Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Do you ever have those times when you just need to get alone with your Savior and commune with Him?  I have need of these times daily, but some things call for more significant effort in getting alone with Him.  I had the blessing of being asked to lead worship on Sunday and was thrilled to do it, but it is such a huge responsibility to lead His people in worshiping the Lord.  While everyone is responsible before the Lord for their hearts, being a leader holds extra responsibility.  The weight of wanting to say and do the right things was heavy upon my heart on Sunday morning.  I drove to church about 40 minutes early and parked around the back where I could have some of that much needed alone time with the One who deserves all praise and glory.  I was reading different passages along the lines of what we were singing and what the message was going to be about and praying that the Lord would work in my heart to first prepare me for worship and then enable me to lead His people in worship.  He graciously reminded me that it only matters that He is glorified... if He is glorified, that is enough!  That is the purpose of worship.  Yes, I want to say and do the right things, but it isn't about me--it is about Him!  He must be my full motivation for wanting to say and do the right things.  By His grace and help, I believe I was at that point when I went up to lead worship, but I was reminded once again about just how dependent on the Lord I am.  I can't stir within myself the desire to please Him.  Only He can do that.  I can't even breathe apart from God enabling me to do so... every breath is a gift from Him.

This morning was another one of those mornings.  I had a lot on my mind and really needed to hear from the Lord.  I set my alarm moderately early (considering we were up pretty late the night before) and read through four or five passages that were very much applicable to what was on my mind and just asked the Lord to show me what He wanted me to get from His Word. Well, you know... He is in the business of doing just that and I found myself very encouraged through the Word.  One of the passages I read was Romans 12.  Verses 1-2 and 9-13 jumped out at me.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect... Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

We prove, or demonstrate what the will of God is by letting Him renew our minds.  When God is at the center of our attention, we think the things that He would have us think.  When we think the things that He would have us think, we do the things that He would have us do.  By this, we "test" His will to see just how perfect it really us.  It goes along with the concept of tasting and seeing that the Lord is good.  It is not enough to stand and look from the outside.  He must change us from the inside out so that we experience His goodness as we trust and obey Him.  Paul gives us some specific ways in which we can do this in verses 9-13... to be devoted to one another in brotherly love--this is pure undefiled love and he explains further what that looks like:  giving preference to one another (seeing others as more important than ourselves), being diligent and literally "boiling hot" in the way we serve the Lord, rejoicing in hope (the eternal hope we have in Christ), persevering under pressure and opposition, devoted to prayer (recognizing that we are dependent on Him for all things), meeting the needs of the saints (being the hands and feet of Jesus), and practicing hospitality (specifically to those that are strangers). 

May God conform us more into His image this Christmas as we focus on Him and let Him change our hearts through His Word.  May He give us a tender heart that needs only the slightest nudge to run after Him without looking back. May He grant opportunities to apply His Word and help us to see and act on those opportunities.  And may He give us the humility to come before Him in fervent prayer for all things.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

That God May Be Pleased

Life can be so full and so busy at this time of year.  It seems like everyone is in a rush for everything and as much as I'd like to exclude myself from that, I feel more busy than most at the moment.  I like to plan ahead... buy Christmas presents online, etc.  We try to be very generous, but also very practical in our Christmas giving (school supplies, clothes, etc.).  This year more than ever, I feel like we all more than everything we need.  We are so blessed!  There are still things that will be needed if they aren't needed at the moment... but I have yet to buy even one Christmas gift apart from a gift exchange gift which my brother graciously picked up for me. 

Life has been busy!  I have been doing some remodeling in my room thanks for the gracious help of some talented friends.  I also had the blessing of having one of my best friends over for the weekend.  Work is crazy busy with the end of the year and the increasing immediate needs of our clients before the end of the year.

I like life being so full.  I wouldn't want to keep it at this pace forever, but going to bed absolutely exhausted at the end of a full day is actually quite a good feeling.  I am thankful for God's grace in enabling me to be full of joy, giving me desire for the Word and desire to be changed by it while still physically exhausted.  I have felt such incredible peace and joy from the Lord these last several weeks.  Certainly times of life tend to be more joyous than others, but it is the kind of joy that can't be driven just by circumstances.  I have gone to bed so many times over the last few weeks saying to God... "O that You would be pleased with me!  It is enough that You would look on me and be pleased.  What can I give You that hasn't been given to me by You?  But if I could just please You with every part of me... that would be the fullest joy!"

This desire to please the Lord with all of me is not something that I can derive on my own.  It is not something that I can convince myself of.  It is the gracious, merciful, and loving hand of God working in a heart that is desperately wicked. 

I am reminded of Psalm 51:15-17.
O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise. For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

God's pleasure in His children is not dependent on how much money we put in the plate... how many homeless we feed... how many Bibles we hand out... (though all of these things are part of living life as a Christian), but rather His pleasure in us is based on a heart that if fixed on Him.  A heart of humility and submissiveness to the Lord is what He desires.  If we has us "sell all we have and give our money to the poor and come follow Him", may we be submissive in doing exactly that.  If He calls us to go to a foreign land to preach the gospel, may He give us a heart of submission to do exactly that.  If He tells us to stay in the hard situation we are in... by God's grace, may He gives us that heart of submission to stand firm through the fiery trials of life.  I've had so many friends get married in the last several weeks, it's been pretty crazy... and you know, it is sobering to consider the amount of trials and temptations that each of those individuals will face during their marriages.  May God give them grace to cling to Him and submit to Him within their marriages.  It's exciting, but what a responsibility they have before the Lord in portraying an image of Christ's love for the church!  May His glory not be marred by our lack of submission.  Christ said, "I did whatever pleased the Father."  May we be able to say the same for the days ahead, by His grace.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

One More Day

Far too often, I take the time God has given me here on earth for granted.  I was just talking with a friend yesterday about how events in life can spur us on to loving the Lord more and making the most of the time God has given us.  I didn't realize that one of these events would happen to me today.  I have the blessing and privilege of working with the high school guys in Awana on Sunday afternoons... my brother helps out as well and mom is a leader for the high school girls.  We were on our way there this afternoon and there was a big pickup truck going about 45 mph in the 55 mph zone on a two-lane road (one lane each way).  I turned on my left blinker went into the oncoming lane since there was plenty of room and passed the truck.  I was about 5 feet in front of the truck and turned on my right blinker to indicate that I was going to come over soon, but was planning to be 20 or 30 feet in front before actually merging.  At this point, the driver of the truck sped up so that the front of his truck was a foot or two in front of my back bumper so that I was unable to merge back onto my side of the road.  I hit the gas some more to get by him and he continued to speed up to prevent me from merging.  I hit the brake and he did as well.  By this time, a car was approaching at a closing speed of 110 mph (55 mph each way).  I was unable to merge.  I moved to the right as much as I could... somewhere between 6 inches and a foot from the side of the truck and by God's grace, the driver coming the other direction went partly into the very small shoulder that he had available to him and squeezed by.  I was able to merge after the truck sped away and we called 911 and provided the police with his license plate number and description of the vehicle. 

God was so gracious to us.  We prayed and thanked the Lord for His protection.  Of course, we wouldn't have minded being with the Lord tonight, but apparently the Lord has more for us to do here on earth and I am thankful for that.  I think the rest of the family is thankful as well. 

This even certainly causes me to ask myself some questions:  Why did the Lord allow it to take place?  What does He want me to learn from it?  What areas of life am I not living to the fullest for Him?  How can I make the most of my time on earth for His glory?

I do not know all the answers to these questions... in fact, it may not have even been primarily for my sake, but I am a strong believer that God didn't have me there for no reason and I would do well to consider what He might be wanting to teach me through it.  I am thankful for His protection... for His grace... for the security of my righteousness being found in Christ alone... for one more day to live no longer for myself, but for Christ who died and rose again on my behalf.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Love and Obedience

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind.  I had the blessing of witnessing the marriage of two very good friends the weekend after Thanksgiving.  It was an incredibly joyous time rejoicing with them as they made life-long commitments to one another before the Lord.  Weddings are interesting... it is an exciting time... a time to have fun, make memories, enjoy celebrating, etc., but it is a very holy time.  It is a sacred covenant being made before the Creator of all things including marriage.  I was discussing this very thing with the officiating pastor following the wedding and we were discussing how God made such a serious thing also be so joyful. 

As I have been reading in 1 John this week (1 John 5 today), I am reminded of a similar serious but joyful thing: obedience.  Obedience doesn't generally strike us as something really exciting or joyful when we hear the word, but when we consider that the Creator of all the universe is calling us to obey Him, that is an exceedingly joyful thing.  Love is a word we all like... we were created to both give and receive it... but how often do we connect love with obedience?  God does... and He tells us why He does!

Take a look at 1 John 5:1-4.
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
When we begin to understand what an incredible privilege it is to be asked to do anything by the all-powerful, all-knowing God, there is absolutely no thought of obedience to Him being a burden.  Yet, God knows that we in our sinfulness far too often are so self-centered that we miss the fact that it is a privilege to serve Him and obey Him, so He reminds us that His commands are not burdensome!  God never meant obeying Him to feel like a burden.  He meant our obedience to be out of love and joy! 

I think back to times as a young boy when dad would ask me to help him on some kind of project... what an honor that was!  I got to help dad scrape gum off the tables at school!  I was absolutely elated to have the privilege of being with dad and help him with such an important task in preparing his classroom for the students. 

Alright, so what has changed?  Why do I feel like serving the Lord is a burden when not only is it not a burden, it is a privilege?  Why do I see serving others as a burden when in doing so, I am actually carrying out what the Lord has called me to--"by love, serve one another"?  Am I now too old or to big or too smart or too wise to do small things for the Lord?  Will I accept only big important tasks that get me noticed in front of others, or will I accept the small tasks that no one will ever notice or maybe they will even look down on me for? 

The Lord has so much work to do in humbling me!  Okay, so I do not always see serving Him as a burden.  By His grace, I often find great joy in serving Him.  His commandments truly are not a burden and He is continually giving me joy through the Holy Spirit in loving and obeying Him.  But don't miss the point!  I do not always obey Him joyfully... in fact, I don't always obey Him at all!  This is all a part of the sanctification process.  We need to become like little children once again and joyfully take the smallest of tasks from the Lord as an incredible privilege, obeying immediately and joyfully because there is no greater One that we could be serving.  There is no greater honor on earth than to be asked to do even the smallest of things by the Creator of all the earth.  May God give us grace and help to understand how blessed we are to be used by Him and turn our hearts toward loving and joyful obedience.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Keeping the End in Sight

I've had the blessing of having the opportunity to teach through Ephesians 1-3 to the high school kids in Awana.  Ephesians is one of my favorite books which makes it an extra special blessing.  One thing that has been continually on my mind as I have been teaching it is that we must live with the end in sight.  Much of this is due to the fact that God has given me a passion for seeing believers press on to know and obey the Lord, but I am also encouraged in this manner because of the great blessings of Christ specifically in these three chapters. 

In Ephesians 1, we are reminded that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ, that He chose us, adopted us, His intentions toward us are kind, He loves us, He redeemed us with His blood, we have an inheritance in Christ, we have hope in Christ, we are sealed and secure in Christ, we are God's own possession, that God is far above all rule and authority, etc.

In Ephesians 2, we are reminded that we once were completely spiritually dead because of our sin, we once lived to please ourselves, indulging the evil desires of the flesh and deserved the wrath of God, but because of God's great mercy, He made us alive with Christ and saved us by His grace.  Because of this salvation, we get to see the surpassing riches of His grace both here and for all eternity.  We are reminded that we are saved not by our works, but by faith alone and by the grace of God and that we are created to do good works.  This reminds me of the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23... love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control... we will see these fruits in our lives if we are living as He would have us live.  This doesn't earn us any more favor with God, but it is our joy to obey Him and serve Him.  We are also reminded in this chapter that we have peace with God through Christ, that we are no longer strangers to God, but we are in His family.  We have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  We are not only part of His family, but we are part of His body and the dwelling place of God.

In Ephesians 3, we are reminded of the amazing truth that we as Gentiles can be saved!  I take this for granted so much... but to think that it was twelve normal Jewish men spreading the gospel... and that God allowed me to hear the gospel, understand it, and He put in me a heart to respond to... it is just incredible!  We are reminded that God has revealed Himself to us so that we could know His eternal purposes and that because of His purpose in drawing near to us, we can have boldness in coming before Him because of Christ.  We are also reminded that He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all we ask or think.

Because of these truths, how can we not keep the end in sight?  How can we not hope for the glory that is to be revealed when we see Him face to face?  How can we live for ourselves now?  How can we who have been saved from sin choose to remain in it? 

Let us, by the grace of God, live no longer for ourselves, but for Christ who died and rose again on our behalf.  He is worthy of all we have to offer and infinitely more.  Let's offer the joyful sacrifice of everything we have so that He might be glorified in us.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


I was reading last night in a book called, "The Pursuit of Holiness" and was challenged to really take to heart the things in the Word.  I was convicted of the many times that I have read the Word and not let it sink into my heart to the point of being applied.  I was challenged to make specific applications from the Word rather than generalizing the application.  I truly believe that this is vital to the Christian life.  If I am not being changed by the Word, then how is it profitable?  Head knowledge puffs up.  Holiness and obedience don't happen overnight.  It is something that must be practiced over and over again.  I love how the Lord shows more and more areas that we need to grow in as we choose to submit to Him out of love for Him and His perfect ways.

I was reading in Psalm 86 tonight and a few verses jumped out to me...
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.
Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will glorify Your name forever.
What an incredible blessing it is that when we sin (over and over again), the Lord is ready to forgive. That word, "ready" brings joy to my heart... it speaks of His preparedness in the form of Christ's blood on my behalf. Christ has paid it all... He is ready to forgive! I also appreciate the challenge in this prayer from David asking the Lord to teach him in order that he may walk in truth. He also commits here to be thankful to the Lord and glorify the Lord. David understood what it meant to hear the Word of the Lord and apply it. Rather than stopping it at the general level, I think the Lord would have me think of specific ways to apply these truths. First, I need the Lord to teach me His ways... He teaches through His Word, He teachers me through preaching, He teaches me through others. This means that I must surround myself by the Word and by people that will bring the Word to me. Secondly, I need to walk in the truth that I hear from people... so not only do I need those that will speak truth into my life, but I also need those that will challenge me to walk by truth and hold me to it. There are so many things we have to thank the Lord for. We had a friend over this weekend from TX and she spent time thanking the Lord for some things that I hadn't even though of thanking Him for. I can certainly grow in the area of thankfulness to God both in my private prayer and in public. The last thing here is that I must bring glory to the Lord. God is worthy of all my praise and because of this, I must be careful to recognize Him in all good things. Every good and perfect thing comes from above. He glorifies Himself through His work, but too often, I attempt to steal the glory that belongs only to Him. This week, I am going to make it a goal to apply these things on practical levels in whatever places the Lord puts me... at work, at church, with friends, etc. He is great and greatly to be praised. Let's practice praising Him now. After all, we'll be doing it for all eternity!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Praise Him!

I had the blessing of going out to an Angel's game with a good friend of mine.  It was such a blessing and refreshment not only physically, but even more so spiritually.  It's such an incredible blessing to be able to have fun and be spiritually refreshed at the same time.  You know, we as a culture tend to put entertainment in one category and God in another.  Christ came to have "first place in everything"... to be "all and in all".  He cannot be excluded from entertainment.  He created things for us to enjoy and we ought to be able to be "entertained" by things that we can thank the Lord for.  When we enjoy the blessings (even entertainment) that God provides, I believe He is honored.  It is when we exclude Him that we are tempted to seek to be entertained by things that are not honoring to Him.  We must praise Him in all things... and that praise ought to drive us toward holiness.

I've been reading Psalm 45 off and on for the last couple weeks and wanted to share it here.
I will extol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate. Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts, And I will tell of Your greatness. They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The Lord is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works. All Your works shall give thanks to You, O Lord, And Your godly ones shall bless You. They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom And talk of Your power; To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations. The Lord sustains all who fall And raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to You, And You give them their food in due time. You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them. The Lord keeps all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever. 
What has really been catching my mind is the concept of multiple generations talking together about the goodness of the Lord.  Too often I am caught up in just talking to those my age about it, but those younger than me need it... and those older than me need it!  A couple Sunday's ago, I went up and introduced myself to two elderly ladies that started coming to our church recently.  I'm sorry to say that I have already forgotten their names, but it was amazing for me to see the joy on their faces after taking just a minute out of my Sunday to talk with them.  It was convicting realizing that I have so often overlooked these opportunities.  I can be so busy "serving" that I am not actually serving His body.  I hope to be able to apply some of these things this next week at church especially.  I want to talk of God's goodness to those ladies.  I want to hear from them about God's goodness.  That is fellowship!  Let's praise His name together.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


I have been going very slowly through Psalm 119... sometimes three or four times on a given section throughout the day.  It is so rich.  I was reading verses 147 and 148 this evening and just love the example that David set for us.
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words. My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word.  
Pastor Tim preached on the Word of Christ this last weekend and mentioned different ways that it gets into us.  He mentioned that up until recently (when considering all of history), "read my Bible" really wasn't an answer that people had to that question. It was based on prayer, and speaking His Word to one another.  That is not to say that we should read less of the Word... we should see it as an incredible blessing and privilege to be able to read His Word!  At the same time, we ought not neglect the other ways that God's Word gets into us.  We ought not neglect the spiritual disciplines behind pursuing Christ just because it is easier to get His Words into us. 

I just love this example in Psalm 119... David gets up before the sun rises in order to cry out to God for help.  This shows humility realizing that he cannot handle things on his own.  It also shows urgency... it can't even wait until the sun comes up!  Then comes a very important aspect of communication with the Lord... waiting for His words.  I know at least for me, I can get so caught up in all of the things that I need to say to the Lord that I don't take the time to listen diligently for His answer.  The Lord actually knows everything that we are going to ask before we ask it.  We do not know His answer before He answers!  Perhaps we ought to do a whole lot more listening to Him than speaking to Him.  I can't help but think of Samuel and Eli... Eli tells Samuel to say, "speak Lord, for your servant is listening".  May God give us His grace and help to be more diligent listeners... that we would hear His words and live by them... that we would have that voice behind us saying, "This is the way, walk in it!"  Last but certainly not least, David looks forward to night because it is the time that He meditates on God's word.  I can hardly think of a more important time of day to meditate on the word of God than right before we go to bed.  It is in bed that we lay silently in the darkness in those moments before falling asleep that we are finally still and quiet before Him after all of busyness and stress of the day is over.  If our minds are filled with His word at that pivotal time of the day rather than the worries of the day, we can use that time to listen to His voice... to reflect on the events of the day and what was honoring to the Lord and what wasn't.  If our minds are racing to the events of the day without first being filled with the Word, we are prone to worry. It is vital that we are filling our minds with His word... seeking Him diligently in the morning, meditating on His truths in the evening so that we think His thoughts about the situations that we face on a daily basis.

May God grant us grace to desire His word more and more.  May we see it as the essential food for life and breath.  May we gain the mind of Christ.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


God has granted the opportunity to worship in a few different churches over the last few weeks due to work and vacation and it has been a good challenge for my heart.  Just to clarify here, when I say worship, I mean more than just the music.  Worship as I am mentioning here is the entire service and the interaction before and after.  Let me also mention, that I am not of the opinion that you ought to make your home church one that you do not agree with doctrinally or in the manner of worship.  Satan uses these kinds of things to divide the body of Christ and so, I believe we ought to choose a place of worship carefully based on the truths of scripture and what leads us to love and obey Him more.  Anyway, one of the churches was really not my preference for worship, one of the churches was very close to what my preference is, and another one was a mixture of both.  I knew before I walked into the first one that it was not going to be my preference, so the battle in my heart happened the night before.  I was faced with the question, what is worship?  Can I worship in a service where I don't feel like others are worshiping the "right way"? 

These were all great things to think through.  I have thought through these things several times before, but it was good to battle with them once again.  I came to the conclusion that if I can worship in a secular environment (all of life ought to be worship), then I can worship the One True God in any environment.  Obviously, this church was not a "secular environment", but it was helpful for me to take the extreme case so that my heart would not be distracted by things while at the church.  I didn't have to think about what others thought of me... I didn't have to agree with the pastor... I didn't have to agree with the music... I didn't have to care about what other people were doing or how they were doing it... but I did have to worship!  Worship comes from the heart. 

I'd like to take the time to challenge anyone that may happen to stumble across this to really consider what it means to worship the Lord.  Once that is determined based on the Word of God, my next challenge would be to consider if the local body of believers (church) that you worship with generally help you to worship the Lord from the heart, or if it hinders your worship.  Notice, I did not ask if you liked it.  The question isn't whether or not I like the worship.  The question is whether or not it is worship!  Am I just going through the motions of attending church and singing songs, or am I actually worshiping the Lord in Spirit and in truth?  One question I try to ask myself often is, "God, are you pleased by this?"  This same question can be applied to our worship.  Are we pleasing God or men?  My challenge to you is to take action.  It doesn't matter if "all your friends are doing it"... what matters is that you are worshiping the Lord with all of your heart and that you are being fed and guided by the Word of God through the teaching.  If you need to find a new church home, please do it!  For the sake of your heart, for the sake of your family, for the sake of honoring the Lord, do it!  If you need to bring some things up to the leadership of your church privately, do it!  Why would we wait to do these things when there is nothing more important than worshiping the Lord?  It's not about opinions or preferences, it is about honoring the Lord.

I'd also like to challenge those that are not attending a perfect church (yes, that makes all of us) to give grace to those that are in leadership. There will not be a perfect worship service until we worship Christ for all eternity in heaven.  It is not helpful for us to complain about that one song that was too loud, or that one person that was or wasn't raising his/her hands.  We are commanded to speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody in our hearts to the Lord!  Encourage those around you.  Worship is not about me and it is not about you!  It is about the Lord.  Encourage others in their worship of Him.  Sing because He is worthy of our voices raised to honor Him.  You don't have to sound good.  He is pleased when we open our mouths to praise Him.  Do you need to quiet your heart before Him and worship in silence?  Do it!  Pray for opportunities to minister to people in your local body of believers and look for those opportunities.  The sum it all up, worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth because He is worthy of all of our worship and remember that you are not the only one that struggles with this.  Others need encouragement to worship Him from a pure heart.  Part of being in the body of Christ is the responsibility to encourage and exhort others to love and obey Him.  Do it because you love Him!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Out Of Love

I had the blessing of spending the weekend in Colorado. I was working out there on Monday and so my boss agreed to fly me out on Friday afternoon so that I could spend the weekend with a friend before work on Monday. It was such a refreshment and encouragement to me. We stayed up until like 3:45 am one night talking and I was using the words, "my responsibility before the Lord", quite often. I know that as a man, I have responsibilities in different facets of life... responsibilities toward God, to my family, to those in my church, to my boss and coworkers, to my friends, etc. I believe I am to be a man that takes responsibility. However, as we were talking, my friend mentioned that I was focusing too much on "responsibility" and not enough on "relationship". We can easily become people that have "to do lists" in all of our "responsibilities" toward those around us that we lose sight of the core of God's heart toward people--to love them as we love ourselves.

Fulfilling our "duties" toward one another must flow from love. The love of Christ must be what controls us. I fear that over the years, I have focused too much on the "responsibility" aspect of our obedience to the Lord and not enough on our obedience flowing out of our love for Him. Part of this is because I want to get away from the concept of love being simply a "feeling". Feelings come and go. In fact, this evening I had very little desire for the Word. I could attempt to justify it by coming up with some lame reasons for why I may not desire it as much as I should, but lets face it, we can always come up with a "reason" not to love. Yes, I want my desire for the Word to come out of love for the Lord, but sometimes I just need to "do it" even though I don't feel like I love Him as I ought to. Actually, I should always feel that I don't love Him like I ought to, but in my sinfulness, I often think far too highly of my love for Him. I am thankful for grace.

I find that when I do the "loving thing" regardless of how I feel and ask the Lord for help, God grants grace to love more (and feel more loving). It doesn't always start with the feeling, but God often grants the feeling as a result of true Christ-centered love. I spent time in Romans 5 this evening... didn't feel like it at all... but knowing that loving Him is often directly related to my knowledge of Him, I knew time with Him was the loving thing for me to do regardless of my feelings. As I read, I was reminded of the incredible grace of God.

Take a look at verses 1-11...
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
How can I read this and not be filled up with joy in the amazing grace of God through Christ? I was a helpless sinner. Now, I am justified in His sight. He died for my sin. How can my heart not be filled with the joy of my salvation? This isn't like winning a game or something... this is the eternal state of my soul being transferred from eternal separation from God to eternal full joy in His presence!

God, thank You for Your grace and help in changing my heart from a heart that is cold and unloving to a heart that loves You. Thank You for grace to love others when I don't "feel like it" and for granted grace even to "feel like it", though I don't need to "feel it" in order to obey You. You are so good. Your Word truly is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. It is food for the soul that doesn't even realize its hunger. Continue to grant me more desire for Your Word and for obedience to it out of love for You. Fill my heart with the joy of Christ as I sleep, for I know that You give to Your beloved even in their sleep. Thank You for grace. Thank You for Christ.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


One of the things I love to write about is God's goodness. Sometimes God's blessings don't appear to be blessings at first, but God has never once dropped the ball when it comes to His promise to cause all things work together for the good of those that love Him. The promise is to those that love Him. I fail Him often... I fail to love Him often... but by His grace, I do love Him. This enables me to see all of life from a different perspective--I know that whatever God does, it is for His glory, and it is for my good. This means that any kind of disappointment in life just means that God, in His infinite wisdom, has either withheld something from me for my good, or has something much better in store. Remember that this is the God who can do far more abundantly beyond all we could ask or think.

I'd like to tell you about some of the blessings of the day... but first, some history. We used to go to a place called Summit Ministries every summer. Dad would speak in the topics of Creation and Evolution... the rest of us would have an absolute blast. One of the blessings of that time is that there was a man there who decided to invest in this little kid named Daniel. Why he chose to invest in me, I don't know. He is one of the least techy people you will ever meet... but I loved him. He was a real man. He wasn't afraid to tear anything apart knowing that he could put it back together. He was gracious and not only let me watch... but let me help doing things like replace car doors... engines... lay wood floor or tile... put in counter-tops... fix and/or replace toilets... put in doors... lay sprinkler systems... lay cement... fix electrical outlets without turning off the power (hehe)... etc. Ben could have done all of these things by himself so much faster (and better) than I could have, but he invested in me and taught me so many things.

So, now to the blessings of the day. God used Ben in my life to give me some courage in attempting bigger tasks that I don't necessarily know how to do. Years ago, our passenger seat in the van decided to stop laying back... the lever would pull up but the seat refused to move. We lived with it in kind of an awkward position for quite a while because the dealership wanted $850 to fix it... and it was never worth THAT much to us. Well, it happened to the drivers seat this week... and even in a more awkward position! So, today was the day to work on the van, so I went ahead and started taking out screws and such. I eventually got the whole seat out without losing screws. After analyzing it for quite a while, I found that a little plastic part (actually, the only plastic part in the whole thing) was stripped due to years of use. I called around to several car repair places and dealerships and of course they couldn't give just that part, they had to give the whole side... $120ish just for one side. Anyway, I ended up checking out the junk yard. I have never been to a junk yard (sad I know)... but it's never too late for a new "first". I started walking around the junk yard and located a van that was similar to ours. It was a sobering sight--glass everywhere, half torn clothes that were left from what very well could have been a fatal accident, etc. It was a good reminder that life is short and our days are numbered by the Lord. It also reminded me to be thankful for the blessing of life... and eternal life! Well, this van had both seats... and to my amazement, both seats still could lay back, so I knew the part was good. I quickly busted out my tools and went to work... and 15 minutes later, I had both of these little plastic parts out of the car and I (yes, probably with a proud grin on my face) half walked, half bounced my way up to the cashier. I was thrilled. I waited in line for several gentlemen who were paying for random things from different cars... and I placed my two prize pieces of plastic on the counter. I had all kinds of thoughts racing through my head... would the man would want to know where I got the pieces from? And what now doesn't work in the van I just took it out of? Does this make it so they can't sell the seat and so do I have to pay for the whole seat? ... etc. The man looked at me and said, "Get out of here." I glanced up at him with that questionable look and said, "Seriously?" He said, "Yeah, don't even worry about it!" I walked over to the exit where they had the "check your receipt" station and let him know what the nice man at the counter said and I don't remember what he said exactly, but I think he could tell how thrilled I was and said something nice and sent me on my way.

I paid two dollars to get into the junk yard... and left with two small plastic things that fixed two chairs. The same two chairs that the dealership would have charged $1,700 to fix. Two dollars!!! I am just overwhelmed by God's goodness! First of all, I wouldn't have even known that the little plastic things were the issue unless Ben had invested in me for many many summers growing up... and then God gave the gift of two small plastic things that fixed two very important things in our van. Thank You, Lord!

Perhaps the Lord allowed this seat to stop laying back so that I could see yet another instance of His goodness. Perhaps the Lord allowed me to see this instance of His goodness so that I would love Him more and trust Him more with the bigger things of life. He owns it all! If He wants two $850 seats to be fixed for $2, He is able. That doesn't even began to compare with His infinite riches! The best thing of all is that His riches go beyond two seats in a van that will probably be crushed by some machine someday... His true riches are found in Christ who gives the ability to live, move and breathe. May we glorify Him with all the blessings that He pours out on us, both physical and spiritual.

As we prepare to worship tomorrow morning, let us remember that phrase from Romans 1:12... that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine. May Christ be honored by our fellowship tomorrow. May it be more than a social gathering where we talk about weather, work, and sports... and let's use the infinite riches of Christ that have been poured out on us for His glory in the lives of others as we fellowship with them tomorrow.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Humbling Associations

For July 4th, our church got together with another church to help them do an outreach to their community. Basically, we made balloon animals, several people did face painting, and we gave out gospel tracts, etc. God gave this church a unique opportunity to be right across the street from a minor league baseball stadium. They got to be the only booth outside the stadium (free) and even were able to use some tents and chairs and such that the city provided! It was such a blessing to be able to serve the community in a practical and simple way and hopefully make an eternal impact in the lives of some.

One of the young ladies that I made a pink and green flower balloon for was 12 years old in a wheel chair. She was with her mom getting her face painted and mom brought me over there to make a balloon for her. She had recently had surgery to remove tumors off the bones in her legs. Your heart just aches for people like her... young and potentially has so much life in front of her and yet she is wheel-chair bound at least for quite a while. This morning, I was reading in Romans 12 and verse 16 caught my attention in light of yesterday's outreach. Here are verses 14-16 for context.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
Someone encouraged me (whether they know it or not) to look into what the word "lowly" meant here. It has two other usages in the New Testament... James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 which talk about how God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. The word humble there is the same word as lowly in Romans 12:16. Those verses appear to be quoting from Proverbs 3:34. The word carries the idea of humble, meek, poor, oppressed, and needy people.

What was fascinating to me is that there are so many passages in Proverbs that talk about who we associate with. For example... do not associate with a gossip (Prov. 20:19), do not associate with a man given to anger (Prov. 22:24), do not be with heavy drinkers of wine or gluttonous eaters of meat (Prov. 23:20), do not be envious of evil men nor desire to be with them (Prov 24:1), do not associate with those who are given to change (Prov. 24:21), etc. Here in Romans 12:16, we are commanded to associate with the lowly, or the humble... and that same word is used for those that God gives grace to! In humbling ourselves and associating with the lowly when it may not feel like the "cool thing" to do, we are actually placing ourselves in a position to receive the grace of the Lord. God is opposed to the proud!

I am thankful that the Lord used that young lady last night in conjunction with His Word this morning to encourage me to associate with those that I ought to associate with. I don't need to be the "cool guy". I need to be gracious to those to whom He is gracious.

I think of a song that I listen to fairly often called, "The Mind of Christ".

To receive when others reject,
To treat each one with true respect,
To shield when others throw stones,
To be with one whos all alone,
To think and choose to see the very best,
To live like this is nothing less than to possess:

The mind of Christ, my highest goal,
The Lord's delight, the desire of my soul,
The Father's heart will always guide my life,
If I will have in me the mind of Christ.

To build up when others tear down,
To see the lost until they're found,
To give grace where it's needed most,
Rejecting pride when others boast,
To sacrifice my all without regret,
To live like this is nothing less than to possess:

The mind of Christ, my highest goal,
The Lord's delight, the desire of my soul,
The Father's heart will always guide my life,
If I will have in me the mind of Christ.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Complete Obedience

I had the blessing of going to a wedding today. It was a simple wedding and yet it was completely Christ-centered. So often a wedding can become about the bride and groom, when that is not what God's intention was. God's intention was that marriage be a display of His relationship to His bride, the church. I enjoy fancy weddings... I enjoy creativity in organization... but nothing can replace Christ-centeredness on the wedding day. It was a blessing to see two godly young people be united in marriage with plans to serve the Lord together along the lines of Bible translation. I believe that ministry as a couple is a vital part of marriage. The moment that the focus becomes on "us" and "our plans", we miss what the Lord is wanting to do in and through us. I am thankful for the reminder of that today.

I have been continuing my reading in Joshua and ran across this great little phrase about what Joshua did in Joshua 11:15.
... he left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded...
Several years back, I was listening to a pastor on CD that was preaching to parents at a couples retreat and one of the things he said was that in regards to parenting is that "partial obedience is not obedience at all"! This is true in our relationship to the Lord. Partial obedience is not obedience. It leads us to think of ourselves higher than we ought to think and plays right into Jeremiah 17:9 in regards to the heart being desperately wicked, beyond what we can even know. May the Lord give us grace and help to be completely obedient like Joshua was... and may He give us the fullest of joys in doing so. It is a delightful thing to obey the One who knows how to gives His children only good and perfect gifts.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Bad Guys

On Sunday, Pastor Tim just mentioned as a side note something that he was pointing out to his children. You know... it is really amazing how God can speak through His Word to both the smallest of children and the oldest of adults. Anyway, he was talking about how we all see the 10 spies to the promise land as bad guys. We have gone so far from that point. These were guys that risked their lives for the sake of the people of Israel to bring back a report about the promise land. But, they lacked faith and trust in the Lord. Take a look at Numbers 13:27-33
Thus they told him, and said, “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there. Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.” Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “ We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
No doubt, their report was honest, but they had forgotten all that God had done up to this point and failed to trust Him for the next step. We do look at this guys as "the bad spies" and yes, they failed to trust the Lord, but so often, I think we don't see the same lack of faith in our own hearts. I like to think of myself as one who trusts the Lord, but there are so many areas in which I clearly have not trusted Him how I should have. I chose to lean on my own earthly wisdom without looking to the infinite power of God who made heaven and earth and all that is in it. He gives life and breath.

God, show me the areas in which I have not been trusting you and place in me a heart of trust resulting in full submission and obedience to whatever You desire me to do. Forgive me for my distrust and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Just Some Praise

So much has been happening lately and I have to say that I am so full of gratitude to the Lord. There is no way that I can remember everything, but I'd like to share several that come to the top of my head in no particular order.

Several weeks ago, one of the men at church was in a head-on car accident on a major highway. He ended up being air-lifted to the hospital. God was gracious and both he and the other man involved in the accident "walked away" without lasting injuries. He still has some recovery to do, but he is doing so well and was at church today. What a blessing from the Lord! It made my day seeing him at church.

Yesterday, a friend and her mom were driving on the freeway and swerved to avoid a car and ended up spinning a couple times... hitting the guard rail... popping three tires... etc. They both walked away from the totally destroyed car with bumps and bruises. There will be a recovery process both physically and emotionally/mentally, but the Lord was gracious in that no one else was involved in the accident and even the tow truck driver saw God's hand in the situation. God is so good and gave them hearts of gratitude to Him. Thank You, Lord!

We recently got back from visiting my sister and her family in Indiana. It was such a blessed time with them. It brought an incredible amount of joy to me to hear my nephew, Gabriel singing songs about the Lord. I think of that verse in 3 John about there being no greater joy than to see children walking in the truth--that is how I felt with my nephew. I can't even imagine the joy in seeing your own child praise the Lord--something to look forward to if the Lord should provide such an opportunity someday. God is so good--revealing Himself to little ones and receiving praise from them. I am humbled and grateful.

A man at church today came up to me about a minute before church started and handed me a 3x5 card and said, "If you were to ask me how you can pray for me, this is what I would tell you. I will pray for you in the same manner." On the card was written 2 Thessalonians 1:11 which says, To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power. You know, such a simple act that took a whole five seconds was such an encouragement to me. We had just read last night about speaking to one another with Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. What a great example of that... taking the time to edify me. May the Lord give me a heart like that for others as part of His body. I praise the Lord for that man.

Mom and I went for a walk this evening and had the best time talking with one another. What a great woman she is! I am so thankful to the Lord for her and her words of wisdom. She is never afraid to tell me the deficiencies that she sees in me, but she does it in such an encouraging manner and it is so helpful to me. I am so thankful for her listening to the Lord's leading in that regard. I have many blind-spots and God uses her so often to help me. I am thankful to the Lord for her.

It's Father's Day today and though I don't have a specific event to talk about, I am so thankful for my dad. He often leads us to brainstorm in how we can lead conversations and activities in the ways of the Lord. He is a quiet leader, but a powerful one. He leads by example. I love seeing him in the morning with his Bible open. He is such a great example to me and I love him so much.

I'd like to echo the words of Psalm 150.
Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Stimulated Toward Love and Good Deeds

Our church does something called, "Go Night" once per month.  Basically, we go out to a neighborhood in our community and we distribute invitations to church and talk with anyone who is outside and willing to talk... sometimes it leads to the gospel, other times it ends very quickly... but it always gets me out of my comfort zone.  Today, we had a picnic at the park afterwards and I was sitting at a table talking with a gentleman from our church and he slipped me a 3 x 5 card that had some scripture from Psalm 119 on it.  I read it and then we started talking about it... kind of a strange way to start a conversation, but it was such an encouragement to me that he would choose a spiritually beneficial topic and lead the conversation that way.  The conversation continued and he asked if I ever went out specifically to talk with people about the gospel.  Humbled, I had to say that I have only done it a couple times.  I do not see evangelism as my spiritual gift, but that is not an excuse for not doing it.  I am much more comfortable talking with someone I know about the gospel than someone I don't... but all those things really are excuses for my lack of faithfulness to the Lord in the area of sharing the gospel in word.  He asked me how I might approach a gentleman sitting on a park bench and pointed him out.  I explained how I might make small talk and find out a little bit about him and then bring up church and see if he was comfortable taking the conversation beyond surface level and then if he is... lead into the gospel if he is unsaved or asking him about his walk with the Lord if he is saved.  The conversation continued and then I got up to get another piece of watermelon... and when I got back, the gentleman that I was talking with was gone.  He had gone over to talk with that guy on the park bench.  I was so convicted and challenged by that.  It's possible that nothing will come of that conversation, but that is up to the Lord... not me.  God doesn't always lead us to stand at a street corner with a megaphone sharing the gospel, but I must be much much more aware of those around me that may no know Christ and take the opportunities He gives and follow His lead in sharing with them the glorious truth of the gospel. I am so thankful for this example from this guy at church.  He really lived out Hebrews 10:23-25 for me this evening.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
God, make me a more faithful steward of the gospel.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Careful Obedience

It's been a while since I've read Joshua, so I am reading it again.  I was encouraged and challenged by God's command to Joshua to be obedient in verses 7-9.  Take a look...
Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
These incredible promises from God are interwoven with commands to obey Him fully. The reason we meditate on the Word... the reason we memorize it... the reason we read it is all to obey it. It is a great think to have the spiritual discipline of spending time in the Word, but we must be careful to do all that we are commanded to do! Any part of the Word that we read and choose to ignore only hardens our heart toward the Lord. May God humble us by shining His light into our darkness--the areas in which we have ignored His clear commands, and may He turn our hearts to love-driven, joyful obedience.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

It's not too often I get to celebrate the incredible mom that the Lord has blessed me with... especially since her birthday is in the same week as Mother's Day! I was sitting in my room this morning pondering what I ought to write in the card we got for mom and my thoughts wandered to different friends of mine who don't have their mom with them anymore. The more I pondered these things, the more I realize just how blessed I am to not only have a mom to strengthen me with prayer, encourage me, push me, rebuke me, etc... but to have a mom who is incredibly brilliant and active and humorous and young at heart and wise and godly and bold and lovely... I am so blessed to have my mom. My heart goes out to those that do not have a mom with them today. For the men and women fighting overseas... some of which are mothers... others are husbands of a wife who is a mother... others are sons and daughters of mothers. For those who don't have a relationship with their mom due to some life decisions. For those that don't have a mom with them because they have moved on into eternity. My mom has had perhaps the biggest impact on me of any human on the face of the planet... and truly, I can't imagine missing that person who has had that much impact on my life... but many are missing that person in their life today. I just want to take the time to encourage you if you don't have a mom with you today with these words from "Be Still My Soul".

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

My prayer for you today is that in missing your mother, God would grant you greater knowledge of Him and His supreme ability to fulfill all of your needs... to fill every void... to comfort and encourage your heart. God has blessed me with an incredible mother. I don't know how long He will bless me with her... but one thing I do know... I ought to make the most of my time with her. She is so wise. She is so virtuous. My encouragement of those of us that do have our moms with us today... let's minister to their needs more than we are. Let's serve them like Christ would have us do. Let's honor them as we are commanded to do. Mother's Day is a day where we focus on them, but it doesn't have to be Mother's Day for us to choose to make sacrifices for them. Let's love on them... encourage them... pray for them!
Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: "Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all." Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Happy Mother's Day to the most amazing mom ever. I love you, mom!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Focused Love

The sermon yesterday morning talked about the relationship between love and obedience--specifically, how love for God always results in obedience to Him. The moment we separate love and obedience, we lose the foundation for our obedience. Once we are just doing the "right thing" because it has been our pattern, it is good that we have established patterns of obedience, but we are in a very vulnerable place. It is just a matter of time before the tempter makes his move in showing us how much more fun sin would be than obedience. We have lost our foundation for obedience and we will also lose the battle of the mind if we don't turn back to the love of God as our goal in obeying Christ. Take a look at 1 John 5:1-3.
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
Pastor Tim really did a good job of bringing this passage down to a practical level. Honestly, I struggled with applying this even as I was writing this blog post. I was asked to do something very reasonable and I didn't feel like doing it. Sadly, those thoughts of, "Haven't I done enough today?", or "Can't someone else do it?"... etc. flood my mind far too often. I'm thankful for the Lord's conviction in this area. Mom is a child of God and therefore, how can I do anything but love her? Okay, I have another huge reason to love her... and I do love her very very much for being my mom! But, I must not lose sight of the fact that she is also a child of God and if I love God, I truly can't even consider not loving her.

I have several married friends... many of which are starting to have kids... and I almost feel like an adopted uncle of sorts. I love those kids so much, even if I hardly know them... I know their parents and love their parents, so I must love their children! It's the natural thing to do. It's amazing how many faults we can overlook when we have set our mind to love someone. That little one spits up all over you... or dumps a whole bucket of toys all over the floor that were just picked up, but you just have to love them anyway! What if we really applied this Biblical truth with our brothers and sisters in Christ? What if we "did not take into account a wrong suffered"? What if we were so focused on loving God that we loved His children unconditionally? How would that transform our relationships within the family... physical brothers and sisters that are His children... parents... spouses... etc.? They are all fellow heirs of God and Christ! How would this transform our churches? How would this transform our attitude about people in our church... even those that intentionally do things to make us uncomfortable?

I am challenged and convicted by the truths of 1 John 5. May God give each of us His grace and help to be so focused on loving Him that disobedience isn't even a consideration and that we love His people as He would have us love them. Love is an action! We must not let it stop with how we "think or feel" about God's children... though that may be a great start!

My prayer for you and for myself is from 2 Thessalonians 3:5.
May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Only His Instruction

Sometimes I feel like I am discovering something new in the world--we see sin spreading like wildfire taking all kinds of "new" forms. We see many that we have known and loved for years walking in the counsel of the ungodly as Psalm 1 warns us about. We see "new" ways in which the church is trying to mix with the unsaved world despite all the commands throughout scripture to be set apart. We seem to miss that God called Lot out of Sodom. There is a time to "get out". There is also a time to stand firm where He has put us and be salt and light there. It take so much wisdom from the Lord to determine what we must do in every different kind of situation.

I was reading in 1 Kings 13 this evening and reminded how "old" some of these things are... things that seem "new" to me... perhaps new in my lifetime, but these things have been around since the beginning of time. Take a look at 1 Kings 13:7-25.
Then the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” But the man of God said to the king, “If you were to give me half your house I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water in this place. For so it was commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way which you came.’” So he went another way and did not return by the way which he came to Bethel. Now an old prophet was living in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the deeds which the man of God had done that day in Bethel; the words which he had spoken to the king, these also they related to their father. Their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” Now his sons had seen the way which the man of God who came from Judah had gone. Then he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him and he rode away on it. So he went after the man of God and found him sitting under an oak; and he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” And he said, “I am.” Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” He said, “I cannot return with you, nor go with you, nor will I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. For a command came to me by the word of the Lord, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water there; do not return by going the way which you came.’” He said to him, “I also am a prophet like you, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’” But he lied to him. So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house and drank water. Now it came about, as they were sitting down at the table, that the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back; and he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have disobeyed the command of the Lord, and have not observed the commandment which the Lord your God commanded you, but have returned and eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which He said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water”; your body shall not come to the grave of your fathers.’” It came about after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, for the prophet whom he had brought back. Now when he had gone, a lion met him on the way and killed him, and his body was thrown on the road, with the donkey standing beside it; the lion also was standing beside the body. And behold, men passed by and saw the body thrown on the road, and the lion standing beside the body; so they came and told it in the city where the old prophet lived.
First off, this man of God has an encounter with God. In this encounter, God tells him not to even do so much as eat bread or drink water in that place... not even go back the way he came. It's a pretty amazing thing that the king invites this man of God to come eat with him. Certainly, he could have justified it. He could be salt and light to the king! What an amazing opportunity! But wait. God commanded him otherwise. We see the steadfastness of this man of God in how he turns down the king's offer in obedience to the Lord. The testing wasn't over yet. While this man of God was headed back a different way, someone pursues him and asks him to come back and eat. Okay, no problem... easy answer, "No, God told me not to eat bread or drink water!" Then comes the big test... this man too claims to be speaking the word of the Lord. We see the results of listening to this man--death.

I believe we as the church are in this kind of situation right now. There are so many claiming to be speaking the Word of God... and yet not everyone can be right. We are so tempted to just "get along" and be "salt and light" in places God has called us out of. We must be careful. Very careful. God does not take lightly to our obedience of others over being obedient to His voice. If we aren't listening to His voice to begin with, we obviously won't be obeying it... but assuming we are spending time in the Word and truly committing to hearing from the Lord and being obedient to Him, we must "test the spirits" to see if they are from God. If they are not, we must not waver in our faith... we must not justify our sinful desires. We must cast them aside and determine in our hearts to follow Him regardless of how we feel. His voice is the voice of truth. His words are the only words of life.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Do We Love Him?

Okay, I admit it... I am kind of all over the place in the Word these days. I woke up a bit late this morning and ended up doing part of my devotions in the car on the way to work at red lights. I read in Deuteronomy 13 and it was a great reminder for me.
If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.
I think we all know (head knowledge that puffs up) that in the end times, there will arise people that can do signs and wonders that are not from the Lord... and yet we also know that these individuals will deceive many. They may even name the name of Christ and yet not lead us in His ways. The secret to separating truth from falsehood in such instances comes in knowing Christ. Knowledge of Christ comes by spending time in the Word. Discretion also comes through the leading of the Spirit (not to be confused with feelings). Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. We must be dependent on the Lord and not quick to "lay hands on any man", and "test the spirits" to see if they are from God.

One thing that really jumped out to me in this passage in light of the fact that God does not tempt anyone is that He does test us at times to see if we love Him. God is not looking for people who love Him when they feel like it. He is looking for those that love Him when He gives and when He takes away. He is looking for those that love Him when an alternative appears to be better than serving Him. He is looking for those that hold tightly to Him. He is looking for those that listen to and obey His voice.

God, forgive me for the ways in which I have loved the things of this world. Forgive me for my disobedience and my love of self. Forgive me for clinging to things that are not eternal. Forgive me for the ways I have served with wrong motivations. Renew in me a steadfast love for You alone. Help me listen closely to Your voice and obey it. Cause my heart to fear You as it should. Be lifted up in my eyes. Reign supreme and conquer every rebel power within this naturally wicked heart. Thank You for Your unending grace and the power of Your Spirit within me to guide me. Give me an attentive ear and a soft heart.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Over-estimating the Enemy

In church today, one of the men brought up an excellent point.  We were studying Daniel 9 and he mentioned that it says that Gabriel was caused to fly swiftly while Daniel was praying.  From this, we can be reminded that spiritual forces (good and evil) are by no means omnipresent.  I think we as a whole tend to under-estimate the powers of darkness in many regards, but we also over-estimate them in many regards.  For some reason, we ascribe characteristics that only God has to Satan.  We feel like he can be everywhere... but he is limited to one place at a time.  When God is speaking with Satan in Job 1, and God asks Satan where he is coming from, Satan says, "From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it."

Satan is not omnipresent!  Yes, there are spiritual hosts of wickedness, but they also are limited to one place at a time.  Another interesting thing is that it didn't describe Gabriel has being there instantly... he flew swiftly.  We don't know the limits of the spiritual realm and how that fits in with time and space, but we do know that only God is all knowing.  Only God is present everywhere. 

At the same time, we ought to remember the instruction from 1 Peter 5:8-11.
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.
May the Lord cause us to be firmly established in our faith so that we are not devoured by the devil. But, let's not ascribe to Satan more glory than he deserves. Satan is not everywhere. Satan does not know everything. Satan can not do anything he wants to do. Satan is under God's thumb.

Be on the alert. Know the Word. Be firm in your faith. Trust the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Trusting the Trustworthy One

God never ceases to amaze me in how He works. I don't like to get myself involved in issues unnecessarily, but sometimes things come up that I believe are important enough that I ought to step in and say or do something. This last week, there were three separate instances in three different contexts where I got to the point where I was ready to say or do something and after praying about it, just didn't sense from the Lord that it was what He wanted. I battled each one for several days and then later heard how God took care of it completely without my intervention. I was reading this morning and again this evening in 1 Peter 2 and Christ's example was such a great encouragement to me. Check out verses 11-25.
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
The emphasis here is on doing what is right regardless of what is happening around us... and trusting that God will judge righteously. He never fails! There are times where we need to stand up, but sometimes all He wants us to do is be faithful with what He has given us and trust Him to do His part. I love that phrase about Christ--He kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously. What a powerful example for us. Let's do what is right and entrust ourselves to the One who is completely trustworthy!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


I heard a sermon on the radio about a week ago that has been continually on my mind since then. The speaker was talking about noise--the distractions of life. We can get in a pattern of using noise... even good things, like God-honoring music, to district us from really having fellowship with the Lord. Sometimes we forsake the clear command from God in Psalm 46 to be still and know that He is God. It is in quietness and trust that we find our strength from the Lord (Isaiah 30:15). Rather than being still before Him and allowing Him to speak to us and responding to Him, we so often fill our every waking hour with noise... good noise and not so good noise.

I have noticed a pattern in godly individuals that have gone before us... they all have patterns of spending much time quiet before the Lord in the Word and in prayer. It is so essential to our relationship with the Lord that we take the time to be still before Him and listen. Let Him convict us of sin and righteousness and judgement. What we ought to fear more than conviction is fear of not being convicted! If we are not being convicted, we are not listening to Him. May God help us to be still before Him and give us the grace to respond to what He communicates to us.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Purpose in Preparation

This last week, I was really feeling somewhat spiritually dry and in need of refreshment from the Lord. You know those times where it feels like obedience is a burden rather than a joy? I was pleading with the Lord to restore my joy in obedience to Him... that I wouldn't see His commands as burdensome (because they aren't). It's the difference between head knowledge and practical application. I know God's ways are always best. I know that obeying Him will always give me the fullest joy and yet I was attempting obedience on my own strength rather than relying on the joy of the Lord as my strength. It's not fun (just in case you were wondering).

There is nothing like reading the Word with a desire to learn and obey everything that He has to show us for the day. When we are reading out of obligation or just to check it off our check list for the day, it is not in any way joyous and actually, it can harden our hearts toward the Lord. I'm not advising that any of us stop reading the Word when we don't feel like it; His Word can change our feelings! But, we do need to be reading with the desire to be molded and shaped by Him. Only He can give that desire and only He can renew that desire when we don't "feel like it".

Yesterday morning, I spent some time in the Word and pulled out my guitar... closed my door and just played and sang to the Lord. No distractions... no people to please... no other things pressing on my mind... just time with Him. The Lord answered that my pleads for restoration of joy in Him. He also showed me something about preparation. You see, I have a the blessing and privilege of being able to play guitar at church. I enjoy it greatly and find that I can often worship Him with more of me when I am playing than when I am just singing. I do realize that it is a heart condition, not an action thing, but some things draw my heart to worship and playing piano or guitar is one of those things that really helps in drawing my heart to worship. One of the elders and I usually play together, but he has been taking some time off. He is extremely talented and really could have gone professional if he wanted to. He is amazing. I kind of relied on some of his amazingness and didn't feel as "responsible" to have to play everything just right. Now that I am the only one playing, I feel a greater responsibility to play well so as to not distract from worship. Let's face it... when people play or sing wrong notes, people notice and it distracts from worship.

I generally do not spend a lot of time preparing to play on Sunday. The Lord has blessed me with being able to play by ear and so I generally kind of wing it on Sunday. We have practice before church, but outside of that, I don't practice a lot. What the Lord revealed to me is this: with the increased awareness of my responsibility to play right, I was losing the heart of worship. Yes, I wanted to please Him by playing well, but in doing so, I wasn't able to focus on the words we were singing. If I had prepared better, playing would have been easy and natural and I would have been free to worship with all of me... not distracted by the weight of having to play right.

All that to say, I am so thankful for the Lord in showing me the purpose behind preparation. It's hard to spend lots of time preparing when I know I can "wing it" without a noticeable problem. The problem is when it starts affecting my heart... when my lack of preparation turns into distraction from worship in my own heart. I'd be better off not playing at all. God wants hearts that are fully His, not distracted ones no matter how "good" we sound. That's not what God looks at. He looks at the heart.

I have two big things to be thankful for this week:

1) Renewed joy in the Lord and in obedience to Him.
2) Renewed purpose in preparing to help lead His people in worship.

Monday, February 06, 2012

A Sweet Aroma

I recently had one of the most unmanly conversations ever... yes, we were talking about candles. Apparently, one of the ladies put a pineapple candle in the guys restroom at work after hours. Then, it disappeared... apparently, they wanted it back. So, we ended up having this conversation one day about the candle and how it mysteriously appeared and disappeared. I was joking with them and complaining about how the good smelling candle was missing. The next day, it was there again. haha I kind of feel bad because I was just giving them a hard time about it, but apparently they like the fact that we like the good smelling candle. It is one of the candles that has quite a strong smell. The moment the door is opened, the fresh sweet aroma from the candle fills the hallway. All that to say, the knowledge of Christ ought to be like that in our lives to those around us. Take a look 2 Corinthians 2:14-15.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
It is God's purpose to spread the sweet aroma of Christ to others through us... both to the saved and the unsaved. I have been reading about John Bunyan and his conversion to Christ and how God used some poor people talking about the joy in Christ to cause him to pick up the Bible and start reading. They had no idea that he was listening in on their conversations... but the sweet aroma of Christ filled the air and caught his heart.

Reading this has been a great challenge for me. How can my knowledge of Christ be used as a sweet aroma to glorify Him? You know what makes many of us like Tebow? He obviously loves the Lord and the aroma of his knowledge of Christ is a sweet one. He knows what it means to know Christ and it is sweet to his soul. That aroma of of the knowledge of Christ touching his heart cannot be contained. It is a joyous thing to know Christ... the more we know Him, the more we love Him... we can't help but love Him! He is infinitely lovely. Can I just say that Tebow is just a normal guy that God has given a big platform? I don't think Tebow would disagree. God wants faithfulness. He wants the love of Christ to touch our hearts and give off an overwhelming aroma to those around us. Oh, that they would see our good works and glorify our Father who is in Heaven. One of the things I pray for Tebow is that people wouldn't be distracted by the man, Tim Tebow, but that they would see Christ in him. God has given each of us opportunities (probably on a smaller scale), but did you know that the "Prince of Preachers", Spurgeon was saved because a normal man preached the Word when the pastor couldn't make it? God doesn't need you to have a huge platform... actually, lets be honest here... He doesn't need any of us for anything. It is a privilege to be used by Him for His glory. Let us be faithful to give off that sweet aroma in the small things and see what He might do in and through us.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Faith's Resting Place

On days like today, I am so thankful for the influence of godly young men on my life. The fellowship of bringing our requests to the Lord and bearing one another's burdens is such a blessing. I'm certainly not the most diligent person when it comes to getting up early (mostly because the night before isn't planned in such a way as to start the morning early), but it is such a delight to spend time with a brother in the Lord in prayer early in the morning. God meant fellowship and communion with Him and our brothers and sisters in Christ to be a joyous thing.

I was reading this morning in 1 Corinthians 2 and Paul's intentions jumped out to me in verses 3-5.
I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
It is so important that our words and actions are honoring to the Lord, but God cares even more about the depths of our hearts... our intentions... our motives. We can say and do all the right things and not glorify the One who gave us the ability to do those things. As Jesus says, "They have received their reward in full." We are constantly in need of the grace of God to convict of sin and righteousness and judgement so that we would see the depths of our heart and act in such a way as to cause other people's faith to rest not on the wisdom of men... my cleverness or ingenuity, but on the wisdom of God. This is a good challenge for me this morning... to proclaim Christ today in such a way that others would forget the channel of the message as they see the infinite glory of Christ. He must increase, I must decrease.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Letter

God has been blessing so much at work. We had a school district client of ours that purchased something like 15 or 20 scanners without consulting with us first to make sure that it was compatible with our software. I worked on it off and on in the last couple days of the week and I was able to get it to work, but it was really not the way I should have done it. I kind of just wanted to prove that it could be done with this "hacky" way of writing the code and then see if I could actually do it the "right" way. Anyway, after being stuck on this issue for quite a while, I took it to the Lord in prayer and just started typing. I'm so thankful for intellisense... for the non-programmers out there, this is basically auto-complete... but better. It gives you a list of all the things you can choose from. For example, if you had an object called, Person, you might have options like last name, first name, middle name, date of birth, height, weight, hair color, eye color, etc. Well, I started typing... and God was gracious in allowing me to find the solution to this issue that had stumped my boss and myself. It was a simple three lines of code. God is so good! It was a great reminder to me not to trust in my own strength or creativity, but to rely fully on Him.

I was reading in 2 Timothy 1 this evening and thinking of different individuals in my life who have been an encouragement to me to "take the next step" in my relationship with the Lord. Sometimes I wish that they would send me a letter... just take 10 minutes out of their day and point out the blind spots that I have and encourage me to be wholly submitted to the Lord. The reality is that I am that guy in some instances. I don't mean this in any kind of "stuck-up" way... I mean it in a sobering responsibility kind of way. God has entrusted me with some influence on the lives of others and I really feel that I need to do a better job in using that stewardship from the Lord to encourage others in Christ. Take a look at this example from Paul to Timothy.
To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
I would love to receive a letter like this... who wouldn't? In order to encourage like this, we must model it. Paul wasn't asking Timothy to suffer for Christ because he [Paul] wasn't willing to do it himself. No, Paul was leading the way and saying... hey, Timothy... I know this is hard, but I'm in it... and it's so worth it!

I am encouraged by Paul and his example. Paul probably had no idea that I would exist someday or that I would read this letter or that I'd be encouraged by it. I love the mystery and infinite wisdom of God. He doesn't tell us how much He is intending to use us for His glory... He just does it! May He give us the grace to lead by example and encourage those around us to do the same.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Blessing of Boldness

God has been challenging me in the area of boldness this year. I cannot take any credit for the boldness that I have had for Him as it has come completely from Him. He has been so gentle and kind toward me. He sees my weakness in this area and as a loving Father, He encourages me in even the smallest progress that He sees in me. There have been several events lately where God gave me the courage to be just a little bold and God has turned those times into incredible blessings. I am continually floored! I took a small step of boldness in talking with a lady at one of our client school districts about church... and then God used the God-honoring type of gossip in their office to spread this to others in the same office.

It was the most joyous and refreshing time talking with one of the people about the Lord today. Here we were, standing in this public district office amongst all her co-workers, talking about the Lord and His goodness. Teachers don't have the freedom to talk about Him to their students (in most cases) and yet God used just the smallest hint of boldness to open a door to talk with someone above all those teachers about Him... freely! I was rushed for time and skipped my lunch, so I was able to use some of my lunch time for that conversation. God is so amazingly brilliant! I couldn't have thought that one up if I was trying to. I was so encouraged by her and by the Lord.

I echo the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 6:19.
Pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.
God has blessed some of the smallest attempts at being bold for Him... but He doesn't want me to stay there. He wants me to be a light with words as well as with actions. How can they believe in whom they have not heard, and how can they hear without a preacher? My life can demonstrate Christ-likeness, but what is that if they don't hear of Christ? They think I'm a nice guy... that glorifies Daniel, that doesn't glorify Christ. They must hear of Christ in me, the hope of glory!

God, help me be bold for You in 2012.