A Shepherd

“[F]rom tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people… And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them” (Psalm 78:71a, 72, NIV).

Psalm 78 is a great overview of Israel’s history and how God led them, protected them, provided for them, and disciplined them when they sinned. It reveals God as the Shepherd of His people, and we shouldn’t be surprised that Jesus is also revealed as a shepherd in the New Testament, the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11). In Psalm 78 God raised up another shepherd to lead His people–David. And I love what the Bible says about David’s leadership as king of Israel: he shepherded them with integrity of heart and led them with skillful hands.

As someone God has called to be a pastor (or shepherd, for that is what the word pastor literally means) of His people I pray these words would be true of me as well. I confess my sin to God and ask for integrity of heart through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. And I constantly pray for wisdom, that I may lead with skillful hands. I pray this as well for the elders and all those in leadership at LakeView.

Hebrews 13:7 says to “remember your leaders” and a few verses later in 17 it says that the leaders of the church “keep watch over you as those who must give an account.” The elders, who are also shepherds of God’s people, have a heavy responsibility. They will stand before God one day and give an account for every decision they made, every word they said, every policy they wrote as an elder and shepherd of LakeView. They need our prayers and encouragement to shepherd with integrity of heart and lead with skillful hands.

Will you join me this week in praying for each of the elders by name?

  • Mike Moll
  • Ryan Horrisberger
  • Wayne Hansen
  • Tom Roe
  • Kevin Louis
  • Gary Cook

Let the Glory of Your Name be the Passion of the Church

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth.” (Psalm 57:11, NIV)

David wrote these words while hiding in a cave from King Saul, who was trying to find and kill him. Even when being pursued by an enemy who most certainly would’ve murdered him, David took refuge in the worship of God! It’s easy to praise God when things are going well, but how often do we exalt Him when things are not going well? When life is hard, God is our refuge, and worship is our solace.

For that to be true of us, we must be enamored by God. When was the last time I experienced the awesome glory of God? Do I seek His glory? Moses said to the Lord, “Show me Your glory,” and God answered his prayer. We sing songs about God’s glory filling all the earth, but are those songs really the anthem of our hearts? Do we look for God, seeking to be transformed by encountering His glory? Do we hunger for His name to be exalted above the heavens and His glory to fill the earth?

Or have we grown so familiar with phrases from songs and words like “glory” that they’ve lost their sparkle? Are we so busy with our own lives, our own jobs, our own pursuits, and our own glory that we forget we live not for ourselves, but for the Glorious One who alone deserves to be worshiped? When we put things in perspective and live outside of ourselves for the glory of God, we will find that worship becomes our refuge from the storms of life, and God’s Spirit sustains us as we commune with Him.

There’s a song by Chris Tomlin that has a line in it that makes my heart leap every time I hear it. The song is All to Us, and the line is “Let the glory of Your name be the passion of the church.” Amen! That is my prayer for this week.

Photo by Ksenia Kudelkina on Unsplash

How You Use Your Mouth

“You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit.” (Psalm 50:19, NIV).

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV)

Words are powerful. They can be used to bless or curse. They can be used to worship or blaspheme. We can speak truth or lies. We can use words to build someone up or entirely destroy their lives. They can express love or hate. There’s almost no limit to what words can accomplish.

Yet, how often do we think before we speak? How often do we pause to consider the power of our words and the impact of what we’re about to say? Or do we let our words flow unfiltered, heedless of the devasting effect they often have? Are we quick to throw our opinions around without reflecting on whether it’s beneficial or discouraging to the person with whom we’re sharing? Do we stop and think about that joke we’re getting ready to tell, whether it’s appropriate for a mouth that belongs to Jesus? I’ve found that when I’m not intentional with my speech, I sometimes end up using my mouth for evil, rather than good. Even when our motives are good, careless words can turn constructive criticism into scathing rebuke because our tongues are deceitful–even to our own selves!

Ephesians 4:29 is a good reminder to use our words to build others up, to say what is needed (which isn’t always what is nicest) so that another can grow as a person and as a follower of Jesus. Let’s use our words to benefit those who listen, rather than to our own good, our own glory, or our own advantage. What if we used the power of our words to serve another this week? What if we used our mouths to ask or grant forgiveness, to tell our spouses how much we love them, or to say to our kids how proud of them we are? What if we asked ourselves, “What does this person need to hear from me to be encouraged today?” How could that change a relationship or mend broken fences?

My prayer this week is that we will use our words for what is helpful in building another up to the glory of God and the benefit of that person.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Light and Truth

“Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place. Then I will come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy.” (Psalm 43:3-4, HCSB)

How often do I pray this? How often do I ask for God’s light and His truth to guide me in the decisions I make day in and day out? I’ve found that when I’m faced with a large, life-changing decision (like whether to move my family to a new community and take on a new role as a lead pastor) I tend to ask for wisdom more often. But in those in-between-years, when life seems manageable and there are no world-altering decisions staring me in the face, my tendency is to run with my own ideas, thoughts, and plans without asking for light and truth from God first.

And, even when I do ask for wisdom from God, do I seek it? Do I ask God to just download light and truth into my brain like an app update, or do I ask God for guidance as I seek His light and His truth in His Word? Sometimes we ask God to speak or give us direction and wonder why He doesn’t answer when in reality, He put that wisdom just in front of us if we’ll look for it. Have your kids ever asked you for something, and you put it just out of their reach, so they’ll have to work to get it? Why do you do you that? Because when they work to get what you have given, it’s more meaningful; and sometimes it sticks more than if you just hand it to them.

God has given us tools to seek His wisdom. He has given us His Word. He has given us the ability to reason and think rationally. He allows us to have experiences that shape us and should teach us more about life. And, most importantly, He has given us His Holy Spirit who will “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). But that truth doesn’t just come as an update or a new operating system. It’s not downloaded and installed in our brains while we sleep. When we pray for light and wisdom, we need to look for God’s answer using the tools, gifts, and opportunities He’s blessed us with. And as we seek Him, He will guide us into all truth.

My prayer for us this week as that God will send His light and His truth to lead us each day, and that we will have the discernment to see and hear His voice.


Photo by Himesh Kumar Behera on Unsplash

Light and Life

“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” (Psalm 36:9, NIV)

In Psalm 36, a beautiful and poetic song, David contrasts “the sinfulness of the wicked” (v. 1) with the love, faithfulness, righteousness, and justice of God (vv. 5-6). God’s love knows no end, and His justice is without measure. Whereas the wicked flatters himself and plots evil (vv. 2-4), God preserves both man and beast, showing them love and giving them refuge (vv. 7-8). While the evildoer’s ultimate fate is to be “thrown down, not able to rise” (v. 12), God’s unfailing love is a fountain of life to those who acknowledge Him (v. 9).

What a moving picture of the greatness of our God! He gives us life, and in His light, we see light. God is the source of both life and light. Life “lives” because God lives in it. Light shines because God shines in it. Without God, there would be no light and no life. This brings to mind John 1:4, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” Jesus is our light and life, and when we resolve to live for Christ each day, we may pray David’s prayer for God’s provision and protection.

“Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart. May the foot of the proud not come against me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.” (vv. 10-11)

Psalm 36 is the inspiration for one of my favorite worship songs, Your Love, O Lord, by Third Day. I hope this Scripture and this song inspire your devotion to God this week!

Photo by Kimon Maritz on Unsplash

King Over the Flood

“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:10-11, NIV)

Psalm 29 celebrates the glory and power of God on display through a massive storm. The storm sweeps in from offshore, and it’s one of those storms where the thunder seems to shake the earth itself. Trees are shattered, snapped, and twisted. Everyone who sees the terrible beauty and awesome power of the storm responds with one word: “Glory!”

Yet even a storm powerful enough to shake the earth and split living trees with its thunder and lightning doesn’t shake God’s people. The Lord sits on His throne over the flood, over the wind and rain. He strengthens and blesses us… with peace. Isn’t it ironic that as God shows His power through the storm, He reveals His greater power by giving us peace?

I often feel overwhelmed these days–that life is flooded and I’m just trying to stay afloat. Reading Psalm 29 this morning reminded me that even when life seems to spin out of control, God is still King forever! He is on His throne and gives peace during the chaos (my chaos is often beautiful, but beautiful chaos is still chaotic) to all who trust in Him.

My prayer this week is that God will remind us that He is enthroned over our flood and that He will bless us with peace as we turn our eyes to Him.

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The Suffering of the Afflicted One

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1a, NIV)

Hanging on the cross, dying, Jesus quoted the opening line of Psalm 22. This was no coincidence! Going back to read Psalm 22 is like reading a description of Jesus’s crucifixion, written before crucifixion had even been invented, and written hundreds of years before Jesus walked this earth. The Psalm mentions such details as Jesus being scorned and mocked (vv. 6-7), even foretelling what the religious leaders of the day would say as Jesus hung on the cross (v. 8)! It describes how His hands and feet would be pierced (v. 16), and how they would cast lots for his garment (v. 18).

I can’t begin to imagine the suffering Jesus experienced as He hung on the cross. As I read Psalm 22, lyrics from an older worship song come to mind: I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross. Jesus suffered for me, and as Psalm 22 promises, His suffering was not in vain. The Psalm goes on to say:

“For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly…” (Psalm 22:24–25, NIV)

My prayer for us this week is that we will remember the suffering of the Afflicted One, our Savior, and lift His praise in our lives each day. Thank You, God, for saving me.

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