Monday, March 31, 2014

day no. 12,943: believe, leave and cleave

When Christians start dating, they begin to draw closer and closer to each other.  This is the natural course of events as designed by God.  It is meant for the purpose of long, satisfying marital intimacy that grows in oneness until the marriage covenant is broken by death or Christ's return.
When the natural course of growing closer is expedited by sin, the Holy Spirit convicts and commands repentance which means turning around.  In that time of turning around, it feels like you're growing apart for the first time, but it only feels that way.  If you retreat to the right trajectory, you will be taking a few steps back, because you attempted to be too close too soon.  You wanted more oneness than your situation in God's sight allowed.

But if you return to the right trajectory, you will again begin to grow closer to each other and in individual godliness as you go about things God's way until coming together in oneness in marriage.  After that, you grow in oneness side-by-side and emotionally, spiritually, relationally and physically.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

day no 12,942: dueling lobsters

So last night was a dueling lobsters kind of night. Some friends watched the kiddos and Paige and I headed to Red Lobster for a date night.  Paige had been craving crab legs.  She got crab legs, I got lobster tail(s).  

Let's face it, when lobsters duel, no one wins (except me!)

Boom! Roasted.
Or was it boiled?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

day no. 12,941: old English practice

My friend, Jarrod Bartholomew, and I had some witty repartee the other morning.

And it goes a little something like this, hit it!

Friday, March 28, 2014

day no. 12,940: good advice is better received than Good News‏

Oswald’s word resonated well with me this morning when he said,
"Speak thou with us . . . but let not God speak with us." We show how little we love God by preferring to listen to His servants only. We like to listen to personal testimonies, but we do not desire that God Himself should speak to us. Why are we so terrified lest God should speak to us? Because we know that if God does speak, either the thing must be done or we must tell God we will not obey Him. If it is only the servant’s voice we hear, we feel it is not imperative, we can say, "Well, that is simply your own idea, though I don’t deny it is probably God’s truth."
The real delight of hearing Him is tempered with shame in having been so long in hearing Him.
We misapply this sentiment in two pronounced ways:
We sit under authoritative teaching from God’s Word and refuse to be doers of what we hear.
We waffle and wonder what must be done in response to non-moral issues of preference
Here’s what I mean.
We treat decisions of preference and choice as though we would make a choice if only we had a definitive word from the Lord on the matter.  As a result, we wiggle and excuse laziness by calling it godliness in waiting for clear direction.  We argue, “I would do something if I knew what God wanted.”
We treat decisions of principle and command as though we have the option to obey if we feel like it, excusing our laziness by appealing to the fact that we said a prayer or walked an aisle or got wet once upon a time as somehow removing the disaster of current disobedience.
We claim to want God’s opinion on things we suspect we won’t get a clear word on and ignore God’s commands on things we clearly see communicated in Scripture.
Jesus, forgive me my arrogance and ignorance in assuming I would faithfully without fail do what You ask if I only had a clear word from You when I so frequently ignore and punt on the very clear Word of instruction before me.  Thank You, Jesus, for doing everything God commands and for never doing anything God forbids.  Grant me faith to believe in that alone as my only confidence.  Amen.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

day no. 12,939: my faith is hopefully stronger than my handwriting‏


I am doing everything I can do be a good and godly dad.

But that is only so that I can redirect your attention to the Dad of dads.

He is the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Dad of dads, the Protector of protectors and the Provider of the providers.

Follow your father as I follow the Father. (1 Cor. 11:1, Php 4:9)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

day no. 12,938 continued... current reading

Since it's my wife's birthday today, I figured I should probably steal from her.

She recently posted her current reading list HERE.

I liked the idea.

I too took a picture of my books in progress at the moment.

My Utmost for His Highest ~ Oswald Chambers (daily devotional in the AM)
Holman Study Bible RSV ~ Holy Spirit (daily reading, M-F: NT, Sat-Sun: OT)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets audiobook ~ J. K. Rowling (listening with Paige)
Where the Sidewalk Ends ~ Shel Silverstein (reading with the littles before bed)
Warfield on the Christian Life ~ Fred Zaspel (steadily marching thru)
A Year With Dietrich Bonhoeffer ~ Bonhoeffer (reading periodically at night)
Trial and Triumph ~ Richard Hannula (reading w/ kids off/on in the PM)
Dangerous Journey ~ John Bunyan (kids version of Pilgrim's Progress we read @ night!!!)

So that's what I am reading at the moment.  I've got "Date Your Wife" & "Jesus + Nothing = Everything" in the queue as well as reading through Genesis and 1 Timothy for Candeo and Salt Co. respectively as we teach/preach through these books.

day no. 12,938: happy birthday my wife!

Today is my wife's birthday!

This has been an exciting season of growth and growing pains alike.

One of the most fun things in this whole move and life change has been seeing my wife grow in faith and faithfulness.  It is fun to point girls in my wife's direction.  There are few women I personally know that I would trust more to counsel a young lady than my wife.

And to think this woman I call my wife is also the one raising my kids.

I am blessed and grateful and full of hope and optimism when it comes to her.

Times are sometimes tough, but God has been good to protect us and our friendship and marriage in the midst of difficulty and delight.

Happy birthday my wife.

I'm glad you were born.

I'm more glad you were reborn.

And now I'm very excited and proud to be sharing our lives together as one 'til death or His return.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

day no. 12,937: then the sons are free‏

Matthew 17:25b-26

When he went into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, “What do you think, Simon? Who do earthly kings collect tariffs or taxes from? From their sons or from strangers?”

26 “From strangers,” he said.

“Then the sons are free,” Jesus told him.

We are born strangers to God. By nature, by choice, in fact and in act, we demonstrate that we are estranged from Him.

If we receive Jesus and believe in His Name, He provides the right for us to become children of God (John 1:12).

If you are not a child of God, He will collect taxes and tariffs from you. They will be required. And you will come up short. You don’t have enough bank to pay off the debt of sin you have accumulated.

If you are a child of God, you are no longer under any obligation to pay taxes and tariffs. Jesus paid them all.

You are debt-free.

It’s a tax-free holiday weekend forever for you.

If you are a son of God by faith in Christ, rejoice.

You are free!

Oh, praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!

Monday, March 24, 2014

day no. 12,936: trashcan't‏

My friend Tim said something awesome last night while praying at the close of our Connection Group.
He prayed, “Lord, I don’t always like taking out the trash, but I sure am glad I have a trashcan to keep my garbage in.”
Man I love Tim.
What prompted his thoughts? Our discussion over
Ephesians 6:7-8

7 Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men,8 knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord.

Friday, March 21, 2014

day no. 12,933: you don't forget to eat when you're hungry‏

Matthew 4:4

But He answered, “It is written:
Man must not live on bread alone
but on every word that comes
from the mouth of God.”

Have you been reading your Bible daily?

I know some days we get busy and miss (that’s understandable).

But I’m guessing you haven’t forgotten to eat a meal in a while.

Granted, it happens: you get busy with something and all of the sudden you missed lunch.

That said, once you notice, you probably eat.

It would be weird and ineffective to eat a really large meal on Sunday and expect

it to last you throughout the week until next Sunday.

It wouldn’t work.

You were made to eat often.

Same goes for your time in the Word.

You weren’t meant to binge and purge and gorge and starve.

It’s unnatural (supernaturally speaking of course)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

day no. 12,932: addressing the elephant in the womb‏

Psalm 51:5

Indeed, I was guilty when I was born;
I was sinful when my mother conceived me.
It’s not your mom’s fault per se.
I mean the options were either you be born a sinner or you be not born at all.
Sinners produce sin.
Sinners reproduce sinners.

Ephesians 2:3
We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.
By nature, we are children under wrath. You may say that babies are innocent, but that’s because you think sin is mainly a list of do’s and don’ts (and likely you think you’re doing pretty well with both as far as you’re concerned). Sin isn’t just something we do or don’t do.It’s something we are. It’s the desire to orient and bend the world around us to our will and whims. Babies come out from the get-go experts on doing what they want, when they want to and screaming at anyone who would interfere. Don’t get me wrong. I love kids. But I don’t love them in ignorance. I love them as the little sinners they are. I love them enough to point them to Jesus (even now). I don’t waste words in punting on the subject of sin until later on in life after they’ve established the idea in their minds that they are great and God’s gift to the world around them. My goal isn’t to make them feel like less, but to help them see Jesus as greater.

John 1:12-13
12But to all who did receive Him,
He gave them the right to be children of God,
to those who believe in His name,
13 who were born,
not of blood,

or of the will of the flesh,
or of the will of man,
but of God.
We are born bad.
We do bad.
We be bad.
But God made a way by grace through faith in Jesus to BECOME His children.
My goal for my kids is that they would be adopted by God.
I love being their dad.
I adore it.
But not at the expense of hoping that they reject the Fatherhood of God offered by faith in receiving Jesus on their behalf and believing in His Name above all other names.
My kids were born by the will of Todd.
That’s cool and all.
There are lots of kids who feel unwanted or who, even worse, actually were unwanted, or worse yet remain unwanted by their moms and/or dads.
But being wanted by me is not enough.
Being born by the will of Todd does not eternal life produce.
Sin is real.
Sin is serious.
Without Jesus, there is no hope for those who die under wrath. They will remain under wrath forever without the comforts of His gracious, protective hand they experienced in this lifetime.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

day no. 12,931: don't not marvel, but don't JUST marvel‏

Matthew 17:5

While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said:
This is My beloved Son.
I take delight in Him.
Listen to Him!
Peter didn’t know what to say after seeing Jesus transfigured before him. So, Peter broke the uncomfortable silence by talking. He didn’t know what he was saying or where exactly he was going with it, but nevertheless, he kept on talking. And then he was interrupted by God who essentially told Peter to shut up and listen. To strengthen His command, the Father confirms that Jesus is His Son and that Jesus is doing exactly what He wills.
Have you ever seen someone meet a celebrity that they love? Often times they will blubber on and on because they don’t know what to say. Why do they spend so much time talking at the celebrity and so little time listening to them?
Don’t just marvel at what Jesus has done. Don’t not marvel, but don’t JUST marvel.
Listen to Him!
May your inspiration prepare you for attentive and active listening rather than aimless and wandering talking.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

day no. 12,930: self: cater or crucify?

Matthew 16:24-26

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples,“If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.26What will it benefit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?
No one by nature denies himself. We cater to ourselves. We do what we want to do with our time, energy and money. To go with Jesus to where He is going, we must set aside and crucify our right to ourselves. You are not your own, but you were bought with a price, the precious blood of Jesus. If you are purchased, you are owned. If you're still on the shelf, you are not with Jesus.
What will it profit a man if he gets what he wants but fails to receive what God wanted to give him?
What trophy or achievement could be used to barter back one’s life once it’s been spent on self-interest? What can you accomplishment on your own that is so amazing that God would feel compelled to receive it from you as something He could not go without?

Monday, March 17, 2014

day no. 12,929: s.o.s.

The story goes that s.o.s. stands for “save our souls.”

Seems fitting enough given the following.
Matthew 14:28-33
28 “Lord, if it’s You,” Peter answered Him, “command me to come to You on the water.”
29 “Come!” He said.
And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus.30 But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, “Truly You are the Son of God!”
Jesus saves those who cry out to Him.
He saves those who have been running away from Him for a long time if in their exhaustion they stop and turn and say, “Lord, save me!”
He saves those who are walking towards Him who slip and stumble and get afraid or get distracted if they reach up for His hand and cry, “Lord, save me!”
No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve been doing, you are never any further than the grace of God than confessing that you’re sinking and crying out, “Lord, save me!”
He saves those who confess and cry out that they need saving.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

day no 12,928: last second sermon

So, I'm preaching in Shellsburg, IA today..

What the what? Yep.

Pastor Tom (from Cornerstone Church - a.k.a. "the mothership") has been covering the pulpit for Oak Grove Church for a while now.  He is unavailable this Sunday so they sent out an S.O.S. to the 3C network.

Paul Sabino fwd the message to me and I said, "Yes."

So with less the one week to prepare and never having been to Shellsburg, IA, I am preaching there today!

I will try to post the audio if they record it and post in on their website.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

day no. 12,926: the man Who was God‏

Matthew 13:55-56

55 Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t His mother called Mary, and His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? 56 And His sisters, aren’t they all with us? So where does He get all these things?”

Jesus had brothers and sisters.Mary had biological children. People knew that Jesus’ dad was a carpenter.Jesus was God, but He was a man as well.This is a great comfort and hope for us in two pronounced ways:

(1) He can relate to and empathize with us because He knows what it’s like to be one of us


(2) He lived a perfect human life.

God requires us to live a perfect human life.All of us have fallen short of doing that.As a result, we’re in trouble.But God has provided an opportunity for a great exchange to occur.
Jesus is willing to take our broken, sinful, ugly lives and in exchange He promises to give us His perfect, spotless, beautiful life.In this exchange, we are provided with salvation: free from the wrath we deserve and rewarded with eternal life as though we finished the race perfectly.

This is the Gospel.

Jesus was a man.
Jesus was God.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

day no. 12,925: a clean, ordered vacant house‏

Matthew 12:43-45

43 “When an unclean spirit comes out of a man, it roams through waterless places looking for rest but doesn’t find any.44 Then it says, ‘I’ll go back to my house that I came from.’ And returning, it finds the house vacant, swept, and put in order.45 Then off it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and settle down there. As a result, that man’s last condition is worse than the first. That’s how it will also be with this evil generation.”
We are incapable of winning the war against evil on our own.
We can sweep and arrange and organize all we want, but if the house remains vacant, we are vulnerable to invasion.
We are not called to clean ourselves up for God.
We are called to surrender the home of our heart entirely to Him and His presence.
The generation to whom Jesus spoke wanted godliness without God, to be Christian without the Christ.
Their last condition was worse than it was at first.
Instead of being haunted by one unclean spirit, they are inhabited by 8.
We cannot clean up to a place of confidence before God (or demons).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

day no. 12,924: dinner guests and dishes‏

Galatians 6:10

Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.

Opportunity, All, Especially

As we have opportunity – let’s find those where they currently are and produce more through attentive, intentional and careful use of our time and energy

The good of all – let’s make use of our limited resources in reaching out without limiting the scope of those we seek to serve

Especially – let’s be sure to manage the morale of those already doing the dishes while we seek to invite more people over for dinner.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

day no. 12,923 continued... pilgrim's progress


"Ignorance was ignorant
Diffidence is diffident.
Giant Despair is giant despairy."

Good try sweet little girl.

day no. 12,923: the price of a pillow

Matthew 8:19-20
19 A scribe approached Him and said, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go!”
20 Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”
The cost of discipleship is severe. 
It is worth it, but it will cost you. 
You need to know that. 
Otherwise when it begins to cost something, you will pay/give up nothing to keep going.
If the Man you are following is without a place to lay His head, it is quite possible and very likely that you will not either.
It costs you a pillow.
It gains you a Comforter.
Yep, that just happened.
You’re welcome.

Monday, March 10, 2014

day no. 12,922 continued... God will not be an afterthought.

If you make Him second, you make Him servant to whatever sits on the seat of first place in your heart.

day no. 12,922: which relationship do you wreck?

Matthew 10:34-39
34 Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother,a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.
37 The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. 39 Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of Me will find it.

If you choose ANYTHING over Jesus, you have chosen poorly.  This decision WILL cause friction in some of the most intimate relationships you have.  Your wife may be upset if you choose Jesus and His Word over her preference.  Your children may throw a fit if you choose to obey God’s instructions over their whims. 
Everything costs something.
Only One thing is worth everything.
God knows what it will cost others if you obey Him.
He is not ignorant to this fact.
Relationships may experience tension and turmoil but the alternative is disobeying your Lord.
You WILL HAVE tension.
It is unavoidable.
You will either be in conflict with people or with Jesus.
I suggest you choose conflict with people who, at worst, can kill your body rather than choosing conflict with Jesus who, at worst, can kill your body and soul in hell forever and ever.
ANYONE who chases their comfort will LOSE it.
Those who pursue comfort cannot catch up to it.
EVERYONE chasing God will HAVE Him.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

day no. 12,921: communion

Today at Candeo, I am leading the congregation in communion for the first time.

If you recall, last fall I had my first opportunity to participate in baptisms.

This has been a rodeo of new experiences.

I am honored that I get to participate in all that God is doing here.

(on a side note, I had previously been scheduled for this, but due to extenuating circumstances resulting from this past week, I did not in fact lead communion today: maybe next time)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

day no. 12,920: reach, RAISE and release

I was asked by Joel Vint to make a video focused on casting a vision for raising up men and commenting on how I am currently getting after that in my connection group.

Friday, March 7, 2014

day no. 12,919: eating it all up

I am a pastor in training at Candeo Church.  We are affectionately referred to as the PIT Crew (Pastors In Training – for those playin’ at home).  We are the Elders of Candeo Church. We recently had a retreat weekend in order to have some more time to discuss vision for 2014 as well as continuing to be vetted and tested regarding our qualification to be affirmed as Pastors/Elders.  This most recent retreat found us back in Ames, IA to meet with some of the Elders of Cornerstone Church of Ames.  When in Ames, do as the Amesites do: eat at Hickory Park.  I took a bite out of this napkin while waiting for the cheeseballs to arrive!  Next to me is Scott Reger, another PIT Crew team member.  These are fun times.  I love being around these men.  They challenge me to be more than I am.  They encourage me to rise up.  To even be included in this group of men is an honor and brings my soul great joy and appreciation to God.  I don’t know why I get to enjoy this camaraderie.  I would pinch myself, but that would be lamexcore. Who pinches anybody?  Girls.  That’s who.  Girls pinch.  But I digress, I love being around the kind of men I want to be.  I am learning and being sharpened by the opportunity to be in their presence on a regular basis.  I love following them as they follow Jesus (1 Cor 11:1, Php 4:9)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

day no. 12,918 continued... pray for the preacher

I get to preach on 1 Timothy 4:6-16 at Salt Co. this evening.

I'm very excited for the opportunity to teach and preach on this passage about leading and following in faith and faithfulness.

(on a side note: I persuaded Stan to preach this evening instead of me.  The Salt retreat was he weekend previous and it had been a while since Stan had filled his pulpit with Salt.  I felt the timing of this message coming on the heels of the retreat combined with the time that had passed since he had preached warraned him preaching this evening instead of me.  He acquiesced and preached this evening)

day no. 12,918 continued... when it feels worse than it is‏

As you can see in this screen capture from back on January 6, it felt like -47 degrees in northeast Iowa. Don’t feel too badly for us though if you’re not from around here. It wasn’t actually -47 degrees. It was only in actuality -20 degrees. The high temperature today is going to be -13 degrees, so don’t worry. It only feels like -47 degrees. But it isn’t.

I’m not sure which is harder to appreciate: that it FEELS like -47 degrees or that it actually IS only -20 degrees.

Both of those statements respectively blow my mind.

How can something feel like -47 degrees. I have no category for how cold that is. I can imagine 70 degrees (especially right now). I can imagine 32 degrees. I don’t know how to imagine -47 degrees.

That said, wind chill aside, I don’t know how to deal with the fact that it actually is -20 degrees.

Even if you had 50 degrees of heat laying around to spare and decided to toss it into the Cedar Valley, it would still be 2 degrees BELOW freezing.

That is nuts.

50 degrees would not be enough to get things ABOVE freezing.

That however pales in comparison to the fact that if feels like it is 79 degrees BELOW freezing.

In Honolulu, Hawaii it is supposed to around 80 degrees today. That sounds nice about now, right? You could add the feeling of Honolulu to how it feels in the Cedar Valley right now and it would still freeze water.

All that to say… it’s cold.

day no. 12,918: happy birthday finneas!!!

Finneas turns 2 years old today!!!

He is amaz-A-zing.

He is super affectionate and kind to his siblings.

He doesn't eat dinner.

He LOVES milk.

He can't live without his blankie.

He likes to suck on his pointer and middle fingers on his right hand.

He has had glasses 1/2 of his life.

He likes to say, "cheese" while making an even cheesier face when the paparazzi is about.

He was named after Phinehas who was known for his zeal.

Finneas does everything 100%.

Whether loving, eating, sleeping, yelling, hugging, wrestling, dancing, etc...

He is awesome and I am thankful to God for the gift of my second son (my third child).

Happy birthday tiny warrior.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

day no. 12,917: the one who hears and doesn't act deceives himself‏

Matthew 7:24-27

24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock.25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock.26 But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27 The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”
This is how Jesus finished His Sermon on the Mount.
Remember, this sermon began back at the beginning of chapter 5.
Go back and read chapter 5 and 6 and 7.
Better yet, have someone read chapters 5-7 to you so that you can experience the way the original audience would have.
This was one sermon.
You will hear a number of topics addressed.
Which stood out to you?
By the time you get to these closing words, what is weighing on your heart when Jesus says, “the one who hears and acts is a sensible man whose house is built on the rock.”
On what do you need to act?
Do not delay: Act!
James 1:22
But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.