Saturday, May 31, 2008

Confession (day two)

James 5:16 says “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Does the Bible really mean that we should let our real self be known to another person—even the crud and mistakes and sin?

Secrets can hold a lot of power, but through confession that power can be broken. Please be wise in choosing a real person to whom you confess your sins. Please keep in step with God’s Spirit and take the risk with the right person.

Looking for a first step? Try using this on-line confession that includes scripture to help you walk through confessing sin:

The Confessor (

A next step could be keeping a journal that tracks your comments to God and your impressions of God’s responses. The journal could have much more than only confession written inside. But taking the time each day to jot down where you are can be a beneficial pattern to help connect you with God.

Another step could be finding an accountability partner for a limited or extended time. This helps us move beyond being known only to cyber-people. Instead of feeding the idea that we're being "known" when really we're still being anonymous, we choose to risk with a real person. Julie Davis writes that “confessing to a person who can see you and respond to you--although difficult--will generally bring real healing and release from bondage.”

What do you think the Bible teaches? How have you acted out the truth of James 5:16? Write us, here, at the blog.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Confession (day one)

    One of the patterns that help people connect with God is the confession of sin. First John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

    What does confession really need to include to truly be a confession? Here are CJ Mahaney’s thoughts from his blog dated February 22, 2008 (See Sovereign Grace Blog for a full list of subjects) :

    Andy Pettitte and My Confession of Sin
    by C.J. Mahaney
    2/22/2008 10:53:00 AM

    CoolOver the past few years, sports fans have endured a steady diet of news about high-profile athletes who have been busted for using steroids. Though steroid use is not limited to baseball, most recently professional baseball has been the focus of criticism due to the Mitchell Report and the recent hearings on Capitol Hill.

    As I’ve listened in, read the sports pages, and watched part of the hearings, I’ve listened carefully to the way athletes articulate their words. Sadly, as I listen to these confessions of drug use, I see no discernable difference between the professing Christian and the non-Christian athletes. Specifically, this has been obvious in the recent round of charges against and admissions by Andy Pettitte.

    Andy Pettitte

    If you’ve followed major league baseball, you know pitcher Andy Pettitte was identified in the Mitchell Report and later acknowledged using human growth hormones (HGH), a substance banned by the league.

    Sadly, though he has publicly admitted using HGH, Pettitte (a professing Christian) did not get off to a good start. His first public statement (Dec. 15, 2007) included some “if” statements like “If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize.” I don’t really even know what this sentence means. But I do know that confessions including the word “if” quickly move away from a truly biblical confession.

    Monday at a press conference from spring training, Andy Pettitte was asked by a reporter, “Considering it [HGH] is illegal, do you consider yourself a cheater?” Pettitte responded by saying,
    From the bottom of my heart, I know why I did this. I didn’t do it to try to get an edge on anyone, I didn’t do it to try to get stronger, faster or to throw harder. I did it because I was told that it might be able to help me. That’s for other people to decide. If people think I’m lying then they should call me a cheater. Do I think I’m a cheater? I don’t. God knows my heart.
    As I watched Pettitte, I noted how high-profile Christian athletes miss opportunities to present culture with a compelling alternative: someone who has been genuinely convicted of sin and confesses those specific sins. Instead, the norm for these athletes (who are professing Christians) is to conform to the evasive language so common when someone has been caught.

    Reading these explicit references to God, I find it difficult to reconcile Pettitte’s statements with Scripture. He is a professing Christian, yet when it comes to his admitted use of HGH, we hear posturing and ambiguous language. And you see this throughout the process. The Mitchell Report named Pettitte, and Pettitte acknowledged the accuracy of the Report in regards to a personal use of HGH, but withheld specifics about his uses on other occasions. Then Pettitte later revealed more specifics about his use, when deposed by the congressional committee. And though he has (and only after he was caught) admitted to multiple uses of the drug, Pettitte refuses to see himself as a cheater.

    Now Pettitte is claiming that his motives were pure, attempting to justify the steroid use by a desire to recover sooner from an injury. With this statement Pettitte presents himself as though what he did was admirable. He says he did it for the team. Please, does he think we’re all fools?

    Tuesday morning I jogged on the treadmill while watching ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning. After clips from the Pettitte press conference on Monday, attention turned back to Mike and Mike. One of them, former professional football player Mike Golic, acknowledged that in 1987 he took steroids for five weeks to accelerate the healing process of shoulder surgery. After ridiculing Pettitte for using his faith in God, Christian beliefs, and personal feelings as justification for his actions, Golic went on to say, “I did it [steroids] for the same reason [as Pettitte]. But when I admitted that I did it, I never tried to come across as though I didn’t cheat. I did. It was wrong.”

    Golic clearly acknowledged cheating. He did. And it’s disappointing to me that a guy who is (to my knowledge) not a Christian acknowledged he cheated and can easily discern the weaknesses of Pettitte’s “confession.”

    As I watched the Pettitte press conference, I didn’t question the sincerity of his profession of faith. What I am questioning is his understanding of Scripture (specifically ethics as taught in Scripture). I wonder if he has a pastor. I wonder if he’s a part of a local church. I wonder if the Yankees have a chaplain who is a true pastor. Because I think Pettitte needs a pastor or chaplain who can meet with him to walk back through his confession and examine his heart in light of the holiness of God, the doctrine of sin, and (most importantly) the gospel.

    It was disappointing because Andy Pettitte missed his moment. He had a moment where he could have articulated a clear confession that was theologically informed. Sadly, he didn’t, but others have; you just may not have heard of them. Meet Daniel Naulty.

    Daniel Naulty

    The now infamous Mitchell Report on steroid use in major league baseball pointed a finger at high-profile players like Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Miguel Tejada, and Gary Sheffield.

    Long before the Mitchell Report was released, a lesser-known pitcher named Daniel Naulty was caught using steroids. Naulty pitched for the Twins (1996–98) and Yankees (1999), which put him in contact with a number of players later named in the Mitchell Report. Naulty not only is a professing Christian, but is now pursuing a Ph.D in theology with the hopes of one day becoming a seminary professor.

    Naulty has repeatedly confessed publicly his use of steroids. He told the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune,
    I stole people’s jobs. That’s the part for me that was so wrong. I have to explain to my boys that I took people’s jobs by cheating, and that penetrated my soul a number of years ago and still haunts me today.
    And in reflecting on all the players behind the scenes he influenced to use steroids, he told USA Today,
    I want to apologize to as many [fellow players] as I can. If they forgive me, great. But I need to be prepared to be declined and I’d understand if they didn’t. I took a piece of their life away from them that I could never give back. You reap what you sow and I might very well reap a lot of what I sowed.
    Let me tell you what he won’t reap. He won’t reap a perjury charge or a seared conscience or the ridicule of a world that easily discerns someone who is lying. And he will reap the love and respect of his sons.

    Naulty embraced his moment to speak and he spoke clearly, specifically, and humbly. Pettitte missed his moment.

    Now, what about your moment of confession? Your moment is coming, and so is mine. And this is what concerns me the most—that I will miss my moment.

    My Confession of Sin

    Though I’m seeking to grow in godliness (by God’s grace), I know indwelling sin remains, and that means I will sin against my wife, son, or friends at some point this week. I am the worst sinner I know, not Andy Pettitte. I am more familiar with my sin than I am with his sin. And I have my own moment fast approaching when I will need to acknowledge my sin.

    Obviously I am not a high-profile athlete, and my words are not being recorded and evaluated by the press. But my words are being evaluated by God (
    Matthew 12:36). And at times, I am sorry to say, my confession can be all too Pettitte-like.

    When I have sinned against someone, a sincere confession is required. A confession that is sincere and pleasing to God will be specific and brief. I have learned to be suspicious of my confession if it’s general and lengthy. A sincere confession of sin should be specific (“I was arrogant and angry when I made that statement; will you please forgive me for sinning against you in this way?”) and brief (this shouldn’t take long). When I find myself adding an explanation to my confession, I’m not asking forgiveness but instead appealing for understanding.

    If my so-called confession extends beyond a very specific (acknowledgement of sin) sentence or two, then I am most likely excusing my sin, and requesting understanding for my sin, rather than sincerely asking forgiveness because of my sin. So I have learned to be suspicious of any confession of sin that is lengthy. Genuine conviction of sin is evidenced by a sincere, specific, and brief confession of sin, without any reference to circumstances or the participation of anyone else. When I sin, I am responsible for my sin, and the cause of my sin is always within my heart and never lies outside my heart.

    Often after I sin, and even after I confess my sin—most importantly to God to receive the forgiveness I need from him for my sin through the death of his Son for my many sins—I experience a conflict in my soul about the confessing, when necessary, to the appropriate individuals. And whenever there is this conflict in my soul about specifically confessing my sin, I am aware that pride is actively at work in my soul, opposing the confession and seeking to persuade me that it wouldn’t be wise or even necessary for me to confess. But I have learned to ignore this noise from my arrogant heart, and instead weaken this noise by specifically confessing my sin to the appropriate individual as quickly as possible.

    When I do confess, first and foremost to God and then (where and when appropriate) to others, I want my confession to be sincere and specific. I want my confession to express genuine sorrow and gratefulness to God for the mercy I experience because of the substitutionary sacrifice of his Son for my sins on the cross.

    And when I confess my sin to others and ask their forgiveness when I have sinned against them, I don’t want my confession to resemble the press conference of a high-profile athlete, characterized by evasive language and the refusal to be specific. Instead, I hope my confession of sin is the sincere and specific confession of one genuinely convicted of his sin, sorrowful about his sin, and amazed at the grace of God provided for the forgiveness of sin.

    What do you think of CJ’s comments? What can you add to the discussion? Write us, here, at the blog.

    Thursday, May 29, 2008

    Fasting (part two)

      (Guidelines for Fasting)

      A great place to start is to develop your convictions directly from studying what the Bible has to teach about fasting. Type in “fast” in the search engine at as a first step. You can read about the three-day fast that Esther did. You can learn about that the fast on the Day of Atonement was from sunset of one day to sunset of the next (Leviticus 16:29; 23:32). What about Jesus fasting 40 days! As you seek to keep in step with the Spirit, here are some guidelines that may help you.

      Beginning the Fast.

      If you have never fasted before, feel free to skip a meal or two. Over time, you can build up to a day or more. Don’t start with a three-day fast! If it is your first time, don’t eat solid food, but continue to drink clear liquids (broth or fruit juice), particularly water. If you are building a habit of fasting, skip all liquids but water. All fasts should avoid soda and caffeine.

      Keep hydrated!

      Six to eight glasses a day is not too much! You may experience some headaches and dizziness at the beginning. Water can help relieve headaches and hunger. But if the Holy Spirit (perhaps through your medical doctor!) suggests drinking clear liquids, that can still be a fast. See Daniel and others for whom fasting was abstaining from certain foods or drinking only certain liquids. (Daniel 1:15 and 10:3)

      Be proactive.

      Replace your meal times with time with God through prayer and reading the Bible. Many start with a time of asking the Spirit to reveal sin in their lives and then asking for God’s forgiveness. Is there a list of areas of your life to talk to God about? People that need prayer? Use what would usually be meal times to focus on God.

      Breaking the fast.

      Often people end the fast with a small glass of fruit juice so their body’s digestive and elimination systems can gently restart. Then add in small amounts of food a body can easily digest (soup, yogurt, fresh fruit, cooked vegetables, a well baked yam or sweet potato).

      Rev. Donald Bryan (in his "Fasting Digest) says:
      Don't feel condemned about whatever degree of fasting you are able to pursue. Better a partial fast than no fast at all as long as you see the true purpose of the fast and seek to crucify the flesh and seek the spirit through prayer and re-dedication.... You are not fasting to prove you can "make it." You are fasting to give yourself time to pursue the Spirit. Do what you can do and let it be an experience you can build on. Anything you can do to increase the Spirit in your life is a step in the direction of victory.
      God longs for us to love and enjoy God! Not eating food is one way to focus your desire to seek God first. Remember, when you fast, "your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:18)


      If you are under the care of a physician for any kind of disease, if you struggle with anorexia nervosa or bulimia, or if you are pregnant, do not begin a fast before you have the approval and supervision of your physician.

      Write us here, at the blog, with your experiences, comments, and questions.

      Wednesday, May 28, 2008

      Fasting (part one)

        (some of what the Bible says)

        As we continue to think about patterns that connect us to God, let’s think about fasting.

        Who fasts?

      • Jesus. (Matthew 4:1-4)
      • Believers fasted before making important decisions. (Acts 13:2 and 14:23)
      • Paul (Acts 9:9), and those he wrote (1 Corinthians 7:5).
      • David fasted (2 Samuel 12:16) as a sign of godly repentance.
      • In fact, entire nations like Nineveh fasted to ask for God’s mercy (Jonah 3:5)....
      • How about Daniel (Daniel 9:3), Darius (Daniel 6:18), Moses (Exodus 34:27-28), or Anna the prophetess (Luke 2:37)!

        Definition please!

        In the middle of the story of Esther, fasting is defined as not eating or drinking for a specific amount of time. (See Esther 4:16) So you may think that the lack of food is the main point. It is not! The point of fasting is seeking GOD!! Isaiah gives God’s promise that if we seek God with the right kind of fast (see Isaiah 58:6-8) when we call, the Lord will answer! (Isaiah 58:9)

        Why fast?

        Fasting does not earn forgiveness with God. Jesus’s work on the cross fully satisfies the penalty of each one of our sins. Instead “Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God, and to yourself, that you are serious about your relationship with Him. Fasting helps you to gain a new perspective and a renewed reliance upon God.” (See Christian fasting - what does the Bible say?)

        How do we avoid food and/or drink for a period of time?

        The next blog entry will have more practical steps on taking a fast. But if the Holy Spirit prompts you to fast before then, a good first step is to allow each hunger pang to cause you to check in with God. “Lord, I feel hungry right now, help me know that only You really satisfy.” Perhaps the next stomach growl can remind you to humbly acknowledge your legitimate needs. Does your joy come from God, or food?

        Jesus offers this advice:

        16“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18) Our fasting is not a show for others, but seeking the Father who sees in secret. We do not use any of the spiritual disciplines to manipulate God into acting. We seek the Giver (God) not a gift (answered prayer through fasting).

        Going without food and/or drink for a limited amount of time is a spiritual discipline, explained in the Bible, and useful for seeking God.


        Be sure if you have diabetes or other limiting health issues that you ask for medical advice from your doctor before proceeding!

        Please comment here about your understanding of fasting in the Bible.
      • Tuesday, May 27, 2008

        Listening To God

        (Karen Butterfield)

          What do you think of when you hear someone say God spoke to them or that they were led by the Holy Spirit to_________?

          Most people’s reaction would be “what kind of nut case are you that you think you actually “hear” God speaking to you?”

          Listening to God – doesn’t mean you actually “hear” an “audible” voice speaking to you as you go about your day, but by being open to His leading and being available.

          God speaks to us through:
          • His Word
          • The Holy Spirit
          • Prayer
          • Circumstances
          • People
          • His Creation
          When we “Abide” in Him we won’t read scripture purely for information, but rather for transformation in our lives!!! That’s when I find the more time I spend in the scriptures, the more God will reveal the truths within and I will be more in tune with His voice.

          When my heart’s desire is to do the Lord’s will I find God is speaking to me to take a step of faith and follow the path he has laid out for me. He is asking me to be open to the leading/prompting of the Holy Spirit.

          This may be His prompting me to give someone a call that He has laid on my heart. At other times I sense an urgency to lift someone up in prayer – right at that very moment. I may not know what the specific need is; I just know I am to pray. Often it involves being a good listener to those around me – and as I’m listening to them I’m also listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit so God can speak or work through me.

          When I’m not “listening” or “choose” not to follow His leading – I’m forfeiting an opportunity to be the person God desires me to be in another person’s life.

          Are you listening??? Write a comment here at the blog!

          Monday, May 26, 2008


          (Don Hay)

          Confession—Not Another Softball
          5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

          8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
          1 John 1:5-10 (NIV)

          If you're going to put me on a baseball field then you need to know that softballs are my favorite. Why? Because they're bigger, slower, and easier to hit. Softballs build my confidence. Throw me a softball and I look pretty good. Baseballs, though, are a whole other story. They're smaller, faster, and much harder to hit. Given the choice I'll choose a softball every time.

          Calling ourselves Christian is similar. If given the choice between hitting softballs for God (easy, slow, and manageable) or hitting baseballs (fast, risky, and potentially dangerous) then I choose easy every time.

          Confession is no softball which is exactly why I avoid it. You probably avoid it too. I don't mean just confessing to God. I'm talking about confessing your sins to another (James 5:16). Honestly, when was the last time you came to grips with a particular sin in your life—let alone confessed it to someone else? "My name is David and I've struggled with lust for the past 4 years and I need to confess it." Seriously? Who does that? Give me a familiar church song, a smile on everyone's face, and a worship service that finishes on time. Toss me a softball and I'll hit it every time.

          When John wrote these verses in chapter one did he really mean that ignoring the sin in my life keeps me from knowing God? Did he really mean that every time I choose to live in the shadows of secret sin I am like a rat scurrying through the darkness in an ongoing effort to escape the light? Does Christ really see my refusal to confess my sin as a blatant rejection of Him?

          It’s time to realize you've been a Christian long enough to graduate from softballs to baseballs. Still waiting for the first pitch? Start with confession. It might take some time to adjust to the light but trust me, you'll be glad you did.

          Write your thoughts and feelings here!

          Sunday, May 25, 2008


          (Dave DeVries)
          Few people seem satisfied with their prayer life and those who are seem to talk to God as a friend or as a child to a father, rather than as a duty. What we pray about reveals what we depend on God for, and keeps us abiding in Him. What stays with you from the sermon? What is God calling you to do as an action step? Please post your comment here.

          Saturday, May 24, 2008


          (Jana Rahrig)

          I’m choosing grace as a topic of discussion because it’s so controversial. I’ve only just begun my studies on the topic so I’m excited to read your thoughts on the subject as well.

          God is the originator of all good things, including grace. His laws and decrees outline grace in the Old Testament but His Son becomes a living example of it in the New Testament. But, before I started to focus my mind on the topic of grace, I understood it to be something they had centuries ago; and not something we experience today. Grace is not often heard of today. In today’s world, the word grace is used to describe a dancer or a running gazelle, but not something you extend to another as an undeserved gift as described in the bible. According to the word grace’s usage in the Bible, throughout the New Testament, grace is extended as greeting and blessing to all. Examples of this include Paul’s letters to the Ephesians, Galatians, Colossians, Philippians, Thessalonians, etc. – grace abounds! In Paul’s day, grace is used as interchangeably and commonly as Aloha is in Hawaii! But, now-a-days, how often do you greet people on the street with greetings of grace and blessings or a wish of grace and peace to a friend at a day’s end. Today, we fall from grace—we sing of Amazing Grace, but we never wish a greeting or salutation of grace to another. In today’s world, we don’t understand what that means.

          When I first started studying grace more in depth, I tried to add the word into my daily speech patterns. I peppered my sentences with the word “grace,” e.g., “That cashier extended me grace, “ or “Grace and Blessings to you, my friend,” as a warm-wish or good-bye. The reactions I received in response were hilarious and disdainful. “Why, whatever do you mean,” offered one acquaintance. Another joshed, “I certainly don’t have grace and for the most part, neither do you!” But yet, the most precious of responses were the facial expressions I received when I extended a greeting of grace. They cringed at the word as if to mimic drinking poison or stubbing a toe. No, grace is not a common part of today’s culture. So, since we don’t use the word, we, for the most part, don’t really understand what it is. And if we don’t understand what it is, we’re either not accepting it’s properties when received as a gift nor are we gifting it to others. It’s almost a lost, fine art that has died out from generation to generation because it was not taught as part of our heritage or included as part of our traditions.

          Also in today’s “Me-Society,” especially, in our American culture, it is more acceptable to be in it for ourselves—“Win at all Cost,” “No Pain, no Gain.” To show grace to another would involve humility and equality. And who needs humility and equality in a society that is all about “me.” We are very concerned foremost out about our rights, our comfort and our needs!

          This is where you come in. What do you think? What does grace mean to you? Do you live a grace-filled life, freely extending it to others? Have you ever had grace withheld from you? What are your thoughts? I would like to discuss this with you. Just tell me, how do you feel about grace?

          Friday, May 23, 2008


          (Scott R. Davis)

          Visit Scott’s blog at:
          Triumph -

          When I was reading Philip Yancey's book, Prayer, I came across John 15:7 about abiding in Christ: "If you remain in me and my words remain in you...." To help the reader more fully understand this, think of the space shuttle approaching the space station. There must be a perfect linking between the two crafts and a full seal has to be established for the two hatches to open. The same applies to God's heart in our heart.

          To remain in Christ, we must be close to Him. We must trust what He has for us. And to have His words remain in us, we must memorize the scriptures as well. Very difficult to do as well. Yet, He ultimately knows what is best for us.

          The essence of abiding is like being connected to the internet and having a strong signal coming through. When we are not tied down by sin, then our effect on God will be much greater. I have found that when I am focused on God through prayer, more can be done as a result.

          In another passage of the prayer book, Yancey refers to Hebrews 11 where some men of faith did not attain to what they asked. Moses never got to go to the promised land; yet, he led his people close to it and left instructions for his successors on how to get there. And, Jesus did not get to heal everyone or even personally establish churches in his physical sense of mortars and brick. Yet, Jesus calls us to do what He did in creating churches in which people will create changed lives. In the scriptures, there is the verse of John 14:12: "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father"

          And, in our lives some of the answers to our prayers or the effects of our testimony may never be known to us. Yet, just as in a tapestry the very markings that were made will make a very beautiful pattern to be commented on. Let it be with our lives that they point to Jesus' work on the cross and in our lives as well. That we are connected so that we can build not just a space station but the Kingdom of God that is out of this world.

          For if this is to happen, we need to spend and prepare time for prayer. It is not always easy to do this since we live in a culture with many distractions. Part of the goal for this sermon series is to have us as individuals to focus on God more and have him be relevant in our very lives.

          The very best athletes spend many hours in conditioning to be the very best that they can be. We need to present ourselves with opportunities so that we can have the best quality time for the Lord. As God requires the best in the offering of our gifts, time is a big and valuable gift that we can give the Lord.

          Do you have thoughts to share with Scott and others about prayer? Write them here!

          Thursday, May 22, 2008

          Specific Answers to Prayer

          (Bob Loomis)

          I have many experiences of answered prayer but this one happened to me when I was at a low point in my life and needed help.

          I was divorced and living with my mother. I was a newly saved Christian so my prayer experience was limited. I needed to move from my mother’s house, but where? I asked God to help me in 2 ways. Show me a place I could move into and also make it so I don’t pay more than $400 a month which was what I could afford and still give God His tithe.

          So I asked around and there was no place out in the area for that price. Then, one day soon after my boss said that one of the company owned houses (I work for Aquarion Water Co. and they have caretaker homes) was up for rent. An employee had moved out. It was in the Saugatuck area of Weston on the reservoir. So I went to look at it. It seemed perfect except it would cost me over $500 in rent. Also, because my daughter was still in school in Shelton, Ct it would mean I would have to drive all that way everyday, because I was involved with her after school activities. So I prayed about it. God told me that if I took that house I would be going against His wishes. I knew this because I felt uneasy about taking this house and I knew I could not give God his due. So reluctantly I decided not to take it and listen to God.

          Well as soon as I did that, God, within 2 or 3 days, answered my prayer. My company was willing to let me rent a house that was not a caretaker house but a regular rental (at the time they were getting $1500/month from the tenant). My company further told me they would let me rent it for $390/month if I would also just watch the property for trespassers and illegal dumping. Of course I said yes. Then, I immediately got down on my knees and thanked God. The house is in Fairfield near the Blackrock Turnpike but in a wooded area. It is near the Hemlocks reservoir and you can see it from my house. I have a large barn on the property for storage and acres and acres of wooded space.

          God wants to bless us. But He can’t bless us if we are not willing to seek Him with prayer.

          Please leave a comment here about how God has answered your prayers, or questions you have about answered prayer.

          Wednesday, May 21, 2008

          Memorizing Scripture

          (Len Evans)

          [Len served as a youth pastor at Trinity in the past and currently is serving a church in Texas. Thanks Len for joining us today for the blog!]

          Flossing is one of those things that we know we should do but most of us don't do it regularly, if at all. The benefits of flossing have been told to us since we were children. They invented mint floss to help with the flavor and the new "flossers" that make it easier to reach those spaces between our teeth to help us form a good habit and yet, most of Americans still don't floss. Twenty-eight percent of Americans say they floss daily, but actual sales of floss don't match that claim.

          Is it because we doubt the experts?


          Is it because we don't know the truth?


          It's because we don't choose what is best for our dental health.

          I believe memorizing scripture is the dental floss of the spiritual disciplines. We all know we should memorize God's word in one form or another. The righteous man is to meditate on God's law during the day and night. (Psalm 1) Hiding God's word in our heart helps us resist temptation. (Psalm 119:11, Matthew 4:1-10 target="_blank") We are told to write God's commands on our hearts. (Proverbs 7:1-3)

          Sometimes God's will is hard to discern but in this area God's will is clear. It pleases God for his children to meditate on his word. Memorizing scripture marinates your mind with God's truth so you are more prepared to do his will. (Romans 12:1-2) We need to put our knowledge into action and not just soak up truth. (James 1:22)

          Three keys for memorizing scripture:

          1. Review
          2. Review
          3. Review

          The Topical Memory System is a great place to start or you can write down your favorite verses on note cards. Keep them in front of you and read them in those spare moments during the day (red lights, waiting in line at the store, etc.) Before you know it, you'll have God's Word hidden in your heart.

          If you prefer, you can do larger portions such as favorite chapters of the bible or even a small book, like Philippians. It's actually easier to do large chunks than random verses but we all need to have some basic verses in our mind so we will also be prepared to give the reason for our hope when people ask. (1 Peter 3:15)

          Choose what is best for your spiritual health.

          If you are motivated to begin and want more basic details read: How to Memorize Scripture.

          Tuesday, May 20, 2008

          Praying God’s Word

          (Jan Hunt)

          Twenty-five years ago, a wise elderly pastor instructed me on a method that he uses for prayer and Bible reading and it is always a blessing when I use it. He called it Praying God’s Word.
          14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

          15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
          1 John 5:14-15(KJV).

          Pick a section of scripture. This could be 2 verses, a paragraph or a whole chapter. It could be something new for just the day or a book of the Bible that you have been reading through in order.

          You will read this section through 3 times. Pray before you begin that God will show you what he wants you to know from this section of His Word.

          • The first time you read it through, is to get the general ideas.
          • The second time you read it through with a pen in hand and underline any phrases that “jump out at you”. This is because the Holy Spirit is going to make the scripture come alive to each one of us in a different way. He will highlight things to meet us where we are in our lives today. Your underlined phrases will probably be different than mine.
          • The third time you read through the section, pause on each underlined area and pray using the very words in the scripture passage for your prayer.
          Use these words to pray for yourself or someone else that God may have put on your heart.

          My example from Psalm 11:

          1Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

          2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

          3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
          Psalms 1:1-3 (KJV emphasis added).

          My prayer on God's Word:

          Lord, help my children to understand who they associate with. Help them not to get counsel from ungodly people. Help them to not pick friends that walk in the way of sinners or are scornful. Help them and me to delight in your law (words) and teach me to meditate on them often. Thank you for the promise that if we do this whatever we shall do will prosper. Amen.
          Please comment about your experiences with this!

            Monday, May 19, 2008

            Meditating on Scripture

            (Clif Davis)

            I have just started teaching music in a Suzuki school. Mr. Suzuki noticed that almost all children learn to speak their native language without an accent. He applied this immersion principle to music to help students become fluent in making music. I believe we can become "fluent" in living the life we have always wanted by practicing spiritual disciplines. Suzuki encourages musical fluency through mindful repetition of the basics. I believe the Bible wants our spiritual muscles strengthened through mindful repetition of the basics as well.

            The Bible calls this meditation! God commanded Joshua "do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. " (Joshua 1:8) Paul tells us to "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16).

            So how do you meditate on Scripture?
            • Pick a location that works with the way God created you (Genesis 26:43). Jacob worked in the fields and meditated there…where can you regularly chew over God's ideas?
            • Pick a Scripture....
            • Ask God for help (James 1:5). The Holy Spirit is your personal tutor! (John 16:13)
            • Involve your mind: Think over and over again (Philippians 4:8). Do you understand the point? If not, ask God to make the meaning clear....
            • Involve your heart: How can God set your affections on things above? (Colossians 3:1-2) How does this Scripture help you love God more? Hate sin more? We need more than head knowledge, we need God's power to change how feel/believe and live....
            • Memorize! (Psalm 119:11) Then God can draw your attention to God's Word even when you are driving, waiting at the doctor's office, in the middle of a jam....
            • Have an attitude of respect for the author and delight in what God has to say (Psalm 119:16).
            • Talk about scripture with others as one way of God influencing you (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
            • Ask God if there is one particular truth for you today. Relate it to what you already know from God's Word. Ask God to relate it to real events in your life today.
            Pick a passage (a psalm, John 15, a chapter of Proverbs) and experiment. Comment here and tell us how it is going! If you have some additions to the list above, let us know that too!

            Sunday, May 18, 2008


            (Dave D)

            Imagine God actually speaking with you every day! More than that, imagine learning to hear Him speak through Scripture. God's Word is living and His spirit guides us into His truth. What did you learn from today's sermon? What questions do you have about "Stop, Look and Listen?"

            Saturday, May 17, 2008

            Listening Prayer (part two)

            (Brad Jersak)

            Let’s spend some more time on Listening to God-- taking the time to pay attention to what God is saying to you. It will never contradict scripture, but sometimes it changes what you misunderstand about scripture. Listening takes time and intent. Here are some suggestions from Brad Jersak author of Tuning In to the God Who Speaks.
              Tuning In…

            1. Spend a few minutes today having a conversation with God. Make sure you listen as well as talk.
            2. Ask God to highlight a verse that will nourish your soul today. Chew it over all day, maybe even writing it on an index card and carry with you.
            3. Sing or listen to your favorite worship song and be open for God to speak to you through it.
            4. Ask God to bring someone to your mind to pray for while you are waiting at the grocers, lying in bed, or sitting at a stoplight.
            5. Ask God if you have grieved his heart in any way this week. Confess your sin and accept his forgiveness.
            6. Ask God to show you how you pleased him this week. Thank him for making it possible.
            7. Ask God to help you encourage someone this week with a specific word from the Lord.
            Please comment on how you listen!

            Friday, May 16, 2008

            Listening Prayer (part one)

            (Seth Barnes)

            Some of our short term missionary team members once came back all excited about Listening Prayer. They went through the organization “Adventures in Missions” ( and learned a lot from the daily practice of this discipline.

            The idea is not complicated. Seth Barnes in his book “The Art of listening Prayer: Finding God’s Voice Amidst Life’s Noise” talks about it this way:

            • When you are ready, quiet yourself and examine your heart. It’s often good to begin by reading Scripture. Ask the Lord to speak to you through it.
            • Ask the Lord to protect you in Jesus’ name from deception.
            • Ask God to speak clearly in a way that you can understand, and to confirm anything God shared with you in Scripture.
            • Write down a question for prayer. Then pause. This is where you wait and listen. The Lord has much to say to you. The Lord may direct you to another passage of Scripture. The Lord may share a tender word. Whatever you feel the Lord may be saying to you, write it down.

              Used by permission from “The Art of Listening Prayer” copyright 2004 by Praxis Press, Inc. Available at: Missions - Daily Devotionals
            Why don’t you take some time to try that today? Then, please comment about your experiences here.

            Thursday, May 15, 2008

            Simplicity: How do we focus on what matters?

            (Carlye Hay)

            The “simple” answer is by seeking after God’s kingdom. This is bigger than just doing what God’s called us to do. It’s more than trying to attain some picture or standard that we put in our minds. But what is God calling us to do? The first part of this journey toward simplicity is developing the boundaries that enable us to filter out the loud voices in our lives pulling us in too many directions, and instead listen to God’s still, small voice. To start each day by saying: “I am available, God. Move me in the direction that you would have me go.” Ask yourself each day: “How am I going to do life?” Not just what is God’s call for this specific task, but what is His call for the way I am to live my life?

            Jesus lived and taught simplicity when He said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21). Jesus isn’t just talking about moths and rust. His words reveal His passion for our hearts and whether we are wrapped up or set free? Whether we are earth bound and tied to the temporary or flying with Him above our worries?

            Simplicity is turning away from the “clutter” of a life trying to keep up and instead pursuing Christ’s recipe for what matters most. Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you. Make following God your first priority and everything else will fall into place. (Matt. 6:33).

            Got comments on how you live this out? Questions about building simplicity into your life? Please comment....

            Wednesday, May 14, 2008


            (from Skip Moen)

            Today’s spiritual discipline is Solitude: Richard Foster writes “Solitude involves creating an open, empty space for God that undercuts all the false support systems we use to shore up our lives.” Does your space for God rest on balance or harmony? How peaceful is your solitude? Feel free to read this from the May 2 devotional from “At God’s Table” and then post a comment in response!

            Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. Matthew 5:9

            Peacemakers – Did you know that the Greek word for “peacemaker” never occurs in Greek literature except in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint)? That tells us something important. The concept “peacemaker” is Hebrew, not Greek. In spite of all that you have heard about Christians making peace with others and with God, the idea does not come from the Greek world of the first century. It comes from a much more ancient world – the world of the Hebrew Bible. If you want to know what Jesus really said, you’ll have to look at the Hebrew idiom, rodfei shalom, “those who pursue peace.”

            You might think, “What’s the big deal? It’s still about forgiveness and right relationship with God, isn’t it?” Well, not exactly. You see, the Greek idea of peace is based on the thought that war is the normal state of the world. For the Greeks, peace is the absence of conflict, a temporary reprieve between battles. That is probably the way what you look at peace with God – a halt to the war, a time of relief, in the middle of a battle. If that’s your idea of peace and peacemakers, then you are Greek. This Greek idea leads to pursuit of the balanced life, where all the conflicting elements are brought under control. Greek peace is that place where you no longer have to fight your way through all the competing entanglements of life. If you think of your life as a struggle to get everything balanced correctly, then you are Greek. You view life’s objective in terms of the absence of struggles.

            The Hebrew idea of peace is quite different. For the Hebrew, peace is about harmony, not balance. Pursuing peace is about being in tune with God, not walking away from the fight. Since God is in a cosmic battle with evil, the Hebrew concept of peace does not pretend to be about escape from the war. Hebrew peace is fighting alongside God, in tune with His battle plan. Of course, Hebrew peace is also tied to shalom, the critical word for well-being. But this is not well-being in terms of balance. It’s not about getting everything under control so that there aren’t any disturbances in life. Shalom is about harmony, singing the same song that God sings, rejoicing with the angelic hosts in the chorus, “Holy, holy, holy.” Those who pursue peace (the peacemakers) seek spiritual wholeness and well-being, not necessarily an end to stress and disturbance. Peacemaking is the process of healing wounds, first between Man and God and secondly, but just as importantly, between men. Peace is the experience of harmony with God and with each other. It is not simply getting all of your life in order. In fact, life in this world cannot be balanced. That’s what it means to be in a fallen world. Things just never get completely under control. They are essentially broken. But that doesn’t change the Hebrew concept of peace.

            The Greek goal is really a hopeless pipe dream. Your life will never be balanced. Something(s) will always be a little off center. But God’s plan is perfect harmony in the midst of a fallen world. In tune with God doesn’t mean no stress or struggle. It means heading in the right direction. It means centered living, not teeter-totter existence. If you pursue peace, then you are blessed. Keep going in God’s direction. Seek, and you will find, a symphony in the strife.

            Copyright 2003-2008 © Skip Moen and All Rights Reserved.

            Tuesday, May 13, 2008


            (Julie Davis)

            Did you hear that?

            Probably not.

            Our ears and minds are full of the sounds of fancy ringtones. Kids asking questions about homework. A supervisor telling us we overspent the budget. The thunk of the soccer ball. “I need you to sign my permission slip.” Five-second snatches of reality shows . . . cooking shows . . . shopping shows . . . sports . . . newscasts that fly by as we flip through the channels.

            Some of us want to hear that empty, quiet space up there for a while. One friend lamented to me recently that her life is now so void of personal space that she no longer has any “interior thought life,” as she called it. Many of us, though, are content to only give lip-service to the idea of having silence in our lives.


            For a lot of us, having regular silence would require us to set boundaries--both those that limit what we will do for others, and those that limit what we will do for ourselves. Some of us fear silence because we don’t want to be alone with our own thoughts, or we fear what God might say to us if we were still enough to listen.

            For some of us, though, silence has been used in the past as a weapon against us. Conflict with a parent, a sibling, or a spouse led to days or weeks or even years of “the silent treatment.” Perhaps we’ve suffered discrimination or humiliation, when someone who had the power to bring change chose to stay silent instead of speaking. Some of us have endured years of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse--trapped in our circumstances by our silence or the silence of others whom we asked for help.

            Jesus has the power to redeem all things, though, so--regardless of your past experience with silence--the practice of silence can now be a tool that you can use to be mindful of the Lord, and the Lord can use to bless you. This discipline is NOT the “emptying of the mind” practiced by proponents of the New Age; instead, it is reflected by scriptures such as Psalm 131:2--”But I have stilled and quieted my soul.”

            We can probably think of some “traditional” ways to practice silence: while meditating on a verse of Scripture, for instance, or while thinking a prayer. But, there are other ways to use silence as a tool toward spiritual growth. I can honor other people and their thoughts--particularly those who are not quick to speak--by choosing sometimes to keep all my fabulous ideas to myself for a while. I can choose to spend some time in silence as a memorial for unborn children who were aborted--who never had a chance to make a sound. I can choose a period of silence to be mindful about and in prayer for people whose voices are not valued by the governments and institutions that keep them oppressed. I can be silent as a way of remembering and praying for persecuted Christians whose voices are silenced when they speak for Christ.

            I can _________________________.

            How will you fill in the blank?

            Monday, May 12, 2008

            The Good News

            Before we go too far in talking about Spiritual Disciplines (patterns that connect us to God), we need to talk about Christian Spirituality. Here is Donald S. Whitney’s take on it:

            Know the Good News of Christian Spirituality: Not only have most people on the planet never heard the good news of Christian spirituality, I am doubtful whether even many churchgoers have heard it clearly presented. And some who have heard it thousands of times are tentative when asked about it.

            Christian spirituality begins with one of the most important words in the Bible. That word is gospel, which is the English translation of the New Testament Greek word that literally means "good news." But as essential as the gospel is to Christianity, I have often encountered an embarrassing silence whenever I have asked church groups, "What is the gospel?"

            Let me ask you. Suppose you were going to write the gospel in a paragraph or so and send it to a friend in an email or letter. Could you do it? Confidently? Why would it be "good news"?

            One of the places where the Bible summarizes the gospel is in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. The heart of this passage tells us "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures" (verses 3-4). So the gospel that produces genuine Christian spirituality is that Jesus Christ died, taking the guilt of sinners and the wrath of God upon Himself, and was raised bodily from the dead to show that the Father accepted His death for others and removed their sins. Christ's substitutionary death for sinners is the measure of His love and His resurrection from the dead is the stunning confirmation that all He said and did is true.

            This is good news—the best possible news—because it demonstrates, among so many other things, the willingness of the God we had sinned against countless times to draw us to Himself, to engage in an intimate relationship with us. It means that He has done in Christ what we couldn't have done for ourselves, opening the door for us to come in faith and to experience all the indescribable riches of fellowship with God, and thereby become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4).

            Do you know—by experience—this good news?

            Used by permission From Simplify Your Spiritual Life (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2003). Copyright © 2002, Donald S. Whitney. All rights reserved.

            Sunday, May 11, 2008

            Solitude & Silence

            (From the Desk of Dave DeVries)

            The invitation from God to be still and know Him is easily lost in our addiction to noise, performance, and busyness. Solitude and silence are practices used by Christians to intentionally open themselves to the presence of God by giving God undivided attention. What sticks with you from the sermon? What questions do you have?

            What is a Spiritual Disciplines Blog?

            (from Clif Davis)

            Welcome to an experiment!

            At Trinity Baptist Church in Fairfield CT, from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day 2008, we are looking at building patterns in our lives that help us connect with God. Some people call these patterns “Spiritual Disciplines.” Here is an example of a pattern in my life--I don't plan and strategize how I am going to maintain my dental health. I just have a pattern of daily teeth-brushing that I don't even really think about. Teeth-brushing is not really a spiritual discipline! But, in my life, I can build patterns of service, and Bible study and other habits that help connect me with God. We hope this blog will help people build habits into their lives that the Holy Spirit can use to keep us abiding in Christ.

            We need to remember that we do not earn God’s favor by doing certain things. The work of Jesus on the cross fully satisfied God the Father. But we can make choices that help us gain the life we’ve always wanted. Be encouraged! Galatians 5:25 says “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” What pattern will help you keep in step with the Spirit today? Please share your comments and questions at this blog through Father’s Day 2008.

            Tuesday, May 6, 2008

            Spiritual Disciplines Blog - Patterns & Practices

            Life never settles down. Discipline is one of those things that looks great on paper. The idea of making progress—especially in the area of your relationship with God—is higly motivating. The trouble is, discipline is difficult. It involves struggle. And it never seems to fit naturally into our busy schedules.

            We often find ourselves thinking, "When life settles down a bit, I'll..." But we should have learned by now that life never settles down. Whatever we want to accomplish, we must do it with life unsettled. In the same way, if we're ever going to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness, we've got to do it when life is like it is now. (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life: Study Guide, back cover, Donald S. Whitney, NavPress, (c) 1994).

            This blog will examine the spiritual disciplines that can bring us closer to God.

            What patterns and practices in your life connect you to God?