Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Morning Affirmations

Thanks to Ken


•Because of all You have done for me, I present my body to You as a
living sacrifice for this day. I want to be transformed by the renewing
of my mind, affirming that Your will for me is good and acceptable and
perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)


•Offer a brief word of praise to God for one or more of His attributes
(e.g., love and compassion, grace, mercy, holiness, goodness,
omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, truthfulness, unchanging
character, eternality) and/or works (e.g., creation, care, redemption,
loving purposes, second coming).

•Thank Him for the good things in your life.


•Ask the Spirit to search your heart and reveal any areas of unconfessed
sin. Acknowledge these to the Lord and thank Him for His
forgiveness. (Psalm 139:23-24)


•”I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but
Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live
by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for
me.” (Galatians 2:20)

*I have forgiveness from the penalty of sin because Christ died for me.
(Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3)

*I have freedom from the power of sin because I died with Christ.
(Colossians 2:11; 1 Peter 2:24)

*I have fulfillment for this day because Christ lives in me.
(Philippians 1:20-21)

*By faith, I will allow Christ to manifest His life through me. (2
Corinthians 2:14)


•Ask the Spirit to control and fill you for this day.

•I want to be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18) When I walk by
the Spirit, I will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (Galatians
5:16) If I live by the Spirit, I will also walk by the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:25)


•Pray on the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

•”Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag
and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its
own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does
not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all
things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1
Corinthians 13:4-7)


•I want to love the Lord my God with all my heart, and with all my soul,
and with all my mind, and I want to love my neighbor as myself.
(Matthew 22:37, 39) My purpose is to love God completely, love self
correctly, and love others compassionately.

•I will seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)

•I have been called to follow Christ and to be a fisher of men.
(Matthew 4:19)

•I will be a witness to those who do not know Him and participate in the
Great Commission to go and make disciples. (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts

•I want to glorify the Father by bearing much fruit, and so prove to be
Christ’s disciple. (John 15:8)


•I will trust in the Lord with all my heart, and not lean on my own
understanding. In all my ways I will acknowledge Him, and He will make
my paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

•”God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28; also
see 8:29)

I acknowledge that You are in control of all things in my life, and that
You have my best interests at heart. Because of this I will trust and
obey You today.

•Review and commit the events of this day into the hands of God.


Against the World: Renew

•I will set my mind on the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:5)

•Since I have been raised up with Christ, I will keep seeking the things
above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. I will set my
mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
(Colossians 3:1-2; also see 3:3-4 and Hebrews 12:1-2)

•I will be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving I will let my requests be made known to
God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall
guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus. Whatever is true, whatever
is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything
worthy of praise, I will let my mind dwell on these things.
(Philippians 4:6-8; also see 4:9)

Against the Flesh: Reckon

•I know that my old self was crucified with Christ, so that I am no
longer a slave to sin, for he who has died is freed from sin. I will
reckon myself as dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. I will
not present the members of my body to sin as instruments of
unrighteousness, but I will present myself to God as one alive from the
dead, and my members as instruments of righteousness to God. (Romans
6:6-7, 11, 13)

Against the Devil: Resist

•As I submit myself to God and resist the devil, he will flee from me.
(James 4:7)

•I will be of sober spirit and on the alert. My adversary, the devil,
prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But I will
resist him, firm in my faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

•I will take up the full armor of God, that I may be able to resist and
stand firm. I put on the belt of truth and the breastplate of
righteousness; I put on my feet the preparation of the gospel of peace;
and I take up the shield of faith with which I will be able to
extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. I take the helmet
of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
With all prayer and petition I will pray at all times in the Spirit and
be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:13-18)


•Your kingdom come, Your will be done. (Matthew 6:10)

•You have said, “I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
(Revelation 22:20)

•I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to
be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to me. (Romans 8:18)

•I will not lose heart, but though my outer man is decaying, yet my
inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction
is producing for me an eternal weight of glory far beyond all
comparison, while I look not at the things which are seen, but at the
things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal,
but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

•My citizenship is in heaven, from which also I eagerly wait for a
Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)

•(Also consider 2 Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 11:1, 6; 2 Peter 3:11-12; 1 John
2:28; 3:2-3.)

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Worthy of Jesus?

After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue." And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well. (Luke 7:1-10 ESV)

As I read this text this morning I was struck by the words of the Jewish elders and how they contrasted with the centurion's words. The Jewish elders, the insiders to Jesus' world as it were, offer appeal to Jesus that the centurion is "worthy" to have Jesus heal his servant because of his good works for the Jewish people. Surprising to us evangelicals, Jesus goes with them without comment.

The real shocker comes when the centurion shows himself far more aware of his true state, far more broken than the Jewish elders when he says that he is "not worthy" to have Jesus even come into his home. He then utters the kind of faith confession that not only gets the attention of Jesus, but amazes him.

The centurion saw himself in relation to Jesus as one who was not worthy. He also saw himself like Jesus as a man under authority, able to command reality with uttering words. What a intriguing picture of a "heathen" soldier! No wonder Jesus was fascinated by him!

I guess it makes me wonder what demands we place on Jesus when we come to him. How much of what we ask him to do is because of some "worthiness" that we perceive in ourselves - maybe we have earned favor with him through suffering certain things for periods of time, maybe it's good things we have done or said, etc. Of course we aren't usually consciously aware of these "unspoken merits" but they are there. How I long for the heart-faith that the centurion had - one of brokenness (I am not worthy of you Jesus) and authority (I too am a man under authority).

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Seeds of Hope

I am beginning to feel some seedlings of hope in my heart, by the grace and goodness of God. What was going on in me yesterday had something to do with two realities:
1. As I said before, I am feeling pain at a deeper level regarding my dreams, calling, church, etc.
2. I was looking to someone else to provide me with answers and resolution when I should have been clinging to Jesus (I recently met someone for the first time whose story greatly parallels mine).

As I reflected on my identity as both broken and beloved in Christ this morning, I was reminded that these chaotic, overwhelming realities in my life can find their home in Christ. Indeed, only He is big enough for all of it. I may not have resolution for my pain or my calling, but it is enough to find myself in Him. His grace is sufficient for me as he holds me in his arms.

Read this this morning from Hebrews 6:18-20
"so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." (ESV)

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Resting in the Father's grace for me and my chaotic soul. Something is going on deep within me, and I am trying to 1) be aware of it and 2) stay open to God in it. My recent retreat, meetings with individuals, and recent reflections are provoking a deep sense of pain in me regarding my calling and God's purpose in my life (obviously!). I hope it's being brought to the surface so that it can be healed! I will trust God with that.


I'm feeling particularly hopeless right now. As much as I try to fight to have hope, right now it's like trying to swim up a waterfall. If not for my wife and kids, I would easily be lost to deep pools of sadness and despair.
As much as I love them, the safe friends I have who also suffer don't, I think, fully understand what it's like to live life without ever having any sense of purpose or calling. They are at least operating in the realm of the dreams that God has planted in their hearts. It is nearly unbearable to have remnants of old dreams, old desires still moving around in my soul but with no hope of any kind of resolution, convergence or healing in sight. I feel like every other person in the kingdom has a plan for their life, has a purpose, but me. Every Sunday only adds to my pain as I'm surrounded by a community that once was a safe place for me, but now is filled with people who have it together; not to mention that it's the graveyard of the before-mentioned dreams.

Has my life been broken beyond the point of repair? Is my life already beyond the point of significance or meaning? I know what I believe - that knowing Christ is supposed to satisfy my soul - but knowing that doesn't make it so; in fact it makes it worse at times.

God have mercy on me.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Being Free of the Opinion of Others

I read this excerpt from Alan Jones's Soul Making in my lenten readings this week and thought it was a gem:

A desert father was asked for a word of wisdom by one of his disciples. “Go to the cemetery and curse the dead,” said the old man. The disciple went off and stood among the graves and shouted: “You cowardly, sinful brood! The stench of your sins is an offense to Heaven, I curse you with all the power at my command. May you never see the light!” The young man went back to his master and told him that he and completed the task. “Did the dead say anything to you?” the old man asked. “Not a word!” answered the disciple. “Now go to the cemetery and praise the dead.” The young man ran off, stood among the graves, and began a great eulogy: “You are greater than the apostles. Your good deeds rise up to Heaven like the incense. You inspire those you have left behind to great deeds. Such is your power, you glorious saints!” The young man hurried back to his master’s cell. “Well,” said the old man, “how was it this time? Did the dead have anything to say?” The disciple answered, “They were as silent as before.” After a period of silence, the old man said, “That is how you have to be—like the dead; beyond cursing and praise, unaffected by the opinions of others.”

Men at the Cross

Here are some pics from my recent retreat - my brothers! Fellow Warriors!!

Cultural Renewal Thesis

The City Theology represented by such slogans as "in the city for the city," and "cultural renewal" which is prevalent in many young reformed circles (e.g., Tim Keller, Acts 29 Network, etc.) has caused me concern for years. My suspicions have been becoming more focused of late, which I will state in the form of a few questions. Perhaps the Lord will grant me strength and time to undertake a research project.

1. Biblical/Exegetical:
A. What biblical support is there for City Theology (CT)? What texts are used to promote it? More specifically, can CT be supported from the New Testament? Do we see the NT church engaging in CT? If it is a biblical focus of the church, we should see the NT church engaging vigorously in it. The answers to these questions would have the most authority in the investigation.

B. How does the care for the poor factor into the NT church's mission?

C. The reformed tradition has a certain way of reading the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament that emphasizes the continuity of the Testaments often at the expense of their disontinuity (a New Covenant approach is preferred). What is the relationship between CT and the continuity/discontinuity assumptions that a reformed interpretaion of Scripture brings? It seems that for CT to work, certain Old Testament assumptions about theocracy have to be brought in to New Covenant communities wholesale. For example, the text of Jeremiah 29 is often used in support of CT, usually without any attempt to understand it in light of Christ and the NT. Jeremiah 29 has far more to do with the promises to Abraham than it does with the mission of the church.

2. Historical/Theological:
A. How does CT relate to the contemporary (particuarly Baptist) understanding of "revival," and how does this understanding of revival compare with that of Edwards and others in the Great Awakening? In genuine revival, cultural renewal is a side effect, but not the main goal/focus. An encounter with God, brought about by his sovereign Spirit produced greater intimacy with God, soul care and evangelization which in turn produced, as a side effect, cultural renewal - better communities. It seems that proponents of CT are attempting to create the side effect without the help of God in first bringing a revival, a sovereign act of grace.

B. How does the question of "relevance" factor in here? Are the gospel and the church being re-fashioned to become more "relevant" to the cultural drift toward revitalizing communities? Further, is there a postmodern influence in moving away from soul care/building up of the church toward instead building up of the culture?

If we seek cultural renewal, we should seek God's face together, that he would pour out his Spirit in genuine revival. We should seek to bring the beliefs and practices of "church" in line with the NT portrait of the church.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tidy Christianity

Just got this choice quote from a friend of mine, from Madelaine L'Engle (source unknown):

"What I believe is so magnificent, so glorious, that it is beyond finite comprehension. To believe that the universe was created by a purposeful, benign Creator is one thing. To believe that this Creator took on human vesture, accepted death and mortality, was tempted, betrayed, broken, and all for love of us, defies reason. It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians who try to dogmatize their fear by lashing out at other Christians, because tidy Christianity with all answers given is easier than one which reaches out to the wild wonder of God's love, a love we don't even have to earn."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rabbit Holes

I wrote the following to a friend in an email specifically referring to a narrow understanding of grace and gospel we were noticing in the church . . .

Coming back from . . . retreat, which was so much wider in scope, understanding and practice of the gospel - coming back to [the church's] narrow view is like trying to fit into a rabbit hole. My chest constricts and I feel tense and anxious. I need help in bringing myself back out into the wide grace of God which is always available and free-flowing from Christ. But it's a mercy to us that we have times like that, times exposed to a bigger God. Maybe we're not allowed to live (yet) in that wide-open place b/c God wants us to bring that wide place to all the narrow holes our brothers and sisters dwell in, often without any idea that there is anything else out there. Until suffering pushes them outside the confines of the hole and forces them to open their eyes to the bright hugeness of the reality of God's heart. Then maybe we can be there to take them by the hand (as others do with us) and lead them to landmarks that are important.
I thought this was interesting parable to reflect on, for whatever it's worth.


I'm thankful for two very significant and powerful spiritual conversations with my children (Samuel and Elise) last night. I am thankful that God has enabled me to be more present to them so that I can have these kinds of conversations.


I am testing and trying new strength and freedom won for me by Christ on this past weekend's Men at the Cross retreat. I have much that I learned that I am still unpacking from the weekend, but will mention a few things here.

I am constantly connected to God's power and love. The key verse mentioned was from 2 Timothy 1:6-7, "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (NKJV)

I am free from having to sustain the grace that God has birthed. This frees me up immensely with the inevitable venture back down into the valley from the mountaintop, which can often be very depressing. This weekend wasn't a cure-all, but an important part of the process.

Three things I am holding onto that are true of me as revealed by God:
I am Free.
I am God's beloved son
I am safe in his arms!

Friday, March 05, 2010

My Shadow

“The things we cannot accept in ourselves we project upon others. If I do not admit my shadow side, I will unconsciously find another who will carry my shadow for me. Once this projection is made, then I need not be upset with myself. My problems are now outside and I can fight them “out there” rather than within the real arena, myself.”

~John English, Spiritual Pilgrims

God is at work (a reflection)

God is at work,
working invisibly and visibly,
in pain and in sorrow,
in joy and laughter.

He works in ways we cannot see, weaving his thoughts into our being until we reflect his Son.
What if I cannot see?
Don't fear, little one.
You need not see what I am doing for it to be real and good.
I will trust, I replied.

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Nouwen on Emptiness

We are afraid of emptiness. Spinoza speaks about our "horror vacui," our horrendous fear of vacancy. We like to occupy-fill up-every empty time and space. We want to be occupied. And if we are not occupied we easily become preoccupied; that is, we fill the empty spaces before we have even reached them. We fill them with our worries, saying, "But what if ..."

It is very hard to allow emptiness to exist in our lives. Emptiness requires a willingness not to be in control, a willingness to let something new and unexpected happen. It requires trust, surrender, and openness to guidance. God wants to dwell in our emptiness. But as long as we are afraid of God and God's actions in our lives, it is unlikely that we will offer our emptiness to God. Let's pray that we can let go of our fear of God and embrace God as the source of all love.

-Henri Nouwen

This give me hope for the ACTS 29 Network