Thursday, August 31, 2017

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, August 16, 2017

jars of clay

Opening Prayer:
Dear Potter,
The lump of clay that I am
keeps crying for some form
day by day
I yearn for you to mold me.

This is a trust-song, Lord
I am in your hands like clay
I am ready to be transformed:

I expect
     to be molded
I expect
     to be beautiful
I expect
     to be loved.

And if by chance
someone should drop me
as your apprentices sometimes do,

I expect
     to be hurt.

I’m just trying to say
I have surrendered
     to your dream for me
I am in your hands
     like clay. 
Seasons of Your Heart by Macrina Wiederkehr

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

Journal: How aware are you of the treasure that lies within you?  How does that humble you?  How does it make you grateful?  

Reflection: The older I get, the more appropriate the words “treasure in jars of clay” have become, and I don’t just mean physically.  Oh sure, my body is indeed getting older and “wasting away” little by little, but what I am talking about is more on the inside.  Seeing the all-surpassing beauty of this priceless treasure sheds light on everything that is around it, and shows it all for what it really is.  I am amazed at how much angst and anxiety and fear and insecurity still dwells in my heart.  I thought by now I would have been past all of that.  But it seems that the older I get the more pronounced it has become, or the more noticeable, it is hard to say which.  
     Either way, it ends me up in the same place—both humble and grateful.  Humble at what a flawed and imperfect container I am, and grateful that God would somehow see fit to place himself within me.  As Evelyn Underhill once put it, I am “a created dwelling place or sanctuary of the uncreated and invisible Divine Life.”  Simply amazing.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Thank you, O God, that you have deposited the treasure of yourself in this old, broken jar of clay.

Monday, August 14, 2017

voices

Opening Prayer: Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.  Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. (Isaiah 55:2-3)

Scripture: Isaiah 55:1-3

Journal: What voices are loudest within you these days?  Do they give life to your soul of deplete your soul?  How will you listen and hear that your soul may live?

Reflection: I am full of voices.  So full in fact that it is often hard to discern one voice from another.  The voices of my anxieties, insecurities, and fears are loud and demand constant attention.  And to be honest, when I listen to them they completely drain and deplete my soul.
     God’s voice, on the other hand, is quiet and soft and nonintrusive.  It, by design, can only be heard when my soul is still and silent and at rest.  Which can make hearing it a bit of a challenge.  But when I am finally at a place, and in a space, where I can come to stillness and hear his voice, it has the direct opposite effect on my soul.  God’s voice produces life within me, and peace.  It nourishes and nurtures, it guides and directs, it creates joy and delight.
     My challenge, then, is to listen, listen to him and not allow the more obvious voices to overwhelm and control me.  My job is to give ear, come to him, and hear.  It is a process that will not just happen on its own.  It will not just fall on my head.  It means that I must be intentional.  I must make time and space to quiet all of the voices that negate life, and to listen the still, soft voice of God that nourishes and creates it.  The only question is: “How will I do that today?”

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord, teach me to listen.  The times are noisy and my ears are weary with the thousand raucous sounds which continuously assault them.  Give me the spirit of the boy Samuel when he said to Thee, “Speak, for thy servant heareth.”  Let me hear Thee speaking in my heart.  Let me get used to the sound of Thy voice, that its tones may be familiar when the sounds of earth die away and the only sound will be the music of Thy speaking voice.  Amen.  (The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

the slimy pit

Opening Prayer: I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3, NIV old)

Scripture: Psalm 40:1-8

Journal: What slimy pits do you regularly fall into in your life?  How do you try to battle your way out of those?  What does it look like to rely on God to lift you out of it and give you a firm place to stand?  What is the new song he has put in your mouth these days? 

Reflection: This life is absolutely full of slimy pits, and it seems I fall into the same ones over and over again.  I will be going along, living my life, minding my own business, and then suddenly something happens—a critical remark, a biting comment, a feeling of inadequacy, a disappointment, a failure, an opinion that is not valued or listened to, fear, anxiety, you name it—and there I am, at the bottom of the pit, stuck in the mud and mire once again.  It happens so fast at times that it can make your head spin.
     That’s when the wallowing begins.  The inner dialogue turns toward attack, defense, or self-contempt, and deeper and deeper into the mud and mire I go.  When am I ever going to learn where these pits are and how to avoid them?  And when am I ever going to learn that once I have fallen into one of them, I cannot get myself out if it?  I must turn to God.  I must allow the words of this ancient prayer to become my own.  Only God can lift me out.  Only God can set me on a rock.  Only God can give me a firm place to stand.  Only God can put a new song in my mouth.  Only he can replace those old, dysfunctional ways of being and seeing with new and beautiful ones.  Only he can give me hope that one day the slimy pit will not be my constant reality.  May that day be today!  Lord, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God. (Psalm 40:1-3, The Message)

Friday, August 11, 2017

help

Opening Prayer: Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.  You are my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:6-7)

Scripture: Psalm 32:6-7

Journal: Where do you go in times of trouble?  How has God been your hiding place?  How does he want to be your hiding place right now?  What does that look like?

Reflection: My Lord Jesus, I beseech you, do not be far from me, but come quickly and help me, for vain thoughts have risen in my heart and worldly fears have troubled me sorely.  How shall I break them down?  How shall I go unhurt without your help?
    Truly, this is my hope and my only comfort—to fly to you in every trouble, to trust steadfastly in you, to call inwardly upon you, and to abide patiently your coming and your heavenly consolations which, I trust, will quickly come to me. ~Thomas à Kempis

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Every one of us needs to pray; when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts we’ll be on high ground, untouched. God’s my island hideaway, keeps danger far from the shore, throws garlands of hosannas around my neck. (Psalm 32:6-7, The Message)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

mess

Opening Prayer: Confirm me, Lord, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and give me grace to be strong inwardly in soul and to cast out from it all unprofitable business of the world and of the flesh, that it may not be led by unstable desires of earthly things. . . .
    Therefore, O Lord, give me true heavenly wisdom, that I may learn to seek you and to find you, and above all things to love you, and to understand and know all other things as they are, after the direction of your wisdom, and not otherwise. ~Thomas à Kempis

Scripture: Psalm 16:1-11

Journal: What is the state of your soul these days?  What is affecting it most?  How will you seek God in that?

Reflection: Oh to have the grace to be strong inwardly in my soul, and to be led not by the unstable desires of my flesh; what a joy that would be.  Instead, it is my constant battle.  In fact, the older I get, the more I realize what a mess I really am.  In my younger days I had a much higher opinion of myself.  Funny how time has a tendency to reveal the truth about things.  With age comes wisdom (not that I have much of that, wisdom I mean).  Wisdom to see things as they are, not through the world's eyes but through God's.  In my thirties, I had a hard time truly believing the words of the ancient prayer: "Apart from you I have no good thing." (Psalm 16:2).  I was full of myself. I thought I had a lot to offer this poor old world.  But sitting in my place of prayer this morning, at 57, I have no trouble believing the words of Psalm 16:2 at all.  Apart from God I am a total and complete mess.  But I think that realization is a really good thing.  It is that realization that causes me to recognize my great need for God.  It is that realization that leads me to seek him. And seeking him is what this life is all about.  Thanks be to God!

Prayer

Closing Prayer: O Lord, you know what a mess I am apart from you; please save me from myself.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

hearing god

Opening Prayer: Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:4-5)

Scripture: Proverbs 3:5-6

Journal: How, or in what circumstances, are you trying to discern God voice these days?  How will you know when he has answered?

Reflection: How are we to know, or find out, what the Will of God is?  I do not think that any general answer can be given to this.  In clear moral or political issues, we must surely judge and act by the great truths and demands of Christianity; and if we have the pluck to do this, then, as we act, more and more we shall perceive the direction of the Will.  That choice, cause, or action, which is least tainted by self-interest, which makes for the increase of happiness—health—beauty—peace—cleanses and harmonizes life, must always be in accordance with the Will of the Spirit which is drawing life towards ultimate perfection.  The difficulty comes when there is a conflict of loyalties, or a choice between two apparent goods.  At such points many people feel unaware of any guidance, unable to discern or understand the signals of God; not because the signals are not given, but because the mind is too troubled, clouded and hurried to receive them.  “He who is in a hurry,” said St. Vincent de Paul, “delays the things of God.”  But when those who are at least attempting to live the life of the Spirit, and have consequently become more or less sensitive to its movements to have no clear light, they will often become aware, if they will wait in quietness, of a subtle yet insistent pressure in favor of the path which they should take.  The early Friends were accustomed to trust implicitly in indications of this kind, and were usually justified.  When there is no such pressure, then our conduct should be decided by charity and common sense; qualities which are given to us by God in order that they may be used. (The Spiritual Life by Evelyn Underhill) 

Prayer

Closing Prayer: You, O Lord, will make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)