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Monthly Archives: May 2021

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Dear God, it’s 9:20 at night and I’m sitting in front of my house, cooking off after a workout. The last 28 hours have been quite something. Really, I have to add the 12 hours leading up to it, so we will say that I’ve been in a bit of an emotional state since yesterday morning. I have so many things I’m thinking, and one of the challenges is that, for privacy reasons for others, I cannot explicitly say what I’m thinking if I post this on the blog. But then again, maybe speaking of my thoughts vaguely will be a good exercise for me to look beyond the actual circumstances and see what deeper issue(s) might be at their core.

It’s hard to watch someone else struggle. It’s hard to watch them have to walk a road you’ve already walked, at least to some extent, and know the strain that’s ahead for them. But I also know something they cannot quite yet appreciate. Actually, I know two things. One, the difficult path they’ve already walked has made them someone they’d never have otherwise become. Two, the difficult path ahead will teach them more about themselves and help them accomplish more than they would without the struggle. It looks bad now, but they will look back 10 years from now and see how this path made them who they are.

Father, help my friend. Make this count. Make their pain count. Don’t let it be wasted. Make it count for them, for those in their life now, and those to come. Show me who you need me to be in their life. And help me to not get in your way and short circuit anything you are trying to do. And use this to teach me as well. To thine, be the glory, oh, Lord.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

Romans 11:33-12:2

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 11:33-12:2

Dear God, I don’t know that I’ve ever had a moment in which it was more important that I respond with the Holy Spirit’s guidance or that I’ve actually known was coming so I could spend time talking with you to prepare. Someone has asked to speak to me tonight, and I know it’s going to require all of you and none of me. It’s going to require all of your love, wisdom, and discernment. It’s going to require your insight and your patience. I’m making some assumptions about what we will be discussing so I could be overreacting, but even if I am, there’s is no harm in me trying to be as tuned into you as possible.

So this passage is about your wisdom vs. my wisdom. No doubt which one is better. The theme of my spiritual walk over the last nearly 20 years is that I simply don’t know what you’re doing for the future so I am going to just try to stay in the moment and hear your still small voice.

Father, make me the man you need me to be tonight. Not for my sake, but for your sake. For your kingdom’s sake. I love everyone involved tonight, but in the end it’s not about them or me. It’s about you. So grant me the serenity, courage and wisdom to be what and who you need me to be.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2021 in Romans

 

John 17:11-21

Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold. “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
John 17:11-21

Dear God, at first glance, it appears that not even all of Jesus’s prayers were answered. When he was praying that you would protect the disciples, was he hoping none of them would be killed? Did he understand that it would be at least 2,000 years before he would return? Did he know that someone in the year 2021 would be included in his prayer for future believers. And was the prayer he prayed for our unity futile? Lots of questions, and I confess that I do not have the answers.

By thinking about unity for a moment, what is my role in unity? How do I allow disunity between me and others (family, friends, community)? How do I encourage disunity between other people? On the other hand, what are ways I can be part of unity? How can I encourage it between myself and others, or between other people? I think it starts with humility. So many quarrels are over who is right and who is wrong. I heard someone say this week that the narrower his theology gets and focuses on the important essentials the greater his love for people grows. On the other hand, the broader his theology gets (topics like infant baptism, wine at communion, etc.) the narrower his love for others is. Along those lines, the more I think I have things figured out the more foolish and narrow-minded I am. On the other hand, the more I focus simply on your love and how others can be at peace through their access to you that Jesus’s death and resurrection affords them , the more I will love them and help others to be comfortable turning loose of their own broad philosophies/theologies and embrace you as well.

Father, help me to love you in a real way. Help me to be an example of unity. Let it start with my wife and children, and their significant others. I pray for all of them, that there would be healing, peace, and a sense of your glory. Your glory, oh Lord, is my strength. Not my own mind. Not my own beliefs, but you alone, Lord.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2021 in John

 

Proverbs 31:10,27-28

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?…She is more precious than rubies. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:
Proverbs 31:10,27-28

Dear God, these were the verses of the day from Bible Gateway, and I want to spend a little time with them because my wife really deserves to be honored through them.

The first thing I would say is I think she would deny that they apply to her. Her humility doesn’t allow her to see what she has done that is good. She blames herself for everything wrong and shuns credit for anything good. But the opposite is true. She has labored hard for her children. She gave everything she had while they lived at home, holding nothing back. She helped give them a work ethic by insisting they not be lazy, but simply work—either around the house or getting jobs outside of it.

Her children haven’t always praised her, but I think that is more on all children, including me as a child of my own mother, and not her. However, as they get older I think they can start to get some perspective and realize what they have in her. She has a unique wisdom about her that I’ve never come across in anyone before. I trust her opinion ore than anyone else’s. She’s not always right, but even if we disagree on something she challenges me in a way that hones my own thinking down.

Father, I pray for her, that she will feel your smile on her. I pray that she will feel your love, appreciation and approval. Give her joy and peace. Give her all of the fruits of your Spirit. She is so faithful to you. Please reward that faithfulness. And for our daughter and our son’s significant other, I pray that they will grow into this unique woman as well. They are young. The have obstacles to overcome. Use those obstacles for your glory. For your glory, oh Lord.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2021 in Proverbs

 

1 Samuel 1:9-11

Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle. Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut. ”
1 Samuel 1:9-11

Dear God, I feel like I owe you something. I mean, obviously I owe you my life, but is there something else. See, you’ve been working on answering a long-standing prayer for my wife and me for many years now, but I couldn’t see what you were doing. I prayed the other day that I e prayed and prayed and haven’t heard anything. Now, I’m hearing something and it’s so encouraging and impressive. It feels like I owe you some sort of sacrifice of worship.

Last night, I was listening to a sermon about Hannah and it kind of reminded me of this situation. She was miserable. She was desperate. So she determined that she needed to make a vow to you. A sacrifice. Now in this case, you needed her son so you apparently had a plan the entire time. If she hadn’t been batten she shouldn’t have been desperate enough to make this vow. But she was, and she did.

Father, maybe I don’t owe you any more than I did a month ago. Maybe I just need to hold on to what I’ve been praying by faith for the last few years—that this is the road you need us to walk for your plan. Just show me what to do and how to be faithful. I’ll do my best to be whatever you need me to be and do what you need to do. But I will give you and extra thank you because I am so grateful.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2021 in 1 Samuel

 

Romans 7:21-8:4

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
Romans 7:21-8:4

Dear God, this is yet another passage where the chapter and verse breaks do us a disservice. Paul wrote Romans 7:25 and 8:1 as one thought. He was a slave to sin and you sent Jesus, so now there is no more condemnation for anyone who belongs to Jesus. That’s condemnation from you, but it’s also self-condemnation. It’s shame. It’s guilt.

This is what the person who pursues morality apart from you misses. They miss that none of us are good. They miss that they cannot be the moral person they strive to be. Then, when they inevitably fail to love up to the standard they themselves have set they sometimes throw in the towel in despair. Shame takes over. Hiding. Guilt. Then depression can follow that.

Father, first, thank you for giving me a path out of the holes I put myself in. Thank you for forgiving me while still calling me to press on towards you and the man you have me to be. Help me to know how to offer this to others. Give me the words, the courage to say the words, and the mercy to live the words out towards others.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2021 in Romans

 

Colossians 4:5-6

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Dear God, I’m about to spend the morning among a lot of people who need you, but it will be awkward because they will be people who are in line for food. Guide me in each interaction. Show me how to love. Show me what to say. Show me what you would have me to do. This is a pretty simple prayer today. Rich Mullins had a song called “Let Mercy Lead.” Help men to lead with mercy, Father.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2021 in Colossians

 

James 5:13-18

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.
James 5:13-18

Dear God, I’m assuming this was the verse of the day for Bible Gateway because it is the National Day of Prayer. I confess to you right now that I’m kind of numb to this being a thing. I don’t really believe it. I don’t really believe that our nation cares about praying. I don’t really think I am joining all of these other people for this special day. But I’m a fool. I’m a fool.

You are doing great things through your people. No, as a country we are failing you in innumerable ways. As a church, as your church, we are failing you in innumerable ways. But there are individuals out there. There is a remnant. There are those who are faithful to you. There are those who repent of their sin and seek your healing. There are those who love you with all of their heart and strength and love their neighbors as themselves. There are those who are more loyal to you than to political or religious dogma. There are those who are willing to die to themselves, take up your cross and follow you—not just believe in you.

Father, help me to be one of those people. As I start this day, I repent. I repent for my selfishness, my self-pity, my arrogance… There is so much for which I repent. I’ve been convicted over the last 18 hours or so that I’ve started to believe some of my own press and I am greater than I am. I am sorry. I repent. I need you. I need you for everything. I need you to help me be my wife’s husband. I need you to help me parent my adult children. I need you to help me lead at work. I need you to love through me—especially when I don’t want to. I need you to inspire and move me. I need you to provide everything. Use me however you will, but do it for your glory. Not for my glory, but your glory, oh Lord!

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2021 in James

 

Acts 15:1-11

While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent the delegates to Jerusalem, and they stopped along the way in Phoenicia and Samaria to visit the believers. They told them—much to everyone’s joy—that the Gentiles, too, were being converted. When they arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the whole church, including the apostles and elders. They reported everything God had done through them. But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.” So the apostles and elders met together to resolve this issue. At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: “Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe. God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”
Acts 15:1-11

Dear God, we just don’t know. We are so confused, and the more we start to realize just how big the world is the more confused we get. It was easy for the disciples to know what to do when the converts were Jewish because that was their paradigm. They too were Jewish so it fit within their view of the world. But with the great commandment they had to confront their racism and figure out which edicts were important and which ones weren’t. In their case, the first things they came up against were unclean foods and circumcision.

Sexual immorality seemed easy enough to them, but now we are in a time when people are having true sexual identity crises, and the church—your church—is unsure how to respond. But sexual immorality is actually very broad and nearly every current American Christian has offended you in this area. From premature sexual activity outside of marriage to the use of pornography, there aren’t many people who sit in church blameless. I know someone who goes to church with his wife and young children every Sunday after having left his previous wife and children for the woman to whom he’s now married. And yet he is welcomed in their church while a committed homosexual couple isn’t. Which of these couples offends you more?

Father, open my eyes so I can see. I’m still not totally sure the apostles final ruling was the right one. Why did they draw the line at strangled animals? Blood? Were those edicts originally for their physical health? I’m a strong believer in monogamy and sexual purity away from pornography, but I don’t know that that doesn’t leave room for a committed same-sex relationship. To paraphrase Lloyd Dobbler from the movie Say Anything, “I don’t know. I can’t figure it all out today so I’m just going to [love everyone I can].” Please show me the way.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2021 in Acts

 

Romans 12:9-10

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

Dear God, as someone who does fundraising for a nonprofit, this is an issue I remember facing early on—the difference between genuinely loving someone as opposed to trying to manipulate them to give our organization money. I had to approach this in such a way that I had to care about the people donating to our nonprofit or I would feel like a salesman only interested in closing the deal.

I still remember the book Dale Barron, the resource development director at the World Hunger Relief Farm, loaned me. It is called Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as a Ministry. It helped me to see the donors as people to be loved as opposed to people who could give me money. Instead of them having something I wanted, it became a challenge to figure out a way to make sure they received more than they gave through the process.

There are others I’m supposed to love too. It starts with my wife. Okay, I’m wrong. It starts with you. I’m supposed to genuinely love you, Father. I’m supposed to love you with all of my mind, soul, and strength. Do I? Is my love for you genuine? The honest answer is, “Sometimes.” Sometimes I really love you. Sometimes I don’t love you like I should.

Father, help me to love you like I should. Help me to love others like I should. Let it start with you and then flow to my wife and children. Then let it flow to relatives and friends. Then let it flow to donors, clients, and strangers. Then to my community, state, nation and world. Put the things on my heart that you want me to respond to. Show me the human need you want me to care about, and then give me the passion and vision to pursue it with complete faith in your provision. Do it all for your glory, oh, Lord!

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2021 in Romans