The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4


God creates us, sets us on our feet, and tells us to go. And as we go, Jesus walks with us teaching us just as he taught his disciples. We learn as we go and as we follow. He doesn’t wait until we’re fully formed—he just calls, and we are expected to leave our plows and our oxen and anything that would bind us to this earth.

We become as we follow. In fact, the only thing we can do to become is to follow. Becomers bear fruit, but it’s nothing they do themselves. They could will to bear fruit; they could study fruit-bearing; they could concentrate on bearing fruit; or they could attempt to replicate the fruit they’ve seen. It doesn’t work. Only the Holy Spirit produces fruit in those set on Becoming like Jesus.

Jesus said Living Water would flow from the ones who believe on him, those who are becoming like him. In fact, that very water promises to be more than a trickle—it will be like rivers (John 7:38). The becomers aren’t producing the water; they are passively, but joyously, allowing the waters to flow through them to pour out on the parched lands where they live and minister.

The Holy Spirit is doing a great work in us causing us to become more like Jesus in love, action, attitude, sacrifice, humility, and all those glorious qualities we call Christian. Our task is to submit to his will, put off our old selves, and become renewed, “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24). God intends for us to become like Jesus (Ro. 8:29).

I have heard it said that we are becoming what we will be. In that case, we won’t one day awake to sainthood if we haven’t allowed God to work in us in the meantime. But if we’ve said yes to our Father, it does not yet appear what we will become.

I’m in…


Father, we present ourselves a living sacrifice to you so that the old continues to pass away and we become new creations every single day. Bind the sacrifice to the altar lest we try to wiggle away. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.



“God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Romans 2:24


I am part of a team going to explore Navajoland in response to an invitation of the bishop there. We will look and listen and learn from the Navajos and see how we can partner with them to do God’s work. In preparation for this marvelous opportunity, our team has been reading extensively and researching the history and culture of Native Americans.
To my distress I have read that:
“The Navajo’s concept of religion is so total that it can be said that there is no such thing
as religion in Navajo culture because everything is religious. Everything a Navajo knows—his shelter, his fields, his livestock, the sky above him and the ground upon which he walks–is holy. The Navajos for the most part, have long resisted Christianity. They look upon it as a ‘part-time’ religion where a man’s god is available to him for only a few hours on Sunday and then has to be sought out in a special house where his spirit dwells.” (Locke:  The Book of the Navajo)


Even though this may be a broad generalization, it seems that the Navajo are not the only ones who hold this opinion. These “part-time” Christians could be called “nominal,” Christians in name only or, perhaps, they are believers who have not yet been discipled. Nevertheless, that those who call themselves Christians do such a poor job of representing the Son of God, the Light, the Truth, and the Way is heartbreaking.


As true followers of Jesus, we are to lift him up so that when people see us, they glorify God. Our actions are to reflect hearts of love and integrity and bless and bring the life of Christ to our world, especially those around us. We have centuries of misperception to undo, and it can only be done by abandonment to Jesus Christ, scrupulously following the crucified Lord, and abiding in his resurrected life.  All the while depending totally on him…


Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a massive global turning to Jesus Christ through the witness of his children who are walking faithfully with him?


Father, forgive us for our selfish, flawed portrayal of our idea of Christianity. Convict us and work within us that those who do not yet know you might hunger and thirst for you because of the Jesus they see in us. Humbly, I pray in Jesus’ name. AMEN.


Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad? Job 2:10 (NLT)

I have just experienced a profound disappointment – not something that will alter my life forever – but it has been, nevertheless a great disappointment. I’ve worked on a project for almost nine months and have anticipated its fulfillment only to find that at this point I can no longer be involved.

For nine months I worked with great joy. I researched. I made new friends and acquaintances. I studied and learned so much, and in the final moments, I have discovered that this really good thing has been denied me.  I am Moses looking across at the Promised Land but being denied entrance.

Just like you in times of distress, I have prayed; I have remembered and quoted favorite scripture promises; and I have trusted. As the culmination of the work was getting nearer, the intensity of my prayers (like yours) has increased. And yet, it has become increasingly clear that I was an instrument for planting and watering; others would reap the harvest.

A few days prior to our final group meeting on this project, I read Job 2:10 (above), and it spoke to me. Sometimes God says no even to good things, and accepting his closed doors is as important to our discipleship as rejoicing in his yes-es. Peace has accompanied me, and I am joyful in knowing that there are those who will perform this ministry faithfully, and I may some day participate in the results of their labor. Do I still feel a bit wistful about not finishing with my team? Absolutely. But I trust God’s wisdom and know his plans for me are always good. And I know that this disappointment is nothing compared to the numberless times and blessings that have already come my way.

I once heard someone say, “Disappointment is God’s appointment.” I accept this appointment and stand on tiptoes to see what he will do next.

Father, bless my team who will proceed without me. I pray that you will do through them more than any of us can think or ask. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


…we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. I John 3:2 (NIV)
“Every day I look in the mirror to see if I see Jesus there,” remarked my friend Lynne. We were talking about what we’re doing to become more like Jesus. In the course of the conversation, Lynne mentioned some of her personal disciplines and how she is trying to intentionally follow Jesus.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Lynne’s comment. Years ago I placed myself in God’s hands when I put my faith in Jesus and committed my life to him. But I am wondering what I should be seeing when I “look in the mirror,” searching for Jesus.

Jesus said he always did those things that pleased his Father (John 8:29). Am I intentionally, eyes-wide-open, looking to do those things that please God? To paraphrase Hannah Whitall Smith, Am I loving God’s will?

Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law and not to abolish it (Matthew 5:17). Then he went on to give us those passages we call the Beatitudes (those attitudes that should be part of our intrinsic nature as his children). Am I seeking to obey him in all things and live out the Beatitudes, even when doing so would be uncomfortable or inconvenient?

Jesus said he would ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit who would teach and remind us of all things that he told us (John 14:26) and that the Holy Spirit would counsel us and convict us of sin (John 16:8). Am I staying filled with his Spirit so that I follow his direction and resist sin in my life? Is his Spirit producing fruit in my life—that supernatural love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control (Galatians 5:22, 23)?

There are so many descriptors of Jesus’ incarnational life on earth. Will I ever be like him? And then I am reminded of Paul’s wonderful word to the church at Corinth: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (II Corinthians 3:18 NIV) It is God who is working in us to make us like Jesus (Philippians 2:13). All we have to do is trust, obey, and let him work.

And so, as I think, ponder, and reflect on “the Lord’s glory,” as I center my thoughts and my life on him, I, too, will be changed into his likeness and, with Lynne, will see more and more Jesus when I look into the mirror.

What’s in your mirror?

Dear Lord, thank you for this wonderful encouragement that as we cooperate with you, you are making us more and more like Jesus. THANK YOU. AMEN.


…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. II Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

I have a new trainer for my dogs, Edward and Frances. Truth is, as we all know, the trainer is training me, their owner. When I learn how to assume my rightful position as leader of the pack, we will have a more enjoyable and peaceful environment.

I am learning that I am the Alpha (the boss), that I can just ignore those frequent demands for attention, that I set the direction of behaviors for a specific time and place, and that my responsibility is to provide leadership. Which has brought to mind something else that is critical to peace in all our lives…

Have you ever had thoughts, like little puppies, get in your face and demand your attention? Are you ever distracted by nudges from this or that when you’re trying to focus on the Lord? Do worries barge into your peace, demanding dominance and usurping God’s promises for you? We can probably all say a resounding YES.

The obvious conclusion here is that we all need training to know how to deal with our thoughts. They are out there, and they will always be on the periphery watching to see who will have dominance—the Spirit of God in our lives or our thoughts of anxiety, distrust, fear, and negativity.

God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love and of power and of discipline. And so we, through God’s Spirit, confidently take control of those thoughts that threaten to destroy our peace and stability in Christ. We make those thoughts obey Christ. We control our thoughts through the truth of God’s Word; we ignore those thoughts that tempt us to fear; and we discipline those thoughts that want to introduce doubt.

And with faithful practice, as we are trained, the thoughts become captives to our focus on Christ. We dominate them; they are no longer in control. “And the peace that passes understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Lord, why does it take us so long to recognize the authority we have over what we think? Strengthen us to resist anxiety, negativity, anything that diminishes you, your will, and your peace in our lives, and help us to begin to discipline our thought life. We especially need your power for this. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


…by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Hebrews 5:12 (NIV)

I was somewhat amused as I saw the teacher remonstrating in the hall with her fourth-grade student. Apparently, his boyish behavior had not been deemed appropriate, and she had pulled him out of class. I chuckled as she told the young miscreant to “GROW UP.” (At nine years old, how grown up could he be?)

But just recently when I inquired about the absence of registered attendees for a Christian conference, I was not at all amused to learn that several folks had refused to come when they learned that certain other people would be there. That’s when I wanted to say, “GROW UP.”

In the Hebrews passage mentioned above, the writer says that Jesus, our High Priest, learned obedience by the things he suffered. He wasn’t exempted from hardships or pain or people he didn’t like because he was God’s Son. In fact, it was exactly those things that made him the perfect High Priest who is able to empathize with all our circumstances because he has been tempted just as we are—and without sinning (Hebrews 4:15) or failing out of weakness or self-indulgence or immaturity.

If we can only view those things that make us uncomfortable as opportunities to allow God’s grace to flow through us instead of running from them because we don’t like this or that, how quickly we would move forward in spiritual maturity. So what I’m really trying to say here is, “GROW UP.” (And I’m looking in the mirror.)

Father, your patience is staggering. Thank you for giving us second and third and more chances to become what you want us to be. Help us to more and more deny ourselves so that more of Jesus lives through us. AMEN.


But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only… James 1:22 (KJV)

In chapel, we heard the story of an Italian tour guide conducting a group through the Vatican. As they walked, a flock of chickens crossed their path, and the guide said, “These chickens are the very descendents of the rooster that crowed when Peter denied Christ.” Of course, the tourists were impressed until one man wondered aloud, “But how are they at laying eggs?” In essence, the heritage might be intimidating, but what actual value did the chickens have?

Some of us may boast of being “cradle-Christians,” of having cut our teeth on the church pews, of knowing all the hymns and prayers, and all the accoutrements that are part of being a “church person.” But what is the actual fruit of our lives? Jesus said that we would be known by our fruit. Is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness growing and observable in our lives? Is there consistency in our daily walk? Are we authentic?

There’s an old saying that goes like this: “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

Father, sometimes we get caught up in the trappings of religion and forget that our theme song is do-be-do-be-do. Do the works of Jesus and Be like Jesus. Strengthen us to follow you faithfully and to live out our hope through you. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN.


…not my will, but yours be done. Luke 22:42 (NIV)

A friend was recently comparing the French Revolution to the American Revolution. He reminded us that while the American Revolution was about religion, the French Revolution focused on reason. David went on to say that this latest cultural revolution is neither religion nor reason; it’s all about feeling. “I’m okay; you’re okay.” And the individual is the center of his universe.

We sacrifice truth for political correctness; we discard discipline for indulgence; and we trump righteousness with personal rights. We have forgotten that our lives are to reflect Jesus who prayed, “…not my will, but yours be done.” Our contemporary thinking, if we think at all about God, is, “not your will, but mine be done.” We really want and expect God to bless our plans, our self-orientation, and to give us our rights. And how infrequently do we think of sacrificing ourselves for others?

Oswald Chambers, Bible teacher from another time, said that we must become God-conscious rather than self-conscious. Attending to God brings us to the place where we desire his will; it creates space for others; and we finally move into real fulfillment. We’ve got it backwards. Self-consciousness diminishes us while God-consciousness enlarges our world view and brings true enrichment.

When I was a child, we sang a song: Jesus and others and you, what a wonderful way to spell joy. J is for Jesus, for he has first place. O is for others we meet face to face. Y is for you in whatever you do. Put yourself last and spell joy.

Father, help us to be God-conscious in a world that seems to increasingly value self-realization. Help us to pray for your will and grace us to joyously live that out. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior. Isaiah 45:15 (ESV)

Sounds like a game we loved to play when we were children – hide and seek. It was so much fun to run around expectantly looking behind trees and under bushes for our friends (or siblings) when we were “it.” When we finally discovered the “hiders,” there was always laughter and amazement at their clever hiding places.

Now here is Isaiah telling us that God hides himself. Could it be that God has a sense of humor? After all, Jesus was anointed with joy more than any of his companions (Hebrews 1:9). Actually, this God who hides himself is much more than that.

God’s treasures are so abundant, so vast, so marvelous that they are not always readily discerned. Let me explain. God has packed his Word with promises that assure us that he is able to do more than we can think or ask, but there are stipulations. We must seek him; we must believe; we must ask.

He sets out a promise, and we take it by faith. Remember, he has hidden himself. He wants us to believe him without seeing him, without touching or feeling him. We remember his faithfulness; we encourage ourselves in the Lord; and we walk out the promise, claiming it by faith. And there he is. In fact, he’s been there all the time, but we haven’t perceived him until by faith our eyes are opened.

Why would God hide himself? Why wouldn’t he just allow anyone, anytime, to come and claim all his treasures? He wants to develop that love relationship with us, and he wants us to walk by faith so that as this walk deepens, the treasure is no longer the blessing, the treasure is himself.

Father, we love you for who you are. Thank you for your patience with us as we grow and for the delightful prospect of abiding with you. AMEN.


…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. II Peter 3:18

At a teacher training orientation today one of the facilitators said that personal engagement with the Bible, God’s Word, was the single most important thing we can do for spiritual growth. Nothing else even comes close.

When we begin a daily discipline of reading the Bible, we can expect the Holy Spirit to teach us God’s truths, to point out and convict us of sin in our lives, to correct and rebuke us in wrongdoing, and to train us. We can also expect to be guided, to be encouraged, to be comforted, healed emotionally and spiritually and physically, spiritually nourished, instructed in life and relationships, learn business principles, and countless other wonders. And we can expect to grow.

But let’s face it: Bible reading is a discipline. It requires a commitment to take the time, to stop, to be intentional about getting into God’s presence through his Word. There really is no excuse for not reading the Bible. In our country there are 4.4 Bibles in the average household. 57% of Americans polled read the Bible four times a year, and only 26% of that group read the Bible at least four times a week. (American Bible Society) Is it any wonder that Christianity seems to be in decline?

Everyone has the same amount of hours in the day; everyone in our country has access to a Bible; everyone will experience growth by engaging with the Word. We cannot put ourselves in God’s presence without being transformed. Let’s stop making excuses and get regularly into the Word.

Heavenly Father, your Word is a lamp to our feet and light to our path. Where your light comes, darkness disappears. Cause us to hunger and thirst for you and your Word, and strengthen us to discipline ourselves to daily seek you in your Word. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.