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...