Featured Post

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 work...

Sunday, January 31, 2016

serve, sunday

Sunday, January 31

Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, as the day dawns and calls me to my labors I ask you to enable me to gladly do the work to which you beckon me.  May I do it as a servant of Christ doing the will of God from the heart.  Amen. (Disciplines for the Inner Life by Bob Benson and Michael W. Benson)

Scripture: Luke 10:1-16

Journal: How has God called you to serve him?  Has is he now calling you to serve him?  How do these verses in Luke speak to that?

You have your work.  It will be more meaningful for you, whatever it may be, if you take all the opportunities it affords to serve and give joy to others; if you reverence the things you work with and are conscious that your working with them gives them an opportunity to express themselves at a higher level through your activity and love; if you share some of the fruit of your labor with those less fortunate; if you do all for the love and glory of the heavenly Father, knowing then that your work is part of the transformation of the whole creation, including especially yourself. (A Place Apart by M. Basil Pennington)


Closing Prayer:
God give me work
Till my life shall end
And life
Till my work is done.
~Yorkshire Tombstone

Saturday, January 30, 2016

free, saturday

Saturday, January 30

Opening Prayer: Lord God, thank you that through Jesus we are no longer slaves to sin, but can experience all of the fullness of the life and the love that you created us for.  Help us to realize that true freedom exists only in you.  Thank you that you offer us real life, real healing, real wholeness, and thus, real freedom, in relationship with you.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen. 

Scripture: Romans 6:15-23

Journal: What does it mean that you are no longer a slave to sin?  Do you believe it?  What is you experience of no longer being a slave to sin these days?  Where are you experiencing victory?  Where are you experiencing defeat?

     So, since we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom!
     I’m using this freedom language because it’s easy to picture. You can readily recall, can’t you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing—not caring about others, not caring about God—the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God’s freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness?
     As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn’t have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you’re proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end.
     But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master. (Romans 6:15-23, The Message)


Closing Prayer: Gracious and loving God, you know the deep inner patterns of my life that keep me from being totally yours.  You know the misformed structures of my being that hold me in bondage to something less than your high purpose for my life.  You also know my reluctance to let you have your way with me in these areas.  Hear the deeper cry of my heart for wholeness and by your grace enable me to open to your transforming presence in this time.  Lord, have mercy. (Invitation to a Journey by Robert Mulholland Jr.)

Friday, January 29, 2016

free, friday

Friday, January 29

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, deliver us from those things in our lives from which we just can’t break free.  We simply don’t have the power, but you do!  Give us your divine power to destroy the strongholds in our lives, for apart from you we have no hope of victory.  Amen.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 10:1-6

Journal: What destructive patterns have created strongholds in your life?  Do you really want freedom from them?  Do you believe that Jesus offers you divine power to destroy those strongholds?  Will you let him fight for you?  Will you surrender these areas completely to him and let him destroy them?  Tell him that.

     Freedom never comes cheaply.  It always costs something, and most often something significant.  Battles are waged over freedom.  Why would we expect the life of the Spirit to be any different?  If we truly want to live lives of freedom it will require some bloodshed, most likely our own.  We are going to have to muster all of our courage and go down to the places within us where the most heroic battles are fought.  We are going to have to face some opponents that are not pretty to look at, mostly because they are us.  We are going to have to face our own inner reality and be willing to fight our own inner ugliness with all that is within us.  We are going to have to allow the Spirit to destroy things in us that run so deep that their excision will feel like our death.  And in many ways it will be, for until those things die completely they will not stop breathing their foul-smelling stench within us.  We are going to have to allow the Spirit of God, with the weapons of the Spirit, to wage a full on attack of the sinful patterns and habits that run to our core, and put them to death once and for all.  Only then will we ever have any hope that these strongholds will be destroyed.  And only then will we be truly free.


Closing Prayer: Deliver us when we draw near to you, O God, from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind: grant that with steadfast hearts and kindled affections, we may worship you in Spirit and in Truth.  Amen. (Venite by Robert Benson)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

free, thursday

Thursday, January 28

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to live this day as a son/daughter rather than a slave.  Through the power of your Spirit.  Amen.

Scripture: Galatians 5:13-15

Journal: What does it mean to be called to freedom?  How are you using your freedom to love and serve others?

     O Lord my God, help me not to live as a slave this day.  For I live as a slave when I start living in fear of what might happen.  I live as a slave when I live my life afraid that I do not have what it takes, that I don't measure up, that I am not enough, that I am of no value.  Then I become a slave not only to fear, but a slave to circumstance, a slave to comparison, a slave to competition; a slave to affirmation, achievement, and applause.  That is when I must cling to the truth that I am a son; your beloved son.  You delight in me.  Then, and only then, will I be free.  Free to live as you live and free to love as you love.  Lord Jesus, help me to love like you today.  Rid my heart of all that is not love.


Closing Prayer: My chains are gone, I've been set free.  My God, my Savior has ransomed me.  And like a flood His mercy reigns, unending love, amazing grace.  Amen. ~Chris Tomlin

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

free, wednesday

Wednesday, January 27

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for setting us free.  We realize that it is a freedom that came at a high cost.  Thank you for being willing to go there.  Thank you for loving us enough to give your life in order to secure our freedom.  Amen.

Scripture: Galatians 5:1

Journal: What does it look like to stand firm in the freedom Christ has secured for you?  How will you do that today?  What way(s) are you most likely to submit once again to the yoke of slavery today?  How will you resist that urge?    Write Jesus a letter thanking him for your freedom.

     We must learn to realize that the love of God seeks us in every situation, and seeks our good.  His inscrutable love seeks our awakening.  True, since this awakening implies a kind of death to our exterior self, we will dread His coming in proportion as we are identified with this exterior self and attached to it.  But when we understand the dialectic of life and death we will learn to take the risks implied by faith, to make the choices that deliver us from our routine self and open to us the door of a new being, a new reality.
     The mind that is the prisoner of conventional ideas, and the will that is the captive of its own desire cannot accept the seeds of an unfamiliar truth and a supernatural desire.  For how can I receive the seeds of freedom if I am in love with slavery and how can I cherish the desire of God if I am filled with another and an opposite desire?  God cannot plant His liberty in me because I am a prisoner and I do not even desire to be free.  I love my captivity and I imprison myself in the desire for the things that I hate, and I have hardened my heart against true love.  I must learn therefore to let go of the familiar and the usual and consent to what is new and unknown to me.  I must learn to “leave myself” in order to find myself by yielding to the love of God. (Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton)


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for showing us how much we are loved.  Help us to actually believe that it’s true and to live out of the freedom of that love.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

free, tuesday

Tuesday, January 26

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to live our lives as free men, not as slaves to our own whims and moods and preferences.  Help us to realize that it is only in you that we find our true meaning and our true purpose and a true sense of freedom.  Help us to fully become all that you created us to be.  Amen.

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:16

Journal: Who or what determines how you spend your days?  What or whose rhythm do you operate by? 

     A wise man once said, "Only he who obeys a rhythm superior to his own in free."  I think he said this because he realized that we were all created to dance to a certain rhythm, a rhythm much larger than our own.  And when we don’t move to the rhythm of the One who made us, the One who dreamt us into being, we become something other than who and what we were intended to be.  Our lives lack both the meaning and the purpose that they were designed to carry.  Therefore, the way we live our lives, and the way we go about filling our days, must be determined by something, or Someone, larger than our own tastes and preferences.  Because if they are not, we are at the whim of mood and circumstance and demand.  We are slaves to fear and anxiety and insecurity.  Or, in the words of Thomas Merton, we are slaves to the external self.  And ultimately freedom is not about doing whatever we want to do, but about being who and what we were made to be.


Closing Prayer: O Lord, teach us to number our days aright that we might gain a heart of wisdom.  Amen. (Psalm 90:12)

Monday, January 25, 2016

free, monday

Monday, January 25

Opening Prayer: Set me free, Lord Jesus, from all of my misguided ways of being and seeing.  Break the chains that bind me, and destroy my patterns of sin and darkness and death.  Set me free, Lord Jesus, for when you do, I will be free indeed.  Amen.

Scripture: John 8:34-36

Journal: What things do you feel like a slave to these days?  What chains are binding you?  What do you typically do about those?  Do you really want to be free?  Because if you do, Christ promises that we will, indeed, free you.  How will you move toward freedom in Christ today?

     I have been spending a good bit of time the past several weeks thinking about freedom and what it really means and how it really happens.  Jesus was very clear in telling us that if we want to be truly free, it will only come through him.  In fact, a little later in John's gospel, Jesus tells us that he is the truth; as well as the way and the life.  So he is not only the truth, but he is the way to truth as well.  Therefore, the only way to truth, and thus the only way to freedom, is through relationship with him.  And, as we talked about yesterday, if we are not free it is because we are believing something that is not true.
     My guess is that we even need to consider our definition of the word freedom to begin with.  Maybe our very definition of freedom is not true.  How would you define it?  If you look up the word free in dictionary it is defined as personal liberty.  But I'm not at all sure that this is a true definition.  At least it wouldn't seem to be true, given the definition Jesus offers.  One of the biggest lies that we tend to believe is that freedom means getting to do whatever we want to.  And if we are not able to do whatever we want, then we must not be free.  But in reality, freedom does not have to do with being able to do whatever we want, it has to do with being who we were created and intended to be.  When we are being the person that God made us to be, then, and only then, is there any possibility that we can actually be free.


Closing Prayer: Father of all humanity, you call your children to walk in the light of Christ.  Free us from darkness and keep us forever in the radiance of your truth, until we come at last to live with you on high.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reins with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.  Amen. (The Little Book of Hours)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

free, sunday

Sunday, January 24

Opening Prayer: Father, my life, in so many ways and at so many places, seems shackled and bound.  Help me to find freedom and liberty in you this day. (Disciplines for the Inner Life by Bob Benson and Michael W. Benson)

Scripture: John 8:31-32

Journal: Are you free?  Why or why not?  What most often keeps you from experiencing freedom in your life? How do these verses on John speak to that?  How can the truth set you free today?

     Years ago, I was sitting with two high school friends at a local restaurant talking about life and faith and how we can live more authentically and intimately with Jesus.  We were looking at these verses in John 8, about truth and freedom, when one of the guys had a bit of an epiphany.  He looked up from his bible, turned to us, and said, “So what you are telling me is that if I am not free it is because I’m believing something that’s not true?”  And we all stopped for a minute, reflecting on what he had just said. 
     “That’s exactly what I’m saying,” I responded.  “As a matter of fact I couldn’t have said it any better myself.”  Somehow in his own beautifully simple way, he had taken a profound theological truth and made it incredibly practical.  So much so that I still remember it to this day.  In fact, whenever I am feeling particularly tied up or bound by something that I can’t quite put my finger on I will ask myself, “Since I am not feeling free at this moment, what am I believing that is not true?”  Because the truth always sets us free. (Being with Jesus by Jim Branch)


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to really believe the truth, about who you are and about who we are in you, and let that truth set us free.  Amen.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

grow, saturday

Saturday, January 23

Opening Prayer: Father, I love You Whom I do not know, and I embrace You Whom I do not see, and I abandon myself to You Whom I have offended, because You love in me Your only begotten Son.  You see Him in me, You embrace Him in me, because He has willed to identify Himself completely with me by that love which brought Him to death, for me, on the Cross. (Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton)

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:21-25

Journal: In what ways is Jesus calling you to follow in his steps today?  Specifically, what does that look like?  What does it mean to you that by his wounds you have been healed?  How will that impact your life today? 


I want to be a mirror that reflects your whole being,
and never to be too blind or too old
to hold your heavy, swaying image.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere do I want to remain folded,
because where I am folded, there I am a lie.

                                                ~Rainer Maria Rilke


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to love like you love, this day and every day.  Rid my heart of all that is not love.  Amen.

Friday, January 22, 2016

grow, friday

Friday, January 22

Opening Prayer: I ask you, Lord Jesus, to develop in me, your lover an immeasurable urge towards you, an affection that is unbounded, longing that is unrestrained, fervor that throws discretion to the winds!  The more worthwhile our love for you, all the more pressing does it become.  Reason cannot hold it in check, fear does not make it tremble, wise judgment does not temper it. (The Fire of Love by Richard Rolle)

Scripture:  1 Timothy 4:6-16

Journal: What does it look like to train yourself for godliness?  How is that taking shape in your life these days?

     It seems to me that there are four main things which must have a place in any full and healthy religious life: and that a remembrance of this will help us to make our inner lives balanced and sane.  We require, first, the means of gaining and holding a right attitude; secondly, right spiritual food—real, nourishing food with a bite in it, not desiccated and predigested piety.  “I am the food of the full grown,” said the voice of God to St. Augustine: “Grow and feed on Me.”  Thirdly, we need an education which shall help growth; training our spiritual powers to an ever greater expansion and efficiency.  Fourthly, we have or ought to have some definite spiritual work, and must see that we fit ourselves to do it.
     Now each of these four needs is met by a different type of prayer.  The right attitude of the soul to God is secured and supported by the prayer of pure adoration.  The necessary food for growth is obtained through our spiritual reading and meditation, as well as by more direct forms of communion.  Such meditation will also form an important stage in the education of the spiritual faculties; which are further trained in some degree by the use of such formal, effective, or recollective prayer as each one of us is able to employ.  Finally, the work which can be done by the praying soul covers the whole field of intercession and redemptive self-oblation. (The House of the Soul and Concerning the Inner Life by Evelyn Underhill)


Closing 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)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

grow, thursday

Thursday, January 21

Opening Prayer: Lord God, we confess: our lifestyles are too busy, our focus self-centered, and our world is consumed with fear, greed, and pride.  Sometimes, Lord, we react to the pains of others with a flippant "who cares?"  Yet, in our more receptive times, when Your Voice calls to our innermost beings, we know with absolute certainty two things we desperately need: To be loved…and to love.  Hear us, Lord, grateful, thankful to experience occasional breakthrough moments of unconditional love.  Be with those whose hearts are broken, demoralized by life's blows; those who mirror to us that unfairness and suffering is not lightened by pat answers or avoidance, but is made bearable because of fellow travelers who truly do care, and show it.  Walk with us, God.  Our trek is not always easy, our vision shortsighted, our love often hidden.  May we seek the deeper places where our compassion, our joy reflect you, the God who is Love.  Amen. ~Virgil Fry

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

Journal: How are you planting and watering seeds in your soul these days?  How?  What growth can you see? What is God growing in you these days?

     At times it is so easy to overestimate our own importance, particularly when it comes to the Kingdom of God.  We get the feeling from time to time, or should I say we deceive ourselves into believing from time to time, that if we don't make things happen for God, them no one will.  What a great reminder from Paul that God does very well on His own, thank you.  We are not a necessity.  Ours is not to make the seed, or the person, or the church, or whatever may be before us at the moment, grow.  That is God's job, and done in God's own time I might add.  The salvation or growth of people is not something I can make happen no matter how hard I try.  Ours is a much simpler task, to plant and to water—or in the case of some of the other parables, to scatter the seed.  What happens from there is the important part and fortunately—or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it—the part we cannot control . 
     I planted some seeds by my front door a few summers ago, hoping that one day they would turn into beautiful flowers.  The container they came in warned me that nothing would likely come of the planting until the next spring or early summer, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to speed up the process.  All I could do was to plant them and then consistently water the soil and let the soil, the seed, and the sunshine do its work.  It was a slow and hidden process that would need to occur.  And as I faithfully watered each day, I secretly hoped (but never told anyone) that somehow the flowers would miraculously appear any day.  No Luck.  Nothing.  In fact, I became so impatient and so filled with doubt that there was anything really going on under the soil that I was often tempted to dig them up just to see if, indeed, there was any growth taking place at all.  Of course that would've been a ridiculous thing to do, and would certainly damage or delay the process, but I have to admit that I was tempted nonetheless. 
     But planting is just that way, there is a letting go that is a necessary part.  There is a trust.  There is a knowledge of our role...and God's.  There is a patience necessary, as well as an attentiveness.  But also, there is a lot of waiting.  Waiting on the soil and the sun and the water and the seed to all do what they were made to do.  You just can't make a lot happen.  We can just work to make sure the conditions (the space, if you will) are right and make sure the seed is well planted—by means of conversation, relationship, writing, reading, or whatever your means of planting might be—and leave the rest to God, and to the waterer of course.
     Watering is another proposition altogether.  It's a little more involved.  It's a little more constant.  There is a little more attention necessary, and a little more work required over the long haul.  Last summer I planted a flowerbed in my back yard, in a spot I love to sit and enjoy the silence and the beauty of God's creation.  I made sure the flower bed was in a good spot for sun, and had good rich soil, but I didn't really think through the watering process.  Actually, we don't even have a water supply to that part of the yard.  Unless of course you use a hose, but in this case the flower bed was so far from a spigot that 3-4 hoses joined together wouldn't even reach it.  I thought of running the water line out to that part of the yard.  I thought of rain barrels.  I even thought of trying to use the water produced by the condensation from my air conditioner.  And after I shot all of those ideas entirely full of holes, I just decided to dip a bucket in the creek that runs along the back of our property line and do it by hand.  So every day of the summer I took my 10 gallon bucket, dipped it in the creek several times, and watered my flowers.  It was a pretty labor intensive process, especially when the dry season came. 
     It reminded me of Teresa of Avila and her thoughts on prayer as the way of watering the garden of our souls.  She mentions that prayer comes in seasons: some when you must use a bucket and get it by hand, some when you use a waterwheel to help bring it from its source, some when you can water by means of a stream or brook where the water flows more freely and easily, and lastly when it comes from the rains of God's Spirit as it falls from the heavens and drenches and soaks the ground.  Well, in my case, in absence of a waterwheel or irrigation system, my method was to continuously carry the water from the creek, and pray for rain.  For most of the summer the bucket was a necessity, but O the joy for several weeks toward the end of the summer when the rains fell about every day.  And on those days when it rained I rejoiced and really began to understand what St. Teresa was talking about—rejoicing in those days and those seasons when God takes over and prayer just comes like rains from the heavens.
     But now back to the point of the whole passage: So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  We should never take ourselves too seriously, or think of ourselves as too important in this process.  In fact, we are nothing.  We can produce nothing.  Fruitfulness only comes from God.  He is the One who makes things grow.  Mine is to plant or to water, to pray and to pay attention, to trust and to wait.  And watch what he does...and rejoice.  Thanks be to God.


Closing Prayer: Plant in me your good and perfect will, O Lord, that I might totally submit and completely surrender to your desires for me.  Grow your good fruit in me.  For the sake of your son Jesus.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

grow, wednesday

Wednesday, January 20

Opening 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 to cleanse the intent of my heart with the ineffable gift of Your grace, that I might perfectly love You, and worthily praise You.  Amen. (The Cloud of Unknowing)

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:3-11

Journal: What part(s) of 2 Peter 1:3-11 speak to something deep within you today?  Why?  What words or images seem significant to you right now?  Why?  What is it about the list of qualities that captures your attention?  Are you able to identify some of those things within you?  Where do the words ineffective or unfruitful describe your spiritual life these days?

     The truth is that we’ve got everything we need.  We are not missing anything that would keep us from being able to pursue a life of godliness.  We have no excuse.  Yet we have so many, it seems.  I’m too busy.  I don’t have time.  Life is too crazy and hectic.  I have too many demands and expectations on me at work, or at home.  The list goes on and on.  Yet, Peter tells us clearly that we’ve got everything we need, we just need to make every effort.  Maybe that’s the part we’re missing.  I mean we make every effort to satisfy our bosses or clients.  We make every effort to get our kids to soccer games and baseball practices.  We make every effort to get—or to keep—all of our ducks neatly in a row.  But do we make every effort in our own spiritual lives?  Seems like we’ve gotten it a little backwards, haven’t we? 
     Maybe what Peter is proposing here is that we try to keep the first things first; that we take a step back and see what is getting the majority of our efforts.  And then try and determine if the recipients of those efforts are actually worthy of them or not.  Are we giving God our best efforts or are we giving him our leftovers?  For, if we are giving him merely our leftovers, then it is not very likely that we will ever be able to fully participate in the divine nature and experience all of the fullness for which God made us.  I don’t know about you, but I want all of what God wants for me.  I do not want to settle for a spiritual life that is ineffective and unfruitful in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  What about you?


Closing Prayer: Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. (Disciplines for the Inner Life by Bob Benson and Michael W. Benson)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

grow, tuesday

Tuesday, January 19

Opening Prayer: Deliver us when we draw near to you, O God, from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind: grant that with steadfast hearts and kindled affections, we may worship you in Spirit and in Truth.  Amen. (Venite by Robert Benson)

Scripture: Philippians 1:1-11

Journal: What about Paul’s prayer for the church at Philippi causes something to stir in your heart?  What part of it do you long to have prayer for you?  What part of it do you long to pray for others?  What do the words pure and blameless do within you right now?  Why? 

     Prayer is the way in which the soul is infused by the power of the Holy Spirit.  If one continues to pray in confidence and strength despite all outer diversions and inner discouragements, there will be gradual change in one’s disposition.  The effect is neither rapid nor magical—growth, whether physical or spiritual, takes time and is unobtrusive when viewed on a day-to-day basis—but one’s life proceeds so one becomes dimly aware of an inner composure and tolerance to events that would previously have disturbed one’s equilibrium.  One reacts less abruptly to the insensitive intrusion of other people into one’s thoughts and private life: one becomes less jealous when one hears of another’s success in one’s own chosen field; one responds with greater calm in the face of unpleasant circumstances that before would have shattered one emotionally to the extent of preventing one from working properly or being decently aware of other people in the neighborhood. (The Spiritual Dimension by Martin Israel)


Closing Prayer: Drive far from us all wrong desires, O God, and incline our hearts to keep your ways.  Grant that having cheerfully done your will this day we may, when night comes, rejoice and give you thanks.  Through the one who lives a reigns with you and your Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen. (Venite by Robert Benson)

Monday, January 18, 2016

grow, monday

Monday, January 18

Opening Prayer: God of all that is good and just, grant us courage to walk the path of faith with integrity and wisdom to rely on you to guide our feet toward the level ground of vital Christian community.  Test us where we think we are strong, and strengthen us where we know we are wavering.  Above all, create in us pure hearts given fully to love of your truth.  Amen. (A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God by Rueben Job, Norman Shawchuck, and John Mogabgab)

Scripture: Ephesians 4:1-16

Journal: What words or images from today’s Scripture make something come alive within you?  What disrupts or challenges you?  What does spiritual maturity look like to you?  What does it mean specifically for you to grow up in every way into Christ?

     “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”  Now this text exactly expresses what we believe to be God’s will for us, and what we also believe He has made it possible for us to experience.  We accept, in their very fullest meaning, all the commands and promises concerning our being no more children, and our growing up into Christ in all things, until we come unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.  We rejoice that we need not continue always to be babes, needing milk, but that we may, by reason of use and development, become such as have need of strong meat, skillful in the word of righteousness, and able to discern both good and evil.  And none would grieve more than we at the thought of any finality in the Christian life beyond which there could be no advance. (The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith)


Closing Prayer: O God, you love us with a wild, passionate, unfailing love, and you ask that we love you with the same.  Give us the grace and the courage and the strength to do just that.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

grow, sunday

Sunday, January 17

Opening Prayer: Grow, dear friends; but grow, I beseech you, in God’s way, which is the only effectual way.  See to it that you are planted in grace, and then let the divine Husbandman cultivate you in His own way and by His own means. (The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith)

Scripture: Philippians 3:12-21

Journal: Where are you needing to press on in your life with God right now?  What do you think the next step in growing toward maturity looks like for you?  How will you begin to move that direction?

     Now if you are to convey that spiritual certitude, it is plain that you must yourselves be spiritually alive.  And to be spiritually alive means to be growing and changing; not to settle down among a series of systematized beliefs and duties, but to endure and go on enduring the strains, conflicts and difficulties incident to development.  “The soul,” says Baron von Hugel, “is a Force or an Energy: and Holiness is the growth of that energy in love, in full Being, in creative, spiritual Personality.”  One chief object of personal religion is the promoting of that growth of the soul: the wise feeding and training of it.  However busy we may be, however mature and efficient we may seem, that growth, if we are real Christians, must go on.  Even the greatest spiritual teachers, such as St. Paul and St. Augustine, could never afford to relax the tension of their own spiritual lives; they never seem to stand still, are never afraid of conflict and change.  Their souls too were growing entities, with a potential capacity for love, adoration and creative service: in other words for holiness. (The House of the Soul and Concerning the Inner Life by Evelyn Underhill)


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, every single day the choice is before us to either believe that you are who you say you are and to follow you, or to be filled with doubt and despair and follow our own plans, schemes, and devices.  Lord Jesus, give us the grace, the strength, and the wisdom to choose you, this day and every day.  Amen.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

being, saturday

Saturday, January 16

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to live my life this day as a son rather than a slave.  Do not let fear turn me into something I am not any longer, but help me to know that I am a beloved of the Father.  Amen.

Scripture: Romans 8:14-16

Journal: Do you feel mostly like a slave to fear or like a son/daughter of God today?  How are you living as a slave to fear today?  How does being a child of God offer you freedom from that life of fear?  Will you take it?

Reflection: I live as a slave when I start living in fear of what might happen.  I live as a slave when I live my life afraid that I do not have what it takes, that I don't measure up, that I am not enough, that I am of no value.  Then I become a slave not only to fear, but also a slave to circumstance, a slave to comparison, a slave to competition, and a slave to affirmation, achievement, and applause.  That is when I must cling to the truth that I am a son, your beloved son.  You delight in me.  When I truly believe this then, and only then, will I ever be free.  Free to live as you live and free to love as you love.


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to love like you love today.  By the power of your Spirit within me, remind me that I am your child, and rid my heart of all that is not love.  Amen.

Friday, January 15, 2016

being, friday

Friday, January 15

Opening Prayer: O creative God, who dreamt me into being before the foundations of the world.  Give me the strength, the courage, and the conviction to become all that you desire for me to be.  Mold me and form and shape me, that I might be conformed more and more to your image.  In the name of Jesus.  Amen. (Pieces II by Jim Branch)

Scripture: Luke 6:43-45

Journal: How does a fig tree grow figs?  What kind of tree are you these days?  What is growing on your branches?  What kind of tree do you long to be?  How will you be that?

     How does a fig tree grow figs?  No, it’s not a trick question. But it’s not rocket science either.  A fig tree grows figs by being what it was created to be.  When it is planted in fertile soil, and tended with care and attention, and watered by the spring rains, it will grow figs.  That’s just who and what it is.  If it tries to grow apples, or peaches, or anything other than figs for that matter, it’s in for a rough go of it.  Kind of makes you wonder why we ever try to be anything other than who we are.
     The reverse is also true.  If you want to know what kind of a tree you have before you, just look at the fruit it produces and it will tell you everything you need to know.  Figs are not produced by thorn bushes and grapes are not grown on bramble bushes.  Thus, a good tree does not produce bad fruit, and vice versa.  The kind of fruit that is growing on the vines and branches of our lives will tell us the truth about what is going on inside.  So, as you look at the branches of your life these days, what does it tell you?


Closing Prayer: Help me, O God, to surrender my life completely to your control and command.  Give it both a plan and pattern that constantly reminds me of your presence and consistently makes me more responsive to your will.  For the sake of Jesus, your Son.  Amen. (Pieces II by Jim Branch)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

being, thursday

Thursday, January 14

Opening Prayer: Transform me, O God, into the image of your Son Jesus.  Help my heart to reflect his heart, and my face to reflect his face.  May I shine with his glory all the days of my life.  Amen.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Journal: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?  What (or who) does your life reflect?  How will you become more like Jesus?



full of myself
may it never be
but only you
my dear jesus

as rain falling into a pond
becomes one
no longer any rain
only the pond
as a stream flowing into the sea
becomes one
no longer any stream
only the sea
as light coming into a room
from two windows
becomes one
no longer windows
only light

may i melt into you
so that there is
no more me
but only you
my beloved jesus
(Pieces II by Jim Branch)


Closing Prayer: O Lord, my God, help me to become one with you.  Amen.