Monday, January 31, 2005


In Philippians 4:12-13, Paul is talking about contentment:

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed of hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."

I heard a pastor summarize it like this: "Contentment is not about who has the most. It's about who needs the least." In our materialistic society, we have been trained to be pessimistic about our possessions. Instead of being thankful for all the things we have, we tend to lament the things we don't yet have. Said another way, the glass is half-empty. Ask yourself "Do I have any wants that I'm treating like needs?" "Am I discontent because I don't have some of the things my neighbors have?" "Am I overlooking blessings that are right in front of me?" "Am I content with my possessions and my circumstances?"

Yet there is one thing we are supposed to be discontent with… That we are to continuously strive to make better / deeper / stronger... Our relationship with Christ.

Do you know anybody who has these two things reversed? People who are content in their spiritual lives yet discontent in the material things? People who live by sight rather than faith?

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, January 24, 2005

The unsaved

Luke 23:39-43 tells us about one of the criminals that was crucified with Christ. "One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: 'Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!' But the other criminal rebuked him. 'Don't you fear God,' he said, 'since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.' Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' Jesus answered him, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'

For the past couple weeks, I've been thinking a lot about this guy crucified with Christ. There are a couple key things in these few verses:

1. He knew and admitted he was a sinner - "We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve."
2. He believed that Jesus is who He said He was - "remember me when you come into your kingdom"
3. He served the Lord with his few remaining minutes - "But the other criminal rebuked him"
4. From 1 through 3 above, it seems that this criminal may be the first person saved by grace under the new covenant.
5. He was physically right next to Jesus as he spoke with our Lord. As such, he modeled the kind of prayers we are to have - conversational, earnest, expectant, and with the realization that Christ listens to and answers prayers since He is right next to us.
6. In Jesus' reply to this man, there is a subtle prophecy. He says "today you will be with me in paradise". It often took several days for crucifixion to kill a person. Yet Jesus knows that all 3 of them will die this very day (see John 19:31-32).

So, what are we praying about this Wednesday? We are praying for all the unsaved. We are praying that they follow the model of this man. That they come to realize they are a sinner who cannot save themselves. That they come to know Jesus as there Lord and savior. And that they walk with Him the rest of there lives.

As we pray, let's keep this man's example in mind and converse with our Lord like He is right next to us.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, January 17, 2005


You probably have people in your life that ask you for advice on a regular basis. Likewise, you also probably have a "go to" set of people that you turn to for advice when needed. This Wednesday, as we fast, we are praying about advice. A couple things to think about:

1. Ephesians 4:15 tells us to speak the truth in love. We need to guard against simply saying what we know the other person wants to hear. Likewise, when receiving advice, we need to be introspective enough to discern flattery from fact. The truth is what's required for real growth.
2. The second part of speaking the truth in love is the "love" part. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 for what's required here. I think the hardest time to keep this "love" part is when a friend is starting to realize something that has been obvious to me for a long time.
3. Is the advice biblically sound? The answer to this question has to be "yes" before we move on to the more important question - Is the advice consistent with God's will? If the advice isn't biblically sound, it can't be God's will.
4. Last, are there any selfish motives in the advice? What I want may skew the advice I give a friend. It may sound something like "I don't think you should take that new job because it seems risky to move to California." But part of what I'm thinking is "I don't want you to move away because you’re my friend and I want you here". We need to discern motive and guard against it both when giving as well as getting advice.

So this week as we fast we are praying about advice. We are praying that the advice we give as well as the advice we follow are both honoring to God.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, January 3, 2005

Our churches

Jesus refers to the church as His bride which underlines how important the church is to Him. Still, the church can be a source of problems for many seekers and believers alike. After all, the church is a collection of imperfect people who are, by nature, prone to impure motives. You may have seen some of the problems that can be found out in the world in your own church: financial troubles, hypocrisy, gossip, clicks, pride, greed, lust, selfishness, etc., etc., etc… I recently heard a sermon where the pastor was sharing how he once heard a cynic compare the church to Noah's Ark. The cynic's comparison was that the storm on the outside is what makes bearable the stench on the inside. This may be a bit harsh but you get the point.

Picking out a couple specifics that we are praying for:
1. The church leadership - that they are full of the spirit, growing in the Lord, and seeking His will as they guide the church's path.
2. The congregation - That God is at the center as they attend, serve, give, fellowship, and worship. That they are also seeking His will and growing in Him. And most importantly, that they are understanding that not only is the church there for them, but they need to be there for the church.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,