A Legacy of Faithfulness

This weekend, two friends, two fathers in ministry, finished their race and went home to be with Jesus.

Bro. Paul BoxBro. Paul Box was my first pastor. I had the opportunity to catch up with him last year. I wrote this after our last visit:

I just got to visit with Bro. Paul Box. He was the pastor at First Baptist Moore when I came to faith in Christ. He was pastor when I was first called into ministry. He and his wife, Patti, were the first to teach me what life in ministry was all about.

I remember being in the 6th grade. They encouraged us to take notes during the services for 4 weeks. Those of us who completed all 4 weeks received a t-shirt. It had a pocket print that said, “Pastor’s Palls”. Oh yes, it was that cool.

When they gave out the shirts Bro. Paul shook my hand, looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m proud of you.” It’s strange, the effect of four simple words. I remember that moment like it was yesterday. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to live up to the faith so many others have had in me.

Today, as we finished our conversation Bro. Paul again shook my hand, looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m proud of you.”

And the 6th grade boy in me returned.

I hope someday I inspire others the way Bro. Paul inspires me.


Dr. Michael ComptonDr. Mike Compton was my College Pastor. To this day I catch myself using his quotes, and teaching his lessons. From him I learned what it means to become more deeply and intimately acquainted with the Heavenly Father and how to encourage others to do the same. He would challenge people with this idea,

“Jesus discipled 12 men who would change the world. What would it be like if you did the same?”

It was clear Mike was looking for his 12. He always said that since he didn’t have the privilege of knowing which 12 would be his ones to change the world that he would make it his goal to disciple as many people as God would entrust to him. He was faithful to this call and I am blessed because of it.

It makes me wonder who my 12 will be. It makes me hope that someday I will discover I became one of his.

Grief is the price we pay for loving relationships that last beyond the horizon of this world to influence eternity. Yet Scripture is clear, as followers of Jesus Christ, we don’t grieve like those who have no hope, and for good reason. Both of these architects of my faith would say it like this:

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” – Philippians 1:21-23

They would add:

“Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith I therein rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.” Philippians 2:17-18

And finally:

“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27

I am grateful for Bro. Paul and for Mike. I hope to live up to the legacy of faith they invested in me. They will be missed.

Valentine’s Day: 4 Expressions of Love

Tomorrow I start Ruth. Four chapters. Four days. Another entire book of the Bible.

Philippians 4


Philippians 4:9, “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” (NKJV)


Happy Valentine’s Day! On a day like this everything I read seems to have a heart-shaped filter. May the ones you love be near you. May you love and be loved. May the things you learn, receive, hear and see in one another bring you joy, establish your faith, strengthen your love and convince you of the inestimable value God sees in you.

It’s clear that Paul loved the people in the church at Philippi. He begins the book by saying, “I thank my God every time I think of you.” He adds, “How greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.” Paul’s love for the Philippians was deep. His desire was for them to know God, to love one another and to share that love with others.

Verse 9 is a natural desire that flows out from this love, “These things you have learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Paul expressed his love through what he:

  • Taught
  • Gave
  • Said
  • Did

Isn’t this how we express our love for God and one another.

  • WE TEACH – what we value, what we believe works, what we think will make a better life for the ones we love.
  • WE GIVE – of ourselves, our time, our stuff, to express our love, to remind someone that they mean something to us.
  • WE SAY – we attempt with feeble syllables and sounds to express the passion of our heart.
  • WE DO – we act, we make a choice that reflects our heart, reinforces our desires and tells the world what and who we value most.


Who do you love? Do they know it? What will you teach, give, say or do today to express your love for your valentine? There’s clearly a context here broader than Valentine’s Day. What does what you teach, give, say or do say about the depths of your love for God?


Heavenly Father,

Happy Valentine’s Day. Thank you for the love you have given me. Thank you that your love for me drove you to move heaven and earth so that we could be together. I pray that my love for you would be as deep and that those in my life you’ve given me to love – my wife, kids, parents, family, friends, church – I pray that they would know my love for you and for them through the things I teach, give, say and do.

I love you, in Jesus name –

Sacrifice: Loving Something More, Trusting God to Provide

Philippians 3


Philippians 3:14-16, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet, indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” (NKJV)


I often hear people talk of salvation as a free gift from God. It’s true. The forgiveness God gives is free. He has paid the debt we owe because of our sin. It was a debt we could never pay. He didn’t do this because we deserved it, but because we needed it and his love for us is so deep, so strong, so unconditional that he willingly sacrificed the life of his only son for you and me. Because of this sacrifice you have been or can be forgiven of the worst thing you’ve ever done. The good news is better than that, however. Because of his sacrifice you can be forgiven of the worst thing you haven’t done yet. This free gift of God is complete and comes with no strings attached.

I don’t know what this does in you. For me, I am humbled by the thought that God would do this for me. The sense of gratitude I feel toward God because of his gift is overwhelming. It creates in me a desire to give my life to him, for him, and to live in a way that honors him. I don’t do this in order to earn his favor. I already have that. I choose to live this way out of love for him. That’s when I realize, my salvation may be free, but following Christ will cost me something. It’s a price I am eager to pay.

In these verses Paul says something similar. At the beginning of the chapter Paul gives us his résumé and then tells us he’s given up all of that in order to pursue Christ. Becoming a Christ-follower cost him something. It wasn’t a price that was demanded. It was a price Paul willingly paid because of his desire to honor Christ. I think Paul would call it a sacrifice. I have two preferred definitions of sacrifice.

  1. Giving up something you love for the sake of something you love even more.
  2. Giving up more than you think you can afford and trusting God to provide.


What has following Christ cost you? What sacrifices have you made in order to honor Christ with your life and your choices? If sacrifice means giving up something you love for the sake of something you love even more then what do your choices show that you really love? Is there something in your life you choose to follow or to pursue more than Christ? If so, you’ve found the thing you love more than him. You’ve sacrificed part of your relationship with him for that thing you chose instead. Is God leading you to give up more than you think you can afford? Paul was there. I’ve been there. Let me assure you, if God is asking you to give it God can be trusted to supply it, exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think. Trust him.

Your salvation is free. Genuinely following Christ will likely cost you something. How far are you willing to go?


Heavenly Father,

Thank you for you for wiping the slate clean. Thank you for forgiving me of the worst thing I’ve ever done the worst thing I’ll ever do, and everything in between. Today, I want to follow you. I don’t want to run ahead of you or lag behind you. I simply want to go where you lead and do what honors you. Out of gratitude for your gift of grace I want to honor you with my choices even when doing so costs me something. I want to say, “costs me everything.” But I’m not sure I can keep that promise. So, give me the strength and endurance to keep my word, even when it costs me something…everything.

I love you, in Jesus name –

Complain or Convince | The Squeal Heard Round the World

Philippians 2


Philippians 2:14-16, “ Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” (NKJV)


It happens with my kids all the time. Specifically, my three-year-old. Everything’s smiles and rainbows until he doesn’t get his way. What happens next is a strange mixture of PeeWee Herman and the Incredible Hulk. This once sweet-natured little momma’s boy transforms into a wrecking ball of sheer will. Combine this with a high-pitched squeal and the severity of his complaint can be heard all over the neighborhood and by dogs miles away!

A little whining is to be expected. He’s three and the youngest of four siblings. He’s learning the right way to get his way. At this point his complaints and disputes revolve around simple things like video games and basketballs. But he will grow older and his complaints will one day become something you and I are more familiar with as adults. My prayer for him as he matures is that he would internalize these verses. I pray that he would learn to do all things without complaining or disputing.

I don’t expect him to be passive. I don’t expect him to just shut up and take it. God doesn’t call us to be anyone’s door mat. In moments when things aren’t going our way God does for you and me what I hope I can do for my kids. He trains us to find a better way.

Life is full of moments where you don’t get your way. Your job will come with people and circumstances that aren’t fair and tasks no one wants to do. Sometimes you’ll get what you deserve. Sometimes you won’t. Philippians 2:14-16 are clear. How we respond when we don’t get our way reflects the influence our Father has on us.

I encourage my three-year-old to find a better way. Hitting, biting, pushing, screaming, wailing – these tactics virtually guarantee he won’t get what he wants. We may be adults, but when we don’t get what we want we still struggle with our own inner three-year-old.

Philippians 2:14-16 tell us the reason we should we respond without complaints or disputes. It’s because it will set us apart. It takes little effort and even less thought to complain. To find a solution takes something more.

Earlier in Philippians 2 we see Jesus lifted up as a remarkable example of humility. He was treated unfairly and punished for a crime he didn’t commit. He gave up his position in heaven. He gave up his authority as God. He gave up his rights as a man. He gave up his life on the cross. Yet he never complained. He never argued. He gave up without giving in and got exactly what he wanted.

I’m going to say that again. Jesus gave up without giving in and got exactly what he wanted. Without dispute. Without complaint. Jesus found a better way. It led to salvation for you and me.


We need to learn how to do all things without complaining or disputing. It’s not about giving in. It’s about giving up. Giving up what we think are our ‘rights’ or what we ‘deserve’. Like Jesus, we need to learn to give up without giving in. We need to find a better way.

I’m trying to train my three-year-old. Here’s what I tell him.

  • USE YOUR WORDS – squealing may get my attention, but it’s not going to convince your six-year-old brother to play with you. The right thing said at the right time in the right way can make miracles happen. Sometimes brothers like to hear you squeal. Don’t give them the pleasure. Use your words. 
  • MAKE A DEAL – The art of deal making is about relationships. I want something from you. In order to get it I need to know you. I need to understand what makes you tick and what ticks you off. Armed with that knowledge I don’t complain. I convince. Yes, there’s a problem that needs solved. I could complain about it or I could convince you that I have the solution and that solution is good for you and me both.

Both of these are tough enough for me – imagine how difficult they are for a three-year-old. So I always fall back to the most important principle of the training.

  • TRUST YOUR FATHER – When words don’t work, when I’m in no position to convince I can bring my complaints to my Father and trust that he will rightly judge. He will give what I need. He will provide. He will open doors no one can close and close doors no one can open. I can trust him to do what’s right and what’s best for me. I may not always get my way, but I can trust that what I get will be what’s best.

For my three-year-old this is tough. It’s tough for me too. Sometimes he gets the ball. Sometimes he doesn’t. Either way, as his father, I protect him from things that would harm him and provide him with things that will help. He’s learning to trust me.

It’s fun to see these principles at work in my older children. As they’ve grown, I find myself the arbitrator of fewer and fewer sibling battles. They’re learning to work things out. I hear them practice these things with their friends. They come to me now with fewer complaints and spend more time trying to convince me their solution is right. We’re far from perfect, but the squeals heard round the world are gradually becoming less and less.


Heavenly Father,

I’m thankful that I can trust you. When life seems unfair, when I don’t get my way, I’m confident you’re the one guiding and protecting me. Build Philippians 2:14-16 into my heart, mind and choices. Help me find solutions. Teach me to use my words, to convince instead of complain and to trust you. Help me to do all things without complaining or disputing so that I will be found a blameless and harmless child of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation where I can shine as a light to the world. Like Jesus, help me to give up without giving in and still get exactly what you intend for me to have.

I love you, in Jesus name –

Confidence Under Construction

I didn’t write yesterday, but did finish Zephaniah. Today we’ll start Philippians. Four chapters. Four days. One more entire book of the Bible read.

Philippians 1


Philippians 1:6, “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)

Philippians 1:25-26, “And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.” (NKJV)


Where’s your confidence? What are you absolutely certain of? In Philippians 1 Paul says there are two things he’s completely confident of:

  1. Verse 6 – He’s confident God will complete his good work in you.
  2. Verse 25 – He’s confident God will continue his good work through him.

Think of it like this, right now God is at work writing the story of your life. All that seems missing, all that is incomplete, all that anxiety you feel because of fears and failures, He’s working out all these things in you and through you so that your life in him will one day be complete. Your life is a story still being written.

He’s also working in you to bless others. It’s part of his design for us to need one another. There are things you know about God I will never know until you speak up. You have skills God wants to employ for the benefit of others. You have been entrusted with resources that can help someone else as God completes his work in them.

God intends to complete the work he started in you. God has included you in his plan for how to complete that work in someone else.

Receiving and giving. Being completed and helping make complete.


Be confident today. Those areas of your life today that seem out-of-place, broken or incomplete are places where God is at work. It’s your life, under construction. Trust him. In his time and his way he will knock off the hard edges. He will sharpen who you are. He will strengthen your knowledge and abilities. He will increase the influence you carry. He will provide the resources you need. He will complete the work he has begun in you.

He’s doing this for a reason. It’s because you are part of his plan for someone else. Be confident today. God will use you to encourage someone in their faith. He will use you to challenge them to take their next step of obedience. He will ask you to be generous with your time, your skills and your resources because someone nearby needs what you have. He will employ you to accomplish his will and empower you to fulfill his purpose. You are part of his story for someone else. In their story you may be the character that changes eternity for them today. You may be the one that says just the right thing at just the right time so the lightbulb finally comes on and they finally get what God’s been trying to get them to hear all along. You may be the anonymous benefactor that puts just the right amount of cash into someone’s mailbox just when they need it most.

It leads to a statement and a question.

  • God wants to do something in you and through you that can’t be explained because of you.
  • How will you use who you are and what you have for the benefit of others?


Heavenly Father,

Thank you for working to complete the good work you started in me. You have forgiven my sin, now you work to make me whole and make me holy. Give me the patience to trust you as you create in me a clean heart, and as you give me the skills and knowledge I need to accomplish your purpose. Thank you for employing me to encourage and challenge others. Show me how I can use who I am and what I have for the benefit others. Today, do something in me and through me that can’t be explained because of me.

I love you, in Jesus name –