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Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive us when we get ahead of you.  Forgive us when we charge ahead on our own strength, full of our own agendas, without first waiting for your Spirit to lead and instruct us.  Help us to have the wisdom and the patience to truly wait on you.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 24:48-49 and Acts 1:4-5

Journal: How big a part of your everyday life and mission is waiting on and listening to God?  In what ways, or in what areas, are you prone to charge ahead rather waiting for his leadership and direction?  What does it look like in your life to wait for the promise of the Father?

Reflection: I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency in life to charge ahead rather than to make space and listen to what the Spirit would have me do and say.  It is a ready, fire, aim mentality that can leave me in situations where I’m frustrated and burn out if I’m not careful.  That’s why I really need to pay attention to the way Jesus sent out his disciples, so that I don’t make the mistake of running off and trying to change the world in my own power and strength.  Jesus doesn’t blow the bugle and yell, “Charge!”  Instead, he tells his disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait.  Wait until he sends his Spirit to direct and empower them.  We would be wise to do the same. 
     The first movement of mission, it would seem, is to wait on the Lord.  It’s all over the pages of Scripture: from Moses shepherding in the wilderness, to Elijah sitting by the brook, to Jesus spending 30 years in a carpenter’s shop and then being led by the Spirit into the wilderness, to Paul going into Arabia.  It would seem that God knows our tendency to charge ahead, and so he takes us aside first to make sure we are listening to him.  That’s because mission is more about joining something (or Someone) than about manufacturing something.  I would do well to remember that.


Closing Prayer: O Lord, our God, help us always to wait on you, and resist the urge to move ahead before we have heard your voice and received your wisdom and direction.  In the name of your son Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

Monday, May 30, 2016


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to not pay too much attention to the things of this world, but help me, instead, to be fully attentive to you.  Then I will not work so hard trying to belong, but will rest in the fact that I belong to you.  Amen.

Scripture: John 15:19

Journal: How does the need to belong manifest itself in your life?  What would it look like to find your need to belong completely met in Jesus?

Reflection: If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. (John 15:19, NIV)
     Belonging is an interesting thing.  And the lengths we will go to in order to have a sense of belonging is interesting as well.  Ultimately, we were made with a need to belong woven deeply into our souls.  But when that need to belong is aimed in the wrong direction it can create chaos.  When we approach our world, searching for a place to belong and a people to belong to, we become needy and insecure and clingy.  We are depending on the world to give us something that it simply cannot fully give.  But the little tastes the world can give us are enough to convince us otherwise.
     The problem is that when we seek belonging in the things or people of this world we are setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment, because what we are actually going to receive is the exact opposite of what we are hoping for.  When we approach our world with a need to belong, it will actually drive those in our lives and world away from us.  We become too needy, too dependent, too demanding, too insecure.  Plus we become something other than ourselves.  We become who or what we think they—whoever they may be—want us to be, instead of who we really are.  Which makes any sense of belonging that we can achieve totally false to begin with.
     Jesus offers us another way.  “Don’t try so hard to belong to this world,” Jesus says, “because, in the end, it will not turn out well for you.  Have your need for belonging totally and completely met in me.  When you do that you will have the freedom to be yourself, your truest, God-breathed self.  Then you will not have to worry about what the world thinks about you, because your deepest needs for love and affection and impact and significance will be totally met in me.  So stop trying so hard to belong.  Be who I made you to be.  Then you will be free.”


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to not be ruled by my need to belong.  I belong to you and, ultimately, that is all that matters.  All other belonging must flow out of this truth.  Let me live for, and from, you alone this day.  Amen.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

abide in me

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to abide in you this day, that I might be the expression of your love and your grace and your truth that you desire me to be.  Because only when I abide in you is it possible for me to bear the fruit of your life in me.  That is the life I was created to live.  All for your glory. Amen. 

Scripture: John 15:1-9

Journal: What do these verses say about the kind of relationship God wants with you?  What does it mean to abide in Jesus this day?  What other things are you tempted to abide in instead?  What does it mean to abide in Jesus?

Reflection: Thomas Merton once said that “Some people live for God, some people live with God, and some people live in God.”  What an incredible statement!  And terribly convicting as well.  Don’t get me wrong, living for God and living with God are great things, but they seem to stop far short of what God’s deepest desire for us is—to live in him.  That seems to be what Jesus is getting at here in John 15: “Abide in me.”  He does not say, “Abide for me,” or even “Abide with me,” as great as those things would be, but he says “Abide in me.”  Jesus wants more for us than a distant, nodding acquaintance.  He wants intimate union.  He wants his heart to beat in us.  He wants his mind to think in us.  He wants his love to consume us, from the inside out.  That’s how fruit is going to grow.  It does not work from the outside in.  We cannot staple fruit onto the vine and hope that it will grow there.  It must come from the life of the vine living in the branches.  So today, let’s not settle for living for God, or living with God.  Let’s live in God, the way he designed us to.


Closing Prayer: Live in meMake your home in me just as I do in you. ~The Message

Saturday, May 28, 2016

peace and trust

Opening Prayer: O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give us the sense of your presence, your love, and your strength.  Help us to have perfect trust in your protecting love and strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for, living close to you, we shall see your hand, your purpose, your will through all things. ~St. Ignatius

Scripture: Isaiah 26:3-4

Journal: What is the relationship between peace and trust in your experience?  What grows trust?  What grows peace?  What is the level of both peace and trust in your life and faith these days?  Why?

Reflection: Peace and trust are intimately connected.  It is impossible, it seems, to have one without the other.  I mean, how can I ever have real peace if I do not trust that my life is fully and completely in the hands of someone strong enough and loving enough to take care of it?  If I do not trust that truth, then I will be constantly trying to take control of my life and my circumstances myself, which is incredibly un-peaceful.  I don’t know about you, but when the responsibility for the management and care of my life and world falls solely on my shoulders, it creates all kinds of anxiety and fear.
     God obviously knows this connection.  He knows that unless we fully trust him, it will be impossible for us to ever fully experience his peace.  The Hebrew word for trust offers us a great picture of this.  The Hebrew word for peace is batach, which means to attach yourself to something (or someone) secure.  When we trust in God, we tie ourselves to the eternal, the immovable, the unchanging, the powerful and loving God who both can and will care for us.  And when we are tied to something eternal and immovable and all-powerful, we can finally be at peace.
     He is able to keep in perfect peace him whose heart is steadfast.  The ESV translates it him whose mind is stayed on you.  Either way, we have a part in this life of trust and peace.  It is to keep our minds steadfast, or stayed on God.  The Hebrew word used here is camak, which means to lean, lay, or rest upon.  As long as we lay our minds and our souls of the Heart of Love, we will find peace.  We will be able to trust.  If we do not, the storms of life and the chaos of circumstances will make it impossible for us to live in anything but fear and anxiety and insecurity.  I think that’s why Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)  The choice is ours.  We can scurry and jockey and rush frantically around, anxiously trying to keep our lives and our worlds in order, or we can lay our heads on the Heart of Love and trust him to care for us the way that he promises he will?  Today, which will it be?


Closing Prayer: People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit. Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing. (The Message)

Friday, May 27, 2016

receive my peace

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you don’t offer us just any peace, but you offer us your peace.  Help us to fully receive it this day; that we might live fully and completely in you—untroubled and unafraid.  Amen.

Scripture: John 14:27

Journal: To what degree are you enjoying God’s peace these days?  What keeps you from it?  How are you troubled or afraid?  Will you receive his peace today?

Reflection: So often in my life I feel like I am at the mercy of circumstances—anxious and afraid.  It is so easy to get swept away in a whirlwind of fear and anxiety.  But when I stop playing the victim, and fully realize the offer that Jesus makes me, I realize that I do have the power and wherewithal to choose to live differently—in Christ.  He offers me his peace.  Not just any peace, but his peace.  It is his gift to me.  All I have to do is receive it. 
     Therein lies the problem.  I don’t always do that.  I allow myself to get overwhelmed and overcome by what is around or within me and it is just a downward spiral from there.  I think that’s because, although I know in my head that Jesus offers me his peace, I have failed to receive it.  Receiving involves more than just knowing in my head, it involves taking hold of that truth in my heart and making it my own.  We do not truly receive any gift until we take hold of it and make it our own.  And when I truly begin to do that with his peace, in prayer, anxiety and fear and insecurity seem to loosen their grip on me and I am able to breathe.
     “My peace I give to you,” says Jesus. “Therefore, do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have another option.  When your heart is troubled it is because you let it be.  Receive my peace and your troubled heart can finally come to rest.  Do not be afraid.  Do not let your fears define you, but be defined by my love and my peace.  That is who you are.  Therefore, do not be swayed or blown about by fear, insecurity, or comparison.  Don’t allow people or things or circumstances to threaten or determine your worth.  Live in my deep affection.  Receive my peace this day.  Take hold of it.  Make it your own.  Be free.


Closing Prayer: Jesus, you offer me your peace this day.  Help me to fully receive it and live in it today.  Amen.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

bearing witness

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you do such great things within us and among us that we simply must tell the story.  Help us to know how and where and when you want us to do that this day.  Amen.

Scripture: John 15:26-27

Journal: What has Jesus done in you lately that warrants bearing witness to it?  How have you done that?  What is your current story with Jesus?  Who do you want to tell, and why?

Reflection: Have you ever had something so wonderful, or so bizarre, happen to you that you simply had to tell someone about it?  We have all had that experience at one time or another.  And when something like that does happen to us, we simply must tell about it.  It is somehow wired into our DNA.  For in the telling of the story something happens; the story grows and comes to life within us and among us.  It is just the nature of story.  And it is just the nature of our hearts and souls.  When something good happens to us, or in us, we can’t contain it.  We must share it.  Particularly when the story is about us and God.  It is meant to be shared.  That is what bearing witness is all about.  It is about us telling our story of God, and his work in and through our lives.  It is not hard.  In fact, if the story (God) has really captured us it is hard not to tell it.  What has happened—and is happening—is so central to our lives that it is all we can talk about. 
     So let us pay careful attention to what God is up to within us and around us.  Let us be attentive to how God is bringing us to life within.  And let us tell that story—bear witness—with all of the passion and the zeal and the life we can muster.  We simply have to be able to put into words what God is doing in us.  It is a must.  It is how we bear witness.  It is what God desires both for us and from us.  It is that thing that God most deeply longs to give us, and for us to give each other—himself.


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to bear witness regularly to all that you are doing in our hearts, souls, and lives; knowing that as we do, it will produce life within and around us.  For your glory.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

my grace is sufficient

Opening Prayer:  Thank you, Lord Jesus, that your grace is sufficient for me.  Help me to believe that truth and live in it today.  Amen.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:9

Journal: How or where do you need to hear the words my grace is sufficient for you today?  How do these words intersect with your life right now?  Is the grace of Jesus enough for you today?  Why or why not?  Be honest.

Reflection: “My grace is enough: it’s all you need.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, The Message)  I don’t know about you, but I have kind of a love-hate relationship with the word enough.  On the one hand, I constantly feel like I am not enough, and continuously try to prove to myself and to my world otherwise.  Somehow I have taken on the burden of proving that I am worth loving.  It is both consuming and exhausting.  And on the other hand, Jesus comes along and tells me that in him, in his grace, I am more than enough.  In fact, his grace is enough for me.  It is all I need.  Apparently, I am constantly trying to prove something that has already been decided.  Maybe it is time for me to take Jesus at his word.  Maybe it is time for me to stop trying so hard to prove that I am worth loving, and simply believe that I am loved.  Maybe it’s time for me to accept his grace, to receive it, to live in it, and to be free.


Closing Prayer:  Lord Jesus, thank you that I do not have to be enough today, because you are.  Help me to walk in that freedom today.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are all we need.  It is not you plus anything else, it is simply you alone.  Help us to live like that today.  Amen.

Scripture: John 14:8-11

Journal: Fill in the blank for yourself today: “Lord,_________and it is enough for me.”

Reflection: Lord Jesus, what will be enough for me?  What will it take for me to fully trust that your heart for me is good and you can and will fully take care of my life?  After all, if you are not enough, what is? 
     Lord Jesus, help me to fully realize, and to trust in the fact, that you are more than enough.  There need be no additions, and no caveats.  You are more than enough for me. 
     Help me to realize that when I start thinking God and rather than God alone, I have wondered into dangerous territory.  I have built my house on shaky ground.  For only you alone are enough.  You are the end and not merely a means to an endAnd if I approach you as a means to an end, rather than the end itself, I am not really approaching you at all. 
     Jesus, you are more than enough.  Help me to fully realize that, and to live in that truth.  Help me to trust in you this day—fully.


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are more than enough for me today.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Monday, May 23, 2016

ascent and descent

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for always trying to climb.   I am always trying, it seems, to ascend in whatever way I can.  Remind me that there can be no ascent without first having a descent.  Give me an openness to embrace the downward journey today, in whatever way you call me to take it.  For only then will I truly be able to ascend with you.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 24:50-53

Journal: What does the ascension of Jesus stir up in you today?  Is there anything that disturbs you about it?  How do you try to ascend on a daily basis?  How is God wanting you to descend first?

Reflection: I don’t know that I’ve ever spent much time thinking about the ascension of Jesus.  I’m not sure why, but it has never occupied much time and space in my prayers or reflection.  It is a beautiful scene, Jesus being taken back into the glory from which he descended in order to come to earth.  It makes me wonder what he was feeling as he was carried back into heaven.  It makes me try to imagine what this amazing experience was like for him.  It obviously had a profound impact on the disciples.  It caused them to spontaneously erupt in worship and praise, filling them with great joy.  Is that because they finally understood where their beloved Jesus was going back to?  Did they recognize that he was being mysteriously reunited with the divine intimacy of the Trinity?  And surely part of it had to be the hope that one day they too would be carried up into heaven to be with him forever.
     But I can’t get too far down the road of thinking about the ascension, before I realize that it was a descent that made the whole thing possible.  And that is a scarier notion altogether.  In order to ascend—which we spend most of our lives trying to do in one way or another—we much first descend.  That’s the part I don’t particularly care for.  But that’s the part that Jesus embraced with such grace and beauty and willingness, knowing that something good and beautiful and necessary would occur through the descent.  Am I willing to do the same?  Am I willing to follow his example?  Will I embrace the descent this day, in whatever way he might lead me on the road downward, realizing that it is the only way to true ascent?  It is certainly food for thought.


Closing Prayer: O Lord Jesus, you are the Risen One, now ascended on high to the glory that was yours before time began.  You are eternal.  You are uncontainable.  You are incomprehensible.  To you be all glory and honor and praise, forever and ever.  Amen.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


Opening Prayer: O God, full of compassion, I commit myself to you, in whom I am, and live and know. Be the goal of my pilgrimage and my rest by the way. Let my soul take refuge from the crowding turmoil of worldly thought beneath the shadow of your wings. Let my heart, this sea of restless waves, find peace in you, O God. Amen. ~St. Augustine

Scripture: Jeremiah 6:16

Journal:  What is your attitude toward rest?  Where does it fit in your perception of God’s will and work and Kingdom?  Why do you say that?  What is the difference between bodily rest and soul rest?  How do you feel when you actually try to rest?  Why?

Reflect: There’s no doubt about it.  The end result of walking in the good way is that we will find rest for our souls.  Therefore, I suppose it follows that if my soul is not rested, I must not be walking in the good way. 
     Why is it that we feel so ill at ease with the idea of rest?  Why does the very thought of it make us feel guilty?  Has our culture so indoctrinated us that we feel like rest is a bad thing?  Are we so afraid of stopping our frenetic level of activity because somehow we think that the world will fall apart if we are not actively working to hold it together?  Or are we more afraid that the world won’t fall apart, showing everyone the truth that the world doesn’t need me half as much as I want to believe it does?  Are we so averse to rest because we are afraid that if we stop we will lose our place or position in the grand scheme of things?  Are we afraid that we will be forgotten or unnecessary?  Why this attitude toward the notion of rest?  Why this fear?
     I think we need to recapture the goodness of rest, the necessity of it.  It is woven into the fabric of creation.  There must be an inhale before there can be an exhale.  Yet we tend to live our lives in constant exhale.  Why else would God set aside a day a week specifically for the purpose of rest unless it was totally necessary to our lives and well-being?
     The fact of the matter is that if we are walking in the good way, we will find rest for our souls.  It is a byproduct of genuinely walking with God.  God wants to give our souls—that part of us that was made to commune with him—a constant sense of life and peace and joy and rest that only he can give.  Why would we resist a gift like that?


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

Friday, May 20, 2016


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach me to walk in the good way today.  Slow me down and make me more aware of and attentive to you and your life within and around me.  Forgive me when I start running aimlessly.  Forgive me when I try to manufacture something that can only be organically grown by you.  Forgive me for thinking too much of myself and my importance and my abilities.  Help me to walk deeply with you this day, thereby paying careful attention to you, to the person right in front of me at each moment, and to what you are up to in our lives and in our world.  Amen.

Scripture: Jeremiah 6:16

Journal: What is the pace of your life these days?  What does it mean for you to walk in the good way?  How will you walk, instead of run, in the good way this day?

Reflection: I don’t think it’s any accident that Jeremiah tells us to walk in the good way.  In fact, it might be the only legitimate means of traveling the good way.  There is something very good about walking instead of running, sprinting, or hurrying.  Walking allows us to move at a pace where things are noticed, where we are able to pay careful attention to what is within us, around us, or in front of us at the moment.  When we run we miss so much.  We miss really knowing people, we miss really knowing ourselves, and, most importantly, we miss really knowing our God.  Knowing always requires time, space, and attention.  It requires listening.  And it is hard to listen, much less be present, when you are moving at seventy miles per hour.  God, it seems, is more of a three mile and hour God.  Just ask Jesus.
     Jesus lived life at three miles an hour.  He walked everywhere he went.  He lived most of his first thirty years in the same small village, in virtual anonymity.  Even the last three years of his life were spent in a relatively confined region.  Why on earth would God do that?  Why would that be the pattern God chose?  There must be something significant about it or he would have gone about it much differently.  If it were up to me, I probably would have tried to cover as much ground as possible, for as many years as possible—maximizing my time.  I guess that shows how much I have allowed the culture around me to mold and shape (and distort) my thinking. 

     But that is not how God chose to do it.  There must be something to that.  Maybe it is a hint of what it means to walk in the good way.  There must be something really good about smaller and slower and deeper.  There must be something really good about living at a pace where things and people get noticed, are paid attention to, and are truly known.  Maybe I need to reconsider my paradigm.  Maybe I need to ask God what it really means to walk in the good way.  Maybe I need to slow down.  The life of my soul depends on it. 

     “This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:5-6)


Closing Prayer:  Slow me down, Lord Jesus, that I might be able to keep up with you.  Amen.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

the good way

Opening Prayer:  Lord God, thank you that you have made a way for us, a good way.  Help us each day to stand, and to look, and to ask what that good way is—your good way for us.  For only then will we have any hope of knowing how and where to walk in this crazy and chaotic world.  Without your guidance we will simply be spinning our wheels, walking (or running) around aimlessly.  Only when we walk in your good way will our souls find rest.  Help us to find that good way today, and every day.  Amen.

Scripture: Jeremiah 6:16

Journal: What is God’s good way for you?  What things give your soul life and rest?  Will you walk in the good way today?  What does that look like?

Reflection:  What is the good way?  I guess that’s a pretty important question to answer if we ever have any hope of walking in it.  It is a beautiful thing to consider that God has made a good way for us.  It is an alluring thought.  But the truth is that so often I’m not even paying attention to it.  My daily reality tends to be that I just put my head down and march forward.  And quite often the way that I march forward in is not the good way at all.  It is simply the way of my habits and patterns, and of the demands and expectations of others.  Rarely do I take time to stand at the crossroads.  Rarely do I make space to look, to pay attention to whatever God might want me to see—or to hear.  Rarely do I stop to ask for the ancient paths, to ask where the good way is.  No wonder I have such a hard time walking in it.
     There is a good way though.  There is a way that God has made for us that is the way of life and peace and joy.  Not because it is so easy (in the way we normally use the word), most likely the way is not easy at all.  But it is his way for us, meaning that it is the way we walk with him—the one that leads to the life and the joy and the rest our souls most deeply long for.  After all, didn’t Jesus say, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  His yoke is easy in the sense that it was a yoke that was made for us.  The literal translation of “easy” in Matthew 11:30 is well fitting.  It was made especially for us.  It fits us perfectly.  Therefore, the good way is the way that we were made to walk in.  It is the way that makes us most ourselves—our created in his image, God-breathed selves.  It is the way of being rather than doing.  It is the way of loving rather than defending.  It is the way of engaging rather than hiding.  It is the way of listening rather than proving.  It is the way that makes us come alive inside.  It is the way that gives rest to our souls.  The only question is: Will we walk in it? 


Closing Prayer:  Lord God, help me to walk in the good way today, whatever that may mean and whatever that may look like.  In the name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

back soon

Hello friends.  Just wanted to let you know that I hope to start posting some new daily devotional thoughts in the next couple of weeks.  Also, another exciting item, the Blue Book is close to being finished with the publishing process and hopefully will be available on Amazon by the summer.  Please spread the word!