More than a sparrow, you're worth something, I swear (Luke 12:6-7)

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows." - Luke 12:6-7

This thing that is cheap and of little value to you, God has not forgotten. He has not forgotten you either (nor will He), He knows you intimately, and you are of much worth.

I love my daughter and I spend a good amount of time with her. I find myself wishing she were awake so we could play, but she still sleeps most of the time. I also love my iPhone, my computer, cheddar cheese, and my one leather chair. But none of that stuff can hold a candle to my love my daughter. I care about her in a unique way, I pray for her daily (I don't really pray for the future of my computer - I plan to throw it away someday).

God is taking something we look on as not all that important. A sparrow. We might think they're beautiful, but if a flock was killed we wouldn't lose any sleep over it. But God still values them more than we could ever fathom. And us even more.

If you look back on High School you'll remember that no one ever really looked at you. No one cared what you were wearing, or did (for the most part), they were all too preoccupied with themselves. But God cares enough about you to know even how much hair you have.

Okay, enough on that. Our God cares. The hair on our heads? That's a ridiculous number to know.

He cares for us in amounts which to us seem absurd.

Oops... As Ker might say - comments allez vous

But I don't habla the french too bueno if you get my drift.

Thanks to Jeff from ScriptureZealot for sending me an email and letting me know.

Wondered where the love had gone... But apparently I'm only able to do it from now on, so those last few posts lack comments... my bad.

Fixed now. Enjoy.

Pursue and find LIFE (Proverbs 21:21)

"Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
will find life, righteousness, and honor." - Proverbs 21:21

Imagine if we knew what it took to find life?

Today I shared with a taxi driver for almost a half an hour. Asking him what he believed and where he found his hope. He really has no hope. Completely hopeless in his unbelief and it lead to a truly interesting discussion.

What is life without Jesus? I'm so shocked how old I was before I found out just how much better it is when you know your creator and love Him. I always knew God was someone (kind of a big deal), I even know He was worth following. But no one told me I wouldn't experience joy until I submitted to His will. Or more importantly, simply looked to Him for guidance. Direction, life, joy.

Now I purse righteousness. I explained to the taxi driver that I no longer desire to be kind because my "good" must outweigh my "bad," but rather because of the great love I've experienced. I pursue being kindness because of He who was first kind to me.

Funny how sharing these truths can really solidify them in my heart.

Lord I want to seek righteousness and kindness (not less sin and earlier wake up times). I want to find LIFE, righteousness, honor.

I've tasted it, and I know it's there, only at Your hand. Have mercy on me. Help me to pursue what is right so I can find what is worthwhile.

Confessions (1 Tim 6:12-13, Heb 3:21, 4:14, 10:23)

"Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession," - 1 Timothy 6:12-13

Augustine wrote this book. Apparently it was a pretty big seller.

I find that sometimes I deal with things I don't want to. I'm frustrated that when I conquer a sin another one rears it's head. Perhaps it has been there all along and I didn't notice. Perhaps I'm lead from one sin to another until they have all been conquered.

Unfortunately I find some more pleasant than others. Sexual sin is much more pleasant to deal with than anxiety. I'm not saying one is better than the other, but the former offers at least some temporal satisfaction. The latter is painful from beginning to end.
I've written on this before.

On conquering sexual sin (okay, who can say they've really conquered lust?) I discovered anxiety. A part of me wishes it never conquered the former, then perhaps I could have avoided the latter.

Why does God's plan mean walking the through the valley of death? It seems, if I were God, I would just solve people. Use a cheat code and make it all go away. But that's still cheating.

He's God, and He wins the battle by fighting it. Which sometimes makes me nutty.

If I want to be a man of God, I must take hold of his Kingdom. Forcefully. Which means giving up that which I don't want to. Conquering this sin, knowing the next one might be even worse. I must step out. I love this God. I love GOD. OUR GOD. He really is the only one worth worshiping. Because in the end He wins. Not us, not our sin, not our fear, not our pride, not US.


He wins. I confess. I am SO sinful. I want SO bad to be part of the victory party. To know I fought the battle. "Oh LORD I want to be in the number, when the saints go marching in." But will I be?

Alas, His death was sufficient. But is my will enough? No. Is His death sufficient? Yes, but will I choose correctly? Maybe today, but maybe not tomorrow.

Normally I leave poetry for the sieve, but today...

your loss
your gift
i cannot give
my weakness
your strength
i hope to someday understand
but knowing
who i am
what i give
and how broken
i am
your gift so much larger
than i hope
to ever give
to receive
have grace
like you do

so sorry
so sorry
so sorry

thank you for taking this
you knew the depth
of my sin
when you
to die
for me

so thankful
so thankful
so thankful

at best i can give
you this.
my life.
my all.
your grace.
my repentance.
your death.

thank you
thank you
thank you

"Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession." - Hebrews 3:1

"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession." - Hebrews 4:14

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful." - Hebrews 10:23

Passing on the award.

Dan probably thought I had forgotten about him, but I have not. Life has been a bit crazy but has calmed down for the last few days and I finally had time and energy to throw this together.
A bit back he gave me an award which I have displayed in my sidebar since... But he had asked me to pass it on...
Really its brilliant because its like a permanent meme (at least the links stay on the front page longer anyhoo). But I'm pleased to pass it on because there are a few whom I think are deserving.

First of all here is Dan's original post from His regulations are as follows:
  • Display the banner proudly! Write a post about the award, but also display it in your blog’s sidebar.

  • Pass it on to three others that you think deserve the recognition. Honor someone else’s efforts to share the love of Christ on the web.

  • Link back to this post as the origination of the award.

  • Leave a comment here (on this original post) so that I know who has received the award. I’d love to check out your blog, and discover why someone thought that you were deserving.

  • Now I would like to pass the award on to the following people.
    Scripture Zealot (Jeff) - Whom I've enjoyed for some time now.
    Theology Now (Michael) - Who is still rather new on the blogging scene but is doing some good things. Also he's a regular at the forum which is always brownie points in my book.
    The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus (Jon) - One of those big cheeses where I lurk on his site and LOVE his comics but seldom comment. (My bad Jon, I love your work).

    Here is your award (see Dan's original post if you prefer the color version):

    Sunday Scripture Day (Mark 7:21b-22)

    "Evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness." - Mark 7:21b-22

    New comment system

    As I'm messing around more and more with tumblr I've changed my comment system over to disqus. I've been using it over at tumblr and I think it works MUCH better than blogger's system.

    So I'm giving it a test run here. That means any previous comments are invisible (though the data is not lost) as I give it a test run. If anyone has a strong opinion about it one way or the other please let me know.

    I like the way the recent comments is handled with this, and I like the integration of the comments in with the posts (instead of in a pop-up like before).

    Also please let me know if you see bugs. I've messed with HTML code so much I had to manually install disqus and I will not be surprised if I messed something up.

    Good deal.

    I cannot flee your presence - despite my best efforts (Psalm 139:7)

    "Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?" - Psalm 139:7

    Remember how Adam and Eve thought they could hide in the garden? Or what about Jonah who thought he could flee by boat?

    I was trying to think of ways I've done this, if I've ever tried to flee from his presence, and then it occurred to me. I'm embarrassed to say, but I play like a little kid would play hide and seek. I simply turn away for a bit and hope he does the same, "If I can't see you, you can't see me."

    This is supposed to be a great promise and I'm convinced it is. But sad that I can look at it and think, "What a great promise. But man, I totally wish I could get away sometimes."

    I'm alone without my wife for 4 more days, and it's rough. But there is something freeing about knowing no one is there to ask where I am throughout the day. We do talk 3 times a day on the phone, but its different than reporting where I'm going as I walk out the door. Somehow it feels like I'm free, like I can go and do whatever I want.

    For the most part it's good, but there's a little bit of me that wants to sin while no one is looking. But then I remember this.

    Funny how a program like Covenant Eyes (GREAT program, I highly suggest it) can make me feel like someone knows where I'm going on the internet, but I don't mind if God sees. Either I think He'll look away for a minute, or I take comfort in the fact that He doesn't scold me vocally (I wouldn't put it past Him though).

    I'm doing alright being away from my wife - it's not easy, but don't read that into this post, it's not my point. My point is, we are held accountable, and it is a good thing.

    Our God cares for us, and He'll be there WHEREVER we are (or go) to pick us up when we fall, to love us when we need love, and to remind us He's in control. We cannot (though it's absolutely beyond stupid that we try) to leave his presence.

    Pastoral Theology with Luke and Paul and Barnabas

    When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
    (Act 14:21-22)

    When Luke wrote his history of the church, certain things that the church did seemed important enough to tell Theophilus. This is one of them. Luke tells us what Paul and his buddies did when the preached the gospel

    First they were in Derbe and in Derbe they preached the gospel in such a way as to make disciples of Jesus rather than pew fillers or tithers. The church wasn't a business with a product called gospel, but was in some sense a continuation of Jesus' call to repent, believe, and follow him.

    Next they went back to some towns with previously made disciples. They strengthened their souls. In Ephesians Paul prays that the recepients of the letter will have strength to comprehend the vastness of Christ's love. I know this isn't necessarily the best exegetical work, but it just shows what Paul or a Pauline student thought we needed strength for. So at least part of Paul's disciple strengthening is probably explaining more fully the incomprehensibly large love of Christ.

    They then encouraged them to continue in the faith. Think of the parable of the sower, people stop believing the gospel, or stop giving a rip about it all the time. So, they encouraged the believers to continue in the faith, now how they did this I don't know, perhaps by confirmation of the gospel with miracles, with good arguements, with displays of sacrifical love, warnings, who knows, but nonetheless, they were encouraged to continue confessing Jesus as Lord.

    Finally Paul told them that you will enter the kingdom of God after many tribulations. In other words, you didn't pick a soft life style when you believed in the gospel of Christ crucified and risen.

    So then, if we preach the gospel to others in any way, I think we should look over snippets of scripture like this and see if our priorities are even near these types of priorities. I remember a friend of mine shared an interview with a certain public figure who almost in order sloughed off all of these practices for something more marketable. It was comical, but only because it seemed to be done as a joke. It wasn't. Anyhow, the point of my ramblings is this: preaching the gospel to others has ramifications for the preacher, are we willing to live with those ramifications or did we want something else to begin with?

    Love, fulfill the law (Romans 13:10)

    "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." - Romans 13:10

    Just take a minute and imagine what it would be like to fulfill the law. If you can't pull that off then imagine what it would be like to actually love people (you know, like selflessly, like a child, unabashedly, and always without fault).

    It's pretty much impossible because we're so flawed.

    That said, I'm thinking about how when I wrong my wife. However I do it, be it saying something mean or doing something stupid, it is almost never (I might dare even say it is never - but not quite) purposefully. I never think to myself, "You know, this will really rub my wife wrong, I'm going to say it just to make her angry." I just say something stupid, poorly thought out, and even more poorly worded. Then I hurt my wife and try to dig myself, making things worse and worse.

    I love my wife, but my love is so imperfect, and so even in my striving for love I'm hurting the one I love the most; let alone how often I do this to friends or acquaintances or my literal neighbor.

    And yet we're called to love "because He first loved us," which isn't a bad deal. Trust me, God is getting the short end of that bargain.

    This is why we all need the Lord at the center of all our relationships, with our spouse, our kids, our friends, and our neighbors. Because we're too incompetent to do it on our own. We WILL hurt people, breaking the law. But love washed with Jesus' blood and understanding of this (by both parties) is how we maintain meaningful relationships. It's the ONLY way we maintain relationships.

    So go forth. Love. Fulfill the law. Leaning on the Lord to wash your love because even our love stinks.

    (p.s. Notice the subtle difference between "follow the law" and
    "fulfill the law." in words its small, but in practice it's great)

    Seeking theologers

    It's true, I lack control. I always want something new and exciting. That said, I've decided to make a tumble blog (it's okay if you don't know what that means) at for folks who want to blog about theology but don't want the pressure of daily writing. Or those who have been considering blogging but have been to lazy, or intimidated to start things on their own.

    Head over to and you'll see this:
    I have decided to create a place where many can blog. This is simply so those who want to blog about things related to theology, the bible, or just living a christian life but don’t want the hassle of blogging every day can join a group and create some content together. Because I have my own blog I will not be joining this crowd but simply setting it up for folks.

    If you would be interested in blogging here (in such a capacity) then please let me know in the comments. Then send 3 sample blog entries to

    rogermugs at gmail dot com

    and I’ll pick 10-20 folks whom I enjoy to write at least once a week (but definitely more if you want) for this blog. Please include a little bit about yourself and your theological background (though I don’t imagine your theology will affect my accepting you much).

    Invite your friends, this kind of thing is always more fun with people you know.

    Good luck, I hope you enjoy yourself.

    p.s. I’ll even throw in an google email address for you if you’d like…

    Hopefully some of you will hop on board. I'm always interesting in more community. More people creating more content means more interesting blogs. Something more for me to read, and I get to personally pick and choose people to do this. If you already have a blog you're running then please leave this out. This is for you, you lurker - comment-less but with a voice nonetheless.

    Good luck, I pray you'll glorify the Lord in your blogging.

    My Father who gives good gifts (Matthew 7:11)

    "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" - Matthew 7:11

    So I've definitely mentioned how I stress out when I fly. Today I took my last flight for probably close to six months. In itself this is reason for me to celebrate, but this morning I woke up and wigged out. I don't know why, the Lord always provides for me in such overwhelming ways.

    My biggest concern was my luggage because we were coming back from furlough and had just had a baby we had LOADS of luggage. Also due to some complicated vacationing, I had to take all of the bags both my wife and I carried. So this morning my fear was overweight baggage. This may not be a big deal to you but just to give you some perspective, overweight bags cost around $100-$300 per bag (my wife once was asked to pay $1100 for one bag) and I had 3 more bags than I should have.

    But the lady at the front counter had grace for me. It's a long complicated story but she figured out a way to work around the system so I could carry my absurd amount of baby stuff and books back home with me. When I had my boarding pass and my baggage was checked I walked away from the counter and teared up.

    The part I don't understand is my shock. The Lord ALAYS gives me good gifts. I begged him for grace with my luggage and he gave me grace with my luggage and this is a HUGE deal to someone who stresses when they fly; not to mention the coin it saved me.

    Now that I'm a dad I know what it is to want to give good gifts to my daughter (and I'm sure I'll understand quite a bit differently when she's grown up enough to say thanks and appreciate things). But how much more will our Father in heaven give us good gifts when we ask? The answer is "A LOT MORE."

    I love that I worship a God who blesses me, and sometimes I just feel overwhelmed by the grace he's given. A wonderful, loving, beautiful wife. A precious, gorgeous, happy baby girl. A safe trip home. And free extra baggage to boot.

    He is the Christ, the Son of the living God - time I start living like it (Matthew 16:15-16)

    “He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” - Matthew 16:15-16

    I know that I could have this answer. In the same way I could take a test in High School or College and within a day have forgotten everything. At least, thats the way I live.

    I'm just shocked that I can have this head knowledge and not live like it.

    I don't want to be saying, "I'm not good enough, I'll never be enough," or even, "I don't spend enough time in the word." Because of what Jesus did, we are just downright saved, righteous, justified. The sanctified part is the process.

    But as I look at my life recently, I don't live like someone who truly believes because I don't wake up and seek the Lord with my whole heart. If I really believed this, and REALLY believed it, then I would desire the Lord SO much more than I do. Why must I be so stinkin' incompetent.

    The problem lies a lot in the fact that I have a new member in the family. When I first got married it took me about six months or so to get back into the groove of regular quiet times because it took me that long to realize that I cant be married and spend time in the word at night. I have to wake up early to make it happen. But now, the child wakes up REALLY early, and in order to have the house be quiet and be able to spend time with the Lord I have to wake up even earlier.

    I have what it takes, and I want to do what it takes. I'm sick of treating Him like a friend who I don't really get along with... I want to seek Him out of an overflow and an understanding of the great pleasure it is spend time with the Christ, the Son of the living God.

    In application of this, I'm going outside to get some time with the Lord. Hopefully when I finally return tomorrow (after almost 4 months away) my life will take on some regularity and I'll find a time where I can be alone with the Christ, the Son of the living God.

    Four Bible verses I would pray in the morning (Psalms, Luke, Matt)

    I've decided to take up Scripture Zealot's challenge, "If you had to select only five or six verses you would pray every morning which ones would they be?"

    In keeping in line with my prayer topic, I followed with the ACTS model (Adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication). Here goes...

    "Praise the LORD!
    Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens!
    Praise him for his mighty deeds;
    praise him according to his excellent greatness!
    Praise him with trumpet sound;
    praise him with lute and harp!
    Praise him with tambourine and dance;
    praise him with strings and pipe!
    Praise him with sounding cymbals;
    praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
    Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
    Praise the LORD!" - Psalm 150

    "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" - Luke 18:13

    "The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way;  though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand." - Psalm 37:23-24
    (This is one of the promises of scripture I am most thankful for)

    "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." - Matthew 6:10

    Feel free to take up his challenge, I'm curious what ya'll would choose.

    Sunday Scripture Day (James 5:15-16)

    "And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." - James 5:15-16

    Prayer. Do it. Part 2 (1 Peter 3:12)

    "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer." - 1 Peter 3:12

    There were suggestions flowing in like crazy from my last post and I appreciate it. I did a search for prayer on my blog and was impressed how much I have addressed the topic. One thing I found useful for a time was a schedule for payer, I addressed it almost a year ago today see my post - Contemplating Death Further.

    But God's ears are open to their prayer. The righteous. I'm just thinking today about how I will often begin my prayer for others with "Lord, make me clean, forgive me of my sins and make me a righteous man so that you will hear this prayer and give heed." I have this fear that because of something in my life my prayer will be less powerful than if prayed by a truly righteous man (I know Jesus is the only way any of us are righteous), and so I pray to be seen as righteous before continuing my prayer.

    This is one of the reasons I secretly long for the prayer of children. I think they have a particular gift for righteousness, and so I seek their prayers for while they may be simple, the Lord's ears will be open.

    But in this, don't fail to see the gospel. We have no hope of righteousness and then to have our prayers heard and answered - not by our own strength that is. It's only because of what Christ did for us on the cross that we have any hope of righteousness, and then heard/answered prayers.

    Carving out time for repentance is significant to our prayer life and why many people suggest starting there before personal petition.

    Prayer. Do it. (Acts 6:4, Matt 21:22, Luke 6:12)

    "But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." - Acts 6:4

    "And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." - Matthew 21:22

    "In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God." - Luke 6:12

    About a year or so ago I remember having a talk with one of my best friends who is a pastor's son. The discussion was about prayer and how simply bad at it we are. We want to do it, we know we should, but we're just downright incompetent.

    I work alongside a number of Koreans and I'm constantly struck by just how good at praying they are. They wake up regularly, they spend hours each day in prayer, they believe prayer is powerful and so they pursue it. I believe prayer is powerful, but I don't live like I do.

    It's like I believe prayer is important, but when I sit down to pray I'm not really sure I actually believe that THESE prayers will be answered. I mean, God seems to have his own agenda sometimes right? And does that alight with mine? What about what I'm praying for?

    Anyhow, I know I'm supposed to be seeking humility, and I want to do so through prayer and fasting. I've been better this last week or so about praying, but the sad thing is, by better I mean I've gone from basically none to about 5 minutes daily. There's always something else coming up, even if I wake up really early, the baby happens to get up to cry right when I'm ready. I cant seem to get into a habit...

    But I'm working on it. I recognize it as important. God says our prayers will be answered, and Jesus modeled it by praying all night... Any suggestions on how to get in the groove?

    Of pride and fasting (Matthew 4:2)

    "And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry." - Matthew 4:2

    Today we talked a bit about this verse and all of verses 1-4. I have a really hard time processing this. I used to fast one day a week for 24 hours which ends up only being skipping breakfast and lunch but was still a good practice to be in. I had a mentor who encouraged me to do so.

    Then about a year and half ago I did an extended fast. When I was done after 40 days of fasting I really expected God to show up in a powerful way. After all, most of my 3 days fasts ended with the Lord really showing up. But 40 days later I didn't hear hardly anything, just a faint "pride."

    Who wants to hear "pride" at the end of 40 days? You could have told me that in a morning Bible study is my thought. But the truth is, if you look at my reasons for the 40 day fast, they were probably so that God could owe me something. Who knows. It's hard to have right motives about anything, but particularly about something like this.

    Since then, I have attempted sort of a half-hearted self humbling, but not really pursued the issue I have with pride. Then last night I was reading something for class and it was talking about spiritual warfare and the strongholds the enemy can have related to pride. Specifically how difficult it is for the enemy to get to you when you humble yourself.

    Then this morning this verse was brought up. I've always sort of assumed that some of the things I've been dealing with lately are related to my unwillingness to fast (its been a year and half now since I've even done a day long), and this sort of confirmed it. That said, I intend to get back into the habit. I know it humbles me. I know I was prideful.

    And worst of all I know that my response to hearing that I need to work on my pride was to be prideful and grumpy with the Lord for not giving me something more "valuable." So I have some thinking to do. Some praying to do.

    And I hate praying for humility.

    God fasted for 40 days. And he was hungry. Yea, duh. But the point is, he understood what I was going through, and he gave me exactly what I needed to hear. Bummer tho. I'll get on that.


    So, Dan at has decided to give me an award...

    You can read about the original deal here.

    I'll be honest, I have not heard of Dan's site as he just commented on my blog for the first time today, and so I'll have to get around to seeing what I think.

    If ya'll already read his site let me know, I'm curious. Also I'll continue to display the award as long as it seems something to be proud of. At this point, it is my first award (besides bloggyaward reviewing my site but not giving me the actual award...) so I'll display it proudly.

    Thanks Dan.
    (p.s. of course the first thing I had to do was remove the color... I hope this doesn't upset anyone...)
    (p.p.s. did I mention he posted my Roger That button? I think I might like this guy...)

    The kingdom in power - not talk (1 Cor 4:20)

    "For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power." - 1 Corinthians 4:20

    Prayer, prayer, prayer. Fight the battle. In power.

    I could talk more about it, but it might ruin the point.

    Paul was a badass - part 3 (1 Corinthians 4:16-17)

    "I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church." - 1 Corinthians 4:16-17

    I'm trying to imagine a single situation in my life where I could feel like I lived a life representative enough of Christ to ask others to be imitators of me. Growing up my mother would say, "I'm cold, put on a jacket," but then she wasn't wearing a jacket and if I would call her out on it she'd respond, "Do as I say, not as I do." Because she knew she could not live up to a good enough standard for it to be imitate-able.

    You know I've recently had my first daughter. She's now a mere two months old, but I'm already slightly horrified at many of the faults I see in myself being reflected in her. The times she gets overwhelmed are the same as me (or maybe its just that I'm like a child, it's hard to know). I found myself talking with my wife yesterday and saying, "No matter what we do, our children are going to spend the most time with us, and turn out most like us - and less like what we tell them to become. Therefore we need to determine to be who we want our children to be."

    This means, if I want my kids to not be fearful, then I need to learn to cope with my fears and model a life free from fear. If I want my kids to truly follow Christ then I need to be a man who truly follows Christ. I would love to be considered a "beloved and faithful child in the Lord" worthy enough to "remind you of [Paul's] ways in Christ."

    I would love to life a life exemplifying enough of Christ that my children - as they turn out like me - can be sent as ambassadors of Christ. If people imitate my children, they will be imitating me, and in turn, Christ.

    Okay, I'm drawing this out maybe a bit long for the analogy with my children, but basically it comes down to this. Our children, like our disciples, will imitate us. Therefore, be who you want them to be. And that is obvious - IN LOVE WITH, AND LIKE JESUS.

    Paul was able to be like Christ, enough so to be worthy of imitating. Are you that tough? I'm not, but I want to be.

    Rest eh?

    Taking the day off.
    and it feels good.

    Who provides your identity? Col 2:8-10

    I work with high school and college students a lot. I just graduated from college myself. I also work as a barista around a lot of college students. Everybody it seems has a sense of self that is entirely determined by entities that are not concerned about their well-being. They seek wholeness and identity in products.

    For instance, I know people whose entire aim is to fit better into the local gay culture. I know people who desire to be accepted by abusive significant others by buying expensive diet product. I know people who actually try to find wholeness in the product itself, identifying themselves by the name on their shoes, pants, or hats. Identity comes from schools attended, favorite drinks, favorite fast food, favorite TV show.

    The problem is that none of these entities, or principalities even care about the individual involved, this goes for Christians and non-Christians. Starbucks does not give a rip about the thousands of employees about to be fired so that executives can have better Beamers or Personal Jets. The local gay culture will get by when my friend involved in it dies or moves away, the shows people spend their lives watching will not care for them when they're lonely or persecuted.

    For Paul's Colossian audience somebody thought they could peddle a way of being human that was somehow superior to that of being in Christ. The problem was that the manner being peddled was about made up at the least principalities and philosophies as better ways, or about hostile spiritual powers as better ways than Christ. Paul lays out the trump card for the Colossians and for those of us today who want to find ourselves in something better than Jesus.

    Beware lest anyone captures you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are completed in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
    (Col 2:8-10)

    We have our completeness or fullness in Christ, in whom is God in all his fullness. He is the same one who died for our sakes. His interest in us is genuine, wise, just, and trustworthy. May we always find our identity in Christ as determined by the God who chooses us, this is the only sane option.

    Geoff has agreed to guest blog periodically here at he blogs at The Faceless Name

    I feel for Jonah (Jonah 3:10)

    "Then God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it." - Jonah 3:10

    Some movies are made to make you identify with the bad guy and begin to take his side. After watching for an hour and half you begin to identify with his background and understand why he turned out the way he did. You relate a little bit to why he is killing, or stealing, or whatever it is he does. Often times the point is simply to make you see just how fallen we are, or just how easy it would be for any of us to get to that point.

    I feel this way about Jonah, the Bible basically makes Jonah out to be a sinner because God decides he will destroy Nineveh and then after Jonah preaches to them he relents. Jonah gets angry about this, wanting God to go ahead and destroy the people. He had even left the city and gone out to make a place for himself to watch the show, expecting God to call to fire from heaven (maybe like he had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah).

    There are lots of reasons why Jonah would have wanted the city to be destroyed, but I totally end up taking his side in this story. We should be pleased at the graciousness of the God we serve, willing to save a whole city when they truly repent. But instead, I feel bad that poor Jonah had to walk the whole length of the city and decree their coming death and destruction only for it to not come to pass.

    If God told me to go tell Bin Laden that He had decreed Bin Laden would live 40 more days and then die, I would be almost joyful to tell Bin Laden this. But then horrified if the Lord chose to spare him, no matter how great his repentance.

    We worship a God willing to forgive an awful lot, I want to feel gratitude, but have a hard time doing so with this story, why is that?

    (p.s. its interesting the KJV says the Lord repented - not relented - which would be an interesting discussion on its own, maybe I'll pose it at the forum...)

    Compelled by Christ (2 Corinithians 5:14-15)

    "For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;" - 2 Corinthians 5:14

    We have all died, because one died for all. Great news, and I believe it. Or rather, I have concluded it, but has it lead to the love of Christ controlling me?

    Reading this I couldn't help but wonder what it would look like for the love of Christ to control me, or even more - a whole group of people (notice the "us" is plural). The Bible tells us the non-believers will know us by our love for one another. I imagine if we were controlled by the love of Christ then our actions would reflect love, and then it would be obvious to others.

    "and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." - v 15

    He dies so that we would live a life controlled by His love. Was it in vain? Sure, His death lead to our salvation, but did it also lead to us living a life controlled by love?

    I want so badly to live a changed life, leading others to see the controlling love of Christ and have that lead to their salvation, and changed life.

    If we really believe the kingdom is here in part, I think its time we start living like it. I think its time I start living like it. Allowing the love of Christ to compel me to live as he would have me.

    The power of God (1 Cor 1:18)

    "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" - 1 Corinthians 1:18

    God chose to use the most ridiculous, backwards, illogical way imaginable to bring about his kingdom. The cross is folly to those who are not believers. Why would God use death to bring life?

    I remember the movie The Mystery Men where there are bunch of wannabe super heroes who get together to try to accomplish superhero type missions. Throughout the whole movie there is one guy who leads everyone in their training and he basically takes obvious concepts and turns them around to be ridiculous but possibly wise sounding. He says things like "in order to see we must first be blind." Or "If we want to change the world the world must first change us."

    The guy is just downright annoying because what he says is so predictable but doesn't seem to have an ounce of thought (let alone truth) behind it. But in a similar way that seems like what God did, "In order to really live, you must first die," or, "The last will be first and the first will be last."

    Who says these kinds of things?

    The answer is God. Our gospel is compelling because it seems too far fetched for a man to have come up with, which, while not a reason for it's validity, is a reason for its attractiveness. It challenges us to think differently about a world we recognize we are incapable of figuring out.

    We know we don't have the answers through what seems logical to us. We've tried living life on our own understanding and we've failed (I know I have). God chose the cross. While foolishness to them, it is the very power of God to us.

    The cross is power to us because it is salvation to us. It is power over death. Power over our old man. Power to not be dead in sin, but alive, filled with joy, and supernatural love. Our lives should be compelling to non-believers because of the power of the cross. Is yours?

    Leadership and the overwhelming responsibility (Psalms 78:70-72)

    "He chose David his servant
    and took him from the sheepfolds;  
    from following the nursing ewes he brought him
    to shepherd Jacob his people,
    Israel his inheritance.  
    With upright heart he shepherded them
    and guided them with his skillful hand." - Psalms 78:70-72

    Notice - chose, took, brought, shepherd, upright heart, shepherded, guided, skillful.

    These are the words that jump out at me. I mentioned I just recently took a few classes on the topic of preaching. I went from thinking, "I'm pretty good at this, I've done this before and I know what I'm doing," to "Holy snap - I'm responsible for preaching the very words of God."

    Similarly, as I'm looking at being a leader I'm thinking, "People like me, I'll do just fine, this outta be easy." But then the more I learn about leadership my response becomes "Holy snap - I'm responsible for leading the very children of God."

    But this verse helps to set my heart at ease. If this is what the Lord has called me to do, then he chose me, took me, brought me, to this position. He will use me to shepherd, with an upright heart, to guide with a skillful hand.

    Thank you Lord that I lead by your appointment, and by your strength. I may be comfortable with the things of this world by my own strength, but I am not comfortable leading and guiding the things of your kingdom with anything but a divine grace.

    Be near to me, make me an upright man shepherd, a skillful guide. Amen.

    Monday Scripture Day (Psalm 135:19-21)

    (because I missed it yesterday)

    "O house of Israel, bless the LORD!
    O house of Aaron, bless the LORD!  
    O house of Levi, bless the LORD!
    You who fear the LORD, bless the LORD!  
    Blessed be the LORD from Zion,
    he who dwells in Jerusalem!
    Praise the LORD!"
    - Psalm 135:19-21

    On revival, healing, discomfort, and Todd Bentley - back off ya'll (Acts 5:38-39)

    "'So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!' So they took his advice," Acts 5:38-39

    Everyone is complaining about Todd Bentley. Some think he's good, others think he's evil. Some think he's from God, others straight from hell. I hate to use a whole blog entry to discuss this topic but since I could apply it to a verse I thought it fitting.

    I take a different stance than most people, and I think mine is easier. Simply - WE DON'T KNOW. And it's really not worth worrying about.

    The truth is, God uses people that make you uncomfortable. He'll use people and situations that none of us can comprehend. He is after all, GOD. He's not you. He's not me. He doesn't think like us. In fact, the absolute BEST thoughts you can think about who God is or what methods He might use are still infinitely lower than His worst thoughts.

    That is, when you sit down and say "Kicking someone in the stomach is not how God works," you're just absolutely, unequivocally WRONG. I'm not saying that is how he would or will work, simply - who the hades are we to put Him in such a box?

    If God wants to save the world through nuclear bombs, He can. He can drop bombs on all the major cities of the world and heal everyone who is in the blast radius (instead of have them vaporized).

    It's GOD guys. It's not us. I'm not saying Todd is straight from God. I would imagine like the rest of us he is an unhealthy mix of things from the flesh and things straight from God. These revivals typically have a good mix of things and people who are healed, and people who are completely slimed and undone by what happens.

    God can work with the messy. God can work with unhealthy believers. He's God. And we're not. If you're in Florida, I say go check him out, you might even be blessed. Don't take everything he says as straight from God, but remember, the Lord might very well be using him in some weird ways that make you uncomfortable. He has the freedom to do that. He's not a pastor who has to please a congregation, he is the All Mighty. And you, my fellow bloggers... are not.

    If he's not from God, he'll just fail. But if he is, it would behoove you not to stand in his way. Take the safe path, it would be a bummer to get to heaven and find out you had stood in God's path.

    Posts mentioning Todd Bentley in the last 30 days.

    All things rubbish to gain Christ (Phil 3:8)

    "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" - Philippians 3:8

    Here is another clear and simple proclamation of the gospel. All things are rubbish in the light of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus.

    I once read something which suggested we all read the book of Philippians chapter 3 - 25 times in a row. It said it would change my life, and if it didn't it was because I hadn't read it 25 times. So I printed it out, sat down and read it through 25 times.

    While I wouldn't say it changed my life, I did catch what Paul was going for quite a bit better than I had previously. This is the crucial verse. Everything in chapter 3 revolves around this verse. Paul counts everything as loss, everything as trash, to gain Christ.

    It is so hard for me to give everything up for Christ. The truth is there are a lot of things I'm willing to give up. Home, comfort, even safety and health sometimes (though this last one is particularly hard for me), but giving up my computer? Internet? My wife? My child? There are things other people have sacrificed which I really don't know if I'd be able to.

    Hudson Taylor's story has had a great impact on my life and ministry, and when I read about the two wives he lost, and the many children to disease and other things, I cannot fathom. My subconscious reminder to the Lord has become "Lord I'm willing to sacrifice, but only some things. You're good, but you're not that good."

    I hate that this is where my mind goes, but I have a long ways to go to be a Paul, to count ALL things as rubbish. I desire the Lord with all my heart, er... most of my heart. I've still got some growing to do.

    Thank you Lord that you are good, and loving, and caring. I want to be a hero for you, a soldier for you, willing to lay down everything for the surpassing worth of knowing you, but I don't know how. I like the gifts you've given me, I like them a lot. Help me to know your worth, and to follow you through thick and thin. If you truly are of surpassing worth, I want to truly believe it. I think Mark 9:24 should become a life verse for me "I believe; help my unbelief!"

    I made it! He is our stronghold in time of trouble (Psalm 37:39)

    "The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble." - Psalm 37:39

    Well I made it. And while this verse may be more about evil-dooers vs. those who trust in the Lord, I still think it applies.

    I wanted to rejoice for a minute that the Lord pulled me through the 2nd most miserable trip of my life (One time I flew consecutively from Tirana Albania, to Vienna, to Beijing, to Los Angeles, to Denver... with a 7 hour layover in Vienna, 12 hour layover in Beijing and 10 hour layover in Los Angeles... I wanted to die, and blame this for my unreasonable dislike of flying).

    My precious daughter flew wonderfully well and screamed only for a few minutes in the whole 40+ hour extravaganza. I did everything I could to look to the Lord, but credit your prayers and the Lord's grace.

    I made it, I was calm, I wasn't miserable, I didn't want to die. And best of all I was reminded of my calling and the heart the Lord has given me for these people.

    I'll be around, but need to get back to my kid and wife. Just wanted to say a big thank you for the prayers, and a big praise God for His grace. He is our stronghold, He is our salvation.