

Also, I am noticing a theme of God speaking to Joseph and Pharaoh through dreams.  God communicated the same concept through multiple dreams, and God interprets the dreams. 

Gen 41:38 So Pharaoh asked them, "Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?"

It is not explicitly clear whether or not God told Joseph what to do in response to Pharaoh's dreams or if Joseph applied his God-given wisdom to the situation, but either way, God used Joseph to save many people from starvation.  I want to pay more attention to my dreams and trust God to use me to help people.  I want to be known as one in whom is the Spirit of God.

Heavenly Father, thank you for speaking to us.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence and activity in my life.  Lord Jesus, I want to live today to expand your Kingdom.  Please help me listen to you and obey.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

presence and blessing of the LORD

Gen. 39:2 The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household,and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.  ... 20 Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined.  But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

From the outside looking in, Joseph's situation went from bad to worse. Though God had given him a vision of leadership, he was sold into slavery, and then he was falsely accused and sent to prison.  In spite of two successive demotions, God was promoting him internally and developing Joseph's character and leadership capacity.

Joseph's experience is always a reminder to me to focus on the presence and blessing of the Lord, not on external circumstances.  Some would argue that this is easy for me to say at this point in my life since I have a wonderful family and a great job, but I think it is just as important to focus on the presence of the Lord and our reliance on Him in seasons of plenty.

Heavenly Father, thank you for providing for me and taking care of me.  I do believe that you have given me a missional-vocational calling, and I trust that you are currently developing character and leadership capacity in me in this season.  I trust that you will give me promotion according to your timing.  Lord Jesus, may I faithfully focus on abiding in you and not worrying about how to climb the ladder.  Holy Spirit, teach me how to grow in what you have put in my charge.  May I be a humble man of excellence, and may others see your anointing on my life, for your glory.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Spiritual inheritance and increase

Gen 32:9 Then Jacob prayed, "O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me, 'Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,' 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. 11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. 12 But you have said, 'I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.'"

Jacob spent 20 years hiding from his brother, and during that time, God showed grace to Jacob and blessed him with increase.  God didn't bless Jacob because of Jacob's righteousness; Jacob was pretty much a scoundrel.  But God revealed Himself to Jacob as Jacob was fleeing, and God revealed Himself to Jacob when He told him to return to his homeland.

I believe that God's promises to Jacob extend to us who are in Christ, because all of God's promises are fulfilled through Christ.  I want to believe God for spiritual inheritance and blessings of increase.

I think about where I was 15 years ago.  I was in college, with some sense of professional interest, but still trying to figure out who I am.  God blessed me with a wife, professional training, children, and five years as a professor.  I am so thankful for my family and vocation, and I am believing God to bless me with spiritual increase.  I want to focus on being a spiritual father to my children, and I want to be a spiritual father to spiritual children - I want to be intentional about making disciples of all nations.  And I am believing God to bless me with increase in my vocation - not physical/material wealth - but the blessing of doing good works which God has prepared in advance for me to do.

Heavenly Father, I praise you for your goodness.  You are a good, good Father, and I trust your goodness.  Thank you for your blessings in my life.  I am believing you for more.  Please increase my spiritual inheritance.  I want to be part of increasing your family to be as countless as sand on the seashore.  Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all of God's promises, and I am in you.  Holy Spirit, please anoint me with your authority and power, and help me listen to your voice today.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Last night, we discussed this passage:

Luke 11:9 "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If 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 have been wrestling with this concept of baptism of the Holy Spirit, and last week, I think I finally accepted John the Baptist's prophecy of Jesus and Jesus's own promises:

Luke 3:16 John answered them all, "I baptize you [in] 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 [in] the Holy Spirit and fire.
Acts 1:4 On one occasion, while [Jesus] was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized [in] water, but in a few days you will be baptized [in] the Holy Spirit." ... 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

I felt like this past week, I came to the realization that I believe our Heavenly Father is good, and He wants to give us good gifts when we ask Him, and the best gift is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Father sent the Son, and the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit.  I do believe that I received the Holy Spirit at the moment that I put my faith in Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation, but I realized that I wanted to receive this gift of baptism and anointing from Him.  So, last night, at the end of our discussion, I asked our homegroup to pray for me to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

I sat in the middle of the floor, and as they laid hands on me and prayed, I thought that I sensed a spiritual filling of some kind, like water in a pail. At one point in the prayer time, Ryan said that God had spoken to me, but I had not "heard" anything, so I interpreted that to mean that the sense of filling was what God had revealed to me.  So I believed that it was really happening, and I focused on opening my spirit and receiving it. I sensed a spiritual filling with a dense and viscous fluid (like molasses).  It felt like when you are thirsty and you are drinking water and you can feel the water going down to your stomach. Later in the prayer time, I sensed an outward anointing with a thick substance, and I imagined it like molasses slowly flowing over my head and down my arms and covering my hands, so that if I touched someone else, I would smear it on them.  I sense that this was in response to Steve specifically praying for anointing over my hands for a gift of healing.

As I sat there on the floor after the prayer time, I felt like the Holy Spirit was continuing to slowly pour into me, and I wanted to continue receiving, so I just sat there.  I felt Tom's hand on my shoulder for a few minutes, and I could tell that he was also experiencing the power of the Spirit.  I could feel a weightiness of filling and anointing.  I felt like I weighed twice as much as I do, like I had been filled with metal. 

As the group was eating dessert, Ryan helped me up from sitting on the floor, and I sat down on the couch.  I still felt such a weightiness, and I felt like my spirit had been filled with a dense fluid.  Tom had obviously been moved by the Spirit, and he told me that he saw a vision of me as a vessel of God, a vessel redeemed and restored by God, and being slowly filled with a thick fluid. No rush, no hurry, just steady filling. Tom's word was such an encouraging explanation and confirmation of what I had been sensing in my spirit!

I believe that this was a significant spiritual event in my life, and I look forward to seeing the Lord demonstrate more of His authority and power in my life to accomplish His Isaiah 61 ministry.

May we continue to seek to be active sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, and may we celebrate His goodness.

Heavenly Father, I love you, and I believe that you are a good, good Father.  I receive your Holy Spirit with thankfulness and joy, and I believe that you will continue to mature me and use me to establish your Kingdom on earth.  Holy Spirit, I submit to your leadership.  Teach me to hear your voice and walk in obedience.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the man who kept in perfect step with the Holy Spirit.

Monday, January 18, 2016

missional calling

Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

When Brandi and I were still in Austin, our church had a Global Impact Celebration every two years, and in combination with the Perspectives course.  We responded in submission and "put our yes on the table", and two years later, we felt the Lord calling us to a life-commitment to global missions  At the time, we didn't feel any specificity, but we did feel like God made it explicitly clear that we were supposed to move to El Paso.

A couple of years ago (at our first Taste Retreat in May of 2014), Robin prophesied over us that we had a missional call on our lives, a call for our whole family.  This was really helpful for reminding me of the calling that we received in Austin.  He told us that he felt like the Lord was telling him that in a few years, the Lord would transition us to a new stage of ministry. 

Recently, I have been sensing a stirring in me to be more focused on helping people receive clean water and Living Water.  

Heavenly Father, thank you for calling us to serve you.  Lord Jesus, thank you for modeling sentness.  Holy Spirit, thank you for empowering us to go and share our story of how God has redeemed us.  Please help us listen to you, and give us faith to walk in obedience to your calling.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


Brandi and I are reading What on Earth is Glory? by Paul Manwaring, and the context that Manwaring provides for the discussion of glory in the outset of the book are these two passages:

Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."
Hab. 2:14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
     as the waters cover the sea.

First, God's glory is already embedded and on display throughout creation (Isaiah 6:3, Rom. 1:20).  Second, there is a goal towards the knowledge of the glory of the Lord (Hab. 2:14).

I have thought before about explaining or defining glory, and what I came up with was "radiance of magnificence or lordship". Manwaring provides a definition of glory that is more operational than my definition:

God's glory is the result of God expressing Himself.  In other words, everything He has made and does, and the attributes, nature, and power behind those actions, are His glory.

Glory is the eternal value that someone or something has because it reveals, points to, and reflects the attributes, nature, and power of God. 

It is encouraging to me to think about a general purpose of our lives to experience and express God, which is to experience and express His glory.

Heavenly Father, you are glorious, and your glory is on display throughout the universe.  You have made us in your likeness, and we are both image bearers to reflect your glory and vessels to dispense your presence.  I want to grow in revealing your glory to other people around me.  I want to be a more effective glory magnifier and transmitter. Holy Spirit, please grow me and use me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the revelation of God in humanity.

Friday, January 15, 2016

chump "friends"

Job had some lame friends.  Sure, they sat with him in mourning for a while, but then what they said was incorrect and toxic.  Basically, they each assured Job that he had sinned and that God was punishing him.  Then, when Job tried to defend himself, they basically called him a liar and implied that he was going to get it even worse for trying to defend himself.  

But Elihu tops it off.  In previous blogs on Elihu's address and God's reply (eight years ago), I interpreted Job's statements as whining, and Elihu's address as somewhat on the mark. This morning, I don't think I agree with either of these interpretations.  I think if I was in Job's situation and knew that I had been righteous, then I would be asking God "Why?", also.  And with respect to Elihu, somehow I missed this statement that Elihu made about himself:

Be assured that my words are not false; one who has perfect knowledge is with you. (Job 36:4)

Wow.  I don't know if you can be any more audacious or self-righteous.  May I never be so arrogant.

May I never be such a chump "friend".

Heavenly Father, thank you for the account of Job, which shows us that we don't see the big picture, but you do.  Lord, please help me trust you, even when I don't understand.  And please, may I never act like I understand it all.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:17 NIV

I have thought of "the word of God" in this verse to mean "the Bible".  However, the Greek word used here is "ῥῆμα" (rhema, spoken word), not "λόγος" (logos, reasoning expressed in words).  My interpretation is that a spoken word from God is our offensive weapon in spiritual battle.  It leads me to more diligently learn to hear His voice.

Heavenly Father, I want to know your voice.  I want to hear what you are saying. I want to speak what I hear the Father saying, like Jesus did.  Please give me more rhemas.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Resurrection power

This morning, I had the privilege I preaching from John 11 on Jesus being the Resurrection and the Life.  The main points that the Lord impressed on me were:
- It takes time in conversation with the Lord to develop a close relationship with Him.
- No matter how close you are in your relationship with Him, He wants to take you to a higher level with Him.  Martha and Mary believes that Jesus was a healer, but Jesus wanted them to know Him as the Resurrection and the Life.
- Sometimes Jesus allows us to experience difficult situations because He wants to glorify Himself.
- Don't let the stench of death prevent you from experiencing the Resurrection power of Christ.

It was so encouraging to see many people come forward for prayer, and many for heavy issues.  I believe the the Lord is launching some great redemptive transformations in our congregation.  I am praying for chain reactions.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me a message to share, and thank you for loving among us this morning.  I love you, and I can't wait to see what you will do next.  I pray in the name of Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

encouragement for using my spiritual gifts

I have the opportunity to preach this Sunday.  First time in a while.  I let myself get too busy with work.

I am preaching about Jesus being the Resurrection and the Life.  I shared with our homegroup on Tuesday night that I feel like the Lord wants to do something powerful through this message, and they laid hands on me and prayed for me.  This was very encouraging.

Yesterday morning, I talked through the main points over the phone with my dad, and the Lord gave me some insights while we were discussing.  It was a collaborative creation of the message, and it was very encouraging.

Fundamentally, I believe that I am responsible to share the message that the Lord has given me, and I need to trust that He is going to use that message to advance His Kingdom.

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me this opportunity, and thank you for giving me encouragement.  Lord Jesus, I want to be a faithful herald of your Gospel and Kingdom.  Holy Spirit, empower me to preach with boldness in your love and power.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

demonstrate that you are a disciple of Jesus by the way that you treat your children

I have been convicted recently that it should be evident to my children (and anyone observing my interactions with my children) that I am a disciple of Jesus.

It is easy for me to get frustrated when I tell one of my sons several times to do something before he finally does it.  And it is frustrating when one of my sons hurts another.  But I have to control my anger and not raise my voice at them or rush to discipline them.  I need the fruit of the Spirit, especially patience.

Heavenly Father, I want to love my children the way that you love them.  I want them to see you in me.  Lord Jesus, I want other people to know that I am your follower by the way that I care for my children.  Holy Spirit, please help me set my mind on you, not on my flesh.  Please produce your fruit in me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016 Resolutions

These are similar to my resolution a from last year:
- daily read through the chronological Bible; take time to soak it in and pray through it, and talk to other people about it
- daily spend quality time with my wife and sons; meaningful time (look them in the eyes, minimize electronics)
- daily mentor/teach my sons
- daily physical exercise
- daily study Spanish
- daily eat healthy food (low cholesterol) and stay hydrated
- daily rest, with sufficient sleep
- daily work on things that are important, not being a slave to the urgent
- weekly discipleship; pouring in and pouring out
- develop regular spiritual teaching
- regularly take my family on short trips

Heavenly Father, I want to be a man of God.  I want to grow in spiritual maturity, operating as an ambassador of Christ.  Lord Jesus, I want to walk like you and talk like you.  Holy Spirit, I want to be annointed by you.  Please grow your fruit in me this year. I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.