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Seek First?
Posted on March 29, 2011

You probably have sung Matthew 6:33 around a campfire at some point. Nearly, all of us are familiar with the verse. Dr. Hendricks says that familiarity keeps us from seeing what is there.


The verse turned up in my quiet time in the past couple of weeks. Instead of rushing by – do you do that too? I get to some passages of scripture and they are so familiar I find myself skimming them or else reading them without really processing what I am reading – sometimes actually thinking about something else – this time instead of rushing by I slowed down, began to pray, and looked closely at the verse. Things that were not obvious and questions I had not considered before presented themselves.

Category: Spiritual Life

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The Ground of Hearing
Posted on March 11, 2011

Psalm 95:7 – 8, the middle part, says, “…today if you would hear His voice do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah…� You will remember that the Psalmist is referring to Exodus 17:3 -7 here. There the nation had just been through the Red Sea experience, had seen the provision of God through His gift of manna, and were on their way through the wilderness to ultimately receive the Law from God through Moses.


But they were thirsty.

Category: Spiritual Life

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Boundaries
Posted on March 07, 2011

Reading in Psalm 18 this morning, I did not get much past verse 1 – does that happen much with you? When you read do you allow the Lord – or do you find the Lord stopping you on a particular passage or thought? In the past I have resisted that or better blown right by the check in my heart. I am learning to stop and listen; to pay attention when my reading is arrested by His nudges…


Anyway – the context of this Psalm is around I Samuel 21. David has been anointed king, has killed Goliath, Saul has turned on him, and has determined to kill him.

Category: Spiritual Life

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Seeing and not Observing
Posted on January 10, 2011

I have been preparing to lead a workshop on Bible study at a conference center in Colorado for the past several weeks. Last weekend as I was finishing up the preparation, I took a break to review some verses I have been trying to memorize (I have found that that discipline has become harder for me). Isaiah 42:16 was one of the verses. I took some time to read around the passage, which is rich, and came upon verse 20. I was stunned.


The major focus of the workshop is to increase the observational skills of those who come. It is my conviction that most of us move too quickly through our time in the Word both devotionally and in study moving to application or interpretation before we have really grappled with what the text is saying. John Eldredge say that the spirit of the age is busyness. That is we are afflicted with a kind of cultural ADD. We do not sit still well. Quiet, solitude, and reflection means that we hit all of the red lights between appointments.

Category: Spiritual Life

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Demanding 3
Posted on August 24, 2010

[Yesterday’s post raised, in some of those who read it, the issue of God’s command to totally wipe out a people – especially infants. It has troubled some of those who have read it. So, we will cover in more detail this issue in a later post.]


The last installment of Saul’s mistrust of the heart of God is in the passage where we started, 1 Samuel 28. To reiterate the context, Saul is facing a huge battle with the Philistines. He is outnumbered. He is desperate for guidance. His mentor, Samuel, from whom he received a harsh rebuke and was estranged, has died. He comes to the Lord but the Lord is silent. So he does what he has done all of his life. He takes matters into his own hands. He seeks out a medium to get the answers that he cannot get from Samuel or God. The desire for answers and guidance is not a problem. The demand for guidance is.

Category: Spiritual Life

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Demanding 2
Posted on August 23, 2010

Recently we have been looking at Saul in 1 Samuel 28, the last sad chapter in this first King of Israel’s life. I stated that there was a pattern of Saul not trusting God. The pattern reemerges in 1 Samuel 15. In verse 3 Saul is given his marching orders. He is to “go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” Fairly clear. So Saul goes on his divine mission. A few verses later we read, “Saul and the people spared Agag (the king of Amalek) and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.”


If you are like me, you may notice that Saul did not do what God had commanded him to do through Samuel. He went on the mission but did not carry it out as outlined by God. Half done is not done. In verses 13 – 23, Samuel confronts Saul. If it were not so tragic it would be humorous. It is worth taking some time to read. Saul claims obedience, then he blame shifts, telling Samuel that it was the people not him, and tries to cover it over by claiming it was done in the name of worship. Samuel and God are having none of it. Saul was more concerned about how the people were going to react to him than obeying what God told him to do. Trust here would have been to do what was unpopular, what he feared, and then to trust God for the outcome. But as with the sacrifices, Saul did not trust God’s heart, direction, and involvement. So he acted. He did what he thought was best in the situation. The result, he was cut off from being king, the Holy Spirit was removed from him and replaced with an evil spirit to torment him, David was anointed king in his place in the next chapter, and Saul never saw Samuel again. Radical consequences.

Category: Spiritual Life

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Demanding
Posted on August 20, 2010

In 1 Samuel 28 we read a really sad episode in the life of the first king of Israel, Saul. You may already know the story. Saul was in a pitched conflict with the Philistines. He was outnumbered. He was desperate for guidance. His mentor, Samuel, from whom he received a harsh rebuke and was estranged, had died. He went to the Lord but the Lord was silent.


Saul got in trouble with God because he did not trust God. Nearly from the beginning of his reign he was unable to trust, to wait on God. This attitude shows up first in I Samuel 13:8 – 15. It is humorous to read, especially verse 12. Saul “forces” himself to disobey God and make the offering that Samuel was to make because, from his perspective, he needed that offering to insure his victory over his enemy the Philistines. Wow. What a study in self justification. Saul panicked when he saw the people leaving him. He focused on the circumstances rather than the command of God. He took matters into his own hands. He fixed the problem.

Category: Spiritual Life

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Distraction
Posted on August 16, 2010

Do you ever get distracted? It happens to me a lot, especially when I am coming in the presence of God to re-engage for the day. This morning Psalm 71 was on my schedule. Reading through it, about half way through, I was halfway done planning a project to scan all of the negatives and slides I have from my time in the Air Force… I had pictures in my mind of where all the negatives were… The old camera box is on the shelf in the closet under the stairs, and I think the slide storage box is there as well…I will need to get all of the slides out of the carousels… oh, there are a couple of negatives in the safety deposit box… I wonder where the disc negative is of that picture Ranae likes so much… It is sure a good thing that this scanner will scan negatives into pictures I can preserve all of this digitally… I probably should scan all of the pictures hanging in the house of the family… what if we had a fire… Isn’t Psalm 71 great!


About ¾ of the way through the Psalm I realized what was going on. Here I was standing before the Lord to worship, rather than falling to my knees and drinking deeply. I was out in the toolie bushes gathering serious wool. What was that about? I stopped and prayed for focus and clarity and started over… This morning was a real struggle.

Category: Spiritual Life

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Perspective
Posted on August 10, 2010

Have you ever read something in the Scripture and responded, “That is just not true!” I was reading in Psalm 41 this morning, verse 11 says, “By this I know that You are pleased with me, Because my enemy does not shout in triumph over me.” I do not know about you but that has not always been my experience. I have had a number of enemies shout in triumph over me. That really bothered me, because in the verse the implication seems to be that if I have been defeated by my enemy then the Lord is not pleased with me.


I started doing an inventory of defeats. That was a fun exercise. Then started spiraling into how can God not be pleased with me if I get defeated? My first response was to discount the passage and chalk it up to some genre specific issue so that I could make the Scripture not say what it seemed to be saying. Do you ever find yourself doing that? Struggling with what the text says; trying to make it fit with your experience; or working to explain what it seems to plainly say away?

Category: Spiritual Life

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You're Kidding God...
Posted on August 09, 2010

You may remember that in December 2008 I wrote about my reaction to Philippians 2, no probably not, it’s here.


A couple of days ago, while I was thinking through another passage of scripture, the Lord directed me to Matthew 24. I had another, “you have to be kidding…” moment. Does that ever happen to you when you read the Bible?

Category: Spiritual Life

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Errands
Posted on August 06, 2010

In 1 Samuel 17:20 we read that David left the flock… There is more there, his dad gave him an assignment to take supplies to the army and specifically to see how his brothers were faring in the war with the Philistines. David left the flock there with every intention of coming back. But on this errand, events took place that changed forever the course of not only David’s life but the course of history.


When David got to the camp of the army of Israel, he walked into a bizarrely comical situation. Picture a pep rally before the big game. Or better the pregame huddle in the tunnel. The men were pumping themselves up for the fray. Yelling war cries; you can almost see and hear it, you have seen it on TV a hundred times, men jumping up and down in a circle with their hands extended and a final cry of, “Heyyyyyyyyy, Israel!” Then they break the huddle and run to the field. Only to see the nine foot plus Goliath standing there waiting for them. So they run out of the huddle, do a 180 and run back up the tunnel.

Category: Spiritual Life

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In the Grass 3
Posted on August 05, 2010

Last thing I have been learning from the time with Bob is integrity. You may have heard it said, “Do what I say; not what I do.” You may have even said that to your kids from time to time, if not verbally, then with your actions. I have.


One of the things that I have found really helpful in my walk with Christ is Scripture memory. I have memorized a lot of verses. Emphasis on the past tense there. Seminary gutted my memory discipline. In dealing with the tsunami of information and assignments there I chose to let that go. Bad choice. I am struggling to regain the discipline.

Category: Spiritual Life

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In the Grass 2
Posted on August 04, 2010

Yesterday we talked about the learning from working with a friend in a Bible Study with an eighty year old man in a retirement home. There have been many lessons from that experience thus far, and I expect more as we continue.


Focus has been another major learning. While the focus of my friend (let’s call him Bob), who set up the study, has been the men he was hoping to reach, my focus has been Bob. I have been working with Bob to equip him to both study for himself and lead others in the study. One of the things we have had to talk about several times is the need for those in the study to struggle with the questions for themselves. Typically in any study in which I have participated when questions are asked and the participants do not share their thoughts in an appropriate time, the leader will rush to fill the dead air with the answer. Time runs differently when you are the leader of a study. For the leader 7 nanoseconds feel like 7 hours. For the participant it feels like 7 nanoseconds. If Bob answers his own questions quickly, two things happen. First, those in the study learn that he really does not want them to answer. Second, he robs them of the process of struggling with the text to come up with the answer. In the case of the scripture the process of struggling with the text is as if not more important than the answer. The reason is that when we process the information ourselves, it becomes ours; when we are told the answer retention is slippery.

Category: Spiritual Life

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In the Grass
Posted on August 03, 2010

For the past few months I have been meeting a guy for breakfast. He had missed one of the workshops and wanted to get some help in leading his family in the Word. We have been doing several verse analysis studies and slowly building up his confidence in the Word.


He shared a prayer request for some men who lived in a retirement home near him. He expressed an interest in getting them into a Bible study. Since he was not sure if they were all believers I suggested that he do an evangelistic study in the book of John and offered to help him. We started the study about four weeks ago. It is really different. Essentially it is my friend, and 80 year old man, and me. I have learned a lot.

Category: Spiritual Life

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Reengage
Posted on August 02, 2010

Writing the books took more out of me than anticipated. I have had a lot of thoughts but have been written out. I am going to reengage with the blog now… There has been a lot going on, there are two things I want to bring you up to speed on; one is how the ministry is developing and the other is drift in the Christian life. Read more and comment.


I have, in the past few weeks, been pulled into a situation that has caused me to think a lot about drift. A man I have known for a long time has apparently fallen into heresy. Who he is or what the specific heresy is not important for our purposes here, but how he got there and the impact it has had on the body of Christ is important. I do not know all of the details of how he got to his current positions; I have reviewed his materials, but for the time being have been asked not to contact him. I want to. Suffice it to say that where he is now seems to be far from where he was when we had frequent contact. He is a leader, a man of influence, one to whom younger Christians look to for guidance and direction. As such, at some level, he is intimidating. It would be a risk for a young believer to question what was being taught by this man. So for many years, apparently, my friend was in a situation where he was drifting in his beliefs and there was not a peer or mentor to speak into his life. There were no checks on his thinking or if there were he ignored them.

Category: Spiritual Life

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Citizenship
Posted on October 08, 2009

While this will sound it for a bit, this is not a political rant, nor is its focus political.  Really.

I do not like our current president.  There are many reasons.  Some of the things he is doing scare me.  Some confuse me.  Some make me mad.

Two weeks ago I was in Trinidad leading a backpacking trip across the northern part of the island (you can see pictures and get a sense of the trip from the captions here).  The purpose of the trip was to study the nature and character of God while backpacking through part of the northern rainforest.  As we were talking about God’s sovereignty, one of the things that is clear from scripture is that God puts leaders in place, even ones whom we consider bad or evil, consider Manasseh.  Additionally, we reviewed that fact that God’s attributes are unified.  That is His sovereignty and His love do not exist exclusively.  All that He does He does with all of who He is.
Category: Spiritual Life

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Familiar Tools
Posted on October 07, 2009

A few days ago I was reading 1 Samuel 17:38-40 (NASB95): "Then Saul clothed David with his garments and put a bronze helmet on his head, and he clothed him with armor. David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, 'I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.' And David took them off. He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine."


I was pulled up short by the phrase, “I have not tested them.” David was chosen from the foundation of the world to face Goliath. He says himself in Psalm 139 that his days were ordained before there was one of them. The gear with which Saul equipped David was designed specifically for battle. So we have here a man who was specifically chosen to fight an enemy of Israel equipped with tools that were specifically designed for the task for which he was chosen.

Category: Spiritual Life

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Lessons from Ivanhoe, Part 2
Posted on May 26, 2009

One of the things that really disturbed me in reading Ivanhoe this time through was the Medieval Christian attitude toward the Jews as portrayed by the book.  I cringed as I read both the spoken and thought dialog about the Jews.  Both the clergy and the laity were portrayed as viewing the Jews as vile, almost less than human.  They were viewed that way, that is, until those who held those positions were in need of the Jews financial assistance.  At that point, somehow, they overcame their distaste for those of the dispersion.

One scene in the book that graphically illustrates this is the dialog between the injured Ivanhoe and the Jewess healer Rebecca.  In the scene Ivanhoe has just awakened from a swoon caused by loss of blood from an injury sustained in a tournament melee.  Rebecca has bound and treated his wounds and he has awakened with her still in the room.  Rebecca is portrayed in the book as stunningly beautiful.  Ivanhoe awakes to see this beautiful woman ministering to him and is taken by her care and beauty.  This lasts until she tells him of her nationality.  At that point the narrative paints the picture of an immediate change in countenance and attitude of Ivanhoe toward his healer.  Rebecca in her thoughts is saddened by the impact of one word on her relationship with Ivanhoe.

Regardless of your theological bias, a plain, honest reading of the Bible makes it clear that Israel has a special place in the history of mankind and in the workings of God to reveal himself to us.  I found myself wondering, in light of this, how Christians could have such a negative view of Israel.  It occurred to me and it was clear through the book (I know that it is historical fiction) that most of the laity, were illiterate.  The Bible was, at the time, the exclusive domain of the clergy.  The laity, including the knights, like Ivanhoe, did not have access to the Word of God.  That rendered them completely dependent on the clergy for all matters that dealt with faith.  The result was some seeming misguided crusades and some practices that, using the words of one of the men in our men’s Bible study, were from the department of making things up.
Category: Spiritual Life

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Lessons from Ivanhoe, Part One
Posted on May 25, 2009

You may have read Ivanhoe in high school lit or college lit.  I did not.  Jenny had a copy left over from her time at Hartselle High School.  The book is falling apart.  This is the second time I have read the book.  A couple of things really struck me as I read the book this time.  I will share one now and one a bit later.

We have been studying I John in our Sunday school at church.  This last week we were in chapter two.  In verses 15 – 17 it says, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

Have you ever wondered what friendship with the world looks like, or what its result would be?  Cedric is Ivanhoe’s father.  At one point in the book he is held captive with one of his friends.  They are talking and Cedric says in part, “We made these strangers our bosom friends, our confidential servants; we borrowed their artists and their arts, and despised the honest simplicity and hardihood with which our brave ancestors supported themselves, and we became enervated by Norman arts long ere we fell under Norman arms.  Far better was our homely diet, eaten in peace and liberty, that the luxurious dainties, the love of which hath delivered us as bondsmen to the foreign conqueror!”
Category: Spiritual Life

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Back to Egypt
Posted on May 22, 2009

Do you ever have trouble trusting God, I do.  I am ashamed of it, but there it is.  Time and time again God has proven Himself faithful to us, but it seems like every time we get into a bind, anxiousness settles in.  I know that 1 Peter 5:7 says “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”  I have memorized, translated from Greek, exegeted, and preached on that verse.  Doesn’t matter; as soon as things get dicey I get anxious.  I pray, journal, pray, study, cry out to God… still it is hard.

This morning I was thinking and praying through this.  It occurred to me that I am not alone in this.  Not sure this really should be classified as encouragement; more along the lines of misery loves company.  Israel leaped to mind.

Israel saw the Lord perform amazing miracles.  Starting with the plagues, they were lead out of Egypt by the Lord’s power and His anointed servant Moses.  They were really content to follow Him right up to the Red Sea where they begin to complain (Exodus 14:11).  The Lord opened up the Red Sea, which they walked across on dry land, and then closed the Sea on their pursuers.  They were really content to follow Him then, until they got hungry, then they wished they were back in Egypt (Exodus 16:3).  So God gave them food.  They were really content to follow Him then, until they got thirsty.  Then like at the Red Sea, they complained that they would have been better off in Egypt (Exodus 17:3).  So God gave them water.  They were really content… you get the picture.
Category: Spiritual Life

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The Crowd, Again...
Posted on May 18, 2009

I have been re-reading Daws, the biography of Dawson Trotman, the founder of the Navigators, one of the cloud of witnesses that has gone before (Hebrews 12:1, 2).  It has been an interesting experience.  I think this is the third time I have read the book.  This time through I am challenged by his life more than I have been in the past and I have also seen an emphasis on the believer’s position in Christ that I had not noticed before.

On the other hand the book has impacted me, not sure that negatively is the right word, but in a manner that has depressed me somewhat.  Daws died at 50 while saving a girl from drowning.  By that time he had done much for the Lord.  He had founded an international ministry, assisted Billy Graham in the follow up for his crusades, was instrumental in the founding of Wycliffe, Young Life, and MAF, the list goes on and on.

I am 58.  When I look at what Daws accomplished in the short time that God gave him and I compare what I have done…  I am at some level ashamed.  Now, I know that we are not to compare ourselves… but.  Hebrews 12: 1, 2 does tell us that we are to run the race with vigor because we have that crowd cheering us on.  With the list in 11 that is a significant level of encouragement.  The question with which I am wrestling is though I am not supposed to compare myself with these saints and men like Daws, the reality is that I fall really short. 
Category: Spiritual Life

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The Faithful Cloud of Witnesses
Posted on May 08, 2009

It has been a tough couple of months.  The reasons are not important; they are probably no different or more difficult than things that you have been struggling with.  But nevertheless, it has been hard.  I have found myself waking up in the night struggling with issues; frustrated, angry, scared.

This morning was one of those mornings.  I woke up at 4 AM with my mind churning over several things.  I lay in bed for thirty minutes trying to go back to sleep to no avail.  At 4:30 got up, grabbed my Bible and journal and headed for my father in law’s office at the back of the house.

For the next hour I wrote out all of the things that were troubling me.  Again, the specifics are not important, but I was feeling abandoned, disoriented, confused, anxious… I knew I was supposed to cast all of those cares on Him, but that was a whole lot easier to read and memorize than is to do.  So for an hour I poured my heart out on the pages of my journal.
Category: Spiritual Life

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Lapse in Devotion
Posted on April 03, 2009

A few days ago I sat down with my journal to meet with the Lord.  I opened it and looked at the last entry, just to orient myself to where we were in the conversation.  To my shock it had been seven days since I had written anything. 

This is not about discipline, nor am I intending to promote the notion that one has to do something each day in order for it to be effective.  It is more of an examination of my heart.  In the past five years, my time with the Lord has been greatly enhanced by writing in a journal.  I have found that it slows me down, which is no mean feat for a type A personality, and helps me to listen more effectively to His still quiet voice.  I am learning that when I take the time to write out my struggles, joys, battles, and triumphs He meets me.  Thus, my time with Him in the journal has become an important if not essential part of our relationship.

When I looked at the date of the last entry I was shocked.  Had it been that long since I had sought His face?  I thought through the week.  It was the week of spring break.  Jenny and I had worked on several projects together that she had wanted me to do for some time.  Since she was not going to school and I was focused on her that week, our normal routine was disrupted.  I had been praying that week.  I had done Bible study in three books, but the reality was that I had not taken time just rest in His presence.  Seven days.
Category: Spiritual Life

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Stagnant?
Posted on March 12, 2009

In the Bible study with my sons John and Brian (Jeff being in OK City can’t come) we just finished Zephaniah.  John shared that he has seen a pattern in the prophets.  There is much smiting in the first of the book – lots of smiting – and then there is a remnant in the end.  We laughed, but he is right.

Zephaniah, indeed all of the prophets, shares the reasons for the smiting.  In Zephaniah 1:12 “It will come about at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And I will punish the men Who are stagnant in spirit, Who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good or evil!’  (Emphasis added)  Whoa!  The phrase “stagnant in spirit” really gripped me.  For here in the midst of smiting for idolatry, worshiping the host of heaven, folk who do not seek the Lord, and those who fill the temple with violence and deceit, God says he will especially search out those who are “stagnant in spirit” and smite them.  The smiting is hard, read verse 13 for details.

What does it mean to be “stagnant in spirit”?  Zephaniah tells us.  It is having the attitude that the Lord will not do good or evil.  That seems simple on the surface.  As I have thought about this over the past few days.  Some things have unfolded.  This seems to describe the attitude of a lot of the Church.  It is the attitude that it really does not matter what I do, He will not react.  It does not matter if – I am hesitant to give concrete examples here because I risk offending.  That is the crux of the problem is it not.  We have come to the place in the body of Christ that in the name of tolerance or political expedience we look the other way or else define away things that are troublesome in Scripture as perhaps cultural and not applicable in the current time.  Or else we take the position that our situation is unique and that God will in His grace overlook our transgression.  There is always forgiveness.
Category: Spiritual Life

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Demanding Prayer
Posted on February 20, 2009

We have been studying prayer in our small group. Specifically we have been studying listening prayer. It is a topic that has grown in importance for me over the last four years or so. So I am a bit sensitized to passages about prayer as I am reading these days. I also live in Tulsa, name it and claim it central, so the topic here has some extra baggage that can make conversations interesting.


This morning I was reading in Psalm 106. In verses 13-15 (NASB95) “They quickly forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel, but craved intensely in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. So He gave them their request, but sent a wasting disease among them.” Every now and then the margin notes in the NASB offers an alternative reading. In verse 15 the alternative is “But sent leanness into their soul.” I love that.

Category: Spiritual Life

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Hearing God
Posted on February 13, 2009

This came up in my reading this morning (My Utmost for His Highest). The emphasis is added. I have a couple of comments after…


Speak; for Thy servant heareth. 1 Samuel 3:10.

Category: Spiritual Life

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First I want to thank...
Posted on January 16, 2009

You may have noticed that the bowl season is over. I am slowly being weaned off of ESPN and Fox Sports. I do not follow pro sports anymore so for me, football season is over.


It was striking to me that in most cases when the winning whatever position was interviewed after the game said something to the effect, “First I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for giving me the ability to be here.” I am glad they got the opportunity to do that. Does that mean that there were no Christians on the other team? I have noted that in interviewing the loosing players I do not recall that sentence being the first thing said.

Category: Spiritual Life

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Favor with Men
Posted on January 14, 2009

Last week was good.


You may have had weeks like that one. Weeks where everything you did seemed to really work well; a week where you were effective in ways that were exceptional. That was my week. I had great meetings with men in organizations where I was able to use my gifts in ways that I have rarely been able to before. Some of the meetings seemed to be especially impactful. Further I got several emails that were encouraging.

Category: Spiritual Life

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Listening Prayer
Posted on January 12, 2009

In our small group we have been studying listening prayer. It has been a good study we have been looking at both examples of God speaking to His people as well as passages on God’s communication through the Holy Spirit to us as believers.


One of the passages we looked at this last week was Ephesians 6 10-20. In verse 18 Paul tells the Ephesian believers to, “…pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints…” Sometimes in Bible study something I read will spin me off. By that a number of verses will come to mind that relate to the verse or topic being addressed by the passage I am studying. In this case the verse that came to mind was I Thessalonians 5:16 – 18, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Category: Spiritual Life

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Like a Child
Posted on December 31, 2008

Mark 10:13-16 (NASB95)

13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them.

14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Category: Spiritual Life

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A Question
Posted on December 24, 2008

I need your help. Some things happened this week that made me begin to think through some issues on which I do not think I have a great handle.


It started with a computer issue. The details are not important. Dell dispatched a company to come fix the computer. I have a service agreement that provides for onsite service within 24 hours. I was told Monday that the technician would come on Tuesday. Later that afternoon I got a call from the technician. He asked if Wednesday or Thursday would be better for me. I told him that was not the deal, he explained that his boss wanted him to work in Beaumont and he couldn’t get to me. I told him that was not his problem and I would talk to Dell. After emailing Dell, he called back and told me he would be there at 11AM on Tuesday.

Category: Spiritual Life

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The Test
Posted on December 16, 2008

A couple of weeks back we got our “economic stimulus package” check. Within a day or so we got a bill from the IRS for about the same amount as the check. I am not a fan of the IRS. My experience with them has been that they will basically reinterpret the rules to their advantage. They do not like me because in all (7) of the audits we have been through they have ended up owing us money. At any rate, the bill really angered me. It was for something that I thought was already taken care of, coupled with it representing a week or so of our expenses it spelled some relief. I was really mad.


The next morning I was praying through this situation and reading through my usual array of devotional books. I ran across this: “If you really believe that God gave you all you have and that His resources are without limit, then you will have no problem investing your time and wealth in acts of extravagance to His glory. Just as He does not need your efforts to make you rich, so too He does not need your wealth to execute His plan. Biblically you give to God, not to people; you give to the poor, and any other cause, because God wants you to, and for no other reason.” (Walt Henrichsen – Thoughts From the Diary of a Desperate Man. Day 338).

Category: Spiritual Life

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The knot at the end of the rope
Posted on December 04, 2008

This morning in Psalm 10 I read, ‘Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” Doesn’t it feel like that sometimes? In the midst of the stuff we go through the daily junk we have to deal with; and even in the most difficult times, times of betrayal by friends, loss of loved ones, deep relational crises it seems that we are alone on an island. That is one of the things I love about Psalms, they do not sugar coat or brush over the reality of our experience with God.


The thing that struck me this morning was the Psalmist gave us the means to weather these storms. After cataloging the reality of the wicked people with whom he was dealing, he ends with, “The Lord is King forever and ever; nations have perished from His land. O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror.” In the midst of the darkness, the light is that God is sovereign. He does see. He does know. He will act. He has demonstrated over and over in Scripture and our experience that He is faithful. 

Category: Spiritual Life

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Response to the Word
Posted on November 24, 2008

I have been working through Jeremiah with my sons for the past few weeks (books 52 chapters long take us longer than a week). The response to Jeremiah’s book by Jehudi was interesting. He cut it up and threw it in the fire. Also the response of the nation to Jeremiah, after they had assured him that they would follow the counsel of the Lord whether good or bad in chapter 42 is instructive. When they did not like the message they called Jeremiah a liar and a fraud. The nation and Jehudi were committed to their course of action, they merely wanted the God housekeeping seal of approval on their plans. When they did not get it they had to respond, either by altering their plans or discrediting the message and or the messenger.


In contrast when the law of God was read to Josiah in 2 Kings 22, he tore his clothes in repentance and immediately set out to change not only his behavior but the behavior of the nation. Similarly when the Law of God was read for the first time in the presence of the men who had rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem in Nehemiah 8, they wept in despair. Later in chapter 13 of Nehemiah when they found that they found that they could not have foreigners in Israel they immediately excluded them. In these cases the people had the same choices Jehudi and the people that came for counsel from Jeremiah had. Rather than seeking to justify, discredit, explain away culturally or theologically, or shoot the messenger, they were appalled that they had not obeyed God. They were afraid.

Category: Spiritual Life

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Forgiveness
Posted on November 13, 2008

I was reading Philemon this morning. It is striking the request that Paul was making of his friend. Onesimus had betrayed Philemon. In that day he had run away and disobeyed not only Philemon but God.


Paul asked Philemon to not only forgive Onesimus but to elevate his position in Philemon’s domain. Philemon was to think of Onesimus no longer as a slave but a brother, and not just a brother but to accept the one who deserted and betrayed him as he would have the apostle.

Category: Spiritual Life

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How To Not Miss It!
Posted on November 04, 2008

You may remember that the question on the table from the last email was How do we avoid being like the twelve and not gain insight from the things which we are experiencing.


I got a few responses one you can read at the RCC version of the blog.


So how do we do this? I think there are three things here:

Category: Spiritual Life

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Don't Miss It!
Posted on October 30, 2008

Do you ever run across passages in the Bible that shake you?

As I mentioned before we have been studying Mark on Tuesday Mornings. This week we were in chapter six. You remember that one of the characteristics of Mark is its rapid pace. Remove the word “immediately” and the word “and” and the book would be about three chapters shorter. It is one event after the other in quick succession.

In chapter six Mark is recounting the sending of the twelve out to minister, the death of John the Baptist, the feeding of the 5000, and lastly Jesus walking to the twelve over the water.

Category: Spiritual Life

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