Tuesday, December 31, 2019

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.


Thursday, October 31, 2019

Just Released





















Hello friends.  Thought you would want to know that my new book Teach Us to Pray was just released on Amazon.  Tell your friends!

Monday, October 14, 2019

find rest

Opening Prayer: Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 62:5-6, NIV)

Scriptures: Psalm 62:5-8

Journal:  What do you typically try to find rest in?  How well is that working for you?

Reflection: Find rest, O my soul, in God alone.  He alone is the only source of true rest.  Do not try to find it in your own ability to manage, control, or manipulate.  You will never find it in performance or achievement or affirmation; not in what others think or say about you.  True rest is much bigger than what pleasant circumstances or convenience or ease have to offer.  It cannot be gained through hiding or placating or just trying to get along.  It cannot be arrived at through avoidance or denial or escape.  It cannot be obtained through indulgence or pleasure or gratification.  None of these things offer the rest your soul most deeply longs for—that comes from God alone.  So find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.

Prayer

Closing Prayer:  You alone offer rest for my soul, O God.  May I always find my rest in you.  Amen.


Friday, October 11, 2019

i am

Opening Prayer: Help me to always remember, O Lord, that this life is not about me, but about you.  Forgive me when I get that backwards.  Amen.

Scripture: Exodus 3:1-15

Journal: How can you relate to Moses in this passage?  Where and how are you asking the question, “Who am I?”  What is God’s response?

Reflection: “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)  It’s a fair question, right?  After all, it’s a huge mission.  Moses had to be thinking: “Wouldn’t there be someone better, someone more qualified than I am to accomplish such an undertaking?  I mean, who I am that I should go and do such a thing?”
     But Moses was asking the wrong question.  You can see it in God’s response.  He didn’t tell Moses who Moses was, he told Moses who God was: “I will be with you.”  The question was not about Moses’ level of competence to perform such a daunting mission, it was about God’s.  Moses was being asked to not trust in himself, but to trust in his God.  
     “Don’t worry about who you are,” God seems to be saying.  “It’s who I AM that counts.  This life is not about you, but about me.  This mission is not about who you are, but about who I AM.”  And when we are finally able to get that straight, everything else kind of falls into place.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: 
My Beloved,

Always remember that this life is not about who you are, but about who I AM. 

Love, 
Abba

Thursday, October 10, 2019

be careful

Opening Prayer: I love you, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer: my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. (Psalm 18:1-3, NIV)

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:12

Journal:  What ways are you most susceptible to falling?  How are careful so that you don’t?  Are you more apt to overestimate your own strength, or underestimate the strength of your opponent?  How do you typically try to protect yourself from the attacks of the enemy?

Reflection: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Cor. 10:12)  Sound advice, right?  After all, isn’t it the moments when we don’t think we can fall, when we are actually the most susceptible?  Those moments when we let our guard down because we either overestimate ourselves or underestimate our opponent—both of which can lead to disaster.
     I’ll be the first to admit that there are many times in my life where I think, “I got this,” only to find out that I really don’t.  But there are even more moments in my life when I don’t give my opponent the credit he deserves.  In fact, quite often I do not even recognize that I have an opponent.  I think that all that is going on within or around me is something that I’m coming up with all on my own.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, when I think that way I am playing right into his hands.  The best way for my opponent to defeat me is to convince me that he doesn’t even exist.  Then he can go about his business without any notice or resistance.
     The truth is that we do have an opponent.  Or, more accurately, we have an enemy.  The Enemy.  The devil himself, whose sole purpose is to defeat and destroy us.  His main weapons are lies and deception.  He wants us to believe things—about ourselves, our world, and our God—that simply aren’t true.  He whispers to us a story that we actually believe is one of our own making.  A story in which we are the main characters and all of life revolves around us.  A story in which we are on our own and must take care of ourselves, because no one else will.  No one else really cares.  He whispers to us a story about a God whose heart cannot be trusted, a God who is not good.  And then he encourages us to interpret the events and happenings and hardships of our lives in such a way that it only increases our deepest fears, doubts, and suspicions.  All without ever recognizing or acknowledging that he is the source of these lies.  Thus, every encounter and interaction, every harsh word or hurtful comment just adds fuel to the fire.  We recognize that we have fallen, that our lives are a total mess, we just have no idea how we got there, or how to get back up.  But this fall didn’t just happen.  We were actually led there, without our knowing it.  That is the craftiness and brilliance of our opponent.
     But our God is even more brilliant.  In fact, he (Jesus) is the way and the truth and the life.  And the truth, once we recognize it and believe it, is always the way back to freedom.  For Jesus tells us a totally different story.  He tells us the real story—the true narrative.  He tells us who we really are, and how life was really meant to work, and what God is really like.  Jesus is the only firm place to set our feet.  So let us all be careful to stand firm in him today, lest we fall.    

Prayer

Closing Prayer: To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.  Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.  (Psalm 25:1-2, NIV)

Monday, October 7, 2019

help

Opening Prayer: The Lord is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though the waters roar and foam and the mountain quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3, NIV)

Scripture: Psalm 46:1-3

Journal: What does it mean to rely totally on God as your help?  How do your efforts to help yourself get in the way of that?  What would total surrender to him look like?

Reflection: “The Lord is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1, NIV)  As long as we keep trying to do it ourselves—even just a little bit—we will continue to get in the way of what God wants to do in and through us.  It’s not until we come to the end of ourselves, until we get to the point of total surrender, that we are out of the way enough to offer him the time and space he requires to move and to act.  Finally waving the white flag is a necessary act if we ever want God to be the one to lead and guide—and help.  He typically doesn’t step in while we are still trying to help ourselves. 
     I guess that’s why Eugene Peterson translates the first Beatitude (in Matthew 5:3) as: “You are blessed when you get to the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” (The Message) Or as a wise saint said many, many years ago: “So long as you hold on to even a little hope of achieving something by your own powers, the Lord does not interfere.  It is as though he says: ‘You hope to succeed by yourself—Very well, go on trying!  But however long you try you will achieve nothing.’”  
     There is no such this as letting go half way.  It is all or nothing.  When will we ever learn?

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Forgive me, O Lord, for continually trying to do it on my own.  Forgive me for my refusal to fully let go of control—as if I ever had it to begin with—and totally surrender to your love and care.  Help me to fully trust in you, no matter how scary that might be.  Lord, help!  Amen.


Sunday, September 29, 2019

God is enough

Opening Prayer: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)

Scripture: Philippians 4:11-12

Journal: Is God enough for you?  What does it do in you when you truly believe that he is?  What does it do in you when you don’t truly believe it?  Where are you in that journey right now?

Reflection: I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether I am well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11-12, NIV)
     God is enough.  He is everything we need.  Evidently Paul learned this, although it probably didn’t come easy.  Paul knew that circumstances didn’t determine his life, but God did.  And if God determines everything about our lives, then we don’t need circumstances to be pleasant, convenient, comfortable, or favorable.  That’s how Paul could write, “I have learned the secret of being content whatever the circumstances.”  The Greek word used here (in Phil. 4:11) is autark─ôs, which means sufficient or enough.  Thus, we are only able to be truly content when we really believe that God is enough.  
     Unfortunately, we don’t always fully believe that.  In fact, sometimes we don’t even believe it a little bit.  And it has an enormous impact on how we live our lives.  If we do not really believe that God is enough, then we have to turn to ourselves, or to others, to fill in the gaps.  That’s where it gets really ugly.  We become anxious and angry and frustrated, or depressed and driven and demanding.  We become the very worst version of ourselves.  
     But if we can ever get to the point where we truly believe that God is enough, then we can rest in his enough-ness.  His enough-ness, and not that of ourselves or our circumstances, allows us to truly trust in him.  If God is really enough, then we don’t have to be.  And we do not have to demand that others be enough for us.  In fact, it frees us up to be able to love them, rather than manipulate love out of them.  If God is enough, then whatever others have to offer us—if anything—is enough because we are not depending on them for our sense of well-being.  If God is enough, then we have enough—however much or little that may be.  And if God is enough, then we are enough in him.  It is his love alone that determines our value and our worth.  We do not have to jockey and posture and perform for everyone.  Our identity is securely rooted in him; it is not tied to what we do, what we have, or how we look.  
     So I pray that, this very day, we will all get to know God’s enough-ness.  For until we get to know him, really know him, we never will know how enough he really is.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: God, my shepherd!  I don’t need a thing. (Psalm 23:1, The Message)