Category Archives: Journal

God Gives a Swift Kick…

Acts 12:7-9

7 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. 8 And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” 9 And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. (ESV)

For some reason I really enjoyed reading this verse. The angel “strikes” Peter in the side. No peaceful nudge and whisper in the ear with a glow over the angel’s head (a la Touched By An Angel). Peter wasn’t touched, he was struck! Couple things come to mind. 1) It was time to go. No sense in waiting around for the right “moment.” Get up Peter and go! 2) People were praying. This is an awesome testimony to gathered, corporate prayer. The answer to pray was an angel coming in to Peter’s cell and kicking him in the side to get going. 3) We all need a swift kick every now and then. I almost wonder if Peter was in a place of self-pity. Feeling so sorry for himself he was inconsolable even when the angel showed up, so the angel kicked him in the side. “Get a hold of yourself man! God has sent me to rescue you! Let’s go, work to be done…”

Do you need a swift kick to get moving on what God is ready to do in your life? I often do. First-pray, pray hard and pray with others…that reminds me, February 25th we’re gathering to pray together as a church. 2-Don’t get so self-absorbed that you become non-functional. God may be ready to move in your life, but you’re too busy wallowing in self-pity. 3-Go! If God is kicking you in the side, you better move!

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Life Journal 6/17/09 How then shall you live?

Young folks especially READ ON!!

Reading Colossians 3 today as a part of my Life Journal reading (If you haven’t gotten a Life Journal yet, there are some on the way). I read in my NKJV but then popped in for a rare visit (at least these days) to the Message translation of this same chapter. Eugene Peterson brought some good paraphrasing to this particular chapter. Paul is laying out some basic standards for living as Jesus-followers. This ties in with Jesus’ teachings on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. If we have really given our lives to Jesus and accepted the love, grace and mercy available because of the cross and resurrection then Paul challenges us to truly change the way we live. I see this chapter especially poignant to young people. Our faith in the US has experienced somewhat of a backlash against religious legalism, and for the most part I’m all for it. There has been added “requirements” placed on Christ-followers that aren’t based in Scripture. This backlash has been especially true among young adults and teenagers. One of the things I love about Ephesus Church is the freedom to truly be ourselves. To be discipled and challenged and grow while not bogged down with false legalism and requirements.

However…there are some dangers to this new exploration of “freedom in Christ.” Taking it too far. As Christians we are called to righteousness in our thinking and our actions. Jesus sets this up in Matthew 5-7 and Paul continues it through much of his writings (probably because it’s all from God and is useful for teaching!), especially here in Colossians 3. Too often young people who are Christians push the envelope a little too far in how they live life. Too much drinking, too much “passion” (Col. 3.5), too much filthy language, etc. Another element that Eugene Peterson translates in the Message is good stuff: “killing off everything connected with that way of death:…doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it.” Then later, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men.”(both Colossians 3)

Young people, hear me, how are you going to live? Jesus is calling us all to more than just acceptance of the cross, He’s calling us to righteousness in every aspect of our lives. Live free, enjoy life, don’t get bogged down in legalism. Those of you that have hung out with me know I strive to live this way. BUT, there is a balance. Don’t be like the world just because you have “freedom.” Choose to live differently as Scripture challenges us to live differently in those areas of your life. Read and meditate on Colossians 3 and see if there are areas in your life where some shifts need to take place.

Game on!

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Life Journal for 6/3/2009

I’m going to journal from today’s Life Journal reading for today in a moment, but first I need to take a moment to say today marks the 9th anniversary of Casey and my wedding! Yippee! I’m so blessed to be married to such an amazing girl! She loves Jesus with all her heart, cares so deeply about other’s loving Jesus that it often leaves her in tears, loves our children deeply and is an AMAZING mother, smacks me around when I need it (which is often) and is truly an Ephesians 5 wife, plus she is super hot! We married in 2000, but met in 1998 completely by God’s sovereignty (I’m rather Calvinistic in that regard!) and in true Armininian style she decided to give me a shot. I love you Casey, and can’t wait for another 90! Now on to the journaling

Proverbs 26:20: Where there is no wood, the fire goes out.

This is such a short verse, in fact it is only half of the verse, kind of sitting there by itself as many of Solomon’s proverbs do. No other context around it. On it’s surface it seems rather Boy Scouts 101, but it caused me to stop as I read it this morning. Anyone who’s tried to start a fire AND keep it lit without the use of lighter fluid or Roman candles or in the brush of Southern California, knows the challenges of starting a fire. It requires fuel, wood. But it requires certain types of wood at strategic points to truly become a self-sustaining useful fire. Solomon is not talking about the intricacies of Smore creation, he’s talking about our spiritual life. The fire must stay lit, but it happens in stages. At the beginning small twigs and leaves, kindling are needed. They light fast and bright, but quickly burn out. Too often we stay at the kindling stage. We light fast and then burn out because kindling isn’t the right fuel for long-term “burning.” You have to step it up a notch and throw some medium sized sticks on there to get the heat level a little higher and longer-lasting. Once those begin to burn you move up even more to the big logs. Big logs take much longer to develop into useful fuel, but once there they burn hotter, longer, and much more usefully. Isn’t that our spiritual life? Personally and as the local church? We need to move from kindling to log burning if we’re going to sustain and be useful to God’s Kingdom purposes.

Kindling provides a quick bright flame that is exciting when we see it shoot up in the air, but it burns out so quickly if it isn’t used to get the next level of wood burning. It provides a great “show” but does not change the surrounding campsite. It doesn’t really provide useful warmth nor is it useful for cooking. Again, sticks will burn for a while, but aren’t the best for the long term. You’ve got to put in the work and effort to get the big logs burning, that’s where the true value in a fire is. We have to want to move past the kindling to the big logs. It’s work! It’s not as flashy as the initial burst of flame, but that’s where true growth happens. We should desire to burn long and hot and change our world, not just ourselves, just as there is a difference between a fire of kindling and healthy fire of logs. Otherwise, too quickly, the fire goes out.

Lord, let us be a people willing to put in the work to become logs in your fire. As individuals and as churches. I don’t want my fire, or the fire of Ephesus Church to go out. Lord I also pray for churches all over the world that we might all be challenged to become fires built on logs and not kindling. Amen.

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Losing my eyesight

This is my Life Journal entry for today, 12/26/08. You can pick up a Life Journal at the Connections Table in the Cafe at Ephesus. This would make an incredible start to the new year; start regular plan of reading through Scripture.

Psalm 119:82 “My eyes fail from searching Your word.” Again in verse 123, the Psalmist writes of losing his eyesight while reading Scripture.

Even in this day of glasses and top-notch optometry, many years of reading or staring at computer screens can cause a loss of strength in our eyesight. Here the Psalmist (most likely King David), talks of his eyesight failing as he reads and reads God’s Word to us. Throughout Psalm 119, he talks of digging through Scripture, making him wise, lighting his path, giving him truth, giving him cause to rejoice. And in this verse we see why, he is constantly reading the bible, so much so his eyesight is failing. This past week I took some time off over Christmas. My current favorite thing to do when I have some time to myself is fire up Netflix Instant Viewing library and watch random stuff I’d probably never take the time to rent. Several favorites of the past week: Seaquest, Magnum PI season 1 and the original BBC production of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which I think actually came out as a precursor to the book. In the midst of staring at my computer screen so much I got some vicious headaches. Which caused me to think of a couple of things, 1) I’m getting a little older, 2) Are these old TV shows worth my time and my eyesight! The psalmist is not complaining about the loss of his eyesight, he’s noting how committed he is to God’s Word. We give our eyes to so much…how much do I really commit to God’s Word.

I’m trying to diligently follow the reading plan in my Life Journal and journal as well. The last couple of weeks leading to Christmas I fell behind. This passage has convicted and inspired me to “lose my eyesight” in study of Scripture. I prepare sermons weekly and do a lot of Scripture reading as a part of that prep, but for me there is something necessary and personal in regular reading and reflection on God’s Word, to the point of losing my eyesight in that pursuit if necessary. 

Lord, I re-commit to the personal time between you and me in Your letter to me. If I’m to lose my eyesight, let it be as a result of so much time spent in Your Word!

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An Excerpt from my Journal

Over the last few weeks we’ve been talking a lot about journaling and regular bible reading at Ephesus. Today, I wanted to share my journal entry from this morning. I thought it would be cool to expound a little more on the concept of journaling by giving a peek to what I’m seeing God’s Word each day.

TITLE: Laws vs. Gifts

READING: Job 19; Mark 1,2

SCRIPTURE: Mark 2.27

OBSERVATION: Jesus is declaring the concept of Sabbath as a gift from God, not a legalistic requirement. Often we twist God’s gifts into rules and legal requirements. In that, they lose their beauty and “luster.” We have a mental block that goes up when something goes from being a gift to a requirement. We do the same thing with God’s Word. It’s a gift to us and instead we often view the bible as a kind of required summer reading that we try at all costs to avoid and put off until the last possible moment. Or we get the Cliff Notes, or bum answers from a friend. Too often we don’t explore it for ourselves.

APPLICATION: I want to start recognizing God’s gifts to us as opposed to seeing legal requirements. That’s a pat to spiritual deadness. The Jesus I follow loves us and has good gifts to give, if I will accept.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to see the gifts you give and not get hung up on apparent legal requirements. Jesus battled daily with legalism and won, help to walk in that victory.

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