Category: LIFE Journal

August 19, 2012
John 21:17 (NLT)
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
Observation:  Peter has denied Jesus. Now comes the moment of forgiveness, mercy, restoration.
Application:  Peter does what we all have done or will do…denies or betrays Jesus. It is not a question of if, but only when. We are human and frail and we mess up.  Always. And I have had my times. Jesus seeks to pardon and restore me, too. He asks of me, what he asked of Peter: Michael, son of George, do you love me? And my answer to his question matters profoundly.
Prayer:  Yes, Lord, I love you. I love you more than I ever thought possible. And, I love you less than I wish was true. I want to love you more. Help me love you more. More than anything else. More than riches or power or status or fame. More than anyone else. More than life itself. I would have no other gods before you. In the powerful and loving name of Jesus.
August 14, 2012
John 16:23-24 (NLT)
At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. [24] You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.
Observation:  Jesus is fixing to go away…to his Father. While he will not be with him, they will not be alone. And they will not be left without resources and help. The Holy Spirit will be there. God will answer their prayers…and there will be joy.
Application:  In this chapter, there will be suffering. They will be persecuted. But, they will not be  abandoned. And the presence of Christ, through his Holy Spirit, will not disappear, and they will have joy. Abundant joy. Overflowing joy. Eternal, everlasting, never-ending joy!
Prayer:  Lord, I want that. My life has not been bad. I have been blessed in so many ways, more than I can count or remember. An incredible wife, wonderful children, fantastic grandchildren, good health, the privilege of being in ministry. Each and every one of those is far more than I deserve. But, you are gracious and I am grateful. Still, there have been some hard times, with more perhaps to come. Difficult and cruel people, financial struggles, a child now battling cancer, the death of parents. And you have offered joy. And I am once again deeply thankful. I am blessed and highly favored because of your presence and action in my life.
August 2, 2012
John 4:34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. “
Observation:  For the Jews, the concern was about ritual purity, or mere survival – enough food on the table to get them through one more day. Our appetites have far more to do with sensual pleasures than the will of God.
Application:  Jesus’ call is for me to hunger after righteousness. I am to long for my Father in Heaven like a deer pants after a brook. But my focus is far more often on diets and my grumbling belly when I fast than it is on the true food, the will of him who sent me, too.
Prayer:  Papa, I don’t crave your will like I do Oreos or Little Debbies. I don’t get a hankering for righteousness. My soul is not parched for you. As much as I wish I craved you and your will like I do sugar, it is not so – yet. Change me. Mold me after your will, while I am waiting, yielded and still. In the powerful and grace-filled name of Jesus I ask this.

July 23, 2012

1 Peter 2:9-10 (NLT)
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. [10] “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”.

Observation:  Hosea goes after a prostitute. She runs away, goes back to her whoring. He finds her and brings her home. Again and again. It is a parable of God’s relationship with Israel, and with his Church. Their first child is named “God tosses (the baby out with the bath water?). No. 2 (any resemblance to Hosea is purely coincidental) is called “Not mine.” Gomer runs again. She is brought home, and no. 3 will be along soon, named “Not loved.” We who were once not loved and not God’s, are now loved, and the children of his love.
Application:  Once I was defiant and deliberate in my rebellion against God, cut off from him by my own choices and actions. No longer. Like the song, I can sing, “I am yours.” You know my name. It is carved in the palm of your hand.
Prayer:  Lord, who am I that the Lord of all the earth would call me by name? Compared to you, I am nothing. Yet you love me anyway. I am grateful. I am so like Gomer-willfully defiant and deliberately disobedient. I return to my own vomit, as Proverbs 26:11 says. Yet you love me anyway. I can only say thank you. Help me to live faithfully for you. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. In the name of Jesus I pray.

July 20, 2012

James 4:17 (NLT)
Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

Observation:  As James deals with issues like quarreling and envy, he closes this section with this statement. We know what to do. I know what to do most often in life and relationships. The problem is that I am lazy. Not doing is (initially) easier than doing.
Application:  It is much like what Leadership and Self-Deception says about betraying ourselves by not honoring the impulse to do something. Getting the baby, or taking out the trash. Then justifying my actions or lack thereof. When I know what to do, I need to act, for my sake as well as for the other person’s sake.
Prayer:  Lord Jesus, I almost always know what to do. Help me to be industrious enough to do it. I know what to do. Help me to be courageous enough to do it. When I don’t know what to do, help me to be wise enough to do it. When I don’t know how to do, make me smart enough to do it. In your strong and loving name, I pray.
July 16, 2012
Hebrews 13:14 (NLT)
For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
Observation:  The author of Hebrews points to a day when we will finally be at home with Christ. This world (not this earth, but this age) is not home. It is a layover on the way to the place of glory and great love. We are renters and sharecroppers and hitchhikers and tenants. This isn’t ours. And we don’t completely belong here.
Application:  Knowing this home is temporary, should we not spend more time in preparation for eternity than we do for vacation? What will meet me at the gate to Heaven will not be my money, my Maserati, or my mansion. It won’t be my power or my privilege or my position or my plaudits. It will be Jesus, who will say to God the Father as he points in my direction, “He is with me.” And, I suspect I will see those who I have impacted for Christ.
Prayer:  Lord, I want to come home. Not yet. I still have much here to do. As much as I would love for my sciatica to not hurt, and to be debt-free, and to have a mansion in glory, and be able to eat Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls (or something even better!) without gaining weight or worrying about cholesterol, and not have to get behind someone driving slow in the fast lane, I am not done here. I still love being with my kids and grandkids. I still enjoy this life. But, help me remember this is temporary. It is not home, nice as it is. Prepare me to be with you in glory. I ask it in Jesus’ strong and loving name.

July 11, 2012

Isaiah 8:11-13 (NLT)

The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said, [12] “Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. [13] Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble.”

Observation:  It is clear – our brains are wired wrong. We think differerently from how God thinks. Therefore, we think wrong. That is not how Isaiah is to think. He is not to take his clues from the society around him, but from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Application:  It is, therefore, not how I am to think. I am not to call everything a conspiracy. I am not to live in dread. I am to make God holy in my life. I am to live in awe of him. My worldview is not to be informed by Fox, CNN, or MSNBC. It is to be shaped by scripture, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. God is the source of my insider information.
Prayer:  Lord, your thoughts are higher than my/our thoughts. I need you to give me the mind that is in Christ. I need you to blow my mind so you can fill my mind. I need to think right, think like you. Give me a piece of your mind, so I may always have your will in mind, and receive your peace of mind. In the strong and loving name of Jesus, I pray.
July 9, 2012
Sorry it has been so long since I have added any posts. While I have been journaling regularly, I got woefully lax on putting them up. I will be getting back into the swing of things.
Hebrews 6:18 (NLT)
So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.
Observation:  God has both promised and pinky sworn. It is set in stone. For God cannot lie. As I look at his promises, I can be absolutely certain that he is faithful, and will do as he says.
Application:  I can trust God to be faithful. I may not always understand his ways. I may not always be able to see into the future. And even if I could, his thoughts are not my thoughts, nor his ways my ways. So, I pray the promises of God, knowing that God cannot lie.
Prayer:  Lord, help me pray and stand on your promises…for healing for Jen, and revival for the church, and for us to be deeply generous. Help me trust you fully and completely. In Jesus’ name I pray.

May 18, 2011

ScriptureSo give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.  1 Kings 3:9

Observation:  Solomon asks for THE right thing – a discerning heart.  NOT wisdom, but the ability to judge between right and wrong, to hear God’s voice and distinguish between it and all the competing voices out there.  He does so because leading (governing) is hard.

Application:  I (and all the leaders of God’s Church) need a discerning heart. There are many competing voices – sirens committed to leading the ship of the Church to disaster on the rocks of greed, pleasure, ease, power.  Only one voice – only one beacon – sends a true signal.  And it is a gift from God to hear it, recognize its source, and then, with boldness, follow it.

Prayer:  Lord , may I have a discerning heart? I want to help to lead Your people on right paths. I want us to change the world.  I want Your loving power to flow through us. I want souls saved, bodies healed, the dead raised, marriages restored, righteousness and faithfulness spread throughout the land.  We can’t do it. At least not alone.  Only by hanging onto Your coattails, following in Your footsteps, can we go where You call us to go.  Give me a discerning heart, I pray, in the name of Jesus the giver of all Wisdom.

February 10, 2011

ScriptureWhile in Athens, (Paul) was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.  Acts 17:16

Observation:  Paul sees statue after statue of gods that are no gods lining the streets and plazas—reminders of a people who worship stone and wood.  His heart is greatly distressed that people are bowing before rock and wood—out of fear? Because of ignorance?  Or, is it hope against hope?  He just knows that there is a city full of people who are getting more and more lost by the day.

Application:  Our idols?  Sex, cars, gadgets, fun, money, looks, pleasure, youth.  We are addicted to pleasure and afraid of pain.  We will do anything to attain the first and avoid the latter.  And, the Church—are we greatly distressed?  Am I?  Is it more likely that we are largely uninterested?  Unobservant?  Even complacent?  How much do I care?  Do I pledge my life, my money, my energy to tear down idols, and tear veils in two?  The honest answer is “sort of.”

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, Paul was broken in heart by what he saw and what it meant—lost, hurting, broken people—a city full.  It is true here as it was then and there, but how many of us are broken by it?  How many of us care some?  At all?  Break my heart with what breaks Yours.  Make me about eternal things, not transient, temporal concerns.  And help Your church (1st! Church, our tribe, the churches of our area) to have hearts broken for lost people.