Luke 5:1-11

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 5:1-11
On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”[a] 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Can you hear Peter’s tone of voice in v. 5?
I did. He was an experienced fisherman and thought he knew best.
Do you ever think you know best?
Be honest. Remember who you’re talking to.
When you think you know best, do you do as I say anyway?
Peter did.
Makes a difference, doesn’t it?

Thursday Picks ~ 12-15-2016


This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

I bet there are at least one or two of these that will hit you where you live, like they did me…

10 Ways to be a Christian this ChristmasKevin DeYoung
300px-Nativity_tree2011We love Christmas. We can’t wait for the day to come, and many of us can’t wait for the season to be gone.

But whether you love every nook and cranny about the holidays–or consider most of it “noise, noise, noise!”–there is no excuse to be grinchy and scroogeish. Here are ten ways we can remember to be Christians this Christmas…

This is a challenging article…

The Greatest Need in Special NeedsAbigail Dodds
When special needs kids are young, it’s easy to sentimentalize their disability as something that’s oh-so-precious and dear. It’s easy to think that God gave them their disability in order to help the church be more caring, or to somehow show us a simpler and purer person than those of us with the mental ability to really be sinful. But those are half-truths. We can’t forget that special needs kids need God…

When we sentimentalize kids with special needs, we do them a great harm. They may have an innate happiness or preciousness, but the realities of sin and redemption still apply…

We may think that folks with cognitive disabilities and delays in our church are mainly there as some sort of object lesson to enable our spiritual growth, forgetting that God wants spiritual growth for all of us. Or we may think that they’re so different from us that all effort to train them in the Lord would be meaningless, forgetting that in the deepest sense, they’re exactly like us — humans who simply need the gospel.

So is this…

Even if He Doesn’tMelissa Edgington
1sryerojdue-tao-wenShe tearfully told us that God had spoken to her and had assured her that this pregnancy would be different. She believed He had promised her that this baby would be perfectly fine, and she told us so with confident conviction. “He isn’t going to let anything happen this time,” she said. “I’m holding on to His promise.”

Even as she spoke the words, I cringed inside…

Someone had taught her wrong thinking about God. Somewhere along her Christian path, some teacher or mentor had told this woman that God is good because He does what seems right to us. She had been taught that we are to name what we want and claim it territorially, as if we can instruct God on the best way to do things. And, in her desperation to hold onto the hope that she would never again have to endure the death of a child, she convinced herself that God had promised her that she would never have to.

If we demand our way, is it really worship?

Worship MattersEd Stetzer
Worship Matters…believers are called to engage in worship, not argue about it. It’s a mark of maturity that we do so, and often we do so in churches that worship in ways that are, perhaps, different from our preferences.

Yet, worshiping in ways that are not about us makes sense, doesn’t it? That’s at least a part of what it means to offer up worship as service. In other words, it’s not about us, but about Jesus.

Many believers, driven by their preference, make the emotional worship experience all about themselves. But that misses the very point of Christian worship. It must be directed beyond ourselves to Christ.

Worship matters. Yet, at its heart, worship is not about us. My hope is that we might actually worship by putting aside our preferences, focusing on Jesus, and making it all about Him.

A classic holiday short…
Off the Mark

Luke 4:31-43

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 4:31-43
31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha![a] What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

38 And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. 39 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.

40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41 And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Did Jesus heal everybody in the world who was sick?
Was physical healing why he came?
Why did he heal at all, do you think?
What did the people want from Jesus?
What do you think he really wanted to give?
What do you want from Jesus?
Is that why he came?
What do you think he really wants to give?

Designations of Seasonal Ariose Vocalizations

Designations of Seasonal Ariose Vocalizations
Couched in Verbiage Chosen with a View to Obfuscate,
Consequently Providing Personal Amusement
in the Process of Providing Said Vocalizations
With the More Common Designations

In other words, name the Christmas songs.
For the solutions, click “Listen Here” after each title.
This will take you to one of my favorite versions of the song.
Have fun!

1. Quiescent Nocturnal Period of Time (Listen Here)

2. The Primary Birthday (Listen Here)

3. Elation Directed Toward the Orb (Listen Here)

4. The Lilliputian Lad Who Was a Rhythmic Instrumentalist
(Listen Here)

5. Ourselves, the Sovereign Triumvirate (Listen Here)

6. Unremarkable Municipality in the West Bank (Listen Here)

7. The Thing Manifested Itself At a Point In Time Midway Between Dusk and Dawn When The Atmosphere Was Free of Obstruction (Listen Here)

8. Festoon the Concourses (Listen Here)

9. My Solitary Yuletide Yearning is a Matched Set of Anterior Dentition (Listen Here)

10. A Fortnight, Less 48 Hours, of Noel (Listen Here)

11. The Vibrations of the Idiophones Were Detected By My Auditory Nerves On the Twenty-Fifth of December
(Listen Here)

12. I Have Hopeful Expectations of a Holiday Devoid of Color
(Listen Here)

13. Consecrated Period of Darkness (Listen Here)

14. Can You Identify This Neonate? (Listen Here)

15. Let Those Who Are Filled With Fidelity Amass (Listen Here)

16. Are Your Aural Perceptions Equivalent to My Own?
(Listen Here)

17. Pay Attention, The Spiritual Couriers Are Performing
(Listen Here)

18. The Legendary, Portly, Perennial Gift Giver Is En Route
(Listen Here)

19. Take an Expedition Beyond the Timberline to Broadcast the News (Listen Here)

20. Group Salutations for a Jocund Observance of the Deific Incarnation (Listen Here)

The Psychiatrist’s Three Room Apartment  (Listen Here)

Merry Christmas!

Luke 4:14-30

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 4:14-30
14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘“Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers[a] in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
If you were in the synagogue when Jesus said this (v. 21), how would you react?
What happened between v. 22 and v. 28?
Why do you think they turned on him?
Do I always meet your expectations?
What is your reaction when I don’t?
Which one of us is God?

Tuesday Picks ~ 12-13-2016


This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Yep. I do this too…

When God Goes Big And I Go SmallTim Challies
What troubles me, though, and especially as I examine my own heart, is the speed with which I appeal to the exceptions. When I read Mark 11:25 (“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone…”) my first thought is not, “God forgive me for my lack of forgiveness!” or “Okay, so who do I need to forgive?” My first thought is “Yeah, but what about this situation or that situation?” When God goes big, my first tendency is to go small. When God speaks universally, my first thought is to look for exceptions, for the nuances that allow me to wiggle out from under his commands.

As a church staffer my whole career I learned that it’s easy to be a “prophet” when you’re not the “king”…

When you’re the one in the captain’s chairDavid Gushee
Sherry Jackson, left, as Andrea, and William Shatner as Captain Kirk from the Star Trek first season episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" in 1966. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsI am learning for the first time about what it means to be the primary leader of an organization in which many other people’s livelihoods and even happiness are at least partly dependent on my decisions. It is chastening…

For example, it was easy for me to play the prophet when I was “just” a professor, especially once protected by tenure. I could say whatever I wanted without having to bear the full weight of the consequences. If there were complaints, they were mainly directed to those above me…I could feel proud of my own courage (always a dangerous thing) and listen with frustration at those in authority as they occasionally felt the need to speak with me about the challenges my work was bringing to their institutions.

Now, amusingly, I am the one who has to talk to headstrong young prophets and suggest why it might have been better to say it this way rather than that way, to avoid antagonizing people unnecessarily, to be aware that their way of looking at something is not the only way to see it. If any of my former supervisors see this post I can imagine them saying to themselves: “At last, for old Gushee, the shoe is on the other foot. I wonder how he likes it?”


The slaughter of Aleppo is being recorded in real time on Twitter, by its own victimsAamna Mohdin
As the battle for the city enters its final phase, many residents have turned to Twitter to post their goodbyes.

Seven-year-old Bana Alabed, along with her mother Fatemah, have been tweeting the horrors from East Aleppo since September. After sending several distress calls to the rest of the world, Bana and her mother have resorted to tweeting their last messages…

This is so easy to forget because we wish it weren’t true…

How Christianity FlourishesJared C. Wilson
Christian mission has always thrived by surging in the margins and under the radar. When we somehow get into positions of power, the wheels always come off. This is pretty much the way it’s always been. I once heard Steve Brown relate this story on the radio: “A Muslim scholar once said to a Christian, ‘I cannot find anywhere in the Qur’an that it teaches Muslims how to be a minority presence in the world. And I cannot find anywhere in the New Testament where it teaches Christians how to be a majority presence in the world.’”…

Many religions, like Islam for example, seem to thrive on conquest and power. Christianity grows best under hardship. Christianity is in decline in America, and Christendom is already in ruins in Europe, but in the East and in Africa, where it is new, a grassroots movement, and/or under persecution, it is spreading like wildfire. I sometimes wonder if God has set the growth of Christianity to work this way to keep in the forefront of our minds the treasure and glory of heaven over and above the treasure and glory of earth.

Wrapping malfunctions…
Off the Mark

Luke 4:1-13

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 4:1-13
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
    and him only shall you serve.’”

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    to guard you,’

11 and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Do these three temptations strike you as particularly sinful?
What would have been wrong with Jesus doing any of these things?
How did Jesus overcome these temptations?
Do these things tempt you?
What does tempt you?
Do these things tempt other people?
It’s easy to judge someone who is tempted differently, isn’t it?
But, don’t.
What would be wrong with you doing the thing that tempts you?
Do you have the same power to overcome that Jesus did?
Ok, then…

Monday Picks ~ 12-12-2016


This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Today’s God Questions arise from Luke’s genealogy of Christ, so these first 2 picks seemed timely…

When God Changes Your PlansJ.D. Greear
TWS-4Some of the greatest things God did in the Bible happened when he deviated from the expected plan…

…Think about your life as being like Jesus’ genealogy. Maybe it seems to you like it’s filled with dysfunction, chaos, or bad luck.

But just like he sent Jesus to Earth in an unexpected way as part of his perfect plan, God is working out the unexpected and seemingly chaotic developments in our lives to fit perfectly into his good plan for us.

I’m 43 years old. Compared to God’s plan for history, those 43 years are like one millisecond of a five-hour movie. I can’t explain from my one millisecond how everything ties together. But Matthew shows us that it does tie together.

More from the genealogy of Christ…

The Christmas Present in Lot’s CaveErik Raymond
Lightstock.comThe cave seemed like the perfect hiding place but soon it became the setting for one of the most heinous scenes in all of the Bible. But even here amid the darkness of depravity God was laying the tracks for an especially shocking revelation on Christmas morning…

When you trace back the lineage of Jesus you come through Lot’s cave. And certainly the stench of sin in that cave is overwhelming; just as the stench of sin throughout the Old Testament is nauseating. However, the long-awaited Son of David was born, with Moabite blood in him, to bring salvation to the nations. Here is the bouquet of grace! The sweet scent of the gospel that lifts our spirit!

Remember that Genesis 19 is not the last chapter in the Bible. And likewise for you, whatever sin or disaster you have encountered, it needn’t be the end. The Savior with the checkered lineage and dysfunctional family story has come to remake and renew us by his power. Sin does not have to have the last word.

A recurring theme of the Christmas narrative is, “Fear Not!”

The Narrative of Fear Surrounding Refugees: Preparing Ourselves for the ConversationEd Stetzer
The Narrative of Fear Surrounding Refugees: Preparing Ourselves for the ConversationIn this country fear has become a defining narrative, even among Evangelicals. It comes in many forms: fear of unemployment, fear of the unknown, fear of the infringement of rights—all concerning. But one in particular—fear of terrorism—has caused a unique problem when it comes to community and love of neighbor…

But at the core of who we are as followers of Christ is a commitment to care for the vulnerable, the marginalized, the abused, the wanderer. It’s Advent and we look back to the time thousands of years ago when a husband and wife couldn’t find a welcome home to stay. Today, millions of people are in a similar position, having had to flee home, safety, family, and livelihood due to violence or poverty…

So where do we go from here? How do Evangelicals who are committed to helping refugees interact with those who view the issue differently? Let me suggest three ways to prepare ourselves for the refugee discussion in the days to come…

I know this is true, but it’s so hard to put into practice…

The other person is always rightSeth Godin
Image result for seth godin
The other person is always right.

Always right about feelings.

About the day he just experienced.

About the fears (appropriate and ill-founded) in his life.

About the narrative going on, unspoken, in his head.

About what he likes and what he dislikes.

You’ll need to travel to this place of ‘right’ before you have any chance at all of actual communication.

Did you even know this existed? I didn’t…

The Sad Fate of the World’s Longest LimoDoug DeMuro
Worlds Longest LimousineSo that’s the story of the American Dream’s concoction, and a few of its more unique extravagances. And while it sounds cool, well, things eventually took a turn for the worse…

The Sad Fate of the World's Longest Limo featured image large thumb0…The current condition is beyond rough, with several wheels missing, visible body damage, an interior largely stripped out and open to the elements, missing windows and missing trim. Alas, the American Dream is dead… in limo form, anyway.

Santa at the coffee shop…
Off the Mark

Luke 3:23-38

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 3:23-38
23 Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, 27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel,[a] the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon, 33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Recognize any of these names?
Which ones, and why?
Do you think could trace your genealogy back to me?
Well, did you know that, even though everyone is unique, still 99.9% of human DNA is the same for everyone?
What might that tell you about your genealogy?

Vulnerable God“So God throws open the door of this world—and enters as a baby.
As the most vulnerable imaginable.
Because He wants unimaginable intimacy with you.
What religion ever had a god that wanted such intimacy with us
that He came with such vulnerability to us?
What God ever came so tender we could touch Him?
So fragile that we could break Him?
So vulnerable that His bare, beating heart could be hurt?
Only the One who loves you to death.”

Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift