Why have I been writing these posts for the last several years? Maybe because “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1-2, NIV) The Bible is an amazing book, and it makes some powerful claims about Jesus. Those claims are either an incredible lie or they are absolutely true. There’s really no middle ground.
I have been writing these posts because I believe those claims are true.
The What of Writing this Blog
It has been about six years since I started this daily devotional, and I have a confession to make. Writing these posts every day is hard. It has required a commitment that I honestly didn’t know I had. I am not a “discipline guy”. I am a creative, happy-go-lucky kind of guy. Throughout my life I have been a sporadic Quiet Time guy rather than an every-day-journal kind of guy.
From the beginning of this endeavor, I have followed a few simple rules. 1) The first year, I was going to try to produce or edit one every day; 2) I wouldn’t follow anyone else’s menu for Scripture reading or devotionals (which explains why it has been pretty random in terms of what passages it addressed when); 3) during this last year or so, I have gone back through to do some editing and add a poem to every single post. And 4) I would write for an audience of one (Him) and make applications for the reader who needed them the most (me).
The How of Writing this Blog
In doing this have tried my best to keep my posts organic and to allow them to come naturally through my own reading and experiences during the year. While I certainly reflected the good preaching I have heard and authors I have read, the poetry, commentary, errors, reflections and conclusions in my writing have been mine. ( I have tried to be Biblical, not political, and I hope that has been the case in my blog… That has been hard to do in our current political climate.) I wanted to begin every day with the Book that has changed my life in the hope that you, too, could gain a deeper appreciation of its depth and subtlety.
I consider the Bible to be (as Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16) inspired by God, profitable for doctrine, reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness. If you have been keeping up, during the past year we have had a chance to look more closely at Easter and the Passion week. Along the way, we followed Jesus and his disciples chronologically in “real-time” over His last week on earth.
Did You Notice?
We were able to start in Genesis and go through every book in the Bible, discovering some great stuff about God in the Minor Prophets along the way. We dove into Christ’s genealogy, looked at historical and political underpinnings of His birth. It was fascinating to explore the revolutionary way He broke down social and religious barriers in a world full of them.
We looked at some of Jesus’ teachings, and I know I came away more impressed than ever at His wisdom and insight. I have reflected on travels in Israel and been exposed to the land of the Bible. Personally, I have tried to compare the teachings of Jesus to our culture and to my own behavior.
Who Wrote this Blog
Trust me, ya’ll, I am not writing as an expert or someone who has it all figured out. I have made tremendous mistakes in my life and committed egregious sins. My own choices have literally blown my life up a couple of times. Full disclosure, it should have happened even a couple more times, and I still don’t know why it didn’t. There were some bad decisions and many mistakes. I have certainly felt the private shame connected to those mistakes, but I have also been surprised at times that my failures did not become public knowledge, so that EVERYONE would look down on me. Part of Grace, I have found, is that our God (who knows all of our faults), doesn’t publicize them to EVERYONE.
And to be clear, I made these mistakes and committed sins AS A CHRISTIAN, not as some pagan who had rejected God and His values. The one constant (besides my own failures) in life has been the relentless application of grace. I have experienced forgiveness and God’s love as seen through the lens of the Bible, and personified in the person of Jesus Christ.
Surely I’m Not the Only One Who Feels This Way…
If Jesus was who He said he was, then He is a man worth studying. He is a leader worth emulating, and a God worthy of worship. It is my prayer that you would take an honest look at Him and see those conclusions as evident and logical. If you have read along for any length of time this year, I would LOVE to hear your story, and would really appreciate it if you do one of the following.
1) I want to challenge you to do just a teeny bit of writing of your own. Share one of your own insights or applications in the comments (which is easy, come on just jot something down!), or
2) PM me with your story or comment as you feel appropriate. I would really REALLY like to hear from you, so take a minute NOW and reply or respond. I honestly don’t expect to get many replies, but it would be really cool if a bunch of you would surprise me and tell me a little bit of YOUR story! Tell me how you met Christ, or something you have learned lately… If you want to tell me you disagree with everything I’ve written, that would be OK too! If you are too busy to write a long story, then please respond with a short sentence or a one-word comment.
I have taken comments and feedback to heart, and a couple of people whose opinions I respect encouraged me to invest more time in writing poetry with each of my posts. So I’ve done that over the last two years, and started closing every blog with a poem. I’d love to hear if you have a favorite poem or if any of the poetic verse has meant something to you.
(My secret dream is that somewhere unbeknownst to me, some pastor uses one of my poems in a sermon because it captures something of the message he preached that day!)
I’ll close with one of my favorite poems I’ve written, one that reflects on John and the impact his writing has had on me:
Youngest disciple, did you know where all the twists and turns would go,
And did you have the line of sight to what would come from what you’d write?
Jesus’ loved one, did you think, when struggling with your pen and ink,
That History hung on every word you wrote of what you’d seen and heard?
Out to a thoughtless, careless world, your personal account was hurled:
The words of a crazy, exiled Jew, who claimed that what he’d seen was true!
Could you have known? Could you have seen the phrasing there, in three sixteen,
And you could somehow sense, or see, down corridors of History,
That someday it would come to me, affecting what my life would be? Some might say you were misled, or somehow addled in your head,
And some with proud disdain despise your testament, and call it lies…
But some would say you have a friend, whose kingdom’s come, and will not end,
Who showed you love as meant to be, by being who He was sent to be!
Jesus’ Beloved, Apostle John, your words live now, and will live on
For us, from what you saw and heard, and captured in your timeless word:
For all the world—for everyone—God gave his only precious son,
That all who seek Him, and believe, will each eternal life receive.
The perfect love that fell on Thee has fallen, too, on me…
To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread