Wednesday, November 30, 2016

You do all things well.

And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Mark 7:36-37

You do all things well. You never make a mistake. You bring healing, wholeness, and a joy so amazing that I just have to talk about it. Just like these Decapolites, I am amazed at what You do. I am amazed that You save people. I am amazed that you recreated what sin has broken. I get to see You restore life to weary souls. I see the wonder of Your touch in people's lives every day as I serve and follow You, and I am amazed. You do all things well.

And, Lord, I am astounded at what You have done in me. I am just a sinner You changed. I cannot fathom how messed up and ruined I would be outside of Your saving grace. I'd be a bitter, selfish, and miserable man. Yet because You have saved me, You define my life now by grace, joy, mercy, and Your care in and through me. And I am amazed. You do all things well.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Who then is this?

He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Mark 4:40-41

Jesus silenced a storm. The disciples who were in the boat with Him were genuinely afraid for their lives as they saw the waves crashing in and filling the fishing boat. Jesus arose from a nap, rebuked the wind and sea with His Creator's command: "Peace! Be still!" Suddenly the wind died and the sea was calm and the storm was no more. These men, most of whom grew up as fishermen on the lake they were sailing were astounded. They'd never seen anything like this. It was supernatural.

Their fear then changed. Jesus not only rebuked nature, but He also rebuked His fear-filled, faithless followers. He gets to the root of their fear with five one syllable words: "Have. You. Still. No. faith?" Each word in that probing questions echoes with the sudden new calm, even as the wind is still ringing in their ears and their legs are still unsteady from the pitching of the boat from the tempest.

The disciples then feared and respected what they saw in Jesus. It seems from the text He simply created calm where there was none. It wasn't that the storm moved on and died out normally at His command. It was that peace and calm suddenly appeared at His command. He created calm instantly from the chaos. No human could possibly command that kind of power. They were left wondering at divinity!

Who then is this Jesus? That is a question all followers of Jesus ought to be constantly asking as they encounter Him. Do I feel wonder, awe, even fear at His power and person? If not, I may be distant from Him with a low view of my Lord. But, if I am close enough to Him to be uncomfortable with Jesus as God, a little afraid of what I see in Him, I am right where my Master wants me to be in order to teach me Who He is.

Monday, November 28, 2016

discipleship: a call and a command

(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
John 21:19

Following Jesus is both a call and a command. This is particularly apparent here at the end of John's gospel where the apostle John chooses to end his account of the story of Jesus with a conversation between the Lord and Peter that emphasizes the discipleship inherent in the process of believing in Jesus. The last recorded words John gives us from Jesus are on following Him. In verse nineteen in response to Peter's third affirmation of love, Jesus prophesies Peter's own death, ending that prophetic statement with just two words: "Follow me." The call could be no more clear... to follow Jesus would mean Peter's own death. Peter would suffer for the sake of his Master.

Peter attempts to divert this rather uncomfortable conversation about following Jesus to death by asking about John, implying if he too would follow Jesus to death. But Jesus simply refuses to make John the focus. Instead He keeps Peter focused on His call to lead His sheep while following the Master. And by so doing Jesus ends with a reiteration of the seriousness of the call to discipleship with a three word command: "You follow me!" (John 21:22)

When I see the beauty and the power of my Savior Jesus, and in the brevity of two and three word statements from Him I feel the call upon my my own heart to follow Him, I must believe. His grace saves me and brings new life and I willingly say "Yes, Lord" to His call to be His follower.

Yet Jesus Himself warned to "count the cost" and when I find rejection from some and ridicule by others in this world for following Jesus, I am tempted, like Peter at Jesus' trial, to hide my allegiance to Jesus in order to fit in. And here (just like Peter) is where I need the stern command again: "You... follow Me!" And somewhere in the tension of the sweet call and the sobering command of discipleship is where I live my life day to day as a follower of Jesus.

Friday, November 25, 2016

restoration and renewal

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep."
John 21:17

This conversation between Jesus and Peter is deeply personal and touches at Peter's heart in the deepest places. It is a section of the gospel I find strange to read in one sense, sort of listening in on what should be a private matter. I feel like I stumbled into a very important, very private talk. It would not be my preference to have Jesus so directly question my love for the world to read.

Three times Jesus asks Peter, the disciple who most adamantly and most publically denied Jesus at His trial three times, to affirm his love again for his Lord. And three times Peter does so, with the fresh memory of three denials and the sound of a crowing rooster still echoing in his heart. The third question from Jesus is the hardest to bear, for Peter's heart breaks at it. And Peter's affirmation is the most direct at that point. He knows Jesus knows his heart and appeals to Jesus as omniscient and forgiving God.

With all three questions, the conversation allows Peter to re-affirm His loving allegiance to His Master. And after all three of Peter's responses, Jesus leaves Peter to obey the command to "Feed my sheep". Jesus re-affirms Peter's call to be a shepherd. And in this cycle we see conviction, response, repentance, forgiveness, and restoration all take place. 

Jesus restores Peter to kingdom usefulness in this hard conversation walking together on the lakeshore after a breakfast of grilled fish and bread. Peter leaves off being a fisherman with one last miraculous haul that Jesus gave him, and now begins the work of being the shepherd Jesus is calling him to be, tending the flock Jesus is giving him to lead. This is both restoration of relationship and a transformation of Peter's life. Jesus does both quite well still today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jesus on mission

Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
Mark 3:20-21

Jesus was not even understood by His own family. The press of ministry became so great for Jesus and His disciples that He had to institute protective measures. In Mark 3:9 He instructed His disciples to procure a boat for Him so He can use it as a safe platform from which to teach. I think it also served as a quick getaway transport to "lose" the crowd when it got to be too much. Jesus has to clear time to get alone to pray and can only find time to do this by rising very early in the morning to avoid the press of the crowd each day (Mark 1:35). The reports of His miracles are so sensational that Jesus' reputation proceeds Him so that He cannot enter any large town anymore without causing a stir (Mark 1:45). He keeps primarily to the countryside, evidently camping out with His disciples, but even there the crowds still track Him down..

Mark's gospel is quick to pick up on the sensation Jesus has made among the people. Crowds always surrround Him, so much so that Jesus cannot even have a simple meal with His own mother and brothers. His family thinks it has all gone way too far. They don't see His mission or the ministry, just a mess, and their response is to try to rescue Him by intervention from what they see as craziness.

Even though Jesus is so massively followed, Mark points out the negative assessment of Jesus' family ("He is out of His mind") as well as the criticism of the Jerusalem scribes ("He is possessed by Satan"). Yet neither the outrageous demands of ministry to the crowds nor the outlandish accusations of the scribes or even of His own family will keep Jesus from His mission. He saw among the crowd and His disciples people who were clearly understanding Him and seeking the will of the Father Who sent His Son (Mark 3:34-35). And that was why Jesus came: to make family out of those who accept Him and then do the will of God.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The One coming soon

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Revelation 22:12-13

Jesus is the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega. And He Who is first in my heart has the right and the power to judge me. This promise Jesus gives to return soon is both thrilling and chilling. It thrills me to know Jesus will return to rule this world and fix what is so very ruined by sin and death. Yet it is also chilling because He will do so intimately with my heart. He will repay every person according to what each has done. He will do so with me. I will answer to Him. Jesus is my judge and He knows the degree of faithfulness I have or have not had with His call to live and speak the gospel.

Even though Jesus comes to evaluate and to reward, I work through that sobering aspect of judgment with joy. I love life, and I love Jesus even more. I have everlasting life in Him. And I want above all to see Him, to dwell with Him in an eternal home, to continue to enjoy Jesus forever. If I live on in this earth another day or get to see Him come in this way He describes, then Maranatha, Lord Jesus! And if I travel through death's valley first, then that is fine with me as long as I am with Him. His rule is the passion of this heart in life or death.

Yes, come Lord Jesus... soon! Yes, You alone are the first and the last. Yes,You have me as Your own, and even though I have not always served You as well as I could, I will receive my recompense with respect and awe and worship of You. I bow to You, Risen Lord and Coming King.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Yet Believe

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:29

What Jesus said to Thomas
He also says to me
I want so much to see Him
in order to believe

I follow Jesus in the pages
thinking of Him as I read
yet I wonder if it's enough
to truly read it and believe

What I want from Jesus 
are answers to receive
and I pray fervently to Him
wanting to believe

But what I pray for
may not ever come to be
and in that crisis of my asking
will I truly still believe?

Thomas saw His God and Lord
and it forced him to his knees
no more doubting what he then saw
he came by seeing to believe

Jesus told him there would be others
who never would get to see
with their eyes the risen Savior
yet greater blessing attends their belief

Although I walk behind my Savior
Whom I never truly see
yet I know Him, learn to trust Him
blessed by Him since I not seeing, yet believe

Friday, November 18, 2016

the Jesus I know

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
John 20:20

I would have been unable to speak had I been in this room at this moment. Jesus shows Himself in resurrection power to His disciples. They were hiding together in a locked room and suddenly Jesus appeared to them all. He bid them to know His peace. He showed them the wounds of His crucifixion. They know it is Jesus. They rejoice. Their fear is turned to faith and their sorrows burst into joy.

The disciples' encounter with Jesus is one of encouragement and exultation. They are encouraged as they praise their risen Lord. They had seen Him first so long ago as an intriguing teacher -- a rabbi to follow. Then Jesus showed Himself to be a healer and miracle worker Who made the blind to see, fed the crowds supernaturally, and even raised the dead back to life. But now, standing before them having defeated death Himself, He was clearly the all powerful God of all things. He is their Lord.

Every Christian who has encountered Jesus since the time of the apostles has encountered the risen Lord and King in all His power. Every awareness I have had of Jesus has been as the One Who has won over death and has proven Himself to be the perfect sacrifice for my sin. I only know a risen Savior and Lord. I can't have Jesus any other way! And I too am so glad that this is the Jesus I know. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

three hallelujahs

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God..."
Revelation 19:1

The praises that surround the throne of God in heaven in this vision center on three clear points of worship. God is praised for them and recognized as possessing uniquely salvation, glory, and power. And these are things I should be praising God for right now.

Salvation belongs to our God. Only Jesus saves, and God has brought our salvation in the death and resurrection of His Son. Jesus, the perfect, sinless Lamb of God was sacrificed so that our sin would die with Him. He was raised to bring us new life. We are born anew in Him. God alone will save those who believe. Hallelujah!

Glory belongs to our God. He alone is glorious. His holiness and goodness are showered on us in the grace of Christ's love for us. We see His glory in our salvation, in His Word, in His Son, and in the new life He gives us so that we may be holy and pleasing to Him. His glory is known in the created universe, and in the hearts of the redeemed. Only God has this glory. Hallelujah!

Power belongs to our God. He can do all things. He upholds all things. He made all things. He keeps all things. His power is seen in His Son Who on earth healed the sick, fed the hungry, loved the rejected ones, and raised the dead. And His power is at work in us as we have believed and through it He will both will and do His good pleasure. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

wrath and judgment

The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.
Revelation 16:19

The visions of judgement John has for the city of Babylon the great are horrific. The entire world is caught in the chaos of the events of judgment described here. The sun scorches the earth, then the world is plunged into total darkness. There is war, death, and unimagineable natural catastrophe. And still in the descriptions humanity defies and curses God, refusing to repent (see Revelation 16:9-11). The world is ending and still God is cursed.

God's purposes are directed at the center of world power known in Revelation as "Babylon the great". From this city the beast, false prophet, and antichrist have controlled humanity in the ultimate dictatorship and defied God. From this center of all human sinful activity, the world has been corrupted and God's saints have been targetted and executed systematically. And all the horrific judgment has come to focus on the evil that is Babylon. Even as this world is shaken from massive earthquakes, the leaders still defy God again, assembling a vast army in The Valley of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16).

I believe John's vision describes events yet to be. And this motivates me to respond in two distinct ways. The first way I respond is to fear God and love the grace of the gospel. God's justice is fierce, His wrath on sin is great, and knowing the cross satisfies both makes me want to praise the Lord. My second response is to be gospel-committed in conversation. I want to see people saved from this fate. I want as many as believe Christ to be spared this sort of future. I want to be diligent to live and to tell the good news so that people may find God's mercy and grace in Christ.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Revelation 12:9

In the dramatic vision from John the apostle recorded here, we get a reminder of what the devil does. The devil is the deceiver of mankind from the ancient days of the fall of Adam and Eve in Eden, all the way to these present days. He accuses God's people as Satan and he deceives all the world. He is a liar, an attacker, and a deceptive tempter for individuals and nations to do great evil. In John's vision it takes all the warrior angels of heaven's host led by Michael himself to cast Satan and his demons down to earth.

Make no mistake about it, the battle over sin and the devil's work is deeply spiritual and really hard! Sin came into the world as the devil's design to mar God's perfect work, and even though Jesus has defeated sin and death, Satan still fights frenetically fierce for his pride. God's angels can defeat him as Christ has, but we must appeal to the power of Christ. Our flesh will fall to him if we don't. Even in this context, the devil emboldens the world against the rule of Christ, and Christians are killed indiscriminately in his hatred. This looks to the entire earth like evil wins.

Christians have a foe at work in the world today. We don't have to be spooked by the devil though, because the Holy Spirit of God resides within us and greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world! Yet we should not take any battle with sin lightly. That would be a great deception. The devil is still very much a master of deception and he will get the upper hand on us if we aren't careful, which is why we are warned to watch our doctrine and practice closely. 

This is why we need to stand strong, praying in the Spirit and strengthening our hands and hearts in the Word of God. The devil runs from the Word of God and if we stay strong, refusing to let him twist the truth of scripture, we will not be deceived by him. We may be attacked. Some may even be killed, but God keeps our souls safe.

Monday, November 14, 2016

reasons to believe

He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe.
John 19:35

John, the beloved disciple, the last of the gospel writers to pen his account of walking with Jesus, wants his readers to know that he was there, near the cross, when Jesus died. His account is eyewitness. He knows what he saw and he recorded it in his gospel accurately. John also knew the meaning behind what he saw, going of his way to point out the details in which Jesus' death fulfilled Old Testament scriptures.

In four details that John shared, Jesus' death was a fulfillment of scripture. 1) The soldiers divided and cast lots for His clothing in fulfillment of Psalm 22:18. 2) He was given sour wine in fulfillment of Psalm 69:21. 3) They did not break His legs in keeping with the custom for the Passover Lamb's sacrifice (Exodus 12:46). 4) Jesus was pierced through the side with a spear in fulfillment of Zechariah 12:10.

The combination of scriptural fulfillment and personal eyewitness testimony bear powerful witness to the saving work of Christ's cross. The eyewitness details give credibility to the historicity of the actual event as it really occurred. The scriptural fulfillment points to the sovereign, saving work of Jesus on the cross as God foreordained it to be. A real event, in real time, in conjunction with what the scriptures told brought about our salvation!

So what did John want from readers when he told us these things? John's goal was the faith of those who heard them. He wants us to believe. His goal in writing the gospel was that saving faith might come to whose who read and heard this account. He had borne true witness, tied that witness in details to the scripture, so that we might be convinced that Jesus is Lord and Savior and believe upon Him, trusting Jesus' atonement for the salvation of our souls and deliverance from our sins.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

snares from the fear of man

The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
Proverbs 29:25

Living as I do in the sphere of human relationships, it is very easy to let social interactions become influenced by the fear of man. There are three areas I immediately see this affecting me. The first is the snare of the church. Fear can creep in easily in ministry, when words and actions that I do are under constant scrutiny by my brothers and sisters in the flock. It is easy for me to want to be liked, much harder for me to agree that what I am called to do is to show people how to live as God has decreed. There is a temptation to soften the truth of scripture to gain acceptance. But I must seek to please God, not people.

There is also the snare of politics. The picture of the snare in this proverb warns me of the way snares are subtle. They are disguised and dangerous. The fear of man slowly and almost imperceivably pulls us from faith in God. Having just completed this election cycle, I've had to struggle and fight (as has most of the American church) with balancing my responsibility as a citizen, the limits of broken secular authority, and the holy sovereignty of God. And I am sure this was seasoned much with the fear of man. I'm not going to think I acted as purely as I could have in that process. I sincerely believe though that politics has the strong potential to be a snare. And so I must stay vigilant in faith so that my heart trusts the Lord, and not human authority or mere earthly powers.

Sometimes I fall to the snare of self. This is fear of man that I impose upon myself. I have to guard against this because out of necessity I need to be a disciplined man. I have to impose certain systems and ordered actions into each day of my life in order to get things done. And I can make these systems so dominant that they control me rather than my work. The rules take over. And when that happens, I have a form of the fear of man (really it is legalism) that can pull me from the grace of the gospel.

O Lord,
Teach me to fear only You. I trust Christ for salvation because only His death and resurrection could save me from sin and give me life. And His kingdom always trumps all others. Pull me from these snares, my Lord.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

consequences in a broken system

Like a roaring lion or a charging bear
is a wicked ruler over a poor people.
A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor,
but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.
Proverbs 28:15-16

Since these words are true and unchanging, I should always be in prayer for my leaders. And in times of uncertainty, I can trust that God will honor those who honor Him, and bless a people if a leader honors God. So I pray hard always that leaders around the world will seek God's understanding because that will make a better climate for the gospel generally.

The warnings in this passage are real. Cruelty and oppression thrive in this sinfully guided world system. God is His wisdom certainly raises up the leaders He sovereignly chooses. I should still pray that they would be wise and rightly motivated people. And if they are not, and those leaders perpetuate further oppression in a broken system, I should work even harder at making the gospel my focus.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

sweet friendship

Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
Proverbs 27:9

I have been blessed to have many friends in my years on this earth. And the words of this proverb are true in many of those friendships. They have proven to bring true joy to my heart, friends who may not always say what I want to hear, but who love me with the truth that I need. And I am a fortunate man to have such friends. It is a great gift from God.

I have had friends deliver difficult observations to me in love. They have helped me live out good times and hard times. They have laughed with me in celebration, cried with me in loss, confronted me in my sinfulness, and helped move me on from stuck places as we have pursued following Jesus together. God's hand is often seen by directing my friends to me just when I needed them most.

Those friends are like a squad of fellow warriors to me. We fight sin, we prepare for the battle and hone weapons skills together, we rejoice in victory, we tend to our wounded when the battle gets the best of us, and we obey our Lord and Master as we worship Him together. What possibly could be sweeter than this kind of shared life?

Monday, November 7, 2016

King of truth

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
John 18:37

As Jesus stands before Pilate, His crucifixion looms just a few short hours away. And Pilate keeps confronting Jesus about kingdoms and authority. But the problem is that Pilate's limited terms of rule and Jesus' actual purposes are not nearly the same. Pilate is severely handicapped through secular limitation to talking strictly human kingdoms and authority on this earth. Jesus is talking about it in the view of having created all people and hence all kingdoms. 

Jesus gets to the root of Pilate's attempt to pin sedition on Him by revealing to Pilate His true purpose: to proclaim God's truth to the world so that those who hear this truth can make the choice to obey Jesus. That puts Jesus as a much higher authority than any king, answering only to the Father to be the judge of His actions.

Since I hear and believe the truth in Jesus, He is thus my King. And I need a King! Oh how I need a ruler over this heart! I will obey what my crucified and risen King asks of me. I will not be distracted by mere earthly games of political authority. Jesus is the Truth, and no earthly ruler can possibly change, inhibit, or destroy that fact.

My King,
Your crown of thorns, bejeweled with Your own blood, was worn for me. The nails through your wrists became Your ruling scepter extended over me. Your cross... Your throne. Your empty tomb... a royal hall. Oh rule over me in truth now, Jesus.

Friday, November 4, 2016

muddy water

Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain
is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.
Proverbs 25:26

It takes just a little sin to defile what is holy, like a little mud can foul a clear stream. This is why Solomon warns us (particularly leaders in this context) about our closest associations. Sinful associations that allow wicked actions to go unchallenged will result in some serious pollution. A righteous person must stand in their righteousness and not let evil or tolerance of sin creep in.

The image I see here is that righteous people (God's redeemed people) can be clear, refreshing streams through which God's redemptive message and work will flow. But should we knowingly accomodate evil (in practice or in false doctrine), we fail to obey and glorify God and though His truth might flow, it is mixed with the mud of sin and the resulting pollution may make it no longer effective.

I should live in this world. I should befriend non-Christians, for Jesus is the friend of sinners. But I cannot "give way before" what I know is wicked. I must have my strong beliefs. I want the gospel's clear stream to flow through and around me so that others may know the joy and beauty of the sparkling clear water!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Passionately pursue justice as widely as possible!

Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?
Proverbs 24:11-12

It appears to me after reading this passage that the wise person committed to living in a way that respects God's righteousness and justice will be moved against human injustice and evil as widely as possible. He will reject at all levels any evil and deadly sin and will not excuse it or willingly allow himself to turn a blind eye to it. He will not be uninformed. His conscience is widely led by a sense of God's justice and holiness.

So that observation informs my civic duty. And in one week I will have a chance to utilize this principle as I participate in a general election that is the sleaziest in my lifetime, hitting new lows of degeneracy and leaving no viable major party options that aren't fraught with some sort of horrible injustice. How do I vote in this situation? I will do so with the thought and careful consideration of the widest sense of justice possible. I will vote my conscience informed by God's Word first and foremost and that takes me far beyond political parties, awful candidate selection, and platforms as I evaluate the two worst case scenario presidential candidates and the other options available to me in the system. I have decided that I answer solely to God Who watches over my soul as I vote and once again, as is my custom, I will be praying in the voting booth. When I do so, I will answer to God for my ballot choices, and not any person, or organization, or political movement.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

love lost

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
Revelation 2:4

Jesus saw a church
A people that should love Him
And love each other
And somehow, both were gone

Jesus warned a church
To return to a love for Him
And to love one another
Lest He return and judgment come

Jesus sees me
And He calls me to love Him
And in that love to love others
He calls me to stay true

Jesus shows me
How to love by dying for me
And gives me love for Him and others
So His love shows in what I do

Jesus watches me
May He find me loving Him
And loving others
No matter the cost

Jesus judges me
Knows my love for Him
And love for others
May no love be lost

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

how I hope to be known

He who loves purity of heart,
and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.
Proverbs 22:11

People with great and favorable relationships, people who have real influence, are people who are pure of heart. They aren't in relationships in order to manipulate people to their own ends or to deceive. They are just good hearted people whose wisdom and grace can influence other people for the better. And it starts with the heart.

This proverb is something of a contrast with Proverbs 22:10, where self-driven contentious people are driven away. It also serves as a positive reminder when viewed against Proverbs 22:12, which warns us that God sees all hearts and actions and overthrows deceptive people. Right in the righteous middle is where we should live our lives, with purity of heart and grace-filled language.

This is how I want to be known. I want to reject impurity in all its forms: sexual lust, pride, coveting, materialistic drive, egotistical motivation, deception self promotion, or manipulation to get what I want. Instead, I long to be known as the person who speaks grace and truth, and the only way that I know to do that is to saturate my life, thoughts, and words in the Bible and speak it back to people in an honest, caring way.