Friday, March 27, 2009

little children... & Russ

Luke 18:1617
But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

God has a special place in His heart and in his Kingdom for children.
Children have little hang-ups about life's troubles, they don't suspend faith for philosophical reasons, they don't doubt just because they don't see, they receive discipline when they need it and recognize love when they see it.
And they grow.

I can't help but think of my buddy Russell Witek when reading about the faith of a child. More on Russ soon....

Father - bless me to bring children to know You. Amen.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fulfilling my Design and Call

Luke 17:10
"So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”

I am God's servant. I am blessed to serve such a good and benevolent master. When I obediently serve Him I deserve no special thanks or recognition; I profit none. For I have only done what I was designed and called to do. There is nothing extraordinary about obedience. As God's chosen servant, this is the least I owe.
Does my attitude reflect this truth? Do I seek profit or recognition? Do I expect a special reward from my master or those I serve? Too often the answer is yes.
Instead, can I be content to simply serve and know that I am faithfully fulfilling what I was designed and called to do? Can my reward be my own joy in knowing that I am doing what I was created to do? Can I be humble, set aside ambition and pride, and faithfully live out an ordinary, obedient life? This is the least that I can do.

Father - humble me and make me increasingly content to serve You where I am. Strengthen my obedience and make me more and more faithful to fulfill my design and call. Let my joy be found in ordinary obedience. Amen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Leveraging Wealth

Luke 16:9
“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home."

There is nothing sacred or righteous about money and wealth. Riches are a tool God has provided to achieve a greater goal and steward a greater value; people. The world knows how to bribe and buy favor. The sons of light (8) however hold money in too high esteem. It's not that they are greedy for it or enslaved by it - it's that they hold it as sacred and manage it in fear or reverence. Jesus calls money "unrighteous" and calls us to leverage it by any means to win over the world for everlasting ends. Since the souls of men are of higher value, money is a tool and means to this greater end. And since all belongs to God, we don't have to worry about running out of money or dwindling our resources - granting that we are investing in the right things; lost people. This must be our sacred trust. In this we must be faithful stewards.

Father - let me hold loosely to my wealth and value people higher than my material resources and wealth. Teach me to leverage my stuff for what You value. Teach me to be shrewd with what is common and hungry for what is sacred. Amen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

God's Preference: Grace

Luke 15:7
"I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance."

Sometimes when I Meditate on a verse I end up more awestruck than aware of God's reality. I can hardly put into words what I feel when I read this verse. Would God really rather be gracious and merciful over just? According to this He is more gratified and glorified by forgiveness than by justice; wrath or reward.
This leads me to the words of Paul in Romans 6:1-2, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?"
So what am I to do with this preference God has for His mercy and grace?
I will pass it on. I say to you, that moreso, there will be more joy in heaven over ninety-nine sinners who repent than over just one.

Father - help me understand Your grace and compel me to pass it on. Make it my joy as well to see your grace and mercy extended to all those who cross my path. Make me an instrument of glory for You. Amen.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Content to serve.

Luke 14:13-14
"But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

It's easy to serve and minister when recognition, praise and compliments flow. It's gratifying to receive a thank you card or invitation in response to ministry. It's tempting to let these responses dictate where we serve and the direction of our ministry. We can view these as "signs" of God's blessing, confirmation of our gifts or validation for a job well done. But God has a plan for those who cannot repay an do not think to thank and very little will validate ministry to them in this lifetime. God has a special place for these at His banquet table and a special reward for those who value them as He does. The questions I keep asking myself are these; "can I be content ministering to children for a lifetime? Can I put away ambition and prideful hunger for recognition and simply love those whom God has given me? Can I pass on public reward in this lifetime and quietly store up treasure in heaven?

Father - humble me and make me increasingly content to serve and minister to middle school students and their families. Remove my ambition and replace it with compassion for those who cannot repay. Fill me with a drive for the poor, the disabled, the hurting, they young and the old so that I can be found faithful to love those whom You love. Amen.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Strive for the narrow gate

Luke 13:24
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able."

Jesus calls for us to "strive" for the narrow gate while others simply "seek." The word strive here in the Greek is "agonizomai" from which we get our word "agonize." It literally means to fight or contend as in a battle or competition with strenuous zeal to achieve a desired goal. From an evangelical standpoint, this seems backward. Many strive by works to earn God's favor while He only calls us to by faith believe in and seek Him. So what are believers supposed to agonize over when it comes to the kingdom of heaven? I believe we are called here to fight against the tendency to broaden the road to heaven, to make excuses and exceptions to God's demands or to rely on works and other additions to our faith. The human temptation and tendency is to relax into comfort rather than contend for uncomfortable Truth. We must battle against lowering the bar, moving the target and watering down the Gospel. Our aim must be to enter into the kingdom of heaven by grace alone without exception or addition.

Father - strengthen me as I strive to hold true to the faith you require. Guard me from watering down the message or broadening the road. Let me be found faithful and worthy to enter by the narrow gate. Amen.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Just an update to say that I'm still alive and well, just unable to get online as we redecorate our home. I'll catch up on all my posts when I have a moment.
Thanks for following.

God's Grace,

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Gift of the Kingdom

Luke 12:32
"“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

God desires to give us the Kingdom. I don't have to worry about or strive for the things of this world; what I will eat or drink or wear; the things of the kingdom are greater than these. God knows I need these things and will provide them and so much more!
But my tendency is to long for the things of this world rather than the stuff of heaven. Perhaps I am too focused on the temporal and tangible. Perhaps I don't fully understand the treasures of the Kingdom. But I bet if I obeyed Jesus and sold my earthly treasures I might discover the heavenly ones He desires to give me. I need to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and let my heart long for His treasures - then I may know and understand and receive.

Father - teach me to hold loosely to the stuff of earth and strive for the stuff of heaven. Change my focus to Your Kingdom and what You desire for me. Amen.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Eye

Luke 11:34
"Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness."

Garbage in, garbage out. If I waste my time watching meaningless movies and TV, study the latest celebrity trends, take in the themes of our culture - I am filling myself with darkness. If I gaze at my neighbors stuff, envy their accomplishments, lust after their possessions or gawk at a woman - I am filling myself with darkness. If I glance with evil thoughts or judgment; if I allow my eyes to be ruled by a critical spirit - I am filling myself with darkness. Jesus does not go lightly here with this warning. If the eye is evil the WHOLE BODY is FULL of darkness. The darkness will push back and extinguish the light. But if my eye is good, if my gaze is set on the Lord< if i study His word, if my glance leads me to praise Him for His creation - I am full of light. This light will push back the darkness completely. The battle for my heart and mind begins with my eyes.

Lord - forgive my lustful, prideful, jealous, ambitious, critical, selfish, greedy looks. Purify my eyes and give me the strength and conviction to focus on You and what You call good. Fill me with Your light and let me shine for You. Amen.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rejoice in Salvation

Luke 10:20
"Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

It's easy and tempting to focus on and rejoice in the visible accomplishments of this life - even and especially the spiritual ones. Feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, preaching the Gospel, prayer and healing are all great things but are all means to a greater end - salvation. The fact that God has diverted His wrath from me to His only Son and granted me full pardon for my sin is beyond me - I cannot grasp the full significance and greatness of this truth. To rejoice in anything short of salvation is missing the mark and falling short of God's great gift to mankind - the redemption of our souls. I must focus on the harvest and bringing people to understand and receive this great gift. The harvest in ripe but the harvesters are few (Luke 10:2). Many are willing to plant, weed, fertilize or water but God is calling for harvesters - those focused on bringing people to full salvation, names written in the book of life. I cannot stop short of this.

Lord - strengthen me for the harvest. Grant me eyes to see what is ripe and a mind to celebrate what is greatest. Humble me in those accomplishments that fall short and let me focus on writing names in heaven. I want to be part of Your harvest. Amen.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Greatness before God

Luke 9:46-48
"Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. 47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Strength in the Storm

Luke 8:24-25
"And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”
Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 But He said to them, “Where is your faith?”
And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

Monday, March 9, 2009


Luke 7:35
"But wisdom is justified by all her children.”

Friday, March 6, 2009

Generosity, hope & trust

Luke 6:30,34,35
Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.
And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.
But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

These are tough words in tough economic times. Jesus does not call us to give and be "ok" with nothing in return. He calls us to "hope for nothing" in return. Jesus calls us to give to all who ask receive only from Him. In doing this we can be certain His reward is great. In this life and eternity, we are promised 100 fold blessing (Mt. 19:29), sonship, and conformity to the image of God. What good is receiving back what I lend, what I already had, when so much more is offered to me? Can I trust God to continue His care for me? If I give away my last meal tonight will I eat tomorrow? Jesus said in Matthew 6:31-34, "“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." God is faithful. I will be generous.

Father - deepen my trust in You and Your provision for me and my family. Remind us to be generous to all always and let us give boldly. Make us a blessing to those in need so that they may see You and Your kingdom. Amen.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Trusting Jesus at His word

Luke 5:5
But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”

Jesus was not just asking Peter and his fishing buddies for some extra effort after a long night of hard fishing, He was asking the illogical, irrational, unreasonable and impossible. Fish were not caught in deep water, but shallow - this was the wrong place. Fish were not caught in the daytime, this is when they rest - this was the wrong time. Fishing was not done with just one net or one boat but two (as evidenced in verse 7 when they called for help) - this was the wrong method.
This is what makes Peter's obedience so remarkable. Against all of Peter's expertise and fishing experience, against all earthly reason, Peter set out into deep water and let down his net, trusting nothing more than the person and word of Jesus. No doubt Peter had a few miracles in mind as he obeyed; the miracle at Cana, driving out the demon in Capernaum and especially healing Peter's mother-in-law (Luke 4). However this discipline is still impressive - especially considering Peter's impulsive nature. Peter's understanding of who Jesus was fortified Jesus' words and became Peter's highest authority.
Is this true in my life? Do I reason out of earthly logic or is Jesus and His word my highest authority? Do I act of our my own reservoir of earthly encounters and knowledge or do I rely on the eternal truths of Jesus nature and word? Is my knowledge of Jesus enough for me to do the illogical at the wrong time, in the wrong place, and in the wrong way simply because of Jesus' words?

Father - I want to know Jesus and hear His words echo in my heart daily. Help me to set aside my earthly knowledge and reasoning and fully trust You. Teach me to cast out into deep waters as I fish for men. Amen.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Jesus and the Holy Spirit

Luke 4:1 & 14
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert,....Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.

Here in John 4 Jesus is "filled" with the Holy Spirit, "led" by the Holy Spirit and empowered by the Holy Spirit. I often get lost in the deity of Jesus assuming that being god meant that Jesus did anything He wanted, whenever He wanted. Instead, Jesus demonstrated full submission to God the Father and dependence on the Holy Spirit. I believe this is why later in John 4 Jesus is able to resist the Devil (ironically before being empowered... that's a whole different lesson), speak with such authority concerning the Scriptures and command demons to be silent and depart. This was not for example, this was Jesus living out His full humanity. Here are some verses that come to mind regarding Jesus and His human nature.

John 8:28-29
So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him."

Philippians 2:6-8
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death
even death on a cross!

Hebrews 2:17-18
For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

To be fully human is to fully rely on the Holy Spirit for full obedience to the Father's will. To be human is not to demonstrate independence or "self-control" but self-submission, to be dependent on and controlled by the Holy Spirit. This was God's will for Jesus and it is His will for me; to be filled, led and empowered by the Holy Spirit each day to do His will. This is the beginning of Jesus ministry and it is the beginning of mine.

Father - fill me with Your Holy Spirit, to be led by Him, to hear His voice and to be empowered to do Your will each day. Make me more "human." Amen.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


H.G. Wells was never particularly religious, but after he had studied the history of the human race and had observed human life, he came to an interesting conclusion:

"Religion is the first thing and the last thing, and until a man has found God and been found by God, he begins at no beginning, he works to no end. He may have his friendships, his partial loyalties, his scraps of honor. But all these things fall into place and life falls into place only with God."

Fruit Worthy of Repentance

Luke 3:8
"Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones."

Where is the evidence of my faith and repentance found? Do I rely on my affiliation with the church? Should people assume I am saved because I am religious or because I am a pastor?
No, my faith is not validated by titles or labels but by my fruit; my behavior, how I treat others, my words, the product of my days. To repent means to turn 180 degrees away from sin and walk in the opposite direction. It is not enough to simply turn away from sin, I must demonstrate this turn by progressing in holiness and behavior that validate my recognition of sin. It matters less where I stand (in church, outside of culture, with the right political party, etc...) and more where and how I am walking day to day.
So, how am I walking? Do I see fruit being produced in my life and the lives of those around me on a daily basis? What would others say is the evidence of my repentance? How is my faith being validated?

Father - strengthen me and remind me to bear fruit daily. Let my faith be seen in my walk and not my status. May I be known by good fruit daily. Amen.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Jesus grew... the humanity of Jesus

Luke 2:40
And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
Luke 2:46-47
Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.
Luke 2:52
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Jesus, the Son of God, Deity wrapped in flesh, grew and learned just like an ordinary young man. Furthermore, He too relied on the filling of the Holy Spirit for wisdom and Grace. He asked questions and dialogued for answers. He worked on His reputation among the teachers in the Temple and His relationships within His family and community.
Sometimes I lean so heavily on the deity of Jesus that I miss the common and comforting aspects of His humanity. Jesus did not simply appear to be a man, He was not pretending to be human - He was fully man, learning, growing, questioning, stretching. His humanity was not limited because of His deity. Instead, one may argue that His deity was limited by His humanity. Jesus set aside so much more than heaven when He took on flesh. This is why He is able to fully identify with me and my common day to day experiences. I have a savior who is fully able to understand my growing pains not because of His divine knowledge, but because of His human experience.

Thank You Jesus for joining us in the human experience. Thank You for fully identifying with us in growth and maturity. Thank You for Your humble example of seeking and searching for Truth. Thank You for Your humanity by which I am comforted, knowing that I am not alone. Amen.