Monday, January 28, 2013

Through Him...

Week 5:

John 1:3-4 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

The idea that God would come down to earth in flesh as Jesus has been such an intricate mystery. There are so many different considerations surrounding God coming in the flesh that volumes have been written about Jesus’ both human and God presence. Jesus was so fully human and fully God that he understands both realms. This week, let’s briefly look at how he can relate to us according to this verse.

When I read this verse, I am reminded of day six of creation where God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26) Jesus was a part of creation. Jesus knows how we were made. He knows the intention God has for us. And as in the John passage, verse 4 reads, he is the life and light of humankind.  

When we look at the life of Jesus and how he related to people, we see how he always had the right answer. He had compassion and love. He was able to meet people where they were. His truth was always right. It is so easy to fall back into a trap of thinking, “Of course he knew all of this. He was the Son of God.” Yes he was, and he was there in the beginning. He knows what we should be. Not only that, but he also came down and became one of us that he had a hand in creating.

Imagine this: I create things on occasion. Particularly when I was younger, I would draw pictures. What if I had the ability to become a drawn picture like I had made? This idea sounds somewhat “out there” doesn’t it? Yet, that is what Jesus did. Not only can Jesus relate to us because he became us, he became what he had a part in creating.  

This verse and the Genesis verse together for me play a huge role in helping me see the magnitude of what Jesus did for me. When I am stuck in a place where I see Jesus as a historical or “far off” figure, the reality of him becoming something he had a part in creating helps me to see Jesus as one who understands me. Jesus is my biggest fan. He knows the good in me. That good is from him, created in me. Just like my picture has a piece of my soul drawn into it, my being has a piece of Jesus’ soul placed within me. This makes Jesus so much more real for me. Not only through my savior am I created, he became like me to save me. WOW!


1. In what ways has it been difficult for you to connect with Jesus?
2. How did this verse impact you when it comes to the idea that Jesus was there when God made humans?
3. Describe in your words how Jesus can be fully God and fully human.
4. This week, make note of those parts of you that you can see Jesus’ character written into your character.
5. Spend some time in silence this week and listen for Jesus’ to speak into your life. Write down what you hear.

Don't forget to visit my Amazon links. General purchases: Click on the Banner at the top of the blog. For a list of my favorites go to:

Monday, January 21, 2013

In keeping...

Week 4:

This week is a form of the exercise called Lectio Divina.  Through the years, Monks would practice this form of Scripture meditation.

Psalm 19:7-11

7The law of the lord is perfect,

reviving the soul.

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,

making wise the simple.

8The precepts of the Lord are right,

giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are radiant,

giving light to the eyes.

9The fear of the Lord is pure,

enduring forever.

The ordinances of the Lord are sure

and altogether righteous.

10They are more precious than gold,

than much pure gold;

they are sweeter than honey,

than honey from the comb.

11By them is your servant warned;

in keeping them there is great reward.

Each day this week, read through this passage slowly 5 times.  Take pauses between each reading and work through the reflections for each as listed below. 

The first time through, meditate on each subject related to the “of the Lord” statements (Ex. ‘law’, ‘statutes’, etc.).  Pay attention to what comes to mind and heart. 

The second time reading through, meditate on each adjective (Ex. ‘perfect’, ‘trustworthy’, etc.).  What do these say about God’s Word?

On the third reading, meditate on the active result tied to the “of the Lord” statement (Ex. ‘reviving the Soul’).  Think about ways these results have applied to you.

On the fourth reading, make a connection between verse 11 and the prior verses.  Where have you seen these results in your life?  Reflect on some specific examples. 

After the fifth and final reading ask yourself the following:  “What is the word you have for me in this passage, God?  Is there anything you want to say to me today?”  Listen.  Write down anything you sense God might be saying to you.  Finally, ask yourself and God, “What am I being called to do as a result of the word I have been given?”  Perhaps you are feeling challenged to love God more, or to accept some aspect of who you are, or to serve someone you know or to begin changing some aspect of your character.  Whatever it is, write it out.  “Today God is calling me to be a more ______ person.  Be with me God and teach me how.”   Thank God for the word and the calling you have been given.
Don't forget to visit my Amazon links.  General purchases:  Click on the Banner at the top of the blog.  For a list of my favorites go to:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Stand back up...

Week 3:

Proverbs 24:16 For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.

This Proverb can apply to so many aspects of life. The theme of perseverance for the righteous stands out. Another theme can be what happens for the wicked. Yet another theme could be a righteous person’s life and sin vs. a wicked person’s life and sin. For this devotional thought, let’s look at the righteous and their sin.

As Christians, it is difficult to put the righteous and sin in the same proximity of each other. When I think of righteousness, I picture someone without sin. Yet, as we read through the Bible, we see the righteous wrestle with sin. I know a lot of righteous people. Though I do not witness their sin, they will refer to their sin. 

One of Satan’s most powerful lies is the deception that we can never be redeemed by God. Our sin and shame is just too much for God to handle. Satan plants these messages and we continue to replay them that we cannot ever leave our sin. Repeat sin especially weighs us down. Taking the deception further, I struggle to believe I am righteous because of sin in my life.

If I take a step back and look at the whole of my life, I realize that the whole of my life is not defined by my sin. However, I tend to focus on my past and the shame I carry from my sin. It is difficult to rest in the fact that Jesus died for all of those sins. Instead of focusing on what I am, a forgiven follower, I focus on my shame. As I listen to others’ stories, I hear the same theme in their lives as well.

We cannot be reminded enough that Jesus covers those sins. Obviously, we do not live without self-discipline and sin all we want so that grace may abound (as the Apostle Paul states in the book of Romans). When I took Christ as my savior, I became a new creation. That does not mean that I have stopped sinning instantly. I have the remnant of sin that as I grow in Christ becomes smaller and smaller. God is transforming me daily through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  

Therefore, as a whole I am a righteous person who falls down (and so are you). However, because of the righteousness that has been manifested in my life in Christ, I get back up over and over again (and so do you). We are not defined by our sin; we are defined by our life in Christ, which is a righteous life. Praise God!
“For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.”


1. In what ways has Satan’s lies kept you from believing this verse to be true about you?
2. As you reflect on your character, list some righteous characteristics you have. If you are having trouble with this list, then ask a friend to help you see those characteristics about you.
3. What are some verses that come to mind for you that point you toward your righteousness in Christ?
4. This week journal around your righteousness in Christ. Make note of the whole of your life and focus on the goodness that you carry as a gift of being created in the image of God.

Don't forget to visit my Amazon links. General purchases: Click on the Banner at the top of the blog. For a list of my favorites go to:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Go be reconciled...

Week 2:

Matthew 5:23-24 23Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

Last week we looked at approaching those who have sinned against us. What about those we have sinned against? I contend that it is as hard (or even at times harder) to approach those we have sinned against as it is to approach those who have sinned against us. Reflecting on this passage, it would appear that we are out of sync or integrity with God when we do not approach those we have sinned against.

What keeps us from taking care of this piece of work in our lives? It could be one of several barriers; or even a combination of some. Here are some possible barriers. You may have others that come to mind as well.

First, I have been embarrassed by the way I sinned against my brother or sister. I am uncomfortable with how this makes me feel and I do not want to feel this way. By approaching him or her and owning my sin, I become vulnerable and open myself up to further discomfort. And…he/she may not forgive me. In this case, I do not have the other person’s best interest at heart. I am only worried about myself.

Second, I may be worried about how they feel about me. I have left myself open to judgment. I fear that if I approach them now it will plunge them into a further dislike of me. The pleasing part of me does not want to be disliked. I figure if I ignore the situation, it will fade and go away. Furthermore, I tend to bend over backwards to please this person in other ways as a way of “covering my sins”. This really does not help because, usually, subconsciously the other person can read this as fake.

Third, pride gets in the way. I do not want to admit I could be wrong. I perceive that to be wrong could point to a flaw in my character. A flaw in my character could mean there is something wrong with me. I do not want to admit that about myself.

Fourth, what if they do not forgive? What if it damages the relationship beyond repair? I figure if I leave it status quo, it will be safe. Again, I ignore it and hope for the best.

Finally, to approach someone and mention my sin against them could open up a wound for them. I do not want them to continue in pain, therefore, let’s ignore it and go on. This is really only fixing my discomfort with the situation. This in turn is purely selfish on my part.

So, what do we do? Like I mentioned last week…we approach. Jesus even says, “…leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Swallow pride, fear, and whatever else may be getting in the way and approach the one you have sinned against. At times, this takes courage and humility.

How do I approach? Approach the person with humility. If this is hard for you to do, admit that it is hard for you to do… “I don’t do this very well, but I know something is not right here. I am sure I have been the cause of this and I want to make this right. Your relationship is important to me.” 

After the approach and conversation several things can happen. One, I have put my sin into the light where Jesus can take it and heal me (heal us both). There is a burden lifted from me at this point. Two, the relationship can grow stronger because of my humility and servant heart. Third, however, the person wronged may not be ready to forgive me yet, or even ever. Within my humble spirit of approach, I have to be prepared for this outcome. I must be patient, God will heal the wound. If, however, the other party is hard-hearted and cannot let go and forgive, I have done what Jesus has asked of me. I am released and now it is up to the other party. This is the hardest outcome, and the one I fear the most. Yet, this outcome does occur. 

I challenge us not only to be bold and approach those who have sinned against us. I also call us to Jesus’ challenge to approach those we have sinned against. This is a form of love that Jesus calls us to show. Paraphrasing, Jesus told us that in order for the world to know we are His disciples, we must love one another.


1.  Is there someone you need to approach whom you have sinned against? What is the situation?
2. What barrier or barriers have kept you from taking care of this situation?
3. What is your normal pattern or barrier to approach those you have sinned against? Explain why this is a barrier.
4. Over the next few days, seek out a person you have sinned against and approach him or her and humbly submit to his/her mercy. If you need to, practice the situation with a close confidant and gain some feedback around your approach.  

Don't forget to visit my Amazon links. General purchases: Click on the Banner at the top of the blog. For a list of my favorites go to:

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Week 1:

Matthew 18:15 If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.  If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.

How often is this practiced in modern day Christianity?  How many of us (I include me as a chief perpetrator) hold inside us resentment and bitterness for someone in our faith who has wronged us?  On top of burying or clinging to this bitterness, how often do we act as if nothing has happened; paint on the mask of the smiling face and ignore the elephant in the room?  Taking this a step further, how often do we let our resentment build up to the point that it is not far from our thoughts and actually hinders our prayers?  According to this verse, who does the solution reside with?  I say, “Us.” 

Why is it that I am afraid to approach a person and let them know that they have wronged me?  I think that mostly for me…I don’t want to make waves.  I am afraid that if I do make waves, I will not be liked or accepted.  There are other reasons like:  Misinterpreting the scripture of living at peace with one another.  If I point out a sin against me, I may be violating the peace among brothers and sisters.  Or, if I point out a sin against me, am I not judging another?  Or, what if I am wrong or have misinterpreted how that person has treated me?  Finally, is what I am offended by something that I do to others?  If I point this out in another, would I not be considered a hypocrite? 

All of these fears and considerations are not how Jesus asks us to approach the situation.  By doing nothing the situation festers and gets worse or, a relationship just dies.  Neither of these results fit within Jesus’ teachings and principles for fellowship.  So, how do we live?  How do we land this plane without crashing?

First, we must approach.  I believe that this is the hardest and scariest step.  We must approach gently.  One of the best ways to broach the subject is to go back to the scene of the crime.  A way to do this is by asking the question, “Remember that time…?”  The quick follow up to that question would be an “I” statement.  “I perceived/felt/wondered/thought…”   This takes some pressure off when you own how you felt in that moment.  Many times, approaching takes care of the whole situation.  The person you approach may feel he/she was in the wrong but has been embarrassed by the situation and did not know how to approach you to apologize.  Many times when I just breach the subject, the floodgates of remorse open up and the situation is resolved.  We must approach.  Remember, the other party cannot read your mind. 

Second, we must walk through what I call a, “Where do we go from here…” time.  In this part of the conversation, there needs to be some give and take around what has happened.  Some questions need to be addressed (These are only thought provoking questions, follow your heart and the Holy Spirit as you work through this part):  What caused this?  Is this a pattern?  What do we do next time this happens?  Is this something we are willing to work on?  At this point, we really need to have some solid conclusion.

A few things happen when we overcome our fears and approach those who have sinned against us.  One, we become a blessing to them.  The person you approach may not realize he is doing this sort of thing.  This may actually be a pattern in his life and he does this to more than just you.  By pointing it out, even if it is painful to him, you have helped him to be more self-aware and have re-directed him. 

Two, it clears the air and allows you to release bitterness and resentment and allows you to open up to forgive.  In some of my circles of fellowship this is a form of what we call, “Keeping it in front of you.”  If you let this bitterness fester, it will drive you from behind.  If you put it out there, it is in front of you.  Another way of looking at it is that it is in the light. 

Finally, you may be doing the same wrong to others.  Approaching someone about the way she has sinned against you actually becomes a mirror for you.  I recognize many wrongs against me because it is the same wrong I commit against others.  This allows me to better myself as I look at the “log” in my eye.

As we start this New Year, I challenge all of us to approach those who we need to approach.  I challenge us to improve our fellowship with one another.  I challenge us to point out in a loving way the wrongs acted out against us.  And, I challenge us to look inward and see if we wrong others in the same way.  Next week, we will visit how we approach others that we have wronged.


1. What relationship situation are you holding bitterness and resentment toward, and what sin has been committed against you to get you to this place?
2. What has it done to your relationship?
3. How do you react inside and outside when you come into contact with this person?
4. Pay attention this week (or over the coming weeks) for the opportunity God affords you to approach an individual around a particular sin committed against you.  Take action and “approach”.

Note:  If you are in need of more guidance around a method to approach and walk through patching up a relationship with someone, email me at: and I will be glad to walk you through the situation.

Don't forget to visit my Amazon links.  General purchases:  Click on the Banner at the top of the blog.  For a list of my favorites go to: