Monday, June 18, 2007

The Holy Spirit as Counselor

Greetings Friends!

Some of you may not realize this yet, but I have subdivided much of this series already. So far here is where we have been and where we are going:

Week 1 - Pentecost What? An exploration of what Pentecost was/is and how that impacts our lives today.

Week 2 - The Fruits of the Spirit - How to listen to the voice of the Spirit in our lives.

Week 3 - The Guide of Life - Looking at the role of Holy Spirit as guide.

Those three have already been done. Here's what's next:

Week 4 - The HS as Counselor - looking at the concept of Paraclete in Scripture.

Week 5 - The HS as Teacher - How the HS helps us in our understanding of the Word.

Week 6 - The HS as Intercessor - The HS's role in prayer, particularly as interpreter to the Father on our behalf.

Week 7 - The Gifts of the Spirit - Moving in the direction of community and mission.

So that's the layout. Now for your input!

Here are some of the passages I am working on for this week on the HS as counselor:

John 14:15-18
15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

John 14:25-27
25 "All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 15:26-27
26 "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

John 16:5-11
5 "Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, `Where are you going?' 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

The Greek uses a very specific term (Paraclete), which could be translated counselor, comforter, encourager, or advocate. What are your impressions from these passages, and in particular I am interested in your thoughts on the final section where the Spirit is the convictor of guilt.

Thanks for your help.

Bless You!

Thursday, May 31, 2007


So this is my 39th birthday. I can remember days (long ago) when I thought that really sounded old. Now I am here and I think it's peanuts! Strange how perspective changes.

Which brings me to some interesting thoughts today. As I was praying and journaling earlier this morning I was confronted by God with a different perspective on birthdays. To us, the day of our physical birth is a big deal. But if you think about it from God's perspective, He knew us from the moment of our conceptions (Pslam 139). Perhaps God celebrates our birthdays as the day we first began to be a part of His universe? And since God isn't really limited by time and space anyway, maybe He just celebrates our lives everyday as the gift He believes we are to His world? He is thankful everyday, all the time, for the fact that we are here and are a part of what He is doing in the universe. We are a gift and everyday is a day to celebrate that reality.

So, happy brithday everyone! We are so blessed you are all here!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Plugging In

Well friends, just like Arnold, I'm back!

We had a fantastic trip but have returned to an immense load and many changes happening around here, as most of you probably know.

In light of all that, I have sensed from God a leading to preach on the person of the Holy Spirit. I began last week with a sermon on Pentectost Sunday titled - Pentecost What? We basically looked at what Pentecost was and is, and why it should make a difference for any of us.

As I am preparing to move forward now in this series I am in need of some feedback. So far here are the topics I am planning to hit:

1 - The Fruits of the Spirit. If Pentecost matters for us, then are we seeing the evidence of it being real in our lives. And what kind of a measuring stick do we use to try and gauge that? We will be looking mostly at the comparison lists from Galatians 5 as a way of helping us to see that we must be people who are exhibiting the evidence of the Spirit at work within us.

2 - The Roles of the Spirit. As we progress through this journey of growth and transformation, what other ways does the Spirit assist us in the process? I hope to examine several of the specific roles the Scripture talks about in relationship to the Spirit (counselor, guide, teacher, intercessor), and how those roles are at work within us.

3 - The Gifts of the Spirit. This is an attempt to recognize that the Spirit gifts all of us for service to God and His world. I hope to examine how we are all unique and designed to fit together in community in order to better bless the world around us.

Here's how I need your help. First, I would like your feedback and thoughts on the overall flow and topic in general. Do you think this fits well into just three weeks, or should it be expanded beyond that? (Specifically, do you think #2 above should be divided into a sub-series?) Next, I would like your thoughts on each of the individual subjects, including any Scriptures that come to your mind as they relate to each one. Finally, please comment on what you think is still missing from this series. What else should we be covering as we examine just who is this third mysterious figure of the Trinity?

As always, thanks so much for your thoughts and help. It's so much fun to process this with you!

Monday, April 30, 2007


Greetings friends.

Not sure if anyone is still reading this or even checking it these days, which is my bad, since I haven't posted in so long why would there be any reason for any of you to actually look at it?!?

Nevertheless, I am at least telling you today that as of tomorrow I will be silent once again for a period of perhaps three weeks or so. But this time it's intentional! Jo and the boys and I, along with my parents are headed off to the UK for some much needed R&R. Now that the Doctorate is officially done (the hooding ceremony was last Friday night!), and since my parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on May 10th, it is just the right time to get away.

As I am preparing to leave I am struck by how much I am looking forward to unplugging from the electronic world. The thought of not having a cell phone attached to my hip, and emails screaming for attention, voicemails piling up in my inbox, and phones ringing like they are alive is just brilliant (as my good friend Dee would say - who I am going to see in less than 48 hours)!! I am actually quite amazed at how much these tools that I use on a regular basis to help me stay connected, actually sometimes feel like they make me more disconnected. And how ironic that I feel like I need to disconnect in order to gain some re-connection. That might not make any sense to the rest of you, but it's all so clear to me in my mind here on the eve of my departure!

So cheers, my friends. And don't forget, God is in charge, and we can trust him!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What is leadership?

During a time of prayer and reflection this morning I was struck by a "new" definition of leadership in the Kingdom of God. Now this might not seem super profound to anyone else, but I felt like it was a major lightbulb moment for me this morning. Maybe that's just because I had to have the lights on because it was still dark, but nevertheless, it was significant to me.

Leadership in the kingdom of God is not a matter of who is following you, but is instead completely dependent on who you are following.

Some of this came out of my reflecting on John 15 and Jesus' words on our remaining in Him. Our ability to bear fruit in that passage is completely dependent on our ability to stay connected to Him, to the vine, and in our willingness to be obedient to His leading.

I was talking with a teenager yesterday about what it means to be a leader and this concept came up. I didn't really give it much thought then, but in connection with this passage today, it sure seemed to hit home to me. As a leader in God's Church I can sometimes be so caught up in what others think about me, or if they are approving of my decisions. To me those are issues that totally hinge on whether or not they are "following" me. But if I am going to be a leader in the kingdom order of things, then I can't worry about that. I must only be concerned about whether or not I am following the voice of my Shepherd. I must be making decisions based on what He is telling me, what He is telling us (to put it in the communal sense), and then not worry about whether or not it's going to meet the approval of others or not.

In that context, the Lord also reminded me of the passage where Jesus had some of his followers turn away and leave him, and he asked his disciples, "Are you going to leave me to0?" Their response was telling to me in light of this new take on leadership. "Lord, where else are we going to go? You alone have the words of life." (Stephen's paraphrase)

As leaders in the kingdom, where else are we going to go to find the words of life and the direction we need? As we follow the shepherd's voice and listen to his words of life, we will become producers of much fruit. And doesn't that mean that people will ultimately be following too? But not following us. No, we are simply trying to get them connected to the vine too, so they can follow the words of life as well. In fact, if you think about it, in the kingdom it's never really about any of us following anyone else, but all of us learning and growing together in our followership of Him. (Hmm...Is that a word?)

God's Brave New World - Week #1

Hey there friends! Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I will try and do a better job of getting things on here in a timely way so that we can make the most of this opportunity together.

I am beginning a new series this week that was birthed out of an idea from my Easter message - God's Brave New World. The basic idea behind this three week series is that God is in the prcocess of creating and inviting us into a brave new world. During week one we will examine the nature of this world. Week two will focus on the timing of the world, that it is intended to be a present reality, not just something we wait for after death. Week three will focus on our role in helping God bring about this world here and now.

For this first week I am preaching through the text from Isaiah 65:17-25(NLT):

"Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth—so wonderful that no one will even think about the old ones anymore. [18] Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation! And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness. Her people will be a source of joy. [19] I will rejoice in Jerusalem and delight in my people. And the sound of weeping and crying will be heard no more. [20] "No longer will babies die when only a few days old. No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life. No longer will people be considered old at one hundred! Only sinners will die that young! [21] In those days, people will live in the houses they build and eat the fruit of their own vineyards. [22] It will not be like the past, when invaders took the houses and confiscated the vineyards. For my people will live as long as trees and will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains. [23] They will not work in vain, and their children will not be doomed to misfortune. For they are people blessed by the Lord, and their children, too, will be blessed. [24] I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking to me about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! [25] The wolf and lamb will feed together. The lion will eat straw like the ox. Poisonous snakes will strike no more. In those days, no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain. I, the Lord, have spoken!"

My basic outline follows this pattern so far:
God's is creating a Brave New World (verse 17).
It is a place of...
Joy (18-19)
Life (20)
Honor & Blessing (21-23)
Answered Prayer (24)
Peace (25)

What I would like to do with each one of those is to talk about what we do to sabatoge that world and each one of those characteristics. So does anyone have ideas that would relate to that question - What do we do to sabatoge joy, life, honor & blessing, etc.?

Of course, if you have other ideas that some to your heart and mind I would love to hear any of that too!

On The Journey,

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lent Week #5

Here are the texts for next week. Thanks for your input!

Lent Week #5 – March 25, 2007
Isaiah 43:16-21
I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. 17I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.
18"But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. 19For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert! 20The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and ostriches, too, for giving them water in the wilderness. Yes, I will make springs in the desert, so that my chosen people can be refreshed. 21I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.

Psalm 126:1-6
A song for the ascent to Jerusalem.

When the Lord restored his exiles to Jerusalem,
it was like a dream!
2We were filled with laughter,
and we sang for joy.
And the other nations said,
"What amazing things the Lord has done for them."
3Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us!
What joy!

4Restore our fortunes, Lord,
as streams renew the desert.
5Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
6They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest.

Philip. 3:4-14
Yet I could have confidence in myself if anyone could. If others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! 5For I was circumcised when I was eight days old, having been born into a pure-blooded Jewish family that is a branch of the tribe of Benjamin. So I am a real Jew if there ever was one! What's more, I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. 6And zealous? Yes, in fact, I harshly persecuted the church. And I obeyed the Jewish law so carefully that I was never accused of any fault.
7I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ 9and become one with him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead!

12I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. 13No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.

John 12:1-8
Six days before the Passover ceremonies began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. 2A dinner was prepared in Jesus' honor. Martha served, and Lazarus sat at the table with him. 3Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus' feet with it and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with fragrance.
4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples—the one who would betray him—said, 5"That perfume was worth a small fortune. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor." 6Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief who was in charge of the disciples' funds, and he often took some for his own use.
7Jesus replied, "Leave her alone. She did it in preparation for my burial. 8You will always have the poor among you, but I will not be here with you much longer."

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Lent Week #4

Here are the passages for next week. I am going to try and put things on here at least a week ahead to help us use this better.

Thanks for your help and input!

Lent Week #4 – March 18, 2007
Joshua 5:9-12
Then the Lord said to Joshua, "Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt." So that place has been called Gilgal to this day.
10While the Israelites were camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month—the month that marked their exodus from Egypt. 11The very next day they began to eat unleavened bread and roasted grain harvested from the land. 12No manna appeared that day, and it was never seen again. So from that time on the Israelites ate from the crops of Canaan.

Psalm 32:1-11
A psalm of David.

Oh, what joy for those
whose rebellion is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!
2Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of sin,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!

3When I refused to confess my sin,
I was weak and miserable,
and I groaned all day long.
4Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.

5Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide them.
I said to myself, "I will confess my rebellion to the Lord."
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

6Therefore, let all the godly confess their rebellion to you while there is time,
that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
7For you are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory.

8The Lord says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
9Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control."

10Many sorrows come to the wicked,
but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
11So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

2 Cor. 5:16-21
So we have stopped evaluating others by what the world thinks about them. Once I mistakenly thought of Christ that way, as though he were merely a human being. How differently I think about him now! 17What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!
18All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. 19For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. 20We are Christ's ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, "Be reconciled to God!" 21For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Luke 15:1-3
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such despicable people—even eating with them!
3So Jesus used this illustration:

Luke 15:11-32
To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: "A man had two sons. 12The younger son told his father, 'I want my share of your estate now, instead of waiting until you die.' So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13"A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and took a trip to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money on wild living. 14About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15He persuaded a local farmer to hire him to feed his pigs. 16The boy became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
17"When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, 'At home even the hired men have food enough to spare, and here I am, dying of hunger! 18I will go home to my father and say, "Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired man." '
20"So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.'
22"But his father said to the servants, 'Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger, and sandals for his feet. 23And kill the calf we have been fattening in the pen. We must celebrate with a feast, 24for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.' So the party began.
25"Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27'Your brother is back,' he was told, 'and your father has killed the calf we were fattening and has prepared a great feast. We are celebrating because of his safe return.'
28"The older brother was angry and wouldn't go in. His father came out and begged him, 29but he replied, 'All these years I've worked hard for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the finest calf we have.'
31"His father said to him, 'Look, dear son, you and I are very close, and everything I have is yours. 32We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!' "

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Lent Week #3

Here are the passages for this Sunday. Any feedback or observations would be greatly appreciated.

Lent Week #3 – March 11, 2007
Isaiah 55:1-9
"Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it's all free! 2Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen, and I will tell you where to get food that is good for the soul!
3"Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, for the life of your soul is at stake. I am ready to make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the mercies and unfailing love that I promised to David. 4He displayed my power by being my witness and a leader among the nations. 5You also will command the nations, and they will come running to obey, because I, the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious."
6Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. 7Let the people turn from their wicked deeds. Let them banish from their minds the very thought of doing wrong! Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8"My thoughts are completely different from yours," says the Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Psalm 63:1-8
A psalm of David, regarding a time when David was in the wilderness of Judah.

O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.

2I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
3Your unfailing love is better to me than life itself;
how I praise you!
4I will honor you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
5You satisfy me more than the richest of foods.
I will praise you with songs of joy.

6I lie awake thinking of you,
meditating on you through the night.
7I think how much you have helped me;
I sing for joy in the shadow of your protecting wings.
8I follow close behind you;
your strong right hand holds me securely.

1 Cor. 10:1-13
I don't want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, what happened to our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. God guided all of them by sending a cloud that moved along ahead of them, and he brought them all safely through the waters of the sea on dry ground. 2As followers of Moses, they were all baptized in the cloud and the sea. 3And all of them ate the same miraculous food, 4and all of them drank the same miraculous water. For they all drank from the miraculous rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. 5Yet after all this, God was not pleased with most of them, and he destroyed them in the wilderness.
6These events happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did 7or worship idols as some of them did. For the Scriptures say, "The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged themselves in pagan revelry." 8And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day. 9Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. 10And don't grumble as some of them did, for that is why God sent his angel of death to destroy them. 11All these events happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us, who live at the time when this age is drawing to a close.
12If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin. 13But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.

Luke 13:1-9
About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were sacrificing at the Temple in Jerusalem. 2"Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than other people from Galilee?" he asked. "Is that why they suffered? 3Not at all! And you will also perish unless you turn from your evil ways and turn to God. 4And what about the eighteen men who died when the Tower of Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? 5No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will also perish."

6Then Jesus used this illustration: "A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. 7Finally, he said to his gardener, 'I've waited three years, and there hasn't been a single fig! Cut it down. It's taking up space we can use for something else.'
8"The gardener answered, 'Give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I'll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. 9If we get figs next year, fine. If not, you can cut it down.' "

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lent Week #2

Here are the passages for Lent this Sunday. I would be interested in your comments on the Psalm passage and the Genesis text in particular.


Lent Week #2 – March 4, 2007
Genesis 15:1-12
Afterward the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, "Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great."
2But Abram replied, "O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don't even have a son? Since I don't have a son, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. 3You have given me no children, so one of my servants will have to be my heir."
4Then the Lord said to him, "No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own to inherit everything I am giving you." 5Then the Lord brought Abram outside beneath the night sky and told him, "Look up into the heavens and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that—too many to count!" 6And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord declared him righteous because of his faith. 7Then the Lord told him, "I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land."
8But Abram replied, "O Sovereign Lord, how can I be sure that you will give it to me?"
9Then the Lord told him, "Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon." 10Abram took all these and killed them. He cut each one down the middle and laid the halves side by side. He did not, however, divide the birds in half. 11Some vultures came down to eat the carcasses, but Abram chased them away. 12That evening, as the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep. He saw a terrifying vision of darkness and horror.

Genesis 15:17-18
As the sun went down and it became dark, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses. 18So the Lord made a covenant with Abram that day and said, "I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypt to the great Euphrates River—

Psalm 27:1-14
A psalm of David.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord protects me from danger—
so why should I tremble?

2When evil people come to destroy me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will know no fear.
Even if they attack me,
I remain confident.

4The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord's perfections
and meditating in his Temple.
5For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
6Then I will hold my head high,
above my enemies who surround me.
At his Tabernacle I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.

7Listen to my pleading, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
8My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me."
And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming."
9Do not hide yourself from me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don't leave me now; don't abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
10Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord will hold me close.

11Teach me how to live, O Lord.
Lead me along the path of honesty,
for my enemies are waiting for me to fall.
12Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I've never done
and breathe out violence against me.
13Yet I am confident that I will see the Lord's goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.

14Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Philip. 3:17-4:1
Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. 18For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their future is eternal destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and all they think about is this life here on earth. 20But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. 21He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same mighty power that he will use to conquer everything, everywhere.

4:1Dear brothers and sisters, I love you and long to see you, for you are my joy and the reward for my work. So please stay true to the Lord, my dear friends.

Luke 13:31-35
A few minutes later some Pharisees said to him, "Get out of here if you want to live, because Herod Antipas wants to kill you!"
32Jesus replied, "Go tell that fox that I will keep on casting out demons and doing miracles of healing today and tomorrow; and the third day I will accomplish my purpose. 33Yes, today, tomorrow, and the next day I must proceed on my way. For it wouldn't do for a prophet of God to be killed except in Jerusalem!
34"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God's messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me. 35And now look, your house is left to you empty. And you will never see me again until you say, 'Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!' "

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lent Eve

Here I am, the day before Lent and I am trying to listen to the Spirit tell me what I should do for this season this year. I have thought about several "standard" things that I have done in the past, but this year doesn't seem "normal" to me. It seems like there is too much happening in my life, and around me right now, for this year to be just "normal lent."

But even as I think about that, I suppose that's part of the purpose of Lent in the first place. It's not supposed to be normal. It's supposed to push us beyond ourselves, to get us out of that "place of selfishness" as my friend Nathan says. If Lent were normal, it wouldn't be Lent!

So I guess I will simply try and let the Spirit prod me toward something this year...something that will help me to live in that place of uncomfortability. At least for 40 days!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Lent Week #1

And again, the passages from the lectionary for sunday #1 - February 25, 2007. THANKS!

Deut. 26:1-11
"When you arrive in the land the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession and you have conquered it and settled there, 2put some of the first produce from each harvest into a basket and bring it to the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored. 3Go to the priest in charge at that time and say to him, 'With this gift I acknowledge that the Lord your God has brought me into the land he swore to give our ancestors.' 4The priest will then take the basket from your hand and set it before the altar of the Lord your God. 5You must then say in the presence of the Lord your God, 'My ancestor Jacob was a wandering Aramean who went to live in Egypt. His family was few in number, but in Egypt they became a mighty and numerous nation. 6When the Egyptians mistreated and humiliated us by making us their slaves, 7we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors. He heard us and saw our hardship, toil, and oppression. 8So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with amazing power, overwhelming terror, and miraculous signs and wonders. 9He brought us to this place and gave us this land flowing with milk and honey! 10And now, O Lord, I have brought you a token of the first crops you have given me from the ground.' Then place the produce before the Lord your God and worship him. 11Afterward go and celebrate because of all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household. Remember to include the Levites and the foreigners living among you in the celebration.

Psalm 19:1-2
For the choir director: A psalm of David.

The heavens tell of the glory of God.
The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.
2Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.

Psalm 19:9-14
Reverence for the Lord is pure,
lasting forever.
The laws of the Lord are true;
each one is fair.
10They are more desirable than gold,
even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
even honey dripping from the comb.
11They are a warning to those who hear them;
there is great reward for those who obey them.

12How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
13Keep me from deliberate sins!
Don't let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
and innocent of great sin.

14May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Romans 10:8-13
Salvation that comes from trusting Christ—which is the message we preach—is already within easy reach. In fact, the Scriptures say, "The message is close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart."
9For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11As the Scriptures tell us, "Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed." 12Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They all have the same Lord, who generously gives his riches to all who ask for them. 13For "Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Luke 4:1-13
Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit to go out into the wilderness, 2where the Devil tempted him for forty days. He ate nothing all that time and was very hungry.
3Then the Devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, change this stone into a loaf of bread."
4But Jesus told him, "No! The Scriptures say, 'People need more than bread for their life.' "
5Then the Devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6The Devil told him, "I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them—because they are mine to give to anyone I please. 7I will give it all to you if you will bow down and worship me."
8Jesus replied, "The Scriptures say,

'You must worship the Lord your God;
serve only him.' "

9Then the Devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, "If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10For the Scriptures say,

'He orders his angels to protect and guard you.
11And they will hold you with their hands
to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.' "

12Jesus responded, "The Scriptures also say, 'Do not test the Lord your God.' "
13When the Devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.

Ash Wednesday

Hey there friends! Here are the passages of Scripture that are from the lectionary readings for Ash Wednesday of this year. Your feedback would be great!

Ash Wednesday – February 21, 2007
Joel 2:1-2
Blow the trumpet in Jerusalem! Sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let everyone tremble in fear because the day of the Lord is upon us. 2It is a day of darkness and gloom, a day of thick clouds and deep blackness. Suddenly, like dawn spreading across the mountains, a mighty army appears! How great and powerful they are! The likes of them have not been seen before and never will be seen again.

Joel 2:12-17
That is why the Lord says, "Turn to me now, while there is time! Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13Don't tear your clothing in your grief; instead, tear your hearts." Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful. He is not easily angered. He is filled with kindness and is eager not to punish you. 14Who knows? Perhaps even yet he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this terrible curse. Perhaps he will give you so much that you will be able to offer grain and wine to the Lord your God as before!
15Blow the trumpet in Jerusalem! Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting. 16Bring everyone—the elders, the children, and even the babies. Call the bridegroom from his quarters and the bride from her private room. 17The priests, who minister in the Lord's presence, will stand between the people and the altar, weeping. Let them pray, "Spare your people, Lord! They belong to you, so don't let them become an object of mockery. Don't let their name become a proverb of unbelieving foreigners who say, 'Where is the God of Israel? He must be helpless!' "

Psalm 51:1-17
For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
2Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.

3For I recognize my shameful deeds—
they haunt me day and night.
4Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.

5For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6But you desire honesty from the heart,
so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being.

7Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me—
now let me rejoice.
9Don't keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
10Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a right spirit within me.
11Do not banish me from your presence,
and don't take your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me again the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
13Then I will teach your ways to sinners,
and they will return to you.
14Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15Unseal my lips, O Lord,
that I may praise you.

16You would not be pleased with sacrifices,
or I would bring them.
If I brought you a burnt offering,
you would not accept it.
17The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit.
A broken and repentant heart, O God,
you will not despise.

2 Cor. 5:20-6:10
We are Christ's ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, "Be reconciled to God!" 21For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

6:1As God's partners, we beg you not to reject this marvelous message of God's great kindness. 2For God says,

"At just the right time, I heard you.
On the day of salvation, I helped you."

Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.

3We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered from finding the Lord by the way we act, and so no one can find fault with our ministry. 4In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5We have been beaten, been put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, our sincere love, and the power of the Holy Spirit. 7We have faithfully preached the truth. God's power has been working in us. We have righteousness as our weapon, both to attack and to defend ourselves. 8We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. 9We are well known, but we are treated as unknown. We live close to death, but here we are, still alive. We have been beaten within an inch of our lives. 10Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

Matthew 6:1-6
"Take care! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2When you give a gift to someone in need, don't shout about it as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3But when you give to someone, don't tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. 4Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.

5"And now about prayer. When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.

Matthew 6:16-21
"And when you fast, don't make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, who try to look pale and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I assure you, that is the only reward they will ever get. 17But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. 18Then no one will suspect you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in secret. And your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.

19"Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. 20Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. 21Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


  • Alright friends, here we go. One of my goals with this blog is to use it as a community site for exegesis and sermon creation. The next series I have on the schedule is Lent. My aim is to try and preach on a different passage of scripture each week that is related to the topic of sacrifice. If the main purpose of Lent is to remind us of the beauty of sacrifice, and to ultimately point us to the sacrifice Christ was for us, then I want to basically look at a different snapshot each week surrounding that concept.

    So here's what I am interested in:
  • What passages of Scripture come to your mind related to sacrifice?
  • Are there key ideas or concepts that we should be examining together as a community during this season?
  • What kind of an overall series title should I use?
  • Am I totally nuts? In other words, is it going to be too depressing to focus just on the issues of sacrifice for the whole series?

And here's the schedule:

  • Feb. 21 - Ash Wednesday Service to kick the whole thing off.
  • Feb. 25 - Lent Week 1
  • March 4 - Lent Week 2
  • March 11 - Lent Week 3
  • March 18 - Lent Week 4
  • March 25 - Lent Week 5
  • April 1 - Palm Sunday
  • April 8 - Easter

Finally, here's the beauty of this blogger thing. Before when I was emailing with all of you, we really weren't seeing one another's ideas. I just got individual feedback, which was fantastic. But what I hope happens with this blog is that we can react and respond to each other's comments and ideas. That way it will truly become the beauty and power of exegeativity! So comment away, and know that everything that is shared and said here is done with love and the concern for unleashing the power of God's transforming Word in our lives and in the lives of His people.

Welcome to the 21st Century - finally!

So I've finally entered the 21st Century. I realize there are many of you who will begin to tell me that blogging is almost a thing of the past, the next greatest version is just around the corner, but give a guy a break! I've been holed up in a small room with piles of books all around me for the past 3 years, so I am just starting to emerge from my cocoon.

Yes, the dissertation has been approved, and my oral defense has been scheduled (March 6, 2007, 11 AM PST), so it looks like I am well on my way toward graduation. And since it's called commencement, I've decided it's time to start some new things - one being right here.

So welcome to the 21st Century world of blogging, Stephen, and enjoy the view!