Friday, August 31, 2007

God Has A Plan, You Have A Plan

Psalm 119:12 - "Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees."

A couple months ago, Duane Liftin, the President of Wheaton College came to speak at Wooddale Church. I had never heard Duane speak. You could tell that Duane was from the world of academia. I loved listening to his stories, and the way that he weaved his message around a central theme. At one point, Duane talked about a bumper sticker that he had seen on a road, not long ago. The bumper sticker said,

"God has a plan
You have a plan
Your's doesn't matter."

He was speaking from Psalm 127.

In Psalm 119:12, David is giving praise, once again, to God. And, he, once again, is asking for God to help teach him his decrees. So, why does David spend so much time talking about God's law? For one, that's what this Psalm is about. It's David's great psalm of praise for God's perfect law. For another it's because God's ways are truly better than our ways.

In James 4 we read about the person who thinks that they can plan their entire life apart from God. It really is an exercise in eternal futility. James writes, "Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.' As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."

Take some time today to praise God, for His will. We don't always like it. Sometimes it causes us to question. But, it's always good. Whether we believe it or not. God loves you. Allow Him to teach you His decrees.

Dear God,

Thank You that You love us. Thank you that I have a plan and You have a plan, and that mine doesn't matter. But, thank You too that even though mine doesn't matter, You care about it. And, thank You that when I stray, You stand ready to forgive.

In Jesus' name,


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Precious Words

Psalm 119:11 - "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."

Sometimes I wonder how my life would have turned out had I not had my parents. Mom and Dad are pretty special people. I think I had the greatest parents in the world. A lot of my friends might argue, but I know that God placed me in the family that He did because He knew that I needed my parents.

Throughout my life the words that my parents taught me when I was a child have stuck with me.

"Brian, be careful who you hang out with."

"Brian, watch your speed."

"Brian, be a good husband."

"Brian, there is no one in this world that doesn't deserve to be treated with dignity and respect."

"Brian, don't be afraid to share your faith."

I could go on and on. And, I've got to say, I wish I had listened to that speeding one a little bit better.

For good or for bad, and mostly for good, the words that my parents gave me when I was growing up are hidden in my heart.

Better yet, there are many of God's words hidden there too.

I am so grateful that I have a relationship with Jesus Christ. His words have been my salvation, literally, for over 30 years now. And, when I walk in His ways, life goes better. When I don't . . . well, let's just say, life doesn't work. Because, Jesus is life. And, Jesus gives life.

Dear God,

Thank you for your precious words. They are life giving. Help me to continue to hide them in my heart, and share them from the mountaintops.

In Jesus' name,


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I Love My Daughter

Psalm 119:10 - "I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands."

I love my daughter, Breanna. That's her with me in this picture. It was just a couple months back that we took that picture. Breanna had just walked down the aisle and received her eighth grade diploma.

Today, Breanna began high school. She'd tell you, "It was just orientation," but it was the start. She spent time in each of the classes that she'll take this quarter at Eden Prairie High School, and then to an assembly with her principal.

Breanna loves the Lord. She is excited about sharing His love with her classmates. And, she's nervous.

Today's verse talks about the righteous person who seeks God with all of her heart. That's my daughter. She's not perfect. But, I see in her a desire to know God. She desires to walk in His ways. In fact, I know of no person in my life who desires to walk in His ways as much as Bre. She just has this passion for holiness.

I'm praying that she'll continue to walk like this. I'm praying that when she looks back on her high school years that she will be able to rejoice that she stayed faithful to Christ. I'm praying that she'll transform EPHS. And, I'm praying that God will continue to transform her. May all of us seek to be people who seek God with all of our heart so that we will not stray from His commands.

Dear God,

Help Breanna to always walk with you. Help her to continually seek You with all of her heart. Help her to adore You. Help her when others make fun of her for her faith. Help her when she feels like she is standing all alone. And, help us all to be seekers of your heart.

In Jesus' name,


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Quest for Purity

Psalm 119:9 - "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word."

When I was in college I majored in pastoral ministries. One of the classes that all preacher boys, as they called us in the south, were required to take, was homiletics. This class taught us the art of preaching. I look back on some of the old videos that I have from that class and chuckle, as I see myself preaching with my fake southern accent. I was trying my best to be someone that I wasn't in the pulpit of my Liberty University classroom.

My first homiletics professor was Dr. Jerry Kroll. He gave me a "C" for the class. And, he also gave me a gift. Dr. Kroll required all of his students to memorize Scripture. I had excuses almost every week for why I couldn't memorize the verse. Eventually those excuses caught up with me. If I didn't memorize the remaining verses for that sememster I was going to fail the class. So, I memorized. And, Psalm 119:9 was one of them. At the time that I memorized this verse it was a chore. Today, it's a gift. I didn't realize it then, but the verses that Dr. Kroll had us memorizing were nuggets of gold that would sustain me many times throughout my adult life.

This verse tells us that if we want to live pure lives that we have to live according to the word of God. When I think about our world today, purity is one of the last words that comes to mind. It is hard to drive down the street without being continually bombarded with assaults to the mind. Turn on the radio or television and the barrage continues. Get into conversations at Starbucks and it continues still again. We are not going to find purity in the world. But, we will in the Word of God. In two days we'll take a look at verse 11, which corresponds directly with this verse. Until then, do your best to live according to the Word of God.

Dear God,

Help me to be a person of the Book, one who seeks to live my life in accordance with your priciples. Help me to never settle for Satan's lies. Help me to fervently seek you with all of my heart.

In Jesus' name,


Monday, August 27, 2007

The God Who Does Not Abandon

Psalm 119:8 - "I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me."

There is some dispute over who wrote Psalm 119. Many say that it wasn't, David. After all, the author is never named. But, I believe that Psalm 119 carries with it David's distinctive writing style, and passion for God. C.H. Spurgeon, in his classic work, The Treasury of David wrote, "We believe that David wrote this Psalm It is Davidic in tone and expression, and it tallies with David's experience in many interesting points. In our youth our teacher called it 'David's pocket book,' and we incline to the opinion then expressed that here we have the royal diary written at varoius times throughout a long life. . . After long reading an author one gets to know his style and a measure of discernment is acquired by which his composition is detected even if his name be concealed; we feel a kind of critical certainy that the hand of david is in this thing, yea, that it is altogether his own."

David had watched his predecessor, King Saul, walk with God and then stray from God. He had watched his predecessor's mind become mad. He had seen the effects of the Holy Spirit being taken from the King. He had seen God utterly forsake Saul. And, now King David feared the same would happen to him.

In Psalm 51, fourteen months after his aggregious sin with Bathsheba, David confessed his sin before God. In verse 11 he wrote, "Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me."

When I read Psalm 119:8, I am reminded of Psalm 51. David seems to be saying that he is determined to obey God, among other reasons, so that God will not forsake him. Can you imagine that fear? Can you imagine what it would be like to live in fear that God would turn His back upon you and leave you forever without Him?

This is one of the differences between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. Jesus promised his disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit upon them (John 14:26; Acts 1:8). In 2 Timothy 1:14 we read that the Holy Spirit dwells within those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ. We have been baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will not be taken from us. We do not have to worry about God abandoning us. He loves us and will never leave us or forsake us.

So, let's rejoice today that God will not utterly abandon us. Yesterday I spoke to our Senior Highers. I shared with them from Revelation 21 about heaven. I had heard James McDonald, the Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Illinois share a sermon on heaven a couple weeks back and was so moved by it that I wanted our kids to catch it. McDonald showed how in Revelation 21 God reveals much about heaven. In it we see that:

1) God is constantly making everything new (Rev. 21:5)
2) God is near (Rev. 21:3, 7)
3) Suffering is Absent (Rev. 21:4)
4) Satisfaction is Abundant (Rev. 21:6)
5) Everyone is not Going to Heaven (Rev. 21:8)

Heaven could not be further from the fear of being utterly forsaken by God. But, hell? I think David's fear of being utterly forsaken by God is a vivid description of what hell will be like?Those who taste hell's flames will feel the desperation of being
utterly and completely forsaken. And that should compel those of us who have not been abandoned, but transformed by God to share His love with as many people as possible. May all of your friends and family know the power of the transforming work of Christ in a life.

Psalm 119:8 ends the first of 22 eight verse sections that make up Psalm 119. How appropriate that David ends this section with the declaritive statement that he will obey God's decrees. He had talked about the benefits. He had talked about the trials. Now it was time to make the declaration.

May we follow with those hearts of allegiance that I mentioned in yesterday's post. May we declare as Joshua and the people of Israel did in Joshua 24:14-16 "'Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.' Then the people answered, 'Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods!'"

Dear God,

Thank you that we do not have to worry about you abandoning us as you did with Saul. Thank you that your Holy Spirit dwells within us if we have allowed you to be our Savior. Help us to follow you with hearts that are fully committed. Help us to love you with pure hearts.

In Jesus' name,


Sunday, August 26, 2007

My 38th Birthday Wish

Psalm 119:7 - "I will praise you with and upright heart as I learn about your righteous laws."

Today is my 38th birthday. It's been a special day. My family has gone out of their way to show their love for their dad and husband. The students in my youth ministry have showered me with love. And, God has once again reminded me of His faithfulness.

In Psalm 119:7 we read about a man who wanted to praise God with an upright heart as he learned about God's righteous laws. In my 38th year of life, I want to be more like this man. I want to be able to say that my heart is faithful and true. I want to say that God is my top priority and that I believe His laws to be righteous and worth following.

Aren't you glad that this verse doesn't say, "I will praise you with a heart that has to, because you are God and if I don't I'm in trouble. So, I'll go ahead and follow your laws that are unfair?"

If the above statement were true, then God wouldn't be worthy of our allegiance. God's laws are righteous. They are for His glory and our benefit. In fifteen years of full-time youth ministry I have talked with hundreds of students who were upset at God because they felt like God didn't want them to have any fun. This afternoon I received a phone call from one of my former students. He was a guy that was as messed up as any that I had ever worked with. I'll never foget the New Year's Eve evangelistic outreach that I was at one year when one of my dear volunteer staff members sent a student to find me. He was sitting with this student (the one who phoned today) in the stall of a church bathroom. The student was vomiting violently. The volunteer staffer would need a new shirt and a shower before the night was through. The student was cursing up a storm. He had poisened himself with alcohol and he was going on and on about how life wasn't worth living, and God was ruining his life.

How great to talk with this student years later. He's a 25-year-old father of two now. And, he knows that he was a handful back then. He joked with me today that his father told him that God's punnishment to him would be that one of his children would give him heartache as he grows up. I pray that doesn't happen. And, I pray that he has learned the lesson that God's laws are good. And, I pray that his old youth pastor will remember that lesson too.

God loves you. Where are you at in your relationship with Him? Have you given Him the opportunity to control your life, or are you still trying to run things on your own? May you pray, as I do that you will praise God with an upright heart as you learn his righteous laws.

Dear God,

Thank you that you love to prove your love for us. You do it over and over again. Help us to praise you with hearts that are upright and true. May our lives speak of our allegiance to you to everyone who comes in contact with us. May we always stand in awe at your good and righteous laws.

In Jesus' Name,


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Some People Have To Learn The Hard Way

Psalm 119:6 - "Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all of your commands."

I am super sore tonight. My son Jeremy and I decided to take the longest bike ride of Jeremy's life. We had a great time. We rode from our home to a local park about 3 miles away and then rode all around the lake at that park. By the time our bike ride was done we had traveled about 9 miles. It was the best time I ever remember having with Jeremy. In fact, we had such a good time that we invited Jeremy's brother Chris to join us for a second ride about an hour later. And, we rode another 9 miles.

This wouldn't be a huge deal if I was in shape, but I'm not. I want to get in shape. I have good intentions. I work hard for short periods of time. And then, I revert to old habits.

In Psalm 119:6, the psalmist concludes his thought that was started in verse 5. Taken as two verses this passage would read, "Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands." I can relate. When I consider all of the commands of Christ, when I look at the demands that He places on those who follow Him, and then when I consider that I am far from steadfast in obeying Him, I too am put to shame. I'm so sore today because I know that it would be best for me if I worked out regularly. When I finally do it, I'm put to shame. But, if I keep doing it, I'll reap rewards. And, if I keep following Christ, I won't be put to shame.

Following Christ involves daily dying to self. It's a hard thing to do. But, it's worth it. So, today I choose to follow Christ. To allow His Spirit to reign in me. No matter how much it hurts, it's worth it. Because, God is doing a new work in me.

Dear God,

Help me to be so steadfast in following you that a day will come where I won't be put to shame when I consider all your commands. Thank you that you are patient with me. Help me to show love to others like you have to me.

In Jesus' Name,


Friday, August 24, 2007

The Yearning

Psalm 119:5 - "Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees."

When I was a child there was nothing that my heart desired more than an Atari video game system. It was the must have Christmas item of 1977. One by one I watched my friends acquire this system. And, the more friends that acquired it, the more my desire for it grew. Have you ever desired something like that?

Our family never purchased an Atari. Eventually my desire for an Atari was replaced with the desire for even greater video game systems. That was replaced by the desire for a cool car, a girlfriend, a great job, etc.

I don't know that I truly felt a desire for God that was as intense as my desire for things until my freshman year of college. I loved money, and my desire for things had convinced me that I was to pursue a degree that would put me on the fast track for career advancement and high yield investments. That freshman year a speaker came to our college campus and talked about our desire for God. I realized that my yearning for God was minimal, at best. God wanted my all. Real lordship demanded full hearted devotion.

These past few days, as I've studied Psalm 119:1-5, I've been continually reminded about God's desire for me to yearn for Him more than anything else. I think this is the idea that the psalmist is trying to convey when he begins verse five with the word, Oh. You can almost hear the urgency in his voice as your read this passage. The psalmist has been sharing with us about those who are blessed and the way that they walk. He has called these people blameless and seekers of God. And, it seems to be that even the psalmist longed to be this kind of man.

So, how's the yearning?

Does your heart yearn for the things of God?

If not, ask God to help develop in you a passion for the things of God. Ask God to help you get your eyes off this world, and all of its trappings, and onto Him. He longs for you to long for Him.

Dear God,

Help me to long for you. Help me to be like the psalmist, and to be one who can't stand the thought of not pleasing you. Help my life to be a praise to you. Help my life to marked as one that is characterized by the touch of God in it. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for your love.

In Jesus' name,


Thursday, August 23, 2007


Psalm 119:4 - "You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed."


Three letters in our English language that convey so much.

The word, you, can carry with it, so many different emotions. The letters can bring about stress, when we are thinking of one who makes our life difficult. The letters can make our heart warm as we think about positive memories with people we love. The letters can melt our heart as we think about that one who has captured our heart. In the movie Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy, in the film's climax pours out his love for Elizabeth with these words,

". . . My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever. If, however, your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on."

So, what do you think of when you hear the word, You, and the You refers to God? Are you terrified? Are you in awe? Are you grateful? Are you bewitched, body and soul, and do you love, love, love Him? Or, is it some combination of the above? Maybe it's none?

But, today, the word, You stopped me dead in my tracks.

Psalm 119:4 speaks of God; the only God. And it is God, who has laid down His precepts. God is serious. God expects that His law be fully obeyed.



This is huge. This is God, we're talking about.

You, Creator and Sustainer of life, Ruler of the universe, Savior, Master, Lover of my soul, the One who knows the number of hairs on my head, the archenemy of Satan, the One who gives and the One who takes away, the Good Shepherd, the Lily of the Valley, the Champion, the Man of Sorrows, my Advocate, my Judge, my God, You, have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.

I stand in awe. . . of You.

Dear Heavenly Father,

You are . . . and I am not.

In Jesus' name,


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

They Do Nothing Wrong

Psalm 119:3 - "They do nothing wrong; they walk in His ways."

The 176 day journey continues today with Psalm 119:3.

Over the past couple of days we have read about those who are blessed by God. They are the ones who keep His commands.

In verse three of Psalm 119 we read that these people do nothing wrong; they walk in His ways. How cool would it to be one who does nothing wrong?


I can hardly grasp that concept. It seems like not a day goes by that I am not presented by hundreds of opportunities to do wrong. And not a day goes by where I get it right all day long. And yet, this passage suggests that those who walk according to the law; those who seek Christ with all of their heart, are capable of doing nothing wrong.


And, if we could really live life in this type of perfection then we would be God. And, we can't. So, again, maybe the point is that apart from His strength and His power working through us, we are capable of doing nothing right.


You may say, "But what about those who don't love Christ? They do good things."

Yes, they do. But if it is not done for God's ultimate glory, it is not done for the right reason. God created us for His pleasure and for His glory. Our lives are to be lived as a sacrifice of worship to Him. So, we are incapable of doing right when we walk apart from His ways.

1 John 3:9 says, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God."

1 John 5:18 says, "We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him."

Do Christians sin?

Of course.

So, how do we reconcile these verses that say that no one who is born of God will continue to sin? These verses have always bothered me. Because, I know that I am a Christian, and I know that I sin.

In 1978, Paul Van Gorder wrote a book entitled, In The Family - Studies in First John. What follows is a long excerpt from that book, but it describes, I believe very well, in great detail this struggle that we have as Christians between our old nature (sin) and our new nature (godliness).

"Consider, please, what this verse (1 John 3:9) does not say. It does not say that a person who is born of God never commits an occasional act of sin, but he does not make it his trade or practice, the course of his life. Again the verb 'commit' is in the present tense, indicating continuous action. J.N. Darby translates this verse, 'Whoever has been begotten of God does not practice sin.; This in now way conflicts with John's previous statement, 'If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us' (1 John 1:8). There is a difference between having sin and doing sin.

Here is the question: Why does the believer not practice sin? John says it is because 'His seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.' The new nature dwells in every Christian. Some translations capitalize the word 'His,' implying that it is God's seed that remains in the believer. This seed is the new nature, the new man formed within the soul at salvation. That which is born of God in the believer, the new man, cannot sin. God's seed abides within the believer; it cannot become defective.

I wonder if something else might be true here also? In 1 Peter 1:23 we read, 'Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.' The same truth is declared by James, 'Of His own will begot He us with the word of truth . . .' (James 1:18). The Lord Jesus Himself described the character of those who do not believe on Him: 'And ye have not His word abiding in you' (John 5:38). This is the engrafted word by which we have been made partakers of the divine nature (James 1:21). Nothing grows out of a carrot seed except a carrot; an apple seed brings forth an apple tree. So James inquires, 'Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain yield both salt water and fresh' (James 3:12). Because God's seed remains in the believer, it is impossible for a true Christian to practice sin. He no longer desires it. To live a wicked life, therefore, is foreign to true conversion.

Now, I am not ignoring the fact that the old nature is still within the believer. 'That which is born of the flesh is flesh' (John 3:6). Nor am I denying that 'the carnal mind is enmity against God' (Romans 8:7). This old nature is sinful, and it can produce nothing else. But the new nature is of the Lord, for we are 'partakers of the divine nature.' It is as incapable of sin as God is. When the Christian recognizes that he has a dual nature - one of sin and the other of God - he will be able to face life realistically. He will not want to dishonor his Heavenly Father by allowing anything to remain in his life that does not proceed from the new life. When on occasion the old nature asserts itself, and the believer lapses and allows an act of sin by thought, word, or deed, he can immediately do as 1 John 1:9 instructs, 'If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.'"

I told you it was a long one! But did you catch the power in Van Gorder's words at towards the end of the last paragraph? "When the Christian recognizes that he has a dual nature - one of sin and the other of God - he will be able to face life realistically. He will not want to dishonor his Heavenly Father by allowing anything to remain in his life that does not proceed from the new life." That's what these verses in Psalm 119 have been about the past three days. Those who walk with God will want to please Him. We want to give back to the God who has so lavishly loved us. We want to adore Him. We want to not continue in a pattern of sin.

May it be so.

May it be so.

And, may we do nothing wrong.


Dear God,

That word nothing is a tough one. Because, I know that I am so guilty of doing many things that displease you. Thank you for the reminder that your Spirit dwells in me. Your seed dwells within me. I have been born anew. Help me to live like it. Help me to allow you to reign.

Thank you that nothing is impossible for You -- even transforming me.

In Jesus' name,


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lessons from a Used Car Saleman

Psalm 119:2 - "Blessed are they who keep His statues and seek Him with all their heart."

To say that I felt a bit hypocritical yesterday as I wrote about being blessed is an understatement. You see, when I was writing about God's blessing, I was also feeling bitter.


Because, it feels like our entire financial world is being rocked(BLESSED, it could be our health). I chipped my tooth on a tootsie pop yesterday, and it will cost $400 to get it fixed (BLESSED, I have insurance). We have school shopping to do for four kids (BLESSED, my wife is an incredible bargain shopper and has already found great prices on almost everything that we need). We returned from a wonderful vacation (BLESSED, unlike the majority of the world we actually got to take a vacation) on Saturday. I was driving our van. It made it over 1300 miles without incident (BLESSED). On Sunday morning, as I was driving to church with Breanna and Chris I noticed a very loud noise coming from the front of our van. I'd heard the noise before. On a prior vehicle, the noise resulted in a tire falling off of the car as I was driving and ruining the car (BLESSED, because I could have been killed). After church, I took the van to a service station. My engine light was on too, so they ran a full diagnostic. The result? I need a new transmission and new wheel bearings. The noise was due to the fact that our wheel bearings are going to give out. The cost was estimated to be at least $4000. Our van has over 164,000 miles on it (BLESSED - That's a ton of miles! BLESSED - We have a van).

So, I was upset. We do not have any money to put towards another vehicle. With four kids, one income, and Christian school education for three of our kids (BLESSED - We have been given so much) there just isn't enough money to go around for another car payment.

Cyndi and I drove to the car dealership where we purchased my car a few years ago (BLESSED - We have two vehicles). When we got there I put on my best car buying face. I didn't want to purchase anything, because I knew we couldn't, but wanted to at least hear what we might be able to afford.

We were greeted by a used car salesman. And, he totally fit the stereotype. Except for the fact that he had told his boss to go home, because his boss was working too much, and he thought his boss needed to spend time with his family.

Over the course of the next hour, our salesman opened up to us. He told us of his divorce a few years back. His wife ran off with his best friend. He told us about his two kids who are in college. He told us of his own financial crisis. He was two weeks away from losing his home. And, he told us about how God had provided. He found this job around the time that he was about to lose his home. He had one great month that allowed him to make up for three months on his mortgage. He doesn't know how he is going to make it this month, but he is trusting God. He told us that he had read a book about praising God in everything. "And so," he said with a smile, "I am praising God for my children. I am praising God when I make a sale. I am praising God for my financial troubles. I am praising God for my divorce. I am praising God for the years that I have had in my home. I am praising God for my physical ailments. I'm praising God for it all. And, it's transforming my life."

I was convicted. Here I sat as the pastor, upset at God for letting my van get wrecked, and I was being taught by a man who has lost almost everything. (BLESSED)

So, what about Psalm 119:2?

Here's what I've learned so far.

1) God really wants me to understand what it means to be blessed. He has already blessed me, but He wants me to know how much more blessed are those who seek Him and obey Him.

2) Jared Falkanger, one of my students sent me Jeremiah 29:11 today on my Facebook account. It's a verse that I am reminded of at least once a week. But, today, I recalled Jeremiah 29:11-13, which says,

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

God wants me to seek Him with all of my heart. It's talked about in Deuteronomy 4:29 too.

3) God really wants us to KEEP his commands. He talks about it in verses 22 and 146 of Psalm 119 as well. He also talks about it in Deuteronomy 6:17. Jesus told his disciples to keep his commands in John 14:23 (This was just a few days before He was crucified). Right before David died, he told his son Solomon, the heir to the throne to "walk in His ways and keep His decrees . .. " in 1 Kings 2:3.

4) I can't keep the commands of God without the Holy Spirit's work in my life (Ezekiel 36:27).

Finally, I read about King Hezekiah today. In 2 Chronicles 31:21 it says, "In everything that he undertook in the service of God's temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered."

Dear God,

Help me to obey you like Hezekiah. Help me to follow you even when no one else in the world is. Help me to seek you with all of my heart. May my life be a living sacrifice. And, may I always remember the lesson of the used car salesman. Please give me the strength to praise you in everything.

In Jesus' Name,


Monday, August 20, 2007


Psalm 119:1 - "Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord."

I don't know about you, but when I think about those who walk with God, I think about spiritual giants. I think about Elijah, walking along the road and then being escorted into heaven by a flaming chariot. I think about Enoch, another man who tasted not death, but was brought into the very presence of God. I think about Abraham and that burning bush experience that left him changed forever, and began a new path of walking with God. I think about David, the man after God's own heart. But, Brian? No, I don't think about Brian. And, I wish that I did.

I want to be a man who is known for walking with the Lord. I want to be known as a man who walks according to the law of the Lord. I began my spiritual journey of mediating on a verse in Psalm 119 each day for the next 176 days, this morning.

Today's verse is a tough one. It's about more than just walking with God. It's about being a person whose ways are blameless. And, how does one do that? I don't know about you, but blameless isn't a word that I use to describe myself.

And, maybe that's the point. Maybe what the Psalmist is trying to tell us is that none of us are blameless. And, maybe that's why the hope of a Messiah, and our assurance that Christ is the Messiah is so beautiful. We, who desperately needed a Savior, have one. And, through Him, and through His forgiveness we can experience the walk of the blameless. We, who are far from blameless can be viewed as blameless before a Holy God.

That's what a relationship with Christ does. So, if we look at Psalm 119:1 backwards, we end with the word "blessed." And that's what I am.

I am not blameless in my eyes. I am not one who walks in the law of the Lord. I try. But, I fail so often. But, I am blessed. And, I'm blessed because of Jesus.

Psalm 1 begins with the word "blessed" too. It says, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he mediates day and night." (Psalm 1:1-2)

So, I'm blessed. And I've begun this journey of biblical mediation. And, Psalm 1 tells me that the blessed person mediates day and night on the law of the Lord.

Jesus talked about being blessed too. The most famous occurrence of this is in a passage of Scripture that we know as the Beatitudes. Matthew 5:3-12 tells us,

3"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

In Luke 11:28 Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

Like a rebellious child, so many times I think that I know better than God. That my ways are better than His. Talk about the ultimate in arrogance. If I'd just listen to the Word of God and obey it life would be better.

Want more passages that correlate with this type of blessing that Psalm 119:1 speaks of? Check out Psalm 112:1, 128:1, John 13:17, James 1:25 and Revelation 22:14. The Bible is full of practical teaching on this subject.

In Ezekiel 11, God was calling His people back to Himself. In verse 20, God said, "Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God."

Did you ever think that when we fail to walk in God's ways that we fail to allow God to be God? It's time. It's time to obey. Its time to walk in God's ways. It's time to recognize that blessed people, people who have had the grace of God lavishly poured upon them, need to live like blessed people.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your blessing. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for your work on the cross. Thank you for your resurrection power. Thank you for your transformative power. Thank you that you see me through the lenses of your forgiving power and not as a hostile judge. Thank you that you have the power to transform me. Help me to believe that with you working in me that the transformation can occur.

In Jesus' Name,


Sunday, August 19, 2007

We Are Attempting Bat Evacuation

I have a new respect for Batman. In the movie Batman Begins, we find out that Bruce Wayne became Batman after overcoming his intense fear of bats. His fear developed when he fell into a well as a child. The well was full of bats that swarmed above young Bruce as he screamed in fear.

Last week, I encountered a bat. The bat was HUGE. He must have had a wing span of 10 feet. He had long vampire like teeth and beedy black eyes. And, he wanted to kill me. At least that's what I thought when I saw it.

It was a little before midnight when, at the rental home that we were in at Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference I saw it. He flew a few inches away from my face out of the bedroom and into the living room. At first I thought it was a bird. The lights were off. When I switched the light on, the bat came toward me again. This time, sure it was a bat, I did what any self-respecting man would do. I screamed like a little girl. My wife was in the next room and wondering what her husband was screaming about. I told her, "There is a HUGE bat in our house. It is trying to attack me." She couldn't stop laughing. When she told me to just get it out of the house I told her of my intense fear of bats. This is one creature that I could not get out.

We called the front desk at the resort. They called in a teenage security guard. Twenty long minutes later he arrived; tennis raquet in hand. And, I . . . well, you'll have to watch this youtube video to see for yourself.

I'm ashamed. So, very ashamed.

176: A Spiritual Discipline

My family and I spent last week in Michigan. It was our annual vacation to Marantha Bible and Missionary Conference. You can find out more about Maranatha by following this link: Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference. One of the things that I love about going to Maranatha is the time that I have to be spiritually fed by others. I also love the walks on the beach and the personal quiet times that I have with God. This year, I felt like God was telling me to take an in depth look at the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119. So, for the next 176 days, I'm going to try something very different. The plan is to meditate upon one verse in Psalm 119 each day. And then, I want to record whatever it is that I feel that God is teaching me from that verse on my blog.

There may be some days where I record a lot. There will be other days that there isn't much there. I'm excited to see what God does in my life as I take this extended look at Psalm 119. I can't imagine that there won't be a change in my life. And, I'm excited to invite you to join me on this journey.

The journey begins tomorrow morning.

You can read Psalm 119 in it's entirity by following this link: Psalm 119.

Wooddale Church Now Streaming and Archiving Services

Many of you have either called, e-mailed or written to let me know how much you appreciated Leith Anderson's sermon, When Calamity Comes To Where We Live. Now, you can watch Wooddale's sermons each week by following this link: Wooddale Church Video Sermon Archive. Enjoy!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Leith Anderson's Sermon on I-35W Bridge Collapse

Many of you have sent me e-mails or phoned in response to the tragedy that took place in Minneapolis last week. No one that I knew was involved in the accident. That said, I, along with most people who live in the Twin Cities have been profoundly impacted by Wednesday's event. In some ways we all feel like we have been affected by this event. I spoke on the tragedy in our Senior High group on Sunday. Our students had such a need to process the bridge collapse.

Leith Anderson preached to the congregation on the event. I found Leith's sermon to be comforting, compelling, and challenging. You can listen to his message by following this link:

When Calamity Comes To Where We Live.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


It's hard to put into words what I am feeling right now. Earlier tonight, while I was driving to our Wednesday evening Bible Study, I turned on my radio. I had it tuned into KFAN, the sports radio station in Minneapolis. What I was hearing had nothing to do with sports. The announcers were talking about my city. They were talking about a catastrophe. They were talking about a major bridge collapse. They were talking about a bridge that almost everyone that I know drives on a regular basis. The 35W bridge crossing the Mississippi River was gone.

I switched the station.

Now listening to WCCO, the local talk leader, I heard the frantic reports of various eyewitnesses. Trucks were on fire. People were trapped under rubble. A school bus, full of children, was on that bridge. People were dying.

I arrived at the home where our high schoolers would soon be arriving. The television set was already on. And, I watched. I sat in stunned silence as the images flooded across the screen. The images reminded me of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's. The Interstate Series, as it was called, was suspended when a giant earthquake made rubble of San Francisco's highway system. This compared. But, we are in Minneapolis, and there was no earthquake.

As the students arrived, we watched. And then we sang songs of worship to our God. And then, we prayed. I loved listening to the heartfelt prayers of high school students, as they cried out to God on behalf of those who would never again see their loved ones. Our students understood that in this most awful of days, Jehovah was still on the throne.

As I get ready for bed, I'm shaken up. We cancelled our bowling activity that was scheduled for after Bible Study. We all felt a need to be close to the ones we love. When I arrived home, I held my kids. My younger two boys wanted to snuggle in Daddy's arms. I thought about the people gathering at Hennepin County Medical Center waiting for word on their loved ones. I thought about those at North Memorial Hospital, and my friend Chris who moved back to the Twin Cities today from Chicago. He had sent out an appeal for help moving. He lives right by North Memorial. I thought about the police, fire fighters, rescue personnel and city officials. I'm full of questions. And, I'm trusting.


I don't understand why you allowed this tragedy today. I marvel at the way that you protected 60 kids on a bus, and I wonder why you allowed others to die. Come alongside of our city tonight. Come alongside of our state. Come alongside of all those who are hurting. And, use us as instruments of Your healing.

In Christ's Precious Name,