Tag Archive: Jesus


  There he told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.” (‭Luke‬ ‭22‬:‭40‬ NLT)

What a great prayer, to rely on the One who can hold us and rescue us even in mid fall! It is not so arrogant as the toddler who insists he can do a grown up task “all by myself.” On my own, I can neither breathe nor stand, let alone resist the chemical and biological signals and triggers of a body so long abused by indulgence and the manipulation of a greedy marketplace. Many have asked me, “What should I pray?” Toddler pilgrim, here is a good place to start; seasoned traveler, here too is a good place to return. Pray that you will not give in to temptation.

Holy Father, today, lead me not into temptation; but if Your will is that I should walk through the valley, be my rod and staff to comfort me; lead me through by Your grace to greener pastures and make me lie beside still waters. The turbulence of this world we will shortly endure. Grant me grace to know I’m never outside Your care. Keep me from falling into self-service while I seek to follow You.

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Build From Bottom Up

  “But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.” (‭Luke‬ ‭22‬:‭26‬ NLT)
The service structure of a Twelve-Step Fellowship is modeled after this Kingdom rule. Service is bottom-up, not condescending. The invisible honor that results is contrary to Earth’s understanding, and looks upside-down, but it isn’t. The things of Heaven are unseen (Colossians 1:16), and so it is with spiritual living while on Earth. We are blessed for the purpose of service, and I am only content when I am giving myself in worship of my Creator by serving His other creations.

“A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. Those who follow the right path fear the LORD; those who take the wrong path despise him.” (‭Proverbs‬ ‭14‬:‭1-2‬ NLT)
I believe either of these verses could stand alone, but together they pose a parallel that amplifies the meaning of the second one by the word picture of the first. Failure for me to follow Lord Jesus Christ is the same folly as if I were to rip apart my own house in a violent fit. The use of a woman in the first picture demonstrates the social expectation of stewardship. It isn’t just any resident of the house going all Tazmanian Devil on it, but the housekeeper herself! I am my own life’s housekeeper, and so the choice to build or destroy, to follow or despise, is mine.

Holy Father, today, I choose to follow Your lead to love sacrificially, to serve others and, by extension, You. You are my motivation to breathe, move, fuel, plan, and act. Save me from selfish reaction today, and guide me under Your grace to peace. Cause my living to reflect Your loving care, and brighten my light so others will know You. In Christ Jesus’ name, amen!

pure water leaf“But just as all the good things the Lord your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the Lord your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you.” (Joshua 23:15, NIV)

“I have sworn an oath to David, and in my holiness I cannot lie.” (Psalm 89:35, NIV)

These verses should be effective in wiping away a common misconception about God that is comfortable to entertain: the one that paints God as merely a warm and fuzzy grandfather-type who lets us have our way and who, consequently, disappoints us when our every wish isn’t materialized. God demands holiness of Himself and, while He has instituted grace as a covering for imperfection, He has been clear that obedience toward holiness is still our part of the covenant. Any doubt of that should be clarified in His declaration in Psalm 89. (The whole chapter seems to address this issue.) Joshua was clear to Israel just as Moses was when he laid before them the choice between life and death (Deuteronomy 30:19), and it should be clear to this generation’s children of Heaven too.

I can Twelve-Step my holiness problem this way: 1) I am powerless over sin, and my life is (by my power) unmanageable; 2) I believe God can deliver and restore me to sane living and abundant life; 3) I make a conscious decision to turn over to God everything I am, have, and will become, to live for His purposes rather than my whims; etcetera, through the Twelve Steps. As long as I am carried by a body of meat I will be prone to human decay, and while Earth’s gravity holds me I will stand imperfectly on this rock, but I have the hope of relationship with a Creator who is not content to leave me alone until He perfects me for eternal unity with Him (Philippians 1:6).

Gravitys HoldTo reach for holiness, I have to look at sin differently through eyes of grace. Sin includes anything outside God’s perfect will for me, not just the firebrands I once used to convict others and make myself feel superior – murder, robbery, adultery, and the like. I sin when I think self-serving thoughts – not just lust, but laziness, pride, self-satisfying cravings. To don this attitude toward sin without the undergarment of grace would be to fling all hope into despair, because the consequence of sin is always death. Not to apply it, however, is to be a friend of the world and enemy of holiness, and I cannot bear to tolerate my enmity with God while His is the relationship I most fervently seek to maintain.

Holy Father, today, while I celebrate all the progress with which you have blessed me, I acknowledge that there is nothing I have or am that You did not create, that You do not own, and that You could not take away. I align myself with You. Thank you for accepting me, faults and all. Now make me more acceptable to You by whatever means You determine necessary. I submit. Clean out the closets of my heart, all my secret places. Shine light into my darkness and sweep away the debris of my shame. Make me aware of anything that remains for me to address, and give me grace to address it according to Your will. Be glorified in who I am and what I do. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

alabaster jarThe NT in a year reading today contained Ephesians 5: 8, “For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light”

It caught me that the verse doesn’t say I was “in” darkness, but that I “was” darkness. I am now not merely walking in light, but I “am” that light. The next verse explains it in more detail, that the fruit of light is light. I like it, but I have more meditating to do about that.

Yesterday, I had a thought while at YoGod (a Christ-centered, worshipful, yoga experience). Joye, our facilitator, read about the broken alabaster jar of nard that was poured out onto Jesus at the home of Simon the Leper. The devotional she read pointed out that the jar, an expensive product itself, had to be broken before the precious contents could be spilled out. While that was certainly a picture of what was about to happen to Jesus, the most precious of vessels issuing forth the most precious of anointing, it is also true of me. I more closely associate with the clay pots of Gideon than with any priceless jar, but the fact remains that I must be broken before what is inside, whether actually valuable or just prized by me for a temporary occasion, can be poured out. It is also only then, when I am broken and completely poured out onto Jesus, that I become the blessing to Him I was created to be, and come into the relationship I was built to maintain. I am broken and poured out, so that I can accept, freehanded, what Jesus was broken and poured out. I empty myself of me, and He empties Himself for and to me. I am all I am, and have all I have, for, to and because of Him. I do so love my Jesus! I do so wish to please Him.

Holy Father, make me more like the One to whom I belong – Christ Jesus, Your Son. Thank You for grace. Help me live in it and love with it.

I started today poorly, griping about the sleep I did not get, but You, who make all things new, please help me start again, lovingly sacrificing myself to the world around me rather than trying to claim what parts of it I feel are mine.

Warring with Flesh

flesh vs spiritI get very critical of myself for not being unified enough, for being duplicitous. There are two notes left on my bathroom wall staring at me every morning. One is of Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you,” and the other is Psalm 86:11, “Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth: give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” They serve to remind me that, whatever progress I have made, I haven’t arrived at “finished” yet. Sometimes that realization can be overwhelming. There are days like today, when my defects and failures seem bigger than my goals, dreams, purpose or personal value. Even as I write just now, I recognize that I am merely listening to the wrong voice – the accuser rather than the Redeemer.

I still struggle with Step One, afraid to introduce myself at meetings as “a compulsive overeater” without clarifying that I am “gratefully recovering” or some other such disclaimer. I am not who I was. I am constantly being remade by a loving Creator. So how do I acknowledge what I was with the tendencies that still haunt me while being faithful to look forward to the work being done in me without feeling as though I should have two faces?

The Apostle Paul, the great missionary of the early Church, struggled with this too. The “New Testament in a Year” reading for today was Romans 7, known for Paul’s description of this inner battle. He concludes it saying, “So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin” (Romans 7:25b, NRSV). Apparently, as long as we are draped in the tent of these physical bodies, we are sentenced to drag around with us the tendencies that come with being made out of meat: craving, lust, inflammation, death and decay. There will be a point at which we are liberated from them though, and it is that Independence Day for which I now prepare. The more I live according to the Spirit today, the less alien I will be on the day of spiritual deliverance, and more at home I will be in my new accommodations. Heaven isn’t about the place anyway, but about the Host.

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25a, NRSV)