Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Holy Spirit

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
John 14:16‭-‬17 NIV

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  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 14:26‭-‬27 NIV

"When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.  And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
John 15:26‭-‬27 NIV

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:  about sin, because people do not believe in me;  about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer;  and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.   "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.  But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.  All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you."
John 16:7‭-‬15 NIV

Our friend, counselor, and advocate guides is always with us.  He is our best friend who never leaves our side and is always empowering, teaching, and encouraging us to abide in fellowship with our Father and Christ and to walk the path of righteousness.  He shares with us what the Father shares with Christ, even future events.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit.  I want to grow in my relationship with you and Jesus by growing in my friendship with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me through the Holy Spirit.  Holy Spirit, I am your instrument; tune me and play me like a guitar.  I want to be near you and allow you to flow through me today.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Best Friend

I listened to Hillsong's Behold song (https://youtu.be/BDNrouqSGjY) several times this evening, and I think I had a significant theological epiphany.  Over the past several years, I have grown in my perspective of relationship with the Holy Trinity, especially the Father as our Daddy, and Jesus as our Brother.  But I have struggled with how to relate to the Holy Spirit.  Even referring to this person as "THE Holy Spirit" reinforces His nebulous and enigmatic identity. 

But I think I finally understand a very simple relational identity that He is our BEST FRIEND.  The Holy Spirit is the best friend that any of us could ever have.  The kind of friend who is closer than a brother. (Or in this case, as close as a Brother.) He knows us inside and out.  Every day is an adventure together, and we can talk to Him about anything. 

So we relate to the Holy Trinity through three fundamental identities:  Father, Brother, and Best Friend.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the tremendous love that you have lavished on us.  Jesus, thank you for being my Brother who took my punishment.  I submit to your leadership.  Holy Spirit, thank you for being my best friend.  I want to grow in my friendship with you.  Let's make every day an adventure together!   I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Monday, May 22, 2017


At the end of the sermon yesterday, Greg led us in a brief tutorial of Lectio Divino ("divine reading").  He read the passage about the Roman officer who asked Jesus to heal his servant.  The first time Greg read it, he asked us to listen for one word or concept that jumped out at us.  And then he read it a second and third time, asking us to consider personal application.  I was really impressed by the word "authority" and the faith that the officer demonstrated in the context of authority.  At the end, Greg asked us to share what we heard from the Lord with someone else, so I walked over to Randy and Cindy, and they had heard the SAME THING!  

I think the Lord is speaking to us about what discipleship means in our Paseo context.  We want to empower Paseoans in their identity as sons and daughters of God, deputies of Christ's authority, and we can operate in faith and healing just like Jesus.

Heavenly Father, thank you for speaking to us.  Thank you for your presence and love.  Please guide us and give us specific instructions about how to make disciples in our context.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Talents and minas

Jesus told several similar parables about turning a profit on God's investment in you.  In one parable (Luke 19:11-27), a king gave ten servants ten Mina's, and a mina was worth approximately three months wages.  So, assuming a modern salary of $60k/yr, and assuming one mina per servant, each servant received approximately $15k.  

What would I do with $15k?  I might be tempted to think that $15k is not that much to invest.  After all, "it takes money to make money", right?  The easiest thing to do would be to put it in the bank to earn interest, which is currently near nothing.  Maybe you put it in a CD?  When is this king going to return and want his money back?

But that perspective is wrong.  Jesus tells us that the king rewarded those who multiplied his investment ( e.g., 1000% and 500% increase).  It would take a very long time to get that return from a savings account, so I assume that these servants took some serious RISK in their investments to gain such a good return.

It is tempting for me to think that I don't have that much to invest.  If I was artistic or athletic, then I could make more of an impact for the Kingdom.  But that perspective is wrong.  I need to demonstrate faith by being risky with what God has given me to invest.

In the parable of talents (Matt 25:14-30), the master gave five talents, three talents, and one talent, in proportion to their ability.  Per the table in the appendix of my Bible, a talent was worth 60 minas, or 15 years worth of salary.  Assuming $60k/yr, we are looking at $4.5M, $2.7M, and $0.9M, respectively.  Can you believe that someone would bury a million bucks?  But don't we all do likewise when we marginalize our own unique personality, skills, resources, and purpose?

Yesterday, Neill preached on the parable of the mustard seed (Matt 13:31-32) about sowing seeds of faith, and he said repeatedly, "small seeds can become big things."  In both the parable of the talents and the parable of the minas, sowing and reaping are mentioned.

Heavenly Father, thank you for investing in me and giving me a chance to invest in your Kingdom.  Lord, may I be faithful to sow seeds of faith all around me.  I want to live risky for a 1000% profit. It is you who gives the increase.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


I have had several conversations with Brothers this past week that have helped me realize that I am still struggling with anxiety.  Most, if not all, of my anxiety is work-related.  But I don't want to be anxious any more.

After being awarded tenure, I guess I assumed that my anxiousness about work would dissipate, but I realized this weekend that it hasn't.  I realized that most mornings, within a few minutes of waking up I have that intense nervousness in my gut.  I guess it has become normal for me over the past several years, so that I haven't noticed it.  But now I am aware of it.

I did some introspection, and I think my anxiousness is an artifact of something deeper.  I think it stems from either pride of wanting to be recognized or fear of being noticed as less-than.  And my anxiety symptoms are amplified around deliverables, so this week of final exams, research proposals, journal papers, and commencement is pretty intense.  But even in an intense week, I want to work diligently for the Lord and not for men.  I want to be motivated to do a good job because of my love for the Father and the joy of joining Him in his work.

As I was discussing this with Brandi yesterday morning, she told me that when she has struggled with anxiety, she realized that her anxiety stemmed from not believing that God was good and that He was going to take care of her.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your peace.  Please deliver me from anxiety, pride, and fear.  Jesus, I want to live in the abundance of your life.  Holy Spirit, please show me what is my wrong belief that I need to repent from and embrace the truth.  I want healing from this.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Double dose

Luke 10:33‭-‬34 NIV
But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.

I am impressed with the pouring of oil and wine, both of which are symbolic of the Holy Spirit.  Over the past several years, I have grown in appreciation of Jesus's healing ministry, which I now believe should be an essential part of every disciple's normal lifestyle.  It is encouraging to me to see the Holy Spirit so involved in healing ministry. So, oil and wine could represent a double dose of the Holy Spirit, or it could be a double dose of Jesus and the Spirit.  But the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are united in their work, so really it is a triple dose.

The good Samaritan anointed the man's wounds with oil and wine, both of which are typically used as food.  And not staples for survival, but rather for enjoyment and celebration.  The Holy Spirit is so intimately involved in our lives, from healing to celebration.

I think many people in this world have serious emotional wounds, some more obvious than others.  I feel encouraged to be more bold in allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through me to minister healing to people who I come across in daily life.

(Side note: Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit, and the Scripture records Elisha having twice as many miracles.)

Heavenly Father, thank you for goodness expressed through healing.  Jesus, thank you for your example of healing ministry. Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence and power to use me for healing people.  May I be a good Samaritan, giving people a double dose of your goodness.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus.

Monday, May 1, 2017

transformational life change requires a change of identity

Randy preached on the parable of the four soil types, and his thesis was that the fundamental element required to become fertile soil is a change of identity.  If you want to become a healthy person, you have to see yourself as a healthy person.  Otherwise, behavioral changes will not be long-lasting because they are inconsistent with your personal identity of your self.  

If you want to be spiritually fertile, then you have to fundamentally see yourself as a disciple of Jesus.  That must be your overarching self-identity.

I was convicted of two things.  First, I feel like when people ask how I am doing, I usually describe how busy I am, and somewhat overwhelmed.  I need to change my identity of myself to not be a slave to being busy and over-committed.  I want to take on an identity of having a full life. (Jesus obviously worked hard, but He did what He saw the Father doing.)  Second, I typically am too quick to anger with my boys.  I need to change my identity of myself to not make assumptions or rush to conclusions with my boys.  I want to take on an identity of being a patient father.  

Shaun reiterated during communion, that "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor. 5:21 NIV)

Heavenly Father, thank you for your incredible gift of identity change.  You changed Christ's identity to be sin so that our identity could be righteousness.  By your grace, I will live the fruit of the Spirit, especially self-control and patience. Holy Spirit, please remind me of these often. I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus.