Sunday, December 31, 2006

A view to the future

I guess its only fitting to be looking to the future a few minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve. I was doing some research a little earlier, and ran across this passage of scripture.

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him. (Heb. 9:27-28)

This is reality. This is life in the big picture. Eternity. The life we live in this age is so short. You know how they make fun of small towns sometimes? "Yep... this town is so small, if you blink your eyes you might just miss it." Our life on earth is like that. If you blink your eyes... you just might miss it. Or, if you get caught up in the pursuit of the concerns and pleasures of this present dark world, you might not be alert to the gifts and callings of God in you for His kingdom. You just might miss out on the eternal rewards that were in God's heart for you.

"Christ... will appear a second time... to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him."

Living with eternity in mind. Living with our hearts set on seeing Him some day. "Eagerly waiting." Are we eagerly waiting for Him? Do we long for His return? Do we recognize that we live on a battlefield, that the majority of those around us are oblivious to Him, under the authority of the kingdom of darkness, and destined to be separated from God forever? Do we live each day as "steward of the mysteries of God"? Or are we simply consumed in the perpetual pursuit of more, bigger, and better? God has more, bigger, and better for us, but its not necessarily cars, and houses, and toys. He wants to put His love in our hearts in a way that causes us to value the things that He values. Jesus suffered "for the joy set before Him". He wants to reveal that joy to us, and allow us to share it in our heart. He wants to give us the grace to give of ourselves in the same way that He did. He wants to live His life in us and through us, but He did a really crazy thing. He left the final decision to us. Oh... He is drawing us to Himself every day. His Spirit is constantly working to persuade us to see things His way. But in the end, He wants us to freely choose to lock arms with Him in His loving purposes.

Its up to you and me. We can't do it in our own strength, but when we say "Yes" in our hearts, He will give us the grace to go forward. He is faithful.

Lord, give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and the heart to follow.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I read an old story this morning. We usually call it "the prodigal son". Its pretty simple, and yet loaded with meaning. The son asks for his inheritance early, the father gives it to him, the son blows it all living the party life, and finally finds himself flat broke, and living like a bum. Pretty sad story so far. Of course, some people wouldn't call it sad. They would use words like pathetic. They would say the son was a loser, and only reaping what he had sown. He had gotten what he deserved. That would be sort of the "conservative" point of view you might hear if you listen much to talk radio. There is some truth in that perspective. Not much mercy, though. The boy got what he deserved. Most of us don't usually want to get what we deserve. We do, however, like to point it out when others do. Annnnnnyway... the son really had made a mess of his life. And then the story starts to take an amazing turn.

"Then he came to his senses and ... got up and went to his father. While he was still far away, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, threw his arms around him, and kissed him affectionately."

While he was still far away, his father saw him... Its as though the Father was always watching the horizon, hoping to see His son's form off in the distance. When we are struggling with sin, He is always watching. But He is not looking for the perfect opportunity to swing the hammer of heaven and wipe us out. He is watching to see when our heart will turn back to Him.

The Father was "filled with compassion". He could easily have judged his son, and would have been right in his judgment...but He didn't. He doesn't. No matter how foolishly we have wasted our inheritance, His heart is always ready to show compassion if we return to Him.

He ran to his son... He didn't just wait for the son to finally make his way to Him. When he saw His son returning, He ran to him.

He embraced him and "kissed him affectionately". The son's foolishness had done nothing to diminish the passions of his Father's heart. That is amazing. Its not the way our human relationships typically work. Our love is usually much more conditional. "Do unto others as they have done unto you" is usually the way things happen. God's love for us is entirely different. It is the kind of love that sent Jesus to earth, to die on a cross. Its the kind of love that is always ready to take us back when we blow it. All we have to do is "come to our senses" and return to our Father. When we come to Him with a repentant heart, He is always ready to embrace us, and welcome us back to the safety and comfort of His house.

Amazing love.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

He is good

I had breakfast with a bunch of guys this morning. Actually, we do it almost every Saturday. I look forward to this every week. It not an official "meeting". We just enjoy being together. It strengthens me. Being together with other guys who are trying to follow Jesus, and facing the same battles I face every day myself... it just strengthens my heart. We need each other. The life of a follower of Jesus was never meant to be solitary. The kingdom of God, by its very nature, is meant to be experienced by individuals sharing their lives together. We need to be able to stand alone with Him, but that is not supposed to be the norm. We can love God alone on a mountaintop, but we cant really love our neighbor that way. Oh, we can pray for them, but that is just the beginning. A central part of His purpose in creation was that we would share in His goodness and love together. "Where two or three are gathered... He is there." I am so thankful for that reality.

He is good...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


A short ramble of encouragement.

His Word is a light in the darkness.

Luk 21:5 And while some were speaking of the temple,
how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he
said, "As for these things that you see, the days
will come when there will not be left here one stone
upon another that will not be thrown down." And they
asked him, "Teacher, when will these things be, and what
will be the sign when these things are about to take place?"
And he said, "See that you are not led astray...

Luk 21:16 You will be delivered up even by parents
and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of
you they will put to death. You will be hated by all
for my name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish.

"some of you they will put to death...But not a hair
of your head will perish."

wow... the eternal perspective at its best...

As I was looking at Luke 21 a few minutes ago, my
heart was challenged by this next verse.

Luk 21:28 Now when these things begin to take place,
straighten up and raise your heads, because your
redemption is drawing near."

The context is one of final judgement and tribulation.
In the midst of that, Jesus tells us to lift our
heads, and be looking for Him. When this world is
shaken to its very foundations, our hope is drawing

That is not a natural way to think.

I want a heart that cries, "Come Lord!"

I want that heart that Paul spoke of, that would
rather go be with Him, but will stay here for the
sake of serving His purpose on the earth.

I want a heart that is free from loving this world.

Jam 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before
God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows
in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained
from the world.

Jam 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that
friendship with the world is enmity with God?
Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world
makes himself an enemy of God.

1Jo 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the
world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the
Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--
the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes
and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but
is from the world. And the world is passing away along
with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides

Help Lord.

I know He will.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Well... how clever. A post about thankfulness on Thanksgiving! I'd bet I am the only one doing that today. But I just cant help it. I am freshly reminded this morning of how much I have to be thankful for. No... its not a list of all the stuff I have. And no, its not my family, and our good health. Its not my business, or that I live in the most prosperous nation in the history of the world. Of course I am thankful for all those things. Deeply thankful, although I often forget just how blessed I am. No, today I am thinking of the love of God. I felt impressed to read from Romans 4 this morning.

Rom 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

"Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin."

If someone stumbles across this who is not a follower of Jesus, that first part about Abraham will be gobbledygook. In fact, the last part about our blessedness wont mean much either. It might even offend them. "Lawless deeds? How dare you! Who are you to judge me???" I don't judge. Its not my job, and I am ill-equipped to do so. God judges the heart, and only he can see into it. But reality is this, we have all sinned. And we know it. We try our best to rid ourselves of the guilt. We deny the existence of God. We trace our ancestry back billions of years to our great great Uncle Amoeba. We try our best to philosophize away our inner sense of right and wrong. But at the end of the day, when we lay on our beds, we know. He is there. Watching. Waiting. Calling. "Come to Me." God called to Abraham and He called him His friend. He wants to do the same with each of us. Even greater than that, He calls us to be His sons and daughters.

He whispers, "Look around you." We see the beauty of the world we live in. The vastness, and yet the order. This is no accident. We look within. We ask questions. Why? There are so many whys. The questions tell me that there are answers. The questions tell me there is One who has those answers. The beauty around me tells me He is good. Sure, there is also ugliness and brokeness. War, poverty, hatred. The inevitable results of the creature telling the Creator to "take a hike". "What about sickness and disease?" I don't have a definitive answer for the questioning mind. I have answers that satisfy me, but they don't necessarily work for the unbelieving. Sometimes they are not very helpful for the believer either. I do know that evil is the exception, and not the rule. Mostly, I am in awe of the beauty and order. I know that the brokeness all goes back to mankind's rebellion against the wisdom of God. I know that when its all said and done, we will understand. We will see things through His eyes. We will know perfect peace. We will be embraced in perfect Love. We will find our Resting Place.

For now, I am in grateful awe of the mercy and kindness of God. Sin is unspeakably horrible and evil. It has brought thousands of years of suffering and darkness to mankind, and all of creation. It has brought incomprehensible pain to the heart of God. And yet... He loves us. He made a way to justly forgive our rebellion. He made a way to reconcile us back to Himself. We lived as His enemies, and He pursued us anyway. He laid down His life for us. And then He drew us to Himself, persuaded us to turn from our selfishness, to put our trust in Him, and to walk with Him as His children and friends.

I am thankful this morning. Far beyond these weak words...

Friday, October 27, 2006

First love

2Cor 5:6-11 ...we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.

The fear of the Lord. I can't escape the idea lately. Its not about being afraid of God. Its about really seeing Who it is that we have encountered. I love that I can call Him "Abba". I love that I am encouraged to "come boldly before the throne of grace". It's unspeakably awesome that He calls me "friend". But He is still God. Infinite, uncreated Creator of the universe. And we are told that we will stand before that throne as a judgment seat. We are told that our works will be judged. How we live our lives each day matters... it really matters. There is a perversion of the gospel that is rampant in our land. It says that our works are of no consequence. "Its all under grace." No accountability. It relies on a few passages of scripture taken out of context, and ignores many clear passages that tell us that God is after reality in our lives. Grace provides forgiveness of sin, and the opportunity for restoration of relationship. But we must have a repentant heart. We must have a sincere desire to have that relationship restored. "Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord." He calls us to be set apart, holy, unto Him. Our life is no longer our own. Before we meet Him, we are independent beings, doing our own thing. After we are born again, we are sons and daughters of God, servants of the King. We submit ourselves to His loving leadership. Modern American christianity often presents salvation as receiving a "Do not go to hell" pass. We still get to live our selfish, pleasure-seeking, materialistic lives. But now we get to go to heaven when its over. Heck of a deal. I am not standing back in judgment on people who have believed that message. My heart is grieved that people are being sold a bill of goods. I bought it myself for a number of years. I heard the true gospel when I was young, and embraced it for about ten years. Then the cares of this world took root in my heart, and slowly I gave in to compromise and willful sin. It didn't happen overnight. It was a little bit at a time. Drifting away. I allowed my beliefs to subtly shift to justify the deception that was taking over. Outwardly I still did all the right things. Church, small groups, avoiding all the really big sins. But my heart was growing cold and hard. I wanted more stuff, more and bigger and better. I wanted security. I wanted to make enough money to prevent me from ever having to trust God. Saving is good, but that savings can become an idol. It can become that thing in which I put my trust. The list of idols in American culture is almost endless.

So now I find myself crying out to God to renew my heart. I want my first love. I want to serve Him in the way in which He deserves. Its His grace and mercy once again that I find that cry rising in my heart. I wouldn't even know I was becoming blind if He didn't open my eyes to see it. But how will I respond? When I hear Him calling to me, will I follow after Him? Or will I just think about, and maybe talk about it over coffee with friends? Will I rise up and seek Him with all my heart? Its the most important question in my life.

Help Lord...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The kindness of God

Rom 2:3-8 So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on those who practice these things and then do them yourself, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you think so little of the riches of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, not realizing that it is God's kindness that is leading you to repentance? But because of your stubborn and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will repay everyone according to what that person has done: eternal life to those who strive for glory, honor, and immortality by patiently doing good; but wrath and fury for those who in their selfish pride refuse to believe the truth and practice wickedness instead.

Its late, so I will leave this for your own meditation.

" you think so little of the riches of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, not realizing that it is God's kindness that is leading you to repentance?" Ouch. The implications of that question are enormous, especially to contemporary American christianity. Especially to my life. More and more, I realize that my spirit has been dulled by cares of this world, and the natural temptation to turn the grace of God into an excuse for sin.


Monday, October 23, 2006

a psalm we all should know

We all have those times when the darkness is overwhelming. I love the Psalms, because we see the honest and real interactions of a man with his God. David had dark and difficult times like the rest of us, and we can learn from him how to pray when we find ourselves there.

Psa 143

Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.
For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled.

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.

Answer me quickly, O LORD! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD! I have fled to you for refuge!

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!
For your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.

Thank you, Lord...

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Deu 13:1-4 "If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, 'Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, 'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.

So... the Lord allows false teachers in order to test us. And what is He looking for when watching our response to the test? He wants to see whether we love Him with all our heart and soul. And how does he know that about us? He looks to see whether we "fear Him and keep His commandments and obey His voice." "But that's Old Testament!" you say. "Legalism!" We have to remember what Paul wrote to Timothy when he was leading the church in Ephesus.

2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

When he wrote that, the New Testament didn't exist. He was talking about the Torah. He was thinking of the Law and the prophets. Now we understand that Paul wasn't talking about keeping the Law as a means of attaining salvation. He makes that abundantly clear in all of His writings. But he also understood the "Old Testament" as the Word of God. It was the place where we would learn the ways of God, and as disciples of Jesus that is one of our goals in life. We want to understand His ways, and walk in them. The purpose of grace is to restore us to fellowship with God, and if we are truly in loving relationship with Him, our heart's desire will be to bring joy to His heart by walking with Him in His ways.

2Co 5:9 ...we make it our aim to please him.

Lord, give me a heart to please you and bless you in all my ways.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Deu 12:28 Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.

Obedience. That is what Jesus calls us to. Not as an arrogant dictator, but as a loving father. When my children were young, I required complete obedience. When I said, "Don't play in the street," I wasn't out to deny them their rightful enjoyment of the superior pleasure of playing on asphalt rather than the grass in our yard. I was protecting them from danger they couldn't fully comprehend. Our life before God is like that. In his infinite wisdom and understanding, He knows what is best for us. His laws are not the unfair, restrictive rules of an almighty control freak. They are an expression of His love for us. Do we trust Him in that? Do we believe that everything He asks of us is His divine wisdom of what is best for us? Do we have faith in that? This kind of faith in His goodness and love will produce heartfelt and grateful obedience. Not the kind of obedience that is trying to get Him to like you. No, its the kind of obedience that flows out of confidence in His care over our lives. Its trusting that He is smarter than we are, and that if we obey Him, even when we don't really feel like it, things will "go well with you and your children after you forever." True faith will produce a life of restful obedience. It wont always be easy in the beginning, though. There will be those times when we really do think we know better than God what will make us happy and secure. There will be those times when everything in us cries out for some kind of pleasure that He has called us to say no to. There will be those times when we have to deny our own thoughts and desires, and simply trust Him by obeying His commands. When we do, He will always show Himself to be faithful and true. It may not be apparent in the first five minutes. It may take days or weeks or months, or sometimes even years for the truth to play itself out. But that's the life of faith. We have decided that He can be trusted, and therefore that obedience to His ways is always the right thing to do. Always.

Joh 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Lord, help me to walk in that kind of faith.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Deu 12:1-9 "These are the statutes and rules that you shall be careful to do in the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place. You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way. But you shall seek the place that the LORD your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there. There you shall go, and there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, your vow offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the LORD your God has blessed you. "You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes, for you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the LORD your God is giving you.

I know... thats a long passage. Its just hard to pull out one or two sentences. God, through Moses, called His people to be ruthless with idolatry. He called them to pursue Him and His ways with all their heart. He called them to the place of obedience, and to turn away from "everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes."

"For you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the Lord your God is giving you." Have we truly entered into that rest? Have we come into the inheritance He has prepared for us? We are called to rest from our own works, and to trust completely in "the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith". Jesus completed that work, and made a way for us to be reconciled back to God. But have we truly entered that rest? Have we torn down the altars, repented of our idolatry, and turned our hearts completely back to Him? "Repent and believe." Thats the message of Jesus, and Peter, and Paul. "He died so that we who live should no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose again on our behalf." No amount of good works will atone for our sins. He took care of that. He made a way to justly forgive our sins, and provide a way of restoring the broken relationship between God and the people He created. But its up to us to respond to the Holy Spirit's call to our heart. Grace doesn't give us the freedom to sin. It teaches us not to.

Tit 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Has the passion of our God created a passion in our hearts to tear down the altars of sin and idolatry, and enter into all that He has in His heart for us?

" thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Lord... have your way.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Following Him

Mat 16:24-27 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

Where is the fear of the Lord today? We ask people if they would like to go to heaven instead of hell, then pray a short, shallow prayer "accepting Jesus as their saviour", and then assure them that they now have a free pass into an eternity of bliss. Where exactly in the scriptures did we come up with this message?

Lord, have mercy. Open our eyes....

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I ran across an article on Yahoo the other day about the potential disappearance from the planet of the Mexican garter snake. Below is a copy of my input to the discussion on the article. I don't really have time for this sort of thing, but random stuff pushes my buttons sometimes.

OH NO!!!! What will we do without Mexican garter snakes??? You know, its funny. The same people who freak out every time "natural selection" eliminates a species are the ones who are convinced that it is absolutely unquestionable science that their great great great great grandfather is an amoeba. If there is no ultimate purpose in life, then why the panic when a snake disappears? In a billion years "evolution" will have produced several new species to replace it. And besides, if there is no grand purpose to existence, who cares anyway? And isn't man's existence and influence on the environment just part of that never-ending evolutionary process? Why does man have to build his entire existence around not interfering with the lifestyles of snakes and owls and wolves? If there is no God, why does it matter? We are all just meaningless accidents in the cosmos. What difference does it make if we turn the planet into a wasteland? Now please understand... these are not my true opinions. These are simply the logical questions that follow the embrace of evolution as the source of life and meaning.

Again this morning I read a "letter to the editor" in our local newspaper about how the "theory" of evolution is hardcore proven science, and I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. How can anyone possibly look around them, and think this is all an accident? I just don't understand it...

Lord, have mercy.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


1Th 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and
body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus
Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will
surely do it.

I was reading in 1 Thes. this morning, and when I got
to this verse it just stopped me in my tracks.
Vision, hope, questions. Paul believes that God's
purpose is to sanctify us completely. Our entire
being and life set aside for and to Him. Sounds like
there is more to this deal than heaven and hell. "And
may" your whole being be kept blameless at the coming
of our Lord. The fact that he uses the phrases "Now
may" and "And may" would seem to indicate that this
isnt a done deal. We are in a process... on a journey.
And its not over until we cross the finish line. "He
who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it."
Thats our hope. His faithfulness. If we will
persevere and keep our hearts open to Him, He will
"complete the work He has begun in us."

Gal 1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our
sins to deliver us from the present evil age,
according to the will of our God and Father,

2Ti 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed
and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him
be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, July 31, 2006

The priority of love

I recently read a post on another blog about some online sparring between two other bloggers about speaking in tongues. So this post is a blog about a blog about some other blogs. Hmmm... Too much time on our hands?

Anyway... I replied to the guy that I read, and thought I would include it here.


I enjoyed your thoughts on tongues. Good stuff. I
also looked at the other blogs you mentioned. I have read both
before, but I can only take so much. I think most of
what is out there in the blogosphere grieves the heart
of God. I am not judging the individuals. In fact, I
would lean toward believing the best regarding their
intentions. But, I cant believe we waste valuable
time and bandwidth arguing about tongues. And, as you
well know, its not just tongues. Name your pet
theological position. Somebody out there will be
ready to fight you about it. We will fight to the
death to prove we are right, and destroy our brother
along the way. All the while, inner city children are
growing up in Kansas City and Chicago and Mobile
without any positive parental influence in their
lives. One day they will join a gang to find a sense
of belonging. They will probably have to do some sort
of serious crime to attain full membership. "Wow....
that's really horrible. I suppose I should do
something. But I am really sort of busy. I have this
blog, you see. And I have to make sure that everyone
in the world knows that speaking in tongues is of the
devil" ... or that its not.

Outside of the church, many see us as irrelevant. I can't imagine why.

In I Corinthians 13, Paul reminds us of our priorities.

1Co 13:8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. I believe he is talking about perfect love.

Lord, help us stop nit-picking each other, so we can show the world your perfect love.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

where do I begin?

Its been a while. These are intense times. The world is in turmoil. The war in Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Hezbollah. Spiritually, it seems that everyone I know is being dealt with in deep, penetrating ways. The Lord seems to be going for our hearts in ways that are more challenging than I can remember for a long time. Issues we have "put up with" for a long time are being exposed and called to account. Its not a time for religious games. This is a time for reality with God. We must let the Holy Spirit have His way with us. He wants to set our hearts free to serve our Father in love, and walk with Him in integrity. No more "pet sins" we coddle and hang on to.

No... I am not talking about some heavy-handed legal religion.

Just... reality. Honesty. Surrender to Jesus. Loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Giving Him "the reward of His suffering."

Lord, grant us a spirit of humility and repentance. You are worthy that we would live lives where, "it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." Show me how to let you live more fully in and through me.

You are worthy.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Standing before Him

Being faithful is the cry of our heart. I have been encouraged lately by the idea of seeing the continuity of life. We don't "live" here on earth, and then "die" and go play a harp on a cloud. Eternal life has already begun. We walk with Him in His purposes by faith, and we will one day experience that in a clearer, fuller, deeper way. And we live in the hope and expectation of His return. How did He teach us to pray? "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven." The heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11 are said to have been looking for a better country. The wise virgins kept oil in their lamps. The wise stewards were able to give a return on the talents they had been entrusted with. How will we invest our time and money today? In temporal things that will someday burn in the fires of judgment... wood, hay, and stubble? Or are we living with eternity in mind, spending our time and money in a way that will bring a harvest of gold, silver, and precious jewels? I don't want to stand before the Lord with only ashes as my offering of gratitude, the fruit of my earthly life. I want to hear one thing when I stand before Him... "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master."

Just a short ramble....

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Paul on grace

A collection of Paul's thoughts...

For what does the Scripture say? "ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS."...Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. …What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. …Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death… "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."…It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. …You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? … For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." … But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh... For... to live is Christ and to die is gain… Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, … whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, …forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. … our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;… the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

We forget

I was reading a book online this morning, and the author said something that hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. We forget who we are. Believers, I mean. Followers of Jesus. Those who have been redeemed by the blood that was spilled when He suffered and died on the cross. We forget who we are. And when we do, we live very ordinary lives. We follow the spirit of the world, and the lusts of the flesh and mind as though we had not been brought into the kingdom of heaven. We forget that we are now called sons and daughters of God.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.

Think about that. The Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe has called you his child. You were separated from Him by your selfishness and rebellion, and He made a way to righteously forgive you, and then adopted you as His child. Its who you are.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light... Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

But we forget. We live like ordinary worldlings. Lord, help us live in the conscious awareness of who we are. Open our eyes to see that we are seated in the heavens with you, in training to rule and reign with you. We are called to walk in your perfect love; to receive it and experience it and live it out toward You and the world. We are called to put your kingdom on display for this world to see. There is no higher purpose in life on earth.

King of kings, Lord of lords... help us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling You have placed upon us.

Its the least we can do.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I was thinking a lot about my family this morning. They are truly the riches of my life on earth... hence, all the pictures.

Just sharing the wealth. (smile)

the girls

Lovely ladies... Posted by Picasa

the boys

Guess where they got their looks??? Posted by Picasa

Lucky guy huh?

my lovely wife and I... Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 15, 2006


I have been reading in the sermon on the mount this morning. I dont think there is a more deeply challenging message in the Scripture. Popular christianity makes practical righteousness and obedience options available for the truly spiritual. You can be saved and receive your "get out of hell" pass by simply praying "the sinner's prayer" without even thinking about making any life changes. All you have to do is "believe". If that is true, why did Jesus spend so much time describing what it would look like to follow Him and walk in His ways? I am not advocating a life of religious works to earn a right standing with God. "The just shall live by faith". In the letter to the Phillipians and many other places, Paul makes it really clear how foolish and misdirected it is to try to depend on our own righteousness to stand before God. But the pendulum has swung so far the other direction that we have lost sight of reality. How can we possibly think that He wants to forgive us for our sin and rebellion, but its okay for us to continue to willfully live in it? Let me get this straight. When I get a chance to talk with someone about Jesus, the big issue is hell. The goal is to find out if they want to go there when they die (duh), and then to offer them an easy "free pass" if they will only "believe" that He died on the cross and will forgive their sin. Pray a prayer asking for forgiveness, without necessarily experiencing any regret for how you have lived, or any desire to change that, and you are home free. So we can be "saved" and continue on in our selfish rebellion. Thats quite a deal. I dont see it in the Bible, but it ought to sell like ice cream on a hot summer day.

Lord, forgive us for dishonoring your sacrifice with such a superficial, ego-centric interpretation of the good news.

You deserve better...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

our boxes

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the
wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

This is an amazing verse. Think about it....

Jesus was led up by the Spirit

into the wilderness

to be tempted

by the devil.

This verse doesn't fit too well with the "feel good" version of Christianity so common here in western culture. Now, I realize that this verse is talking about Jesus. Its doesn't say that the Spirit led Joe Blow into the wilderness to be tempted. Still, based on what you hear from many pulpits today, God would NEVER do such a thing to anyone. How could a good God lead someone into a situation of temptation? Paul might wonder what that question is all about. He wrote to the church at Corinth...

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you… Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison...

Peter, and most of the other apostles, dying a martyrs death, might wonder why we would question whether a good God would lead us into spiritual warfare. The trouble is, we usually pre-define the terms of the discussion according to our cultural norms, and then evaluate God and His word by our standards.

Gods ways are pretty incredible... Our western theological boxes can't quite contain Him.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Its so easy to lose sight of the awesomeness of God's love. A seemingly infinite array of distractions parade before us each day. And not all of them are innately evil. Some are just normal, legitimate stuff of life. Nevertheless, they draw the eyes of our heart away from Jesus, making us vulnerable to the "deceitfulness of sin". We must train ourselves to respond to the call of the Holy Spirit to wait upon the Lord. Oh man, how religious does that sound? I just cant think of another way to say it. I cant think of a "seeker-friendly" way to say that God wants to interact with me, one on one. That information just doesn't sound normal, no matter what kind of words you use to say it. We are not of this world. Thirty years ago, I closed my eyes to pray for the first time, and when I opened them, I was in another place. It looked like the same place I had lived in for almost twenty years, but it was different. Really I was different. My eyes were opened to the reality of God, and His incredible love for me. I was introduced to the purpose for which I was created. I lived in a new world. I couldn't... I wouldn't go back for anything. This is reality.

He is the truth... He is reality.

Any life lived outside of a relationship with Him is a deception.

The world hates that sort of language. It sounds so closed-minded. They call it arrogant, among other things. It cant be helped. Its true. And when He opens our eyes to that reality, and draws us into His loving embrace, He calls us to help Him reach out to those around us to bring them into the same experience. He calls us to a life of loving servanthood. He calls us to lay down our lives to demonstrate His love. And every day, the kingdom of darkness does its very best to distract us from fulfilling that calling. The spiritual forces that run this present world are committed to keeping us from drawing near to God, and from expressing His love to those who don't know Jesus. Its a war. Good and evil. God and satan. That doesn't sound very sophisticated in our modern world of scientific discovery. But its true.

Its reality.

So, as Paul said, we must fight the fight of faith. We must treasure our time with God, learning to recognize His presence, and hear His voice. The more clearly we see Him, the more fully our hearts will be set free to serve Him fearlessly in the world. The realization of His love for us will ignite that same sort of love in our hearts for others.

Lord... we pray, open our eyes.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

United 93

Saw the movie tonight. Deeply impacting on many levels. We are at war. Like it or not, we have had war declared on us by radical Islam. We can't escape this reality. We can't turn up our stereo a little louder and drown it out. We can't drink ourselves into a stupor, or take some Sominex and crawl into bed, and hope that we will wake up in the morning and find it was all just a bad dream. These people hate us. They hate Israel. And they sincerely desire to see us wiped off the face of the earth. That is not going away. But we continue to play politics with the situation, and try to use it to further our short-sighted agendas. This is not an anti-Muslim rant. Those people believe they are totally justified in their hatred and destructive intentions. I believe they are grossly mistaken, but I don't hate them for it. But... I also don't think that we can just sit back passively and let them run rampant with their plans to cleanse the planet of the infidels. Truthfully, I don't see a realistic earthly answer. At least I don't see one that I can reconcile with my faith. I am painfully aware that I am not of this world. I don't fit. I am not supposed to. I think that this is part of what being "born again" is about. We have been awakened to a greater purpose. We have been spiritually transported into another kingdom. One foot on earth, one in heaven.


It just hit me. The scripture says, "Heaven is His throne, and earth is His footstool." It also says that we as believers are "seated in heavenly places with Christ." Now I obviously still live here in the material, earthly realm, but my heart longs for someplace better. So... reality is this, I have touched heaven, but my feet are on earth. Incredible. And painful. We see the earth as it is, but we have been shown what it shall be. We see the pain, and suffering, and brokeness of this present time. And we have been given a glimpse of the beauty and glory to come. We live as sojourners, "strangers and aliens" in the world. We are here for a purpose, but our heart is in another place. We yearn for a kingdom "where righteousness dwells." We look forward to that time when He wipes away every tear. Sometimes its genuinely painful. Paul talked about groanings that come from deep within. We earnestly long for that for which we were created.

Come Lord Jesus....

But on the warfare theme, I left the movie deeply convicted. The country we live in is in a war. Its a war that is probably much bigger and more significant than we realize. As disciples of Jesus though, we are to live in the awareness of an even bigger and more important war. There is a long drawn out war to the death going on between the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of God. We know that Jesus will ultimately win, but he calls us to join Him in the conflict. We were drafted into His army when we responded to the call to follow Him. Look at the words of Paul,

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus… Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

And Paul tells us to follow his example, even as he follows Jesus. We have been entrusted with the truth and power that will set people free from the power of sin and darkness. We need to live like we believe that.

Help Lord...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Amazing love

Reading again in Jeremiah this morning, it hit me. Not a new revelation, not some original twist on an obscure passage, just a fresh realization. He loves us... He really loves us. Now... if you read the chapter I just read, you might come away with something a little different. He is taking Israel to task for their disobedience and unfaithfulness. He is expressing displeasure at their willful wickedness. He is not happy, lamenting their history of rebellion. The question is, why is He unhappy. He loves Israel. He loves you. He loves me. And He knows that our sin will ultimately destroy us. He looks across the world every moment of every day, and sees the devastation. War, poverty, disease, murder, crime of every kind... sin and its consequences. So He reaches out to us. He sent the prophets from Moses to Isaiah to Zechariah. Calling us back to Himself. Calling us to faith. If we would only trust Him, and obey Him out of the trust, He desired to bless us and pour out the riches of His love. But for the most part, we wouldn't. And we don't. We walk in our own way. We trust in our own wisdom. We cling to our sin, and love this present world. But He loves us with an everlasting love. He never stops reaching out to touch us in the depths of our being. The uncreated, infinite, eternal Creator and Sustainer of all that exists is constantly reaching out to tiny, weak, broken, rebellious little creatures who live in a greatly exaggerated delusion of their own inherent importance. The Infinite took on flesh and blood to show us just how much He loves. He was both making a way to restore us and winning our hearts in one magnificent act of sacrificial love. He didn't need us. He will forever be great and awesome beyond any human comprehension. But He loves us. He created us to walk in the experience of that love, and to share in the incredible plans of His heart. God loves me, and will go to almost any length to prove it to me, and to convince me to rest and trust in that love.

Words just can't express the awe in my heart...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Luke 6:46-49
"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? " Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. "But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great."

If there is anyone out there actually reading this blog, they probably think I need a prescription of some strong anti-depressant meds. My last few entries have all been apocalyptic, end of the world, conviction of sin stuff. Not exactly "feel good" material. There are a couple of things going on.

One, the Lord has been opening my eyes to the compromised, spiritually asleep condition I have been in. He's not beating me over the head... He hasn't condemned me. He's just been shaking me out of my slumber.

Two, He is reminding me that from the beginning He has called His people to live in the expectation of His return. This world is not my home. This world will ultimately be judged, destroyed, and re-created. A new heaven, and a new earth. A new beginning. My roots have been going way too deep here. My longing gaze had dropped from heaven to my bank account. If only I could make more money and retire comfortably some day. Then I would be happy, complete. Actually, my conscious thoughts never went quite that far, but that was the life I have been living. And really, for me, it was mostly a matter of fear. What if I wasn't able to save enough to retire? What if I got to be 70 years old, and I was broke? I cant work forever. What am I going to do? The devil was having a great time tormenting me. And killing my life in God. Now don't get me wrong. I think its prudent to save and invest. We need to be good stewards with what we have. But we have to remember that it all belongs to God. And, we need to maintain an utter and complete dependence on Him. I cant trust in that savings account, or my IRA, or my 401K, or any of the other plans we make. On the practical side, those things can disappear in a heartbeat. Anyone ever hear of the Great Depression? But even more importantly, what does it say to God when me make every effort possible to avoid trusting Him for our provision? His faithfulness is not subject to the fickle turns of human economies. He calls us to seek first His kingdom, and all our earthly needs will be taken care of. He invites us to look at the birds of the air, the flowers of the field. He gives them all they need. And He wants to set our hearts free from every other object of trust. He wants to be our all in all. Anything else we put our heart's trust in is simply an idol. But its hard at times to find the balance. We work hard to be faithful with the resources He has given us, yet always trust only in Him. That requires great diligence and brutal honesty. And complete surrender. What if He asked you to donate the bulk of your savings to an orphanage in Africa? What if He asked you to invest it all in an inner city outreach in Chicago? What if He asked you to pay the medical bills for a family in your church where one of the parents was struck with cancer? What if God asked you for His money? Do we have the faith to believe that He is our source? I believe that this is the number one stronghold of the kingdom of darkness in western culture. The cares of the world, the fear of poverty. And the lust for more. A bigger house, a nicer car, and on and on. Two sides of the same coin. Fear of going without what we need, and the insatiable desire for more. Lord, set my heart free. I want to hunger and thirst for You, and You alone.

So yea... my heart has been a little heavy lately. Its been a season of soul searching and repentance. I want to find that place of peace and freedom in Him. So, I confess my sin and brokenness as I see it, and set my heart to seek His face. And He has been faithful to meet me when I seek Him. He is true to His promises. He's a real God who has a real desire to reveal Himself to us. He wants to draw us into an amazing, loving friendship. Incredible.

God spoke to His people, Israel, about His desire to see reality in their lives,

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, " Stand in the gate of the LORD'S house and proclaim there this word and say, 'Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah, who enter by these gates to worship the LORD!'" Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, " Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. " Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ' This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.' "For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.

Now Jesus asks His followers,

Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord' and do not do what I say...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Growing old

Turned 50 a few months ago. I dont usually get too worked up about birthdays, no matter which one it is, but this one made me stop and think. I have thought about the past few years of my life, and honestly I have some regret. I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a loving and faithful wife, and four incredible children. God has blessed our business in many ways, and we have all the stuff I could possibly want. He has been very good to me. Thats where the regret comes in. There are many warnings in the scripture about allowing this world's system to draw us into its tangled web.

Along the way, the cares of this world have slowly but surely grasped my heart, causing the Word to be unfruitful in my life. Oh...not completely. I can see some of the ways that God has worked in me and through me. And He has never stopped drawing me to Himself. He is always faithful to meet me when I seek Him. But I also know the cares and concerns that weigh down my heart each day. I just gathered a little sampling of what the scripture has to say about this world. Its actually pretty long, but I challenge you to read through it. Even better, I encourage you to study and meditate on these words. They are in no particular order. They are quite sobering...

James 4:4

4 You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

Matt 16:24-26

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?

Matt 18:7

7 "Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!

John 15:18-20

18 "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

John 18:36

36 Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."

Rom 12:1-2
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

1 Cor 1:20

20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

1 Cor 7:29-31

29 What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

1 Cor 11:32
32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.

Gal 3:22
22 But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin,

Gal 4:3
3 So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.

Gal 6:14
14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Eph 2:1-2
2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

Eph 6:12
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

2 Tim 4:9-10
9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me

James 1:27
27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

1 Peter 1:1
1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God's elect, strangers in the world,

1 Peter 2:11-12

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

2 Peter 1:3-4
4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

1 John 2:15-17

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

1 John 5:19
19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

John 16:33

33 "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."


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

another question...

The psalmist asked a question. "Who is this King of Glory?"

We must not answer too quickly.

We must take time to ponder.

We must take time to watch.

He will show us.

And when He does... we will be changed forever.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

simple question

This question if for those who are followers of Jesus.

Do you hate sin? Not the pleasures of sin. Pleasure is pleasure, and most sin gives us some measure of pleasure. Some sin gives us huge amounts of pleasure. But, if we trust the wisdom of God, we know that sin is ultimately destructive. Its bad for us. That's why He doesn't want us to do it. He hates it. He hates it because it hurts us. He loves us so much that He went to unthinkable lengths to free us from sin in every way.

So, let me ask again. Do you hate sin?

I need to think about that for a while.


One of those sober mornings. How easily we are blinded. In my youth, it was easy to see how evil and degraded our nation had become. Sexual immorality and perversion, covetousness and materialism, violence, injustice… these were rampant in our society. Twenty five years later, things have only become worse. The media is probably the clearest window into our rebellion against what we know in our hearts to be true. We love to entertain ourselves with the things that God declares to be evil. The progression of what we deem acceptable fare for prime time viewing is extremely revealing. (no pun intended) This was all clear to me when I was young. I carried the burden of it in my heart in prayer every day. I continually asked for God to have mercy and to raise up prophetic voices who could awaken our nation and lead it to Him. And then I got married, started having kids, started a business… all the normal stuff of life. My days got busier and busier. My earthly responsibilities and concerns grew steadily. And along the way, my heart started to grow hard. The darkness wasn’t as dark as it used to be. The gray area between black and white grew continually larger. My love for Jesus and truth was growing cold. Somewhere along the way, I lost my first love. It wasn’t a conscious turning away from Him. I didn’t decide one day that I know longer wanted to follow Jesus. Its a long slow process, almost imperceptible. Its a gradual dullness that works its way into your soul. Its like falling asleep. That’s the best way to describe it actually. You dont know it when you fall asleep. It just happens. You only know you have been asleep when something wakes you up. Fortunately, the Lord is extremely patient and merciful. It feels like I am being awakened. At this point its like a gentle shaking. And I want to be responsive, so it doesn’t need to turn into a stronger shaking. But… I want Him to do whatever it takes. I want Him, and His kingdom above all else.

So… Jeremiah. I sat down to meditate in the Word, and I felt like the Spirit said to turn to Jeremiah 4. I can't begin to write down all that I see there. The bottom line is, His merciful judgment is coming to awaken us, and we are invited ahead of time to repent from our selfishness and sin, and come under His grace and protection. It doesn’t mean we wont be touched by the things that are coming, but we will be enabled to stand strong in Him. Not only that, but He will be glorified in His people who will return to Him.

Jeremiah 4:1-2
"If you will return, O Israel," declares the LORD,
"Then you should return to Me.
And if you will put away your detested things from My presence,
And will not waver,
And you will swear, 'As the LORD lives,'
In truth, in justice and in righteousness;
Then the nations will bless themselves in Him,
And in Him they will glory."

Our repentance is salvation to us and to those around us who, "see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16). He loves us, and in that love He pursues us and calls us out of our sin. He knows that sin will keep us from His good and kind purpose, and eventually destroy us. That’s why His judgment is by nature merciful. Its like spanking a small child who is intent on playing in the street. There is no pleasure for the parent in the spanking. His love requires him to teach the child wisdom.

Later He says, "Wash your heart from evil, O Jerusalem, that you may be saved. " God has one purpose in mind, that we may be saved. He loves us in a way that we cannot fully comprehend. He only desires to bring us to a place where we can experience all He has for us.

Lord, help me hear your voice, see your goodness, love, and wisdom, and surrender my heart fully to you.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

the end, pt. 2

So… the Lord seems to be stirring a fresh hunger in the hearts of His people for understanding of things pertaining to the "end times". I have always been one of those "pan-millenialists". In my mind, if you were serving God with all your heart, He would make sure that you were enabled to endure to the end. Everything would "pan out." I probably still basically believe that, but I also believe that we should be knowledgeable of the scriptures on this subject. He included it in His word for a reason. He has given us many, many chapters throughout the Bible that deal directly with the final unfolding of His purposes. I can see two of the reasons He has done this. One… He wants us to be aware of what is coming, and to be prepared. There are many warnings about being caught unprepared at His return. Stern warnings, that should be taken seriously. The second reason is perspective and motivation. The conscious awareness that Jesus is going to return to the earth and bring the ultimate conquest of light over darkness should keep us in the eternal perspective on our lives. Its so easy to get buried in the mundane affairs of everyday life. Jobs, bills, school, family life, football games and movies; all of these morally legitimate concerns cry for our attention every day. In the parable of the sower, Jesus warns about the dangers of "the cares of this life." They can kill the effectiveness of the Word of God in our hearts. The normal everyday affairs of life can ruin us spiritually. It doesn’t have to be gross sin. You don’t have to be an adulterous drug addict to miss the purpose of God. It happens to well meaning soccer moms, plumbers, pastors, and bank managers every day. The noise of this life drowns out the still, small Voice. He is speaking, calling out to us, but we can't hear. We’re too busy to listen. The awareness of His return helps us to remember to pursue attentiveness to Him. The knowledge that this world as we know it is going to be brought under His righteous judgment helps us to remember to "seek first the Kingdom of God." It helps us maintain that eternal perspective. We are told many times that this life is like a mere breath in the light of eternity. It doesn’t feel that way, but its true. He wants us to see this life the way He does, and the expectation of His return helps us to look at life from that angle.

Which brings us back to Matthew 24 and 25.

Next time…

Monday, March 13, 2006

the end

I am a little slow. It takes me a while to catch on sometimes. My friends and I have been taking a closer look at the scriptures that deal with the end times lately. The Book of the Revelation, Daniel, Isaiah, etc.. I was in a class last night that a buddy of mine is teaching on the Revelation, and at the end of the class a thought entered my mind. "Now what? How do I respond to this information?" I felt prompted by the Spirit to go to the parable of the ten virgins. As I looked for it, I realized that it immediately follows Jesus teaching in Matthew 24 about the end times and His return. Then I realized that it is actually a part of the same message that begins in chapter 24 and ends in chapter 25. This was His answer to the question He dropped in my mind, "Now what?" The reason I started by saying that I am "a little slow" is that I have been studying the scriptures for over 30 years, and I am just now figuring out that Matthew 24 and 25 are all one message. Duh. Almost embarrassing. Annnnyway....

I will continue this later. Its pretty serious stuff there...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

an invitation...

I am struck this morning by a very simple verse of scripture. Jesus had just spent 40 days fasting and praying and being tempted by the devil in the wilderness. When He comes back to town, He finds that John the Baptist had been arrested. He takes off to Capernaum where He will begin His public ministry, fulfilling messianic prophecy. And the introductory statement for His message and purpose is this,

"Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand."

Simple, concise, powerful. I don't have much to say about it. I just have a sense of awe, as I consider the creator of heaven and earth, appearing in our midst in flesh and blood, calling us to turn from our selfishness and sin. The uncreated, infinite, all-powerful God of the universe inviting us to leave the kingdom of this world, and to enter into His kingdom. Perfect Love, reaching out to us in our rebellion, and brokenness, and deception.

Incredible beyond words...

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Matt 5:48 "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

This verse has been the cause of great struggle for many sincere believers. Perfect? As your heavenly father is perfect? Did someone hit Matthew over the head with a bag of denari? God is infinite, uncreated, omni-everything you can think of. How could I possibly be perfect, let alone perfect in the same way He is? Just the thought of it is making me tired already. Oh, wait a minute. Look at the first word in the sentence. Therefore. I once heard a very wise man say that when you see a verse start with a "therefore" you need to find out what it is "there for". I know... I don't really care for "cute" either, but its true. The word therefore means that the meaning of that sentence is tied to the passage it follows. When we look back a few verses we find that Jesus gives some clarity and definition to the perfection He is talking about.

Matt 5:43-47

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.' "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? "And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

Therefore you are to be perfect....

It appears that the perfection Jesus is talking about has to do with the way we walk out the love He calls us to. He loves all men equally and freely. Nature declares it. The sun and the rain fall on all indiscriminately. His love is perfect. Its not based on performance. He doesn't love the obedient and hate the disobedient. He loves all people. He values them all equally. We know that men and women don't naturally love that way. We each have a checklist, even if we don't realize it. The people who are most pleasing to us receive the most value and the best treatment. People who don't score well on our invisible checklist don't generally get the same quality of care. Jesus is calling us to something higher, better, more perfect. He is calling us to partake in His perfect love. He is calling us to love people just because they are His creation. He is calling us to see them as He sees them, and love them as He loves them. He loves His enemies. He died for His enemies. We were all there. We were all on the enemy team. His love captured our hearts, and we switched teams. We joined His team. By His grace we have been brought into a new life in a new kingdom.

Col 1:13-14
For He delivered us from the domain(kingdom)of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

So how is he defining "perfect" here? It seems pretty simple. Its love that shows no favoritism. People have inherent value simply because God made them, and He wants to teach us to walk in that kind of love. Perfect love.

I do want to clarify something. Perfect love, unconditional love is not the same as unconditional acceptance. God is love. Everything He does is an expression of that love. But that love and His perfect wisdom require that His acceptance be conditional. Sin is inherently destructive. Its terminally bad for us. He can't just let us freely live in sin. He can't just look the other way. That would not be love. You don't just stand back and let someone you love destroy themselves and hurt others. That's why He sent Jesus to the cross. He made a way to justly forgive us, and deliver us, and reconcile us to Himself. If we will repent and believe in that offer of a new life in a new kingdom, we find love and acceptance. He has always loved us, and always will. He loves Mother Teresa, and He loves Adolph Hitler. But he cant accept us unless we respond in humility to His conditions. Perfect love. Perfect wisdom. Awesome God.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


I am reminded again this morning of the question, why do we serve God? There are many motivations that people can live out of. The lowest is probably the fear of hell. Many people go to church, give some of their money, and do other religious activities because they are afraid that if they don't, they will spend eternity in a very hot and unpleasant place. The fear of hell is probably not a bad place to start. Unfortunately I can think of numerous times in my life when I refrained from bad behavior because of the potential negative consequences that could be a result. Its a possible starting point in our pursuit of God, but not a good place to spend our lives.

Then there are the people who are following the Lord because of the benefits involved. They live in the hope and expectation that their pursuit of a good life of obedience to His ways will bring blessing on their lives. Financial prosperity, physical health, good relationships... all you have to do is read Deuteronomy to see all the great things that we can enjoy as a result of an obedient life. Its right there in black and white, so it cant be a bad thing, but I think there is something more, something higher. Look at these glimpses of heaven from the Revelation to John.

Rev 4:9-11
And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

"Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created."

Rev 5:11-12

And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing."

Worthy... those beings who are in the direct presence of Jesus say that He is simply worthy of our love and devotion. They have seen in Him qualities that make Him deserving of our worship. They make no reference to any form of reward or punishment. He is simply worthy of our love. I believe that this is where the Lord wants to take us. He wants to open the eyes of our hearts to see His goodness and His greatness with such clarity, that we serve Him for one primary reason. He is worthy. Oh... the benefits are there. His word is full of great and precious promises of all He will do for those who sincerely follow after Him with all their hearts. But those are just that, benefits. When you take a job, it is primarily to get a paycheck. If the company offers health insurance or a retirement program, those are considered benefits. They are an extra blessing for being part of that business, but they are not the main reason you are there. When we really see Him for who He is, then He Himself becomes the very reason we follow Him. When we see His great love for us, we fall in love with Him. All the blessings that go along with that are great, but He Himself becomes the object of our affections. When we really see how awesome He is, we would serve Him if there weren't any benefits at all except for the honor of knowing Him. Our lives become an offering of gratitude. That seems to be the mindset of those who are before the throne. They bow and worship Him night and day because He is worthy of that worship.

Lord, capture my heart with that reality...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Try to follow me here...

Okay... so I'm driving down the road listening to a teaching cd today, and Greg Boyd is talking about how God is grieved when wealthy people and poor people live alongside one another and the wealthy are unwilling to use the resources He has given them to help those in need. This makes me think about how I heard Mike Bickle talking another time about how we perceive God's emotions. When He thinks about you, is He mostly glad, or mostly mad? And then I start to think about how God experiences emotions. When someone in my house has made me mad, everyone in the house at that time gets to experience Dad as mad. (two quick points.... #1 This is purely theoretical. Anyone who knows me understands that I NEVER get mad. and #2 We are talking about anger, as opposed to insanity. I might lose the argument on point #1 if we were discussing sanity.) I was saying, I was thinking about God and His emotions. When I am happy, I am pretty much happy with everyone. When I am mad, or sad, that is the version of Brian that everyone in the room experiences. But God is not that way. You can be in a room with 100 people, and each of them can be in a different place with the Lord. With one He can be joyful as they seek to follow Him and love Him with all their heart. With another He can be grieved because they are hurting themselves with drugs, or immorality, or greed. With another, He might be sharing their sadness over the loss of a loved one, or some other pain they are experiencing. Each one is in a different place, and relating to God in a different way. And He is able all at once to relate to each one of them the way that His wisdom and love move His heart. Incredible. His presence is in the room with 100 people, and yet it is almost as if you were the only one there with Him. He is awesome.

(Right now you may be thinking, "Duh!" Thats okay... its still awesome.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Isa 64:1-4

Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down,
That the mountains might quake at Your presence--
As fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil--
To make Your name known to Your adversaries,
That the nations may tremble at Your presence!
When You did awesome things which we did not expect,
You came down, the mountains quaked at Your presence.
For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear,
Nor has the eye seen a God besides You,
Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.

Lord, I want this in my life. Rend the heavens, I pray, and awaken my heart to how great and awesome you are. Let me live in the awareness of your presence, and how every breath I take is a gift from you. Its so easy to forget about you. Its so easy to get busy with the stuff of everyday life, and simply forget you. I ask you to shake me in your love whenever I start to become dull. That is grace... that is mercy... that you would protect me from a hard heart. You "act in behalf of the one who waits" for you. Remind me to wait. CSI calls... or was it American Idol? My business calls. I just need one more account. After all, you never know when I might lose one. The gods of this world cry out for my attention. Lord, help me hunger for one thing. Help me remember that there is one thing that will truly satisfy the hunger of my heart. More than that, help me remember your goodness and love. Help me remember that you are worthy that I would turn away from every other god, and give you my whole heart.

You are worthy....

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Learning to listen

What does it mean to walk with Jesus? Is it primarily about living a "good" life? Is it that we don't drink, or smoke, or cuss? We dont watch TV, or go to movies? Is His main goal to help us clean up our act? Or is there more to it all? What is His purpose in drawing us to Himself? Did He reach down and open the eyes of my heart simply to get me to "behave properly"? I don't think so. He calls us to obey Him, but why? The scripture tells us that God is love. Everything He is and does flows from that reality. I think He has first and foremost called us to be His children and His friends. As we live in those relationships, we will naturally walk in greater and deeper purity, but that is not the main focus. Religion focuses on behavior. Religion focuses on being good, so that God will like us. Relationship wants to know Him more deeply, more intimately because He likes us. Relationship wants to interact with Him on a daily basis. If He is my friend, I want to learn to recognize His presence with me through as much of my day as possible. I want to see what He is doing... and I want to join in. I want to let Him show me what He cares about, and what sorts of things He wants to do together as we go about our way. Jesus went around sharing and showing the love of His Father each day. He wants to do the same today. He wants to do it together with me. And you. What an amazing idea. Usually we think that this is for someone else. The pastor, the missionary, that really spiritual woman we know from church. But not me. I am just... me. God couldn't really be interested in having that sort of relationship with someone like me. I'm ordinary. I am just kind of "getting by" spiritually. I am trying to be good, and hopefully make it to heaven some day. But,in the meantime, I will sort of sit in the bleachers and watch the superstars do the kingdom stuff. What a waste. Every one of us is called to be a unique expression of Jesus in the world. The Spirit of God lives inside of us, if we truly know Him. And He wants every one of us to get to know him more deeply and fully. He wants every one of us to learn what it means to walk through our day listening for His voice and following His lead. Every one of us. We won't all stand up on stages and preach eloquent sermons, but we can all be the voice and hands of the Lord; we can all be the body of Christ. Individually, and all together, He desires for us to be His body. Why does He need a body? What is a body for? Its that thing we walk around and do life in. Its how we get to work and school and home and wherever we go. Its the thing we use to interact with co-workers, and friends and family. He wants us to be His body. He wants us to be the vehicle He uses to express Himself in the world. We can all be used to show His love to the people around us. We just have to ask. We just have to listen. We just have to quiet our hearts and our busy lives, and take time to learn to recognize His voice. If we will do that, He will draw us into a friendship with Him beyond our wildest dreams. He will do things with us and through us that we cant even imagine today. He will make our lives an adventure.

The question is... will we take time to listen?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

In His Heart

Eph 1: 3-8
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the one he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

I felt impressed to read in Ephesians this morning, and this is as far as I got. God is so good. He has had a plan for ME since before the creation of the world. He has always carried in His heart a picture of Brian as His son. He has envisioned me walking with Him as His friend, sharing in His love, trusting Him as my faithful Father. And all of my life He has been working inside me to reveal His goodness and love in a way that would capture my heart's affections. In my times of deep worship, and my struggles with sin, His love has never changed. For better or for worse, His love has never changed. Before time began, He had a plan for me, and He is determined to bring it to pass.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

The Creator of the universe has set His love on me. The One who spoke the heavens and the earth into existence loves me, and has a purpose in His heart for me. That is unspeakably awesome. I am lost for words. They dont exist. They couldnt. No words could truly capture how wonderful He is. Many years ago I heard a man named Leonard Ravenhill say that the highest form of worship is speechless adoration. Every once in a while, I stumble into a moment when I understand that....

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

the power of our words

Matt 12:36-37
36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

The words we use each day are so incredibly powerful. We don't realize it most of the time. We speak without thinking. Sometimes its just silliness with no great harm. Sometimes we say or write things that have the potential to do great damage to ourselves or others. God's word describes itself as "sharper than any two edged sword," but he also describes our speech as a sword. Proverbs says "There is one who speaks rashly, like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Our words can be like a sword thrust into those around us, with deadly results, or they can do just the opposite and bring strength and healing. "Life and death are in the power of the tongue." This is why Jesus spoke so strongly about our accountability for our speech. He spoke and the worlds were created. While I cant speak an apple into my hand when I am hungry, my words do have creative power. They create attitudes and expectations in my own mind and heart. And, they do the same to others. My words can make you feel loved and valued, or they can make you feel worthless and hopeless. And that is where the accountability enters in. God expects us to use this power of the tongue for good and not evil. He expects us to "speak the truth in love" and "do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs." He expects us to love with our words. Its not as easy as it sounds. Much of the time we don't really understand or even consider how our words are affecting those around us. We need to listen to our heart before we speak. We need to be consciously determined to bring life and love when we open our mouths. He will help us to do so.