Archive for the ‘Devotional Thoughts’ Category

The Way of the Cross

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

This year I’m going to be live blogging the Way of the Cross to celebrate Good Friday. Throughout the day I’ll be posting meditations based on the traditional Roman Catholic Stations of the Cross. I invite you to join me on this meditation and please post your thoughts and meditations as we worship King Jesus together.

Christian’s in a Zoo

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

A couple of months ago on one of our trips to the zoo we had the opportunity to pet a learn about an opossum (which we found out is different than a possum). We see opossums all over the Midwest. In particular, the little critters love to dig through our garbage and make a mess of things. An interesting fact I learned about opossums is that they’re not originally from the Midwest. They migrated here from Central America. As immigrants to our region of the world they’re not well adapted to our climate. Opossums in the Midwest are often very thin compared to their relatives to the south and the damaging effects of frostbite can be seen on many of them.

We’re a lot like the opossums in the midwest. We weren’t created to live in a fallen world. We were created to live in a sin-free world in a close relationship with God. We’re, therefore, not well adapted to live in this environment and the damaging effects of sin affect our lives. They can be seen in the anxiety we experience, or in our struggles to maintain healthy relationships. We all carry the scars of sin like midwestern opossums cary the scars of frostbite.

In the zoo, opossums are protected from the dangers of the Midwestern climate by zookeepers who love and care for them. In Christ, we have access to a similar kind of protection. God loves and cares for us. By sending Jesus God created a zoo for people. In the zoo, we are free from the power of sin. We can live in a close relationship with God. Jesus’s death on the cross opens the gates to the zoo and allows us in. To enter the zoo we walk through the gate by trusting that Jesus’s sacrifice paid for our admission. We stay in the zoo by choosing to live our lives the way Jesus lived his.

We all belong in a zoo. Are you in the zoo?


Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

A lot of people think that connecting with God is like connecting with someone through Facebook. You do a search and find God’s Facebook page. Then request Him as a friend. Facebook sends God an email asking Him whether or not He’ll accept you or not. You presume that He will. But you don’t know. He might block you and you’re never really sure if he’s going to block you or not.

God’s not like Facebook. He’s more like Twitter. You find his Twitter page and start following Him. There’s no waiting for approval. We automatically start hearing from Him as He sends out tweets. He Tweets regularly through the Bible and the Holy Spirit. He’s always communicating, always sharing. We can log on and read His tweets or ignore them.

That’s the way most people treat twitter and the way most people treat God. We log on when we’re bored. Check out what’s going on. Or we just tweet incessantly and ignore what everyone else is saying. We talk at God and call it prayer but don’t take time to listen to Him and hear what He has to say. Like Twitter, to really appreciate God you’ve got to take some time to stop tweeting and start reading, stop talking and start listening.

Take some time today and make a point to listen to God. He’s got a lot to say to you.


Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

My daughter has a new favorite game, “The Fairy Game.” It’s a game created by Disney to go along with their move Tinker Bell. In the game you create a fairy and fly around Pixie Hollow helping the get ready to bring summer to the mainland.

My little girl’s favorite part of the game is creating the new fairies. She currently has 23 fairies that she has created and printed that we’ve put in a binder for her. It’s not just creating fairies though. She loves to create. Her favorite thing to do at home is create art projects whether painting, molding play dough, or gluing random things together. At church and in preschool her favorite part is craft time. One of her favorite destinations is the Detroit Institute of Arts because she love doing the art projects on the weekends.

But it’s not just my daughter that loves to create. Deep inside, I think we all love to create. Some people create businesses and organizations that do great things in the world. Some people create inventions that make our lives easier. Some people create beautiful works of art. Some people create wonderful stories that capture our imaginations. I love to create through this blog hopefully helping people draw closer to God and become better leaders. I also create through my research as I learn new things and communicate them through articles and my upcoming dissertation.

J. R. R. Tolkien calls this desire to create subcreation. He talks about it in his essay “On Fairy Stories” that you can find in The Tolkien Reader (it’s out of print so check your local library). Tolkien argues that subcreation is part of the image of God. God is a creative being who has created beings in his image that love to create. Now, only God can truly create by creating something out of nothing, but we can create by taking what he has creating and manipulating it to become something different and new. We create because our Father is creative. Creating is one of the ways that we display the image of God that is in us. Part of the way we worship and glorify God is to create.

What about you? What do you love to create? How are you displaying the image of God through the creative drive in you?

A-Bombs, H-Bombs and F-Bombs

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Several months ago, I was enjoying the hospitality of a local coffee house late into the evening as I finished up a paper for school. On this night I had forgotten my ear-buds so I was able to hear the conversations around me much more clearly than usual. Something about what I heard was particularly shocking to me. I’m used to hearing teenagers spew profanities like a drunk sailor, in an adolescent attempt to sound more adult. That didn’t shock me. I was incredibly surprised by the same type of language being spoken by adults. I kind of thought that somewhere in your mid-twenties you grew out of that realizing how stupid you sound by limiting your vocabulary so drastically. I was obviously wrong.

Then it hit me. No, this is not a post about the moral depravity of our society. I’m not going to jump up on a soap box and extol the virtues of clean language. For me, the problem wasn’t the language, although I do think there are more intelligent ways to communicate.

It hit me, why am I shocked by this language when no one around me seems to be? My life is incredibly cloistered. I spend most of time around Christ-followers. This is not a good situation in which to be. What good is salt in a salt mine? What good is light in a well-lit room (Matthew 5:13-15)?
Since then, I’ve tried to be more conscientious about how I choose to spend my time. It’s been hard. Launching a ministry that helps churches (insert shameless plug for Jericho Ministry Solutions). My target market is leaders in the Christian community, most of whom spend the least amount of time among people that are not Christ-followers. Yet as a member of the Michigan Air National Guard, I’ve had several opportunities to get out of my normal community and routine. In those times I’ve had several opportunities to be salt and light and share Jesus. I’ve also failed many times and been an a … er … jerk ☺. In spite of my failings however, in those times I’ve felt closer and more useful to God.

If you find yourself in a similar situation… if you find yourself spending a lot of time in salty well-lit areas, let me encourage you now. Break the routine. Leave the comfort of the familiar and go be who God intended you to be.

By the way, have you ever thought about the fact that salt in large amounts is poison? Or, that light in large amounts is blinding? Just sayin.

I Can’t Keep Quiet

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

I got a bad case of laryngitis yesterday. In a sick way I was kind of happy about it. I was looking forward to blogging about all the great spiritual insights I gained by spending a day unable to talk. I wanted to have a cool, deep, spiritual post like the ones I often read. The only thing I learned is that I can’t keep quiet. Even without a voice I had to talk.

Yet for me, that is a spiritual insight. I admire the people that have great spiritual depth. I admire the people that have stories of deep spiritual experiences. I admire the people that can spend hours in silence alone with God and learn deep fascinating things.

But I’m not one of those people. My experience with God will never be like theirs. Nor should it. I need to focus on growing closer to God by accepting and embracing who I am. I am a communicator and I need people. I need to connect with people. I see God in my interactions with others. I see God in people. I see God in his image that he has placed in others.

I don’t know how you best connect with God. I don’t know when it is that you see him but remember, you are uniquely created in the image of God and however you connect with God is the right way for you. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Become all that God has created you to be through that connection.

Where do you most often see God?

Taking on Your Child’s Illness

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

When I was sick as a kid, my dad would come over to me and tell me that he wished he could be sick for me. That never made sense to me. Why would someone want to be sick?

That changed a couple of months ago when my 4-year-old daughter was sick. She had a fever and was vomiting quite a bit. She was miserable. I would have given just about anything to be sick for her. I just didn’t want my little girl to feel bad. I didn’t want my little girl to suffer.

That day, I think I learned a little bit about how Jesus feels towards us. He doesn’t want us to suffer. As a matter of fact, He gave everything so we wouldn’t have to. Today is the day we call Good Friday. Today is the day we remember all that Jesus did for us on the cross. We remember He took our sin and suffered so we wouldn’t have to. Without Good Friday there would be no Easter.

Take time today and stop.

Remember what Jesus suffered for you.

Fiscal Spirituality

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

A couple of days ago @human3rror posted an interesting tweet.  “Look. If you’re fiscally responsible and your current job can’t pay the bills, then you need another job. It’s not a spiritual decision.”

I appreciate the sentiment behind the tweet but I have to disagree with the statement as it stands.  Many of us try to separate our fiscal responsibility from our spirituality.  But that’s simply inaccurate.  Every fiscal decision is a spiritual.  As a matter of fact, every decision is a spiritual decision.  Every thing you do, every choice you make has spiritual ramifications.

With regards to @human3rror’s comment, though his reasoning was faulty, his application is spot on.  It is not honoring God to stay in a job that cannot support you or your family.  The responsible, wise, godly choice is to put yourself in the best fiscal situation possible based on your experience, education, and ability.  It is not godly to stay in a bad situation when God is providing you a better opportunity.

Now, with that said, I know that right now jobs are scarce, particularly here in Michigan.  If you’re stuck in a job that can’t support you and you don’t have another opportunity available to you, be faithful to God; continue to work as if you were doing it for God, because you are.  And remember, every decision you make has spiritual ramification.  Do your best to make the decision that will honor God in everything you do.

Where have you seen people try to separate their spiritual life from another aspect of their lives?

Why Do I Still Need Deliverance?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Over the past several months I’ve been reading through the Psalms.  I’m reading through the Psalms because as I was reading through the Gospels last year I noticed how much Jesus quoted the Psalms.  So, I decided to spend some time immersing myself in them.

In truth, this has been more difficult than I anticipated.  I have found it hard to identify with much of what is said in the Psalms.  In particular, I find it hard to identify with the psalms of deliverance where the psalmist prays for deliverance from his enemies.  The main reason for this is that I don’t feel that I have any enemies to deal with.  I’m certainly not in the place of David as he was hiding from a vengeful king out to kill him.  No one is out to take my life.

As that thought came to me when I was reading Psalm 54 a couple of months ago it occurred to me that I do have an enemy.  I have an enemy who uses insurgent tactics against me.  The most effective aspect of his tactical approach is the fact that I forget he’s there.

Satan is always near tempting me to sin.  He is most effective when I forget that he is there.  When I forget that Satan is at work I forget to pray against him.  I start thinking that I can overcome sin on my own.  At those times, I forget that I need God.  I forget that I need the power of the cross.

I might as well be spitting on the cross because though I don’t say it with my words, with my actions I tell Jesus, “Thanks for dying but you didn’t need to, I can handle this.”  Yes, I’m that foolish.  And, I bet you can be sometimes too.

I’m grateful for the psalms of deliverance, because I still need God’s power to deliver me from sin and Satan.  I need the Holy Spirit constantly working in my life protecting me and transforming me.  The psalms of deliverance remind me to pray for God to continue to keep me from sin and lead me to praise him for sending his Son to die for me.

What have you learned recently from your time reading the Bible?

The Bible Says Party on New Year’s Eve… sort of

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

New Year’s Eve has never been a big deal to me. But I’ve got to tell you; I think I’m missing out. Celebrating New Year’s Eve is actually a biblical concept. In the Old Testament God included three national holidays in the official calendar of Israel.

Passover celebrated how God had freed them from slavery in Egypt. Pentecost took place at the beginning of the harvest and celebrated God’s provision of food for another year. Tabernacles was celebrated at the end of the harvest and celebrated both God’s provision of a good crop and His provision for the people when they were wandering in the desert for 40 years. They celebrated what God had done for His people and looked forward in hope to what God would provide in the future.

I’ve been missing out on that, a chance to celebrate how God has provided for us over the past year and look forward in hope to what He will provide in the upcoming year.

Today, I’m celebrating some amazing things as I think about how God has provided for my family and me and looking forward in great hope. I want to let you know about two things and would love your prayers regarding them. First, launches this week. This is part of a speaking ministry that I’m launching where people can book me to speak at their church, conference, or retreat. I look forward to seeing how God will use this ministry to knock down the walls that keep people from experiencing all that God has for them. Second, we’re in the process of launching Jericho Ministry Solutions. The mission of Jericho Ministry Solutions is to help churches knock down the walls that keep us from being the church that God intends. You’ll see more about this in the next couple of months.

New Year’s Eve is an opportunity to celebrate what God has done and to look forward in hope to what He’s going to do.

As you watch the ball drop tonight, what will you be celebrating and what will you be looking forward to?