Tuesday, June 30, 2020

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.


Monday, May 25, 2020

down

Opening Prayer: Forgive me, Lord Jesus, when I forget that down is up in your kingdom, and I start trying to climb again when I should be trying to descend.  Give me the strength and the grace and the courage to follow you down, because it is the good and life-giving way.  It is the way straight into your heart.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 8:34-37

Journal: How is God inviting you to follow him downward these days?  Will you?

Reflection:

          down

O Lord
here we go again
as you take me down
into the dust and dirt
the muck and mire
to make me more into 
the person you want me to be

it is a hard
but necessary trip
this downward journey
meant to accomplish 
something wild and wonderful
difficult yet life-giving
in me

for it takes a lot
of humiliation
i am told
to equal an ounce of humility
and humility is the mark
of those who know you best
and love you most

so whatever it takes
Lord Jesus
to make me more like you
i’m in
have your way with me

you emptied yourself
and made yourself nothing
for me
seems the least i can do
is return the favor

your glory was your pain 
and in dying 
you brought new life
so help me to be open
to that same downward path
lest i just become another old fool 
unwilling to accept 
that the road to life 
actually leads downward

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Your way, Lord Jesus, always leads downward before it takes us heavenward.  It is on the downward path where we learn all of the best things about the spiritual life.  It is on the downward path where we learn how to not end up as an old fool.  It is on the downward path where we learn the humility that is the mark of those who know you best and love you most.  Take us, Lord Jesus, on your downward path, today and every day.  Amen. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

treasure

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, when will I finally realize that I am your treasure?  When will I finally stop trying to be treasured by everyone and everything else and find my joy and my peace and my contentment in you?  Help me to believe that it’s true.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 10:17-31

Journal:  What do you really treasure?  What does that tell you about your heart?  Do you really believe that you are God’s treasure?  What does that do to your heart?

Reflection: The scriptures tell us that “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34)  Which makes total sense, but seems a little backwards.  For we live in a world that says, “Follow your heart and it will lead you to your treasure.”  But the truth is that it’s actually our treasure that will lead us to our heart.  When we get that mixed up, it can lead us on a bit of a wild goose chase.  Just ask the rich young ruler.  
     He was stockpiling “treasures” that could never satisfy the deepest longings of his heart, that’s how he found himself at the feet of Jesus.  All of the wealth and the power and the fame he had achieved was still not enough.  Something was still missing.  His heart was still not full.  All he really wanted was to be treasured himself, he was just looking in the wrong places.  He was looking for people and things and achievements to give him the fullness that only God can give.  The deepest cry of his heart was simply to be treasured, to be loved for who and what he really was.  The same is true for each of us.  
     We all long to be treasured.  We all long to be valued beyond measure, but mere mortals can never offer us the fullness we are searching for.  The problem is we spend all of our hours and our days looking for something we already have—in Jesus.  “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”  There it is, right in front of him, and he is either unwilling or unable to see it—or truly believe it.  He is simply unwilling to let go of his many “treasures,” in order to allow himself to be truly treasured.  What a tragedy.  But one that we all repeat every day.
     We are all on a quest to be treasured.  We think that somehow if we can be treasured by that person or that thing or that crowd, then all our dreams will come true; our hearts will finally be full and content.  But they won’t.  We were made more.  We were made to be treasured by God.  Whose we are was always meant to define who we are, not vice versa.  So every day we face the same choice as the rich young ruler, to treasure God or to treasure things other than God.  To be treasured by him, or to seek to be treasured by others.  What will it be?

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Convince me, Lord Jesus, that I am your treasure.  Then everything else will finally fall into place.  Amen.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

hope

Opening Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to always find my hope in you, rather than in myself, my surroundings, or my circumstances.  They are never reliable guides in this life, but you are.  You alone are worthy of my trust and my hope, so help me find my hope in you this day.  Amen.

Scripture: Hebrews 10:23

Journal: How do you define hope?  Where do you find hope within you?  What is that hope in?  What does it mean to hope in Christ?  How is life in him giving you hope these days?  Where in life is your hope waning or being challenged?

Reflection: “There is a story of an old woman who went into a shop and asked for a quarter pound of tea. The grocer asked her what sort of tea she expected to get. She replied that she hoped for the best, but was prepared for the worst. This, of course, was not the virtue of hope.   
     Hope, the second of those spiritual powers in man which tends toward God, is a completely confident expectation; that sureness and certitude with which the awakened soul aims at God and rests in God.” (The House of the Soul by Evelyn Underhill)

Prayer

Closing Prayer: My hope is in the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.  In him alone will I trust.  Amen.


Friday, May 22, 2020

training against nothing

Opening Prayer: O Lord, if we want to live life with and for you, it will not just happen accidentally, we must be both purposeful and intentional.  We must learn how to train ourselves for the purpose of godliness.  Give us the strength and the grace and the courage to do so.  Amen.

Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:7

Journal: What does it meant to train yourself to be godly?  How are you currently doing that?  In what ways/areas are you not?  Why?  What is your biggest obstacle?

Reflection: You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, “I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked”. The Christians describe the Enemy as one “without whom Nothing is strong”

     And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man's best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off. (The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis)

Pray

Closing Prayer: Lord God, do not let us be led astray by the power of Nothing.  Instead, help us to train ourselves to be godly.  Help us to do whatever it takes every single day to make space and time for you to grow and shape and mold us more and more into your image.  Amen.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

peacemakers

Opening Prayer: O God of Peace, let my soul be so overcome and overwhelmed by your peace that it simply flows out of me to others.  For only then can I truly be a peacemaker.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 5:9

Journal: Where in your life are you being called to make peace?  What does that look like?

Reflection: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)  The word for peace in the Greek is eirēnē.  It means to join.  Thus, when we think of peacemaking, we think of people who are committed to the practice of joining people together, rather than allowing them to continue to live in division, dissention, hostility, or isolation.
     Peacemaking is not fight, or flight—although it might entail both of those at times—but something in between.  Peacemaking does not mean avoiding, denying, or trying to escape conflict.  Nor does it involve being argumentative, combative, or ultra-confrontational.  It is not about winning or defeating, but about joining and bringing together.
     When we commit ourselves to the practice of peacemaking, something beautiful happens.  We begin to look more and more like our Father—the God of peace (shalom).  That’s why peacemakers will become sons of God, for the process of joining and bringing people together will make us more and more like him.  

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Only those who know your peace, O God, can ever hope to extend your peace to others.  Make us both vessels and vehicles of your peace this day.  Amen.


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

mercy

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. 

Scripture: Matthew 5:7

Journal: How do you define mercy?  How are you in need of mercy?  How do you receive it?  How is your capacity to receive mercy tied to your ability to extend it?

Reflection: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)  I don’t know about you, but far too often I am critical rather than merciful.  And I hate that.  It’s just a knee-jerk reaction.  It’s like grabbing my elbow when something hits my funny bone.  And I’m not exactly sure how to go about changing it.
     I do have a desire to be merciful.  And I certainly want to receive mercy.  But the giving of it is a bit more difficult.  What does it take to make someone a merciful and compassionate person?  What has to go on deep in the heart and soul of a person, in order for the first impulse to be compassion rather than criticism, comparison, or competition?  Can I train myself to react mercifully?  Or do I need to immerse myself so deeply in God’s mercy that it just becomes a part of who I am?  It becomes what I bleed whenever I am cut.  Who knows?  Maybe it’s all of the above.  Maybe it’s not either/or, but both/and.  Whatever it takes, I have a suspicion that just sitting back and doing nothing is not the answer.
     Maybe it all starts with prayer.  Maybe it all starts with making the Jesus prayer my intimate companion.  “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  Maybe through something as simple as praying this prayer hundreds of times each day, mercy will begin to take root in me and flow out of me.  One can only hope.   
     O Lord Jesus, please make me more like you.  Have mercy on me, that I might have mercy on all who cross my path.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, please make me more like you.  Have mercy on me, that I might give mercy to others.