Monday, February 29, 2016

wait

Monday, February 29

Opening Prayer: Blessed Father!  We humbly beseech Thee, let none that wait on Thee be ashamed; no, not one.  Some are weary, and the time of waiting appears long.  And some are feeble, and scarcely know how to wait.  And some are so entangled in the effort of their prayers and their work, they think that they can find no time to wait continually.  Father, teach us how to wait.  Teach us to think of thee, the God of all waiting ones.  Father!  Let none that wait on Thee be ashamed.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen. (Waiting on God by Andrew Murray)

Scripture: Psalm 25:1-5

Journal: What does it mean to wait for God?  What does it mean in your life and journey right now?  Where is God asking you to wait for him?  Where is he requiring you to wait for him?  How do you feel about that?

Reflection:
 
     I read  a book recently called Waiting on God by Andrew Murray and it has really challenged me and opened me up to consider (to a much deeper degree) what it means to wait on God, as well as what that looks like in life and in ministry.  It is not something that comes naturally at all.  In fact, it is pretty counter-intuitive for most of us.  And, if we are really honest, it is something that we are not very good at. 
     I guess the reason for this struggle is that waiting on God puts us in a very vulnerable and powerless place.  It causes us to admit that, in the end, we can neither produce nor manufacture anything of eternal value.  That work is solely up to God.  We are at his mercy, both for ourselves and our friends.  I mean, obviously there are things we are given to do.  There is space that must be made for God, in order to make something coming alive within us more of a possibility, so I'm not talking about just sitting on our hands. 
     But then again, neither are the Scriptures when they call us to wait on God.  What they are calling us to is a particular posture, a way of being and of seeing, if you will.  When the Scriptures call us to wait on God they are calling on us to totally surrender to him, to completely trust in him, to wholly rely on him, and not ourselves.  It is a posture, and a way of being, that takes a significant amount of courage and resolve because fear would have us spring into action and trust in our own gifts and efforts.  Waiting on God calls us to refrain from that reliance on self and to begin to truly rely only on him, and his grace and his power.  Waiting on God means that our first movement always must be towards him in prayer and dependence, rather than towards others in pride and arrogance, or in desperation and need.  I have a suspicion that if we ever learn what it really means to do this—to truly wait on God—it will change everything. 
 
 
Prayer

Closing Prayer: O God, give me the strength and the courage and the trust necessary to truly wait on you. Help me discover what it means to wait for your salvation in my life and in my ministry.  Show me what that looks like.  Keep me, O God, from the temptation of trying to manufacture or produce something that only you can bring about.  I cannot do it on my own, no matter how hard I try; and no matter how much I might believe in my heart of hearts that I really can (or should be able to).  There can be no good, O God, other than what you bring into being.  So give me a heart filled with faith in your working, not my own.  In the name of Jesus I pray.  Amen. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

live

Sunday, February 28

Opening Prayer: Today, O Lord—let me put right before interest: let me put others before self: let me put things of the Spirit before the things of the body: Let me put the attainment of noble ends before the enjoyment of present pleasures: let me put principle above reputation: let me put you before all else.  Amen. (A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie)

Scripture: 2 Peter 3:11-12

Journal: What is the life you most deeply want to live?  What is the life God most deeply wants to live in and through you?  How do those compare to the life you are currently living?  Why?

Reflection:
 
In view of the fact that all these things are to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be? Surely men of good and holy character, who live expecting and earnestly longing for the coming of the day of God. (2 Peter 3:11-12, JBP)

     "In view of these things, what kind of people ought we to be?"  What a great question.  Since everything we see will one day be destroyed, what kind of life do we want Jesus to find us living when he returns?  Let your heart and mind—and soul—run with that one for a while.  What is the life you most deeply long to live?  The life that makes you the best version of who you were dreamt to be.  And notice that is says what kind of people ought we to be, rather than what kinds of things ought we to do.  It is a question aimed at our depths, not at our surface.
     The first words that come to mind for me are: passionate, loving, peaceful, selfless, and diligent.  And after looking at my list I guess I could've just written down the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 and been done with it.  But these are the first things that bubble to the surface of my heart and soul. 
     First, I want to live passionately.  I want my passion for Jesus, and my passion for his kingdom, to be the thing that determines the content of my days and the quality of my life.  I want to live with an excitement, anticipation, and intensity about my life with him and for him, instead of living with a constant sense of frustration (which is most often directed at myself). 
     Next, I want to be loving.  I want love to be the thing that compels me, the way Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 5:14.  I don't want to be motivated and controlled and compelled by a constant sense of fear, or anxiety, or insecurity, or self-centeredness.  I do not want to be self-consumed, I want to be God-consumed. 
     I also want to live a life of peace, and be a person of peace.  I want to have a constant sense of harmony within myself, not disharmony or discord.  I want to be whole, and to seek wholeness in my own heart and soul, as well as in my life and in my relationships.  I do not want to be contentious, or insecure, or competitive. Instead, I want to have the same heart as Jesus, a heart that frees me to be compassionate and caring. 
     And finally, I want to be diligent.  I do not want to be lethargic, or lackadaisical, or lukewarm, or passive, or lazy in my faith, in my life, in my marriage, in my family, in my vocation, or in my relationships with others.  I want to be intentional and engaged on a regular basis, and that takes work.
     So how in the world can I be all of those things?  How do I become the man I long to be?  I guess I could just try real hard.  But if you are like me you've been down that road before, and it is a dead end street.  In a matter of days or weeks—or in some cases hours or minutes—you end up right back where you were before: frustrated, defeated, and disheartened.  The problem is that we can't behave ourselves into holiness, we can only be captured into holiness.  Therefore, the first (and maybe only) step in the process of transformation is to be totally and completely captured by the great affection of our God, to be pulled into this life of delight rather than somehow trying to push ourselves into it through guilt or shame.  We have to make time and space to be with God, to listen to his whispers of delight, to sense the fullness of his embrace, and to be captured by the wild passion of his love.  That is how transformation happens.  That is how we become the men and women he intended us to be.  Let us take a step—no matter how small of how large—in that direction this very day. 
Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to make time and space in my life today to be captured by the power of your great affection.  For only then do I have any hope of being the man you long for me to be.  Amen. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

temptation, saturday

Saturday, February 27

Opening Prayer: My God, my Father, when I consider your greatness and your goodness, when my heart is bowed in adoration before the Holy One who inhabits eternity, my spirits sink as I remember that your thoughts have not been my thoughts and your ways have not been my ways.  I have fallen far short of your glory.  I have not been what I might have been; I have no done what I might have done.  Have mercy on me, according to your loving-kindness in Christ Jesus, or Lord.  In His Name.  Amen. (Daily Prayer Companion by Hebert Welch)

Scripture: Hebrews 4:14-16

Journal: How does it help you to know that Jesus is our Great High Priest?  How does it help you to know that Jesus in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin?  Does that give you confidence to draw near to the throne of grace today?

Reflection:
 
Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. ~The Message

Prayer

Closing Prayer: We give thanks unto you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, that you have this day so graciously protected us; and we beseech you to forgive us all our sins, and by your great mercy defend us from all the perils and dangers of this night. ~Lutheran Service Book

Friday, February 26, 2016

temptation, friday

Friday, February 26

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you partook of the same things we struggle with.  Therefore, you are able to understand and come to our aid in the midst of temptation in a way that you would not otherwise be able to.  Thanks that you were willing to go there, so that you might be able to offer us help and hope in our time of need.  Amen.

Scripture: Hebrews 2:14-18

Journal: How does it help you to know that Jesus partook of the same things that we struggle with?  What does that do within you?  What does it do for you?

Reflection:
 
     Christian life is to be throughout a warfare; and that especially when seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, we are to wrestle against spiritual enemies there, whose power and skill to tempt us must doubtless be far superior to any we have ever heretofore encountered.  As a fact, temptations generally increase in strength tenfold after we have entered into the interior life, rather than decrease.  And no amount or sort of them must ever for a moment lead us to suppose we have not really found the true abiding place.  Strong temptations are generally a sign of great grace, rather than little grace. (The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith)

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us in our struggle against sin and temptation this day.  Deliver us from their effects by your power and might.  Amen.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

temptation, thursday

Thursday, February 25

Opening Prayer: O Lord, our God, is anything too hard for you?  Is anything too difficult for you to accomplish?  Is anything too broken for you to make whole?  Is anything too lost for you to redeem?  Give us complete trust, O Sovereign Lord, in your awesome power and in your extravagant love.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:13

Journal: What is the most significant ongoing temptation in your spiritual life these days?  How has God helped you in the midst of that?

Reflection:
 
     We must not, therefore, despair when we are tempted but pray to God with so much more fervor, that he may vouchsafe to help us in all tribulations, who, no doubt, according to the saying of St. Paul, will “make such issue with the temptation, that we may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
     Let us, therefore, humble our souls under the hand of God in all temptations and tribulations, for the humble in spirit He will save and exalt. (Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis)

Prayer

Closing Prayer: God unto whom all hearts are open and unto whom every will speaks, and from whom no secret thing is hidden, I pray You cleanse the intent of my heart with the ineffable gift of Your grace, that I may perfectly love You, and worthily praise You.  Amen. ~The Cloud of the Unknowing

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

temptation, wednesday

Wednesday, February 24

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive us when we succumb to the temptation to take the easy way out, to try to come to you yet avoid the high cost you being fully yours.  Forgive us when we worship and serve the things of this world rather than the One who made them.  Help us, O Lord, at all times and in all ways, to worship you and you alone.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 4:8-11

Journal: Who or what are you really worshipping these days?  How can you tell?  What are you truly pursuing in life these days?  What is getting the majority of your time and energy?  What does that tell you?

Reflection:
 
     Why should I want to be rich, when You were poor?  Why should I desire to be famous and powerful in the eyes of men, when the sons of those who exalted the false prophets and stoned the true rejected You and nailed You to the Cross?  Why should I cherish in my heart a hope that devours me—the hope for perfect happiness in this life—when such hope, doomed to frustration, is nothing but despair?
     My hope is in what eye has never seen.  Therefore, let me not trust in visible rewards.  My hope is in what the heart of man cannot feel.  Therefore, let me not trust in the feelings of the heart.  My hope is in what the hand of man has never touched.  Do not let me trust what I can grasp between my fingers.  Death will loosen my grasp and my vain hope will be gone.
     Let my trust be in Your mercy, not myself.  Let my hope be in Your love, not in health, or strength, or ability, or human resources. (Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton)

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Let my trust, O Lord, be in Your mercy, not myself.  Let my hope be in Your love, not in health, or strength, or ability, or human resources.  Help me to worship You, O lord, and You alone.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

temptation, tuesday

Tuesday, February 23

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to recognize the voice of temptation in our lives, no matter how subtle it may be.  And give us the wisdom and the strength to stand in the power of your Word and your Spirit against the lies of the enemy.  In your name and by your power we pray.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 4:5-7

Journal: Where do you have a spirit of demandingness?  What is it doing within you?  How are you putting God to the test these days, the same way the Israelites did at Massah?  How are the words of Jesus for you today?

Reflection:
 
     I wonder if the second temptation that confronted Jesus in the desert had to do with something I like to call demandingness.  The backstory here is that the Israelites had put the Lord their God to the test at Massah (Exodus 17:3)—and not in a positive way I might add.  In fact, the way they put him to the test at Massah is referred to numerous times in the scriptures as something not to do.  They were thirsty and demanded that God provide for them.  And not only did they demand it, but they also quarreled and tested and grumbled.  It was not a pretty sight.  They had a particular idea of how and when God should show up for them, and they didn't mind telling him about it.  In fact, we are told that God disliked their attitude so much that he actually named the place where this this event occurred Massah (testing) and Meribah (quarreling), so that anytime the encounter was remembered this particular attitude would be on display (Exodus 17:7).  It seems that a spirit of demandingness is something that God doesn't take kindly to. 
     So what in the world does that have to do with the second temptation presented to Jesus in the desert?  Well, it would seem that this testing of God is at the root of this temptation as well.  It is the temptation to try and force God’s hand, to make him act as we please.  "Throw yourself off the temple and force God's hand," he seems to be saying.  "Make him operate by your agenda.  Force him to intervene on your behalf."  But, once again, Jesus knew better.  "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test," he replied, quoting Deuteronomy 6:16.  But he didn't finish the quote, which continues, "...as you did at Massah."  That is, when you quarreled and tested and grumbled.  Jesus obviously knew God's heart.  He knew that an attitude of demandingness and manipulation were two things that God would not stand for.  So Jesus would have none of it.  He entrusted himself completely to God's care and God's agenda.
     How does this temptation play out for us?  I guess the truth is that it plays out a little differently for each of us.  In order to see the way it plays out for you, ask yourself, "What do I do when things don't go my way?  What do I do when I experience suffering, pain, or disappointment?  How do I deal with it?  What does it do in me?  Do I get angry, or blame, or accuse?  Do I try harder, or perform, or try to butter God up?  Or do I quarrel and test and grumble?"  I don't know about you, but I tend to do all of the above.  All in a feeble attempt to get my way, to get God to act the way I want him to.  And when our feelings are hurt, or our demands are unmet, or we are disappointed that things aren't going the way we had dreamed or planned or hoped, we immediately ask why.  We immediately accuse God of mismanagement.  We begin to doubt the goodness of God's heart.  Which, in turn, causes us to turn on him just like the Israelites did.  We grumble and complain and quarrel, or we sulk and whine and pout.  We withdraw.  We distance ourselves from God.  Oh it can be very subtle, but it is still there.  And it can even appear to us as if God is the one who is absent, but we are in fact the ones who have moved.  And until the root issues of our disappointment are identified, exposed, and wrestled with, there can never be any hope for the intimacy with God that we most deeply long for.
     So help us, Lord Jesus.  Help us to see this temptation for what it is.  Help us to be attentive to all of the ways we are tempted to believe that you do not really care for us.  Help us to recognize the ways in which we are demanding and manipulative of you.  Give us the grace and the strength and the wisdom to respond to these temptations as you did.  Lord, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.  Amen.

Prayers

Closing Prayer: Help us, Lord Jesus.  Help us to see temptation for what it is.  Help us to be attentive to all of the ways we are tempted to believe that you do not really care for us.  Help us to recognize the ways in which we are demanding and manipulative of you.  Give us the grace and the strength and the wisdom to respond to these temptations as you did.  Lord, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.  Amen.

Monday, February 22, 2016

temptation, monday

Monday, February 22

Opening Prayer: Lead us not into temptation, O Lord, but deliver us from evil.  For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.
 
Scripture: Matthew 4:1-4

Journal: What do you try to feed on other than God?

Reflection:
 
     One of the first temptations we come across in this life of faith, it seems, is the temptation to feed ourselves.  Or, more specifically, the temptation to feed on something that was never intended to be food in the first place.  I don’t know about you, but I tend to feed on so many things other than Jesus, so many things that were never intended to be the food my soul most deeply longs for.  For instance, I feed on affirmation, I feed on achievement, I feed on attention, I feed on applause, I feed on reputation; the list just goes on and on. 
     God desires me to feed only on him, for then, and only then, will I be able to love those he has called me to love without feeding on them.  Therefore, when I am hungry in the depths of my soul; when I am starving to be loved, or to be cared for, or to be noticed, or to be affirmed, I really need to be careful.  The enemy is very subtle, and before I know it, I will stop feeding on Jesus and start feeding on the very people Jesus has called me to feed.  And the kicker is that I might never know the difference until it's almost too late; until my soul is near death, until I am starving for the bread I was truly created to eat (see John 6:48-51), and until those that I have been called to feed have been devoured and have also devoured me in the process, in one gigantic dysfunctional feeding frenzy.
     "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread."  Or, in others words, "Make something food that was never intended to be food.  Take matters into your own hands.  Feed yourself.  Be self-sufficient.  After all, you're hungry.  You've got a right to care for your own needs."  It is a familiar mindset in our world.  One that is even applauded and held up as an inspiration and an example of character and strength. 
     But Jesus knew better.  “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” he replied.  And a beautiful reply it is.  Almost as if to say, "I will feed on nothing, or no one, other than God.  It is on him alone that I will feed."  O Lord Jesus, Bread of Life, help us to feed on you and you alone.  For man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: O Lord Jesus, Bread of Life, help us to feed on you and you alone.  For man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

temptation, sunday

Sunday, February 21

Opening Prayer: Lord God, our heavenly Father, may we always remember that we are your Beloved children, and may that knowledge give us the strength and the power and the encouragement we need to be victorious over temptation.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 3:13-4:1

Journal: What words did God want ringing in the ears of his Son as he spent forty days in the desert being tempted by the devil?  Why do you think God gave Jesus those particular words?  How do those same words help you to fight temptation in your own life?

Reflection:
 
     Don’t you just love the fact that the words the Father wanted ringing in the ears of his Son as he battled temptation in the wilderness were, “You are my son, whom I love.  With you I am well pleased.”  Obviously God knew that one of the chief strategies of the enemy is to try to make us doubt who we really are.  In fact, that’s how the devil begins his first two temptations: “If you really are God’s son…”  For he knows that if he can forge any doubt at all in our hearts, he has begun to develop a foothold.  But not with Jesus, the Father took care of that well in advance.  Jesus knew to his core that he was the Beloved Son of the Father, and it was the bread he fed on for forty days and forty nights in the desert.  Those words nourished and sustained his soul.
     I don’t know about you, but that is the place I am often attacked as well.  It is a very vulnerable area for me.  You see, I have trouble believing that God could ever really love somebody like me, so it doesn’t take much of an attack to allow doubt to creep into my heart and mind.  That’s why I need to constantly be attentive to the voice of the father as well.   Unfortunately, I don’t remember quite as well as Jesus did who I really am as the Beloved child of the Father.  I need constant reminders.  For when I am able to really believe it is true and to fully trust who I really am to (and in) God, I have strength and courage to face the temptations of the day.

Prayer

Closing Prayer:  Help me, Lord Jesus, to remember who I really am today; and to believe it.  Amen.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

all, saturday

Saturday, February 20

Opening Prayer: I feel your love as you hold me to your sacred heart, my beloved Jesus, my God, my Master, but I feel, too, the need I have of your tenderness, and your caress because of my infinite weakness. ~Charles de Foucauld

Scripture: Mark 12:29-31

Journal: What is your response to the Scriptures today?  What comes alive in you?  What is disrupted within you?  What will it look like for you to love Him today?

Reflection:
 
     Before anything, love Me.  Just love Me, it's as simple as that.  In fact, that is the one thing I really want from you, your love.  And I want all of it.  I want you to love me with everything you've got; all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Every bit of you.  And I want you to love me for Me, not for the sake of anyone, or anything else.  I must be the end, and not just a means to some other end.  So love me because that's what I made you to do.  And when you do what I have made you to do, you will know joy and fullness like you have never known it before.  Then, and only then, will you be able to truly love others; for then you will be free from needing them to come through for you in some strangely dependent way.  This freedom from needing them will allow you to truly love them, rather than to try and manipulate love out of them.  For this second love can only be a reflection of the first.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Almighty God, my Father, I call upon you and request of you that your love may be found in me your servant.  I know not how to love as I ought; but you who are Love can reveal it unto me.  Show me the way to Love.  Amen. (Disciplines for the Inner Life by Bob Benson and Michael W. Benson)

Friday, February 19, 2016

all, friday

Friday, February 19

Opening Prayer: Lord, I am yours; I do yield myself up entirely to you, and I believe that you do take me.  I leave myself with you.  Work in me all the good pleasure of your will, and I will only lie still in your hands and trust you.  Amen. (The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith)

Scripture: Mark 10:21

Journal: What is the one thing you lack?

Reflection:
 
     There is a created order to all things; an intentional design.  When that created order is followed, life is the result.  But whenever that created order is not adhered to, there is chaos.  That's why Jesus, when he was asked by "an expert in the law" in Matthew 22 which commandment was the greatest, immediately responds (from Deuteronomy 6:5): "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."  For there is even—and most particularly—a created order to our "loves."  For unless we love God with all of our being first, we can never truly love anyone or anything else with the love that we were created to love them with.  As Henri Nouwen put it years ago, "The second love, can only be a reflection of the first."  Therefore when we love something or someone more than we love God, we have gone against the created order, which produces all kinds of disorder and chaos.  The saints and the poets knew this well and have discussed it in detail through the ages.  In fact, centuries ago Ignatius spoke of this very phenomenon when he used the term disordered affections.
     I actually think that's what Jesus was getting at when he was talking to the rich young ruler.  He looked at him and loved him because He realized that the real issue was that this young man's affections were disordered, and Jesus wanted so much more for him than that.  That's why He tells him that there's still one thing he lacks.  One thing.  It is the same one thing that Martha lacked (in Luke 10).  That one thing was making Jesus his one thing.  That one thing was having Jesus as his first and truest affection.  For if Jesus is our first and truest affection, then the other things (or the many things in the case of Luke 10:41) of this life seem to fall in order behind that.  Our lives become centered on and rooted in the love of Jesus.
     Unfortunately disordered affections can be a very difficult thing to recognize.  Because the things that end up occupying most of our time and energy (which is a very good way to tell what's really in the center of our lives) are often very good things: jobwork, accomplishments, reputation, service, ministry, achievements, hobbies, exercise, even family activities.  But Jesus was pretty direct in saying that when anything takes precedence over our affection for him (one thing), we have made that thing the center of our lives—a spot that was designed only for him to occupy.  So the questions I am left to answer regularly are: What occupies most of my time and energy and focus these days?  What is my one thing right now?  And what does it really look like to hold Jesus as my first and truest affection?  The answer to these questions can give me a pretty good idea about whether my life, and my affections, are properly ordered.
Prayer

Closing Prayer: Jesus, be my one thing.  Today and every day.  Amen.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

all, thursday

Thursday, February 18

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, when you call us to follow you, you do not give us the discretion to pick and choose when that is convenient or comfortable.  In fact, you often lead us to places that we would rather not go.  Give us the strength and the faith and courage to follow you, all the way, wherever you may lead us.  Amen. 

Scripture: John 21:17-19

Journal: Where is God leading you to a place you would rather not go these days?

Reflection:
 
     Feed my sheep.  Stretch out your hands.  Follow me.  That is what our lives are to be about: minister, surrender, and follow.  That's it.  It's not very complicated.  But obviously we do complicate it.  Maybe that's because our regular default mode is not to minister, surrender, and follow, but to feed ourselves, desperately try to control our world, and set our own agenda.  We are not much for that whole led to where you do not want to go thing.  But I guess that's where we have to be reminded that this life is not about us, but about him.  It was a lesson the first disciples had to learn over and over again.  And it is the simple truth that Jesus was trying to teach Simon Peter in John 21, "You only truly love me when this is what your life looks like.  Otherwise, you are just loving yourself in a clever disguise.” 

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess.  Thou hast given all to me.  To Thee, O Lord, I return it.   All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this is sufficient for me. ~Ignatius of Loyola

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

all, wednesday

Wednesday, February 17

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to realize that it makes your heart glad when we give you all we have to give—no matter what that might be.  Give us the strength and the courage to give you all of our love, all of our affection, all of our attention, all of our possessions, as well as all of our time and energy.  You gave it to us, the least we could do is give it all back to you.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 12:41-44

Journal: What is God asking of you today?  How is he asking you to be like the widow?

Reflection:
 
     Turn and look at the pattern of life of the normal, ordinarily resourceful human being.  As I look at my life, I see a wide variety of scattered loyalties, scattered and splintered devotions.  Some basis of order, of integration, does govern my experience, but it is likely to be a secondary principle, rather than a primary one.  A man’s principle of integration around which the details of his life move in constellations, may be his work, his vocation.  Or it may be something less significant, his golf, his neurosis.  Every human being has a series of little centers of integration in his life that express themselves perhaps in simple habits, simple etiquettes with reference to things that are of no basic or perhaps no ultimate consequence.  Have you ever seen someone whose whole life became disorganized for the day because the breakfast coffee was cold?  That’s what I mean.
    Instead of all this absorption with detail, Jesus insists upon an absolute loyalty to God.  The questions which he raises about our pattern of life are these: “Do you dare yield the ‘nerve center’ of your consent to what you believe is the will of God, as your basic principle of integration, rather than to some secondary something, important as that is to you—vocation, family, business, anxiety, money, position, class, race?  Do you dare shift the center of focus of your being away from these significant loyalties, that have defined the character of your living, and embrace what, deep within you, you know to be the ultimate devotion of your life?”  Your life is the lung through which your loyalties breathe.  If you are not willing to yield complete loyalty to the will of God, if you prefer to give first place to your secondary loyalties, you may try to establish a way of relating yourself to Jesus that will not disturb the pattern of your living.  On the other hand, if you do accept Jesus’ way for you then there is introduced at once into your life a principle that at first reduces to complete chaos the whole network of your relations.  That is what Jesus says.  Do you wonder that he can find no place to be at home in our whole world?  Do you wonder? (The Growing Edge by Howard Thurman)

Prayer

Closing Prayer: All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give.  I will ever love and trust him, in his presence freely give.  I surrender all.  I surrender all.  All to thee my blessed savior, I surrender all. ~Judson W. Van de Venter

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

all, tuesday

Tuesday, February 16

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to realize that unless you wash us we have no part with you.  Wash us clean this day of all that keeps us from being completely yours.  Make us whole.  Make us new.  Amen.

Scripture: John 13:8

Journal: Where do you need to be washed today?

Reflection:
 
     One of my good friends always used to say, “You can come to Jesus with dirty feet, but you can’t stay that way.”  And I wonder if that was not exactly what Jesus was trying to communicate to Simon Peter on this particular night.  Come to me.  O come, you dirty and messy and broken.  Come to me, all of you who are screwed up and fouled up and lost.  Come to me, all who are anxious and fearful and insecure.  Come to me, all who are filled with guilt and doubt and shame.  Come to me, you whose feet—and hearts and lives—are covered with filth, and I will make you new.  I can make the foulest heart clean.  I can turn your mess into maturity.   I can make the most broken life whole.  Just come to me.  But if you come to me, you must realize that you cannot stay the way you are, because everything that I touch, I transform.  It is just the nature of who I am.  I make things back into what they were intended to be.  So come to me, for unless I wash you, you can have no part with me.  What do you say?

Prayer

Closing Prayer:
Wash me, O Lamb of God, Wash me from sin!
By Thine atoning blood, O make me clean!
Purge me from ev'ry stain, Let me Thine image gain,
In love and mercy reign O'er all within!

Wash me, O Lamb of God, Wash me from sin!
I long to be like Thee, All pure within.
Now let the crimson tide, Shed from Thy wounded side,
Be to my heart applied, And make me clean.

Wash me, O Lamb of God, Wash me from sin!
I will not, cannot rest Till pure within.
All human skill is vain, But Thou canst cleanse each stain
Till not a spot remain— Made wholly clean.

Wash me, O Lamb of God, Wash me from sin!
By faith Thy cleansing blood Now makes me clean.
So near art Thou to me, So sweet my rest in Thee—
O blessed purity, Saved, saved from sin!

Wash me, O Lamb of God, Wash me from sin!
Thou, while I trust in Thee, Wilt keep me clean.
Each day to Thee I bring Heart, life— yea, ev'rything;
Saved, while to Thee I cling, Saved from all sin!
(Wash Me, O Lamb of God by H. B. Beagle)

Monday, February 15, 2016

all, monday

Monday, February 15

Opening Prayer: Lord God, forgive us for wanting to just nibble on the edges of faith rather than committing ourselves to the whole thing.  You gave your all for us and you require all of us in return.  Help us to feed fully on you, and to stop feeding at the table of this world any longer.  Amen. 

Scripture: John 6:53-57

Journal: Why do you think this teaching was so hard to accept?  What is God really asking of us?  What is he asking of you this day?  Are you willing to go there?

Reflection:
 
     We, who have heard the call of our God to a life of entire consecration and perfect trust, must do differently from all this.  We must come out from the world and be separate, and must not be conformed to it in our characters or in our lives.  We must set our affections on heavenly things and not on earthly ones, and must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, surrendering everything that would interfere with this.  We must walk through the world as Christ walked.  We must have the mind that was in Him.  As pilgrims and strangers, we must abstain from lusts of the flesh that war against the soul.  As good soldiers of Jesus Christ, we must disentangle ourselves from the affairs of this life as far as possible, that we may please Him who hath chosen us to be soldiers.  We must abstain from all appearance of evil.  We must be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven us.  We must not resent injuries or unkindness, but must return good for evil, and turn the other cheek to the hand that smites us.  We must take always the lowest place among fellow-men; and seek not our own honor, but the honor of others.  We must be gentle and meek and yielding, not standing up for our own rights but for the rights of others.  We must do all that we do for the glory of God.  And, to sum it all up, since He who hath called us is holy, so must we be holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith)

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to be more committed to your kingdom and your glory than I am to my own.  Give me the strength and the courage to choose your hard and demanding way, rather than a life of ease and comfort.  Help me to feed on you, rather than feeding on the things this world has to offer.  Amen.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

all, sunday

Sunday, February 14

Opening Prayer: I beg of You, my Lord, to remove anything which separates me from You, and You from me. Remove anything that makes me unworthy of Your sight, Your control, Your reprehension; of Your speech and conversation, of Your benevolence and love. Cast from me every evil that stands in the way of my seeing You, hearing, tasting, savoring, and touching You; fearing and being mindful of You; knowing, trusting, loving, and possessing You; being conscious of Your presence and, as far as may be, enjoying You. This is what I ask for myself and earnestly desire from You. - Peter Faber

Scripture: Ephesians 4:15

Journal: What does it mean for you to grow up in all things into him?  Where is that growth most needed in you?  How will you begin to move in that direction?

Reflection:

a big ball of yarn
knotted and snarled
looped and tangled
a big mess
this old self of mine

is it possible
to untangle this jumble
o you who
knit and wove me?


and what will it take?
time and space
room to loosen
and undo the knots
patience and perseverance
it is slow work
this unknotting

only your strong
and tender hands
can turn me
from mess
to masterpiece
once again

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, staying a mess is not an option in this life with you; you call us to—and desire for us—so much more than that.  Your desire is that we grow up in all things into you.  Give us the strength and the conviction and the courage to not settle for being a mess when you have called us to become—once again—your masterpiece.  Through the power of your Spirit at work within us.  Amen.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

return, saturday

Saturday, February 13

Opening Prayer: Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against You this day, in thought word and deed; by what we have done and by what we have left undone.  We have not loved You with our whole hearts; we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.  We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.  For the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us, that we may delight in Your will, and walk in Your ways, to the glory of Your Name.  Amen. ~The Book of Common Prayer

Scripture: Hosea 14:1-9

Journal: What does the word iniquity mean to you?  Where have you stumbled recently because of your iniquity?  Will you take it to him and have all your iniquity taken away? 

Reflection:
 
     My beginning advice to you is this: Always read the Scriptures with a heart ready to repent.  Receive the storm that repentance brings.  Let the holy winds toss you to and fro.  You will be awakened to new depths as you wrestle with the life forces within.  What seems like violence at first will lead you gently into the eye of God where all is calm and quiet, like the eye of a hurricane.  When you finally surrender and stop fighting the winds, you will be carried into the eye of God.  There, you will rest in peace and learn to see like God. (A Tree Full of Angels by Macrina Wiederkehr)

Prayer

Closing Prayer: O God, I surrender to you the habits and sins that, like frost, chill my soul and cause your life-giving energy to cease its flow in me.  Uproot me from the weed patches of evil wherein I have chosen to sink my roots.  Plant me instead in your field of righteousness. (Norman Shawchuck from A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God)