Monday, September 27, 2010

Daily Verse - 9/27/2010

Ephesians 5:1-2

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

How awesome would it be to always live a life of love. Who doesn't love being loved? Who doesn't love to love others? This week, I encourage you to find ways to live a life of love. Forget annoyances, bitterness, anger or anything else that wells up from the darkness and replace it with love. If we all do that, what a wonderful impact we'll have on those we encounter.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Overcoming the World – DDJ #4

1 John 5:5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Every day has it’s battles where the world tries to drag me under. This is why I need to commit each day to Him so that I know every morning that “This is the day the Lord has made;” (Psalms 118:24a) and I shall rejoice in that instead of allowing the world to drag me down, planting seeds that blossom into bitterness, complaining and discontent. Jesus overcame this world and that thought needs to remain ever-present in my mind so that when the attacks do come, I can focus not on them, reacting from my sinful nature, but on Jesus so I know His grace is sufficient to guide me through all troubles.

Father God,
Your light shines through even the deepest darkness and brings with it a pure love unlike anything I’ve ever known in this world.

I admit there are far too many times I lose focus and forget the light is there. This is when I stumble and when I fall and often cause others to go down with me. Please forgive me, Father.

Thank you so much for continuing to shine that light and continuing to remind me of its presence, even when I feel as if my whole world is nothing but darkness. I know on my own I’m totally unworthy of such love, but thanks to you offering your one and only son to die for my ongoing sin-life, I can embrace that love as a birthright that no one can take away from me as long as I don’t forget it’s there.

Please continue to shield my heart and mind, Father. Continue to transform me into the man you designed me to be. And on this day, the second birthday of the beautiful son you blessed us with, please make sure that love shines through every nook and cranny in our lives, Father, so that at no single instant we could possibly lose sight of your light.

Thank you, Father. I pray all these things in your Son’s holy name, amen.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Not Sinning – DDJ #3

But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. – 1 John 3:5-6

While this verse assures us we can be sin free, I don’t know that I’ll ever be 100% free from sin as long as my spirit is anchored to this weak flesh. However, I do fully believe that by focusing on God and growing every day to become more Christ-like I can minimize my sinful nature and make it a non-factor in the wake I leave through the waters of this world.

Father God,
Thank you for loving a broken, wretched soul like me.
Please help me remain focused on You at all times, so that I might continue to grow into the man You designed me to be – sin free.

In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The God of All Grace - DDJ#3

Yesterday’s devotional explored how God perfectly equips us to go where he guides. Today’s digs into the part where we come in: asking God into our lives daily.

I need to rebuild the habit of spending time with God every morning. Back when life was a little more ordered, before the economy tanked and we lost our house, I spent the last 10-20 minutes before I went to work praying. Once the chaos of life hit: our son’s birth, loss of jobs, loss of house, change of scenery, change of career path, I lost that time somewhere. Sure, I try to pray daily, but I no longer have an intentional plan to do so. As Angie is very fond of mentioning these days, we need to live, love, pray and do everything else intentionally, always.

One thing I’m well aware of is the power of prayer, yet I’ve failed to live an intentional prayer life every day for several years now.

Well, no more.

From today onward I will get back to praying every morning. While I may not always have a chance to do this devotional journal, I can pray anywhere, anytime. So, why not pray to start the day? Pray to ask God into my day as soon as my brain is functioning (which isn’t right when I wake up… ha!) and let his light shine on my efforts. Every day. Intentionally.

Psalm 32:6a
Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found;

Father God,
Communicating with You is such an amazing privilege. The very notion that You care enough to listen to the words of a broken soul like me makes my heart sing.

I’m sorry I’ve gotten away from my intentional prayer time, Father. Please forgive me. While I’ve never stopped praying, I have let the intentional prayer time slip away.

Please remind me daily to get back to You, Father. And, in those moments, please shine Your light into my life so that I might be filled with Your love and have more than enough to pass that grace onto everyone I contact, all day long.

I know there will be “those days”, but just as You’ve helped me through every one of them so far, how much more will You help me through the ones still to come when You fill my tank each morning!

Thank You for loving me, Father. Thank You for blessing me with such a wonderful wife and son, family, friends and beautiful brothers and sisters in Christ.

I pray all this in your Son’s holy name.

Christian Perfection - DDJ #2

My father sent me a really nice leather-bound daily devotional journal for my birthday last week. Andrew Murray, a pastor I wasn’t previously familiar with, authors the devotionals. My father asked me to do the journal with him each day, which will be our first ever Father/Son experience (odd to have that at 42 years old), and then email them to one another. Since I have to type it up after writing it, I figure I might as well post it here as well.
The devotional for yesterday revolved around Hebrews 13:20-21.

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

This passage reminds me of a saying Darius Sanders, the Youth Pastor at Palm Valley Church is fond of, and one I love now as well after seeing it manifest in my life more than once.

“Where God guides, God provides.”

I love how true that saying really is. While I may not have felt equipped to become a pastor, God led me that way and as soon as I ‘overcame my unbelief’ and followed that leading, God set to work building the foundation within me to do just that.

“With man this is impossible, with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

So, I want to encourage you today to never feel as if you cannot do something if God is trying to move you to it. If He can transform a wretch like me into what I’ve become, He can do anything. But you have to let Him move you. Once you do, move you He will…

Monday, September 20, 2010

Verse for today

Galatians 5:16-26
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Verse for today

Galatians 1:15-16
"We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified."

It's not about rules, it's about a relationship.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thank you, Father.

It's easy to get caught up in life and forget to appreicate what we have, that is, until it's gone/changed or otherwise not what we should be thankful for anymore. I'm very guilty of this, seldom realizing how good some facet of my life is until it's gone; only becoming noticeable in it's absence.

Over the last few years I've made a concerted effort to get past that and really count my blessings, appreciate them more and offer thanks to God for heaping them upon me. Thankfully, this has made me more cognizant of these things when they rise up, so that I can appreicate them for what they are: true blessings from our Lord.

Last night, during our second Mission Trip meeting, it occurred to me what a wonderful mother my son has. Now, I know my wife is a great, loving mother and I love her more than I could ever verbalize, but I don't know that I'd ever fully realized just how fully awesome her mothering spirit was until our son came down with some nasty stomach bug last night and began rapidly vomiting all over the place.

Now, my wife will be the first to admit she's not always been that comfortable around little children, but the way she sprang into action last night really impressed me. Not only did she physically tend to his needs, she held him close, comforted him, made sure he knew she was there for him, but after he went to bed, she opened up one of our study bibles and poured through it, reading scripture and praying for God's healing hand on our son. I know she prays, but something tells me she attacked this thing last night with the kind of zeal every prayer warrior should wield like a weapon of war.


God listened.

This morning our son woke up healthy and happy, albeit hungry. What the doctor's office said would take anywhere from 12-24 hours to pass, if we were lucky, lasted about 5 hours. In part, or whole, I'm sure, because his mother humbled herself before the Lord almighty and pleaded with him to place his healing hands on our son.

That's what a good Christian mother should do and that's exactly what my wife did.

Thank you, Father. For blessing a screw-up like me with such a wonderful, God honoring woman. She's far more than I ever deserved.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Truth is fiction?

It probably comes as no surprise that I love Star Wars. I remember sitting front row center for the debut of the first movie in 1977 when I was 8-years old. My jaw fell open when the first Star Destroyer flew over head and I don't think it closed until the credits were rolling.

While the imagery and imagination drew me in, I think it's the tale of Luke Skywalker, that spoke to me on a deeper level. Here's a young guy who had no idea who his father was at first, but then discovers as he matures that he had this incredible legacy that far exceeded anything he could have imagined.

I grew up not knowing my real father either, hence relating to Luke. Well, I just found out I have another commonality with the young Jedi Knight.

For the past several years I've felt led to pastoring in some form or another. I don't know why, but I've really felt a tug on my heart. It came as no real surprise to me that my spiritual gifts align with pastoring either.

Then, a few weeks ago I started emailed with my earthly Father. He's been out of my life for almost 40 years now, but we did speak on the phone once a few years ago. After hearing God's whispers, I emailed him and we started dialoguing.

Well, as it turns out, he attended Seminary a long time ago and has been deeply involved with his church for years now, leading small groups, ministering to men and filling in as a teaching pastor when a need arises.

He emailed me last night and informed me that our family has a litany of preachers and pastors. Including the women, there have been five or six in the last two generations.

No one on my mother's side has much to do with the Church, except my Aunt, who used to go to one of those Fire & Brimstone churches, which was a major turn off to me as a child. So, I always wondered where the call to pastor came from, aside from the obvious answer: Jesus.

So, just like Luke Skywalker, I now know of a legacy I'm called to fulfill, and how my ancestors did so as well.

Granted, I don't think I get to play with a real light saber, but doing God's work is more rewarding than slicing up AT-ATs anyway.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Max Lucado's daily devotional

I really admire Max Lucado's wordsmithing skills and hope to have his level of ability with the written word someday. Case in point, his devotional for today touches on the same subject I discussed in my last post, but he does it far more eloquently than I did...

"Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon." Philippians 4:5 (NLT)


I usually cringe at generalizations. You know, stereotypes; lumping an entire group of people into a confining box.

Like "The _______ (nationality) are so ________ (bad character trait)." or "Those ___________ (age group) all are so ____________ (strange habit or behavior)."

However, every once in a while, in the lumping, a compliment is paid.

I was at my coffee-house-office-away-from-home recently. As I waited in line for a drink, a frail, elderly woman stood in front of me ordering a meal. She seemed distressed, her face reflecting her frustration as she fumbled for her change, paid the worker, then gathered up her bag of food and picked up her drink. As she headed for the door, her large purse began swinging off of her shoulder, nearly knocking her, and all of her lunch, to the floor.

" am I going to do this. Oh my....oh dear...I can't....." she mumbled to herself, trying to shift her weight and her cargo while pushing open the door at the same time.

Though I'd just finally reached the front of the line, God used today's verse to tap me on the heart and shift my momentary schedule. I quickly hopped out of line. "Here. Let me get that for you." I uttered as I held the door open and steadied her drink. "Would you like me to carry your food to your car?"

This precious lady stopped dead in her tracks, her bright blue eyes looking up at me with gratefulness. "Oh dear...why you must still have a grandmother living that you love to be so kind to an old woman."

"No ma'am, I don't." I answered. "I just love Jesus and He wants me to help you."

Her face swiftly softened. She then shook her head slightly and decidedly declared. "Oh my...Of course! You people have always been so helpful to me. I don't know what I'd do without you."

You people.

She meant, "You Christians."

She didn't align herself with the group saying, "Oh thank you for helping a sister out." No. She referred to me--and others who loved Jesus--as "you people."

It made me wonder, how had other Christians helped her in the past? Did they take her a meal? Rake her yard in the fall or shovel her driveway in the winter? Had they given her a ride to a doctor's appointment?

It drove home again for me the age old truth: more is caught than taught. And it demonstrated to me that people are watching.

And lumping.

What do they see? Do they see us being considerate in all we do? Sadly, I have been told all of the following:

By a waitress: "Christians are the worst tippers in the world; especially after a big Sunday supper out. Sometimes they leave no money at all."

By an acquaintance in college: "You're a Christian? So do you stand in front of the science building and scream Bible verses at people telling them they are all going to hell for believing in evolution? I don't believe in evolution. I am just trying to go to class."

By a sweet, misguided teenager from a broken and violent home, looking for love with her heart and announcing it with her body: "Oh, I tried going to church once. There was a sign on the front door that said 'All are welcome but please dress appropriately.' I didn't know what appropriately meant, but I knew it wasn't me. So I turned around and left."

If people watching see uncaring or harshly condemning Christians, why would they want to become one?

My prayer today is that you and I, as true Christ-followers, will be lumped in the "you people" group my sweet coffee house friend saw.

Considerate Christians. They make God and His body of believers look good. Sure, believers already know He is good. But others? They are watching. And lumping. What do they see in you?

Dear Lord, forgive me for the times I choose condemnation over love; rudeness over kindness; or decide to do nothing rather than do the right thing. Please prompt my heart and interrupt my momentary schedule so my actions accurately reflect who You are. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Whoremongers! God Will Judge You!

We went to the MN State Fair last night to see Jeremy Camp and Mercy Me in concert. While it wasn’t quite as spiritually powerful as T.D. Jakes’ message at the Global Leadership Summit, it was very moving. You could really feel the Holy Spirit in the grandstand and feel the power of everyone praying the message rolled off the stage and out into the fairgrounds where so many lost souls walked around, chasing what the world has to offer. Angie commented several times how she felt moved to pray for those out in the fairgrounds over and over again as the night went on. And she wasn’t alone.

Once the show ended, we left feeling filled with His glory and got on the bus to head back to the Park-n-Ride where we left our car.

And that’s when I crashed.

As the bus turned left from the stand, heading down Snelling Avenue, I happened to look out the window and see some… guy… (the pause is indeed me biting my tongue) holding a sign up at the people leaving the fairgrounds. The sign said “WHOREMONGERS! GOD WILL JUDGE YOU!”

And here’s where the irony sets in. This guy is standing there, showing everyone the antithesis of what Jesus died for in God’s name. He’s not showing love, he’s not reaching lost souls, he’s hardening hearts against all of Christianity and Christ. He’s creating a roadblock for the Word in a world that’s already resistant to it. In what twisted plan does a sign like that do anyone any good?

Leviticus 19:18 Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord

So, my first reaction was to add a wrong to his wrong: I wanted to get off the bus, grab the sign and whack him in the head with it. Admittedly, that was no more Christian than his misguided attempt to change the world and thankfully I immediately felt convicted for even entertaining such a thought. Thank you for nudging me back in line, Father.

I’m seriously considering going back up there tonight, armed with some real scripture, to discuss this guy’s course of action and see if I can lead him to a path that honors God. Let’s face it, 95% of the world is lost right now, and we don’t need people on God’s side scaring off any of them who might be curious. No wonder most American’s say “Hypocrite” when they’re asked what they think of Christians. Jesus is Love, not slandering people and telling them God is going to get them. He’s not some spiritual boogie-man, He’s the originator of love.

Let’s say you’re a young person, somewhat curious about Jesus, but still lost. You’re out for a night of fun with friends and a certain female you like, and you leave the Fair (essentially a family oriented place, although beer is rampant), right into some guy telling you “God will judge you” odds are, you’re perception of Christianity, Jesus, God and anything else Jesus died for will drop rapidly on the “cool scale”. And, it’s also a good bet you won’t feel loved by God

So, while this guy may think his sign is somehow helping our Lord, it’s doing far more harm than good. Optimistically, maybe one person saw that and felt convicted enough to change their life. However, the pragmatic view is that potentially hundreds if not thousands of other people were driven further from Christ.

Luke 10:25-28
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

So this brings me to the question, how do we heal the sick in our own camp? Everywhere we turn there are “Christians” doing everything from waving angry signs to committing far worse atrocities at the global level. They’re perverting the gospel and allowing the evil one to ruin our witness to the world by influencing their actions.

As a fiction writer, I know the most compelling villains are the ones who believe they’re doing the right thing. So, how do we, as God’ children, combat these villains in our own midst?

Ephesians 4:11-15
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

It’s easy to say we should go to them and speak the truth in love. But talk is cheap, in this case, talking about talking to them is cheap. Actually talking to them isn’t. In either case, prayer is powerful.

I’d like to ask that today, you pray for the villains in our midst. That they turn back to the true gospel, dispelling their erroneous notions and cleansing their vessels so that the Holy Spirit might guide their hands when they write signs, or speak publicly, post on the internet or otherwise gain the attention of the world around them. If one soul is forever lost because of signs like this, it’s one too many.

Father God,
As expressed by Mercy Me and Jeremy Camp, Your love for us is perfect, infinite and without a catch. You love us no matter what. And for that, we’re eternally grateful.

I admit I don’t always reciprocate that love, nor do I always let it shine through to those around me. My first reaction last night was not one of love, as it should have been. Please forgive me for ever trying to make myself the last stop on the road of Grace you pave every day.

Sadly, there are those among us who fail to grasp that “love the Lord” and “love your neighbor” are the most important of all the commandments. Please hear our prayers that all people, including ourselves might come under conviction and learn to “Love Well” everywhere, everyday, from this one to the last one here on Earth.

We beg these things of You, in Your Son’s precious name.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Share your love!

If you know me, you know I have this thing about wearing Christian tee shirts. Well, I've felt led to make some of my own for years and finally did something about it this week.

More designs coming, so if this one doesn't suit you (pun intended) check back later.

Share your love of the Lord!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sad verse

It's amazing how some passages in the bible could have been written today.

2 Corinthians 4:4
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Please take a moment and prayer for an unbeliever, that their true sight might be restored and they might see the truth of Christ before it's too late.