Journeyman Project Dispatches from the Life of Patrick Fowler: Christianity Explored

18Oct/160

Thoughts from Isaiah 37-39: Perspective Changes Everything

The older I get, the more life trains me to live for the long term. When Isaiah predicts that Assyria will leave Israel alone, he gives them a game plan for the next three years: live off what grows for two years, then plant and harvest in the third year. Three years to recovery--that used to sound so shocking! Now it sounds typical.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a patient person. I don't want anything to take three years. I hate working on projects that I can't get complete quickly. I need the sense of completion or I lose hope putting together a project.

However, I have learned the danger in a short-term perspective as Isaiah also illustrates it, and I am challenged to take on a perspective that far exceeds even the most conservative ideas of long term perspective today.

In Isaiah's story, Hezekiah's only concern is for his lifetime. His whole world stops when he gets sick, and he pleads with God not to end his life. Then, when given an extra fifteen years, Hezekiah doesn't seem to do anything remarkable with it, doesn't appear to pour any spiritual guidance into his successor, and isn't upset by the news that the kingdom will be conquered by Babylon--because it won't happen in his lifetime.

How much time to I spend working toward things that will outlast me? How far past my lifetime do I envision the world? Am I doing things like raising my kids to make an impact on the world after I am gone, or do I just want them to be responsible adults so that I don't deal with embarrassment later on...and so I can depend on them in my old age?

This passage isn't intended to teach that long term perspective matters, but it seemed to jump off the pages to me as I read it this week as something I need to think more about. What do you think?

31Dec/150

And So It Begins: My 2016 Bible Reading Plan

51Z44tNaYHL._AA160_I am totally convinced that the one thing every person can do to grow the fastest is to spend time with God every single day. There’s great research out there to prove it—and it has proven to be true in my personal experience and the experience of others who take the challenge too.

As a pastor my greatest goal is to see people grow in big ways spiritually—so naturally, I get really excited when a new, simple to use tool arrives that helps that happen. The latest tool has become the foundation of my new personal Bible reading plan for the year: The Every Day with Jesus Bible.

Although I am a HUGE fan of the Bible app and have used their Bible reading plans with great success, I often find it distracting to read on my phone…and it can seduce me into thinking through the rest of the day before I’ve gotten into a good conversation with God. Print materials are often a better tool for me, provided I remember to keep them with me until I get my quiet time in.

I love the format of this Bible too. Instead of a straight read through the Bible, which can be a bit monotonous when you get into less applicable portions of the Bible, this Bible mixes together relevant passages from the Old Testament, New Testament and Psalms. It even includes a devotional thought to challenge me to apply what I have read each day in a very specific way.

Aside from a good study Bible, which I’ll be sure to keep close by while I do my reading, this Bible’s format really appears to be a great setup for my time with God this year. I even secured a few copies for $5 each during Lifeway’s holiday sale.

If you don’t already have a plan for your time with God this year, then I urge you to make one. Your time with God is far too important to miss, and far too important not to approach with some intentionality. Make sure you set a regular time, place, and format. No one…no one is too busy to neglect this crucial appointment in their day.

If you need a one year Bible, then let me know. I’ll get you one.
If you are new to this and need something simplier, then make sure you start each day with the Daily Bread devotional, online at www.odb.org or free in print.

But as we end 2015 and look forward to an exciting 2016, my biggest wish for you, is that your time with God each day leads to some amazing outcomes!

516-aHtQqpL._AA160_Oh, and remember: if you are a parent, make sure you do this with your kids too! Try out the Bible App for Kids or this printed version.

31Dec/150

And So It Begins: My 2016 Bible Reading Plan

51Z44tNaYHL._AA160_I am totally convinced that the one thing every person can do to grow the fastest is to spend time with God every single day. There’s great research out there to prove it—and it has proven to be true in my personal experience and the experience of others who take the challenge too.

As a pastor my greatest goal is to see people grow in big ways spiritually—so naturally, I get really excited when a new, simple to use tool arrives that helps that happen. The latest tool has become the foundation of my new personal Bible reading plan for the year: The Every Day with Jesus Bible.

Although I am a HUGE fan of the Bible app and have used their Bible reading plans with great success, I often find it distracting to read on my phone…and it can seduce me into thinking through the rest of the day before I’ve gotten into a good conversation with God. Print materials are often a better tool for me, provided I remember to keep them with me until I get my quiet time in.

I love the format of this Bible too. Instead of a straight read through the Bible, which can be a bit monotonous when you get into less applicable portions of the Bible, this Bible mixes together relevant passages from the Old Testament, New Testament and Psalms. It even includes a devotional thought to challenge me to apply what I have read each day in a very specific way.

Aside from a good study Bible, which I’ll be sure to keep close by while I do my reading, this Bible’s format really appears to be a great setup for my time with God this year. I even secured a few copies for $5 each during Lifeway’s holiday sale.

If you don’t already have a plan for your time with God this year, then I urge you to make one. Your time with God is far too important to miss, and far too important not to approach with some intentionality. Make sure you set a regular time, place, and format. No one…no one is too busy to neglect this crucial appointment in their day.

If you need a one year Bible, then let me know. I’ll get you one.
If you are new to this and need something simplier, then make sure you start each day with the Daily Bread devotional, online at www.odb.org or free in print.

But as we end 2015 and look forward to an exciting 2016, my biggest wish for you, is that your time with God each day leads to some amazing outcomes!

516-aHtQqpL._AA160_Oh, and remember: if you are a parent, make sure you do this with your kids too! Try out the Bible App for Kids or this printed version.

4Nov/150

Living with a Sense of Awe – John 1 (pg 222)

“Those living in darkness have seen a great light.”

Today is a day when I am struck by the sheer amazing fact that God chose to dwell among us. That He was willing to spend 33 years, even years as a helpless, defenseless child with us.

If I could live more in the awe that those thoughts encompass everyday, I am certain my attitude, choices, and actions would be radically different.

I need to be like John the Baptist in the first chapter of John’s gospel. He didn’t see himself as anyone special, even though he had great crowds following him and had attracted a lot of attention from the religious leaders. He didn’t claim to be a prophet, just a voice in the wilderness.

And he was in awe of Jesus. He said that he wasn’t even worthy to tie his sandal.

That’s true of me too. And yet, Jesus allows us to do so much more than tie his sandal. We are messengers of His arrival. We are workers in His ministry to the world. And we are called God’s sons and daughters.

Whew! That will leave you in awe…and I hope you can stay in that mindset.

8Sep/150

My Time with God: Enemies (pg 156-159)

There comes a time when we experience attacks, not for things we have done wrong, but for things we are doing right. Our enemies are so angry toward us in general that they are blind to the benefits our actions are having on the world around us. Jesus was healing people, taking away suffering and curing diseases that would have ended the lives or caused long term suffering in the lives of hundreds of people...and still the Pharisees wanted to get rid of Him.

The wicked make evil plans
against good people
they grind their teeth at them
in anger. ~ Psalm 37:12

It's a good thing that Jesus goes on to tell us that we should love our enemies, and that He lives this out in His own life. Otherwise we might make the mistake of fighting back and stopping the good work that we should stay focused on.

It's hard to keep your spirit up when you are being treated like an enemy or criminal. You desperately want to defend yourself, and you suffer the pain of public opinion: whatever side of the story people hear first, they believe. You simply have to hold up under the attack until time and your good work prove your character, and you have to live with the fact that you will have enemies. You simply cannot allow them to distract you or discourage you from what God has called you to do.

Luke 5:36-6:45