Thursday, November 30, 2017
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, October 20, 2017
Opening Prayer: Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:1-5, NIV)
Scripture: Psalm 32:1-5
Journal: What stirs within you as you read this Psalm? What is disturbed within you? What do you do with that? What might you need to acknowledge, uncover, or confess? Will you? The life of your soul depends upon it.
Reflection: Misunderstanding, then, on this point of known or conscious sin, opens the way for great dangers in the higher Christian life. When a believer, who has as he trusts entered upon the highway of holiness, finds himself surprised into sin, he is tempted either to be utterly discouraged, and to give everything up as lost; or else, in order to preserve the doctrine untouched, he feels it necessary to cover his sin up, calling it infirmity, and refusing to be honest and aboveboard about it. Either of these courses is equally fatal to any real growth and progress in the life of holiness. The only way is to face the sad fact at once, call the thing by its right name, and discover, if possible, the reason and the remedy. This life of union with God requires the utmost honesty with Him and with ourselves. The blessing which the sin itself would only momentarily disturb, is sure to be lost by any dishonest dealing with it. A sudden failure is no reason for being discouraged and giving up all as lost. Neither is the integrity of our doctrine touched by it. We are not preaching a state, but a walk. The highway of holiness is not a place, but a way. (The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith)
Closing Prayer: Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be—you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean. Count yourself lucky—God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him.
When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up.
Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.” Suddenly the pressure was gone—my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared. (Psalm 32:1-5, The Message)
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Opening Prayer: O God, I can’t hide from you. You see all of me. You see even the things I try to hide from everyone else. This hiding is lonely and shameful, O God, help me to come out into the open. Help me to confess and renounce anything and everything that keeps me from being all that you desire me to be. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Scripture: Proverbs 28:13
Journal: What are you hiding these days? How is it affecting your soul? How and when will you confess and renounce it?
I want to unfold
~Rainer Maria Rilke
Closing Prayer: You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them. (Proverbs 28:13, The Message)
Nowhere do I want to remain folded
Because where I am folded,
There I am a lie.
Monday, October 16, 2017
Opening Prayer: Open me up, O God, to the flow of your life and your Spirit within me. Help me to make space and time for you, that I might have room to flourish. Amen.
Scripture: Genesis 26:17-22
Journal: What is blocking the wells of your soul these days? What is stopping up the flow of the life of the Spirit within you? What would it look like to re-open those wells?
Reflection: The practice of confession is essential to the spiritual life. It is a practice that opens us up to the work and movement of God. It is a practice that brings life. Without confession we live in secrecy and shame. Secrets bring about the opposite of life. They close us off. They stop us up. They clog our wells. They dry up the flow of the Spirit within us.
Closing Prayer: Unclog my wells, O God. Open up the pathways of the Spirit within me, that your life and your power might flow in and through me unhindered. Amen.
In confession we are able to empty ourselves of shame and open ourselves to God, and to each other. Thus, confession—and forgiveness—is intended to bring freedom. It is the unburdening of ourselves to God. The practice of confession helps to reopen our stopped up wells and give us room to flourish.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Opening Prayer: Forgive us, O God, for we have sinned against you, both corporately and individually. Give us the courage to stand where we are and fully admit—and confess—our failures and our shortcomings and our refusals to love. For until we do that, we will never be able to move forward in our lives with you. Lord, have mercy on us! Amen.
Scripture: Nehemiah 9:1-3
Journal: What role does confession play in your life with God? How and when do you practice it? How does this passage speak to that?
Reflection: There are no two ways about it, confession is essential in our lives with God. And a significant part of confession, it seems, is the willingness to stand where we are. The people of Israel gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and having dust on their heads. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their fathers. They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God. They spent significant time in confession, and worshipped the Lord their God. All of this was essential in them moving forward in their journey. They didn’t live in the past, or try to skip over where they were by jumping ahead to the future. They simply stood where they were, confessed their sin, and worshipped their God. They didn’t hide, or avoid, or escape, or rationalize. They owned where they were and confessed, in order to be able to move forward. There’s a great chance that we will never be able to move forward in our lives with God until we have fully confessed—both corporately and individually—as well. But are we willing?
“We may trust God with our past as heartily as with our future. It will not hurt us so long as we do not try to hide things, so long as we are ready to bow our heads in hearty shame where it is fit we should be ashamed. For to be ashamed is a holy and blessed thing.” ~George MacDonald
Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Opening Prayer: Forgive me, O God, when I offer my affections to things that are not worthy of them. Forgive me when I set out in search of affirmation and attention from others, when you are the only true source of both. Set my affections, O my God, on you first, for only then will they be rightly ordered. Amen.
Scripture: Hosea 1:1-11, 3:1-3
Journal: What is the main target of your attention and affection these days? How do these verses speak to that? How will you my God your first and truest affection in the days ahead?
Reflection: We all, like Gomer, are guilty of leaving our One True Love for the company of less wild lovers. We all have prostituted ourselves. We have traded the Sacred Romance in for some cheap imitation that can never satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. But, even still, God never gives up on us. His love is undying and unfailing. He never ceases his relentless pursuit of us. His heart will simply not allow it. Even though I continually chase after the affirmation and attention of others, he continually chases after me. O God, thank you that you love me that much!
Closing Prayer: Forgive me, O God, when I run to others before I run to you. Forgive me when you are not the first object of all my affections. Forgive me when I try to make people think I’m awesome before I try to make them think you’re awesome. Be my first and truest affection this day. Amen.
Monday, October 9, 2017
Opening Prayer: Come to me you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Closing Prayer: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)
Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30
Journal: What yoke (or whose) are you wearing these days? What is the effect on your soul? What does it mean to take Jesus’ yoke upon you?
Reflection: What yoke are you wearing these days? It seems like a bit of an odd question, doesn't it? What the heck is a yoke anyway?
According to the dictionary, a yoke is a device for joining together a pair of draft animals, especially oxen, usually consisting of a crosspiece with two bow-shaped pieces, each enclosing the head of an animal. The Greek word used here is zygos, which comes from the root zeugnumi, meaning to join. So when Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon us, he is inviting us to join ourselves to him in some mysteriously intimate way. He is inviting us to do life with him in such a way that he bears the brunt of the burden, not us. Thus, the end result of us taking his yoke upon us is rest for our souls. It follows that if we are weary and burdened in our lives, we must be wearing a yoke other than that of Jesus. Someone or something has slipped in and put a load on us that we were never meant to bear.
So I ask again, what yoke are you wearing these days, and where did it come from? What burdens are you carrying? What load is upon you? Is it possible that you have taken on a yoke than is not meant for you? A load that only Jesus can carry?
An old legend goes that Jesus, being a the son of a carpenter, specialized in yokes. People would come from miles around because he was the best. He was the only one who could make a yoke that was perfectly fit for the animal that was to wear it. And he does the same with each of us. He has made a yoke that is perfectly fit for you and for me. Why would we wear anything else? But we do. We continually carry burdens that are not our own. We continually wear a yoke that was put upon us, either by ourselves, or by others, or by the world.
The yoke of this world says, "increase," but the yoke of Jesus says, "decrease." The yoke of the world says, "climb," but the yoke of Jesus says, "descend." The yoke of the world says, "make yourself something," but the yoke of Jesus says, "make yourself nothing." The world's yoke will exhaust you and wear you out, but the yoke of Jesus will renew and restore you to your true self. "My yoke fits perfectly," says Jesus, "because it was made for you. Wear my yoke, take it upon you, and you will find rest for your souls."