05 July 2010


Fitting together the many different pieces of how to have a hard conversation can be a challenge. Here's what I'd suggest ...

FIRST, begin by praying through GALATIANS 5:22-23 and ask God to pour the fruit of His Holy Spirit through you to the person you are sharing with. It's Christ in you that will make a difference, not any explanations or counter-arguments you may be able to articulate.

SECOND, ask God to help you understand how He wants to see each of the individual fruits of His Spirit come through in what the the person you're talking with sees, hears, and senses during your time together.

THIRD, don't underestimate the other person's ability to "sense" in the Holy Spirit the subtext of what you're say to them. During times of pain, our emotions are heightened, but often so is our level of discernment.

FOURTH, be as honest about your sin (or whatever kind of brokenness you're experiencing with the person you're talking with) as you are about your love for the other person, and about your desire to make things right. Pledging your love without uncovering your sin will no doubt ring hollow to their hurting hearts. Love best abounds in the midst of transparency, and forgiveness can neither be asked for or granted without repentance.

FIFTH, if you're a parent talking with a child about a way that you have disappointed them, let them down, or wounded them, remember that fear of abandonment takes everything else out of focus. It can be very hard for kids to see and accept the "sinful humanity" of their parents. So be prepared for this pain and fear to come through as anger, and accept it.

In the end love is what will win out. The people we're seeking to reconcile with need to both hear, and see our love ... not only today and during this week with them, but in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

Remember to read, meditate on and pray through GALATIANS 5:22-23. Godspeed.




And in EPHESIANS 2:14 Paul alludes to something that happened immediately after Jesus Christ’s death on the cross that symbolized the removal of this wall between us and God … the tearing of the veil in the Temple in Jerusalem.


14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and
broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,

We read in SECOND CHRONICLES that Solomon built the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem between 832-825 B.C. and that it was 30 cubits high. A cubit was the distance between the tip of your middle finger and the middle of the inside of your elbow, and could range from 17-22 inches. So the original Temple was somewhere between 42.5 feet and 55 feet high. But then, according to Josephus, the 1st-Century Jewish historian, during Jesus’ lifetime, King Herod increased the height of the Temple to 40 cubits … making it somewhere between 56 and 73 feet high.

The Temple veil was a massive curtain that separated the Holy Place, from the Holy of Holies inside the Temple. The Holy of Holies was the earthly dwelling place of God’s presence … and where the Ark of the Covenant resided. Only once a year was the High Priest allowed to pass to the other side of this veil, enter into God’s presence, and make sacrifices to God for the forgiveness for the sins of the Jews.

Here’s how what The Gospel of Matthew tell us about the tearing of the Temple veil
immediately following Jesus’ death on the cross …


50-51 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His
spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

EXODUS 26:31-34 tells us that this thick Temple veil was made out of blue, purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen. Josephus tells us that the veil was four inches thick and that horses tied to each side couldn’t pull the veil apart.

What significance does the torn Temple veil have for us today? Above all, the tearing
of the Temple veil at the moment of Jesus' death symbolizes that His sacrifice, the shedding of His blood, was a sufficient payment for the sins of the world … and it illustrates loud and clear to us that after Jesus’ death, the way into the Holy of Holies was opened up for all people, for all time, both Jew and Gentile. When Jesus died, the Temple veil was torn, and God moved out of the Temple.

In fact, ACTS 17:24 says that God will never again live in a Temple made with human hands, but that God will now live inside of His people through the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit. The old covenant was fulfilled, and the new covenant started.

And gang, the Temple veil is also symbolic of the fact that Jesus Christ Himself is the only way to come into relationship and fellowship with God the Father (cf., JOHN 14:6). Because, remember, before the cross, the Jewish High Priest had to enter the Holy of Holies through the veil. But now, as we’re taught in HEBREWS 10:19-20, Jesus Christ is our superior High Priest, and as His followers, you and I can now enter the Holy of Holies through Him.


19-20 So, brothers and sisters, we are completely free to enter the Most Holy Place without fear because of the blood of Jesus’ death. We can enter through a new and living way that Jesus opened for us. It leads through the curtain — Jesus Christ’s very body.

I love what 19th-Century British pastor, teacher, professor and author, Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote about this beautiful and wonderful truth …

“It is not a slight tear through which we may just see a little; but it is torn from the top to the bottom. There is an entrance made for the greatest sinners. If there had only been a small hole cut through it, the lesser offenders might have crept through; but what an act of abounding mercy is this, that the veil is torn down the midst, and torn from top to bottom, so that the chief of sinners may find ample passage to God!” [Charles Haddon Spurgeon | 1834-1892]

Oh, praise the LORD for our access to God! Godspeed.



01 June 2010

ROMANS 7:15-25

Okay, we’re finally here in ROMANS 7. All the things we’ve said already have set us up for what Paul teaches here. If we hadn’t looked at what we did, then this passage wouldn’t have made much sense, but having looked at what we did, it should make a lot of sense.

Now remember, Paul’s talking about a time in his life when he was in relationship with God (POSITIONAL TRUTH), but his fellowship with God had been severed (TEMPORAL = TRUTH), because of unconfessed, unforgiven sins. So we see Paul here, in the midst of a struggle: Being a carnal (worldly, fleshly, stubborn-towards-God) Christian, but at the same time wanting desperately to get back into fellowship with God.

There are three different Greek words translated “do” in this passage and to help clarify their full meaning, I’ll just refer to them throughout the verses below as 1, 2, 3. Here’s what these three words mean …

1. The FIRST Greek word translated “do” is “katergazomai” and it means, “something on the inside that is working its way to the outside.”

2. The SECOND Greek word translated “do” is “prasso” and it means, “to practice as a way of life.”

3. The THIRD Greek word translated “do” is “poieo” and it means, “to do, or to commit.”

So Paul’s in RELATIONSHIP with God, but he’s out of FELLOWSHIP with God. And because of this, He’s having a very hard time understanding himself … his motives, his thoughts, his actions, they’re all jumbled and confusing to him. And so he’s saying “Man, there are things going on inside of me, and there are things coming out of me, thoughts, words, and actions, that I can’t explain.”

Ever been there? Ever
found yourself wanting to do certain things, and saying, “Hey, wait a minute, I thought I was born again. What is this? I’m a new creation in Christ, how come this is happening to me?” Remember to keep these three different meanings of the word “do” in mind as we go through these verses …


15 I do (3) not understand what I do (1). For what I want to do (2) I do (3) not do (2), but what I hate I do (3).

I’m committing actions, and saying words, and thinking thoughts that I don’t understand and all of it’s working its way from the inside of me to the outside. I want to practice the spiritual life with Jesus Christ as a way of life, but because I’m not in control of who I am and what I do, I just can’t get it right. That wrong part of me on the inside seems more powerful than the right part of me, and I end up hating what I do most of the time.

16 And if I do (3) what I do (3) not want to do (3), I agree that the law is good.

If I commit what I commit, even though what I commit is also what I hate, then God’s Law gets the last word. The Law is for sinners and for carnal (worldly) Christians. As a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ, I don’t have to live up to the Law, or have it feel like a noose around my neck. But it’s always there, reminding me of how far I have to go, and how high I have to reach.

17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do (1) it, but it is sin living in me.

My sin nature is in control of me, and it almost always gets the best of me – getting the last word about who I see myself as, and what I do … but I don’t have to submit to it or let it have total dominion over me … I always have the choice to turn back to God, surrender to Him, live a life of confession, repentance, and restoration with Him. My sin nature doesn’t have to ultimately define me.

18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do (1) what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

I know I want to do good, to live a life of righteousness … but I struggle with letting my desires become realities. I know that righteousness is also inside of me, not just my sin nature … and I want to let righteousness become more powerful than my sin nature.

19 For what I do (3) is not the good I want to do (3); no, the evil I do (3) not want to do (2) – this I keep on doing (2).

It seems like I’m committing evil deeds, having evil thoughts, and speaking evil words continually, but I don’t want to keep living this way. I know that I can’t yield to God and His plans for my life without increasing in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom … and having these building blocks become foundational parts of my life. Without these critical building-block pieces of my God-life in place I am miserable, and consistently upset at God, and out of sync with myself and with others. I want seeking God, finding God, knowing God, and serving God, loving God and glorifying God to become my natural way of life.

20 Now if I do (3) what I do not want to do (3), it is no longer I who do (2) it, but it is sin living in me that does (1) it.

When I’m out of fellowship with God, my sin nature is in control and I commit all kinds of sins, big and small, visible and invisible, public and private, immensely costly and barely costly. I don’t want this to keeping having this be the description of my life. I want to have a new inside motivation to live for God.

21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do (3) good, evil is right there with me.

My sin nature will always be with me … but it’s up to me about who is in control, my sin nature, or the Holy Spirit. The one I feed will be the one that grows strong and remains in charge. And I release more control of my life to God by growing in my knowledge of God and of God’s Word.

22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law;

God, thank You for this glimmer of hope, of what is
possible when my spirit and my soul get in line with Your Holy Spirit and Your Word.

23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

I need to keep my eyes wide open to what is happening with my inward man and with my outward man. My mind is the battlefield where this war for righteousness rages. God, I long for Your knowledge, Your understanding, and Your wisdom to become greater and more consistent parts of my life.

24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

This is the war I feel when I am choosing to be a carnal Christian, a worldly Christian, a Christian with a divided heart and a divided mind – when I want to live in this world and also enjoy the benefits of being an intimate follower of Jesus Christ. I can’t have it both ways. I want out of this rat race! I want to get down off the fence and run home to You.

25 Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

I will know the truth, and the truth will set me free! (cf., JOHN 8:32). Knowledge of, understanding of, and wisdom about God and His ways will be the key that unlocks my bondage to my flesh, my sin nature, my old man.

v. 20 is the key. If you’re out of fellowship with the Lord, because of unconfessed sin in your life, then you’re under the control of your sin nature. You’re not telling it what to do, it’s telling you what to do. Friends, when you’re in fellowship with God, you’re able to tell the flesh, your sin nature, your old man, what to do; and it becomes your slave.

But when you’re out of fellowship with God the flesh becomes the master and you become the slave. And can a slave tell a master what to do? NO way! So when you’re out of fellowship with God you can’t have victory over your sin nature because it’s your master. But when you’re in fellowship with God you have authority over the flesh and can bring it into submission to God’s will and purposes for your life. Godspeed.



31 March 2010


Not all change is rooted in fear or disobedience, just as not all change is rooted in discernment and courage. And this is where the power of God speaking through a group becomes so critical.

When there is division over what God's revealed will is, the clearest evidence of which way to move lies in which direction best evidences the planting, the growth, and the harvesting of fruit of the Spirit (cf., GALATIANS 5:22-23). And when divergent opinions represent the fruit of the Spirit equally, then rejoice! For then God is often sharing His desire with us that we are free to happily choose any one of the options before us, instead of believing that one option is more right than the others.

God's will isn't a tight-rope to be walked. It is a way of life to be sought and followed. And when we have a single-hearted devotion to Jesus Christ, and when seeking, finding, and following God's will is our highest aim, goal, and desire, the pathway of God's will is very often wide, not narrow ... as He gives us numerous options, all of which would be good, pleasing, and perfect, and must not be seen as competing with or divergent from one another.

And just as the role of the fruit of the Spirit is critical in identifying God's will for a group, it is also vital that the sweetness and the aroma of the fruit of the Spirit be present as we live and work with one another in all the various avenues of life and ministry we travel.


22-23 And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness
and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

When everyone within a group is seeking God's will, the unity of the Spirit will come through the seeking of the fruit of the Spirit, and not just through the majority. This is why prophetic words are important, but are only one of the specific ways God speaks to us and leads us. By prophetic, I don't mean "predicting the future", but rather "calling us back to the voice of God's Spirit through God's Word".

We must trust the words God brings to us from those we know and love as single-hearted Jesus-lovers ... and we must also trust the words God brings to us from those who speak gently, maybe even with very few words. We must trust the "Jesus voice" and the "Jesus-leading" in one another.

May you seek, find, and live into the unity that finds its source in God's Spirit, and it's expression in the fruit of God's Spirit. Godspeed



30 March 2010


I want to tell you about a passage of God’s WORD that really nailed me a couple days ago – and that God has been using to encourage me to look into my own life and into the life of our flock. And through this passage God has been helping me be more honest about what I’m seeing in terms of where I’m at and where we’re at as a church when it comes to inviting God to develop in us the character of Jesus Christ.

In EXODUS 35-38 I read a description of the type of people God chose to build the Tabernacle – which was the portable Temple the Israelite's made and carried around the wilderness during the forty years in between when they left the slavery of Egypt and entered the promised land … the land that is now the nation of Israel.

And as I read about the characteristics God was looking for 3,500+ years ago in those
who called themselves “His people”, I realized that God is still looking for the same kind of people to partner with Him in what He’s up to in the world today. So read and listen to how this passage describes the CHARACTER and the PERSPECTIVE of the type of people God chose to build the Tabernacle and it’s contents, and the kind of people He’s still looking for to get His work done in the world …


30 Then Moses said to the sons of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by
name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.
31 “And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all craftsmanship;

God WAS and IS looking for people who are surrendered to Him and filled with the Holy Spirit … and people growing in the three things we’ve heard Solomon call us to in our study of PROVERBSknowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Do you see it?

Because only when these first four things are in place … can the fifth thing happen.
And the first four have to do with our HEARTS AND MINDS, and the fifth has to do with our SKILLS AND ABILITIES. Here’s where we need to be for God to use us …
  1. When we’re surrendered to and filled with the Holy Spirit …
  2. When we’re increasing in our knowledge of God’s WORD …
  3. When we’re deepening in our understanding of God’s calling to us …
  4. When we’re wisely living out the truths of God’s Word that we’ve gained knowledge of and understanding about … and then …
  5. Then and only then does God finally mention the importance of our skill-set … or more specifically at the end of v. 31 that He needed someone with craftsmanship.
And I see our FIRST FAITH LESSON this morning in this progression of truth …


God cares about our HEARTS AND MINDS FIRST, and about our SKILLS AND ABILITIES SECOND. But it’s usually easier to give our SKILLS AND ABILITIES to God first, and keep our HEARTS AND MINDS to ourselves, than it is the other way around.

But once we give God our HEARTS AND MINDS, then God can begin using our SKILLS AND ABILITIES for His purposes. And ultimately, that’s what will bring us to a place of joy and contentment.

As I’ve told you before, God is more concerned about our FAITHFULNESS than about our QUALIFICATIONS. And it’s so easy to get this backwards. But the truth about

God’s priorities, and what He’s looking for in the people who follow Him, and who He can use in this life to accomplish His plans, continues to open up in EXODUS 36


1 Now Bezalel and Oholiab, and every skillful person in whom the Lord has put skill and understanding to know how to perform all the work in the construction of the sanctuary, shall perform in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.”
2 Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful person in whom the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him, to come to the work to perform it.

God has given each of us skills, and when we surrender our hearts to Him and pursue His knowledge … and then when we surrender our minds to Him and pursue His
understanding, then we’ll be equipped to live out His wisdom. And in that place of surrender our hearts will be stirred to give all that we are, and all that we do over to God’s purposes, and to the maturing of our life of faith with God.

And I believe that this is the posture, the perspective, and the attitude God wants you
and me as His followers to have as we dig into what He has to say to us about moving past slothfulness and redeeming the time we’ve been given here on this earth.
  1. Let’s be surrendered to and filled with God’s Holy Spirit.
  2. Let’s increase in our knowledge of God’s WORD.
  3. Let’s go deeper in our understanding of God’s plans for us.
  4. Let’s be committed to wisely putting into practice and living out the truths of God’s Word that we’ve gained knowledge of and understanding about … and …
  5. Let’s give God our skill-set, and invite Him to stir us up to live out His plans in new ways … full of energy, joy, purpose, and vision.



24 March 2010


[I haven't posted much for several months because of
formatting challenges with this blog site. But I've finally
figured out what I was doing wrong ... ya, it was me, not
the site ... and so now I'll begin posting more regularly.]


1 The earth belongs to the Lord, and everything in it – the world and all its people.

Do you see what David’s saying here? It’s not complicated, or rocket science. But to believe and accept the truth of David’s words takes SURRENDER, SACRIFICE, TRUST, and FAITH. Four things that can be hard for you and me to have – especially when we’re going through hard times financially, and when we’re struggling to learn the life-important lessons God has for us in these four areas …

God gets to tell us how to live life.
Am I listening to

God gets to tell me what to hang on to and what to let
go of in this life.
Am I obeying God?

God alone can keep me afloat in this life.
Am I chiefly
depending on and trusting in God, on myself, or on someone else?

God is reaching out to me, and inviting me to reach out to
Who or what am I holding onto and putting my faith into?

But since we’re not going to spend several months on this topic, and now that we’ve started by looking at David’s foundational truth about WISDOM AND FINANCES found in PSALM 24:1, we’re going to look into some of Jesus Christ’s teachings on finances found in MATTHEW 6, and then we’ll look at three of Solomon’s primary financial principles found in PROVERBS, and consider their application in our lives.

18th-Century British pastor, teacher, evangelist, and author John Wesley enjoyed the security of wealth largely because he wrote theological pamphlets and sold them for a penny each. And in a sermon entitled The Danger of Riches, Wesley offers us three great ideas that set the stage for the rest of what we’ll look at together this morning.

“I EARN all I can, without hurting either soul or body. I SAVE all I can, not willingly wasting anything. And I GIVE all I can, so I am effectually secured from laying up treasures on earth.”

Do you see Wesley’s priorities? EARN, SAVE, GIVE, and then SPEND. Turn with me in your Bibles to MATTHEW 6 and we’ll begin with vv. 19-21.


19 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Where is your treasure? Are the things you value the most measurable on Excel spreadsheets, calculators, or on stock market charts? Or is what you value and treasure most, the character of Jesus Christ that God longs to see growing in you, and the priorities of the Kingdom of Heaven God longs to see being lived out of you? Like Jesus says here, there’s danger in storing up treasures on this earth. Jesus continues with this important teaching in vv. 22-24


22 The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

None of us can serve God and money. We have to choose. And this is where we have to make up our minds about the irrefutable truth of David’s words in PSALM 24:1 The earth belongs to the Lord, and everything in it – the world and all its people.

Do we believe that everything belongs to God … that all that we are, and all that we have is God’s and not ours? Or do we believe that we have what we have because we’ve worked hard for it, because we deserve it, and that if we live our lives with OPEN HANDS everything will slip through our fingers and we’ll be left destitute? Or do we believe that when we live life with OPEN HANDS before God and others that we’ll be able to serve God, AND also be able trust God’s provision for us? Jesus goes on in vv. 25-27


25 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

You and I will always depend most on where ever our identity is most deeply rooted. When our IDENTITY is most deeply rooted in Jesus Christ, then He is Who we’ll most depend on. But when our identity is most deeply rooted in ourselves and in what we can accomplish, instead of being rooted in Jesus … then anxiety, depression, jealousy, bondage, comparing, and striving will always be front and center in our lives. Jesus goes on in vv. 28-31


28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?”

Are you willing to let God take you out of anxiety, depression, jealousy, discontentment, bondage, comparing, and striving … and into His peace, centeredness, freedom, and joy? Is this what you’re longing for? Then build your identity in Jesus Christ and in the truth of King David’s words in PSALM 24:1

1 The earth belongs to the Lord, and everything in it – the world and all its people.

Jesus wraps up this teaching in vv. 32-34


32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Do you see the promises God makes to us when we build our lives on His priorities and root our identity in Him? Acceptance of these teachings will equip us to begin living our lives in such a way that we’ll become a WITNESS and a BLESSING to those following us, and point others to the truth of Who God is and to His plans for us.


1 The earth belongs to the Lord, and everything in it – the world and all its people.

Here are three of the most important principles about WISDOM AND FINANCES that I’ve run into over and over again while reading and studying Solomon’s PROVERBS