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.