Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weekend Prayer Request

I read these requests from a godly saint and want you to pray them for me (and each other):

To Abide in Christ
- In your thoughts: Supernatural application of what you know of Him filling your mind
- In your intentions: Sensitivity to the Spirit's leading to be purposeful in all you do
- In your words: Christlike encouragement and challenge to everyone you know
- In your emotions: To be filled up to full by the love that only Jesus can give
- In your character: That there would be no doubt who owns you and is fueling everything you do and others would give glory to Christ because of you

To Learn Something New About God
- In Scripture: To be amazed at God for an attribute of His in a new way and to love Him more because of it
- In someone else: To see the Holy Spirit at work in someone in a new way and to love Him more because of it
- In a cool situation: To watch God's love and power in action and to love Him more because of it

To Take on a New Challenge and Watch God Bless It
- In a relationship: To love someone new or deeper and see God work
- In a decision: To obey God in an act of faith and see God bless you in obedience

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Youth Leader: Kelly and Steve

I want to praise God for His work in their lives as a couple, specifically in three ways:

First, their faithful service. This is the sixth year that they have served in the middle school group. Many of us have trouble committing to even small things for six months, much less six years. Especially something as challenging and as demanding as Middle School ministry. Yet, they continue to serve. And not just serve in a well-they’re-a-warm-body kind of service, but they serve in a way that shows they see each child as one of God’s children. They could have checked out when they had a child. They could have checked out when they had a second child. They could have checked out when they had a third child. And they didn’t. They didn’t because they have their priorities right. They see that eternity is much more valuable then they’re comfort. And even though the easy road would be to find a less demanding ministry, they don’t. I look forward one day to standing before God as He shows Steve and Kelly the overwhelming treasure they will have in heaven because they served God with their lives.

Secondly, their discipleship. Jesus’ last words in the book of Matthew, before He went up to heaven, were this: “Go and make disciples”. Jesus’ last words weren’t: “Go and get a good job” or “Go, and find a ministry you like,” but “Go and make disciples”. Steve and Kelly live as if these words were spoken by Jesus—because they were. They are fiercely committed to discipleship. Discipleship can sound like a nice sounding church word, unless you’ve done it before. Then you realize that discipleship means loving those that are hard to love, serving when you don’t feel like it, bearing with folks who sin and need repentance, daily self-denial, and much, much prayer. Steve and Kelly know this, cause they do it. All the time. And they are phenomenal at this. And this is with the additional challenge that they’re pool of students changes 50% every year. The 8th graders move up to high school, the 5th graders move in, and yet Steve and Kelly pour themselves 100% into the students. Another quick thing, some people think that to reach young people you have to know their language, their “cool” culture, and be their buddy. Steve and Kelly don’t believe this lie. They model Christianity and pull students up to their level. This is real discipleship.

Thirdly, their others-focus. This ties into the last one, but bears its own 122 words worth of God-ward praise. Let me explain this about them by explaining what Steve and Kelly are not. Have you ever met someone who only wants to talk about themselves? They brag about accomplishments, regal you with boring personal stories, and jump all over questions you ask them about themselves. This is NOT Steve and Kelly. They are others-focused. They are so secure in God’s love for them, that it frees them to be totally about ministering to others. They are deeply interested in the person standing directly across from them and truly love others. When you talk with them, you feel cared for and ministered to and loved.

I could go on. Trust me. I could tell you how they do family-centered ministry at its finest. I could tell you about one of my favorite parts of their ministry—their ministry to the young adults of this church. I could tell you about the hundreds of little fun times I’ve had with them. I could tell you about how the church should have hired them instead of me. I could tell you about the special connection I will always share with them because of the car accident the three of us were in. But I won’t. You’ve already got more then enough to praise God for.

But I am grateful for them. Deeply grateful. And I look forward to, Lord-willing, continuing to serve with them and be friends with them for years to come.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Youth Leader: Steve and Kelly

Name: Steve and Kelly Schulz

Nickname: Stonewall, Kellsabells

Time in Youth Ministry: 5.5 years

Gifts: Leadership, Teaching, Administration, Encouragment, Wii Skills

Evidences of Grace: Steve and Kelly head up the middle school ministry here at the church. If you haven’t met them yet, you are missing out. If you have met them, you know they are a godly couple and that no one more capable could be heading up such an important ministry in the church.

Now I could go on and on about the individual ways that God’s grace is evident in their life. I could go on about how we are so blessed to have such a gifted couple here. I could tell you that Steve is a godly man, a perfect example for our young men to imitate. Sometimes, Bible characters can seem a long way off from a young man's reality. Steve provides a real life example for our 12-year-olds, 14-year-olds, and 16-year-olds to follow. I could tell you that God has supremely gifted him in teaching and Steve exercises this gift well. He teaches at a Middle School level with the teaching depth of a Pacesetter. I could tell you that God has given Steve the gift of administration, to lead and manage and organize a group while pulling everyone together. I could tell you how Steve is a gifted leader, someone who sees where the middle school group needs to be and is someone who takes the steps to bring them there.

I could tell you about Kelly. I could tell you how godly Kelly is, how she is soft to the Holy Spirit and quick to act in obedience to Him. I could tell you how she leads with kindness and care. I could tell you that she is hospitable and welcomes ministry into her home because her life is about Christ. I could tell you the tremendous welcome new students have when coming to the group for the first time. I could tell you how she reaches out with love and builds meaningful and spiritually-effective relationships with the students. I could tell you about all the women that go to her for counseling, help, prayer, support, fellowship, requests, words of affirmation, and the like. I could tell you how my future wife will have to be Kelly-approved.

But I won’t. I won’t tell you about those things. I want to praise God for His work in their lives as a couple, specifically in three ways. I'll tell you about them tomorrow.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Week In Review: Top Ten

10. Bucks Game--I went to the Milwaukee Bucks game and (courtesy of a friend) sat five rows from the court. Very exciting being that close--and the Bucks won.

9. Meeting with Roger--One of the highlights of my week is meeting with another guy leader from my Sunday night class and sharing Christ with them. This week I met with Roger Crum. This guy is a godly dude! He really encouraged me to love Jesus more.

8. ABF--TK taught high school class on Sunday and did an excellent job breaking down the difference between godly wisdom and worldly wisdom. He showed us how often the wisdom of the world slips into our thinking without us even noticing.

7. Youth Group--This last week in youth group, our small group broke down differences we have with people and how they keep us from loving people like Christ wants us to.

6. Dinner at Purdy's--I went over to the new restaurant in Sturtevant: Luann's Kitchen. She taught me how to make lasagna, and even better, I got to sample the lasagna she made.

5. Sleepover--Friday night, eight high school guys spent the night at the house. Three quick hits: We had an NBA Jam tournament, the guys ordered pizza that got delivered at 1:45am, and Goose and I went out and got Munchkins for breakfast.

4. Joe's Play--Saturday afternoon we got to see Joe Laumann star as the lead in a production of Schoolhouse Rock.

3. Christian Birthday--Highlight: I got to celebrate the third birthday of Christian Beilgard. Lowlight: He cried when others blew out the candles on his birthday cake.

2. Discussion on Care--Sunday night in class, we discussed how to confront others and how to care for others. I learned a ton about how to better handle difficult situations from some very wise people in youth ministry. Correcting others is a sensitive issue and starts as we daily confront sin in our own life.

1. Prayer and Fasting--Last Friday, a dozen high schoolers fasted from food for the day and spent the day praying for the youth group. It was such a blessing to see these students give up their Friday night to pray for their peers to seek the Lord's face.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lord’s Day 7: Heidelberg Catechism

Are all saved through Christ just as all were lost through Adam?

A20: No. Only those are saved who by true faith are grafted into Christ and accept all His blessings.

Q21: What is true faith?

A21: True faith is not only a knowledge and conviction that everything God reveals in His Word is true; it is also a deep-rooted assurance, created in me by the Holy Spirit through the gospel, that, out of sheer grace earned for us by Christ, not only others, but I too, have had my sins forgiven, have been made forever right with God, and have been granted salvation.

Q22: What then must a Christian believe?

A22: Everything God promises us in the gospel. That gospel is summarized for us in the articles of our Christian faith--a creed beyond doubt, and confessed throughout the world.

Q23: What are these articles?

A23: I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended to hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lord’s Day 6: Heidelberg Catechism

Q16: Why must He be truly human and truly righteous?

A16: God's justice demands that human nature, which has sinned, must pay for its sin; but a sinner could never pay for others.

Why must He also be truly God?

A17: So that, by the power of His divinity, He might bear the weight of God's anger in His humanity and earn for us and restore to us righteousness and life.

And who is this Mediator—true God and at the same time truly human and truly righteous?

A18: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was given us to set us completely free and to make us right with God.

Q19: How do you come to know this?

A19: The holy gospel tells me. God Himself began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise; later, He proclaimed it by the holy patriarchs and prophets, and portrayed it by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law; finally He fulfilled it through His own dear Son.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Top Ten: Cabin Fever

This last weekend, seven of us guys (me, Pete, Tim, Bryce, my dad, Tim's dad, and Ace) went up to the Haumersen family cabin. It was a blast, here's a top ten from the weekend:

10. Weather--Absolutely perfect. It was upper 70s during the day with a fantastic breeze off the lake. Night was (somehow) even better, dipping into the 50s--perfect for sleeping.

9. Sleeping--I slept very well last weekend. I shared the bunk house with Pete and Bryce. We shared the same mindset: sleep in until the cooks (pops, Pete H, and Ace) wake us up with breakfast. My queen futon was quite comfortable.

8. Sunset Kayak--The first evening, Tim took us on a sunset kayak ride across the lake. While navagiting around turtles, seaweed, and narrow passages, we watched a beautiful sunset go down over the water.

7. Swimming/Pontoon Boat--One big highlight was riding on the pontoon boat around the lake. Not only was this much easier than being the weak load on the two-man kayak with Tim, but we got to swim off the pontoon. No worries, though, I was safely secure in my adult lifejacket.

6. Powlison--A book that I brought along for the weekend and got to read from was Seeing With New Eyes, a book on counseling by David Powlison. Very helpful book on speaking God's truth into other's lives.

Food--Phenomenal. The three dads did a fantastic job in preparing food. Even in buying the food. Great food choices--with tons of food available at each meal. A sampling: made to order omlets, lasanga, cookout, snacks, and cake.

4. Lazy River--On Saturday, we went kayaking down a local river. Tim and I got to shoot the breeze while rowing past drunk tubers and other sketchy party groups. The river was very pretty and perfect for a Saturday afternoon ride.

Fish--Ace caught us some fish. Pete H showed me how to clean them and then let me have a try (I was terrible). Somehow, Pete H took my butchered work and made some very tasty fish out of it. Nothing like eating something that was alive minutes earlier.

2. Outdoor Shower--I loved this outdoor shower. To save filling the holding tank, a fenced-in outdoor was available. It was great. I felt like Lewis and Clark (except for the shampoo, soap, retractable shower head, temperature control, hot water, and fenced in part).

1. Prayer/Worship--It is really a shame that I don't pray more with other Christians. This last weekend, we met together and prayed. We read Scripture together, shared requests/praises/attributes of God, and prayed for each other (and others!) a lot. We even were led in singing by Tim and Bryce.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lord's Day 5: Heidelberg Catechism

Q12: According to God's righteous judgment we deserve punishment both in this world and forever after: How then can we escape punishment and return to God's favor?

A12: God requires that His justice be satisfied. Therefore the claims of His justice must be paid in full, either by ourselves or another.

Q13: Can we pay this debt ourselves?

A13: Certainly not. Actually, we increase our guilt every day.

Q14: Can another creature--any at all--pay this debt for us?

A14: No. To begin with, God will not punish another creature for what a human is guilty of. Besides, no mere creature can bear the weight of God's eternal anger against sin and release others from it.

Q15: What kind of Mediator and Deliverer should we look for then?

A15: One who is truly human and truly righteous, yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Top Ten: Last Week of Summer 2010

The following post is a top ten list from the last week of summer (unofficially August 15-21):

10. Salt-and-Light Season--Our final game of the year was last Thursday. The relationships on the team go beyond just playing a game together. The prayer, accountability, and encouragement are all huge parts of every Thursday night in the summer.

9. Drew in Seminary--Drew spent the week in Indiana...starting seminary! God has laid a passion for His people on Drew's heart and Drew is faithfully obeying his God to serve Him with his life.

8. Psalm 34--In youth group on Wednesday, we studied Psalm 34. We talked about: communal worship, tasting and seeing the goodness of God, and clinging to God's character in times of trial.

7. Ikea Run--Cortney, Luann, and Bryce came with me to Ikea last Tuesday and helped fill my house with furniture. Not only were they a blast to hang out with, but they have an eye for what looks good together in a living room.

6. Rob Druktenis Party--Saturday we had a party at Rob's house. He threw the party to celebrate God's goodness to his family in providing Rob with a new job. What a great, biblical thing to do--celebrate God!

5. Fantasy Football Party--I closed the week with what probably can be classified as the nerdiest event of the year...the fantasy football draft. We had three pizzas, 4 packs of soda, and taco dip. What more do you need?

4. Worldliness--On Sunday in youth group, we talked about how worldliness slowly creeps into our lives and causes us to drift from God. What excited me was to hear how students are going to make specific changes to their life to fight worldliness. Especially encouraging was hearing how students were encouraging one another in the fight.

3. Lunch with Tim--I got to eat lunch with a good friend during the week and he encouraged me in my walk with the Lord. Tim is a good brother who loves Jesus and is faithful to obey Him. I was blessed in meeting with him.

2. High School Leaders Meeting--I am excited about the upcoming year of youth ministry. Friday night we gathered at the Purdy's house (Luann made A+ food...again). We talked about our hearts, the direction of the group, and the changes we'll make for next year. God has brought some of His best children to serve in the youth group. Its going to be a good year.

1. Prayer--Most of all, I am grateful for prayer. I am grateful God hears prayer. I am grateful that even when I'm not always with the people I love, I can always pray for them. I am grateful that my friends pray for me. I need it. Badly. God is so good and I am grateful for the way I can love others through prayer.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lord's Day 4: Heidelberg Catechism

Q9: But doesn't God do us an injustice by requiring in His law what we are unable to do?

A9: No, God created humans with the ability to keep the law. They, however, tempted by the devil, in reckless disobedience, robbed themselves and all their descendants of these gifts.

Q10: Will God permit such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished?

A10: Certainly not. He is terribly angry about the sin we are born with as well as the sins we personally commit. As a just judge He punishes them now and in eternity. He has declared: 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law'.

Q11: But isn't God also merciful?

A11: God is certainly merciful, but He is also just. His justice demands that sin, committed against His supreme majesty, be punished with the supreme penalty--eternal punishment of body and soul.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Great Commission

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. --Matthew 28.19-20

The above paragraph ends the book of Matthew and summarizes the work Jesus calls His disciples to do. These two verses are called the "Great Commission" because these are the final words of Jesus to His disciples before He ascends to heaven.

Since they are His last words they must be important. And they are. Here, Jesus commands His followers to make disciples. This is to be the life's work of those who claim the name of Christ. They are to spend their days making disciples of other people.

This involves sharing the Gospel, baptizing new believers into the faith, and teaching them from the Bible. Discipleship is at the heart of the teaching of New Testament and should be at the heart of every Christian.

Every believer should have disciple-making as his or her top priority. How are you doing at bringing others along in the faith? How are you at sharing the Gospel with those who haven't heard? How are you at talking about God's Word with those who need spiritual encouragement and influence from you?

This is what I want my life to be about. I want to make disciples. I want to see young men and young women know and follow and love Jesus. I want to make disciples. I want to build up and teach others to pursue Jesus and walk with Him more closely.

Here's the problem: I can't do it.

One of the biggest things I've learned over the last year is that I can't do it. I can't make disciples. I can't change people's hearts. I've tried. It doesn't work. I can't do it.

How could Jesus command us--in His final words no less--to do something that we can't do? Because of v. 20.

In v.20, Jesus assures His followers that He will be with them always. I can't change people's hearts. I can't make people love Jesus more. I can't make people more spiritually mature.

But Jesus can.

Believing that Jesus can change people is humbling. Believing that God alone changes hearts requires faith and trust. Believing that you can't do the work robs you of the glory and gives it to God.
What I need more of in my life is brokenness. I need to recognize that God, and God alone, does the work of changing people. It isn't so much about my gifts, my skills, my personality, my training, my experience, or my persuasion. Believing this will humble me and force me to rely on God and abide in Christ. Believing this will also stir my heart to greater diligence in making disciples because Christ is with me...always.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Top Ten: This is Next 2010

This post is about the trip Drew, Amy, Tim and I took to Baltimore for This is Next 2010.

10. Meeting (again) Kevin DeYoung--I have a choking problem. When I get around Kevin DeYoung, I can't speak. Met him, he said he remembered me and Drew, and Drew and he went on to have a nice conversation. I...couldn't...speak. My friend Miley wrote a poem about my interaction with him:

The last time I freaked out,
I just kept looking down,
I st-st-stuttered when you asked me
what I was thinkin about
Felt like I couldn't breathe,
you asked me what was wrong with me

The next time we hang out,
I will redeem myself
My heart it can't rest til then
ooh, whoa, whoa I can't wait to see you again

9. Keith Green--The theme song of this trip was Keith Green's song "The Sheep and the Goats." Convicting and Funny. Really funny.

8. Midnight Swim--The first night we camped in a state park in Ohio. They had a sweet lake, but swimming wasn't open until the next day. So, we waited until midnight, and jumped in for a really nice "swim".

7. Facing the Giants--Amy and I sat in the backseat for the trip and decided to watch the smash hit Christian film "Facing the Giants". So much unintentional comedy. I highly recommend this movie for its clean content and priceless cheesy moments.

6. Prank Calls--Last conference I was at, I was prank called in the middle of the night. This time I thought I'd turn the tables. So, Tim and I prank called Drew and Amy (in the next room). We thought it worked, but our school-girl-giggling was heard and we were found out.

5. The Contest--We made a little game out of the conference, coming up with ten questions and trying to guess the right answer. We guessed things like: what will Bob wear on the first night, to will Amy get asked out (by an over-eager male attender) to what our hotel room number would be. Amy won the contest with 6 out of 10 points.

4. Welcome to Baltimore--We pulled into the city and started the tedious search for cheap, close city parking. We pulled into a random lot that charged $15. We decided to check out other options and, on the way out of the lot, the parking attendant came up to Drew's window and warned, "Be careful out there!" Guess Baltimore has a crime problem...

3. Calling Bob Kauflin--Drew really, really appreciates Bob Kauflin's work, ministry, style of dress, mannerisms, taste in foods, and haircut. Bob led us in music during the weekend and led us well (see below). On the drive out, we planned on camping in eastern Ohio. Amy suggested that it would be sweet to camp out, not in Ohio, but in Bob Kauflin's front yard. After some internet searching, we found Bob's home address and number online! I called, leaving a message. He didn't call back. Several days later at the conference, Tim talked to Bob following a session. Tim mentioned he was from Wisconsin. Bob asked from where in Wisconsin. Tim said Racine. Bob asked, "Do you know a Dan Miller..." and went on to talk about the voicemail and said the next time we were in town, we should drop by!

2. Music--Worshipping God with other believers is unlike anything else in the world. There is nothing like hearing God's Word being preached, growing (by the Spirit) into a deeper understanding and love for God, and then praising Him with other believers. We were made for this. In fact, this is what eternity will be like.

1. Sermons--The sermons at this conference were outstanding. At most conferences that I have been to, some stand out, others are forgettable. Not at Next. All 7 were outstanding. The best one was by Kevin DeYoung on the subject of the church. He preached on loving the church and serving hard in the local church. One real quick application: There are several things that can discourage you about local church life. The church makes decisions you think are dumb, the "minors" of the church can get too much attention, and people don't grow as fast or as much or in the ways that we want. DeYoung reminded us that hopelessness is motivation and a reminder to pray. All of the disappointments (significant or not) should be signs that point us to pray.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Lord's Day 3: Heidelberg Catechism

Q6: Did God create people so wicked and perverse?

A6: No. God created them good and in His own image, that is, in true righteousness and holiness, so that they might truly know God their creator, love Him with all their heart, and live with Him in eternal happiness for His praise and glory.

Q7: Then where does this corrupt human nature come from?

A7: From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise. This fall has so poisoned our nature that we are born sinners--corrupt from conception on.

Q8: But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil?

A8: Yes, unless we are born again, by the Spirit of God.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lord's Day 2: Heidelberg Catechism

Q3: How do you come to know your misery?

A3: The law of God tells me.

Q4: What does God's law require of us?

A4: Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew 22--"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Q5: Can you live up to all this perfectly?

A5: No. I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor.

The Gospel --> I am a sinner who cannot please God.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lord's Day 1: Heidelberg Catechism

Q1: What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A1: That I am not my own, but belong--body and soul, in life and in death--to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

Q2: What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?

A2: Three things: first, how great my sin and misery are; second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery; third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.

The Gospel--> Guilt, Grace, Gratitude

Saturday, March 27, 2010

5 Quick Reasons for Joy

5. In Christ, I don't have to despair about my constant sin. "And from Jesus' fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." John 1.16

4. In Christ, God graciously gives me all things. "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?" Romans 8.32

3. In Christ, I stand before God perfect. "For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified." Hebrews 10.14

2. In Christ, my sins have been washed away. "Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven." Matthew 9.2

1. In Christ, my name is written in heaven. "Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Luke 10.20

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Top Ten: Spring Training

This past weekend, I traveled to Phoenix with Rob and Wayne. We spent time hanging out with the Brewers and relaxing in the sun. Here's a top ten list:

10. In-N-Out--On the final night of our trip, we had dinner at In-N-Out. Rob had never had eaten there before. After tasting it, Rob said: "This tastes exactly like George Webb."

9. Fellowship--Wayne got to spend time with several players, encouraging them in their walks with Jesus. One of them in particular recently professed faith and is really excited to grow. It is always really cool to spend time with other believers.

8. Sermon--Sunday night we went to church and heard a great sermon on God's work in salvation. The pastor preached unconditional election and limited atonement without ever saying those terms. I'm blessed to often be able to hear God's Word explained simply and clearly.

7. Tim Dillard--Friday night, we hung out with Brewers pitcher Tim Dillard. He is a cool brother, who does a hilarious impression of Harry Caray. We had a blast hanging out with him at Wayne's favorite coffee place--Tully's.

6. Brewers Game--We got great seats to the Brewers' games every day. Spring training games are more fun than regular season games--just a more fun crowd and more enjoyable atmosphere. It helped that the Brewers won every day we were there, too.

5. Dinner with the Hanels--After the game on Saturday, Rob and I ate dinner with the Hanel family. We sat around the pool, ate a well-prepared dinner, and just enjoyed a perfect Arizona night.

4. Early Flight--Friday morning, I wanted to catch an earlier flight to Arizona, but the flight was full. God graciously opened up a seat on the early flight.

3. Prodigal God--While waiting for my flight home on Tuesday, I finished the book "The Prodigal God" by Tim Keller. This is a great book, describing the joy of God and detailing the subtle sins that creep into our lives. I had to constantly repent while reading.

2. Weather--No clouds. 70s. Sunscreen. Shorts. Very nice.

1. Hotel--Single funniest moment (only to me, I think). We had just gotten to our hotel and we were walking down the hall looking for our room. When we got to our room, the maid had the door open a crack and was spraying some kind of "freshner" into the room and onto the carpet. Wayne tried to crack a joke as we stood there waiting for her to finish. He asked: "Did someone just throw up in here?" The maid just nodded and walked away.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ten Ways: Worship in Trial

But when Jesus heard it He said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that Lazarus was ill, He stayed two days longer in the place where He was. (John 11.4-6)

You want to see God work? You want to know God in a deeper way than you ever have before? Then you need to see the glory of God!

One final way that the glory of God can be seen in your life is if you worship God during hard times. If you rejoice in the Lord, singing praises to Him--when life is tough--you will see the glory of God.

It should be relatively easy for a child of God to praise his or her Father in good times. When you meet someone you love, and you get married. When you want to get pregnant, and you have a child. When you're short on funds, and money shows up. When you want to do things, and your health is good. When you feel down, and friends show up.

It can be harder, however, for a believer to worship God when he or she is in trial, in suffering, or in difficulty. Maybe the last thing you feel like singing about is God's love, when you feel rejected. Or God's sovereignty, when life seems to be swirling out of control. Or God's holiness, when sin around you seems so prevalent.

God calls us to know Him and be close to Him. He is sovereign. He is in complete control. He knows everything. He is all-powerful. And He loves us. He is working all things for good. He lives for His glory (which is our joy).

The above story illustrates this so clearly. Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. A lot. Strikingly to us, when He hears that Lazarus is sick, He doesn't rush to Lazarus' side to heal him. Rather He lets Lazarus die (v. 6), for the glory of God (v. 4).

He loves Mary, Martha, and Lazarus so much that He lets Lazarus die--so that God would be glorified. This is hard for me to understand. Piper helps when he says: "Love is doing whatever you need to do to help people see and savor the glory of God in Christ forever."

Jesus was working so that God would be glorified, so that the three siblings would love Jesus even more, and so that even greater good would come.

Rather than complain, whine, despair, and get frustrated at God for our misunderstandings of what He is doing, we ought to be trusting our God and worshipping Him, even when we can't see the outcome.

God calls His people to a life of faith. (Understatement coming...) God has a good track record. He keeps His Word.

Even if we never received one more good gift from God for the rest of our earthly life, we would still have enough (in Christ) to worship, rejoice, and love God forever.

Worshipping God in trial is the mark of a believer. He gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ten Ways: Witness

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come preaching to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” --1 Corinthians 2.1-5

We want to see the glory of God. We want to see God at work. We want fuel for our Christian life. The 9th way: Witness.

Share your faith. Tell someone else about Jesus. Tell someone the good news. If you claim to be a Christian, you should know the Gospel. You should know the message that saved you.

Here's the Gospel in a sentence from John Piper: The Gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, died for our sins and rose again, eternally triumphant over all His enemies, so that there is now no condemnation, for those who believe, but only everlasting joy.

This is the good news we are to preach. You don't have to know the ins-and-outs of the creation/evolution debate, you don't need to have the end times all figured out, and you don't have to have the minds of Tim Keller, Cornelius Van Til, and C.S. Lewis all rolled into one. You just need to know and believe the good news. That's it.

The reason a lot of Christians don't share their faith is fear. They're afraid of people or afraid of the unknown, or afraid they'll mess something up. From the above verses, we can see Paul was afraid when he shared the Gospel. It says he came in weakness and fear and much trembling. Sounds like a lot of us. Weakness. Fear. Much Trembling. In spite of his fears, Paul was compelled to preach. Though he had fear, he prayed that God would give him boldness. He didn't wait for his fear to subside, he prayed and he witnessed.

Even if you're not the most eloquent speaker, God still wants you to share your faith. You don't need to have a slick sales pitch or be really great at speaking in front of groups (again, see verses above). God is the One who saves people and changes people's hearts. Its not up to us. Its not up to you. God just wants us to preach the Gospel--Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

I need to get better at sharing my faith--telling other people about Jesus. Every time I have, I get the biggest boost of joy and faith. I'm so excited to be a Christian and I so believe God exists and loves me. I get these feelings regardless of the reaction of the person I was witnessing to.

You want to see God's glory? Get out of your comfort zone (aka: your selfish, prideful, fleshly zone) and share your faith.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ten Ways: Stay in One Book

You want to see the glory of God? You want to see God at work and know Him better? Do you want to be changed by beholding His glory?

An eighth way to see God's glory is to spend significant time in one book of the Bible. Pick a book and read through it (or part of it) every day.

While it is beneficial to read through any part of the Bible, there is real profit in spending time in one book. God commands His people to meditate on His Word. Meditation involves thinking about what one has read: what it means, how it fits with the rest of the Scripture, and how it applies to your life. Without meditation, God's Word often seems boring, irrelevant, or ineffective.

Meditation deepens our walk with God. God's Word is no longer just another line on our daily checklist, it involves the whole of our being. We think about it when we are in the car, we see its meaning in our relationships with others, and we have it in our minds when temptation comes.

Some people get only a little out of their time in the Bible because they fail to meditate on what God's Word says. They bounce around God's Word, getting bits and pieces of it, while failing to dwell on what they have read.

By spending time in one book--and really soaking in God's Word--meditation on God's Word is more natural. If you spend a month (or more) reading the same book, you'll better see how powerful and meaningful God's Word is.

I spent time in 2009 trying this. Every day in my time with God from March through August I spent time in 1 Peter. Some days I would read through the whole book, some days I would read through just a paragraph. It changed my life. Really.

The first week was great. I was seeing new things, having verses pop out at me, and enjoying the freshness of the book.

The next week was a little harder. Some days I would read 1 Peter and say, "I just read this yesterday. I don't know if I learned anything new."

Then, slowly, the book really came to life. I started seeing the flow of what Peter was talking about. I saw little connections between some of the verses. Parts were becoming familiar. I was unintentionally beginning to memorize what I was reading.

It just kept getting deeper. Sundays were deeper: I'd hear sermons from other parts of the Bible and see the relation to 1 Peter. Worship was deeper: Themes like salvation and forgiveness in 1 Peter meant more as I sang or praised God. Fellowship was deeper: Talking with friends about what God was teaching them from 1 Peter and being blown away at how rich God's Word is. Prayer was deeper: I knew how to pray for people--I'd pray verses for them right from 1 Peter.

Soaking in God's Word had such a powerful effect on me last year, I'm doing it again this year. I'm reading through the Gospel of John. Its harder to read through all in one sitting, but reading about Jesus is fantastic.

So, if you want to see God's glory, soak in His Word.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ten Ways: Pray Because You Need To

You want to see the glory of God? Then you need to pray.

Prayer is one of those obvious things in the Christian life. We all know we should do it. It doesn't cost us anything to do it and its pretty easy to pray. Yet, I haven't met too many people who would give themselves an "A" for their prayer life.

One of the biggest reasons we don't pray more is because we don't believe. If we really thought prayer worked, if we really thought we desperately needed to pray all the time, if we really believed we were weak creatures who had a special link to the God of the universe, we would pray more.

Pastor Kevin DeYoung wrote a blog post about this topic and it really hit home for me. If you've got two minutes, check it out.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ten Ways: Visitation

You want to deepen your walk with God, obey Him, and grow in your love for His Son Jesus? Then you need to see God's glory at work!

Another way to see God's glory in your life (today!) is to do visitation. You can visit someone from your local church who is in the hospital, bed-ridden, or unable to get out from where they live.

These senior saints are older and often failing in health, but they have much to offer the body of Christ. They have ample time to pray and some of them pray--literally--hours a day. Some have walked with Jesus for 30, 50, or 70 years or more and are a great source of encouragement to those who are younger.

By spending even 30 minutes with them, sharing what God is teaching you, and praying together, both you and the one you are visiting will be encouraged. I have gone in to visit people, hoping to brighten their day. More often than not, I have left encouraged, joyful, and having had my day brightened by them.

If it seems uncomfortable for you to visit someone you don't know alone, bring some friends and go as a group. Many older saints/shut-ins struggle with loneliness and are unable to get out of the house to even come to church. Having some younger, growing followers of Jesus drop by will encourage them and build them up.

Ask to hear their testimony of how God saved them, have them share with you stories of God's faithfulness in their life, and have them pray for you. It won't be long in your visit before you are seeing God's glory at work.

Book Log: February 2010

1. John Piper. Finally Alive. 160 pages. Christian Focus Press. One of my favorite books. Piper makes clear what it means to be saved--breaking it down for us to understand. This book gave me a deeper love for the gospel, a greater sense of who God is (and thus, I can worship God more richly), and motivated me for evangelism.

2. Francis Chan. Crazy Love. 192 pages. David C. Cook Press. This was a great book--challenging me in areas of my lukewarmness and giving me a better sense of God's love for me. I really appreciated the online videos that went with the chapters--really worthwhile.

3. D.A. Carson. Call to Spiritual Reformation. 230 pages. Baker Academic Press. Great book on prayer. This helped me to pray richer, fuller, more expectant prayers. I often struggle with what to pray for people. This book showed me how to better use Scripture in praying for others.

4. Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney. Jonathon Edwards on True Christianity. 160 pages. Moody Publishers. Really challenging. These two authors take 18th century preacher Jonathon Edwards sermons and admonish the present-day readers to take his words seriously. This book focused on nominal Christianity--where people claim the name of Jesus, but don't have His fruit in their life.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Promise

And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Romans 8.28-29

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ten Ways: Pray Consistently

Do you want to see God's glory and see your life dramatically transformed by Him? Then you've got to pray consistently. Pray repeatedly. For the same thing. Every day. Again and again.

For the rest of 2010, pick one request. Maybe for a character trait in you or a friend. Maybe for somebody's salvation. Maybe for resolution to a problem.

And watch God work.

See what Jesus says about it:

Whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14.13)

If you ask me anything in My name, I will do it (John 14.14)

If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you (John 15.7)

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you (John 15.16)

In that day you will ask nothing of Me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you (John 16.23)

Until now, you have asked for nothing in My name, ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full (John 16.24)

James 4.2 says that we don't have because we don't ask. Luke 11 tells us that God wants to give us good gifts. Luke 18 tells us that we are to be persistent in prayer and not lose heart.

But we get impatient. We want God to hurry. We pray and things get worse. We pray and don't see progress. Maybe we even develop a bitterness towards God for promising and not delivering.

Isaiah 5.19 says: "Woe to those who say: 'Let Him be quick. Let Him speed His work that we may see'."

Pray and be persistent (Luke 18.1). Wait on the Lord and you'll never be put to shame (Psalm 25.3). God is working even when we don't see it (Habakkuk 1.5).

Pray. You'll see God's glory and you'll be changed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ten Ways: Fast

You want to bring glory to God's name? You don't just want to profess to be a Christian, but you want to love and enjoy God? You've got to see God's glory.

A fourth way of doing this is by fasting. Fasting is the voluntary denial of a normal thing for a spiritual purpose. Being punished and having your car keys taken away isn't fasting (fasting is voluntary). If you don't eat broccoli, you can't give it up and call it fasting (fasting is from a normal part of your life). And if you give up soda because you are on a diet, it isn't fasting (fasting is for a spiritual purpose).

In America, we live in a society that never says no. Just do it. Have it your way. If you can afford it, buy it. We indulge ourselves in every possible luxury at every possible turn. We love comfort. We love more. We love stuff.

Fasting teaches us to deny our impulses. In short, fasting teaches us to say "no."

Just look at King David. He slowly built a harem for himself. Even though God's law taught one man and one woman, David followed in step with the other kings of the times and added wife upon wife. He got used to saying yes. He got used to indulging in physical pleasure. He got used to doing what he wanted to do. Then, he saw Bathsheba. He was so used to saying yes to his desire for women, his sin was almost inevitable.

Fasting can be an expression of finding your greatest pleasure and joy in this life from Jesus. It shows that seeking God is more important to you than: ____________.

Of course, denying the flesh doesn't save us or even grow us. God does that. But, we can use fasting to show that we do love God most. That knowing Him is our highest pursuit. That following Him is our greatest desire.

In the Bible, fasting involved giving up food for a time. That's a great way to start. Skip a meal, like lunch, and spend that time praying. Have a goal in mind when you fast. Don't just skip a meal and hope God zaps you. Pray for an unsaved friend, pray for a sin you are struggling with, or cast a trial/care on Him.

Another type of fasting could be for a season of time. Giving up the Internet, the movies, or sports would be a great way to carve out more time in your schedule for prayer.

You want to see God's glory? You want to see God work? Fast.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Being Sick to the Glory of God...

I got sick recently. It wasn't too bad, but sickness is sickness. Doesn't feel good. It did give me time to think about how I could be sick to the glory of God.

1. Reminds us that we are mortal: Illness is one of the best things for remembering that we do not live forever. When we are healthy, especially if we are young, we take every day for granted. We assume we will wake up tomorrow. We assume life like this will go on forever. Illness reminds us how weak and frail we really are. We really are a mist that vanishes and we really do fade like the flower. "For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now" (Romans 8.22)

2. Reminds us of our default selfishness: Selfishness is always a struggle for us. Especially so when we are sick. Our friends and family turn into butlers and maids who should do our every bidding. No one should expect anything from us, because, after all, we are sick. As difficult as it can be to be others-centered when sick, we must fight through the selfishness and look for ways to serve others. "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2.4)

3. Provides a time and reason for prayer: When sick, you probably have unexpected free time in your schedule. Use this time for prayer. Jesus beckons us to pray, so that the Father can answer our requests (John 14:13; 14:14; 15:7; 15:16; 16:23; 16:24). Prayer gives us this opportunity. While you may feel as you lie on the couch or in bed that you are accomplishing very little of your to-do list, God has provided you the chance to accomplish much in the spiritual realm. Pray. "You do not have because you do not ask" (James 4.2)

4. Reminds us of our dependance: Once we hit about sixteen, we feel pretty autonomous. We feel pretty independent. We forget just how dependent on God we are. Sickness cripples our own abilities and functions, showing us our need for Him. Jesus wants us to have child-like faith, always relying on the Father for needs, life, and desires. "Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18.4)

5. Reminds us of the gospel: We shouldn't need to be reminded of the gospel. I sin just about every second, so that alone should keep my mind fixed on the gospel. The fact that the "good news" is the greatest news in the history of the world should keep my mind fixed on the gospel. But I forget. So, God uses sickness to remind me of the gospel. We are all sick with sin--an incurable disease--that leads to eternal death. There was no cure, but One. Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, taking our wages of sin on Himself. Death, guilt, judgment, being an enemy of God, being a slave to sin--all gone through Jesus. In our sanctification, as we struggle with sin, we look forward to heaven. We look forward to being with the Great Physician. We look forward to the place where there will be no more sickness, where we will be seated with Jesus forever. This is the good news of the gospel. "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall their be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21.4)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Top Ten: Leaders Retreat 2010

Last weekend, some of the youth leaders went up to Fort. We prayed, served, loved, laughed, and got sick. Here's the top ten...

10. Pioneer Restaurant--For the first time (ever), we ate at the Pioneer Restaurant. This restaurant has no known claim to fame. However, our group annually stops to take pictures with the statue in front of the restaurant. This is a tradition we have done with the Project Serve group the last four years. Below, is my first picture of the statue eight years ago (apparently when I thought: I could grow long hair, I was the coolest person on earth (see: the pose) and when I was 200 pounds lighter).

9. Safety Force--TK did a great job of taking a simple privilege that Fort had given him (walkie-talkie) and abusing it. He was told the walkie-talkie was only for use in an emergency/medical situation as he watched the tube hill. Instead, he used talkie to make jokes, cry wolf, and radio in for hot chocolate. Below is a picture of a girl who went down the tube hill without shoes because TK told her "that's the rules":

8. Ace's Uncontrollable Laughter--On Saturday night, Ace lost it. He could not stop laughing. Didn't matter what was being talked about, he couldn't stop. This, of course, caused the rest of us to start laughing. Fact: We weren't very productive during that devotion time.

7. Unity--One thing that I am so thankful to God about is the leaders. God has so blessed the youth ministry and me personally with a great staff of leaders. God has brought men and women with different backgrounds, personalities, and gifts to serve. It amazes me how well these people work together, how they encourage one another in Jesus, and how they are so content for God (and not them) to get the glory. Winners: God (he gets the glory), Me (I get blessed), and the students in the youth group (they see Jesus through them).

6. Don Francisco--As we were taking a rather boring ride to Fort, Bryce got the great idea to listen to Don Francisco as we drove. Soon, the whole van was chanting, "Don Fran-cis-co" and there was nothing I could do but happily oblige.

5. John 15--Over the weekend, we studied John 15 together. This is a wonderful chapter, with many rich themes. Sunday morning, we sat together and discussed things like: God answers prayer, the importance of abiding in Christ, what pruning looks like, the love of God, obedience, real joy, loving others, and the Holy Spirit. These leaders shared deep truths they saw and also how God was working in their lives. Exciting stuff!

4. Banquet Dinner--Lobster. Steak. Moose something-or-other. 'nuff said.

3. One-on-Ones--I got a chance to sit down with several of the leaders and talk to them about how things were going in ministry. I went in wanting to encourage them as they served. I left being encouraged. They love God. They love the students. They are willing to serve God in any way to see that the students grow.

2. Ace's Comeback--Tom, the camp's head honcho, came into the room where all of us leaders were eating to greet our group. He, apparently, was a friend of Ace's and decided to take the opportunity to embarrass Ace in front of his friends. Mistake. What resulted was the single greatest comeback ever witnessed live.

Tom: Hey, I didn't know they let old guys like you up to Fort.
Ace: Look at you.
Tom: Well, at least I'm better looking.
Ace: That's not what your wife said.
Tom: (leaves room)


1. Prayer Time--The best part of the weekend was how it ended. We spent time praying for ourselves, each other, and the group as a whole. There is something about praying together with other believers that is so refreshing. This was one of those times.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ten Ways: Read a Book

"So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' And he said, 'How can I, unless someone guides me?' And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him." --Acts 8.30-31

Do you really want to know God more deeply? Do you want to grow in passion for God? Then you need to see God's glory! You need to see how great God is!

One way to to do that is to read a book. For most people "reading" and "fun" don't belong in the sentence. Maybe you don't feel like you're very good at reading, maybe you don't know any good books, or maybe you've been force-fed a steady diet of Shakespeare, Hawthorne, and Chaucer to the point that you think all books are written in unintelligible old English.

Reading in general has its benefits, but that's not a way to see God's glory. To see God's glory, read books about Jesus by authors who really love Him. These kind of books help us to better understand the Bible. They take truth from God's Word and help us to understand it and do it. They magnify Christ, cause us to more deeply appreciate the gospel, and help us to live holy Christian life.

I want to recommend three books, two that have really changed my life (and helped me to see God's glory) and one that has really changed other people's lives (and that I want to read this month).

1. The Gospel According to Jesus--I read this book when I was in high school and it gave me a totally new understanding of what it means to be saved. I read it when I was a new Christian and it blew me away to learn that not everyone who says they are a Christian really is one. The chapter that still sticks out to me is on the parable of the soils. Dr. MacArthur explains that only the fourth soil--the soil that actually produces fruit--is a believer. This encouraged me to talk to other students in the youth group about their walks with God and to challenge them with their need to repent.

2. Living the Cross-Centered Life--This book is written by CJ Mahaney, who breaks down the gospel--what God has done for us. Each chapter makes you stop to thank God for His wonderful gift of salvation. The best part of the book is the end, when he explains how the gospel is essential for everything in the Christian life. The gospel is the basis for our prayer life, is at the heart of our hope for the end times, and is the foundation for human relationships. We can never fully appreciate the gospel, but this book helps us better stand in awe of the God who won this salvation for us.

3. Crazy Love--I haven't read this book yet, but hopefully it will be on the February book log. Several people in the church, and several more in the youth group, have been really encouraged to walk more obediently because of Pastor Chan's book. God calls His children to live radically holy lives--totally distinct from the world. This book is a push/encouragement towards that end.

I hope that you take time this month to read one of these books. There are many others that I could add to the list, but these are three of the best. I want to know God and see His glory. And what better way than learning from three great men of God and hearing how they've seen God's glory?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ten Ways: Give Money

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also"--Matthew 6.21

You want to be on fire? You want to know God more deeply, love Him more fully, and enjoy Him more richly? Then you need to see God's glory. One way you can see God's glory is to spend time with every day. Another way is pretty simple, give money to God.

Why Give? We are naturally greedy, especially in America. God has blessed us with so much and, yet, we want more. We confuse needs and wants. We are materialistic, covetous, and discontent.

While the Bible is clear about the sinfulness and deceit of greed, we don't see in ourselves. We don't see the problem. We don't see how it affects our relationship with God.

But, it does. Jesus said that where your treasure (read: money) is, there your heart will be also. You can claim to love Jesus. You can claim that Jesus has first place in your heart. You can claim that God is your top priority.

But the proof is found in how you use your money. Does your money show that your priority is God and His Kingdom or that your priority is Yourself and Your Kingdom? Do you look forward to giving? Do you seek out ways that you can give to God? Do you give at all?

So, take a look at how you spend your money. It will be a good test to see where your heart is.
Essential Way 1: Give to Your Local Church
God has specially designed the Church (read: Bride of Christ) to represent Jesus, magnify God, build up the saints, and preach the truth.

As you can see, God views the church highly. You should too. God wants you to give to the local church to support this ongoing ministry. Your offering helps heat the building, support the pastors (thanks!), and funds world-wide missions. Give, and give generously.

Essential Way 2: Creatively Be Generous to Others
Obvious Statement 1: Instead of always spending your money on yourself, spend it on others. Obvious Statement 2: After all, God's the One who gave you that money in the first place.
Obvious Statement 3: Other people will really like it if you are generous to them.

Five quick ideas:
- pay for everyone when you go out to eat
- buy a friend a book you like
- pick up a nice gift for your folks
- over-tip
- get someone a gift card and slip it to them anonymously

Result of Giving: Joy! (Don't believe me? Try it!)

Few things break the power of greed in your life like giving...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ten Ways: QT Every Day

"Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation--if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good." --1 Peter 2.2-3

I don't want to be lukewarm. I don't want to live a lame, hypocritical Christian life. I really want to love Jesus. To do so, I need to see the glory of God regularly. One of the best ways to see God's glory at work in your life is to spend time with God. A lot of time. Like, every day.

If you really are a Christian, if you really have passed from death to life, if you really love Jesus, won't you spend time with Him? It seems like in some Christians this most basic, foundational part of life is missing.

Peter says that we are to long for God's Word. We are to desire God's Word. Like a baby craves food, we are to crave God and how He's revealed Himself--through His Word.

A big problem, though, is that many Christians have their appetites filled elsewhere. Like a little child stuffing his face with candy before dinner, Christians fill themselves up on junk food rather than on the nourishing Word of God.

How is it that we have so much time for Internet, Facebook, Twitter, TV, music, friends, worried thoughts, lazy times of laying around, entertainment, and sleep? How is it that we don't have time for what really matters?

It is hard for me to look at pictures of children overseas who are malnourished. It is sad to see young children lacking what is needed for life. It is harder and sadder for God to look at His children, who are spiritually malnourished, when the food is sitting right next to them. Seeing Jesus in God's Word is how we grow and are fed.

Peter's reasoning for spending time with God in the Bible couldn't be better. He doesn't give threats or try to logically convince us. He says, "if you have tasted that the Lord is good."

Haven't you tasted how good God is? Haven't you had times where you've shut the door, turned off the cell phone, shut down the computer, gotten away from friends, woken up early, whatever, and had God really speak to you?

Haven't you seen God's goodness in your life? Don't you know how wonderful Jesus is? Don't you know God's love for you? Don't you know where true life is found? Don't you know where true peace can be had? Where worry can end? Where hope is renewed? Where joy abounds?

Once you've tasted how good God is, you want more. And, He always satisfies.

How can you do it? Try reading through John. 21 days left in February. 21 chapters in John. Read a chapter a day. Taste the goodness of the Lord.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Glory of God

But when Jesus heard it He said, "This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it." --John 11.4

Do you have a lame spiritual life? Are you lukewarm? Do you feel like your love for Jesus is getting weak? Maybe its because you don't see God's glory.

In John 11, Jesus raises His friend Lazarus from the dead. Jesus, at the very beginning of the story, tells His disciples that the reason Lazarus is sick (and will die) is so that the glory of God can be seen. God allows a horrible event to happen so that Jesus can be glorified (v. 4).

God allows all kinds of circumstances to come into our lives--good and bad, exciting and mundane, new and routine--all so that Jesus can be glorified.

But we often miss it.

We miss God's glory.

Like Martha in John 11 (read the chapter and watch Martha and Jesus' conversation), we take our eyes off God and we stop believing in God. Yes, we know God exists. Yes, we believe He can do anything. Yes, we know He works out all things for good. But we stop believing Him. We look at our problems and our trials. We forget that this world serves to bring God glory (and not immediate comfort and pleasure to us). We miss what God is doing, because we aren't living to bring Him glory.

When we don't see God doing amazing things around us, our walk with Jesus can get boring and lame pretty quick. The problem isn't with God (He is always living for His glory), the problem is with us (we aren't always living for His glory).

So, for February, I'll post ten ideas on how to see God's glory in 2010.

Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" --John 11.40