Thursday, December 31, 2009

What God Thinks of You, 5th Week of Advent, Day 5

Week 5 Day 5: Colossians 1:9-20

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (NIV)

Consider how much God love us and how much He gave to secure our salvation. What we have been given by all accounts is improbable, unlikely and certainly unbelievable.

As we round out this year, maybe you don’t feel you’ve accomplished enough. Maybe you don’t really feel like you matter. You do. Look what God thinks of you!

Look at all of the things that have been promised in this passage:
Knowledge of His will
Spiritual Wisdom and Understanding
Bearing fruit
Growing
Strengthened
Great endurance
Patience
Joyfully giving thanks
Qualified
Rescued
Redeemed
Forgiven

Which of those words or phrases best describes the quality of your connection with God? Which stands out as a growth area? Right now, stop and ask God to bring that particular promise into fulfillment in your life. It may take time, but this is how God wants you to live. With the “power according to his glorious might” it can be done.



© Copyright 2009 Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What are You Eager For? 5th Week of Advent, Day 4

Week 5 Day 4: Titus 2:11-14

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (NIV)


What are you eager to do? Last week my kids were eager to tear into Christmas presents. Well, to be honest, I was eager to do that too. What are you eager to do?

Some people are eager to make money. Others are eager to connect with friends. Some are eager to avoid pain. The rest are just eager to make it to the end of this week, month or year. (This week is actually the end of all three). Jesus desires a people who are eager to do what is good.
Now, before we start having flashbacks of all of the angry preachers who told us that we were bad and undeserving of Heaven, even though we had walked the aisle many times before, let’s look back at the passage.

Jesus gave himself to redeem us and to purify us. If we could redeem and purify ourselves, then Jesus’ sacrifice would be for nothing. There really is nothing that you or I can add to that. Jesus did it for us. But, what about the eagerness?

Being eager is really an innate sort of thing. You can’t work yourself up to being eager. You’re either eager or you’re not. “But, what if I’m not eager to do good? What does that mean about my relationship with God?” Honestly, it probably means that you’re distracted. The only way to gain God’s eagerness is to stop long enough to hear from Him.

So, right now, I would like you to stop what you’re doing…for two minutes. Say nothing. Do nothing. Just center yourself on God. Check your watch. Go. And, listen to what He has to say.



© Copyright 2009 Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

God with Us, Face to Face 5th Week of Advent, Day 3

Week 5 Day 3: John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV)

Writing at the close of the first century, John had plenty of time to reflect on the circumstances and events involving his friend and Savior, Jesus. Sixty or so years had certainly given John perspective about what this baby in the manger meant to the world. While the earlier Gospel writers, Matthew and Luke, give us the accounts of Jesus’ birth, John starts with a highly theological introduction. (It makes you wonder why we encourage new believers to read the Gospel of John first. Seriously.)
John doesn’t refer to Jesus by name in this passage. He calls Jesus “The Word.” It’s interesting that John chooses this title for his friend. But, consider the power of God’s Word. Creation came into existence through the Word (Genesis 1:3ff). The Bible tells us that the evidence of God’s existence is clear through His creation (Romans 1:19-20). According to John and the rest of Scripture, the Word had a role in creation.

God proclaimed His Word through prophets. John the Baptist was the last of these. When His people refused to listen to His prophets, God sent His Son (Hebrews 1:1-4). The Word became flesh and lived among us. Sometimes it’s easier to learn by example than by lecture. In Jesus, the Word, we witness an “exact representation” of God (Hebrews 1:3).

If you want to know what God thinks, listen to Jesus. If you want to know how God acts, look at Jesus. If you want to see how God loves, look at Jesus on the cross. Then remember that Jesus lives in you.




© Copyright 2009 Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Linus, Archeology & You 5th Week of Advent, Day 2

Week 5 Day 2: Luke 2:1-20

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."


When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (NIV)

Over the course of my life, I think I’ve heard these words recited mostly by Linus on A Charlie Brown Christmas. Though Linus chose to recite from the Authorized Version, the words are very familiar.
One outstanding feature of this passage is that it is historical as well as theological. The events really happened with real people.

As archeologists sift through ancient debris in the Holy Land, they have discovered that Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus ruled from 31 BC to 14 AD (www.britannica.com). Without his decree, Mary and Joseph wouldn’t have traveled to Bethlehem, Joseph’s ancestral home. There was no other reason to make this trip with a pregnant wife. Caesar Augustus unknowingly fulfilled a prophecy regarding the Messiah (Micah 5:1-2).

Publius Sulpicius Quirinius (45 BC – 21 AD) was a Roman Senator and the governor of Syria (www.livius.org). While Quirinius was made famous by his mention in Luke 2, he had many other political and military accomplishments to his name that are well documented in history.

There is so much that could be said about this passage. Every angle gives us a new perspective. But, the most important part of this is what is true in your life because of this account. A baby arrived in a stable over 2000 years ago. How are you different because of Him?



© Copyright 2009 Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Are You on God's Agenda? 5th Week of Advent, Day 1

Week 5 Day 1: Isaiah 9:1-6

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan-

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (NIV)

We can only understand prophecy in the context of when and where it was given. This prophecy, along with the first 39 chapters of Isaiah, was given around 700 BC. Israel was in a bad place as a nation. Enemies had overrun the land. For example, Zebulun (1 Kings 4:16) and Naphtali were in captivity at this writing. Gloom and doom were the order of the day.

What was happening to Israel was not God’s fault. It wasn’t some rogue nation’s fault either. What was happening to Israel was Israel’s fault. As one commentator puts it, “Israel had eliminated itself from God’s agenda.” The result was judgment and cleansing.

For those who feel that God might have given up, listen to the promises from this passage. God offers freedom, just like He gave Midian (Judges 7). He promises to end the war against evil. He promised restoration to the House of David, which ultimately gave us the Savior and our restoration as well. God’s agenda was still moving ahead. Israel just wasn’t on that agenda at that moment.

Where are you in relation to God’s agenda? Are you and God on the same page? Do you know God’s agenda? These are tough questions. You and I have both fallen short. That doesn’t eliminate us from God’s agenda. The question really is: Are you seeking God and asking to be a part of what He is doing?



© Copyright 2009 Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Meets Star Wars: 4th Day of Advent, Day 5

Week 4 Day 5: Revelation 12:1-10

Then I witnessed in heaven an event of great significance. I saw a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant, and she cried out because of her labor pains and the agony of giving birth.

Then I witnessed in heaven another significant event. I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept away one-third of the stars in the sky, and he threw them to the earth. He stood in front of the woman as she was about to give birth, ready to devour her baby as soon as it was born.

She gave birth to a son who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place to care for her for 1,260 days.

Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.

Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night. (NLT)

At this point, you probably think that I’ve made a wrong turn in my Bible. This doesn’t sound like the Christmas story at all. This sounds more like a Frank Peretti novel.

The book of Revelation was written at an important time for the Church. At the end of the First century A.D., the Church was suffering great persecution. For a new movement of God, they experienced tremendous hardship and feared for their lives. In the middle of this situation, God gave John a Revelation on the Isle of Patmos.

Revelation portrays a cosmic battle of good and evil, just like other apocalyptic literature of the day. The Church needed a powerful story. The Church needed to know that good would overcome evil, because at that time the opposite seemed true.

Some preachers have made entire careers out of what the Book of Revelation means and when everything is going to happen. I’m not sure that is the purpose of the book. But, we can know two things for certain: The end will come, and Good will win. That’s all I really need to know.

Now, what about the Christmas story? Go back and read this Revelation story again. I think you’ll see what Jesus’ coming stirred up.



Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

All Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Life in a Fog: 4th Week of Advent, Day 4

Week 4 Day 4: Revelation 21:1-4

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (NLT)

Jesus came as Immanuel, God with us. Jesus is the best representation of Who God is. More than prophets or laws or poetry, Jesus fully expresses the nature of God. But, there is still something missing. God is with us, but we are not yet with God.

As I look out my window this morning, I see the skeletons of trees shrouded in translucent white. The fog obscures the sun. It’s mysterious. Or, as my two-year-old daughter would say, “It’s ‘pooky.”
What we know of God is only what is right in front of our face, just like being in a thick fog. We know what the Bible says about God. At least, we think we do. We know what we have experienced of God. God is with us.

One day, we will be with Him, and all of our questions, fears and doubts will be cleared away. One day, faith will be unnecessary, because we will have “sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Today, we have faith and Immanuel, God with us. We look forward to a day when death, sorrow, crying and pain will be gone forever. In the meantime, we need to take the tools that God has given us and fulfill His purpose on this earth.

What you are facing today is only temporary? It may seem like it will last forever. But, for the believer, only Heaven lasts forever.

Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

All Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Need Some Good News: 4th Week of Advent, Day 3

Week 4 Day 3: Isaiah 52:7-10

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns! The watchmen shout and sing with joy, for before their very eyes they see the Lord returning to Jerusalem. Let the ruins of Jerusalem break into joyful song, for the Lord has comforted his people. He has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has demonstrated his holy power before the eyes of all the nations. All the ends of the earth will see the victory of our God. (NLT)

When was the last time you received good news? Maybe the seller accepted your offer on the house or the doctor’s report said the tumor was benign. Good news comes at a time of anxiety or fear of loss. Just when you think you’re about to go under, God’s provision comes through. That’s good news.

At the time of Isaiah’s prophecy, Israel had been under Babylonian captivity for 20 years. The Israelites were granted permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild, but it wasn’t that simple. King Darius hadn’t supplied all that he had offered. God’s people faced rebel forces in Jerusalem. The hopes of rebuilding were quickly dashed by the situation around them.

Then, God sends good news. The Lord is returning to Jerusalem. He will comfort His people. He will redeem them. They no longer have to depend on a pagan king. God’s people can depend on God Himself.

An old proverb says, “It’s always the darkest before the dawn.” I’m not a meteorologist, so I don’t know if scientifically that statement is true. But, apparently, enough people over time have experienced this phenomenon that it became a proverb.

We always need God. When things are going well, we tend to forget about God. When things have gone wrong, we desperately need Him.

For some of you, this is a good day. So, do something intentional to recognize God’s presence with you today. For others, this is a dark day. Good news is coming.


Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

All Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Groaning and Christmas: 4th Week of Advent, Day 2

Week 4 Day 2: Romans 8:18-25

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope[b] for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) (NLT)

Groaning and Christmas really don’t seem to fit together. Well, unless your fat old aunt is demanding a kiss or your grandma gave you a sweater straight out of 1983.

Groaning uniquely communicates suffering. It’s not pleasant to hear. It’s not pleasant to utter. Groaning comes in when we’re too sick to put the words together to express our pain. When suffering reaches a point where words require too much effort, we groan.

According to Romans 8, suffering and groaning are a common occurrence. Creation is groaning. Believers are groaning. There’s a whole lot of groaning going on. The world is not as it should be. Groan. We all suffer from the curse. Groan. We suffer in our physical bodies. Groan. Fortunately, this is not a permanent condition.

If we trust in God, He saves us. When He saves us, He plants a seed of hope in our hearts. We get to experience a little of what is yet to come.

We look around and groan. We look forward in hope.

What are you groaning about today? Right now, turn your groans to God and be reminded of the hope He gives.


Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

All Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

God's Best Version of You: 4th Week of Advent, Day 1

Week 4 Day 1: Malachi 3:1-5

“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.


“But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord. Then once more the Lord will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past. (NLT)


It’s easy to do a couple of things with this passage. It’s easy to get confused, and it’s easy to dismiss this passage as something written for someone else. But, this is written for us, just not to us.


The first messenger that Malachi mentions is John the Baptist. “He will prepare the way before me.” That’s clear. Then, the Lord will appear. This is Jesus, the Messiah. Then, some fear enters in. What if we can’t face the Messiah when He comes? What if His presence is too powerful for us?
I’m intrigued by how the Messiah entered the world. He didn’t come on horseback with guns blazing. He didn’t come in an overwhelming and unbearable fashion. Jesus came in the most innocent way possible, as a baby. No one is afraid of a baby. No one is threatened by a child, except for King Herod.


But, Malachi wasn’t off base in this prophesy. He was hearing right. The Messiah came to save His people and to perfect them. “He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross.” Jesus will remove every impurity from us. He will take away anything that interferes with who He has designed us to be.


Jesus will continue this work until He can clearly see the best version of each of us that He could possibly design. That doesn’t mean we will end up identical like paper dolls on a string. Each of us is unique. Jesus wants to reveal the best part of who we are. In the process, He must remove the lesser parts of who we are.


What “dross” do you see in your life? What are your circumstances revealing about your progress? Right now submit what you are facing to Jesus and ask Him to use it as a tool in your life. Ask Him to make the best version of you.


Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

All Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Third Week of Advent, Day Five

These are Uncertain Times. More to Come...

Week 3 Day 5: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3; 15-17

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. (ESV)

We live in uncertain times. If we read those words now or 10 years from now or 50 years from now, the words would remain true. Life on this planet is uncertain. Conflict is continuous. In over 6000 years of recorded history, only five percent of those years have been peaceful. That’s only 300 years of peace. The other 5700 plus years have seen conflict somewhere in the world.

Fortunately, this life is not an end in itself. Our mission is not to make the earth a better place for Christians to live. Our mission is to share the Good News and offer God’s grace to a lost and hurting world, while we still have time.

No one really knows how the Last Days will play out or when they will be. In fact, all we really need to understand about the End Times is that Christ will return and His side will win.

In the meantime, God will give us “eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” When everything around us feels shaky and insecure, we can depend on the One who lasts forever.

What are you feeling uncertain about today? Maybe God is using this to help you transfer your trust to Him. Take a few moments to remind yourself of God’s love for you. He is by your side.


© Copyright 2009 Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, copyright © 2001, Wheaton: Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Third Week of Advent, Day Four

Jesus Doesn't Want You to Try Harder

Week 3 Day 4: Philippians 2:1-11

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father. (Msg)


How much are you becoming more like Jesus? He’s not asking you to try harder. He’s asking for you to allow Him to live His life through you. Ask Him to do that today.

Scripture quotations taken from The Message. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Third Week of Advent, Day 3

Week 3 Day Three: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (ESV)

One great thing about living in the South is enjoying the seasons of the year. My favorite season is Spring. It brings such promise every year. The warmth of Spring breaks the harshness of Winter. I also enjoy the Fall. It brings much needed relief from the Summer and rest for Creation.

Solomon lists seasons that we enjoy like laughing, dancing, loving and peacekeeping. He also lists seasons that we don’t look forward to like dying, weeping, mourning and losing. But, what would laughter be without the contrast of mourning? What would love be without the contrast of hate? If every day was a “good” day, well, there would be no good days. We would just have days.
The best thing about seasons is that they don’t last forever. Just when we are outfitted and prepared for one season, things change and we prepare for the next. If a single season was continuous, well, we just couldn’t take it.

When we are in a positive season, we should enjoy it. When we are in a negative season, we should find the Lord’s comfort. Regardless of the season, we must remember those enduring words: “This too shall pass.”

What season are you in today? How can you fully embrace what God is giving you in this season?


© Copyright 2009 Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, copyright © 2001, Wheaton: Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Third Week of Advent, Day 2

Week 3 Day 2: John 1:19-34

He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said." They asked him, "Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie." These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." John 1: 23, 25-29, 34 (ESV)

John the Baptist came as a result of a miraculous birth. His parents were well beyond childbearing years. John had a unique calling. He challenged people to prepare their hearts for the Messiah. John the Baptist gave his life for his mission. Yet, John knew his place. He wasn’t in the driver’s seat. He wouldn’t dream of it.

Think about John’s selflessness. He gave his entire life to the cause of Christ. His reward was certainly in Heaven. The result of his work on earth was martyrdom (Matthew 14:1-12).

John presents an extreme example for us. Most of us will not begin or end life so vividly. While John’s circumstances certainly don’t align with our lives, his attitude should. John had no expectations other than to point people to Christ. John didn’t feel like he deserved recognition, attention or reward. There was no sense of entitlement with him. He was called to do his mission to identify the Messiah, after that his job was done. The remarkable thing about John is that he didn’t mind at all.

Let’s make this personal. How much of your life is about you? Your job, your hobbies, your interests, your vegging out, your family, your stuff. How much of your life is about Christ? I’m not saying that you need to forsake all and become a locust-eating, camel-wearing, Pharisee-confronting prophet. How can you take all of the good things you enjoy and all of the other things you endure with John’s attitude? Our goal is not to be great, but to point to Someone far greater.


© Copyright 2009 Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, copyright © 2001, Wheaton: Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Third Week of Advent, Day One

Week 3 Day 1: Isaiah 9:6-7


For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (ESV)


Isaiah gave this prophecy in a time of gloom and darkness for the people of Israel. As much as we might regard the Old Testament prophets as purveyors of hell and brimstone, every prophet in the Bible speaks of reconciliation, redemption and hope. God is far more patient than we deserve.
In this prophecy, Isaiah gives four unusual titles for a baby: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Jesus gives us exceptional counsel. While good Christian counselors are very helpful in facilitating healing, Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor. He is Mighty God. His words and his works, then and now, demonstrate His power and might.


Jesus is the Everlasting Father. This is an odd title for a baby, and theologically, we refer to another member of the Trinity as the “Father.” Everlasting is an important word here. Jesus did not get His start at birth. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8). He is eternal and has no beginning and no end. He is Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8).


Jesus is also the Father. I believe this refers to Jesus’ work in creation. “He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:2-3, ESV). Jesus, being God, is the Source of life and all created things.


He is the Prince of Peace. We can really get ourselves tied up in knots over the government. Human government will always fall short of what we need, because human beings are fallen. When the government is “upon His shoulder,” we will finally experience peace. But, between then and now, Jesus offers His peace (Philippians 4:6-7).


Who do you need Jesus to be for you today? Do you need the Wonderful Counselor to guide you? Do you need the Mighty God to help you overcome? Do you need the Everlasting Father to reassure you? Do you need the Prince of Peace to calm your anxious heart? He is with you today.


© Copyright 2009 Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, copyright © 2001, Wheaton: Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Second Week of Advent, Day Five

Week 2 Day 5: 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12

All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)

How much time do we spend fighting a battle that God has already won? Someone has done us wrong, so we want to confront or maybe even retaliate. We watch the news and seethe with anger toward the injustice in our world. I’m not saying that we need to shut down our emotions and sing, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” I’m also not saying that we should sit with folded hands and submit ourselves to a fatalistic course. The simple truth is that this is not our battle to fight.

God will right the wrongs. God will defend us. God will save us. God will pay back trouble. These are God’s jobs. Our prayer should be to let Him do His job without trying to assist Him. Or as Bono sings “Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady” (from Stand Up Comedy on No Line on the Horizon by U2).

When we surrender this part of our earthly struggle to God, we free ourselves to pursue “every good purpose” and “every act prompted by your faith.” If we’re fighting the battle, we become so distracted and so tied up in knots that God’s purpose and faithful acts become the farthest thing from our minds.

What is consuming your thoughts today? Right now, stop and give that person and situation to God. Bless your enemies. Pray that they get promoted out of your department or move to a better neighborhood. Pray for God’s peace in your heart. Surrender your desire to control and retaliate. Then, as you experience God’s peace, watch for God’s next assignment for your life.


Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Second Week of Advent, Day Four

Week 2 Day 4: Matthew 3:1-6

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:"A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.' "(NIV)

The rest of the passage from Isaiah says, “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Isaiah 40:4-5, NIV).

Isaiah’s spoke of the obstacles people face in approaching God. Low valleys, high mountains, rough ground, and rugged places make finding God difficult. John the Baptist fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy by preparing the way of the Lord. John’s mission was to straighten the obstacle course between people and God.

One of the things I love about Brookwood Church is that part of our mission is to accept people where they are. Think about it. Where else could we accept them? Well, we could certainly accept part of them, but reject disagreeable parts of them. This creates obstacles to God. If God will accept me, “just as I am,” then who are we to say that we will only accept people as they should be.

Think about people you know. What are the obstacles between them and God? Do they feel disappointment and pain? Are they leery of unconditional love? Have they had a bad experience with the church in the past? Ask God how you can help this person find a straight path to Him.

As we’re in a rush to find the right gifts for our loved ones, think about people in our community who face many obstacles in connecting with God. Maybe they lack warm coats or food. How can you and your family lower some mountains for these folks this Christmas?

For many of us, when the last gift is unwrapped and the last toy is broken, we look around and think about our Spring garage sale. Use your earthly means to bless others, even strangers, this year. For ideas on how to give this Christmas, go to:
www.brookwoodchurch.org/christmas


Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Second Week of Advent, Day Three

Week 2 Day 3: Isaiah 2:1-5


This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD. (NIV)


Isaiah spoke these words 2700 years ago. This prophecy has yet to be fulfilled. In fact the full realization of what God has revealed through Isaiah sounds much like the new heaven and new earth shown to John in Revelation 21. Obviously, this hasn’t taken place in human history. The sin and evil of the human heart still perpetuate conflict despite human efforts toward peace. So much is yet to come. But, part of the prophecy has come true.


We don’t need to wait for a future fulfillment to allow God to “teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” We have that piece right now. God’s people can freely “walk in the light of the Lord.”
Obviously, it will be easier to connect with God when the sinfulness of this world is behind us. The politics and persecutions, the wars and woes of this world often hinder our walk in His paths. Often, we are tempted to say, “Well, when all of this settles down, I will really be able to focus on my relationship with God.” The problem is that things never seem to settle down.


You and I are part of something far greater than what we see around us, hear on the news, or read on the internet. The Spirit of God who will one day bring peace to this earth lives in us. Maybe we can’t solve all of the world’s problems. That certainly doesn’t make us helpless. Even if we cannot reconcile the conflicts between nations, God’s path will lead us to resolve the conflicts in our own lives and to help those around us.


You and I are on the right side of history here. God is ultimately victorious over the forces of this earth. Let’s take confidence in His power and His promise and focus on God’s paths before us.

Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Second Week of Advent, Day Two

Week 2 Day 2: Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. (NIV)

We three kings of orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar, field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star.” Most of us are familiar with this Christmas carol. It’s really a colorful story. Royalty from exotic places bring unusual gifts, especially for a baby: gold, incense and myrrh. These gifts certainly weren’t on the registry at Babies R Us.

Gold signified Jesus’ royalty. The carolers sing, “Gold I bring to crown Him again.” Incense signified Jesus’ deity: “Incense owns a Deity nigh.” The myrrh, however, clearly represents Jesus’ mission on the earth: “Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume, Breathes of life of gathering gloom, Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.” Obviously, the Magi had never been to a baby shower before.

In the midst of all of this pageantry and symbolic meaning is a miracle. The Magi followed a star that showed them the way. Some scholars and scientists think that this might have been a comet. Whatever it was, from the biblical account we understand that only the Magi noticed it. Herod didn’t have a clue. He hadn’t seen the star. It seems that the star might have been visible only to the Magi. At least if others did see it, only the Magi understood the significance of it.

How is God speaking to you these days? How is He directing you? God wants to use you. God wants to participate in your life. Have you slowed down to notice the signs? Have you created a quiet place to listen to His whispers?


Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Second Week of Advent, Day One

Week 2 Day 1: Micah 5:2

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. (NIV)

God delights in the obscure and the humble. Bethlehem wasn’t the big city. In fact, for Joseph and his family, Bethlehem was a good place to be from. The town was important for Joseph’s ancestral heritage. But, that’s about where Bethlehem’s importance ended for them.

Lowly Bethlehem was much like its most famous resident: King David (Luke 2:4). When Samuel, the prophet, approached Jesse’s family to anoint the new king of Israel, Jesse lined up all of his sons. Well, almost all of them. Jesse presented the top seven of his sons anyway, but “Samuel said to him, ‘The LORD has not chosen these.’” (1 Samuel 16:10).

“So he asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’

“‘There is still the youngest, Jesse answered, "but he is tending the sheep’" (1 Samuel 16:11).
David wasn’t his father’s choice for king. In fact, David wasn’t even considered a possibility in his father’s mind. David was tending the sheep. Yet, this humble shepherd became the king of Israel and the great, great, great, great…grandfather of the King of kings.

Jesus was born in humble circumstances. Not only was his birthplace in a small town, he was born in a stable in a small town. Jesus was born into a working class family that didn’t have a lot of money. We don’t even know that Jesus received a formal education. From a worldly point of view, Jesus really wasn’t set up for success. These were humble circumstances for the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

God’s power doesn’t need a “leg up” from our social standing, education, wealth or pride. In fact, God’s power is clearly demonstrated in weakness, not in high stature. When we see God use a person who we might not expect Him to use, then we can see God’s hand very clearly. When we humbly submit ourselves to Him, and He allows opportunities or gives insights into situations we wouldn’t have on our own, we know that God is working in us.

How is your heart inclined today? Are you working hard to promote yourself or to humble yourself? A clear indicator is what you feel that you deserve right now. The less deserving we feel, the more humble we are becoming.


Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

First Week of Advent, Day Five

Week 1 Day 5: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters, we don’t really need to write you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.
For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, 9-11(NLT)

Our oldest son tried to come seven weeks early. In fact, we were at our annual small group retreat in Pacific Grove, California. My wife was completely miserable all weekend. This was our first pregnancy. She still had nearly two months to go. I felt for her discomfort, but we didn’t expect an arrival any time soon. Thankfully, with good doctors, we delayed the arrival for a couple more weeks.

God is with us, yes, but Jesus is also returning for us. What started with His birth will culminate with His return. But, even that will be just the beginning, if you will, of eternity.

According to this passage, God made a choice between salvation and anger. Salvation won out. He chose to save us through His Son and to one day collect us from this planet. What we face on this earth won’t last forever. Even by virtue of the fact that this earth won’t last forever.

In light of this, Paul directs us to “encourage each other and build each other up.” What we have is not all that there is. There is far more beyond this life.

Who do you need to encourage today?


Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

All Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

First Week of Advent, Day Four

Week 1 Day 4: Matthew 1:18-24

As [Joseph] considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.
Matthew 1:20-24 (NLT)


Put yourself in Joseph’s situation. The woman, girl really, who he is betrothed to has become pregnant. This isn’t just his girlfriend or fiancĂ©. Betrothal was equivalent to a marriage relationship in the year prior to marriage. This was a binding, permanent commitment. This was also an abstinent relationship. Now, she is pregnant, and he knows the baby is not his.

Imagine the public humiliation. Imagine the pressure from his family. Imagine the pressure from Almighty God. What was going on in Joseph’s mind? We don’t know. Joseph’s words were never recorded in Scripture. But, we do know what he did.

“When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.” It was as simple as that in a complicated situation. Joseph recognized that something greater was at work here.

In fact, once again, we read the Lord’s words through the prophet Isaiah that were spoken to Ahaz, “The virgin will conceive a child!”

Joseph found himself obeying God and entering the center of a potential scandal. Why? It was God’s will for him.

Have you found yourself in a complicated situation? Have you faced a circumstance that you never asked for or even caused? It’s easy to relegate the problems of life into the category of “not God’s will.” But, God never promised that everything would always go well for us. He did, however, promise “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5; cf. Deut. 31:6, 8).

God is with you. He hasn’t abandoned you. Where do you need to recognize His presence today?


Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

All Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

First Week of Advent, Day Three

Week 1 Day 3: Isaiah 7:10-14

Later, the Lord sent this message to King Ahaz: “Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.”
But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the Lord like that.”
Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
(NLT)


What if God made this offer to you? What would you ask God to show you? Think about it. This would be a golden opportunity to relieve any doubt and maybe even convince others.

Why do you think Ahaz didn’t want a sign from God? Others, like Gideon, had tested God and received a sign. God made the offer to Ahaz, yet Ahaz didn’t want it. Why?

In 2 Chronicles 28, Ahaz was punished because “he had encouraged his people to sin and had been utterly unfaithful to the Lord” (2 Chronicles 28:19). The truth of God conflicted with Ahaz’s beliefs and practices. If God gave Ahaz inconvertible evidence, then Ahaz would have to deal with what he had chosen to ignore.

What did God do? God gave Ahaz a sign anyway. This sign, in fact, was a double prophecy. A child was born in the royal family as a sign to Ahaz during his lifetime (Isaiah 8:3-4), and of course, the more significant fulfillment was in the birth of Jesus. Despite Ahaz’s wickedness, God didn’t give up on Ahaz. And, despite our wickedness, God doesn’t give up on us. He sent Immanuel, “God with us.”

No matter who you are. No matter what you have ever done. As long as there is breath in your body, God wants you to let Him love you.


Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

All Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 30, 2009

First Week of Advent, Day Two

Week 1 Day 2: Luke 1:26-38

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
Luke 1:34-38 (NLT)

The angel announced to Mary that she had “found favor with God.” I’m not sure that Mary at this point thought that God was doing her any favors. This is an interesting phrase that we read again in Luke 2:52 referring to Jesus “finding favor with God and all the people.” The word favor, if you remember from the Living a Balanced Life study, is rooted in the word for “grace.” This may simply imply that she was in God’s good graces. But, I see something more.

God had chosen Mary for a mission that in all practical ways would wreck the course of her life. Her reputation, her betrothal to Joseph, and her future were at stake here. But, Mary had God’s favor. His grace helped her to accept this mission.

Mary’s biggest fear was rejection. Who would understand this circumstance? A young, pregnant, unmarried virgin – who would accept such a tale? God, in His grace, provided a companion to Mary in Elizabeth, who also received a miraculous pregnancy. Though not an immaculate one, it was certainly unexplainable apart from God. While everyone else might have regarded Mary with suspicion, Elizabeth could relate to the fact that “nothing is impossible with God.”

What rare experiences have you had? More likely than not there is someone who needs you to walk alongside them. That person needs your understanding. Even the painful or embarrassing parts of our lives can be used to comfort another. Ask God who you can serve, then pay attention to who crosses your path.


Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

All Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Week of Advent, Day One

Writer's Note: Advent begins on Sunday, November 29, 2009. Different traditions follow different Scripture reading schedules. Some advocate a once per week reading. Others advocate a daily reading. Still others schedule four Scripture readings per day. I'm taking a moderated approach by choosing five Advent passages per week, then basing the devotional on the passage of the day. Some of these passage are longer, so I have provided a link to biblegateway.com, so you may read the entire passage.

I hope that you are blessed this Christmas season.

God bless,
Allen White
Simpsonville, South Carolina

Week 1 Day 1:
Isaiah 11:1-10

And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. He will delight in obeying the Lord. He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay. He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited. Isaiah 11:2-4 (NLT)

Here we catch a glimpse of the Savior’s coming nearly 2000 years ago and His soon return. Isaiah saw the whole thing all at once. We haven’t seen leopards napping with baby goats or lions sharing a meal of hay with cows. That day is yet to come.

Jesus ushered in the start of this new era. We still experience it today. Jesus showed us a new way to be human. He showed us what it means to have a life empowered by the Spirit.

Isaiah prophesied that “the Spirit of the Lord would rest upon Him.” Doesn’t it seem unusual that the “second” member of the Trinity would need to depend on the “third”? Jesus is fully God and fully man. Why would the Almighty Son of God who created the Universe need to depend on Someone else to do His work? Because He came to save us and to show us the life that God intended for His followers to live. A life empowered.

We read in Philippians 2 that Jesus humbled Himself in order to fulfill His mission on the earth. He didn’t act on His own. He only did the things that He saw the Father doing. And, He performed these acts through the power of the Spirit. Then, Jesus tells His disciples, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen” Matthew 21:21 (NLT).

What do you need to trust God for today? Maybe you have been exhausting yourself over solving a problem. Have you asked God what He can do? Men, have you found the great adventure that Perry talked about a few weeks ago? Ask God what adventure He has in store for you.


Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

All Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Christmastime is Upon Us

I know that Thanksgiving is tomorrow, but Advent officially begins on Sunday. So starting Sunday, I will be posting the daily Advent reading along with a devotional based on the passage.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Allen White

Friday, October 30, 2009

Blogcation

WRITER’S NOTE: Dear Reader, we just completed our sixth and final week of devotionals for Living a Balanced Life. Since the next series at Brookwood Church, Captivating the Wild Heart, is based on two books: Wild at Heart by John Eldredge and Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge, we will not be sending out e-devotionals in November. Now, if neither of those are of interest, I read a great book last summer by Doug Fields called Refuel. It's basically Brother Lawrence meets the 21st Century. It's a great resource for spiritual growth.

The daily e-devotionals will resume on Monday, November 30 with the Christmas series. In the meantime, I am taking a little blogcation. I may put up something now and then during the course of the next month. Between now and the Christmas series, Sam, our oldest, turns 8 years old. Then, there's Thanksgiving. Then, yours truly, the blogger, turns 45. How did that happen? There will be stories to tell...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Living a Balanced Life Week 6 Day 5

Philippians 1:6

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (NLT)

Self-help is over-rated. Seriously, how far can you take yourself? You already know everything that you know. What do you know that you can teach yourself? That’s just silly.

God is working on you. How does God work? He inspires with His creation (Romans 1). He speaks through your conscience (Romans 2). Every believer has God’s Spirit (Romans 8). He influences through other believers. He has given His book, the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16). God arranges circumstances to speak to you. He has planned your purposes and your steps. He even uses difficult people and circumstances to direct or redirect you.

How is God working in your life today? Maybe something that you assumed was an obstacle is really a lesson from Him. Maybe the person you would rather avoid is God’s chisel to craft you into His image.

Life is not separate from spiritual growth. It’s easy to think, “Well, when I get past this situation, then I can focus on my spiritual growth.” What you are facing is a key component in your spiritual growth. That may sound discouraging or even impossible, but God is always at work around us.
Notice how God is at work in your life today.




Copyright © 2009 by Allen White
All Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Living a Balanced Life Week 6 Day 4

2 Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (NLT)

Nobody likes change. Change makes us insecure. Change stresses us out.

My baby girl just figured out how to climb out of her crib. When the boys made this discovery, they were exhilarated. No longer would they be captive to the wooden bars. They were in control. But, my baby girl freaked out.

I took the front rail off of the crib so she could easily get in and out of bed. She couldn’t handle it. She didn’t know what to do. In fact, she begged me, “Daddy, put the gate back on my crib.” So, I did. Her newfound freedom brought about a great deal of insecurity. This was too much change all at once.

How about you and me? There are changes that we need to make. This Living a Balanced Life series has pointed out some areas that we need to focus on. It’s easier just to stay the same. But there are compelling spiritual or social or health reasons for us to make some changes.

What we understand clearly is that it is going to take more than just us to change. We need to find someone who will encourage us and pray for us. We don’t really need accountability per se. Accountability is, well, accounting. It’s “keeping a record of wrongs.” Love doesn’t do that (1 Corinthians 13:5). We really don’t need someone to keep track of how many times we’ve failed. We need someone to encourage us to move forward. But, we need more than another person to make lasting changes. We need God.

According to this verse, God gives us “power, love and self-discipline.” As we commit each day to depend on God’s power, love and self-discipline, He will give us those things. When we are tested, and we will be, He is right there to help us.

Who are you looking to for help in making a change in your life? You need a connection with another person, and you need your connection with God. How is that going to look in your daily life?


Copyright © 2009 by Allen White
All Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Living a Balanced Life Week 6 Day 3

Romans 6:19

Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy. (NLT)

Voluntary slavery is certainly an oxymoron. It’s right up there with a “necessary evil.” It seems that Paul could use a different analogy here. Yet, consider where he starts, “Because of the weakness of your human nature.” Human beings are designed to be loyal, to be committed to something or someone, even if it’s harmful to us, i.e. an over-referenced Bob Dylan song.

There are instances in Scripture where people did volunteer to enslave themselves to another (Exodus 21:5-6). After six years of service, a Hebrew slave had the opportunity to go free, yet could choose to remain as a slave. He would then become a slave for life. It’s very difficult to understand that circumstance. Why would someone choose to remain the possession of another when freedom is at hand? We’re not so different.

Paul writes that we are “slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which [lead] ever deeper into sin.” While these terms seem to be extreme, disobedience to God is, in fact, “lawlessness.” When we go against God’s way or find a substitute for God, we are practicing lawlessness. Pursuing our own way and depending on something or someone else for our security and well-being are indeed lawlessness, if not idolatry.

Impurity can mean immorality, but it can also indicate choosing against being set apart or holy for God. While God wants us to enjoy the lives He has given us, He never intended for us to live these lives solely to please ourselves. These behaviors enslave us.

Righteous living sounds like such an uptight term. It seems to imply staying on our guard so that others will think well of us. But, our righteousness is from Christ. Righteous living is life in Christ. Rather than focusing solely on our wants and needs, we focus on what it is that Christ is calling us to do. We allow Him to live His life through us.

What is getting in your way right now? What thoughts, desires or behaviors are keeping you from living the life that God intends? What step can you take today to do something about it?



Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

All Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Living a Balanced Life Week 6 Day 2

1 Peter 1:13-16

So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (NLT)

Back in the summer when I started writing the study guide for Living a Balanced Life, I put a shortcut on my computer desk top for the folder containing all of the files. So, every day when I started my computer, I had an icon labeled “Shortcut to a Balanced Life.” Wouldn’t that be nice? Just double click a button and poof, there it is: a balanced life.

You and I both know that there are no shortcuts to a balanced life. In fact, in this life, I’m not convinced that our pursuit is for peace and harmony. It’s nice to have times of peace and harmony, but honestly, those things only have a permanent place in Heaven. This verse says that our gracious salvation will be complete when Jesus is revealed to the world. The last phase of our salvation, called glorification, will be complete.

For now, we’re in a phase called sanctification. This is the working out of our salvation. As I’ve said other places, we don’t work for our salvation. Only Jesus can make us righteous (Romans 3:22; 3:20). We are working out our salvation. This passage talks about self-control and being holy. Holy doesn’t mean flawless or sinless. Holy means “to be set apart.” It’s our choice to be holy. When we are faced with moving forward in God’s purposes for us or moving backward to what we used to trust in, self-control and holiness prompt us to move forward. We choose to be set apart or holy.
If holiness and self-control solely depended on us, we could muster up enough strength to make good choices for while. But, sooner or later, we run out of steam. Fortunately, Jesus gives us His supernatural power to do this work in us, if we let Him. It’s no coincidence that self-control is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Sure, we can willfully decide and stubbornly persist to charge the hill of change. But, lasting change comes from above.

To view the video teaching segments from the Living a Balanced Life series, go to: www.brookwoodchurch.org/balancedlife.

To purchase a copy of the Living a Balanced Life study guide, go to: www.halfreadbooks.com/balancedlife.


Copyright © 2009 by Allen White
All Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Living a Balanced Life Week 6 Day 1

Galatians 6:4

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. (MSG)

Now that we have thought about the four areas of balance: our relationship with God, our relationship with others, our physical health, and our ability to gain wisdom, it’s time to focus in on one area and take action. What’s the area of improvement that stands out to you today? This is not a competition to try to become better than someone else. As we have studied God’s Word over the last few weeks, what has stood out as an area to focus on?

God has uniquely created each of us. He planned for us to have the gifts, talents, looks and disposition that we currently have. Even the four areas of wisdom, stature, favor with God and with people is going to look a little different on each of us. Ed Young, Jr. put it this way, “Don’t try to be someone else. You be you. Because if you aren’t, there’ll be a hole in history and a gap in God’s creative order.”
[1]

Now that doesn’t mean that we should resign ourselves to the thought that what we are now is all that we will ever be. God has a plan for each of us. Taking the next step in finding God’s balance is part of what God has for each of us.

What’s your area of focus? Go ahead and name it. Then, go back and review the lesson on that aspect of God’s balance for your life. What is your next step?



Copyright © 2009 by Allen White
Scripture quotations taken from The Message. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved.
[1] http://twitter.com/EdYoung. Accessed October 6, 2009 at 9:41 am EST.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Living a Balanced Life Week 5 Day 5

Proverbs 10:8 & 12:15

The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
(ESV)

A friend of mine is fond of saying, “All of us is smarter than any one of us.” That makes a lot of sense. I already know what I know. I don’t know all that you know. But, when we put our brains together, something amazing can happen.

Everywhere else in the Bible, we are instructed that it’s better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Here is a rare instance of God’s Word advising us to take in more than we give out. The more ideas, knowledge, advice and experience that we take in, the better opportunity we have to make good decisions and offer good advice to others.

The opposite of being wise is being a fool. That seems like a strong word. The dictionary doesn’t make “fool” sound any better: “a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense.”
[1] Do your best to avoid turning your thoughts to fools you might know.

The antidote for foolishness is found in these verses. The wise person receives instruction and listens to advice. The fool is right in his own eyes and babbles. Our challenge it seems is to shut up and listen up. We’ll seem wiser already.

Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, copyright © 2001, Wheaton: Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
[1] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fool Accessed October 7, 2009 at 10:31 am EST.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Living a Balanced Life Week 5 Day 4

James 3:13-18

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (ESV)

Read this passage again from The Message:
Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here's what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It's the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn't wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn't wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn't wisdom. It's the furthest thing from wisdom—it's animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you're trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others' throats.

Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
(Msg)

Not much more that I can add to that.

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, copyright © 2001, Wheaton: Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations taken from The Message. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Living a Balanced Life Week 5 Day 3

Matthew 7:24

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (ESV)

If you were raised in church, then not only did you witness the flannel graph presentation of this parable, you also learned the song. Now, it’s going to be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
The simple principle here is that if we build on the right foundation, Christ’s teaching, then our foundation will be stable regardless of what peril might come our way. If we build on an unstable foundation, well, then our house goes “splat.”

Jesus says that the wise man “hears these words of mine and does them.” While we can certainly gain wisdom from all of Jesus’ words, He is specifically referring to the previous three chapters of Matthew that we know as “The Sermon on the Mount.” In this sermon, Jesus gives us wisdom on the Law, murder and hatred, adultery and lust, divorce, oaths, retaliation and redemption, love for our enemies, serving the poor, prayer, fasting, eternal investments, worry, judging others, salvation, consequences, discernment, and building wisely. If we hear what Jesus says AND do what He says, then we are like the wise man. If not, well, “splat.”

Take the next 10 minutes and read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29). What one principle of Christ’s wisdom stood out to you? What have you built on a solid foundation? What in your life is shifting in the sand?




Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, copyright © 2001, Wheaton: Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Living a Balanced Life Week 5 Day 2

Proverbs 28:26

Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe. (NLT)

Boy, this proverb seems pretty harsh. But, it bears a truth, as blunt as it is.
If a person trusts in his own mind, essentially he is saying, “I know better than anyone else how to run my life.” It’s the epitome of self-centeredness. There is also a certain amount of implied pressure: if a person trusts only in his own mind, then he has to come up with all of the right answers.

The solution is to “walk in wisdom.” What does that mean? Solomon’s use of “walk” here is reminiscent of the Psalm 1: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked… but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1a, 2; ESV). Walking refers to living. As we go about our days, we should keep company with wisdom. The result is safety rather than folly. Now, I don’t believe that this proverb promises safety from all harm, but it certainly offers safety from unnecessary harm caused by our own foolishness.
While some wisdom is learned, God’s wisdom is revealed in His Word. Just a glance at Psalm 139 shows the Psalmist’s regard to God’s wisdom. The first seven chapters of Proverbs shows the personification of wisdom and the importance of obtaining it.

Left to ourselves, we can get into all kinds of trouble. What are you relying on to get through your day today? Will your own smarts be sufficient? Where could you use God’s wisdom today?




Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, copyright © 2001, Wheaton: Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Living a Balanced Life Week 5 Day 1

1 Corinthians 2:6

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. (ESV)

You would think in this day and age with the use of so much media to spread the Gospel that the God’s wisdom wouldn’t be so secret any more. It is difficult to escape the Gospel. We can see and hear it on radio, television, web sites, email, twitter, facebook—it’s everywhere. Yet people still don’t get it.

The wisdom of this age says that it’s all up to us. We have to look at for number one. Do unto others before they do unto us…and the like.

The wisdom that comes from Christ says, “If you want to be first, you should put yourself in last place” (Matthew 20:16). “If you want to receive, first you have to give” (Luke 6:38). “If you are poor, then you can be truly rich.” It’s opposite world – at least compared to the wisdom of the age.
The wisdom and rulers of this age are “doomed to pass away.” The fads and trends of today will be thrift store sales tomorrow. The “important” people today will be historical footnotes tomorrow. God’s wisdom, the Bible, stands forever. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35, NIV). God’s Word is more certain than the ground we stand on.



Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

What are you relying on for guidance? How do you need to seek God’s Word for guidance today?
Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, copyright © 2001, Wheaton: Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Living a Balanced Life Week 4 Day 5

Philippians 3:20-21

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (NIV)

As I read this verse, I thought of my friend, Dr. Mike Collins, who heads up our BrookwoodU Leadership Track. Mike has agreed to share his story with us today:

“All my life, as an athlete, a coach and a professor in health science, I have studied and worked to make my body the best physical machine that it could be. Even in my 50s and 60s, I continue to jog in 10K runs, half marathons plus play racquetball and tennis. My passion drove me to keep my body a Temple of God. In January of 2003, I was involved in an automobile accident that left me a quadriplegic with no feeling from the chest down and unable to move any part of my body.

“Over the next months and years, I learned what a balanced life was all about and understand the beauty of the physical body, the skills of doctors, nurses and physical therapist plus the love of friends who all performed as God's earthly angels. I also moved from a life of almost total independence to complete dependency on God and His Earthly Angels. I have found that true happiness came to me by releasing my control and allowing God to use his wondrous power. I appreciate life more, care about people more and most importantly my spiritual walk with God grows each day. God blesses me each day with a greater love for him as I learned to provide Him with more and more control of my life.” – Mike Collins

One day Mike along with the rest of us who belong to Jesus will gain a spiritual body in Heaven. Mike will dance and run like he hasn’t for a while. I will be able to eat what I want and not get fat. What a day that will be!



Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Living a Balanced Life Week 4 Day 4

Proverbs 23:19-21

Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. (NIV)

Abstinence is easier than moderation. Growing up I was taught to completely avoid alcohol, but boy could we eat. It was acceptable to have indigestion. It was not acceptable to have a hangover. Drunkards were bad. Gluttons, well, that’s a very harsh way to describe a healthy appetite, right?
Here’s what I see in this verse: the actual food and drink is not evil or bad. The problem comes with what we do with them. If I eat a big fatty meal for lunch and cannot function at work in the afternoon is that any worse than having a three martini lunch? I don’t recommend either.

Why do we overindulge? First of all, we like it. But, there can be too much of a good thing, especially when it affects our health, our relationships, and our performance. Outside of pleasure, there is a deeper issue. Why do we turn to “comfort food” rather than the “Comforter” (John 14:16)? It doesn’t have to be overindulging in food or drink. It could be overworking, over-exercising, over-entertaining, or any use of pornography. These things are easily available. It’s there when we need it.

God is there when we need Him too. As we turn our trust from things we can control to the God who is in control over all, we can approach food and drink and work and exercise and entertainment with moderation and put them in their proper place.

What do you go to when you’re stressed out? What do you tend to overdo? Next time you’re tempted to overindulge, stop and ask God to help with what’s eating you.





Copyright © 2009 by Allen White


Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Living a Balanced Life Week 4 Day 3

1 Timothy 4:8-9

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (NIV)

Is exercise worthless? It’s easy to misunderstand what Paul is getting at here. It appears that he is saying, “Exercise is nice, but put your energy into what really matters.” That’s not what he’s saying.
As we’ve pointed out in this series, we are whole beings. We are not just a bunch of parts: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, relational, etc. The parts are interconnected and interrelated. We are the sum of these parts, and yet we are so much more.

This verse points to a place that some of us prefer not to go. If our physical discipline is down, it alerts us to the possibility of our overall discipline being down. What happens when we practice the discipline of fasting? We go without physical nourishment, and we are reminded that we can get by with far less of a lot of things: entertainment, careless words, busy work, and of course, food. The physical act of fasting relates to the non-physical parts of us.

Eugene Peterson in The Message puts it this way, “Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. “ 1 Timothy 4:8 (Msg)

Are you experiencing any spiritual flabbiness? Is that related to some physical flabbiness? You can take care of both by starting to prayer walk. Just walk around your neighborhood and silently pray for your neighbors. That’s just a suggestion. There are many ways to eliminate all of our “flabbiness.” Find what works best for you.



Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations taken from The Message. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved.