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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 9)

There are, of course, two kinds of blindness — physical and spiritual. In this extensive telling of the man born blind’s story, Jesus heals the first kind. The second kind is becoming more and more evident as we move through the details.

In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

“You’re Now Under Oath!” The efforts of the Pharisees to get at the “truth” they wanted have failed. The parents of the man born blind were of no help at all. They now summon this unnamed now sighted person and grill him a second time. But this time they put him under oath. When they say “Give glory to God” they are referring back to the story of Achan in Joshua 7 who stole some of the “devoted things” and Joshua says to him, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.” (v. 19). What the Pharisees were really saying to the man born blind was, “You’ve been lying to us up to this point. Now tell the truth!”

The Issue of Knowledge: The Pharisees declare, as they put the man under oath, that they know Jesus is a sinner (v. 24). But their certainty is under attack and the man born blind simply responds, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know.” (v. 25). It’s important to state what one doesn’t know. But he goes on to say, “One thing I do know. I was blind, but now I see!”

Today’s Challenge: They are many things that you and I don’t know. What do you know for certain? We have the sure and certain Word of God which declares to us our rescue by Jesus. Let’s speak clearly of what we do know so others will see their need to be rescued!

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2021 in focus

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 9

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

We’ve noticed two parts of my outline of this challenging text:

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

We’ve seen that Paul’s praying for these Colossians is not described as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. And we asked, for whom are you continually praying?

We’ve also seen —

II. The Primary Purpose in Praying for Others (vv. 9-10)

Paul writes: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives . . .”

Our prayers are to be for the critical issue of others knowing God’s will and growing in the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives.

Let’s continue our study and notice —

III. The Specifics of What We Should Pray for Others (vv. 10-14).

How easy it is for us to pray for each other’s health, job, family, choice of college, etc. So what makes Paul’s list as he intercedes for these believers? He prays —

A. That They Would Live a Life Worthy of the Lord (v. 10)

B. To please Him in every way (v. 10).

C. Bearing fruit in every good work (v. 10).

D. Growing in the knowledge of God (v. 10)

E. Being Strengthened with All Power to Endure! (v. 11)

F. Giving joyful thanks to the Father who has qualified us as holy people (v. 12)

Let’s notice a seventh request Paul makes for these believers —

G. He rescued us from the dominion of darkness (v 13)

Darkness. Is that one description you would use of your BC (“before Christ”) condition? Are you and I aware that we were in the “dominion” of darkness? And we got rescued!

Challenge: Take a moment today or tonight to sit in a completely dark room. What does that feel like? Is it a darkness that can be felt (Exodus 10:21)? And how good is it to come out into the LIGHT?

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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Uploaded Video for My Kirkland Students — Soteriology!

Friends: Due to the Coronavirus I am not allowed to meet face-to-face with my Kirkland cohort (many are lifers) for the next few weeks. I’m providing a couple of videos for them to watch. And you might like what I’ve done! This one is about 15 minutes long. Let me know what you think! Dr. D.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2020 in salvation

 

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A Theological Check-Up: Do You Really Believe? Part 6: Salvation

Paul Little was an evangelist with the Billy Graham Association. He fell asleep at the wheel while driving to a Bible conference in Canada. The night before he died, he spoke with a friend of mine who asked him, “Paul, how are you doing? I know you are extremely busy.” Paul responded, “Jim, I feel like I’m in a revolving door and I can’t get out.” The next day he was with the Lord.

I tell that story to remind myself that life is brief and that we have to be careful not to over-extend ourselves. There is much work to be done in the Kingdom — but you and I don’t have to do it all!

As a theologian, I’m deeply invested in helping believers know WHAT they believe and WHY they believe it. But the question I can’t escape is IF I believe. What I mean is — I can say I believe many things, but does my life show that I truly believe?

What about the issue of salvation? Jesus-followers say they believe that their sins have been forgiven because of Christ’s work on the cross, that they are now at peace with God, and that Jesus is the only way a person can know they are going to heaven when they die. Do we REALLY believe those truths? If so, how should our lives reflect those beliefs in our behavior.

One of my favorite texts is Titus 2 where we read —

God’s grace does much more than save us. It teaches us how to live (both negatively and positively, v. 12); it teaches us how to wait (v. 13); and it teaches us how to do what is good (v. 14). IF I believe what the Bible says about SALVATION, my life ought to show God’s grace as I live a self-controlled, godly, patient, pure life.

The Challenge: Thank God today for your salvation. And ask Him to direct you today to reflect one of those qualities of living a SAVED life!

Note: I wrote a small booklet entitled Saved: Rescued by God, from God, and for God a while back. Free copy to any who ask!

 

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2020 in theology

 

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Survival at Sea!

On November 25, 2019, Chris Carney and his two-man crew, Pete Brown and Jun “Sumi” Sumiyama, set off from Japan on their way to Hawaii in a 42-foot sailboat, the Coco-Haz III. They had four weeks to cross the world’s largest ocean. The boat’s owner, a retired Japanese dentist, needed the trip done in a hurry—he’d lose a boat slip he’d rented if it didn’t arrive in time. Carney didn’t think they would make it on schedule, even if everything went right. But things went far worse than he imagined when two catastrophes left them stranded in the middle of the sea.

Here is Carney’s story, as told to Outside.

It was morning when it happened. I got my raingear on and went up on the deck to make some changes to our course. I stuck my head up, and I couldn’t believe it—the mast was gone.

One of the shrouds that connected it to the ship just broke, I guess from metal fatigue. I’ve been sailing most of my life, and not only has this never happened on any boat I’ve been on, but I don’t know anybody else who’s had this happen to them, the mast just snapping like that.

It was December 19, and we were about a thousand miles from Oahu, Hawaii. We had lots of fuel, so we thought we could just motor in. The next day, a storm hit us. The seas were at 10 to 13 feet, nothing too dangerous. But as soon as night fell, there was one wave that went by, and we all looked at each other thinking, Whoa, that was a big one.

The next wave didn’t just roll us, it picked us up and threw us. We landed upside down in the sea.

It was incredibly violent. What they show on TV, when the camera goes up and down and things are falling? It doesn’t do it justice. Stuff was flying everywhere. The battery came blasting out of the engine compartment and shot through the cabin like a rocket. We got thrown around pretty good, and we were all bruised and cut. Sumi hit his head. We didn’t know how bad it was until later.


The three of us were standing on the ceiling, and the water was coming in fast. At first it was shin-deep, and then it came up to our knees. In no time it was at our thighs. The hatch was up in the front, underwater. I kept picturing what that would be like, opening that hatch and coming out on the surface during a storm. We would be in the middle of the ocean with nothing.

I was sure that this was where we were going to die, right here in this storm, in this water. I was thinking, God, this boat’s got to right itself. Sailboats are designed to flip back over if they roll, but you never know what’s going to happen at sea.

Finally, it did roll. But even though the boat was upright, we were waist-deep in water, with the storm sending in more every time a wave broke over us. The engine was flooded. Most of our fuel went into the ocean. We lost our navigation, all our electronics, nearly all of our fresh water—everything. We were dead in the water and adrift.

We did our best to bail. The waves were slamming into us, and the hull started to crack. If we had a breach, the boat was going to sink in about 30 seconds.

The storm didn’t break, and it was miserable. We were cold, and everything was wet. No dry clothes, no dry beds. We went on starvation rations, like five almonds per day. By rationing what little water and food we had left, we thought we could make it maybe 40 or 50 days. I had never seriously faced my mortality before. Everyone knows they’re going to die. But they don’t think that they are going die in 50 days.

The storm finally broke after 36 hours. We estimated that we had about 700 miles to go, so we rigged up a makeshift sail from the boat’s bimini top, kind of like a convertible top for a car. With that, we could make one or two knots, but if the current is one or two knots against you, you’re not going anywhere.

At that point, our biggest issue was morale. Each of us was entertaining our worst fears. Sumi kind of withdrew. He had a severe concussion, and he was sleeping 18 hours a day. He became very silent. Pete, who’s from Tennessee, kept coming up with these songs on the banjo. They were pretty morose. He was singing about how he’d never see his family again and how the sea was going to get him.

I gave us about a 10 percent chance. Pete was giving us much less. We had a compass but no maps and only a moderate indication of where we might be. Dead reckoning is a sketchy way to navigate; it’s just guessing the direction you’re going and how fast you’re traveling, but that’s what we did. The wind rarely shifts in that part of the ocean, so we used little ribbons tied around the boat to see where it was coming from. At night we relied on the feel of the wind on our cheeks. We thought we were at about 24 degrees north latitude when the rogue wave hit, so I figured that if we got down to 21 degrees, we might end up in the shipping lanes.

During the days, our time was occupied by tinkering with things. One guy would be driving, one guy who had been on watch the night before would be napping, and the other would be tinkering. Nothing we did could get that engine working. The satellite phone was wet, so we put it in rice at first and then dried it in the sun. To no avail. It never did get working.

Out of the 15 or so flashlights we had on board, only one was fully waterproof, so it was the only one that survived. At night you could use the moon and the stars to navigate. But occasionally you’d have to look at the compass. So that flashlight was key.

One night Pete fumbled for the flashlight and knocked it into the ocean. It was floating in the water, and we were heading away from it. Pete jumped in and swam. He was getting pretty far away from the boat. When he found it, he put it in his mouth, but the light was facing him, blinding him. He couldn’t see to swim back. I tried to wake up Sumi so I could go in and help, but he was in a trance, still concussed. I was screaming to Pete: “Swim to my voice!” I was thinking I’d have to turn the boat around and go back for him. But he swam hard and made it. His tooth was chipped from biting down on that flashlight.

Two days later, we finally had some luck. The wind magically started coming from behind us, and we made headway. Each day I would wake up and think, This a beautiful day to get rescued.

By day nine, we were feeling pretty good, and we were all inside trying to figure out how much drinking water was left. I started thinking we had spent too much time inside, and I popped my head up, and there was a freaking ship—right there, just a half-mile away. We sent up rockets and smoke bombs and stood on the deck screaming and waving. But it didn’t see us and just passed by.

Pete was supposed to have been up on deck at that moment. He felt pretty bad after that. He’s normally not a potty mouth, but he started swearing, saying, “This is a &*%$#$%$show.” It was the first ship we’d seen in three weeks, and it just went right by us.

But at least we knew that we were in a shipping lane. That gave us some hope.

Sumi started to feel better. His hand and head were both numb, and he was still concussed. But he was sleeping less and more upbeat. He was driving the next day when we saw a second ship.

It was a container ship called Nobility. It was a long way off. So we ripped the mirrors from the bathroom and used them to reflect the sun to signal the ship. For the longest time, it didn’t see us. We thought it might just pass us by, like the last one. Luckily, it eventually changed course, slowed way down, and blew its horn.

This was December 29. The Coast Guard had been searching since the 24th and was going to cancel the search on the 30th. The Nobility was headed to Korea. It took the Coast Guard about four hours to find the Kalamazoo, a Good Samaritan vessel that could bring us to Hawaii instead. It came up alongside us. They threw ropes down and tied us up.

I was reluctant to leave. I had never abandoned a boat in the middle of the ocean. You know how they say captains should go down with the ship? There’s an element of shame attached to not completing your voyage.

If I thought there was a 10 percent chance that we could find Hawaii, I probably would have said, “Let’s just take some water and we’ll be on our way.” Pete felt the same. He said, “Our mission is a failure.” But if we died out there, then our mission would have definitely been a failure.

We climbed on the Kalamazoo at sunset. The first thing they gave us was some steak and potatoes, which was their Sunday meal. As we ate, we laughed about our twist of fate. Just a day before, we were pretty sure we were not going to make it.


If someone finds themselves in the same spot I was in, I would say to use your noggin. Make your best guess. Say, “This is our plan, and let’s stick to it.” That’s what we did. After ten days, we were only eight miles off our guess of where we were.

While we were lost, I thought about how much I love my family. I’ve got a two-year-old son and a girlfriend in the Philippines. Thankfully, he will never have to say, “I never knew my father. He died when I was two, lost at sea.” Now I’ve got a chance to watch him grow up. I cherish the time that I have to spend with them. Maybe I took them for granted before? I don’t know.

My girlfriend has said she wasn’t worried. She said, “You promised me you’d come back.” Isn’t that what everybody says?

For some reason, I love reading survival stories of those lost at sea. If you care to comment on this, and if you are a Jesus-follower, what would be some truths that would have helped you in this situation? Feel free to write your comments below.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2020 in survival

 

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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel! (14:15-23) Peace or Panic?

Jonathan, Saul’s son, has just routed some of the Philistine army. Then the Lord sends a panic! The ground shakes and a “panic” strikes the whole Philistine army (v. 15).

Saul’s lookouts saw “the army melting away in all directions” (v. 16). Saul investigates to find which men had left them — and discovers it is Jonathan and his armor-bearer.

Then Saul asks that the ark be brought. But the “tumult” and the “total confusion” in the Philistine army caused them to strike one another (v. 19-20). The Hebrews who had previously been with the Philistines (POW’s?) went over to the Israelites. Those who had hidden in the hill country joined the battle when they heard that the Philistines were on the run. “So on that day the Lord saved Israel” (v. 23).

Some takeaways for today:
1. Sometimes the Lord sends not peace, but panic! He is not a God of confusion, but He can inflict confusion on His enemies!
2. He gets the credit for saving Israel on this day. But notice — those who had hidden joined the battle and fought the Philistines!
3. It appears that Saul was prepared to use the ark as a good luck symbol for Israel, but the Lord caused the Philistine army to turn their swords on each other. We can trust the Lord to take care of His own!

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2018 in I Samuel 14

 

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How Should I Pray for . . . Others? (A Study of Colossians 1:9-14) Part 11 (Conclusion)

We’ve looked at the seven specific requests that Paul makes on behalf of the Colossian believers in Colossians 1. We see how committed he was to interceding for them. If you are at all like me, you need to grow in your praying for others.

Paul’s strategic commitment to pray for them is in 1:9 as he says “we have not stopped praying for you . . . we continually ask God to fill you . . .”  The specific content of his prayer in verses 9-12 includes the following requests: that they would be filled with a knowledge of God’s will (v. 9), that they would live a life worthy of the Lord (v. 10), that they would bear fruit in every good work (v. 10), that they would grow in the knowledge of God (v. 10), that they would get strong in living out the Christian life (v. 11), that they would endure when life gets rough (v. 11), and that they would live joyfully with a thankful heart (v. 12).

But how does Paul conclude his prayer?  After seeing —

I. His Strategic Commitment to Praying for Others (v. 9) and

II. Paul’s Specific Content in His Praying for Others (vv. 9-12)

may I suggest we see —

III. Paul’s Satisfying Conclusion in His Praying for Others (vv. 12-14)

Paul mentions four amazing actions which God has taken on our behalf:

A.  He has qualified us to share in His inheritance (v. 12)

B.  He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness (v. 13)

C.  He has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves (v. 13) and

D.  He has redeemed us and given us the forgiveness of sins (v. 13).

What a fantastic summary of salvation!  We have been qualified, rescued, transferred, and redeemed!  If you’re not (at least emotionally) jumping up and down in joy right now, check your pulse.  You might be dead.  Or you need another cup of coffee.

We will resist the temptation to post on each of these four incredible actions by God on our behalf, but let’s think about them for a few minutes in this concluding post.  He has qualified us.  We were completely unable to qualify ourselves.  He has rescued us.  We were drowning in our sin and He gave His life to save us.  He has transferred us.  He “brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.”  We’ve been moved out of darkness into His kingdom of light!   He has redeemed us by forgiving our sins.  The thrice-holy God took care of my sin problem!

What a satisfying summary of what we enjoy as believers.  And those truths ought to motivate me and you to pray, I mean, to seriously pray, for others.  [I just prayed for someone I love to realize those four amazing actions of God on their behalf.  Your turn].

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2018 in praying for others

 

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A Financial Joke!



 

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2018 in money

 

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Major Themes in the Book of Galatians (Ch. 1 Part 2)

I am looking forward to teaching the book of Galatians at the Word of Life Korea June 7-16. Please pray for me as I prepare my notes.

What are the major themes of this outstanding epistle? There is no substitute for reading and re-reading a book of the Bible to understand its primary emphases. Let’s continue to think about chapter one.

We’ve thought about this first theme of one’s calling (v. 1).

A second theme that jumps out in chapter one is the atoning work of the Lord Jesus.  Notice in verse 4- “. . . who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age.”

Do you feel rescued?  The substitutionary salvation work of the Lord Jesus is a primary theme in this epistle (as we will see).  This is the gospel — and it’s worth fighting for!
Rescued people are grateful people.  How might you and I express our gratitude to the Lord, our Great Rescuer, today?

 

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2018 in Galatians

 

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Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! (A Study of John 11) Part 6

My crisis does not establish, does not create, His agenda. We have seen that Mary and Martha and Lazarus have a real need: Lazarus is sick. Seriously ill. And they need Jesus to come and heal him.

But Jesus doesn’t do what they want Him to. He stays where He was two more days (v. 6). Let’s notice what happens next . . .

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

After those “two more days” Jesus says, “Let’s go back to Judea.” (v. 7). The disciples remember this was where the Jews tried to stone Jesus. So this action makes no sense (to them).

Jesus’ response seems odd: “Are there not twelve hours of daylight?” He then talks about how people don’t stumble in the daylight, but at night when they have no light.

Whatever does He mean? At the least, He is indicating that, regardless of the risk, Jesus must do the works of the Father while it is day.

But what work is He going to Judea to do? He is going to raise His friend Lazarus from the dead, a death He facilitated by not going to Lazarus’ rescue!  As we will see, resurrection is better than rescue (to be continued)

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2017 in John 11

 

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