Thursday, July 28, 2005


I am mostly talking to myself today.

It is a good habit to make a point to give people complements. In every conversation that I have, I can be intentional about complementing this person. The more I practice this, the more it will become natural.

The other day, I made everyone pay two different people complements before they left the devotional. After doing this, I found myself being sarcastic with one of the students. She then told me that no one had paid her a complement yet. In addition to this, two other people had given some sarcastic remarks as well. I was tremendously embarrassed. Here I was hoping everyone would get a complement and I am the one putting someone down with a sarcastic comment. Aaahhhh!!!

Let us be intentional about giving complements in every conversation we have with those around us.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Student Center Face-Lift

Last Friday night we began the Student Center Face-Lift. I am seeing the improvement already on two fronts.

The first front is the new paint, the new carpet that will come soon, the tearing down the walls, the scaffolding, the moving furniture around, and many other things. It is great to see all these things happening.

The second front is the changing attitudes on all our faces. I am seeing you students come together for a common purpose like I haven't witnessed before. It is good to see. A wrinkle of criticism disappears here and a sag of clickishness vanishes there. It is good to see.

The Student Center Face-Lift is lifting more than just the physical appearance of our gathering place. We can only praise God for this. Amen!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I'm just joking

"Yeah, Julie, you are lookin' pretty ugly today!!!" "What?!" "Oh...I'm just messin' around with ya. Don't worry about it...I'm just joking."

I find myself just joking around too often. While my sarcasm has diminished, it can get pretty bad at times...mostly with people that I begin to feel really comfortable around. There is a time for a nice little pun that knocks a close friend or a bit of sarcasm every once in a while. But, have you ever met a person who is always offering "little" put-downs here and "innocent" nuggets of sarcasm there every chance s/he gets? It seems like everything out of her or his mouth is "just a joke." Being around these type of people is not something I always look forward to.

Consider these proverbs:
"Many a truth is said in jest." - unknown
"Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, 'I was only joking!'" - Proverbs 26:18-19
"The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." - Proverbs 15:4
"A man finds joy in giving an apt reply--and how good is a timely word!" - Proverbs 15:23
"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." - Proverbs 25:11

This is the lesson: I must think before I make a joke that could work against the edifying that I am called to do as a Christian.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Living Christians

This morning my devotional reading led me to consider how Christians live. Does it matter how I live as a Christian? Those who say no might run to the offers of salvation by grace alone. Those who say yes might run to James' faith without works argument. Sometimes this question comes up in discussions about salvation; does the way I live affect my salvation? I want to shift the focus away from this toward living everyday life.

Does it matter how I live as a Christian? Well, what do you believe about God? Does he want some ceremony or a momentous intellectual ascent to appease him to let you into heaven? Does he need you bombarding him with praises and adoration to help out his lack of self-confidence? Or is he interested in a relationship with you? Is he wanting to transform your life here on earth?

If God is interested in a relationship with me, it follows that I can hurt or strain the relationship with my own actions, even with my own thoughts. God has provided the way through Jesus to enter into relationship with him. As my relationship grows with God, I will look more and more like Jesus in my life. My will is transformed to strive for his perfection. I will be able to find true life in this world; my life will have purpose; all my desires will be to nourish my relationship with God.

It does matter how I live as a Christian.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Yeah...You Are Fat

Have you ever met someone who always seems to make comments about themselves in front of you like "I am so fat!" or "I am really dumb!" Most of the time this person does not really believe these things about her/himself, but they are just fishing for some affirmation. How do I know this? Well, imagine if you actually agreed with them right after they made the statement. "Well, yes you are fat." or "Yeah, you are dumb." More than likely, this person would think that you were being unbearably rude and even insulting. This proves that they really do not believe the things they say about themselves.

Two lessons we can learn. One, we can watch our motives in how we talk about ourselves. Are we putting ourselves down so that others can give us comments that feed our pride about ourselves? Or do we have good measure of self-acceptance to where we really can say that we are fat? Everyone on the face of the planet has faults. We need to accept our own as just that...our own. So when it becomes clear to others that this is a fault of ours, we know that they have just learned something that we already know about ourselves...and there is no harm in that.

Two, if we encounter a person constantly fishing for complements, it is okay to look for ways to give them complements. They are obviously lacking confidence in themselves and feel they need to get it from others, even though it might be through deceptive means. The reality is that others do give people confidence. If I am in an environment where people accept me for who I am (faults and all), I can be confident. If I am in an environment where people complement me intentionally, I will learn over time that I don't always need to fish for it.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Standing Under Temptation

A sign of spiritual progress is the ability to resist temptations when they come. In fact, that you are continually being tempted more and more shows that you really are making spiritual progress.

Temptations will also keep you humble. There is no woman or man alive today that can say..."I am not tempted by anything." Paul spoke of a thorn in his flesh that kept him from thinking too highly of himself. He even pleaded three times that it be taken from him. The Lord refused and merely said, "my grace is sufficient for you." When things have been going well in regard to the temptation department, I might think I somehow have surpassed others in my spirituality. Thus, I need temptations to keep me humble.

So many, myself included at times, might think that temptation in itself is bad. "I don't want to tell people that I was tempted to look at pornography because they might think I actually did look at it or that I am weak somehow." No way! This is not true and I am weak. Just think...Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). His ministry began with being led into the desert to be tempted. Temptation is not bad...

...rather, temptation is a great opportunity to make progress in our relationship with God and in our spiritual life. Amen.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Big or Small?

Why do I think I can tackle big weaknesses in my life if I can't even overcome the smallest temptations? What makes me think I can do this? Perhaps it is my lofty goals or my competitive nature.

Do I not understand that the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30? The master put in charge of many things the faithful servants who doubled the talents given to them. "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'"

If I prove myself faithful in my ability to say 'no' to that extra coke on a consistent basis, then I will be able to say 'no' to many of Satan's other attacks and temptations. It is a small idea, that has many repercussions.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Thomas a Kempis offered this comment in The Imitation of Christ in his discussions about temptation and overcoming faults: "If every year we uprooted a single fault, we should soon become perfect."

While I doubt very seriously that he really considered perfection attainable within this lifetime, he makes a great observation that I can take home. We, as Christians, simple try to tackle too many things at once. We try to make too much progress at once. What would happen if I struggled to overcome over-indulgence for a whole year? What would that do to my spiritual life? What would happen if I spend 365 days gradually developing my prayer life and leave other disciplines for the following years?

I am going to try this out, but I will do it with others who want to do it with me. I think requiring this of Student Center interns is a must in spiritual progress. Other students might be interested, so I will open it to anyone willing to take that step.

I ask, Lord, that you bless our efforts toward more commitment to you.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Reading the Bible

For the last month that I have been listening to our preacher I have found my mind wondering. As all preachers preach, the things that are said evoke thoughts about the listeners' life. Sometimes this is good and sometimes not so good.

Yesterday, I found myself again thinking of something I desperately need to do more of: reading the Bible. Being a teacher of the Bible, I am already reading it, preparing to teach it, and encouraging others to read it more. This is good. But my thoughts go toward consuming myself with the Word of the Lord. I want my life to revolve around it and draw strength from it as the Psalmist says in Psalm 119:28, "My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word." Throughout this Psalm, I find a man who is completely consumed with the instructions of the Lord. Teaching about the Bible and being consumed with it are two different things.

Lord, my prayer is that I desire to be in your word so that I may find you, that I may dwell with you, and that I may reflect you. When I open your word next to take a break from the world, bless my effort to know you and your people more. Then I can walk according to your word. Let it seep into my soul that I may find healing and rest.

Posting Plans

Postings have not been frequent...that is for sure. But I think that I will be posting fairly short devotional thoughts for the day. It will be a way for me to focus my thoughts on things that matter, on Godly things. Hopefully, this will also grow into something that others use to focus their own thoughts. They might even comment on the things that I offered.

Lord, help us to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things We have been raised with Christ and will seek to set our hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at your right hand. Bless our efforts Lord.