Sunday, September 9, 2018

Devotions back - Sunday - DO YOU STILL WANT?

I’m winnowing my list.

RESPOND “YES” if you

want to remain on my list.

If you’ve already responded

“yes,” I have you on the list.

If you do nothing, you’ll be off :)

I’ll try twice more after this weekend.


Themes in John:

What was Jesus’ purpose?

He states, For this I came into the world,

to testify to the truth -18:37.


Bonus: It sets us free.


+  +  +


We had fun in our Truth Project class last Fall. We’d ask each new class member: “Why did Jesus come into the world?” They’d say something like, “To save us from our sins.” We’d say, “Oh, what a great answer. Jesus is the Savior. He loves us. He died for us. But … NO!!!”


Again and again. No matter their answer. “NO!!!”


And then we’d point to this verse. Jesus himself defined why he came: He came to “testify to the truth” (John 18:37). Jesus was (and is) the Truth. (He is, indeed, “the way, the truth, and the life.”)


Furthermore he proclaims that there is Truth — a true, right, and only God and, therefore, a true and right way that God ordains for us to live. Indeed, how many times did Jesus say in the Gospels, “Truly, truly, I say to you …” (Twenty-four times in the Gospel of Matthew alone!)


Then in John 8 he makes this claim … “The Truth will set you Free.” If Jesus is (the) Truth, then truly he will set you free. Furthermore, if there is a true and right God, then living in God’s true and right way will set you free too.


And if Jesus came to point you to Truth — to himself and to the true and godly way — then our question this Fall is: “What are you doing to know Jesus and follow him more fully.”






Saturday, September 8, 2018

Devotions back - Saturday - DO YOU STILL WANT?

I’m winnowing my list.

RESPOND “YES” if you

want to remain on my list.

If you do nothing, you’ll be off :)

I’ll try twice more after this weekend.


Sunday starts our fall focus:




How do we find the blessed life?

Today’s verse: By knowing Jesus!!


+  +  +


What is eternal life?


It’s what happens when believers die, right? It’s going to heaven.


Jesus defines it differently. He says that eternal life is knowing God.


Now, we know that “knowing God” punches our ticket. It gets us into heaven. But does Jesus say that it’s more than that?




If “knowing Jesus” is part of “believing in Jesus,” then from the moment we first believe, eternal life begins. We’ve invited Jesus to come into our heart. To reign over our heart and life as King. Now, we never do this perfectly, but with the Spirit’s help, we grow in faith, love, and obedience. And as we do, our life gradually becomes LIFE!!!


This Fall, come and discover …






Friday, September 7, 2018

Devotions back - Friday - DO YOU STILL WANT?

I’m winnowing my list.

RESPOND “YES” if you

want to remain on my list.

If you do nothing, you’ll be off :)

I’ll try twice more after this weekend.





Today’s verse reveal’s the Gospel’s purpose:

“that through believing you may have life.”


+   +   +


AT THE VERY END of John’s Gospel (at the least the end before the postlude — which is chapter 21), John states his purpose in writing this “book.” His first purpose — as he states — is “so that you may come to believe.”


And why is believing important? That’s where John’s second purpose comes in: “so … that through believing you may have life in his name.”


He’s saying: FAITH equals LIFE.


Meaning: If your life needs a pick-me-up, then greater faith is the answer. This fall, what are you choosing to do to grow your faith and enrich your life?!






Wednesday, August 8, 2018

GET the NEW CHURCH APP - Pray for S Africa Mission Team

Our South African Mission Team is flying out this morning!

Did you get that push notification to pray for them?



to the phone number 77977

text the word sojapp


(follow the link and when it comes up, click refresh)

Friday, July 6, 2018

July 7 - Might - Deuteronomy 6:5


love the Lord your God

with … all your might

Deuteronomy 6:5


This one is easy. My Bible translates this word in Deuteronomy as “might.” My Bible translates Jesus’ word in Mark as “strength.” The point is the same, we are called to love God with all our might, all our strength, with all our umph, and with all our ability.


To put it another way, we are to love God with all our personal discipline.


We’re to be intentional about our faith.


We’re to practice our faith regularly. We’re to devote ourselves to devotion. We’re to be diligent in a our church attendance. We’re to attend purposefully to the Word of God. Our generosity and service are to be intentionally woven into the fabric of our beings.


Tradition regularly calls a Christian’s faith practices “spiritual disciplines.” Why? Because a rich and growing faith requires discipline. We are called, indeed, to love God with all our strength and might.


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who knows what

he really needs to be

more disciplined with

(Why do I allow busyness

to be such a daunting excuse?)


Thursday, July 5, 2018

July 6 - Mind - Mark 12:30


you shall love the Lord your God

with all your heart, and with all

your soul, and with all your mind,

and with all your strength.’

Mark 12:30


We’ve been reading through Deuteronomy 6. It’s a passage that Jews call the shema. It’s a call that Jesus calls “the first and greatest commandment.”


In Deuteronomy, we are commanded to love God with three parts of our being – heart, soul, and might (strength). In the Gospels – see Mark 12 above – Jesus commands us to love God with four parts – heart, soul, strength … and … our minds.


The mind in Jesus’ statement and translating from the Greek means exactly what you’d expect. It means insight, understanding, and intellect. We are thus called to love God with all our perception and discernment. We are to seek him with our reason and our acumen.

When I said yesterday that the soul yearns for truth, it would be easy to focus on the intellectual portion of that statement – “truth.” No. When talking about the soul, we need to focus on the yearning, the emotion. We’re passionate beings. And as we said yesterday, we’re passionate for more than just romance and relations. We yearn for wisdom, truth, and character.


So where does “the mind” come in? Our minds determine how we interpret experiences and channel emotions. Our minds influence how we pursue pleasure (and in what ways we choose not to). Our minds help us set priorities and define our goals and choose how we’ll achieve them.


The mind speaks of our conscious intentionality. Thus, Jesus is calling us to love God consciously, intentionally, purposefully. Jesus is calling us to consciously choose him and his ways daily.


And the question is … Do you?


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who has taken

the Myers-Briggs

personality test.

I am more of a “thinker”

than a “feeler.”

This one is easier for me.

The nice part is that

God has woven into

each of our personalities

ways to connect with God.

So … how do you connect?


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

July 5 - Soul - Deuteronomy 6:5


love the Lord your God

with … all your soul

Deuteronomy 6:5


If we’re to love God with all our soul, we first need to understand what the soul is.


Based on traditional scriptural understandings, the soul is the self. It’s the seat of our motivations and of our will. It’s the part of us that makes us us. (Have you ever said that while the body may die, it’s the soul who goes to heaven? Well, if that’s the case, then doesn’t it make sense that part of us that goes to heaven is the part of us that makes us us!) 

What is the soul? Well, it’s been said that while the heart yearns for love, the soul yearns for truth.


To say that another way, the heart yearns for relationship; thus loving God with all our heart means pursuing a deep and satisfying personal relationship with God. But to love God with our soul means something different. It’s a call, instead, to desire God’s character and yearn for his ways. To love God with our soul means to hunger for God and his Truth.


To use an analogy, I love my wife with my heart. I treasure a rich relationship with her. But I also love her soul with my soul. I respect her character. I am guided her wisdom. And when she speaks truth – and my bride loves and proclaims Truth – my soul often soars.


Westerners often limit love to the romantic. Romantic (and relational) love is powerful! Wonderful! But while Scripture offers us rich relationships, it also offers us further forms of love too.


Do you love God in ways that absolutely revere his character? Do you love God in ways that submit to his Word, his wisdom, his commands? When you encounter God’s Truth, is your soul hungry? Indeed, do you see God’s Word of Truth, and when you do, does your soul soar?


So … what does it mean for you to love God with everything in you that makes you you? (And … did you catch that spiritual part of you is indeed what makes you truly you.)


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who wonders

how you would have

described the soul

(I confess, I had

to look it up!)


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

July 4 - John 8:36


“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”
George Washington


if the Son sets you free,

you will be free indeed.

John 8:36

Monday, July 2, 2018

July 3 - Heart - Deuteronomy 6:5


love the Lord your God

with all your heart

Deuteronomy 6:5


This week we are looking at Deuteronomy 6, specifically the command in verse 5 to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” Today, we ask, How do we love God with all our heart?


Here’s the simplest way to evaluate what you love the most: Look at what you love, what you prioritize, what you “treasure.”  That’s Jesus’ own instruction. In the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 6:41 – Jesus says, For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.”

What do you love the most?


How do you really spend your time? For example, do you serve yourself more than serving your neighbor? Do you spend more time with your television than in God’s Word? Do we talk to ourselves more in our heads – solving problems, worrying about situations, or harboring frustrations – or do we talk to God more in earnest prayer? How about this: Are you more concerned with today’s news than God’s prophecy? What really is your treasure?




Honestly, that’s one of the scariest evaluations that I ever do! It’s not that I don’t love God and it’s not that God doesn’t love me, but I am constantly shortchanging myself, my family, our church, and God’s Kingdom by being weak, distracted, and double-hearted.


If you (and I) want more love, joy, and peace, (and patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control), what do you know you ought to cut out and what do you know you ought to prioritize?


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who is working at

turning off and tuning in


Sunday, July 1, 2018

July 2 - Deuteronomy 6:1-6


Recite … the commandment … [to] love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might … to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. - Deuteronomy 6:1-6


As the Exodus draws to a close, what does God say just as Israel is about “1 cross into and occupy … the land” of Israel?


God gives them a commandment.


Speaking through Moses in Deuteronomy 6, God says, “Now this is the commandment [you must] observe in the land … Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”


That’s part one. Indeed, these words from Deuteronomy 6:5 are precisely what Jesus calls “the greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:36-37).


But there’s a part two. A second half of the commandment. Speaking through Moses, God speaks to faithful parents, saying, “Recite [these love commandments] to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.”


This is family ministry.


And this command has a purpose, a “so that.” Why should we love God and teach love of God to our children? 2 So that you and your children and your children’s children may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life.” So that faith may continue generation after generation.


In Christ’s Love,

a guy whose greatest heroes

are parents who teach faith

to their children


Saturday, June 30, 2018

Jun 30 - John 6:53-54


Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day." - John 6:53-54


Holy Communion is way, way more than symbol! Nevertheless, sometimes Jesus spoke in symbolic language.


Bread and wine are symbols -- and surely way, way more than mere symbols -- for Jesus' body and blood. But today let's deal with them at a symbolic level.


In a symbolic way, the ancient world understood the body -- the flesh -- to be symbolic of life. While you are alive, you are living in the flesh; whereas, one day, you'll be beyond the flesh in the spiritual realms (with a new resurrected body, to be sure. But you get the point, right?) Flesh equals life.


Blood, on the other hand, represented death.  When blood is spilled, what happens? Death.


Now put this together ... in a symbolic way (and communion is way, way more than symbol, but in a symbolic way) what Jesus is inviting his people to do is to take part in his life and in his death. Indeed, we need to die to our life to take on his life. It needs to quit being about our wants and our desires and our purposes and our priorities; and it needs to start being about His goals and His purposes. It's His Way and His Truth.


Do you remember the old bumper sticker that said, "God is my co-pilot." Well, shortly after that saying arose, a new bumper sticker appeared: "If God is your co-pilot, change seats." Dying to ourselves is changing seats. It's allowing God to be in charge of our lives. It's allowing him to set the agenda.


How many of us start the morning with our plan for the day? And fail to stop and ask God for his plan for our day, our week, our year, our life? I confess that I'm too often on auto-pilot. Through bread and wine and many and various calls throughout the pages of Scripture, God invites us to die to our life and take on his life (to partake in his life).


In Christ's Love,

a guy who is flesh and blood

... only what I really need is

His flesh (His life) and

His blood (a symbol of

dying to what's killing me

and rising to real life)


Thursday, June 28, 2018

June 29 - Psalm 34:8


O taste and see

that the Lord is good;

happy are those who

take refuge in him.

Psalm 34:8


We've been talking a lot about food this week. Communion. The bread of life.


Well, one of my favorite verses is the call to "taste and see that the Lord is good."


We have a world that is starving. Marriages are failing. Children are estranged. There is job loss and financial turmoil. We're dealing with too much mental illness and depression. Despair is rising, and so are the suicide rates. Addiction is becoming more and more normative. People are angry and vengeful. Cancer and other illnesses keep eating their way into families. The is violence, abuse, bloodshed, and war. Life is hard.


And I don't know how people do it without God!


God is good. And if we let him, he reverses all these curses. Now, all the caveats apply: It's a broken world because of sin. People hurt us, and we hurt them. God offers help, but how many of us want to do it our way. But if we let him, God will reverse all these curses.


·         He can knit marriages back together.

·         He can return our prodigal sons.

·         He is the provider when things are tight.

·         He is meaning, rather than purposelessness.

·         He is hope, rather than despair.

·         He is a reality bigger than addiction.

·         He is forgiveness, quelling vengence.

·         He is a shelter in the midst of violence.

·         He is truth when abuse and lies demean us.

·         He is the healer of earthly ills.

·         And he is majestic hope as this temporary world fades and eternity beckons.


O taste and see that the Lord is good!


In Christ's Love,

a guy who is hungry

for God and his blessings



Wednesday, June 27, 2018

June 28 - 1 Corinthians 10:16


The cup of blessing that

we bless, is it not the

fellowship of the blood of Christ?

The bread that we break,

is it not the fellowship

of the body of Christ?

1 Corinthians 10:16


The Biblical word "koinonia" is sometimes translated as "fellowship." Other times it is translated as "communion." As a verb, it is "participating in" and "partaking of."


All of these meanings intersect in this passage! When we commune, we "partake of" the cup of blessing and the body of Christ. We "participate in" both a sacrament action and within a group of people called "the body of Christ." We call this act "communion," and we "commune with" and "fellowship with" both God and our brothers and sisters in Christ.


When we stretch out our hands at communion, there is intimate fellowship with God. When we approach the holy altar, God comes to meet us in a special, sacred, sacramental way. As Martin Luther said, "He is in, with, and under the bread." He is here! With us!


We also gather on typical Sundays with scores of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Through the week, we've been broken and scattered across our community, state, nation, and world. When we return to the altar, we are knit back together as the people of God. The week has been hard on many of us, so we return to partake in a cup of blessing and the promise of healing. We returned to be taught and encouraged and forgiven and nourished by our family of faith as we prepare to march back out into the world.


We need each other ... almost as much as we need God. That's how God designed the church. That's how he designed you and me.


In Christ's Love,

a who heard recently that

if you feel you're thirsty,

it's alreay too late; you're

already dehydrated.

Well, if you're weak, low,

doubting, despairing,

you're already tragically

low on the bread of life and

the blessing of communion

(in all its forms).

But it's never to late.

Come home.

Put out your hand.

Receive the bread.

Drink the cup of blessing.


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

June 27 - Luke 22:19-20


And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. - Luke 22:19-20


If I asked you to define "institution," what would you say?


·         The first thing we probably think of is a big organization, like a college or a bank.

·         The second thing we may think of is a long-standing societal custom. For example, we may about the institution of marriage.

·         But institution can also refer to an action that establishes a tradition. For example, when Jesus "took bread, gave thanks and broke it," he was instituting the sacrament of holy communion. Indeed, when reading through the Gospels (and even in 1 Corinthians 11), we call the words of Jesus at the Last Supper, "The Words of Institution."


What was he instituting? "The New Covenant!"


The Old Covenant given to Abraham and his descendants. If they would receive (and through the generation keep) the mark (circumcision), they would become and be God's people.


Now, some reduced this to a one-time, once-and-for-all, impersonal, external act. A required ritual. An excuse for a party as the little boy cries. Religious, but not personal: "If you receive the mark on the traditional eighth day after birth, that's all you need."


That's clearly not what God intended, though. And the prophets kept reiterating this. They kept saying that faith is not external actions, but a matter of the heart, a matter of faith. For example, Jeremiah said, "Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, remove the foreskin of your hearts" (Jeremiah 4:4). As the Apostle Paul would say later, "a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal" (Romans 2:29).


In the New Covenant, it isn't you or me or our little boy children who receive the mark. It was Jesus himself. He was "he was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; and upon him was the punishment that made us whole" (Isaiah 53:5).


Sadly, however, some reduced Christ's sacrifice to a one-time, once-and-for-all, impersonal, external act. It's true that Christ's sacrifice opened a door eternally, but God doesn't want for us to treat the cross -- or holy communion -- as mere ritual. He wants us bring the meaning of that external act into our hearts. We are invited to participate in Christ's death -- dying to ourselves and living for him.


In Christ's Love,

a guy who doesn't want

communion or any

sacramental rite to be

a dusty old institution,

but a living reality