Taking Jesus Seriously

Started this book today:


Jethani has doodled and produced 72 devotionals based on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).


After reading the first nine, I encourage you to check it out. If you wonder what might be troubling you about followers of Jesus, you might discover it in this book. It’s possible we haven’t taken Jesus seriously enough.

About Midnight

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying to God.

About midnight Paul and Silas were singing to God.

About midnight the prisoners were listening to them.

About midnight, what am I doing?

Literally, most likely sleeping. Figuratively, good question.

What are my midnight prayers? Do they lead me to singing?

What are my midnight songs? Do they fix my mind on God?

What do people hear from me at midnight? Does it lead them to pray and sing to God?

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Jackson Hendry

37 Years of Fear

I came across a 6-day reading plan on YouVersion that is worth rereading over and over. The reading plan is called “Turn Your Wounds To Scars” by Vijay Thangiah. Day 4’s devotion touches on the importance of learning how to forgive in order for wounds to become scars. For a biblical example of someone putting this into practice, Day 5’s devotion goes to the end of Genesis. Take a guess at who the example is.

If you said Joseph, you’re correct. Joseph got wounded by just about everyone in his life. He bore many scars. Yet, he is lifted as a great example of forgiveness because of this statement to his brothers in chapter 50:

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

That’s a statement from a scar, not a wound.

In all my readings and hearing messages about this passage, I’ve never heard the following statement that was in Day 5’s devotional:

His brothers on the other hand had never been able to forgive themselves for the wrong that they had done to Joseph and were constantly living in fear. So 37 years after they threw him down a well and having lived under his gracious care for 20 years, once their father Jacob dies, they are still afraid that Joseph will seek revenge against them.

What this portrays is the weight we carry when we don’t understand or practice how to forgive ourselves. Joseph’s brothers were not afraid because of a recent act. Their fear was 37 years old. That’s a long time for the enemy to wreak havoc.

That havoc, unfortunately, may not live in just one heart. It may leak out into many relationships resulting in many wounds that have nothing to do with the original wound. 

Your healing is possible. And it may actually start with you forgiving you.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Felix Koutchinski

Robin’s Wish

I just watched the newly released film Robin’s Wish. Came across it ondemand. Didn’t know anything about. Hadn’t seen any trailer or news about it. But after looking up the trailer, I knew I wanted to view it.


I imagine most people are in my shoes, thinking they know what ended Robin Williams’ life. Many have learned-now everyone can know as I now know-that it wasn’t what they first heard or thought. A few months after his death, his wife was told that Robin had Lewy Body Dementia. There is no cure. This film, with much storytelling by his widow Susan Schneider, captures the reality and challenges of this disease both of the sufferer and their caregiver.

Watching a documentary like this provides loads of takeaways. You should watch to see what yours are. Mine are the importance of knowing the truth and the need to share it.

Make a Difference

Recently I was given a book of Puritan Prayers and Devotions entitled The Valley of Vision.

This photo is an excerpt of the prayer I read before sitting down to my desk to start work this Monday morning.

Only a few minutes in, I went to find a pencil in my collection of unused writing utensils. The first one I grabbed had the engraving “I Am Someone Who Makes A Difference.”

I saw a connection that we could all use. May we all pray to submit ourselves to make a difference in our God-given disposition. May we walk, therefore, confidently, purposefully, and observantly to make a difference.

8 Ways to be Kinder

Recently I received a card that included an article cut out of The Wall Street Journal. The columnist wrote about the effects of kindness to our brains, particularly if we are the giver. She referenced Jamil Zaki’s book The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World. Beside the article was a list of kindness suggestions, particularly needed in our current climate. Check it out below.

Embrace the Pace

2020 has, if nothing else, provided many lessons. One of those has to do with pace. Sometimes life’s pace feels extreme; other times it crawls. The lessons are many, but here’s one on my radar: Whatever the pace, embrace it.

That’s not a call to laziness or workaholism. It’s more a call to submission. If God says run, run; when he says rest, rest. Whatever pace he’s setting, embrace it.

Embracing a pace requires awareness and commitment. The pace of a 5k is much different than a marathon. Why? For starters, there’s a difference of 23.1 miles. That pretty much sums it up. That awareness determines the mindset needed. Training is built on it. Racing is built on training. The entire process requires embracing.

Solomon seemed to understand this. Check out these verses from his books:

  • “My love calls to me: Arise, my darling. Come away, my beautiful one. For now the winter is past; the rain has ended and gone away. The blossoms appear in the countryside. The time of singing has come, and the turtledove’s cooing is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs; the blossoming vines give off their fragrance. Arise, my darling. Come away, my beautiful one.”‭‭ Song of Songs‬ ‭2:10-13‬ ‭CSB‬‬
  • “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven:” ‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭CSB‬‬

There is a pace of hibernation which shifts to wondering.

There is a pace for listening and reflecting which shifts to singing and celebrating.

Whatever pace God is leading you at today, you can trust that it’s correct. Embrace it.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/David Brooke Martin

God’s…Not Mine…Mine (Part 3)

I checked into an Airbnb in Dade City Monday. Across the road is this scene, a huge pasture with a lake.

Each morning I’ve driven downtown to get in my run. Tuesday morning when I returned, the pasture cows were having breakfast.

A couple of them paused to check me out. This one, I’ll call him Fred, was the most curious. He seemed a little bothered like, “Hey, human! What’s your problem? Can’t we eat without you people always staring at us?”

And that’s what Fred and I did-stared. It became a contest. Human won.

In my exercise work under the “Mine” column, I’ve come to a conclusion. I can be a lot like Fred. Chewing, wandering, mooing, doing whatever I want when someone comes along, mostly God, and interrupts. Gets my attention. Even calls me out. “How’s your responsibilities going?”

I’ve concluded that there is one thing that must top the list of mine-above my character, my integrity, my heart and soul. If I keep this one thing, it seems everything else on the list will fall into place. The top item is a surrendered will.

Freds can be stubborn, territorial, even proud. But eventually, they will surrender. And usually that comes in a moment of prayer. Consider these words from Paul David Tripp’s Awe:

The Lord’s prayer is a model for us. From “Our Father” to “your will be done,” the opening of this prayer presents a way of thinking, living, and approaching God inspired by awe of him. Only awe of him can define in you and me a true sense of what we actually need. So many of our prayers are self-centered grocery lists of personal cravings that have no bigger agenda than to make our lives a little more comfortable. They tend to treat God more as a personal shopper than a holy and wise Father-King. Such prayers forget God’s glory and long for a greater experience of the glories of the created world. They lack fear, reverence, wonder, and worship. They’re more like pulling up the divine shopping site than bowing our knees in adoration and worship. They are motivated more by awe of ourselves and our pleasures than by a heart-rattling, satisfaction-producing awe of the Redeemer to whom we are praying.

Christ’s model prayer follows the right order and stands as a model for our personal prayer. It’s only when my heart is captured by the awe of God that I will view my identity rightly. And it’s only when I view my identity rightly that I will have a proper sense of need and willingness to abandon my plan for the greater and more glorious plan of God.

So I guess I need to thank Fred. And do what’s mine, and only mine. Stay surrendered.

God’s…Not Mine…Mine (Part 2)

Exercising leads to discoveries. And when it comes to this exercise about responsibility, the discoveries may not feel good at first. Like discovering you really shouldn’t eat the entire quart of ice cream just because you worked out today.

Chances are through this exercise you discovered that you are taking responsibility, trying to own something, that isn’t yours. It’s a common battle for humans to wrestle with God, stealing responsibility. Paul David Tripp says it’s because we are at war between being in awe of ourselves and being in awe of God. When we are losing that battle, we think everything is ours: money, possessions, relationships, career. Contrary to our wants, we win when we let God own what really is his.

That second heading, Not Mine, can be as big a battle as the God heading. When we haven’t won in that heading, forget about winning in this one. Why? Because if I’ve kicked God off the throne taking all the responsibility, it’s going to inevitably spill over into every area of my life. I have all the answers and control. In fact, I believe I want them. Reality is, I’m burdened and miserable. Like Pilgrim trudging uphill bearing his burden.

I have found three things to address when I’ve discovered I’m taking on someone else’s responsibilities. You might say, these are my responsibilities to stay out of “not mine” responsibilities.

  • Trust-Sure, you’ve job searched before; so what’s keeping you from staying out of your spouse’s or child’s searching efforts? You’ve also scheduled employees before; so what’s keeping you from allowing your manager to do it? You’ve been doing this task much longer than your new volunteer; so why are you micromanaging them? Discovery #1: Sometimes we do what’s not ours because we have trust issues. (Proverbs 3:5; Isaiah 55:8)
  • Humility-If I’m having responsibility issues, chances are I’m also having pride issues. Humility is required to allow good failure (yes, that’s a thing). Humility is required for personal and team growth. Ball hogs, dictators, authoritarians, glory-stealers, all losers in general taint outcomes because of pride. Discovery #2: Often we do what’s “not mine” because of our pride. (Matthew 23:12; Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 2:3)
  • Being For-Many of us are recovering tellers; by nature we take “not mine” responsibility by telling what needs to be done. My recovery started a few years ago. One mindset for a recovering teller is to be for others. Parents/bosses/leaders, you can avoid the “not mine” heading by being for your child/employee/volunteer. Not being over, behind, ahead-be for them. Encourage. Celebrate. Cheer. Discovery #3: Everyone benefits when we are all for each other. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

Those are my three. They may be yours also. What else may yours be?

We’ll address that more in Part 3.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Elizabeth French