April 20 / Proverbs 20 / Matthew 20


Proverbs 20:4

The sluggard does not plow at autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.

We reap what we sow. No plowing–no harvest. No discipline–no reward.

This is a simple yet neglected truth, mostly due to old fashioned laziness I believe. We want a good life, but want it to fall in our lap with little to no effort. The beautiful part is that it is worth the effort. Putting yourself before God, being a student of Jesus, yields wonderful fruit.

Don’t sit around wishing life was better, complaining about it. Do something. God has granted us great power to do great things for ourselves and others.

Matthew 20:1-16

The kingdom of this world is just nothing like the kingdom of heaven. Jesus gave us the truth of authentic life, and we are wise to adopt His teachings. Many who think they are pure awesomeness in this world are so disappointed with the seeming unfairness in God’s kingdom.

In reality, they (we) are unhappy with the Creator’s lavish generosity. Think of the prodigal son’s older brother. Does God love us more than so-and-so if we work harder or longer for Him than they do? If our work is genuinely for Him, from our heart, it seems that we would be fine with whatever He decides. After all, He is infinitely good and knows what He is doing.


We are not doing this for what we get, but just for the love of Him, are we not? The reward is Him. What else is there? What He says, goes, period.

He is.

Embrace Him.

April 19 / Proverbs 19 / Matthew 19


Matthew 19:22-23

When the young man heard Him say that, he went away very sad. He had many possessions.

Jesus said to His disciples, “I’m telling you the truth: it’s very hard for a rich person to get into the kingdom of heaven.”

We are all rich. Everyone of us on this email list is rich in the world’s standards. Just living in this country puts us into the rich category. We always want to feel better about ourselves by pointing to someone with even more money or things than us. But we all have insanely more than we need.

So I really believe it is hard for any of us in America to get into the Kingdom of heaven because of all of the stuff competing for our attention. I look at how I keep pearing down my possessions, and yet I still have so many things, so many things I don’t need, so many things screaming for my attention, when the only thing necessary is listening to Jesus.


I still see this as our number one nemesis in our modern day culture.

Watching a movie on Carthusian monks last nite, they showed Jesus’ words from Luke 14:33 a couple times: “Unless you give up all your possessions, you cannot be my disciple.” Pretty strong. I’m not sure we are to have absolutely nothing, but I feel sure that we are to have absolutely nothing possessing us. Oh to live simply. The more possessions, the more noise in my life.  We simply don’t count the cost of discipleship. To be Jesus’ student, to sign up for His class that He masterfully teaches, one must take the prerequisite of “Possession Relinquishment 101”.

Proverbs 19:19

People with quick tempers must feel the consequences of their actions; if you rescue them once, you will only have to do it again.

“Rescuing” people is not always the best course of action. Some are hell bent on going their own way, and the more we save them from feeling the backlash of their destructive ways, the more we just delay the only possible answer–a change of heart. Until there is a heart change, people will do the same things over and over again. Without a teachable spirit, without desire, there is nothing we can do. Only God can change the heart, tho He may use us in that process.

So before assisting someone, you may ask yourself, “Am I helping this person survive or thrive?”

April 18 / Proverbs 18 / Matthew 18

respond react

Proverbs 18

Our words are so very important.

Be quick to listen and slow to speak today.

Think before you speak. Choose your words with care and thoughtfulness. Make it a habit to pause for three seconds before you reply. Perhaps do this one day a week to start.

I have found that I am much more helpful to people when I practice this, when I respond as opposed to react.

Matthew 18:21-25

Forgiveness in the Kingdom of God>>>a non-negotiable.

We should often, daily, reflect on the forgiveness we’ve experienced from YHWH thru Jesus Christ by no possible means of our own. How much wrong we have done to Him, against Him, yet He has graciously provided this great gift of wiping the slate clean so we can be in close relationship with Him.

Our forgiveness of others’ wrongs against us then should flow organically from that fact, letting others off the hook (our own hook) without limit.

April 17 / Proverbs 17 / Matthew 17

baptism 2

Proverbs 17:5

He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.

Don’t ever be glad at someone’s misfortune. That is not the heart of Jesus.

Proverbs 17:9

He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.

The more you talk about someone negatively, the more it divides. “Venting” in the classic sense does not actually help. It hurts.


Seek wise counsel toward resolution from a trusted friend, but refuse to just talk about someone or a situation just to talk about it or “get it out.” That is not helpful for anyone.

Sitting around talking about our problems serves only to magnify our problems. It does not resolve them. It further and further demonizes others. It does not build up. Do not give in to the lie that it helps.

Proverbs 17:14

The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.

Begin with the end in mind. Where do you want this convo to go?

I’m no scientist, but I feel that if you release water that it would be very difficult to stop it from flowing all over the place.

Be mindful of the words you release from your mouth.

Proverbs 17:16

Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom, since he has no heart for it?

No matter how much money you give a foolish person, they will not purchase any wisdom with it.

Here is another way of saying that life is a matter of the heart. Without a Holy Spirit regenerated heart, doing anything good or wise is simply from your human striving and will therefore come crashing down sooner or later. This is because trying hard is extremely draining. But goodness done with a heart for God has an endless supply of energy…if fueled properly and truly from the Source of said energy.

Proverbs 17:27-28

He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips he is considered perceptive.

We need to learn to shut our big yappers a little more. More talk generally does prove only to show how little someone really understands. He or she wants to show what they know rather than be of help in contributing to the peace of others.

When you talk, is it to help, or is it to show how much you know or have read or have seen?

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

A doctor must diagnose before he or she prescribes.

Matthew 17:5

While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright light covered them, and a voice from the cloud said:

“This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him. Listen to Him!”

Thru the atonement the Father sees Jesus when He looks upon us, if I understand it correctly.

Whenever I get down or am focusing too much on people and their thoughts of me, I like to imagine the Father saying directly to me, “You are my dear son, and I delight in you. I want people to pay attention to you!”

Matthew 17:18

He was cured from that moment.

Does this still happen?

Are people ever cured by God in a moment?

Whether it be sickness, anxiety, addiction, or depression?

Do we have the faith for this to happen?

Is there any power in prayer? Real power?

Do we honestly desire it?

Do I really want to crucify my flesh and give all to Jesus to take away and do as He pleases?

Or am I OK living with excrement in my life?

April 16 / Proverbs 16 / Matthew 16


Proverbs 16:6

By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.

A long obedience in the same direction.

So much goes back to this. A huge factor contributing to the possibility of transformation in this life is the fact of YHWH’s steadfast love and faithfulness. To even subconsciously know that He is always there with open arms no matter how many times we spit in His face is the most comforting of things we can experience. (This is related to why we often hurt and take for granted those closest to us and who love us most-because we assume, whether in confidence or in ignorance, that they aren’t going anywhere. They will always be there to love us.)

But what if we treated each other in steadfast love and faithfulness? With the awareness that they may reach a breaking point due to our mistreatment, our lack of appreciation for them? What if we grew in this love like we are meant to? To become more like God? The more we become like Him, the more we grow in our love for people and respond tenderly toward weakness, seeing it as opportunity for growth rather than something to be pounced upon, mocked, or gossiped about.

The second part of this verse tells us that until we hold God in more awe and reverence than sin, we will not change. The problem with sin is that we like it too much. We have more reverence for things we replace God with than for God Himself. Genuinely encountering God will shift perspective to embed in us that He is truly our fulfillment, our only giver of peace.

Shalom is what we all seek, whether we know it or not. “Lookin’ For Love In All The Wrong Places” is one of the most profound titles ever, as it is accurate commentary on most of life for most people. There is one sure way to peace and that is seeking God with your whole heart. Seeking Him with your whole heart includes thinking about Him all the time throughout the day, everyday.

Matthew 16:19

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

I’ve always wondered about this verse. This was a phrase in Judaism referring to the permitting and forbidding within the context of the applicability of particular laws in particular situations. Jesus promises this authority to interpret and apply commands (keys to the kingdom–not literally heaven–to Peter, then the apostles, then the church Mt.18:18). This authority is derived by means of Jesus’ presence.

The Expanded Bible reads: And whatever you bind on earth [forbid to be done], shall have already been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth [permit to be done], shall have already been loosed in heaven.

Jesus did not say that God would obey what they did on earth, but that they should do on earth whatever God had already willed. We have a heavy responsibility to God and His word, a heavy authority even, not to be taken lightly.

April 15 / Proverbs 15 / Matthew 15

cosmic toilet

Proverbs 15:4

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

We have the ability to be a tree of life for someone today. To be an encouragement. We also have the ability to tear someone down today.

We can bless, or we can curse.

Key to joy is a tender heart towards weakness. Jesus is tender toward us in our weakness. What a perfect model to follow. Who were the people along the way most inspiring  for you to change for the better? Those who were harsh on you with many words, or those who were gentle with few words?

It is generally the gentle, quiet spirit speaking with the still small voice that most inspires and convicts us. May we be the same for others. Jesus said he was gentle and lowly in heart. That’s why so many people felt comfortable to come to Him. They felt extremely safe. Anyone who feels judged or unsafe at all will not look to change, no matter what their logic may tell them they need to do. They will. most likely, simply not have the capacity for it.

Do you see how inspiring we can each be by actually backing off a little? “Lowly in heart” probably does not tell as many people as possible in a day what is wrong with them. Lowly in heart is inviting, and asks thoughtful questions to help the other in self-discovery of what is true. That is way more effective than being told what is true, tho there may be times for that as well.

Proverbs 15:12

A mocker does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise.

Check yourself to see if there are any struggles in your life you have not sought wisdom on. Some of us has have struggled with something for years, yet have not gone to anyone for help, least of all YHWH.

Why not?

Well, we don’t really want to get better when it comes down to it. There can be many reasons, but fear is at the root of these reasons–fear of change, fear of living without this thing that has become part of my everyday life (part of me), fear of the work that I must do to kill it…so in a sense, we mock. We become a mocker of what is true and good.

We don’t really want better, we merely wish it would happen automatically to us with no cost. Well there is cost, but the reward outweighs it. Always. The cost of becoming a musician for example is not small, but the reward of writing and playing music far outweighs the price of lessons, an instrument, or practice time.

Matthew 15:8-9

These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.

If our worship of God or our work for Him is not from the sincerity of our heart, it is worthless. He does not want it. I think He might actually flush it down a huge cosmic toilet somewhere.

The religious leaders here were pushing rabbis’ teachings as if they were law and must be obeyed. Conversely, all we want to do is push people to love Jesus more everyday thru getting to know Him, and then we are confident you will automatically do what He wants you to do out of authentic desire. To know Him is to love Him.

May we never teach, as law, mere human precepts.


April 14 / Proverbs 14 / Matthew 14

walk on water2

Proverbs 14:7

Leave the presence of a fool, for you will not meet the words of knowledge.

Proverbs 14:10

No one else can know your sadness [Literally: A heart knows its emotional distress], and strangers cannot share your joy. [EXB]

Here is a great and simple verse that serves as a quick reminder not to judge others. We cannot know the sadness in someone’s heart, what they’ve genuinely gone thru, or everything affecting them up to and at this point. We just can’t. Only their heart knows. And even if we could know, we would still not grasp it fully because of the fact of everyone being affected uniquely due to our individual wiring and life circumstances.

Think of how we could be more loving and understanding if we entered every situation in this humility of surrender to the fact that we cannot possibly know every emotional nuance of this person’s life. We defer to the only One who knows everything about them. With this mindset, we will listen better, and most importantly, pray for them with a greater depth and fervor. For we would then be consciously calling upon the true Expert on their lives for the most divine, and therefore effective, of help.

Paradoxically, by accepting the fact that I cannot comprehend the depths of another person’s emotional state, I believe we can more fully enter in to their sadness and hurts so as to comfort and minister much more effectively. We can then more appropriately point them to Jesus who enables us to enter in (in part of course), if He allows us, where He enters in to the fullest degree.

Matthew 14:13,23

Jesus regularly got alone to be with His Father. This was vital to His life. It was jugular, as we like to say here. How much it should be so with us!

Why do we not spend time alone with Him? What could possibly be more important? We literally have nothing better to do.

I have found it to be the most rewarding part of my day and week. We were made to be with Him. Anything else is second rate.

God is the only thing that truly gives life. I like how my friend Andy Chen described sin a year ago–A decision to take action on something that I believe will give me more life than God. Sounds so ridiculous when put like that…

Solitude…means not only the absence of other people. It means detachment, as far as possible, from our normal routines, reliances, and roles. Solitude calls us to confront ourselves with a directness impossible in everyday life, to learn who we really are and what we can rely on.

-Parker Palmer

Matthew 14:30

But when Peter saw the wind he became afraid and started to sink. He shouted, “Lord, save me!”

This story never gets old to me. Life is so much what we choose to look at, to focus upon.

The storm.

Or Jesus.

Focus on the crap, and your day will be crap.

Focus on Jesus, His love and provision, and it will be a joyful day despite the circumstances.*

*Remember, we define “joy” as Someone glad to be with you.


April 13 / Proverbs 13 / Matthew 13


Proverbs 13:4

Lazy people want much but get little. But those who work hard will prosper.

This is the most ridiculously simple concept. Why do we struggle so much with it?

It obviously applies to the spiritual realm as well…Sitting around wishing you were a spiritual giant.

The lazy person sits around wishing he was rich.

Matthew 13:1-23

The different soils.

I love the simplicity of Jesus’s teaching, of God’s love for us by making things clear. Here I believe Jesus quickly covers every heart condition generally that His word falls upon. It is a good reminder to have before us to help us minister to others. We can break down rejection and reception to these:

Footpath-You don’t understand the word, and the evil one takes away what was planted in the heart.

Rocky-No deep roots in YHWH Himself, so when any trouble hits, you’re out of there.

Thorns-The worries and cares of life, as well as shiny things, distract you to the point of not following Christ.

Good-You receive, understand, and take action.

April 12 / Proverbs 12 / Matthew 12

Proverbs 12:3,10,12

When you are rooted in God, in goodness, you are holistically a good person. Goodness pervades your whole being. You are not fragmented anymore, nice to some people, unkind to others.  Pr.12:10 says you will even be kind to animals. If you are a nice guy to everyone, but come home and kick your dog upside down, or like to torment cats, then it’s a good bet you are not fully filled with the Holy Spirit, that you are not rooted in righteousness. Jesus is kind to all. Are you?

Matthew 12:1-14

What are we allowed to do on the Sabbath? Does it still apply? Are we suppose to practice Sabbath in 2014?

You know, it is so easy to look at this passage with our hindsight, and look down on these religious rule-keepers for being so legalistic about the Sabbath.

But do any of us really even keep Sabbath at all? I don’t think we need to pour over this passage in study as much as we need to ask ourselves why we’re not taking advantage of this God-given gift and loving mandate.

We seem to be more concerned about tithing than Sabbath. Why is that? Why are we so opposed to taking a 24 hour break every week to shut down and rest in our Creator?

It is a wonderful gift for us that our brains and bodies need. God designed us to take a break, it’s just science. If we are on the go seven days a week, always doing things and even serving others or what not, it is probably not because YHWH asks us to. It is something we unnecessarily, and I’d even venture to say, sinfully (?) put on ourselves.

Take a break with YHWH every week. It is good to be with the King.

April 11 / Proverbs 11 / Matthew 11

Jesus tree

Proverbs 11:14

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

Do you have a few wise people you can trust in your life whom you interact with on a daily or weekly basis?

We are foolish and are bound to do something really dumb if we do not. Having a few wise, God following people in my life who I can bounce stuff off of and get a different perspective from has been extremely important in my spiritual growth. We are not meant to go at it alone, even with God. I believe He has set it up for us to be with others who listen to Him since we are all different parts of the same body. How can I have perspective outside my sphere of experience and knowledge?

I know from groups that if just one person is missing, the whole dynamic changes. We need each other and our perspectives.

Listen to the person who listens to God, and your life will be greatly enriched.

Matthew 11:19

Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.

Matthew 11:28-30

“My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

My soul does not find rest until it rests in You.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the easy yoke and light burden of Jesus. He has been speaking to me about this the last couple of weeks. I’ve come to realize that the ministry I’ve been called to is simply creating a space for those who are hungry for God. That is bearing fruit. It is not the results I can get, or the conversions I tally up. Bearing fruit is giving truth and doing good for others and resting in the heart work that can only be done by the Holy Spirit.

A good tree bears good fruit, but it does not throw the fruit in people’s mouths and force-feed them. The good tree bears fruit and rests in the fact that it is rooted in good soil and receives a sufficient supply of water.

More and more I am resting in simply supplying fruit to those who are provided to me daily, to those who are hungry and will take it and eat it. If they’re not hungry, not willing to take and eat [to taste and see] what more can I do, really?

What I can do is stay rooted, stay watered, and model what a healthy tree can be which YHWH will hopefully use to inspire and soften hearts.

This is a light burden indeed!

P.S. It’s almost impossible not to share The Message version of this passage whenever speaking of it because of its beauty:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”