Lacking Jesus

Journal Entry // February 27, 2021

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Mark 10:21-22 ESV

This encounter with Jesus has always been one of the most fascinating for me to read and reflect upon over the years. Each and every year, when I come to this story, I feel as though I have a different reaction. I typically see myself in this story and the story itself always illicits a response of some sort within me. This time it is deeply troubling to me.

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House in Ruins

Journal Entry // December 24, 2021

You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.

Haggai 1:9 ESV

Wrong priorities… This is the subject brought to mind during my reading of Haggai this morning. This word from the Lord to the people of Israel is just as relevant to me today as it was for them. I am struck deeply by the conviction of how easily I let the worries of caring for my own house (my life and my priorities) overshadow the ruining of my spiritual house (loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, strength).

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Illuminated Path

Journal Entry // December 11, 2021

The light shines on our path, so that we can see clearly and so walk properly.

TNTC Letters of John – (1 John 2:10)

As I have been reflecting deeper in 1 John through different commentaries and teachers, I have been struggling to put together some of what John is saying with how I actually see light and darkness manifest in my heart. Oftentimes I feel I am identifying with the darkness that John takes about, but I know that this darkness is meant to identify a life of unbelief. It always seems like John expects the true believer to walk 100% in the light and have no darkness at all. I interpret this to mean that any darkness lingering in my heart is pointing to my unbelief and I fear that this unbelief overshadows any light I may have.

But this is not what John is talking about. John is not saying that a true believer is sinless, not by any means. What he is saying is that I should have the markings of a man walking in the light. As John Stott mentioned in the quote above, the light of Christ shines on the path I am walking. It illuminates the road before me so that I can clearly see any hills and valleys and impediments to my walk. It allows me to see potential stumbling blocks. It’s not that there will be no stumbling, but that the light of Christ will reveal them to me.

The path of the unbeliever is shrouded in darkness and they take no notice or care for the sin in their life. And why should they… in the darkness there is no cause of concern about something they are blinded to. But a believer walking in the light has his sin and weakness illuminated at all times so that he may deal openly and honestly with his disobedience.

This is the light of Christ working in my heart. He reveals all the areas that are in need of attention. Areas of my heart that need his grace and mercy. It’s a blessing to struggle and fight against the sin in my heart. It’s the illuminating work of the gospel in my heart that casts out that lingering darkness. It’s Christ steadfast love for me that won’t let me just sit in darkness. No he shines his light, his true and perfect light, into every area of my life. Revealing the dark and dirty areas that need attention.

And walking in this light I can take these stumbling blocks to Christ as I clearly see the path of righteousness before me. Not perfectly by any means, but maturing. My faith growing and maturing each and every day. The light revealing the weakness in my heart is an amazing gift from God. Not a cause for guilt and shame, but of joy and celebration. I can rejoice that my loving Father is continuing to discipline me in love with patience.

Inward & Outward

Journal Entry // February 3, 2021

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

Matthew 23:23 ESV

This chapter in Matthew was a deep look into the heart of Jesus and what the expectation is for holiness in our lives. It interweaves well with Psalm 26 and its call for God to test the heart and mind of the writer. This testing of the Lord is important in my life to measure and evaluate the love for Christ in my heart. It is similar to an athlete preparing for competition. He trains and prepares for his time of testing. The training without testing would be worthless. Truly, without the testing the athlete would not be able to evaluate and measure how they are progressing.

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Effective and Fruitful

Journal Entry // November 26, 2021

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:8 ESV

Virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. These are the qualities, which supplement our faith, that Peter is referencing in this verse. These qualities should be mine and should be increasing in my life. Why is this important? These qualities enable me to live an effective and fruitful life for Jesus.

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Righteous Training

Journal Entry // November 9, 2021

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:11 ESV

My holy Father’s tender discipline is upon me because I am his son and he loves me. He loves me so deeply that he disciplines me. He does not allow me to continue wallowing in the mud and filth of sin and shame. No, he loves me and tenderly disciplines me to train me in righteousness. The peaceful fruit of righteousness is the purpose of my discipline.

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Godly Completeness

Journal Entry // October 15, 2021

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

The Bible is central to living a godly righteous life in that it is profitable for maturing faith into completeness. We are all looking at the world around us and looking for greater simplicity: ten steps to joy, four keys to happiness, or three rules for peace. We all want to find a path that is simple, easy, and painless. But the way of godly righteousness, the way of the cross, is filled with teaching, reproof, correction, and training in the Bible. All of these are difficult in some way and necessary for our development. Completeness before God requires struggle.

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Civilian Pursuits

No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

2 Timothy 2:4 ESV

How am I entangled in “civilian pursuits”? How am I spending my time, talent, and treasure in pursuit of the world and my flesh? I know that I become entangled in this far too easily and begin to give all my energy to accumulating not only the physical things this world offers but the self-centeredness of pride, arrogance, and prestige. I get entangled in civilian pursuits when I care more about what my family or friends think than what the Lord expects of me. I am entangled when I focus on pleasing anyone and everyone around me and neglect to even contemplate the necessity of pleasing Christ.

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Training for Godliness

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; [8] for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

1 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV

Train myself for godliness… I find myself at odds with this passage at most times in my heart. Not that I don’t believe it’s true and not that I don’t think it’s important in my life. I find the problem to be that I forget the importance of training for godliness. I neglect my training and discipline by letting my times of discipline become rote and mundane. I turn my training into half-hearted tick boxes to make myself feel like I am training for godliness, when all the while I am just going through the motions to make myself feel better. To appease my desire for godliness. Yet, I walk away throughout the day with scarcely a thought from my meditation and reading. Even worse, I let my flesh immediately speak into and over what I just learned about myself and God.

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Whoring Heart

then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols. And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations.

Ezekiel 6:9 ESV

As the Lord is in the midst of pronouncing this judgement against Israel, he takes a moment to bring hope to the people. A hope that when God brings judgement and punishment, that the people will repent. The people will turn from their wickedness and embrace Jesus. A hope that I will see my sin as loathsome and an abomination before God. A hope that I will see that God has been broken over my sinful heart and that I too should be broken and turn back to him.

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