Friday, September 29, 2017


Matthew 11:28-30
II Chronicles 10:1-14

Dear Father, 

Burdens are heavy to carry. I find myself frequently exhausted under the load. I watch people who work in warehouses and those who stock shelves, and see their back braces and support. They are taught how to lift burdens and carry loads in order to avoid injury.

The load which you call me to bear is heavy. I confess that I do not know how to carry it on my own. I can’t do it. To my desperation You cry out, “Let me help you.“

Your tender welcome insists: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I stretch out my hands to You, one laid up on the other in the form of a cross, as if I am to receive the Lord’s supper. You offer a yoke that I am to receive in worship and thanksgiving. You have a job for me to do. It is too heavy for me alone. You promise to be my yoke fellow—to carry the burden with me. After all, You tell me that my yoke is really Your yoke. 

You say, “Come.” I hear your welcome. The burdens insist, “Go.” They are too heavy for me alone. Life insists that the weight of my burden is not enough. Burden piles upon burden, seeking to immobilize me. The world screams, “More. Work harder. Work longer. More.” Like King Rehoboam of old, the world insists, “You think the burden was heavy before? I will double it.”

You gently step in beside me, positioning my yoke so that it will not chafe. “Here, let me teach you how to bear the load.” And You step into the yoke with me. We step forward, one plodding step at a time. The pace soon becomes even, the load shared, the burden seems lighter, the movement is forward. 

Thank you for being my yokefellow. Thank You for bearing the burden with me. I cannot do it alone. 

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,


Thursday, September 28, 2017

From Surviving to Thriving

Haggai 1-2

Dear God,

You have plans to restore, promote, and defend your people. You did it for Israel. You do it for your church. Thank you.

You have called me to serve in a place whose survival has depended upon your restoration, promotion, and defense. As we move from surviving to thriving, we move in your strength alone.

In the midst of Hebrew repatriation to Israel following Babylonian captivity, Haggai was faced with the prospect of an unfinished temple to Jehovah God. He marshaled the forces of Hebrew contributions and labor, prophetically urging the people finish God's house.

Dennis Kinlaw summarized Haggai's message: "God will take us to the place where He wants us to be. He will restore to us the things we have lost through our own foolishness. He will never abandon us in exile."

Lord, I am trusting you to take the ministry I serve to the place you want us to be. Help us to embrace the journey to go where you send us, maintain the mission focus you desire for us, and have the impact to make disciples of Jesus Christ as  command us to do.

As we enjoy the season of thriving to which You are calling us, we hear Your words ringing in our ears: "Be strong, all you people... and work; for I am with you... the silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine... the glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former... And in this place I will give peace" (Haggai 2:4, 8-9).

Thank You for the confidence we have in You and the victory You assure as You move us from surviving to thriving.

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

God’s Grand Plan of Salvation

This past Sunday was my turn to teach the Salt and Light class at my local church. I often fill in for the regular teacher, and enjoy sharing God’s Word with 20 to 25 Christian brothers and sisters. The lesson was from Romans 3 on God’s Grand Plan of Salvation. The focus was on justification.

As I studied, thought and prayed, I remembered a freshman theology textbook I studied in Bible college. Harry Jessop’s book, Foundations of Doctrine,  impressed me profoundly in those days. Jessop said that there are four simultaneous aspects of being born again.

The Sovereign aspect is the act of forgiveness. Relationally, if I wrong another, I must apologize. My wife often hears me say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” Her usual response is “I forgive you.” I remember a legal pardon that President Gerald Ford gave to the shamed former president, Richard Nixon. Ford offered a pardon to forgive Nixon his wrongs.

For me to receive God’s forgiveness, I must respond to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, reminding me that I am wrong. God calls you and me to humble confession, repentance, and faith, that allow for the penitent to receive the assurance of forgiveness. This forgiveness, made possible through the atoning sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood on the cross of Calvary, through faith, clears our record of past sins and frees us from the bondage of sin’s enslavement.

The judicial aspect is the fact of justification made possible by the redemptive work of Christ which declares us righteous. He redefines our category from condemned sinner, to righteous before God by faith.  God conquers an enemy, my rebel heart, and declares me to be His friend. Through repentance from all known sin, renunciation of my past, restitution toward others wronged, and faith in the atoning work of Christ, He offers justification by faith.

The parental aspect is the work of regeneration where Father God makes the repentant sinner new. Ezekiel pictured a valley of dry bones. The wind, representing the breath of God, blew across the dry bones and gave them life. God makes people dead in sin to live again. The Holy Spirit breathes new life into us, regenerating from death to life.  This new life in Jesus Christ includes the fruit of the Spirit, victory over temptation to sin, spiritual power to resist inner sinful urges, and freedom from habitual sin is broken. The love of God fills and transforms the heart and life of the new creation in Christ by faith.

The family aspect of the position of adoption. The estranged now has a place of belonging. The fatherless has a Heavenly Father. I belong. I have an identity based in relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

To this glorious list of simultaneous transformations in the heart of the believer in the new birth, Dennis Kinlaw would add the nuptial aspect of becoming part of the Bride of Christ, culminating in heaven. This new birth allows for a romantic union of lovers. Jesus is the Groom. The church is His Bride. The Father is seeking a Bride for His Son. He seeks to make her a holy and suitable mate for Jesus Christ. The wedding takes place in heaven, and is followed by a marriage supper of the Lamb. This nuptial aspect reminds me of the Father’s procreative intent to multiply the Church, the Bride. Marriage is emblematic of the relational intensity of bonding for a lifetime. This Biblical metaphor runs from Genesis to Revelation. God is on a search for a bride, the Church, to marry his son Jesus Christ.

I am thankful for the new birth. I was converted when I repented of my sins and asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart by faith, making me a new creature in Christ Jesus. Enjoy the multi-faceted picture of this gem of God’s grace.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Big Box versus Handcrafted

The big box stores are everywhere. Home goods, electronics, food, and clothing are hawked by these 21st century titans of retail. The behemoth of bargains becomes a temple of trade, a cathedral of commerce, and an institution of consumerism on the landscape of American commercialism.

Contrast the big box retailer with the hand-crafter. Charlie makes hand-crafted furniture with dovetails and joinery of a bygone era. He takes his time. He crafts heirlooms of priceless beauty that will be passed down from one generation to the next. Beth makes quilts. Family fabrics representing romance, marriage, pregnancy, birth, grief and sorrow are pierced by needle and thread until the story they tell is one of beauty, recollection, and poignant wonder.

The big box versus the hand-crafter. Product versus keepsake. Consumer versus customer.  Quantity versus quality.

We live in an age of big box education. Schools of all sorts operate on-line and on-campus. They churn out degrees with dizzying speed. All too often the Biblical and theological pursuits they purvey are a mile wide and a veneer deep. No handcraft. No fingerprints. No signed work. Just speed and volume.

Wesley Biblical Seminary is a place of hand-crafting people. If you come to Wesley Biblical Seminary, it will be because you have turned your back on the big box professional schools of ministry. In choosing WBS, you choose a seminary that will leave its imprint upon you.

On-line or on-campus, at home or around the world, the faculty of Wesley Biblical Seminary embrace your formation as a disciple of Jesus Christ with a transformational passion. They will love you, care for you, challenge you, pray for you, grade you, and disciple you. And when you graduate, you will have made friends for life that will continue to pour into you for years to come.

Dr. Matt Friedeman is in his 31st year at WBS. Each week, Dr. Friedeman, WBS professor of evangelism and discipleship, meets with former students, alumni of WBS. They study scripture, pray, challenge, encourage, motivate, and even grieve together. The imprinting never stops.

At Wesley Biblical Seminary, you will not be an anonymous customer at a big box seminary. You will be a member of the family. The spiritual DNA is tightly wound in a shared passion to imprint, be imprinted, and to continue to imprint other disciples. If you want a seminary that is hand-crafting disciples of Jesus Christ, who demonstrate the heirloom quality of His Gospel, you don’t want a big box seminary. You want Wesley Biblical Seminary.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Best Practice

I Chronicles 21:24
"Then King David said to Ornan, 'No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.' 25 So David gave Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place. 26 And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called on the Lord; and He answered him from heaven by fire on the altar of burnt offering."

Precious Father,

I want to live for you with holiness and obedience. But I recognize that there are many snares set for me. Snares of neglect, pride, and ambition would distract and deter me from fidelity to you. Self would assert itself in me and seize me in a trap of my own crafting. 

King David dealt with such a snare. God blessed David with an expansive kingdom. Enemies bowed at his feet in surrender. David established the capital city of the Hebrews, Jerusalem. He relocated the tabernacle to Jerusalem. He build a personal home there. And he had ambition to build a temple as a permanent house of worship to the Lord. God limited David's temple work to site preparation and building materials. The job of building the temple would fall to Solomon. 

At the height of his career and dominance, David succumbed to Satan's temptation to count the people in a census. A census was a common royal practice. The census established the tax base and the military conscription rates for a king. God was displeased that David resorted to such secular methods to rule God's Covenant people. The "best practices" of the surrounding nations were not approved by God for His Covenant people. Seventy-thousand Hebrew citizens died by plague. The plague stayed when David offered sacrifice to God. He insisted on paying full price for Ornan's threshing floor where he built an altar and made burnt offering. God answered David's prayer with fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice. 

The watchword over my soul is "Be careful." You are holy. You are love. You are a jealous God. I would not grieve you. Place a guard over my heart. Refine my ambitions by Your Holy Spirit. Fill me with Your perfect love. Protect and defend me as Your own. Preserve me from exercising carnal methods I deem as "best practices," but You determine as fleshly. I must exercise great care to live in step with You. 

You are my Lord and my God. I trust You. I love You. By Your grace and strength, I will serve You.

Thank You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Run it Like a Business!

I Chronicles 13:1-14

Precious Father,

I am struck with the awesome responsibility of leadership. King David was a man after Your own heart, yet his blunders caused others death, pain, and sorrow.

Saul had gambled in warfare and lost. Saul lost the ark of the covenant in a cavalier gamble. The ark of the covenant which Saul had risked, abusing it as a good luck charm, and bringing it to the battlefield to motivate the army, was captured when the Philistines overran the Hebrew military. Saul and his sons lay dead on the battlefield. 

David sought to correct the sins of Saul, by restoring the ark of the covenant to its rightful place at the tabernacle in Jerusalem. But he failed to consult Your requirements for moving the ark. You required priests to carry the ark on long poles inserted through load bearing rings on the ark. Instead, David used a common oxcart. When the ark appeared to slide dangerously off the cart, Uzza, one of the workmen, touched it and died. 

Recounting that story from scripture sends chills through my body. You remind me that holy tasks must be conducted with holy methods. Holy methods must be driven by holy motives, not mere expediency. You judge my motives. 

Often, church and ministry boards proclaim, "We have to run this place like a business." Frequently, such a proclamation misses the mark. If we simply seek to run Your work like a business, Uzza ends up dead. David is mourning his failed leadership. And a tabernacle remains absent of Your Presence. 

Today, help me to live in holiness. Help me to lead Your business like it's Your business. Fill me with your Spirit that I may perform holy tasks from a clean and holy heart. Protect me from "end justifies the means" living that legitimizes any sinful method to attain the pragmatic conclusion, "It worked." Help us to run it like God's business.

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,