Friday, August 31, 2018

the blue book is now available on amazon

Exciting news!  The Blue Book is now available on Amazon! And not only that, but it also has a bunch of new content!  I've been working for the past year or so to write an opening reflection for each chapter and I'm really excited about the end result.  I hope you will be too.  So please spread the word.  Tell your friends that the strange blue devotional book that has always been so hard to find, is hard to find no more.


Friday, July 20, 2018

kiss

Opening Prayer: I feel your love as you hold me to your sacred heart, my beloved Jesus, my God, my Master, but I feel, too, the need I have of your tenderness, and your caress because of my infinite weakness. ~Charles de Foucauld

Scripture:  Song of Songs 1:2

Journal: What is God’s invitation to you today?  How is he drawing you into more and more intimacy with himself?

Reflection: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine.” 

"You have seen the way we must follow, the order of procedure.  First we cast ourselves at his feet, we 'kneel before the Lord, our maker,' deploring the evil we have done.  Then we reach out for the hand that will lift us up, that will steady our trembling knees.  And finally, when we shall have obtained these favors through many prayers and tears, we humbly dare to raise our eyes to his mouth, so divinely beautiful, not merely to gaze upon, but--I say with fear and trembling--to receive his kiss; for Christ the Lord is a Spirit before our face.  And we who are joined to him in a holy kiss become, at his good pleasure, one spirit with him." (On the Song of Songs by Bernard of Clairvaux)


Through the centuries the saints and the poets who came before us understood something about God that most of us are only beginning to discover: At his core, God is a lover.  For we were created out of the overflow of Divine Love, in order to experience the very love that God had within himself—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And even after we had turned away and pursued other lovers, God did not give up on us, but came to earth in pursuit of his beloved.  Even to the point of giving himself, in the person of Jesus, so that he might redeem us, win back our hearts, and be reunited with us in love once again.  In order that we might live all of our days on earth in loving union with him and spend eternity basking in the warmth of his Great Affection.  For what God wants more than anything is loving union with us—his beloved.  And he will stop at nothing in order to make that a possibility. 

Prayer

Closing Prayer:
O living flame of love
That tenderly wounds my soul
In its deepest center!  Since
Now you are not oppressive,
Now Consummate! If it be your will:
Tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!

O sweet cautery,
O delightful wound!
O gentle hand!  O delicate touch
That tastes of eternal life
And pays every debt!
In killing you changed death into life.

O lamps of fire!
In whose splendors
The deep caverns of feeling,
Once obscure and blind,
Now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
Both warmth and light to their beloved.

How gently and lovingly
You wake in my heart,
Where in secret you dwell alone;
And in your sweet breathing,
Filled with good and glory,
How tenderly you swell my heart with love.

—John of the Cross

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

listen

Opening Prayer: Speak, O Lord, for your servant is listening.

Scripture: I Samuel 3:1-21

Journal: How do you listen to God?  What has he said to you lately?

Reflection:

how to listen

butt in seat
turn off phone
quiet the noise
come to stillness
pay attention
open ears
wait
wait
wait

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Speak, O Lord, for your servant is listening.

Monday, July 16, 2018

must

Opening Prayer: My God, I wish to give myself to thee.  Give me the courage to do so. ~Francois Fenelon

Scripture: 1 Kings 8:54-61

Journal: What are your “musts” these days?  What are God’s “musts” for you?

Reflection: We who have heard the call of our God to a life of entire consecration and perfect trust, must do differently from all this.  We must come out from the world and be separate, and must not be conformed to it in our characters or in our lives.  We must set our affections on heavenly things and not on earthly ones, and must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, surrendering everything that would interfere with this.  We must walk through the world as Christ walked.  We must have the mind that was in Him.  As pilgrims and strangers, we must abstain from lusts of the flesh that war against the soul.  As good soldiers of Christ, we must disentangle ourselves from the affairs of this life as far as possible, that we may please Him who hath chosen us to be soldiers.  We must abstain from all appearance of evil.  We must be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven us.  We must not resent injuries of unkindness, but must return good for evil, and turn the other cheek to the hand that smites us.  We must take always the lowest place among our fellow-men; and seek not our own honor, but the honor of others.  We must be gentle and meek and yielding, not standing up for our own rights but for the rights of others.  We must do all that we do for the glory of God.  And, to sum it all up, since He who hath called us is holy, so must we be holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” (The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith)

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord, I am yours; I do yield myself up entirely to you, and I believe that you do take me.  I leave myself with you.  Work in me all the good pleasure of your will, and I will only lie still in your hands and trust you.  Amen. (The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith)

Friday, July 13, 2018

stilled and quieted

Opening Prayer: I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.  O Israel, put your hope in the Lord now and forevermore. (Psalm 131:2-3, NIV)

Scripture: Psalm 131:1-3

Journal: What is the state of your soul these days?  Why?  What would it take to still and calm your soul?  What would you have to believe?  What would you have to do?

Reflection: Wouldn’t it be great if all of our interactions with others came from this “stilled and quieted” place within us, rather than the place of our deepest fears and anxieties and insecurities?  Imagine what a difference it would make in everything if we knew deep down to our core that we were so passionately and completely loved that there was no longer any need to prove ourselves to anyone or anything.  Then we would be like a weaned child with its mother, rather than a restless, demanding, and insecure one.  Then we would rest secure in the loving embrace of our God—finding our hope in him—rather than everything always having to be up to us.  It would be a whole different—and wonderful—way of being.

Pray

Closing Prayer: Help me, O God, to be content and secure in your loving embrace.  For only then will I ever be able to truly love others.  Amen.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

absorbed

Opening Prayer: Lord, awaken me, you whose love burns beyond the stars; light the flame of my lantern that I may always burn with love. (A Traveler Toward the Dawn by John Eagan)

Scripture: Romans 13:11-14

Journal: What are you absorbed in these days?  How is it causing you to miss what God is doing?  How are you asleep spiritually?  What would it take to wake up?  Will you?

Reflection: But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about! ~Romans 13:11-14, The Message


     Absorbed.  Ouch!  Hits me right between the eyes.  If I am honest, I have to admit that not a day goes by when it doesn't happen to me.  At some point each day (or multiple points each day) I get so caught up in what's either in front of me, or ahead of me, that I lose touch entirely with God's presence within me, and what he is doing around me.  I don't know that I would have called it dozing off, because it appears so active.  But that's exactly what it is.  It is getting so consumed with myself, and my agenda, that I fall asleep on God.  I get distracted and sidetracked by the things on my list and fail to even ask what might be on his.  I think that's probably the definition of absorbed.
     So how do I combat this tendency?  How do I wake up to God and fall asleep to myself?  How can I be up and awake to what God is doing?  I think the answer is easy; and really hard.  I pay attention.  I begin my day with God and I set alarms within my day that will bring my heart and my soul and my mind back to God in case I fall asleep.  I set something on my phone or I stick something in my car to remind me of his love and his presence.  I plant a word or a phrase or a psalm in my heart and let it take root there for the day.  I remember it every time it comes to mind, and recite it to myself.  I say the words of the ancient prayer and listen for the prayer of God that rises in my heart.  I set concrete times within the day where I will stop and return to him, just as the saints and poets and pilgrims have been doing for centuries.  I frame my day with the prayer; the prayers the Church has been praying since the beginning of time.  For this is not a new problem.
     And if I do all of that then maybe, just maybe, when I lay my head on my pillow at night, I will be able to smile. I will think back and be grateful for an awareness of God's presence and his work that has helped me to align myself more and more with his will rather than just my own.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Most Holy God, wake me up from my soul’s deep slumber and bring my life under your complete control.  By your grace, awaken me daily to the reality of your presence within and around me.  And, by the power of your Spirit, make me responsive to your will and your direction.  Amen.

Monday, July 9, 2018

common prayer

Opening Prayer: Teach us to pray, O Lord.  Show us what it means to have a common life of prayer; one that is practiced in community and not in isolation.  Help us to learn how to lift our voices to you as one.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Scripture: 1 Chronicles 23:1-6

Journal: What does your common life of prayer look like?  What do you think God wants it to look like?  How do you enter into prayer with the rest of God’s people?

Reflection: When we go to prayer in the Psalms we find, often to our surprise, that we have been ushered to a pew in the vigorously rich worship of Israel.  When David organized Israel into a worshipping congregation, thirty-eight thousand Levites were assigned to provide the leadership and support required.  Prayer in Israel was not left up to individuals to do or not do as they more or less felt inclined.  This was a public works project of impressive dimensions.  It was neither private nor peripheral.  Common worship takes precedence over private devotions. (Answering God by Eugene Peterson)

Prayer

Closing Prayer: I will tell of your name to my brothers: in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: You who fear the Lord, praise him! (Psalm 22:22-23, ESV)