Monthly Archives: January 2019

Peter & John — 2 Peter 3:1-13

2 Peter 3:1-13 NIV
[1] Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. [2] I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. [3] Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. [4] They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” [5] But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. [6] By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. [7] By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. [8] But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. [9] The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. [10] But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. [11] Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives [12] as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. [13] But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

Dear God, I was thinking recently about the accumulation of wealth and striving for retirement. In fact, a friend and I were talking yesterday about when enough will be enough. He is wanting to go into nonprofit work, but feels like he has to first get his kids all of the way through college and then have his retirement planned before he can do that. He was looking at being a minimum of 15 years away from that.

As for me, when I first took the job I currently have at a nonprofit I was in my mid-30s and in no way expected it to be my last job. I figured I would get my daughter (she was six at the time) through high school so she wouldn’t have to move and then move on. Well, my daughter stopped going to school in our town almost five years ago and here I am still at this job. I told the friend yesterday that a few years ago I actually started to get my head into a space where this could actually be my last job. I’ve been there 13 years now. I know that if you are willing I have at least 20 more years of being able to work productively. Will I really look back and say that I worked for this nonprofit for over 30 years?

The questions that start to come to me out of this thought are interesting. The first is, how am I going to start accumulating more for retirement? Nonprofits, by nature, don’t pay at a level that will allow me to stick a lot away into an IRA. Should I take a second job driving for wine tours on weekends to prepare for that day?

Then there is achievement. When I was fresh out of college I had dreams of doing great things. “Great” was undefined, but I am pretty sure working for a nonprofit in a rural community wouldn’t have registered in my top 10 at the time.

Spiritually, I had a dream to influence hundreds or thousands of people (or tens of thousands or millions) towards believing in and pursuing you. My first job out of college was working for a Christian music publisher. At that point, I thought I would end up in Nashville and eventually run the label and distribution company. I remember privately working on projects that would build Bible studies out of musical albums. Even some of the writing I have done over the years might have caught on and influenced a lot of people. But that hasn’t really happened.

Father, I leave all of that hubris and ego at the foot of your cross. I leave the fear of scarcity and the lethargy of desiring retirement and comfort at the foot of your cross. I leave the preoccupation of my future (which is completely unknown to all but you) at the foot of the cross. All I have is today as I await your return. I have the work you have put in front of me to do today. That includes how you want me to love my family, reach out to others, and then do the paid and unpaid tasks that you have put in front of me to do. Help me to do it all with your peace, your strength, and for your glory and not mine.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


Leave a comment

Posted by on January 31, 2019 in 2 Peter, Peter and John


Tags: , , , , , ,

Peter & John — 2 Peter 2:10b-22

2 Peter 2:10b-22 NIV
[10b] Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; [11] yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord. [12] But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish. [13] They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. [14] With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! [15] They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. [16] But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. [17] These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. [18] For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. [19] They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” [20] If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. [21] It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. [22] Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”

Dear God, I think my temptation here is to think about what others do and how they might teach heresy and not take this passage and ask myself if any of it applies to me. Are the things that I promote in error in any way? Do I water down your truth? Do I find the right balance between your mercy and your righteousness?

Here’s an example. A couple of weeks ago I was talking with someone I really like, but I only see him every couple of years. When I saw him he told me that since I had seen him he had been divorced because of his wife’s unwillingness to deal with her addictions and infidelity on her part. He then told me that he is dating someone else and, in the course of the conversation I deduced that they are living together. I just listened and didn’t make note of it either way, but it made me a little uncomfortable. He works in a Christian setting and a lot of people will look to him as an example. Is there a problem with what he and his girlfriend are doing? Should I have said something?

There are countless other examples, and I’m sure there are things that I do on a daily basis that grieve you—some of which I’m aware and some that I’m not. Life is complicated. Each moment can be complicated. Sometimes my foolish selfishness takes over and I take my will back from you.

Father, before I go after the speck in my neighbor’s eye, help me to deal with and remove the plank in my own. Be glorified through me so that others might be drawn to you and that your kingdom will come and your will will be done.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


Leave a comment

Posted by on January 30, 2019 in 2 Peter, Peter and John


Tags: , ,

Peter & John — 2 Peter 2:1-10a

2 Peter 2:1-10a NIV
[1] But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. [2] Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. [3] In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. [4] For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; [5] if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; [6] if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; [7] and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless [8] (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— [9] if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. [10] This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.

Dear God, we get so bent on taking out the heretics ourselves, or delivering justice through revenge, that we lose sight of what Peter is calling us to in the previous chapter. We need to live in truth.

My wife has shared a rule about good writing with me. She says that a good writer will “show, not tell.” They won’t tell me how a character feels. They will show me. In the same way, I shouldn’t have to tell someone what kind of a person I am. I should show them. If someone is lying about me, but there is no evidence to back it up then the lie will eventually fall apart. The same is true for you. If someone like a prosperity gospel preacher is saying a bunch of lies about how you feel about wealth, poverty, etc, then my job is to live your truth, not just say it. If I am angry about the new abortion law in New York, my job is to do more than complain about it. My job is to do what I can to help the people who are there, on the ground, helping others.

Father, make me about more than my words. Help me to be a man of action too like Nehemiah was motivated to help rebuild Jerusalem, help me to follow your heart and desires for my life so that I might be an example of you living through a life, be your ambassador to those around me, and be part of your kingdom coming and your will being done on earth as it is in heaven.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


Leave a comment

Posted by on January 28, 2019 in 2 Peter, Peter and John


Tags: , ,

Samson & Delilah — Judges 16:4-22


Judges 16:4-22 [NLT]
4 Some time later Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the valley of Sorek. 5 The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “Entice Samson to tell you what makes him so strong and how he can be overpowered and tied up securely. Then each of us will give you 1,100 pieces[b] of silver.”
6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me what makes you so strong and what it would take to tie you up securely.”
7 Samson replied, “If I were tied up with seven new bowstrings that have not yet been dried, I would become as weak as anyone else.”
8 So the Philistine rulers brought Delilah seven new bowstrings, and she tied Samson up with them. 9 She had hidden some men in one of the inner rooms of her house, and she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” But Samson snapped the bowstrings as a piece of string snaps when it is burned by a fire. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.
10 Afterward Delilah said to him, “You’ve been making fun of me and telling me lies! Now please tell me how you can be tied up securely.”
11 Samson replied, “If I were tied up with brand-new ropes that had never been used, I would become as weak as anyone else.”
12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him up with them. The men were hiding in the inner room as before, and again Delilah cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” But again Samson snapped the ropes from his arms as if they were thread.
13 Then Delilah said, “You’ve been making fun of me and telling me lies! Now tell me how you can be tied up securely.”
Samson replied, “If you were to weave the seven braids of my hair into the fabric on your loom and tighten it with the loom shuttle, I would become as weak as anyone else.”
So while he slept, Delilah wove the seven braids of his hair into the fabric. 14 Then she tightened it with the loom shuttle.[c] Again she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” But Samson woke up, pulled back the loom shuttle, and yanked his hair away from the loom and the fabric.
15 Then Delilah pouted, “How can you tell me, ‘I love you,’ when you don’t share your secrets with me? You’ve made fun of me three times now, and you still haven’t told me what makes you so strong!” 16 She tormented him with her nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it.
17 Finally, Samson shared his secret with her. “My hair has never been cut,” he confessed, “for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as anyone else.”
18 Delilah realized he had finally told her the truth, so she sent for the Philistine rulers. “Come back one more time,” she said, “for he has finally told me his secret.” So the Philistine rulers returned with the money in their hands. 19 Delilah lulled Samson to sleep with his head in her lap, and then she called in a man to shave off the seven locks of his hair. In this way she began to bring him down,[d] and his strength left him.
20 Then she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!”
When he woke up, he thought, “I will do as before and shake myself free.” But he didn’t realize the Lord had left him.
21 So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They took him to Gaza, where he was bound with bronze chains and forced to grind grain in the prison.
22 But before long, his hair began to grow back.

Dear God, before I start talking about this story, I just have to comment on verse 22. It’s a little cliffhanger like at the end of the old Batman television show from the 60s with Adam West: “But before long, his hair began to grow back.” Love it. I suppose I should also mention that the image above is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard, and the picture itself was actually created by Ned Bustard.

It the midst of our #metoo wave that is currently happening and changing our perspectives on how men treat women, I can’t help but read this story this morning through a different lens–the lens of her perspective. Why did she do what she did?

It wasn’t for the money. Samson had no qualms about taking and/or killing anything he wanted. If she had said, “Samson, I could really use 1,100 pieces of silver,” he would have gone and killed those same Philistines and taken it from them. No, the money wasn’t the deal-maker–unless…

She wanted freedom. That money gave her freedom from a boorish man who probably did not treat her very well. And we aren’t told what she did after this story, but I would imagine she had to move into the center of Philistine territory where she would have been treated like a hero. If she had stayed in Israel, the people would probably have killed her for her role in Samson’s demise.

So how does this apply to my life? Well, beyond the obvious questions of whether or not I am ever a Samson (driving people to betray me) or a Delilah (betraying others for my own gain), I think one thing that is important to do is to look at betrayals that I see and try to look beyond the surface and find a deeper reason.

For example, very few people are actually evil. Even when they have done something that I find reprehensible, they usually see it as morally justified from their own perspective. And then there are addictions to things like alcohol, drugs, and even pornography that can make a person do things they wouldn’t normally do. Where I work, we see that with domestic violence all of the time. And of course, there are always two sides to every story.

Father, make me more thoughtful in my assessment of others. Make me more aware when I am doing something that others perceive as evil. Help me to give people the benefit of the doubt and understand how to be an instrument of your peace.

In Jesus’ name I pray,



Tags: , , , , , ,

Peter & John — 2 Peter 1:3-11

2 Peter 1:3-11 NIV
[3] His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. [4] Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. [5] For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; [6] and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; [7] and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. [8] For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. [9] But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. [10] Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, [11] and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Dear God, the progressive list that Peter gives in verses 5-7 seems like something I should have memorized by now, kind of like the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5. Let me see if I can break it down into a more digestible format.

  1. Faith: We start with our faith in you.
  2. Faith + Goodness: I don’t know that Peter thought this ordering was inflexible, but I’m a little surprised Goodness is the first batter up after Faith. I might have thought Self-Discipline or something like that. But he chose Goodness.
  3. Goodness + Knowledge: If you’re going to have Faith and Goodness, but then you don’t start educating yourself about God through scripture and prayer then you will be left empty. A baby Christian who never grows.
  4. Knowledge + Self Control: So then if you are going to have Faith, Goodness, and Knowledge, you will need to be able to control yourself as well. That means in denying yourself of your vices, your carnal nature such as temper and self-righteousness. It also means self-discipline to pursue Knowledge.
  5. Self Control + Perseverance: Perseverance is what it becomes about. When I was first a Christian at the age of nine, I was like a lot of nine-year-olds in my lack of understanding of time and fatigue. All nine-year-olds think they can just sprint a mile and not give up. When I was nine, I had Faith, and I added Goodness, but then I didn’t add the other things and my faith failed over and over again. It wasn’t until I added Knowledge, Self Control, and Perseverance to the equation that my life changed.
  6. Perseverance + Godliness: Godliness is added over time only after Perseverance has exposed me to you long enough. I am more godly than I was yesterday and I will hopefully more godly tomorrow than I am today.
  7. Godliness + Mutual Affection: Ah, community. Community is the bonfire that keeps our coal going. I was talking with a friend this morning about how you built us for community. Within that community, we need to have empathetic affection for the others around us.
  8. Mutual Affection + Love: And if we are going to have that Mutual Affection, it is nothing if we don’t have your Love. Again, I don’t know that this list is necessarily in order. I would think that Love might have come earlier in the list, but this is Peter’s list, not mine.

Father, help me to be complete in all of these things and then help me to be a light that guides others to this same completeness. Help me to not miss any of these components. Probably the hardest one is perseverance. Help me to press on. Help me finish this race well. Help me to be your man in every area where you have me serving.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


Leave a comment

Posted by on January 25, 2019 in 2 Peter, Peter and John


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Peter & John — 2 Peter 1:1-2

2 Peter 1:1-2 NIV
[1] Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: [2] Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Dear God, I just finished 1 Peter yesterday talking about how he was wishing them peace, and now I see that he leads off this letter wishing them grace and peace. I know that the idea of unearned grace is unique to Christianity. I wonder how much the offering of peace is unique to it as well.

While I was talking about peace yesterday, I started thinking about the songs and hymns that I could think of that reference peace. Two came to mind instantly. The first is called “The Peace That Passes Understanding” (written by Claire Cloninger and Wayne Watson and performed by Wayne Watson). Here are the lyrics.

“The Peace That Passes Understanding”

Seasons of my soul
They come and go
But as they slip away
I know something else remains
That will not change

Places in my heart
Are torn apart
But in my brokenness, I find
That something stays behind
That will not change

The peace that passes understanding
Is a blessing that will never fade away
The peace that passes understanding
Is here to stay
The peace that passes understanding
Never passes away

Lord, in times of old
My heart had known
With quiet words of your tender love
And your gentle touch
That changes me

Even through the storm
I’m safe and I’m warm
Lord, You have comforted me
With grace in Your hiding place
I am at peace
Peace comes like the dawn
Peace that the world
Can’t understand
You take my hand and I stand
The waters may fall

The peace that passes understanding
Is a blessing that will never fade away
The peace that passes understanding
Is here to stay
The peace that passes understanding
Never passes away
Oh oh, oh oh

The peace that passes understanding
Is a blessing that will never fade away
The peace that passes understanding
Is here to stay
The peace that passes understanding
Never passes away

The other song is a hymn I’ve journaled about before, “It Is Well With My Soul,” written by Horatio Spafford after the tragic loss of his children at sea. Here are the lyrics. They start with “peace.”

“It Is Well With My Soul”

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

Father, storms will come. I will be pressed, but I can have peace in you. And even if I am ultimately crushed and my earthly life ends, I will be with you and it will be well with my soul. Thank you for offering this to all of us through your son.

In Jesus’ name I pray,



Tags: , , , , , , ,

Peter & John — 1 Peter 5:12-14

1 Peter 5:12-14 NIV
[12] With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. [13] She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. [14] Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

Dear God, I don’t know how much there is to say about these final greetings, but it’s just nice that his last words in this letter are to encourage love and pray for peace.

Peace. Of the “Fruits of the Spirit” from Galatians 5:22, it’s the one I use most to evaluate how I’m doing with you. I can fake a lot of things including love, joy, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness and self control. I can will myself to exhibit all of those things. What I cannot will myself to do is experience peace.

Not that everyone is that way. My wife and I have talked about this, and for her it’s not peace. It’s another one that experiences more of when she is close to you. So I’m not pretending like this should be true for everyone.

A young friend who is a new believer and has really been through some emotionally trying things said recently that he is concerned about a lot of his friend from high school. They aren’t doing well. They seem stressed and depressed. And these are college students who, outside of worrying about their grades, shouldn’t have a lot of stress in their lives. But what I never go a chance to tell this young person is that I was worried in the same way about him just a few months ago. He has a peace about him that he has only recently begun to exhibit.

Father, please bring me peace and then make me an instrument of your peace. Help me to tap into you so that you will flow into me and then through me to others.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


Leave a comment

Posted by on January 23, 2019 in 1 Peter, Peter and John


Tags: , , ,

Peter & John — 1 Peter 5:5-11

1 Peter 5:5-11 NIV
[5] In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” [6] Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. [7] Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. [8] Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. [9] Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. [10] And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. [11] To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Dear God, when I selected these verses this morning I didn’t realize how many different admonition are in here. I think I need to break them down.

  1. Younger people submit yourself to elders – This can be hard to do because there are just some things that young people haven’t experienced yet. Life looks a lot clearer at 18 than it does at 45. And it probably looks clearer at 45 than it does 65. My wife and I were talking yesterday morning about how our perspective on things changes after we experience the humility of parenthood, careers, failure, caring for aging parents, etc. All of that seems a lot easier before you’ve done it. To be sure, the people in my life who have been quickest to give me parenting advice are those with no children. Those with children often know better. So I should definitely be more humble in my relationships with elders.
  2. Humble yourself before each other and God – Ah, that was an unintentional segue when I said humble at the end of number 1. This is just a good command. If everyone is proud then you get what we have right now in Washington and leaking into the rest oof the country. Or maybe it’s the rest of the country that’s leaking up to Washington. Regardless, whether it’s in your own home, you workplace, your church, or your interactions with others, it’s a lot better and it’s going to go more smoothly if we humble ourselves rather than be proud and arrogant.
  3. Cast my cares on God – That can be hard to do. It is certainly a learned skill. And then, as I’ve said before, there’s a fine line between living by faith and living in denial. It only comes through prayer and intentionally humbling (there’s that word again) myself before you.
  4. Be alert and resist Satan – Just remembering that Satan is there and working against us is a big part of the battle. It’s easy to see everything around us and forget that it is actually Satan attacking. There is suffering, but that’s where casting our cares on you comes in.
  5. In the end, through God’s help you will be strong and steadfast – This is all actually a nicely structured admonition from Peter. There is simply no way to become strong without suffering. It doesn’t work. Whether it’s physical strength or spiritual strength, that’s what it takes to learn to live in your peace.

Father, with all of this said, help me to live under Peter’s admonition today. Help me to respect and submit to my elders. Help me to live I humility. Help me to cast my cares on you and be aware of and resist Satan. And help me to stand firm in you.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


Leave a comment

Posted by on January 22, 2019 in 1 Peter, Peter and John


Tags: ,

Peter & John — 1 Peter 5:1-4

1 Peter 5:1-4 (NLT)
And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.

Dear God, I’m not an elder in the church, but I am a leader of an organization and a person who is involved in a lot of aspects in our community. The question for me, I think, is, what are you calling me to do to care about the people around me? How should I care for the flock entrusted to me? How do I do it with humble love?

If I were to make a list of the needs in our community that are on my radar it would get out of control quickly. Just off of the top of my head:

  • Early childhood intervention for children in poverty
  • Human sex trafficking
  • Drugs and substances like vaping in the schools
  • Social worker for the school to help with situation-by-situation interventions
  • Domestic violence
  • Men’s Bible study for those economically disadvantaged

A couple of those tangentially touch my vocation, but none of them would be part of our organization’s mission statement. Any involvement in them would be absolutely extra work for me. Thankfully, you partnered me with others who have been able to take up the domestic violence issue and there is now a group taking that and running with it without me. And I know there is a nonprofit along with churches in town who are looking at childcare–perhaps not real intervention for traumatized children, but it’s a start. In fact, most of these things have others who care about these issues besides me. I think what I need to do is figure out at what level you want me to be involved in each one through prayer to you and the Holy Spirit’s leadership.

Then there is the leadership I need to provide to my own family. What does my wife need from me? What do my children need? There has been one thought that came to me a week ago regarding one of my adult children, and I still feel like I need a lot of wisdom from you before I know what to do about it. But I know that, whatever you call me to do, you want me to do it through gentle love and not by lording it over them.

Father, help me to know how to lead, and also help me to know how to follow and be an easy person for others in authority over me to lead. Help me to not grumble, but to find ways to finish the race and complete the tasks you have given to me.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


Leave a comment

Posted by on January 21, 2019 in 1 Peter, Peter and John


Tags: , ,

The Prodigal Son — Luke 14:11-24

Luke 15:11-24 NIV
[11] Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. [12] The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. [13] “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. [14] After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. [15] So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. [16] He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. [17] “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! [18] I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. [19] I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ [20] So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. [21] “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ [22] “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. [23] Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. [24] For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Dear God, before I get into this story, I want to do my best to identify all of the art panels, small as they are, in the border of this artwork. Starting at the top left:

  • Broken chains
  • “HOME” or, if you look at it the right way, “LOVE”
  • Two arrows pointing to the cross
  • U-turn
  • Cross
  • “My son was dead and alive again”
  • “He was lost and is found”
  • “!!!!!!!!!!” [kind of cool to have those following the two lines from the father.]
  • “You went after worth [??] and become worthless”
  • Star of David [before a psalm]
  • “Before I formed you in the womb I knew year”
  • “Only remember and be satisfied.” [this seems to be the last of three messages from God to the son.]
  • Three tears
  • A dove [images of God’s forgiveness and of the Holy Spirit before the son’s response]
  • “We believe and we are blessed.”
  • A running figure
  • “If I ascend to heaven you are there. If I make my bed in hell you are there.” [YOU ARE THERE emphasized both times. Interesting that he is bringing the psalms into the son’s thoughts with this and the part about the womb.]
  • Crown
  • “The children the promise [??] as offspring” [couldn’t tell what that third part said, but I think it comes from “The children of the promise are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.”]
  • A key
  • A lock
  • “And I run down that aisle”
  • Musical notes
  • Regular star surrounded by circles [other stars]
  • “[??] mute or deaf or seeing or blind” [I think this is a reference to Exodus 4:11 Exodus 4:11 NIV
    [11] The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord?]
  • Alpha and Omega in Greek letters
  • “The greatest of these is LOVE”
  • Heart with an infinity sign in the middle of it.
  • “Wonderful counselor, almighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace.”
  • “No!”
  • “Please” [If read clockwise, No! is first. If read left to right, please is first.]
  • Broken heart
  • “And I will make a new covenant with you.”
  • “!” [exclamation points on opposite corners of the border]
  • Crying eyes
  • ?? [Can’t tell if this is dove or flame, but I’m pretty sure it is the Holy Spirit either way]
  • “And those he predestined he also justified and those who he called he also justified and those whom he justified he also glorified [Romans 8:30]
  • “And the curtain of the temple was torn in two”
  • Clock pointing to 3:00
  • A cross and I think it says, “Here!!” across it.
  • Arrows all pointing to the middle of the image
  • A heart that says, “Give,” in the middle
  • ??satisfied by the call of others less wild.” [I think I found this reference. It’s from a song called “Wedding Dress” by Derek Webb. The phrase from the song is, “I am so easily satisfied by the call of lovers less wild.” The chorus says, “I’m a prodigal with no way home…” so I’m pretty sure this is the artist’s reference.”] [a second note is that this part about being satisfied is across the image from the part about being “satisfied” on the other side of the border.]
  • “Son you are always with me and all that is mine is yours.”
  • A flower
  • A cross in the middle of something I can quite make out
  • An image of crying eyes that says, “Tears stream down your face,” with an arrow at the bottom of the image pointing upwards and the word, “UP!”

So that takes care of the border. Now what did this artist decide to show me in the image itself?

  • A lot of triangles over the house [I wish I knew if there is a significance to the triangles over the house. A bunch of representations of the Trinity?]
  • The father’s house [It’s a fairly modern representation of a house. I’m surprised it doesn’t have a more prominent front porch.]
  • There are several people cheering
  • The father seems to be represented in motion with arms outspread and then arms around the boy
  • It almost looks like there are angel wings as part of the father’s arms.
  • The boys hair melds into the father’s beard
  • The boy is in modern clothes
  • The boy’s jeans are dirty and the bottoms are frayed.
  • I think the boy is barefoot.
  • The boy’s head is buried in the father’s chest.

What the artist has done to communicate so much through not only the main image, but also through the border is great.

It was about 17 years ago that I sat down and tried to find a father/husband in the Bible who was worth emulating. After looking at all of the men I could find, I ultimately landed on Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, and the father in this story. Since this is a parable in which the father represents you, I just focused on Joseph. But maybe I should focus on this father since it gives me an insight into you and your nature.

As I look at this story, I notice the part where Jesus says, “Not many days later.” I know this isn’t a real story–it’s a parable–but I wonder what those days between the bequeathing and the leaving would have been like. Was the money not enough for the boy? Did it not bring him the happiness he thought it would.

Ultimately, the story is about the father letting the boy go. That is one of the hardest things to do as a parent. Let them go and then wait. And sometimes we have to wait a long time.

There is a DC Talk song called “The Hard Way” that’s chorus says it all: “Some people gotta learn the hard way. I guess I’m the kind of guy that trying to find out for myself. I had to learn the hard way, Father. I’m on my knees and I’m crying for help.”

Father, for the prodigals out there, make their paths to you as straight as possible. And for the fathers (and mothers), help them to believe.

In Jesus’ name I pray,



Tags: , , , ,