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Monthly Archives: November 2017

Inspired by Fred’s Blog

The Next Phase

Dear God, I read a friend’s blog this morning and a story from when he was in his 20s reminded me of the enthusiasm of youth. He spent 10 years running a coffee shop and doing street witnessing at night. While I’ve never done anything that bold for that long, I can certainly recognize a zealousness in my 20s that has been dulled over the last 25 years. What causes that? Was I right then and wrong now? Was I foolish then and wise now?

When I really stop and think about it, I think zealousness about one’s own life philosophies or beliefs is inversely commensurate with one’s exposure to a broader world. It’s easy for the child to believe everything their parent teaches them when they are young because no one else challenges it. But as children age, learn about history, meet new people, read different books, and watch different videos (movies, TV shows, and clips they can watch online) they start to have to reconcile their small world with a vastly larger world.

In my own case, I used to be much more theologically conservative. Only some were going to Heaven and the rest were going to Hell. Certain things were definitely sin that needed to be repented of. My dogma was rigid and my ability to judge others was high. But then life starts to present me with certain realities. It’s easy to think homosexuality is wrong until you have to talk to your gay sibling about it and then you start to think about all of the ways that you yourself have grieved God sexually. It’s easy to think that only those who followed the Christian formula are going to heaven until hundreds of thousands of people (most of them Muslim) die instantaneously in a tsunami at the end of 2004 and you as yourself if hundreds of thousands of people just went straight to hell. It’s easy to think that poor people need to just pick themselves up and get to work until you sit with them in person and really understand the causes of multi-generational poverty and also the particular circumstances in their lives. That’s when you start to really work out your faith with fear and trembling. That is just a taste of what life has taught me over the last 25 years.

Father, I am still on this journey. I am still blind to my prejudices. I guess the one thing I have going for me is that I know that I’m ignorant. I know that my faith and love are incomplete. So I submit myself to you, your teaching, and your process for my life. Protect me from outright heresy. Please keep me from going too far in my worldly knowledge and philosophy. Lead me in your Spirit and your Truth. Be glorified in me so that your kingdom will come and your will will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

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Romans 3:23-26

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Romans 3:23-26

Dear God, when I was a senior in high school, my youth minister had some of us memorize three passages: Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, and Romans 10:9-10. The idea was that we could use these verses to lead someone to faith and discipleship in Jesus. While I learned the passages, come to think of it, I don’t think I ever used them the way he intended.

So this starts with Romans 3:23. All of us have sinned and fallen short of your glorious standard. It’s a great equalizer for me and reminder that I simply need a savior. To quote a Charlie Peacock song, “What’s going on inside of me? I despise my own behavior. This only serves to confirm my suspicion that I’m still a man in need of a savior.

Father, I need you as much now as I did 30 years ago when I first learned this passage. But it’s okay because your gift and sacrifice are still there for me. I can be at peace. Help me to live in that knowledge and to share it with others so that your glory will bring them closer to you and give them peace as well.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

Colossians 3:16-17

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

Colossians 3:16-17

Dear God, I get most of my scriptures for these journals from Bible Gateway’s verse of the day. It seems that there have been a lot lately talking about being your representative/ambassador. I guess that’s fair since that’s probably the highest calling you given to any of us whether it be in our marriages, parenting, work, families of origin, or activity in our community. You want us to represent you well.

I’m in an interesting position at work because I am supposed to lead people, but I have a unique opportunity to do it with your discernment and wisdom. I also have a chance to make the struggles I’m dealing with transparent in a way that will bring you glory in their eyes and draw them closer to you.

Father, it’s a Monday and I have several things on my heart in terms of challenges at work. Help me to deal with each of them well. Bring glory to yourself through my actions. I want to decrease so that you can increase through me and in the eyes of others.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2017 in Colossians

 

Galatians 6:14

14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whicha]”>[a] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14

Dear God, I think I used to boast a lot more than I do now. Oh sure, I still boast, but the hubris of youth caused me to boast more when I was younger. Now, I feel very unsure about so much. It’s true when they say that the younger we are the more we feel like we have all of the answers. Right now, I feel like I have many more questions than answers.

One area where I had a lot of pride about 10 years ago was in parenting. I thought I had it nailed and figured out. Now, I have so many things that confuse me that when I see other parents struggling with their children I have zero judgment for them. I have nothing but love for them. I’ve used the example of Johnny Manziel’s parents before. They were facing a set of circumstances with their son that I cannot imagine. I know they love him and have done their best for him. They’ve made mistakes, but none more egregious than I would have made in their shoes.

I say all of this because of the verse saying that Paul only boasts in your Cross. I should only boast in the fact that I live a redeemed life because you did what you did. Otherwise, I would wake up in the morning with nothing to live for except myself. But your cross teaches me to lay down my yoke and pick yours up. Your yoke includes me serving my wife, children, friends and neighbors more than myself. In fact, even in Rotary, our motto is “service above self.” Our sin nature drives us to be self-centered, and I have had times in my life when my service was really done with the ulterior motive of getting something in return. But your free gift is eternal life through Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23). That is my example.

Father, help me to be what my wife needs. Help me to be what my daughter needs. Help me to be what my son needs. Then I grow the circle from there. My family of origin and my in-laws. My neighbors, co-workers, and friends. My community, state, and country. My world. Help me to decrease and to only boast in your Cross that redeems me.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

Galatians 6:14-16

As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

Galatians 6:14-16

Dear God, I have friends who are younger and at a point in life when they are trying to establish themselves as professionals and impress others with what they are accomplishing. I have two friends who were talking recently and I heard one of them exaggerate his job to the other. What was interesting is that the other friend could see through the exaggeration and it made him think less of my first friend, not more, as my first fiend had hoped.

So this leads me to myself. How do I represent myself to others? Do I try to impress out of insecurity, or do I humbly share both my failures and successes so that others can be at ease around me? Does my life bring you glory, or does it bring me glory? At the end of the day, is someone else’s life better or worse because of the example they see in me?

Father, make me an instrument of your peace. Love others through me. Be glorified through me. Help me to decrease so you can increase. Help me to give my utmost for your highest.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

Colossians 2:6-7 (“Give Him Roots”)

Colossians 2:6-7 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Dear God, I first heard the following song before I had children. I tried to do this as they grew up. You know how I pray for them every day. I pray your presence over them as I type these lyrics to you.

——

“Give Him Roots” by Clay Crosse

So many voices in his ear
Are they playing on his fears
It’s a bad situation
All the way around
But with a solid foundation
He’s gonna stand his ground

Take a little time
Plant the seeds
Give him reason to believe

Give him roots, and give him wings
And he’ll grow up to do great things
Let him know the joy the he brings
Teach him the value of the truth
Oh you gotta give him roots,
Give him wings

When he comes to you
And he needs your help
And he so unsure of himself
Give him vision
So he can see the Light
Let him know the difference between
Wrong and right

Share the wisdom
Of your years
There’ll be laughter
There’ll be tears

Give him roots, give him wings
He’ll grow up
To do great things
Let him know the joy
That he brings
Teach him the value of the truth
Oh you’ve gotta give him roots,
Give him wings

He should aim as high as the sky
There ain’t nothing he can’t do
If he’ll only try

Give him roots, give him wings
He’ll grow up
To do great things
Let him know the joy
That he brings
Teach him the value of the truth,
Tell him there’s nothing
That He can do

Give him roots, give him wings
He’ll grow up
To do great things
Let him know the joy
That he brings
Teach him the value of the truth
Oh, you’ve gotta give him roots,
Give him wings

——

I pray these words over my children. I am sure my parents would pray these over me and my siblings. Oh, how we all long for our children to live fulfilled lives under your glory and grace.

In Jesus’ name I pray,
Amen

 

Psalm 123

Psalm 123

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to you,
to you who sit enthroned in heaven.
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he shows us his mercy.

Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us,
for we have endured no end of contempt.
We have endured no end
of ridicule from the arrogant,
of contempt from the proud.

 

Dear God, wow, so this is the entire Psalm. Four verses and all about needing your mercy. Songs are normally longer than this. My prayers to you are normally longer than this. But the author here has some specific words for you.

 

  1. I’m looking to you as my God.
  2. I am completely submissive to you.
  3. Please ease my pain the midst of contempt.
  4. The people who are mean to me are arrogant and proud.
  5. The end.

 

Yes, there are people in my life who have been and are still mean to me. I’ve prayed a prayer like this in the past. And some of them are still mean to me. But I can say with gratitude that you have eased my pain. It’s still there. It still hurts. But I have been able to receive your blessing and move on in so many ways.

 

Father, I pray for those who show me contempt. Love them. Break through the pain that they have that drives their contempt. If it is something that I have done to earn it, then please show me how to repent and show them how to forgive me. Help me to take my pain and turn it into grace for them and for others. Be glorified in me so that they might be drawn closer to you.

 

In Jesus’ name I pray,

 

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Psalms, Uncategorized