Tuesday, January 31, 2012


On Sunday nights, I’ve been teaching a discipleship class called Known.  It’s all about a what a personal relationship with Jesus looks like.  In this post, I’ll present the basic premise of the class, and in subsequent posts, we’ll start digging deeper into scripture about what this relationship is all about. 

My goal is to post something from the class every Tuesday, so I guess since we have Matthew Mondays, we’ll call this Relationship Tuesdays:

So what’s the class all about?

Many Christians come to faith in Christ Jesus through an invitation because of a friend’s testimony, a child’s Sunday School lesson, or maybe a pastor’s sermon, and it most likely included some variation of the phrase “have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ” or “personal savior”.  If like me your surrender to Christ was somewhat different, I’m sure you’ve at least heard these phrases and maybe have even used them when telling others about your faith.

But what does it mean to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

A personal relationship with Jesus has two main principles: knowing about God is not the same as knowing God; relationship is a two-way road--in other words it’s not just enough to know Jesus, we must be known by Him—and finally God doesn’t just offer us the opportunity to be in relationship with us, He is zealous for a relationship with us.  He has made all the overtures, and our decision is to accept Him or spurn Him.

God also sets up the guidelines of what the relationship will look like.  He defines what it takes to be in relationship with Him, He defines what’s necessary on our part to maintain the relationship, and He offers not only to teach us what it takes but also offers us grace when we fall short and power to do what He’d like us to do.

Over the next few weeks will be looking at how God defines the relationship He wants with us, what it takes to know Him, and what it takes to be known by Him.

Monday, January 30, 2012

God Is In Control

In our Sunday School class we’ve been going through the book of Matthew, and so I’ve decided to start posting our lessons in condensed form here on the Manifest Blog.  I think we’ll call them Matthew Mondays.

So let’s start in Matthew chapter 1.

Matthew starts out with the genealogy of Christ.  Early on in my walk with Christ I looked up what the names in the genealogy meant and was amazed to find that from Adam to Jesus the names come together to present the salvation story.  Here is the translation below:

Man is appointed mortal sorrow, but the Blessed of God will come down teaching that his death shall bring the despairing rest and comfort. He will be a renowned healer, possessing a mission that joins division. God’s shepherd will twine the branches, through the exhalation of His spirit.

The father of a great multitude laughs; he prevails with God through the praise of the Lord breaching divisions. Rise up; my people is liberated by a helper that rewards a servant with strength, a gift well-beloved who pays the price to enlarge the people. The father of the Lord is the physician.

The Lord is a judge elevated with strength from God. He is the perfection, the faithfulness, the fire, and the stability of God. He was asked of God to break up confusion. He is the father of praise, the resurrection of God. In court, He is just in His preparation, His vengeance, and His confirmation. God is His praise. In the courts of God, His gift undermines wrath and increases salvation.

You can see the break down of this translation on the post entitled The Genealogy of Christ (Matthew).

Secondly, there’s the virgin birth.   There’s some speculation that Mary had to be born without sin in order for Jesus to be born without sin, but that wouldn’t make any sense unless her parents were born without sin, and their parents, and their parents . . . all the way back to Adam.  Of course that isn’t the case. 

However, God does say that He visits the iniquities of the fathers onto the third and fourth generation, and not the iniquities of the mothers, which means that a virgin birth would in essence not pass on original sin and give Jesus a clean slate at birth.  He wasn’t born into sin, and unlike Adam, He resisted the temptation to sin when it was presented. You can read more about this idea in the post entitled Why a Virgin Birth?

The application we can take away from these two points in Matthew chapter one is that God is in control of every detail.  He knew what His plan was before Adam and Eve ever ate the apple, and He knows every detail about your life: past present and future.  He knew what everyone’s names would be in Jesus’ genealogy, and some of them He audibly gave before they were born, and some of them He changed while the person was alive.  He knew that sin would be passed on through the fathers and that there would be a virgin birth.  We know because it’s prophesied hundreds of years in advance. 

Here’s the rub:  You’ll never do anything that surprises Him, and though things might surprise you, He saw them coming before time began and has plans for everything that happens in your life.

I for one find this incredibly comforting.  There is rest in God’s omniscience.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Empowering the Powerless

When Peter and John went to pray, they met a lame man on the way.  He held out his palm and asked for an alm, and this is what Peter and John did say, “silver and gold have we not, but such as we have give we thee.  In the name of Jesus Christ, stand up and walk.”  And the man went walking and leaping and praising God.

That’s such an awesome song about healing and the beauty of the faith of the apostles after the resurrection, but there’s an important part of the story that I wish hadn’t been excluded from the children’s song.  After the lame man starts walking and praising God, this is what the story goes on to say:

Read the rest of the article in today's Proverbs and Wisdom.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Busy Days Ahead

I haven't been blogging much lately mostly because I've taken on a couple or more projects with our church that's been taking up a lot of time.  I'm redesigning their website, designing a brochure for their kids' camp, drawing a comic strip for the kid's camp as well, teaching the college Sunday School class, teaching a discipleship class, and helping brainstorm and develop a college church plant at our local university, which will probably develop into more web/print content and design on my part--there's even talk of some pay being involved maybe even a full-time ministry job, which would be more than I asked or hoped for.  And with all that, I've started writing a book (well that one I started a while ago, but it's still on the agenda.)

So keep me in prayer on that regard.  I don't want to let the blog die just because I'm getting busy, but at least for the next 3 or 4 months my posts will be a little more focused on the things I'm teaching in my classes rather than coming up with more original content.  I'm going to aim for something along these line:

Monday - Lesson from college class (right now were going through Matthew).
Tuesday - Lesson from discipleship class (it's about how God defines personal relationship)
Wednesday - Book Review/Design Stuff
Friday - A blurb and link to my weekly Proverbs and Wisdom article.

My goal is to get started on this schedule after this weekend.  Hopefully, I'll manage to stay on task with it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Define Discretion

My wife spoke at a girl’s conference this weekend on the topic of becoming a Proverbs 31 woman.  Her topic is “the Discreet Woman.”   She asked if I would help her with her topic, so we’ve spent a lot of time studying what the Bible says about discretion, and I think it would be good to share with the Proverbs and Wisdom readers what we’ve learned; it’s transformational in it’s simplicity.

I think we all have an idea of what discretion is, especially when it comes to how you dress, at least with women; that word is less used with men.  A woman who is showing a lot of skin is often said to be indiscreet.  The word is also used in reference to our speech.  Someone who is discreet in the way they speak is often quiet and a good confidant. 

If you look up the word “discreet”, you’ll find that it means “showing prudence and circumspection” or “modestly unobtrusive; unostentatious”, which really doesn’t help define it much at all as these words are all really synonyms not explanations.

It’s still this very vague idea.  A moral code that we know to be true, but the lack of solid definition leaves it to be easily broken. But discretion actually does have a very simple principle that we can use to define it . . . Read the rest of the article at Proverbs and Wisdom.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

An Uncommon Giveaway

I just finished reading through Tony Dungy’s new book: The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge.  For those of you who don’t know, Tony Dungy was a NFL coach who is known for his uncommon exemplary Christian character. 

I am not much of a football fan, so when I read Tony Dungy’s original book, The Uncommon Life, I found myself not being all that excited or impressed.  There were a lot of really good principles on how to be a good person, but not a lot about how you can’t be that good person without Christ in your life.

However, the Daily Challenge expounds on the principles of Dungy’s first book and grounds them solidly in scripture and a relationship with Jesus, the feature most lacking in the previous book.  The Daily Challenge is basically a daily devotional with some stories from Dungy’s football career.  It’s obviously geared more toward the Christian male, but he does try to throw in some stuff for the ladies too.

I don’t think there were many things that were uncommon in terms of common sense for those who follow Christ if we’re really trying to follow His commandments, but it is always good to be reminded of those commandments for life on a daily basis, and I’d probably recommend this book over some of the less practical devotionals out there—you know the ones I’m talking about.  The ones that start out like this “Day One: Give Jesus a Big Hug Today.”

Overall, I’d recommend skipping the first book and just going with this one.

Buy this book for $10.87.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review.  All opinions are my own.


A special thanks goes out to Tony Dungy and Tyndale Publishing for including a certificate for a free book to be redeemed in your local Christian Bookstore or via mail order to be given away to one lucky reader.

The Giveaway period starts today (01/18/12) and lasts for two weeks (02/01/12).

Head to the Giveaway page for more details on how to enter for your chance to get a free copy of The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge.

Friday, January 13, 2012

What Does Sickness Say About You?

Everyone gets sick from time to time, whether it’s a cold or something life threatening like cancer, so with the exception of STD’s and other lifestyle diseases, sickness doesn’t necessarily denote a deficiency in character. 

However sickness can expose an already existent deficiency.

In the Bible Job is the most righteous man on Earth at the time the book was written, but God allow Satan to attack his body with a debilitating disease.  And while Job never curses God and dies like Satan anticipates, Job’s experience does reveal a deficiency in his character.  

Read the rest of the article at Proverbs and Wisdom . . .

Friday, January 6, 2012

Knowledge Puffs Up

In the information age, knowledge is expanding at exponential rates.  My phone has 1000 times the computing power than my childhood computer did.  We can travel the world by plane in hours, but we can travel the world virtually in seconds.  Language barriers are quickly becoming a thing of the past, and science and technology seem to have no limits in their capabilities. 

In step with this explosion of knowledge is an explosion of pride . . . Read more in today's Proverbs and Wisdom article: Knowledge Puffs Up.


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