He’s Still Working on Me


For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10


Every once in a while, I start thinking about how far I’ve come as a follower of Jesus. When I think about how much my heart has changed, sometimes I forget to give Him all the glory. I forget that He and He alone is the author and finisher of my faith. I don’t think I voice it out loud, but I begin to think of the hours and hours of Bible study, prayer, listening to sermons, books I’ve read, and something in me takes credit for the great work God has done. It is precisely in these moments, when I lose this spirit of thankfulness, something usually happens to remind me of just how far I have left to go in my journey to Celestial City.


This past week, I seriously released a lot of anger and frustration out on a kid. He said the wrong thing at the wrong time, and I went to war. That situation resolved itself fairly quickly, so I never thought again about that monster that rose up within me. Then, a much more subtle thing happened. I went to pick up some food at a restaurant. When I was leaving, I was the only car parked in an entire row of spaces. There were at least 10 other spaces.   More importantly, there were at least 8 other spaces not next to me. While I’m walking to my vehicle, where does this couple decide to park? They park right next to me on the driver’s side. So, I force a smile and wait while they get out of their car. I wait for them to get out of the way so I can back out. This seriously aggravated me.


As I drove home, I wondered what in the world was wrong with me. Have I seriously regressed so much that I can’t take a kid’s smart mouth? Since when did I become so important that I did not have the patience to wait 45 seconds? I think God allows these moments in me to keep me from being prideful. I sit here this morning really thankful for these moments, for without them, I know I would start depending on my efforts instead of depending on Him and what He has already done.


He’s still working on me

To make me what I ought to be

It took Him just a week to make the moon and the stars

The sun and the Earth and Jupiter and Mars

How loving and patient He must be

He’s still working on me. – Joel Hemphill





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The Meditation of My Heart


Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. – Psalm 19:14


“If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it at all.” I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know this saying. It is quite a noble goal. I know my tendency is to “go off” on people that I think deserve it. As I get older and hopefully wiser, the temptation to unload on people has lessened, but as I read today’s verse, I see a whole new level.


The mouth can only speak what is in the heart. I think things that certainly never make it out of my mouth (thank goodness!) Lately, I’m finding these not-so-good thoughts are actually being spoken out loud. I catch myself immediately sometimes. Other times, it is when I try to get alone with God that they are brought to remembrance. I so want to be holy as He is holy. I want to be Godly and different, but how can I when I speak no different than the world speaks and do no different than the world does?


With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. — Matthew 19:26


It always seems to come back to this, doesn’t it? There are some things I can fix on my own. There are things I think God expects me to fix on my own. Other things are just never going away unless God intervenes on my behalf. I believe this is what Jesus meant when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” When you come to the realization that there are some things you do that completely violate His will for your life, and you can do absolutely nothing about it on your own, then it is time to pour out your heart to Him. Cry out to Him, “Father, if you don’t change me, I will not change.” Now you are in a position to be blessed. Now, you have access to the kingdom of Heaven.


Lord, I hate when I go through seasons of regression. I hate when I feel like I’m getting further away from You when all I want is to be as close to You as possible. I guess nobody is exempt from taking steps backwards no matter how many steps they’ve made forward. There is no way on my own that I can think pure thoughts continually. Will you help me? Will you make it so that the very things I think about are pleasing to You? It seems impossible. It is impossible. But, I have You. There is none like You. I love You. You are the Lord of my life. As Your eyes go to and fro searching for hearts that are perfect toward You, may mine be one of them, and may You show Yourself strong.





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Cleaning Up Messes

Cleaning up Messes


But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. – Luke 22:51


In the context of this verse, Peter had made a mess. When they tried to take Jesus away, Peter went all Conan the Barbarian and sliced one of the soldier’s ears off. Jesus quickly rebuked him and then proceeded to heal the man. I’ve read before where Jesus was actually destroying evidence on Peter’s behalf. Had the wound remained, Peter would have been executed.


My daughter likes to bake. The Food Network’s Kids Baking Championship has only made it worse. Her mom and I are constantly tasting her creations. We only cringe when she heads to the kitchen because of one thing . . . the mess she is going to make. She knows it is coming from one of us every time, “Clean up your mess.”


This past Sunday morning I got up and ready to go to church. I had about 30 minutes to go before everyone else would be ready. I walked into the kitchen, and sure enough, it was my daughter’s mess from baking the night before. At first, I was aggravated and about to tell her that this would be cleaned up as soon as we got home from church. Instead, I just put on some praise and worship music, and cleaned up. She didn’t notice, didn’t say, “thank you,” nothing. And you know what?


That is completely okay with me.


As I was contemplating what to write this week, that mess came to mind. I sit here and wonder just how many messes God has cleaned up for me as I’ve walked through this life. Messes that I didn’t realize that I made and messes that I’ve completely forgotten about. How many times has He intervened on my behalf and I never even said, “thanks.”


Today I’m giving Him “back-thanks.” He has been so good to me it is absolutely ridiculous.





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A Different Model for Church Growth

A Different Model for Church Growth


And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. – Acts 2:4


No matter what denominational background you are from, and no matter what you believe about what speaking in tongues looks like, I hope that we can all agree that when a sinful, human body is filled with the Holy Spirit of God, that person will eventually speak very differently. On this particular Pentecost in Acts 2, the lives of the disciples of Jesus were changed forever. They went from hiding in an upper room wondering if they were going to die at the hands of Roman soldiers to being filled with God’s Spirit, leaving that room, and not giving a rip if they died. A great heart transformation took place. They were truly empowered to do the work of God.


In my own experience, I sought for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in my early twenties, about five to six years after I was saved. I wanted to speak in tongues like the people I saw. If I didn’t speak in tongues, I wanted to interpret someone who did, like the people I saw. One Sunday night, I went forward seeking the Baptism in the Holy Ghost. Every hand in that church connected as they laid their hands on me. All I remember is that something like light filled my darkened soul. Though I didn’t speak in tongues like I thought I would, God gave me a different Spiritual gift. He would actually give me the very first gift on the list mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8: The Word of wisdom through the Spirit. I didn’t know it then, but from that day forward, I had an intense desire to read the Word. I didn’t just desire to read it; my desire was to understand it. Slowly but surely, I began to talk differently. Whereas before all I wanted to talk about was golf, music, movies, video games, and sports, now I wanted to talk about God.


Here is the deal: God intends for each of us to have our own flame. He intends for each one of us as members of His body of believers to be filled with the Holy Spirit. What we have going on right now in the American church is strange. I observe two types of preachers right now. One type is simply applying a business growth model and appearing very successful. If you find the right location, create the right look, brand a really cool logo, and present any non-offensive part of the Bible Sunday after Sunday with a really high-quality presentation that rivals the entertainment that you find in the world, and if that presentation is presented by a really cool looking dynamic speaker, you are almost guaranteed numerical success.


On the other hand (and only slightly better), there are preachers who I believe have a true flame of the Holy Spirit. They really know God and without a doubt are uttering His Words straight from His throne. In many of these churches, people flock to see the Holy Spirit emanate from their pastor/reverend/teacher. The unfortunate part is that the people in the congregation are content to be entertained by their flame. They want their pastor to study the Word and ascend the Holy Mountain to be with God throughout the week. They want their pastor to come down from that mountain with face shining and carrying a powerful word. They want hours and hours of study condensed into nice Cliff’s Notes so they gain understanding without having to labor. As Americans, we love maximum reward for minimum effort.


I think God is showing me a third type of model involving Spirit filled preachers that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen put into practice, and I’m sure praying this morning that I get to see it before I draw my last breath on this Earth.


Who got filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2?


All of them.


What would it be like to walk into a room where everyone in the entire room was really filled with the Spirit of God? What if to cultivate this Spirit, a leader had to cut some people loose and allow them to go elsewhere for a season? What if you had to do like Jesus did and run off crowds and crowds of people who wanted the benefits of following Him, but absolutely none of the responsibility in order to keep them away from the twelve who would go on to change the world in three short years? What if a Spirit filled pastor did not mind smaller numbers until each person in the congregation had the fire of God burning inside of them?


I’ll tell you the answer.


Anyone who encountered such a group of people would be changed forever.


The world around that group of people would be changed forever.


Lord, please let me see it.





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Adam’s Valentine

So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. – Genesis 2:21


I didn’t meet my wife until I was 24 years old. On February 26 of the year 2000, Tonya and I went on our very first date. Up until that time, there were certainly some similarities between the Biblical Adam and me. Bible Adam saw that all the animals were paired up . . . they had a match. He quickly realized that he didn’t have a match. I remember only focusing on what I didn’t have. My friends were getting married and it seemed a constant reminder that I was alone. Would I be alone forever? Was I one of the ones God wanted to be alone?


Probably the worst thing this attitude does is make you come across as needy. As long as this neediness prevails, you will be a disaster to your new relationship. I look back on some of my relationships and see just how needy I must have seemed to them. No wonder they ran. I can also look back and see how this worked the other way. Some girls I knew I would never settle down with because of some glaring red flag that God must have been highlighting as if to say, “not the one I made for you.”


Genesis 2:21 says God took something out of Adam’s side before He introduced him to Eve. For me, God had me go through a yearlong process of not dating anyone. As soon as I committed to that, I had more opportunities to date than I ever could have imagined. But, I wanted to be obedient to God.


The “surgery” performed on me was successful. At the end of that year God changed me. I wouldn’t say that I wasn’t needy at all, but I was WAY less needy. I no longer needed a relationship to define who I was. In fact, I learned to enjoy being at home by myself and just spending time with God and the Bible. I realized that God had performed major surgery on me and took out a cancer that would have been devastating to a marriage.


Could you imagine if I had bought into Hollywood’s definition of love and looked for Tonya to “complete me?” No significant other will ever hold up to that kind of pressure or live up to that kind of standard . . . not in the long run. I don’t want Tonya to “need” me in order for her to be happy. I want her to find her fulfillment in God alone. I want Him to be all that she needs. Then, if I am doing the same, she and I are set for life. We will see each other as a gift from God and we will appreciate the gift and certainly take great care of it.


No matter what stage of life you are in, find your fulfillment in God alone. I wish I had done this from the time I was saved at 16 years old until the time I met Tonya. I wasted a lot of time trying to do things the world’s way. Do not do the same.


Happy Valentine’s Day




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A Desire to Change

A Desire to Change


But you have done more evil than all who were before you, for you have gone and made for yourself other gods and molded images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back. – 1 Kings 14:10


Jeroboam had about as good of a start as anyone could have. A man of God came to him during the reign of Solomon at precisely the time when Solomon began to build public altars to other gods for his foreign wives. The man of God made sure Jeroboam understood why 10 of the tribes were going to be stripped away and be under his rulership.   Unfortunately, just because he had a good start, it did not ensure he would have a good finish.


In order to keep people from traveling back to the temple in the southern kingdom of Judah to worship God, Jeroboam decided to do the very thing Solomon did to have the kingdom divided in the first place . . . set up altars of worship to foreign gods. Even though he was divinely warned, even having his arm wither in an instant and then restored in an instant, he refused to change. Once Jeroboam got a taste of power, he could not let it go.


I look back over my life on things that were so hard to change. I’m talking about things that seemed impossible to stop doing. Just like Jeroboam, I thought I’d lose the rulership of my own kingdom if I really followed what God was obviously asking me to do. Here’s the thing: I eventually did lose control over my own kingdom, and in the end, it was wonderful.


Unfortunately (or fortunately, I don’t know) for us, God never allows us to see what is on the other side of our obedience to Him. He didn’t show me my wife on the other side of obedience to Him regarding my boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. He didn’t show me the financial blessings on the other side of learning to tithe. He certainly didn’t show me true peace and contentment on the other side of studying and applying His Word to my life. Had He shown me the blessings beforehand, I might would have done them for the rewards and not the rewarder.


So what does a person do when sin has such a hold on them that they just refuse obedience to God? What do they do when they feel that they absolutely can’t let go of what little bit of perceived control they have over their own life? How do you avoid Jeroboam’s fate?


You become poor in spirit. Remember the Sermon on the Mount? Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3).


Nothing has transformed my life like the five words “Lord, I’m poor in spirit.” When what I want does not line up with what He wants, I just admit it. I pray to Him, “Lord, if you don’t change my heart, I will not change. I can’t do it on my own.”


I can’t begin to tell you how He honors this prayer. Don’t think that the prayer will “fix” you or your problems instantly. God has never been into instant. But, it will give you a sense of depending on Him like you’ve never had before. Then, over time, you won’t know how He did it, you won’t even know when He did it, but you will discover that He changed you.


You will discover that Jesus is everything He says He is.





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A Random Pick

I wrote a new WMD for today.  Unfortunately, as I was reading it this morning, I didn’t write it with a pure, clean heart so I decided not to post it.  I will however give you the link to my website.  I’ve written almost 10 years worth of devotionals now (which is insane to me).  Just browse the site and randomly pick one.  I do this with my Bible all the time . . . sometimes it works . . . sometimes it doesn’t.  🙂


Have a blessed week.



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