Sunday, December 30, 2012

Playing with the Band

That you may walk worthy of teh Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God... Colossians 1:10

In the past year I have undertaken to learn to play the bagpipes.  It is not a terribly common instrument, however there are many resources available on the internet as well as in print for private study.  With books, CD's and videos I labored greatly, trying to work my own way through this musical artform.  Once I had felt that I had acheived some level of proficiency I set out to join a Bagpipe band here in town.  I auditioned with the pipe major who graciously noted that I must have been self taught.  As it turns out I had learned many of my most basic movements incorrectly and, while they sounded fine to me, they would not do for playing with the band.  So my instruction began again, this time with a teacher and I am now progressing towards being able to play suitably as a member of the band.  There is a paralell in our spiritual life.  We may be tempted to be "self-study" Christians.  Turning over whatever leaves of knowledge that we can draw together with our experience and understanding, however, nothing can replace the corporate need of our faith.  It can be uncomfortable to be in a body.  It necessarily means being hurt and making mistakes.  Yet this is how we are meant to grow: together.  We can try to keep our old ideas and habits, but they will clash with what The Lord is doing in the body and in this way The Lord will change us, grow us, draw us to maturity.  It is a slow process, and a thorough one.  This is because He who calls us to salvation in Jesus Christ is not calling us to superficial change, but total and complete transformation.  We will struggle at times, at times we will be frustrated, but the worst thing that we can do is take ourselves "out of the band."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What Child is This?

"Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel." - Luke 2:29-32 NASB

The account of Simeon is amazing.  The Lord had revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.  When he held the baby Jesus in his arms he knew that he could depart in peace.  All of his hopes, and all of the hopes of the world were met and fulfilled in this promised Child whom we celebrate each December.  How much more blessed are we when we consider the Salvation that the Lord has provided, rather than listening to the ruckus that the world continually provides.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. - Luke 2:8 NASB

 Of all the things I love about the Christmas accounts, the angels appearance to the shepherds is among my favorites. The choice of God to herald Christ's coming to the shepherds gives us some valuable applications for the holidays.

  1) Shepherds were humble - Being with livestock all day was not a prestigious trade. Their work kept them out of many social and religious gatherings and they were solitary outcasts of "high society". This is exactly who Christ came to, and for: not who humanity views as the brightest and best, but the humble and needy.

  2) Shepherds were available - Far from the hustle and bustle of the city lights and the census hubbub, the shepherds were available and able to hear the angelic chorus, leave everything to go and see this Messiah who was born as a baby in Bethlehem.

  3) These Shepherds were special - Given the area of these shepherds were working in it was very likely that these were the very shepherds who would carefully breed many of the lambs that would be slaughtered in celebration of the Passover. They, who raised the lambs that were killed in anticipation of the Messiah would surely be interested in seeing, "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world."

 This Christmas season, I pray we may all be humble, available, and fully aware of the miraculous first advent of Jesus Christ on planet earth.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Christmas Miracle

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." - John 1:14 NASB There is so much to love about Christmas. The lights, the decorations, the food, and the songs all bring about special and wonderful memories. At this time, however, we can never lose sight of the most amazing thing that ever happened to the planet earth. This is the season where we celebrate the God Who put on skin, became flesh, and dwelt among us. In the person of Jesus Christ we behold the glory of God, and that glory came to us as a helpless baby, born to a young girl, as the greatest act of love the world would ever know.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Apply! Apply! Apply!

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. James 1:22 NASB There is no practice so valuable in my life as daily Bible reading. However, even in this wonderful habit there is a danger of fleshly interference. Whether by inattentively passing our eyes over the words and "checking a box" on our daily to-do list, or by reading to give ourselves some sense of self-righteousness, we can do this and still miss out on the great benefits of Bible reading. The piece that may be missing is application. It has well been said: "Every Bible should come bound in shoe-leather." Every verse of Scripture tells us something about the Lord, something about ourselves, something about what God is doing. Every verse is meant to be lived out, by the life of Christ, every day.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Guarded Mouth

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. - Psalm 141:3 NASB Words are a terribly difficult thing to control. A word can slip out without a single thought and it immediately reaches its target. Words spoken carelessly can inflict wounds, betray our true desire for a person and even lead us further from fellowship with the Lord. The Psalmist was wise to pen these words, for apart from the Lord we have no hope of controlling the words that we say. Yet, the importance of asking the Lord to guard our mouths could not be overstated!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

In Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, - Ephesians 1:3 NASB In considering the reality of our identification with Christ we can come to a growing understanding of why we must place our confidence in Christ: Because we are IN CHRIST! Placing our faith in Christ is not like placing our faith in a government, which may operate many miles away from us (and without our direct involvement). Rather, our confidence in Christ is more akin to our confidence in an airplane in which we are passengers. Our faith/trust/confidence doesn't keep the airplane in the air, nor does it change the direction or ultimate destination of the flight. Our faith and confidence, however, DOES affect how we will live while we are one the airplane.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Careless Words

Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! - Jam 3:4-5 NASB Careless words can be very costly. A word that was spoken in simple jest can cause a hurt that may never be fully seen. In a culture that esteems witticisms, sarcasm and humor it is easy to say the most horrible things in the context of a joke. It is easy to think that our words don't matter, or that we can have a little fun at someone else's expense, but such is not the love of Christ. May we all be careful with our words, using them to build others up in Christ, and never to harm them.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Where does my help come from?

I will lift up my eyes to the hills - From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2 Whenever I hear this verse my thoughts are always directed to the beautiful mountains of Colorado. I think of the amazing Mountain-Maker who has taken responsibility for my care. However, when David looked up towards the mountains he saw the "high places" of the pagan systems of worship. These verses were written as an open refutation of trusting in any of the false gods of the pagans. Of all of the things that man longs to worship and trust in only the Lord is worthy of our praise, worship and preoccupation. When we look to the mountains in amazement may we always remember the One who made the mountains.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Standard of Love

"This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you." - John 15:12 The word love is often defined as "a feeling". The world constantly confuses love with its concept of romance, and regularly produces films and books that are called "romantic" that have no trace of real love. Love, however, has been defined by the Lord, and has been given an absolute concrete standard. The standard of love, given by the One Who created love is found in Jesus Christ. He has loved us by sacrificing Himself for us at the Cross. This is the love that will flow forth from the one whose eyes are fixed upon Jesus Christ. This a ready test for each of us to know if we are abiding in Him. Is your love for your spouse, your children, your neighbors of this character and quality? Is it characterized by the willingness to seek after the very best of the beloved one, regardless of the cost? That is Christ's love. That is Christ's commandment.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Freed from Bondage

"Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Hebrews 2:14-15 A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens tells the story of a man (Dr. Manette) who was locked away in a tower for most of his life, losing nearly all of his mental capacity. As he lost his mind Dr. Manette made shoes to pass the time. In the book he is freed from prison and restored to his daughter, Lucie. Slowly, carefully, he is nursed back to health. However, even recovered, traumas cause him to retreat to the prison of his mind and he begins to make shoes again. Such is the life of the believer. We are free forever from the fear of death and the power of sin; yet, we can easily return to the prison patterns that we develop apart from the freedom of the Lord. However, just as Lucie could always pull Dr. Manette back, so looking to Christ alone can draw us back from our old "prison patterns."

Sunday, October 14, 2012


"Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God." 2 Corinthians 5:20 My wife and I lived in South Korea for about a year and a half. A South Korean friend once told me, "You completely changed my view of Americans. I had some bad experiences and I thought that was just how Americans were, but since I met you I had to change my perception completely." I took this as a great compliment. Most unbelievers have a certain perception and expectation of "Christians". They may have built these prejudices from the media, from what someone else has said, or from personal experiences. With every day we have an opportunity as ambassadors for Christ to show the life, love, grace and truth found in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is only possible, however, as we rest in Jesus Christ and abide in His life. Part of the Lord's work in us on this planet is to let others see the Person, character and life of Jesus Christ in us.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jude's Exhortation

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. - Jude 1:20-21 NASB Jude is a beautiful and practical letter containing most precious direction for the believer. These instructions are valuable to believers on a very basic and wonderful level: Building yourselves up - We are to be constantly growing and building both ourselves and each other up in the truth revealed in the Bible. Praying in the Holy Spirit - Moment by moment fellowship with the Holy Spirit causes us to be in constant connection with the Lord God. Keep yourselves in the Love of God - "Keep" here has the idea of keeping our eyes constantly fixed of the amazing love of God that was demonstrated for us by Christ at the Cross (Romans 5:8, 1 John 3:1) Waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ - When the Lord returns for us in the Church it will be to receive, not what we deserve (death and hell), but eternal life. We grow, individually and as a church body, as we heed Jude's instruction. As we grow in the Word of God, as we pray in the Spirit, as we focus upon God's amazing love, as we anxiously await the Lord's return, we are being transformed into the very image of Jesus Christ. In Christ, and in Christ alone, God has provided everything that we need for life and godliness. Rely upon HIS resources!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Salty Language

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Colossians 4:6 NKJV "Salty language", as a modern idiom, is something that we strive to avoid. In our culture it can mean language that is crass or crude. This was not at all what our speech being "seasoned with salt" meant to Paul. In the first century salt was a must. It was a preservative as well as a way to make otherwise bland or boring foods exciting and delicious. What is it that is meant to "season" the believer's language? Grace. The unlimited, unmerited favor of God provided by the completely adequate work of Christ is to characterize our every spoken word. This is not just the words that we say, but the very way in which we say those words. It can be easy when discussing dealing with situations in life for our speech to be come out putrid, rotten and tasteless. However, as we behold the Lord, and rest in His Holy Spirit our words will bring about the wonderful salt seasoned life, love, grace and peace of one who is walking with the Lord.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Good Investments


Time has been called the great equalizer.  Regardless of your station, or your wealth, or your talents we still all get the same amount of hours in a given week.  What decides the type of person that we become is what sort of investments that we make with that time, and the way that we make those investments.  Regardless of the many things that we must invest time in, like work, or home-care, and financial chores there is one investment that we cannot afford to miss.  The investments that we make in the spending time in the word of the Lord are those that will endure forever and ever.  When we understand the value of that investment we will not struggle nearly so much to make it.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Single Minded

Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. - Romans 15:5-6 NASB

Humans can be united by many things: a cause, a common fear or need, a common interest or hobby.  Christians often seek unity around things that are really not central to our faith.  We may look for unity around the same things the world seeks unity around.  The unity of believers is based and built upon the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Christ, and Christ alone, is a worthwhile basis for the unity of believers.  In this way alone can we experience the unity of the faith that Paul writes about so frequently.  Only as we pursue Him are we able to have "one mind" and speak with "one voice" as we are called to do.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Tongue

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit. 
Proverbs 18:21

A careless word can do a great deal of damage.  It is remarkable how much trouble a quick tongue can cause.  Whether we open our mouth to be funny, or to defend ourselves we need to measure our words carefully.  James wrote truly when he said, "So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!" (James 3:5)  It has been said that a simple word is like an arrow that reaches its target the moment it leaves the bow of our mouth.  I cannot count how many situations in my life would have been improved had I remembered James' words: "This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger..." (James 1:19) To date I have never had to apologize for a thing I didn't say.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Christ, and Him Crucified

For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

So very often we are amazed that the gospel is rejected by the world.  Yet what God has revealed is perfectly antithetical to what the world desires.  For some it is a great sign here and now, for others it is the demand that their intellectual pride be catered to in one regard or another.  Paul surely could have talked to them about the verifiable miracles of Christ.  Being an apostle he could have shown them a miracle; as Paul himself was used by God to do many miracles.  Being a man of great education and learning he could have engaged in an intellectual debate that would tickle their fancy.  However, Paul did not fall into either pitfall.  Far from this: "I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."  When Paul spoke to the learned he talked about Jesus Christ, and he resolved not to be ashamed of the gospel.  It is a great example for every believer to follow.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Strength and Weakness

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB 

Many Christians have the attitude that God is lucky to have them with all of their strength, skills and abilities.  Often times our delusions of our own capability gives us the feeling that God some how needs us.  D.L Moody wrote: "For instance, a man may say, 'I have no strength.' Let him turn to Romans 5:6. 'For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.'  It is because we have no strength that we need Christ.  He has come to give strength to the weak." (The Way to God).  Don't be afraid to be weak today, that you may rely on the God whose strength is made perfect in weakness.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Good Vision

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds... Hebrews 1:1-2

"Number one or number two?  Number three or number four?"  I love going to the eye doctor.  I love seeing more clearly.  My vision didn't change until I was in my mid-twenties and then my distance vision began to get a little fuzzy.  I then got glasses.  Driving a few weeks later I was looking at the wrong traffic signal on a confusing intersection and nearly got into an accident.  My vision was fine, but I was looking in the wrong place.  The author of Hebrews tells us where it is that we should be looking.  We are to look to Jesus: the final and ultimate revelation of God and Who He is!  He is revealed to us, by the illumination of the Holy Spirit on every page of the Bible.  Look to Him this week!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Made Complete

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority...
Colossians 2:9-10

Watchman Nee shares a wonderful illustration when he tells of a man with whom he was sharing the truth about the believer's identification with Christ.  Pointing to a teapot on the table he asked, "What should we think if that teapot were praying to God, 'Dear God, please make me a teapot!'"  His friend replied that we should think the teapot was quite silly indeed.  Yet, this is what we often do when we pray to be complete or whole.  That completeness is found in, and only in, our position in Christ.  God will not provide that completeness elsewhere, He has already declared us complete in Christ!

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.  So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
Galatians 6:9-10

Perseverance is one of the most difficult things in the world for a human to master.  If we could only manage to do the simplest things every day then the most complicated and challenging would seem little more than an extension of that consistent effort.  Such is the great challenge of all humanity.  As believers we find this challenge particularly important to our moment by moment fellowship with the Lord.  It doesn't seem complicated, but the "Important things" like getting to work, meeting a deadline or winning an argument are so often impeded by the "small things" like spending time in prayer and Bible study each day, loving our family members and sharing the gospel.  Make the "small" decisions right consistently and the "big" decisions will make themselves.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Fear of the Lord

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Proverbs 1:7

I remember as a young child getting to go water skiing in the St. Louisa inlet in British Columbia.  There was a trilling moment when I fell or dropped the rope.  I couldn't see the boat and I was in the largest body of water that I could imagine.  A thrill overtook my stomach.  I felt so small in comparison to the vast ocean.  The ocean is too big for me to consider.  It is this reverent feeling that helped me understand the fear of the Lord.  It is a question of understanding how great, how might, how power, how entirely "other" is the Lord.  When we grasp, to whatever degree that we can, that reality then we are able to learn.  Short of that realization of God at the core of our being we become only fools.  Might we come to the word that we might learn "the fear of the Lord." Psalm 34:11

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Those Who Rule

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
Romans 13:1 NASB

Americans have a very strong sense of individualism.  We have a tendency to become overly infected by our options and our freedoms.  These are not necessarily bad things, but we can easily forget Who is in charge.  Thus, we may be tempted to be defiant towards authorities.  We can develop and attitude that does not honor the government.  We may even quite piously say, "I have no authority but God!" But this attitude is simply sin.  God, in His sovereignty, set up authorities over us to rule and to reign.  God established these governments in Genesis 9 and confirms the throughout Scripture.  He also takes final responsibility for them.  There is not one earthly ruler that could not be taken out of the picture in a moment if God so desired it.  This means that to rebel against the government for any other reason than that government prohibiting us from the basic tenants of our faith is telling God He doesn't know what He is doing.  Think of Christ's response to the zealots who attempted to crown Him king before He went to the cross.  His answer to us is the same.  We must await His timing, taking every opportunity possible to share the Good News of Jesus Christ before it is too late.

Quiet Life

 But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more,and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need. 
1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12

Often times we imagine the people who make the biggest splash must be the most useful to the Lord.  We think that if we were just more like this or that "Christian celebrity" then we may be somehow more useful to the Lord.  However, the life of Christ in the believer has nothing to do with fame, nor does the Lord count success as we count success.  Even with all of the big named celebrities in the world, chances are your life has been most affected by a family, a co-worker or a friend.  It seems a quiet life can be the life that makes the greatest impact for the Lord.  Fix your eyes on Jesus, go about your business and see what He will do.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fear and Trust

The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.
Proverbs 29:25

I do sometimes wonder what it must be like to be an NFL quarterback.  Just to think that someone is going to hand me a little ball and then about half of the 200 pound guys are going to try to run into me until I get rid of that ball.  I think I would be tempted to just give it back to the guy who handed it to me!  We often see quarterbacks make mistakes when the offense breaks through the line.  The best quarterbacks seem to find a solution even under pressure.  In the tough moments fear based decisions are mostly poor ones.  In our lives fearing people (and circumstances) is a continual trap.  However, when we trust the Lord we realize that our fears are always misplaced.  What can man do to those who are in the hands of the living God?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Big Investments with Little Moments

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
Matthew 24:35

One thanksgiving my mother marveled at how it takes several days to prepare for the Thanksgiving meal and only an hour or two for us to all eat it and slip into a turkey coma.  We invest money and time into our cars, knowing that one day even the best cared for car will fall to pieces and find its place in a junkyard.  We even invest hours into our diet and exercise, caring for our body with a great deal of time and effort.  These investments are all important and positive investments of time.  However, there is an investment that we can make that will never pass away.  The word of God will never pass away.  We will still be talking about it in the New Jerusalem, marveling at the amazing God revealed in it.  That is a good investment.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Where is the Wise Man?

Where  is  the wise? Where  is  the scribe? Where  is  the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? (1 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV) H. G. Wells, in his science fiction classic "The Time Machine", writes of a man who travels forward to what the author imagines the end of the world to be like.  Wells adopts the atheistic eschatology that everything will decay, fall apart and the sun will burn out ending all life on earth.  It is a hopeless and pathetic end.  He resolves that if this is the way things end it only leaves man to "live as if it were not so" because the philosophy of meaninglessness gives no reason to go on.  God, again, makes foolish the wisdom of the world.  While the godless world system must live as if they didn't believe what they believe, believers are filled with a future that promises the hope and life of a future eternity with the loving Savior Jesus Christ, by whose life, death, resurrection, ascension and seating we are saved.  While the world must look at what they have foolishly believed and pretend that it isn't true.  Believers can live constantly and consistently in the truth of God's revealed Word.  Awaiting the blessed hope of His appearing.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Singing in the Morning

But I will sing of Your power; Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; For You have been my defense And refuge in the day of my trouble. (Psalm 59:16 NKJV) How a thing begins often dictates how it will end.  Getting a good start on a new business venture is vital. When a movie starts out slow it is terribly difficult to win the audience back in the middle.  Humans have a special gift of getting to start fresh each day.  Our Lord assures us that His mercies are new every morning.  How we start our days often dictates the kinds of things that we will think about, and the tenor of our whole day. Do we start out with a rush and a hurry or will we start our days out with our focus on our relationship with Christ. While it may be difficult to open our eyes each morning and ignore the list of things that we feel that we must accomplish nothing could be more profitable than to open our eyes in the morning and begin with a song of Our Lord's power and love, and begin by entrusting ourselves to His care. If you are looking for a good song to start with I have always loved "How Great Thou Art".

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Fastest Car in the World

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus
Romans 6:11 NASB

I have seen pictures of the fastest car in the world, but I don't know if I believe them.  In the pictures the car is always just standing still.  I imagine if you saw this car in person it wouldn't be very fast...unless someone was driving it.  The fastest car in the world just stands like a statue until someone gets in, puts it in gear and pushes the gas pedal.  Similarly, we can know about our relationship with God without actually pursuing Him.  Through the life of Christ, however, we are able to read the precious promises of God's word AND trust in Him for life.  We are able to approach Him in prayer at any time.  After all, even the fastest car in the world doesn't go anywhere, unless you drive it!

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Powerful Prayer Life

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7 NKJV) It is so easy to slide into complacency or inattentiveness in our prayer lives. Excuses offer themselves up almost without being called upon.  We think we are too busy, or we don't think we know how to pray.  The worst deception is the 'theological' deception which attempts to excuse our laziness in prayer by a feigned belief in God's perfect knowledge and plan. This self deception often rears its head with the rather pious sounding platitude: "Why should I pray when God knows what I am going to say before I even start?"  Prayer is about our relationship with God through the completed work of Jesus Christ.  Just as we love to talk to our loved ones, even when they already know what we are going to say, so we long to speak regularly with the Lord. But there is yet more reason.  With the end of this age being closer than it ever was before, our serious and watchful prayer is more important than ever.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

"Just leave me alone, okay?"

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. 
1 Thessalonians 5:11

"Just leave me alone, okay?"  My friend had walked up to me in the midst of a hard week.  The only response I had left for him was to turn around and walk away.  On top of the unfavorable events of the week another brother in the Lord had heard about my problem and preached at me which just increased my foul disposition.  I wasn't in any mood for another sermon.  However, this friend persisted.  He sat down next to me and carefully drew out the problem.  He listened and responded sympathetically.  Then he gave some great advice that turned the whole week around.  Thinking about it later I realized that both friends gave identical advice, but only one had the time to listen before giving it. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012


BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. Ephesians 4:26-27 

Anger is a powerful emotion.  This danger of anger (or any strong emotion) is that the emotion will take over and make the believer lose self control.  It is important to realize, however, that there is a place in our lives for anger.  Like any emotion the way to deal with it is not by hiding from it or denying it or pretending that it doesn't exist, it is by submitting it to the Lord.  If we choose not to keep short accounts our anger can become like a low burning fire that can flare up at a moments notice. Trying to hide our emotions, or hide from them only gives the devil an opportunity (a foothold) in our lives.  As believers we must constantly be in fellowship with the Lord, submitting our thoughts and feelings to His Spirit and His word.  The consequences of not doing so always bring destructive results.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, If You are willing, You can make me clean. Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out  His  hand and touched him, and said to him,  I am willing; be cleansed. (Mark 1:40, 41 NKJV) This passage is constantly astounding to me.  It is another wonderful illustration of how Christ is entirely other, separated and holy.  Levitical law commanded that people with certain skin diseases were to be sent away. They were pronounced "unclean" and henceforth to be cut off so that their uncleanliness would not infect the "clean" or righteous people.  Such is the nature of human righteousness.  It can be sullied, dirtied and ruined.  Yet Christ has a different kind of righteousness.  Impervious to stain.  When Jesus touched this unclean man Jesus did not become unclean, this man became clean!  In this amazing account I see clearly why it is so valuable that we have been given Christ's righteous.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Joyous Anticipation

Come, let us sing to the Lord; let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation. Psalm 95:1

Our children wake up each morning with an overwhelming excitement and anticipation for the day ahead.  Of the 500 questions I field before 7:15 in the morning one of the early ones is always, "What do we get to do today?"  For these sweet little children there is no question that each day holds endless potential for fun and opportunity to do the many things that they enjoy.  Sadly, as we age those simple joys of waking up and facing a new day seem to get old, or become common place.  However, we don't have to lose that sense of wonder and hope.  It is found in a relationship with the Living Lord.  We can wake each morning with that same sensation knowing that our Father has much in store for us with each passing day.  Let us meet that with joyful singing and shouting to the Rock of our salvation!

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Message that Keeps

This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. (Acts 2:32 NASB) The "Church Calendar" has advantages and disadvantages.  As an advantage, it gives us an opportunity each year to think about key events in the life of Jesus Christ (His birth, His death, He and the Father sending the Spirit).  This is good, because humans forget important things easily.  The danger of these traditions is that we may be tempted to think: "Good, I thought about that for the year." Then go on our merry way.  The message of Jesus Christ dying for us and rising again on the third day, to bring us to God is our message year round.  It is the sum total of all of the hope that we have and all of the best news that we have to give the world around us.  As we enjoy the celebration, let's take it into the rest of the year.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Putting on a Show

"So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full." (Matthew 6:2 NASB) It is easy to do things in order to receive recognition.  It is much easier to do the right thing when you know someone will notice it.  Sometimes we can be most annoyed when we do the right thing and we do not get the thanks or praise to which we feel entitled.  We must remember Who our true audience is.  When we insist on being recognized it is because we don't understand, or worse yet, don't believe, that God truly sees what we do when we rest in Him.  Furthermore, God is the giver of eternal rewards.  A clear view of God means that we will not rely upon the thanks and praise of men, because we are only concerned with the opinion that matters most: that of Our Lord.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.  For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 1 John 3:1

As we prepare for the week in which we take time to consider the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ we want to see clearly.  This is a love story.  Not just a love story, it is THE Love Story.  It would be a great tragedy to approach this week commemorating Christ's completed work on the cross and forget what it so clearly is: an expression of His perfect, powerful and altogether amazing love for each of us.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Whiter than Snow

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7

Some of my fondest memories involve snow.  I remember when my parents got a puppy for Christmas one year.  I remember romping in the snow with a new dog.  I remember the first year April and I were married we got stuck in a snowstorm that shut the city down and we got to spend an entire week together without any interruption whatsoever.  However, the most noteworthy thing that comes to mind in fresh snowfall is how pure and clean everything looks.  When the sun shines it can be too brilliant to look upon.  This is how clean we are in Christ, how complete His justification.  It is not only forgiveness, it is a complete cleansing and gift of His righteousness.  All by grace, through faith.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Contests of Strength

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:25 NASB

My son LOVES to wrestle with his daddy.  He could happily roll around on the carpet for hours just "winning" and getting overpowered and doing it all again.  The funny thing is that it never really is much of a contest.  I have to be very careful because it is easy for a fully grown man to overpower a child of three.  I think of this illustration with great joy, because God says that His "weakness" is stronger than our most impressive strength and power.  Nothing this world can provide to oppose God would even register on His "power scale".  That is encouraging, the one who loves you and me has a power that is fully beyond our comprehension.  And He used that power in bringing us back into a relationship with Him.

Monday, February 27, 2012

New Every Morning

The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, 
For His compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning; 
Great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB

God created us to live in time.  We are made to work, sleep and wake again each morning.  God created us to be awed by His amazing love and grace every moment.  We cannot experience tomorrow now, neither can we "redo" yesterday.  We can only wake up each morning, rely on His compassion and lovingkindness (grace), which never fails.  As our eyes are fixed on Jesus Christ, each morning we will see those mercies as "new".  Our relationship with the Lord is always fresh and filled with life, because HE is the source of life.  And He is always faithful.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

God is for us...

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 
Romans 8:31 NASB

Please read the verse above again.  Feel free to read it a few more times.  It can take years to undo the bad programming that we have received from our flesh and the world.  Bad ideas slip in, totally unchallenged.  Believers, saved by grace, still think that God is working against them.  Some think that God is holding grudges from past sins, others that God is on the other side of a chess board (Thinking "If I do this, He will do that").  Romans 8:31 blows all of those lies out of the water.  If you are in a relationship with Jesus Christ, God is FOR you!  Not just as a fan, or as a cheerleader.  He is going to see that you succeed spiritually - that is, be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.  Neither the Devil, nor his minions, neither the world system, nor it's authorities, neither your own quivering flesh, nor your own failing will can stand between God and His goal in your life.  God IS for you.  God NEVER fails.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Information Overload

Be still, and know that I am God; 
I will be exalted among the nations, 
I will be exalted in the earth! 
Psalm 46:10 NKJV

Our society has no shortage of information.  Television, radio, internet and movies provide moment by moment updates on anything and everything that happens.  Furthermore, between phone calls, emails and text messages we are rarely out of reach by anyone and everyone.  It has been said that there is more information in one Sunday edition of the New York Times than people of previous generations would receive in their entire lives.  It is easy to be overcome by the information that comes charging into our lives through every available outlet. More than ever believers need to take time to be still.  Disconnect from the stream of information and know the character of the God who saved us and loves us.  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Facts about Babies newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 
1 Peter 2:2 NASB

On Sunday, January 29th Atticus Jeffrey was born.  April and I were quickly reminded of one important fact:  Babies cry.  When a Atticus is hungry he begins crying and shrieking, whining and hollering until his need is met.  Even though every parent could imagine a life with a little less crying the reality is that crying is something a healthy baby does when he is hungry.  The thing that strikes me is the intensity of a baby's cries.  That is exactly the intensity that Peter was talking about when he encourages believers to "long" for the pure milk of the word.  We need to take in the word; in our private devotions, and in our corporate times together!  Every time you hear a baby cry I hope you examine that baby and long to imitate his or her desire for the pure milk of the word of God!

Sunday, January 22, 2012


To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. 
Ephesians 1:6 NKJV

A man shows up at a fancy restaurant in a t-shirt and shorts, flip-flops clicking across the fine porcelain floors.  Unshaven and unbathed the tramp walks up to the hostess and asks for a table.  She tells Him that he cannot be seated.  When he asks why, assuring her that he has the ability to pay, she says it isn’t that he can’t pay, it’s that he is not dressed appropriately.  Even if he were to have the proper attire she assures him that they would never allow him to dine there looking unshaven and smelling like sweat.  The only solution is that the man be made fully acceptable.  He must have the proper clothes.  He must be bathed and he must be shaven. This example is only a feint picture of what has gone on between us and God the Father in the person of Jesus Christ.  We cannot even begin to understand what it means to be acceptable before God.  Scripture assures us that we were totally unacceptable before God for a number of reasons.  Not simply because of our hair or our clothes, but because of something far deeper.  God is, as a part of His character, fully righteous and cannot have fellowship with any who are not righteous.  We, far from having any righteousness of our own, have only unrighteousness to our name.  The only way we can ever be acceptable to Him, is as we are placed in His perfect Son, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Any Day Now...

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 
1 Corinthians 15:51-52

April is now approaching her due date.  Any day now our new son or daughter will be born into this world.  I am starting to get to the point where I jump every time April coughs.  Labor is imminent and anticipation is high.  It makes me think of the reality of the imminent return of Christ.  Every believer is to be comforted and encouraged by the fact that our Lord could return for us at any time.  At any moment we could be face to face with the Savior who loved us and gave Himself up for us.  It places a great value on the present moment, and brings our trials into perspective.  Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Friday, January 6, 2012


"Dear believer, the blessing is indeed within your reach.  He who establishes you with us in Christ is God.  What I want you to take in is this:  Believing the promise will not only give you comfort but will also be the means of obtaining your desire.  You know how Scripture teaches us that in all God's leadings with His people faith has everywhere been the one condition for seeing His power manifested.  Faith is the ceasing from all our natural efforts and all other dependence; faith is confessed helplessness casting itself upon God's promise and claiming its fulfillment; faith is putting ourselves quietly into God's hands for Him to do His work.  What you and I need now is to take time, until this truth stands out before us in all  its spiritual brightness:  It is God Almighty, God the Faithful and Gracious One, who has undertaken to establish me in Christ Jesus."
-Andrew Murray Abiding in Christ

Monday, January 2, 2012

Knowing and Knowing About

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 
Philippians 3:10 NASB

I enjoy biographies.  Reading about the lives of people who changed history.  Learning about their habits, actions, idiosyncrasies, and abilities simply fascinates me.  However, as much as I can know about a person in a biography I will never know them through such reading. Through our faith, through reading the Bible, through prayer and through Christian fellowship, we are not just learning about God, we are coming to know God.  This is all given in Scripture in the context of relationship.  Knowing Him as the Shepherd, The Savior, Friend, Master, Bridegroom and Father.  May this year be marked by more intimately knowing the God who knows us perfectly.