Friday, June 1, 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.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

lay down your life

Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, thank you that you laid down your life for us.  Give us the grace and the courage to lay down our lives for one another.  Lord, have mercy.  Christ have mercy.  Amen.

Scripture: 1 John 3:16-18

Journal: Where and how is God asking you to lay down your life these days?

Reflection: The laying down of a life is a tall order; one that I’m not sure can be accomplished by grit and determination.  Because the laying down of a life—at least the laying down of it as Jesus calls us to—is not a one-time event, but a perpetual lifestyle.  I can’t consistently choose you over me on a regular basis; I need Divine assistance.  Only when I make this realization is it possible to make consistent progress in the direction of self-sacrifice.  I cannot make myself like Jesus, no matter how hard I try.  Only Jesus can make me like Jesus.  I must simply surrender myself to him and put myself in his hands.  He is my only hope of ever really living a life of laying down my life.  Which, in wild irony, is the only way to become my true self (by abandoning myself altogether).  Lord, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: O Jesus, I am so terrible at laying down my life.  It runs so against my nature.  Yet that is what you call me to.  Teach me to love like you.  Give me your heart.  Make your heart, my heart.  Amen.

Friday, May 18, 2018

self-importance

Opening Prayer: Forgive me, O God, when I start thinking more of myself, and my efforts, than I ought.  Remind me that you are the only one who can change lives.  Help me to pit my hope in you, rather than in my own gifts and efforts.  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 131:1-3

Journal: Where in your life are you trying to grow larger and higher?  And where are you content to be small and lowly, so that God might be lifted up?

Reflection: Self-importance is one of the great pitfalls of the life of ministry.  I think that’s why I love Psalm 131 so much; it keeps my ego constantly in check.  It reminds me that it is possible to overestimate my own importance in the grand scheme of things.  And it helps me to realize that when I do this it can lead to some really dark and desperate places.  Places that have much more to do with my need to be needed than with God’s need for my involvement in his work and his kingdom.  It can leave me breathlessly running around trying to do everything for everyone because the world simply cannot exist without me.
     The tricky part is that it’s a very subtle thing; something I am slowly drawn into.  Somewhere along the line, as I become more and more involved in the lives of people, I become convinced of how essential and necessary I am to all that God is doing in and through them.  I begin to see myself as indispensable to that process, and begin to see myself as way bigger and much higher than I really am.
     Psalm 131 brings my eyes, and my heart, back down to earth.  It helps me to see things as they really are.  It helps me realize that I am really not that big a deal.  In fact, I am a pretty little deal.   It lets me know that God is God and I am not.  It helps me to stop, and become like a weaned child in the loving embrace of its mother—content, dependent, at peace.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to always be about lifting you up, not lifting me up.  Amen.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

write me

Opening Prayer: O Jesus, speak to me during this time about the story you are telling, the story I was made for.  Open my eyes, Lord, to the ways that story is being told—and lived—in the events and circumstances of this day.  Show me how all that happens to me this day echoes your larger Story if only I will keep my heart focused on you.  In your name I pray.  Amen.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 3:1-4

Journal: What is your story these days?  What story is God telling to you, in you, and through you?

Reflection:

     write me

O God
every day
and in every moment
you are writing
a beautiful story

give me the grace
and the patience
to let that story unfold
and not try to force
or manipulate it

help me
to not get in the way
and to not get in a hurry
but to wait on you

for only you
can tell me
my true place
in your grand design

my story is yours
O God
write me

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Write your blessed name, O Lord, upon my heart, there to remain, so indelibly engraved that no prosperity, no adversity, shall ever move me from your love. ~Thomas a Kempis

Saturday, May 5, 2018

give

Opening Prayer: Father, you give to me with a lavish hand, you do not withhold from me of your great grace and mercy.  Let me live and serve you also with a generous heart.  In the name of your Son, who gave his all.  Amen. (Disciplines for the Inner Life by Bob Benson and Michael W. Benson)

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:6-11

Journal: Where and how is God asking you to give yourself these days?

Reflection: Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge your harvest of righteousness.  You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  (2 Corinthians 9:10-11)

     Giving is a little bit tricky.  Because, in reality, we can only give what we have been given.  If the sower is not given the seed in the first place, then he has nothing of value to sow in the fields (and the lives) to which he has been given.  Luckily, we are given the promise that if we are open and attentive to receiving it, there is One who is able and willing to supply, and even increase, this seed.
     The problem is that, oftentimes, we try so hard to give that which we do not possess.  And when we do this, abundance simply will not happen.  We cannot produce abundance (an enlarged harvest of righteousness) on our own, no matter how hard we try.  We can only give—fully and freely—that which we have been given.  So it seems kind of important that we know exactly what that is.  For this seed wasn't given to us to hoard for ourselves, but to be scattered abroad in the fields of this world, that it might produce a harvest.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: O Lord, help me to learn to give fully and freely that which I have to give, and to stop trying so hard to give that which I don't.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

discipline

Opening Prayer: Father of all humanity, you call your children to walk in the light of Christ.  Free us from darkness and keep us forever in the radiance of your truth, until we come at last to live with you on high.  We pray this in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. (The Little Book of Hours)

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 7:17

Journal: What is the life the Lord has assigned to you?  What does it look like to live that life with intention and purpose?

Reflection: More recently I’m beginning to understand that, in my life with God, the word discipline means the endeavor to create space in my life in which God can act.  Discipline means being intentional about preventing everything in my life from being filled up.  The diligent watchfulness guards my soul from intrusions that crowd out God.
     Marking off space for God to be at work is a challenge because God likes doing things with me that I hadn’t counted on.  He likes to decide the agenda rather than docilely going along with my carefully scripted list of activities.  If I leave God too little space, the desires God has for me and for our time together simply don’t happen.  This is the why of solitude with God.  I simply make room for God to do what only God is able to do.  Yet the excuses I make (to myself and to others) for not making this space are endless.  Why would I want to cheat myself out of God’s deepest longing for me?  Is it because I don’t trust God?  Is it because I’m addicted to being in charge?  Is it because I’m simply afraid to let go and rest in the silence of God’s presence?
     If I am ever to enjoy a rhythm of solitude and silence, I will always need to exert some effort.  However, the effort is not to be building outwardly but to protect that little cell of my heart, the part of me where God and I get to be together—to protect it and then to find the solitude where God will enter and spend time with me. (Running on Empty by Fil Anderson)

Prayers

Closing Prayer: : O Jesus, our redemption, love, and desire, may your love constrain you to pass over our evils, sparing us, and having answered our prayer, may you satisfy us with your face.  Amen. (The Little Book of Hours)

Monday, April 30, 2018

breath

Opening Prayer: O Loving God, who breathed me into being, breathe your Divine Breath in me again this day—that I might be filled with your life and guided by the winds of your Spirit.  For the sake of your Son.  Amen. (The Blue Book by Jim Branch)

Scripture: Genesis 2:4-7

Journal: How is the Spirit giving life and breath to your soul these days?

Reflection:

breath

the soul 
needs room
to breathe
and to be 
breathed into

the spirit
is willing
but the flesh 
is weak
said he
who came 
among us

the spirit
is always
ready to
breathe its life
when we are
finally willing
to make space
for that breath

the breath
that blows 
where it will
and makes alive
that which was 
lifeless

the breath
that breathed 
into the dust
of the ground
and brought us
into being 
will bring us 
into being again
and again
if we will just 
give it space

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.  Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.   Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.   Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.  Amen. ~St. Augustine