Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

As some of you know, I have been interviewing for a new position with Merck back in Pennsylvania. I just officially found out today that I got the job. The prospect of starting a new position and moving back close to family and old friends is very exciting. Yet at the same time, we are already dreading the thought of being so far from the great friends we have made in New Mexico. I will miss New Mexico for a variety of reasons but the main reason by far is the friends we have made.

This week pray about your friends. Take some time to cherish the gifts they are.

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Count 'em up

At the bottom of this blog there is a little gizmo that counts page views. Every time this page or any page from the blog's archive or comments is viewed, the little counter increases by 1. I check it out every now and then to see how much traffic is coming through the site. Imagine my surprise about 10 days ago when the number shot up by 10,000 in one day. I've worked in internet metrics in the past so I was pretty sure it was artificially boosted. There are little computer programs called spiders that get sent out be search engines to categorize websites. Still, in the back of my mind, I had the thought that maybe it was real traffic through some new source. There was this mixed excitement and fear that the number of readers had just increased exponentially. Alas, when I checked the little counter on the following day, it was only up a little bit. I was then sure that the initial boost was from a spider.

Ever since then, I've found myself periodically thinking about how and why we measure things. Look around and you'll see we measure lots of stuff. We measure how fast and how far we drive. We measure our weight and height. We measure our cholesterol, our heart rate, and in some cases, our portion sizes. We measure how well we do on tests and we measure how long it takes to do certain tasks. And in the case of most businesses, we try to measure things that indicate success. Things like gross sales, profit margins, research spending, return on marketing expenditures, and a multitude of others. The problem is, often times the things that really indicate success can't be measured. The little counter at the bottom of this blog is a neat little gizmo but it doesn't mean success. Growth and changed lives mean success. I like it when my kids do well on their school tests. However, ultimately as parents we want to grow kind, well rounded, well adjusted kids and the school tests don't really measure this. I like it when my bank account gets bigger. And I've often looked at this financial measure as an indicator of success. I suppose as a measure it will point out success or failure with sticking to a budget but we too often get net worth and self worth intertwined in ways they shouldn't be. Money in my bank account doesn't mean that I am becoming more loving and kind to my neighbors.

This week, when you get a chance, give some thought to the things you measure. Are you putting too much value in some measurements that really don't matter in the long run?

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

Monday, September 14, 2009

it's mine it's mine it's all mine...

My wife recently turned me on to a blog that is written by an author who is originally from India. In one of her recent posts, she wrote about an ancient king of India named Bharat. Bharat had 8 sons and as a king, he had to determine who would be his heir. But contrary to tradition, Bharat chose a man who was not one of his sons. Understandably, his family and sons were not happy with this decision because it deprived them of their perceived birthright. Bharat's explanation was that ability and competence trumped birthright. He loved his country too much to leave it in the hands of people he knew to be incompetent (even if they were his own people).

The story fascinated me because it instantly reminded me of Jonathan and David from the old testament. As you probably remember, Jonathan was the son of King Saul. He was also best friends with David. After David's success with Goliath and as a military commander, Saul felt threatened and tried to kill David on numerous occasions. However, Jonathan worked behind the scenes to thwart his fathers murderous attempts and he goes out of his way to encourage his friend David. 1 Samuel 23:15-18 documents one of these accounts - While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life. And Saul's son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. "Don't be afraid," he said. "My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this." The two of them made a covenant before the LORD. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh.

It's amazing what all is packed in these couple verses. Remember, Jonathan is Saul's son. That means he is in line for the throne. Yet he is saying David will be king and he will be second to David. He is willfully giving up his birthright. It's hard to wrap my brain around that. From what the bible records about Jonathan, I would assume he would have been a good king. Yet he seems to recognize the greater potential of his friend. Talk about selflessness. I think about this account with respect to my own life. Am I selfless enough to step aside when one more gifted by God comes along? Would I give up a ministry… a job… etc.? Or would I cling to it because it's mine… Would my pride get in the way of what God has planned? Any thoughts? Sometimes the enemy of 'greatness' is 'good enough'.

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

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! Luke 11:13

Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:17

When I was a kid, I occasionally went to church. Most of the time it was with my grandma and grandpa. I remember we used to say the Lord's prayer at every one of those services in my grandparent's church. That's where I first heard about that mysterious character called the Holy Spirit. Back then, in my grandparent's church, it was referred to as the Holy Ghost. The term 'Ghost' made it even more mysterious. I wish I could say the mystery was all cleared up as soon as I was saved but the reality is, that 'Holy Spirit' part of the trinity continued to be kind of spooky to me. It took a couple years and the counsel of good friends to de-mystify the whole thing. But in the end, it opened me up to accepting the help and guidance that comes from that still small voice.

I think the Holy Spirit is mysterious for many believers. This week, pray for your own understanding and the understanding of your fellow believers. Pray for the filling of the spirit. Pray that we all learn to listen to the guidance that comes from the spirit.

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

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


There is an older man I know who acted as a mentor to me when I first got saved. He was a married man with 4 children and he had a personal rule that he wouldn't allow himself to be alone in a car with a female. He shared with me that he set up this boundary to simply protect himself from himself. But he also shared that more importantly, this was his own personal rule. He was always careful to not impose this rule on others. He said you always need to err on the side of grace and not presume that all others struggle with the same temptations that you struggle with. Since then, I've met Christian men who will not go to the beach because they know the limitations of their own thought life. Yet they recognize this restriction doesn't apply to all. I've met married women who will not engage in a friendship with a man. Yet they recognize this restriction doesn't apply to all. Overall, the message here is that we need to understand our own temptations and yet, at the same time, not presume all others struggle with the same temptations. As a Christian brother or sister, it's OK and loving to warn others of potential temptations. But at the same time, don't presume all others will fall into sin. We need to recognize that some others can ride in a car with someone from the opposite sex… others can go to the beach… others can be friends with the opposite sex… If we presume that everyone will fall to the same temptations we struggle with, we pass too quickly from a loving warning to presumptive judgement.

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

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

forests and trees

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." Genesis 2:15-17

I have read the Genesis creation account many times. Recently, this forbidden fruit has been giving me fits. It's such a strange name for a tree… 'the tree of the knowledge of good and evil'… I kept having this nagging thought - 'what's so bad about having knowledge of good and evil?' After all, isn't it good to know what you should stay away from? So why is the knowledge of good and evil a bad thing? Furthermore, why have I never stopped to think about the name of this tree in the past? Scripture can be such a strange and wonderful thing when you dig into it.

I started thinking about this tree from the perspective that we all have the capacity to engage in great evil. Yet we also have a sense of how good we could be. And perhaps the answer to the mystery of this forbidden fruit lies in that gap between the "good" we want to be and the reality of who we are. I would say this gap is the source of guilt, frustration, discontentment, yearning, etc. Who we are is not who we think we should be. Said another way, real is not ideal. Yet this comparison and frustration could not exist without the knowledge of good and evil. Prior to eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve were free. They were more free than we have ever been. The introduction of the knowledge of good and evil was the death of this freedom. Look at the shame and guilt that immediately followed. Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nakedness. They made clothes and hid from God. Maybe there is a lot of truth to the old saying "ignorance is bliss". It seems there are certain things God never intended us to know.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

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

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.

"I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:1-3

When you read the scriptures above, you hear the promises God made to Abraham (he was still 'Abram' at the time). Essentially the promises are that he will father a great nation, his name will be famous, this nation will be blessed, and the whole world will be blessed through him. As far as I can tell, none of these promises had come to pass by the time Abraham died. Think about that for a minute. We get impatient when God doesn't answer right away. Fast-forward a few hundred years from Abraham's death and you find his offspring to be quite numerous. Even so, they are a slave people in Egypt. Can you imagine being a young Hebrew slave in Egypt hearing the stories about the promises God made to Abraham. As that young Hebrew slave, your dad, your grandpa, and your grandpa's grandpa all lived their lives as slaves. It must have been hard to have faith in these promises of being a great blessed nation through which the world would be blessed. Today, we can see how all God's promises to Abraham have been kept. To have an eternal perspective takes a great deal of patience. It's hard to wrap my brain around the fact that some of the seeds I plant right now may not bear fruit for years… perhaps even 400 years. But just thinking about that fact helps me persevere even when I start to think my efforts are all for nothing.

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Acts 27 and 28 document Paul's journey to Rome as a prisoner. It's an interesting journey to say the least. Among other things, there is a hurricane, a shipwreck, a snake bite with no ill effects, and a host of healings. Read it this week if you get a chance. The part of the story we are focusing on is when they are in the midst of being tossed about by the storm. It's shortly before they run aground just off the shore of Malta.

But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.' So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island." On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep. Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, "Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved." So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away.

Do you see how the sailors don't have the same faith as Paul? Sometimes experience can lead to self-reliance instead of God-reliance.

Do you see how the lifeboat needs to be cut loose in order for the voyage to remain on the path God revealed to Paul? Sometimes our "lifeboats" are our biggest liabilities. You may call it a lifeboat or a safety net or an escape hatch. They are the back-up plans we have in case God's path takes us too far out of our comfort zone. "I trust you God but not enough to abandon my avenue of retreat"…

A couple examples may help illustrate:
- Marital storms are inevitable. God can use these storms to help spouses grow closer together... Unless one of them is hauling around the divorce "lifeboat".
- You may be tempted to jump into the questionable ethics "lifeboat" because of pressure to perform at your work place.
- How often do we rely on the not gonna tithe "lifeboat" because money is tight right now?

Think this week about your own "lifeboats". Is there some safe ground you run to every time God's plan gets uncomfortable? Or are you learning to trust him completely?

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

Monday, August 3, 2009


Since using the blog for the first time last week, I've spent some time trying to post past topics on the site. If you look in the left hand column of this website, you'll see that I started from the oldest posts and I'm working my way forward. I'm about halfway through 2006 as I write this. It's interesting to go back through these old posts. Walking back through these topics has been a lot like walking back through a journal. I come across topics related to areas in which I'm certain I've grown quite a bit since writing the original topic. But I also come across topics related to areas where I've had little or no growth. Even some areas where I think I may have been more mature back when I wrote the original message. Some topics remind me of periods when my prayer life was very active and others bring back memories of when it was weak to say the least. It's all very humbling and it's given me a new sense of brokenness. If you don't currently keep your own journal, let me highly recommend it. It will help you see growth that's so slow, you wouldn't see it otherwise. It will help you see stagnation that otherwise may have gone undetected. It will help you recognize answered prayer and it will make you thankful that some prayers are answered with a "no". Most of all, it will help you to see Him in more and more areas of your life.

On a side note, If you have something to add to one of the topics, simply click the "comment" tab at the bottom of the post on which you wish to comment. You will have the option of posting with your name or anonymously.

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

Monday, July 27, 2009


What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
"Look! This is something new"?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow. Ecclesiastes 1:9-11

You often hear people pessimistic about the times in which we live. "this economy is killing me…", "kids just don't respect authority…", "the moral fabric of this country is decaying…", "No one knows how to put in a hard day's work anymore…", "it's so much harder for kids growing up these days…", "I don’t know how my parents could manage to live on just 1 salary". Admittedly, I can find myself thinking this way sometimes. And I wonder, are times really worse or do I somehow recall the past with rose colored sunglasses. Perhaps things weren't really all that different when I was a kid. Maybe I just remember it as more wholesome than it really was. After all, no matter when you grew up, the same sins still existed. Since the garden, there's been pride, greed, lust, envy, etc. Perhaps what changes is the degree to which society calls evil good and vise versa. The mistake is to somehow think the rules have all changed and the world is totally different. . I love the following quote:

"In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these." ~ Paul Harvey

To think things are so much worse today is to presume you know what it was like to have lived in some of the really bad times in the past. But ultimately, that kind of thinking is what can paralyze your effectiveness here and now. You are uniquely gifted and purposed by God. Don't let pessimism hinder your zeal for that purpose. Think about this during your prayer times this week.

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

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How it Began

Back in 2003, I was involved in the men's ministry at the church I attended. This weekly fasting and prayer topic developed out of that ministry. Long story short, it started when I volunteered to support and organize a few men who had decided to fast and pray for a selected topic every Wednesday. My role was writing the weekly topic and distributing it to all the participants via e-mail. Over the years, the number of participants has grown. Likewise, it has evolved. It is no longer a men's ministry. The number of women who now receive the weekly topic rivals the number of men. Additionally, not all who receive the topic choose to fast on Wednesday. They simply use the weekly topic as a tool to learn and grow.

There are several reasons why I am now moving this topic from e-mail to blog format. First, in the past I've spent quite a bit of time managing the e-mail distribution list. I no longer need to do that. Second, I think the web format allows more people to access the topic. Third and most important, the blog format allows participants to weigh in with their thoughts on the topic. I think it allows God to speak to us by speaking through any and all of us. In the coming weeks and months I hope to post all of the historical topics all the way back through 2003. It's my prayer that these topics bless you, and in some small way, help you grow in your relationship with Christ.

Your brother,