“But he answered..”

“But he answered..”

Matthew 4.4

The enemy prowls around like a lion seeking to devour. Day after day. Hour after hour. Minute after minute. He seeks only where God allows. And in the wilderness, God allowed the enemy to seek after His own Son, Jesus Christ. After 40 days and 40 nights Jesus was hungry, weak, and tired. It is at this moment, his weakest, when the enemy spoke.

“If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “it is written, ‘Man should not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

answer —> a thing said or done as a reaction to a statement or question

How do you answer when the enemy speaks? Or do you even? Do you passively allow the enemy to speak at you in such disgust? You see, an answer doesn’t have to involve words. It can be something done. An action. If your friend or spouse, someone you know genuinely loves you, spoke down to you in anger or frustration, would you not have an immediate response of defense and question in your heart what it is they have said? Would you stand and take the disrespect or combat the lies spoken with Truth? So then why do you not do the same with the one who doesn’t love you and genuinely seeks to destroy your soul?

Jesus had a response to the devil’s words. He quoted Scripture. He quoted Truth. 

“Blessed is the man who takes refuge in God.” | Psalm 34.8

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” | Psalm 34.1

“For sin will have no dominion over me, since I am not under law, but under grace.” | Romans 6.14

“If the Son sets me free, I will be free indeed.” | John 8.36

Answer, oh precious child of God. Combat. Sing Truth. Your soul depends on it.

To My Bride

Hey Bub –

There’s still a couple days till the wedding. Still think I’m the one? You know I’m a mess, right? You know I’m judgmental, critical, and cynical, right? You know I’m a guy, right? I spit in the kitchen sink. I snore. I make loud noises. I don’t do laundry when I should. Nor do I fold my clothes as soon as the dryer finishes. I don’t always clean the counter. I’m not the best at making the bed. I think clutter is sometimes necessary. I absolutely hate dusting. I think the word “poop” is one of the most disgusting words in all of creation. I don’t always speak in love. I struggle with being gentle about things I don’t see as important. I wear ridiculous outfits. I’m extremely particular about the most random things. I’m extremely indecisive about the most unimportant things. Like which candy bar I want in the check out line. Or whether to drink water or lemonade at dinner. I trim my beard and little hair fibers make their place around the bathroom sink.

You know, Amy, I always wanted to be a husband. But now it’s kinda freaking me out. Questions keep rising in my heart. Will I be good enough? Will I lead you well? Will I be the husband you’ve always dreamed of? Will I Father our children in to godliness? Will I choose you above our kids? My job? My life?

Even though I put on a tough face, I’m weak and fragile, babe.

I promise to give you my best.

I promise to give you my worst.

Cause that’s what love is all about.

I sure hope you’re ready to live with a guy. To be honest, I like to think of myself as a pretty fun roommate. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.

To the one who loves me like Jesus. To my favorite.

Here’s to forever.

Love, Boofy

With Smoke On His Breath

A couple weeks ago I saw two old friends from High School at church. One of them used to love Jesus before he violently ran from Him, and drank his way into a sober home. The other one should have been in a sober home during our HS years. Both at church. Both about to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. And my heart didn’t skip a beat. If I’m being honest my first inclination was apathy, not excitement, that they were there. I spoke with one of them, and I could smell the cigarette he had just inhaled the 20 minutes before the service started. The thought, “What are you doing here?” actually crossed my mind.

Maybe I’m the only one guilty of this, but when it truly comes down to it I really don’t want to bring people to church. Especially non-Christians.

I mean, yes, I want people to come to church to hear about God. But do my actions prove that? Do my actions prove that I’ll do whatever it takes to get the people I know who for a fact don’t love Jesus to come to church with me?

The problem is that I think we’ve put a hierarchy on those who need Jesus. We’ve put certain things as “taboo sins” that others must rid themselves of before they can come to church.

  • Smoking.

“Oh, he smells like smoke … I can’t be around him, let alone bring him to church with me.”

  • Drinking.

“Do you know what he does on Friday nights? There’s no way he’d want to come with me to church on Sunday. I can’t bring him.”

  • Having Sex.

“Do you know what he/she did last weekend? Last night? If people saw me with him/her they’d think I was apart of that stuff. I can’t bring them to church with me.”

We’re all for God’s grace, and the “come as you are” approach, but when it really comes down to it, are we? “I mean I love the fact that Christ saved me even while I was a sinner, and I didn’t have to change who I was for Him to change me. But for you? Nah, man, you’ve got to quit smoking before we can hang out. You can’t be partying on the weekends if you expect us to be friends.” That’s both ridiculous and foolish.

Matthew 9.11-13 —- When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 Jesus is pretty clear on who he is after: the sick. And in case you forgot to look in the mirror this morning, let me remind you that you are not exempt from this category.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I think we need to stop filling our cars Sunday morning with Christians and start filling them with the non-Christians we are so good at pointing out.

Just Be A Person

As Christians I think we focus so much of our attention on building relationships with others. This isn’t a bad thing. But it becomes a bad thing when we lose sight of who we are as an individual.

We’re always advised to not be stretched too thin. I know you’ve heard the statement that warns us to not be a mile wide and an inch deep in regards to our relationship or things we are involved in. The only thing I don’t like about this statement is that it puts a subconscious limit on the things we can and cannot do. We worry that if we plan this event or get involved in this thing then we won’t be able to give all of us to what it is we’ll be doing. Now I understand that the majority of the time this is true, but do you see what I’m saying about not doing something (that is COMPLETELY ACCEPTABLE) because it’s frowned upon by the Christian community? Because if you do this one thing or add this other thing to “your plate of things to do”, then people will worry about you and begin to organize your own plate.

Just be a person.

A person that fails. A person that laughs. A person that doesn’t have it all together. A person that is late. A person that is early. A person that others can count on. A person that is organized…but only if you’re organized! Be a person who knows who they are – If you’re a guy, then be a guy! If you’re a girl, then be a girl! Be emotional. Be dramatic. Exaggerate stories. Cry. Of course, be everything within the bounds of who God has made you and expects of His children.

Let who you are determine your reaction to circumstances. Think your own thoughts about something or someone. Form your own opinion about something or someone. Don’t not like someone because others have had a poor experience with that person. That’s just foolish.

Allow yourself to feel what you feel and think what you think without the constant worry of how others will view you. You’re you. And nobody else.

Be secure in your identity in Christ. He has secured you through His death and resurrection. Allow that Truth to soak into the pours of your broken soul, and let it free you to be the person God has made you to be.


Someone hurts you.

You want payback.

You want them to feel the weight of hurt and pain you felt.

You want an apology.

A real one.

Ones with “sorrys” and what they did wrong.

That would do the trick.

That would suffice.

I’d feel better if they felt worse.

And then they do.

They apologize.

They feel bad.

They feel worse.

And it’s real.




But nothing’s changed.

It doesn’t suffice.

It isn’t enough.

Do they really understand?

Are they really sorry? regretful? understanding? compassionate?

Then why don’t I feel any different?

Because I’m looking for an emotion.

They’re fleeting.

The truth isn’t.

Just Another Tree in the Forest

A couple days ago I went to a nature preserve in Cedar Hill. I love going to this place because it makes me feel so small. I know nature’s name, but it knows not my name. I sat on a bench in the middle of an opening and began to think about nature and the trees that surrounded me.

Nature doesn’t care who I am. I bring all of my accolades and achievements to the forest, and it whispers back, “Cool. You’re still a nobody.”

I could yell, and the trees wouldn’t respond to me.

I could cry, and the leaves wouldn’t comfort me.

I could laugh, and the branches wouldn’t join me.

I could breathe, and the water wouldn’t care.

I don’t inhibit nature from existing.

When I’m sitting in the middle of the forest, I’m not bothering the forest. Or rather, it’s not bothered by me. With or without me, nature thrives.

Pretty humbling, huh?

This led me to notice another thing as I sat on that bench: two trees standing side by side.

One tree was swaying in the wind, while the tree directly next to it was standing still. Both trees were about 20 feet in height, and both trees were standing in the same wind.

But why was only one of them moving?

And why does this even matter?

I’ll answer the latter first, which will help us see the former.

This whole idea of a tree matters because every Christian is a tree. We see this in Psalm 1. The psalmist describes a godly person (verse 1) as a tree (verse 3):

Blessed is the man (the Hebrew word for man ish is used here to represent a godly person)

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the LORD,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

            He is like a tree

planted by streams of water

that yields its fruit in its season,

and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1.1-3 (Parenthesis and italics added)

This is the answer to the question of why the subject of a tree matters: if you’re a Christian, you’re a tree.

Now to answer the question of what a moving tree versus a still tree means:

~ A tree swaying in the wind can mean one of two things:

  1. It is being favored by the wind – receiving a blessing that other trees aren’t receiving – the tree is enjoying its existence so it’s moving around in excitement.
  2. It is in some type of trial, and is being knocked off balance by the wind.

~ A tree standing still in the wind can mean one of two things:

  1. It’s not being favored by the wind – It’s not receiving the blessing that other trees are receiving – there’s nothing to be excited about in its existence as a tree, therefore there’s nothing to move around about.
  2. It is standing firm through a trial, and is not knocked off balance by the wind.

Did you pick up on that? Depending on how you look at it, swaying can be positive while being still can be negative, and vice versa.

But the main thing here is that a tree is a tree, whether it’s moving or not.

A swaying tree is no less a tree than a still tree.

A still tree is no less a tree than a swaying tree.

No one looks outside, sees a tree swaying in the wind, and says, “Eh, that’s not really a tree. Maybe if it were standing still.”

No one looks outside, sees a tree with no branches, and says, “Eh, that’s not really a tree. Maybe if it grew back its branches”

No one looks outside, sees a tree that is 3 feet tall, and says, “Eh, that’s not really a tree. Maybe if it grew a couple more feet.”

A tree is a tree.

And what I find remarkable is that God tells us through the Psalmist that we are a tree. Whether we’re swaying in fear or excitement, or standing still in apathy or strength.

Maybe you feel like you’re just another tree in the forest, but let me tell you that God made you nothing like the one right next to you. So be a tree. In all your forms.

Drowning In Noise

I’ve noticed something in my life lately that has been driving me: apathy. Apathy towards a lot of things: Friends. Conversations. Enjoyment. Reading. Studying.  God. Sleep. Life in general.

I’ve also noticed something else that I’ve been doing more lately: listening to worship music. And it wasn’t until tonight that I realized why.

Because I’ve felt distant from the Lord I’ve been trying and trying to convince myself to believe what the songs are saying. “Jesus, oh, how I adore You.” “Nothing compares to this love.” “I love you, Lord. I worship you … I give my life to honor this.” And the lyrics go on. There has been a disconnect between my heart and my mind. My heart has been bent and drawn toward sin, while my mind is agreeing with these songs. But is it really the songs that my mind is agreeing with? Or is it just that I like the rhythm and melody of the songs? Do I really love and adore Jesus? Or am I really trying to agree with my mind when my heart is sick from indulging itself on this world?

I don’t know what silence sounds like.

I don’t know what it means to Sabbath.

I don’t know what it means to rest.

I don’t know what solitude looks like.

Noise makes these thoughts and questions fade into the background. Noise eliminates my urgency to seek Jesus. Noise tells me that things are okay even when I know they are not because of the sickness of my heart. Noise justifies my lack of obedience to Jesus. Noise keeps me busy. Noise doesn’t allow my mind and heart to step off the hamster wheel. I all too often trap myself in the deception that a noisy life is a good life, and a good life is better than a Godly life. That’s pathetic.

What is noise? Noise is anything that keeps you going. It can be something good that you abuse, and it can be something that is just flat out bad and sinful. It doesn’t have to be literal noise. It can be anything. Noise comes in the form of music; even worship music. Noise comes in the form of talking to others. Noise comes in the form of always wanting to be with someone; always seeking someone to “hangout” with.  Noise comes in the form of wanting to physically look good. Noise comes in the form of wanting to sound smart in conversation. Noise comes in the form of constantly seeking approval from others. Noise comes in the form of being busy. Noise comes in the form of having a messy room. Noise comes in the form of       fill in the blank    .

Are you drowning yourself in the noise of your own life?

I am. And that’s why I desperately need Jesus to quiet my soul.

When Hell Tasted Good

A year and a half ago today I met Jesus for the first time. Passion 2011: Fort Worth, TX.

I grew up knowing a lot about God. But I never actually knew Him. Even when I moved to Texas when I was 16 I could talk the talk with the best of them. But walking was a different matter. I was gripped with pride. I was gripped with lust.

And I legitimately thought I was a Christian.

Junior year of high school I started to going to the youth group at the local church. I quickly became a favorite amongst the leaders amongst the students. I was nice. I was funny. I was cool. I was blind. I was going to hell. And I didn’t even know it.

And I legitimately thought I was a Christian.

Senior year I co-led a middle school small group at the church.

Every Wednesday I would teach these kids about the Bible.

Every Wednesday I would teach these kids about Jesus.

Every Wednesday I would teach these kids about holiness.

Every Wednesday I would teach these kids about the importance of prayer.

Every Wednesday I would teach these kids about the importance of daily devotion to God.

While at the same time I was never teaching myself these things. Never. I was blatantly walking in sin. I mean blatant. Deep. Dark. Sin. I knew that what I was doing was wrong: “Good” kid on Wednesday … “Bad” kid on Friday. Literally every week. I didn’t care. I played my own game tagged with Jesus’ name. I claimed false righteousness. The things I did were what I clung to for rescue. I held onto the created good to make me clean as opposed to the Creator to make me clean. If you’ve always heard that, but have never really known what that meant, then try this on for size:

I said, “Because I lead a small group … I’m good enough before God.”

I said, “Because I read my bible during school … I’m good enough before God.”

I said, “Because others think highly of me … I’m good enough before God.”

I said, “Because I don’t drink or smoke … I’m good enough before God.”

I said, “Because others think I’m a christian … I’m good enough before God.”

I said, “Because I go to youth group every Wednesday … I’m good enough before God.”

I said, “Because I confess parts of my sin … I’m good enough before God.”

Can you resonate with any of that? That’s called false righteousness: falsely giving yourself right standing before God because of what you do. This was me. For an entire year.

And I legitimately thought I was a Christian.

And then college came. Same game. Different name. Same story. Different setting. Me. Lust. Pride. 24/7 It never stopped. And I didn’t care.

And I legitimately thought I was a Christian.

Then Christmas came, and I go to Chicago with my family to visit my grandparents. My grandma gives me a book as my present. A book. Thanks, grandma. Finding Godby Larry Crabb. I opened that book that night and began to read. For the next 6 days I had nightmares. Legitimate nightmares of me being attacked my demons. I slept with a night light because I was afraid of the dark. I couldn’t shut my eyes without having visuals of demons surrounding me. Watching me. All the time. You could say I was scared. I’d say I was terrified. I come back to school from Christmas break, and I go to my friend’s bible study. James 1. I open up and begin to read from James 1.5-8 —

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

This passage cut me. Deep. I could barely breath. I thought to myself: “That’s me. I am this unstable man that is talked about. I am driven and tossed by the wind. By my own passions.” I didn’t know what to do. This was in February.

And for the first time in my life I legitimately didn’t know if I was a Christian or not.

April rolled around, and my buddy had an extra ticket to the Passion Conference in Fort Worth. $70 was all it would cost me. Tickets are normally around $200 so I got a good deal. I went on Friday, and I was completely distracted. I was in a fight with my girlfriend, and she wouldn’t talk to me. Friday night sucked. Saturday I thought to myself: “I’m here for the conference. Let’s put these distractions behind me.” Saturday night was legit. I remember literally saying: “Jesus, you’re all I need.” Sunday, April 3, 2011, He tested me of this. Driving home from the conference I get a call from my girlfriend of almost 2 years, and she says: “We can’t be together.” I hung up the phone, and said to myself: “Okay, God, okay. You’ve got my attention. I surrender to you.”

And I legitimately became a Christian.

He chased me down. He stripped me naked. He took the three things I valued most in life: friends, baseball, love.

Friends: I moved with my family to Texas from Chicago during the middle of high school.

Baseball: I got cut from the Varsity team my senior year.

Love: He pulled my girlfriend out from underneath me.

He allowed all these things to happen to me so that I would get Him.

And I legitimately became a Christian.

How? Grace. And grace alone. God chose me to be His because of His grace. Because of His love. Because of His mercy.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. | Ephesians 2.8-9

I get what I don’t deserve: salvation, eternity with God. That’s called GRACE.

I don’t get what I do deserve: hell, separation from God. That’s called MERCY.

And oh, do I deserve separation from God. For 18 years I belittled His Name. I literally did WHATEVER I wanted to do. All with His Name stamped on it.

Jesus lived the perfect life I never could have.

Jesus died the perfect death I never could have.

Jesus paid the perfect price I never could have.

Jesus rose to life. Perfectly. Now my sins are forgiven.

Why? Because of grace. Because of love. Because of mercy. Free grace. Free love. Free mercy.

You did it for me. You did for love. It’s your victory. Jesus you are enough.

Do I still struggle with pride? Daily.

Do I still struggle with lust? Daily.

Do I still struggle with jealousy? Daily.

But do I have a Savior who died to set me free from these sins? Absolutely.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” | John 8.31-32

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. | 1 Corinthians 15.56-57

You see, being a Christian means that you’re a follower of Jesus. A follower. Not an observer. Not a standby. Not a fan. Not a groupie. Not an admirer. Not a watcher. Not a supporter. A follower.

Who are you following? No … really … WHO ARE YOU FOLLOWING?

Because for 18 years I thought I was following Jesus. But it just turned out to be my reflection in the mirror.

I Know This World Is Enticing

I know this world is enticing.
My Son lived in it for 33 years.
Through blood sweat and tears He beat the trap of sin whenever it appeared.
I created the beautiful women.
I created the beautiful men.
I created the desire to kindle hearts and procreate again and again.
What I did not create was this desire for men and women to distort this thought and solicit their bodies to do whatever they want.
Don’t be fooled, my son and daughter, This persuasion to fulfill your sexual fantasies is not from Me, your Father.
I promise you that.
Please, please, please stand firm in the freedom by which I’ve called you.
Just as Paul says to the Galatians I say to you: You were running so well! What happened? Who hindered you from obeying the truth that I’ve given you?
This temptation and desire to run after the passions in your heart with no need for discipline will only tear you apart.
Please hear Me now, and don’t wait for later:
My plan for you is love. Don’t listen to my traitor.
That love leads you into joy.
And that joy leads you into pleasure.
Just not the kind of pleasure that you so willingly treasure.
What you treasure is a pleasure from this age.
And what you desire comes from the liar of the same accolades.
At My right hand are pleasures forevermore.
In My presence there is fullness of joy.
To have one without the other would be like being a grown man without ever being a boy. It just doesn’t make sense.
But now here’s where it gets tricky.
I call you to holiness.
Not sinfulness.
And to be in my presence you must do away with your wickedness.
But this is not of your own doing. Jesus lived. Died. And rose. Now while you’re running, He’s pursuing. In your sin, He’s renewing.
Every time you work to be clean My Son stands up, grabs your hands and says, “You’re already free because of Me. Because of my cross your forgiven. Because of my loss you’re now living. Believe in Me, and I’ll see you in Heaven.”
When you feel the weight of my Spirit on you to not do something that you want to do, that’s only Me trying to get through to you.
I know the outcome of each situation you find yourself in.
There’s never a time when I look at you and say, “Where have you been?”
I know when you sit.
I know when you stand.
I discern your thoughts from afar.
When you’re in the pit or on the highest of land, My love will find you wherever you are.
You think you are better than Me and more knowing than I am.
You would never admit that, but that’s what I hear each time you ignore the sacrifice of My spotless Lamb.
Your sins are forgiven.
You’re free to go!
Stop putting on chains when I broke them long ago.
My desire for you is away from your former life.
What have you gained from your sins that caused strife?
What have you gained by being bitter at night?
What have you gained from the anger that’s hidden inside?
What have you gained by bypassing the red light while you invite this fight to blur your sight?
Raise your white flag.
I am the ultimate contender.
I’ll be your public defender.
And in my perfect timing I’ll piece you back together.
Just please hear Me in this: the enemy’s ultimate desire is to kill your bliss.
He prowls around like a lion seeking to devour. But at the name of Jesus he cowers. He’s no match for My strong tower.
My son and daughter, I am fighting for you.
You need only to be still.
But you wanna know a secret? I’ve already won the battle and the war. That should give you a thrill.
Satan knows that, but he really doesn’t get that cause each day he suits up for combat.
But victory is Mine!
You can thank My Son for that.
Peace is yours.
You can thank My Son for that.
Forgiveness is yours.
You can thank My Son for that.
Redemption is yours.
You can thank My Son for that.
Rest is yours.
You can thank My Son for that.
Joy is yours.
You can thank My Son for that.
Love is yours.
You can thank My Son for that.
Hope is yours.
You can thank My Son for that.
Enjoyment is yours.
You can thank My Son for that.
Eternity is yours.
You can thank My Son for that.
But now, until you see Me face to face you will be tempted and tried every day to find out what this world has to offer.
Don’t give in to the lies, exchanging My Truth like a scoffer.
Hold fast to the hope by which I’ve called you.
Your holiness is on the line, and you know what is true.
My Son is on the horizon ready to make all things new.
With every ounce of your body, put to death what is earthly in you.
I know this world is enticing, but My love will push you through.