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Thursday, June 30, 2016


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me when I turn life into a popularity contest and stop living it the way you designed it to be.  Help me to love and serve today.  Help me to seek to be last and least.  For only then will I be living as you lived.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 10:32-45

Journal: How can you relate to James and John today?  Where in your life are you jockeying for position?  Why?  What would it look like to love and serve instead?

Reflection: Most of us go through life praying a little, planning a little, jockeying for position, hoping but never being quite certain of anything, and always secretly afraid that we will miss the way.  This is a tragic waste of truth and never gives rest to the heart. (The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer)
     Jockeying for position is just a part of life it seems.  In this fallen world we are constantly comparing and posturing and competing, as if there were a limited amount of love and affirmation for everyone and we must get our share before it is all gone.  Unfortunately, this way of thinking makes the people in our lives and in our world threats and obstacles rather than brothers and sisters.  Even the disciples dealt with this phenomenon, trying to rise above each other rather than loving and serving each other.  Why then should we think it would be any different for us?
     Jesus, however, came to open our ears to a new voice.  A voice that tells us that we do not become great or first in the kingdom of God by jockeying and competing, we become great and first in the kingdom of God by serving, by becoming last and least.  His admonition is simple: “Stop jockey and start loving and serving.  That is what I came to do and that is what I am calling each of you to.  Giving your life away is the only way you will truly find your life.” 


Closing Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give your life as a ransom for many.  Help me to do the same.  Amen.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Opening Prayer: Jesus, help us to look at life from the perspective of what we have gained rather than what we have lost.  Help us to look through the lenses of gratitude rather than entitlement.  For when we do this, we see that what you have given us far outweighs whatever you could possibly ask of us.  Thank you for that.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 10:28-31

Journal: What have you left to follow Jesus?  What has it cost you?  What have you gained?  Which place will you live out of today?

Reflection: It’s so easy at times to look at following Jesus in terms of what we have lost rather than what we have gained.  Who knows, maybe Peter is even doing that in these very verses.  But Jesus’ answer clearly gives us the lenses through which he wants us to view the kingdom.  And when we put on those lenses—the lenses of gratitude—it totally changes our perspective.  Think about it for a moment.  As you have followed Jesus, to this point in your life, what have you lost?  What places has it caused you to sacrifice?  Pay attention to these, because they will be many, and the cost, in some cases, will have been high.  There may have been moves and job changes and pay cuts.  It may have required much time and effort and energy.  It may have cost you loss of sleep or peace or heart.  All of these are likely costs that we may have faced as we sought to follow God’s lead and direction in our lives.
     Now take a few minutes and consider what you have actually gained from following Jesus?  Oh maybe not in terms of material things and acclaim and worldly success, but in terms of quality of life and depth of relationships and a sense of meaning, purpose, and mission.  I don’t know about you, but when I add up the two—fifty-six years into my life—it’s not even close.  It’s just like Jesus said it would be, but actually feels even greater than that.  It feels like what he has given me is a thousand times more than what I had, rather than merely a hundred times more.  It is an extraordinary life that God has given me.  And I am so grateful.  What about you?


Closing Prayer: Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know, to love what I ought to love, to praise what delights you most, to value what is precious in your sight, to hate what is offensive to you. Do not allow me to judge according to the sight of my eyes, nor to pass sentence according to the hearing of my ears; but to discern with a true judgment between things visible and spiritual, and above all things, always to inquire what is the good pleasure of Your will. ~Thomas À Kempis

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

the cup

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you drank the cup that was before you.  Give us the courage and the strength to do the same.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 26:36-46

Journal: What is the cup that God has given to you to drink lately?  What does it look like to drink it?  Will you?

Reflection: After firmly holding the cups of our lives and lifting them up as signs of hope for others, we have to drink them.  Drinking our cups means fully appropriating and internalizing what each of us has acknowledged as our life, with all its unique sorrows and joys.
     How do we drink our cups?  We drink them as we listen in the silence to the truth of our lives, as we speak in trust with friends about ways we want to grow, and as we act in deeds of service.  Drinking our cups is following freely and courageously God's call and staying faithfully on the path that is ours.  Thus, our life becomes the cup of salvation.  When we have emptied them to the bottom, God will fill them with "water" for eternal life. (Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen)


Closing Prayer: Lord, you are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.  (Psalm 16:5-6)

Monday, June 27, 2016


Opening Prayer: Lord God, our heavenly Father, thank you that you are always up to something.  Thank you that even in the midst of our most painful situations and circumstances, you are always up to something.  You are bigger than our troubles and woes.  You can bring beauty out of ashes.  Thank you that, in the end, suffering and death and pain do not win, life does.  You entered into our suffering to prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt.  Thank you. 

Scripture: Romans 5:1-5

Journal: What do your sufferings do to you?  What do they do in you?  Are you currently fighting them or embracing them?  What do you think God might be up to through them?

Reflection: No one can escape it; everyone must somehow either make friends with suffering or be broken by it.  No one can come close to another, let alone love him, without coming close to his suffering.  Christ did far more, he wed himself to our suffering, he made death his bride, and in the consummation of his love, he gave her his life. ~Caryll Houselander


Closing Prayer: The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.  Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.  One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.  For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. (Psalm 25:1-5)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

the cross

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that by your cross you not only show us what you were willing to do for us, but also you show us how you really feel about us.  Help us to rejoice in that, and in the character of our God, this day.  Amen.

Scripture: Romans 5:6-11

Journal: What does the cross show you about God’s heart and his character?  What does it show you about who he is?  What is your response to that?

Reflection: God’s most profound self-revelation is seen in the cross.  We usually think of the cross as something God “did” to “solve” the sin problem that alienates us from God.  But in reality, the cross reveals who God is, not what God did as an action separate form God’s nature. ~M. Robert Mulholland Jr.


Closing Prayer: O most holy and loving God, we are awestruck when we fix our eyes upon the cross of Christ.  We are awestruck at the depths of your love.  We are awestruck at the extent of your holiness.  We are awestruck at the completeness of your character.  The cross, O Lord, is not just something you did, but it shows us who you are.  Thank you.  Amen.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

one thing

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you consistently call us to the one thing instead of the many things.  Unfortunately, our lives tend to be filled with the many things.  Help us, Jesus, to never be lacking in the one thing, but to choose each and every day to follow you instead of our own petty whims and surface desires.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 10:21

Journal: What is your one thing right now?  Is it Jesus or something/someone else?  What do you lack?  What do you truly treasure?  What does it look like to really follow Jesus in your current situation?

Reflection: Sometimes we behave like children in a toy shop.  We want this, and that, and then something else.  The many options confuse us and create an enormous restlessness in us.  When someone says, “Well, what do you want?  You can have one thing.  Make up your mind,” we don’t know what to choose.  As long as our hearts keep vacillating among these many wants, we cannot move forward in life with inner peace and joy.  That is why we need inner and outer disciplines, to go beyond these wants and discover our mission in life. (Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen)


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, be my one thing, not just one among many things.  Amen.

Friday, June 24, 2016


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me always to see that the end purpose of my life is to give myself away for your kingdom, whatever that may look like.  And you don’t desire me to give myself away in meager measure, but extravagantly.  You want to pour through me like a river, not trickle through me like a leaky faucet.  Therefore, help me to continuously make space in my life for your filling, otherwise I really have nothing to offer this lost and broken world.  Amen.

Scripture: John 20:19-22

Journal: How is God calling you to give your life away?  What does that look like concretely?  What does it mean that as the he sent Jesus, now he is sending you?

Reflection: The man who is wise, therefore, will see his life as more like a reservoir than a canal.  The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives, the reservoir retains the water till it is filled, then discharges the overflow without loss to itself.  Today there are many in the Church who act like canals, the reservoirs are far too rare.  You must learn to await this fullness before pouring out your gifts, do not try to be more generous than God. ~Saint Bernard of Clairvaux


Closing Prayer: Lord God, fill me to overflowing with your love and affection, that I may drench everyone that comes into my path with your life and love and peace and joy.  For the sake of your kingdom.  Amen.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


Opening Prayer: Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know, to love what I ought to love, to praise what delights you most, to value what is precious in your sight, to hate what is offensive to you. Do not allow me to judge according to the sight of my eyes, nor to pass sentence according to the hearing of my ears; but to discern with a true judgment between things visible and spiritual, and above all things, always to inquire what is the good pleasure of Your will. ~Thomas À Kempis

Scripture: Joel 2:12-14

Journal: How is the Lord calling you to return to him today?  How is he rending your heart?  What is the old he is trying to tear away?  What is the new he is trying to make room for?  What is he trying to do within you?

Reflection: Only the inner rending, the tearing of the heart, brings this joy.  It lets out our sins, and lets in the clean air of God’s spring, the sunlight of the days that advance toward Easter.  Rending of garments lets in nothing but the cold.  The rending of heart which is spoken of in the lesson from Joel is that “tearing away” from ourselves and our vetustas—the “oldness” of the old man, wearied with the boredom and drudgery of an indifferent existence, that we may turn to God and taste His mercy, in the liberty of His sons. (Seasons of Celebration by Thomas Merton)


Closing Prayer: Lord God, help me always to know that whatever tearing away you are doing in my life these day is always for the purpose of making way for the new that you are trying to bring about.  Thank you.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

god's voice

Opening Prayer: Dear Lord, as I come to you today, fill my heart and my whole being with the wonder of your presence.  Help me to be open to you for this time as I put aside the cares of this world.  Fill my mind with your peace, your love. (Sacred Space, 2016)

Scripture: John 16:12-15

Journal: What is your life telling you these days when you listen to it?  What are the Scriptures saying to you?  Is there a consistent theme?  What is the Spirit of God within you saying to you?

Reflection: It seems to me that a significant amount of the spiritual life involves listening.  Given that fact, I wonder why we don’t practice it more often.  Is it because we are afraid of what God might say?  Is it because we’re afraid he might not say anything at all?  Or is it because we are afraid we will not be able to tell the difference between his voice and the thousands of other voices going on in our heads and in our hearts at any given moment?
     Jesus was really clear that one of the main ways God would speak to us was by his Spirit within us.  And he was also pretty clear that once God had spoken to us, we would know it—my sheep know my voice (John 10:4).  Simply put, there is a qualitative difference between the voice of the Good Shepherd and the other voices within and around us.  It is up to us, with God’s help, to be able to discern the difference.  As a body, we must learn how to listen to God’s Spirit within us, to hear it clearly, and then to trust what he has said.  And my guess is that a lot of that will come as a result of practice.  Just like it is with anyone we love, when we get used to the quality and the tone and the content of his voice within us, we come to recognize it more clearly and trust it more fully.  It just has a ring of truth in our souls. 
     But luckily it doesn’t stop there, because God has given us means of confirming his voice deep within us.  He has given us his word, and the community of faith around us, to help us know whether or not we are hearing him clearly.  For if his word, his people, and his Spirit within us are all saying the same thing, then we can be pretty sure that the voice we are hearing is, in fact, the voice of God.


Closing Prayer: What do you have to say to me today Jesus, through your Spirit?

Monday, June 20, 2016


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to receive you, and your kingdom, like a little child today.  Give me the openness and the expectancy and the trust to empty my hands—and my soul—of whatever I am full of, in order to make room for you in my life.  Thank you that you desire to give me the gift of yourself today, whatever that may look like.  Help me to be willing and open to receive it.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 10:13-31

Journal: What does it look like for you to receive the kingdom of God as a little child?  What keeps you from being able to do that?  What kept the Rich Young Ruler from being able to do that?  Which one are you more like these days?  How and why?

Reflection: Receiving is such a key part of the spiritual journey.  And, unfortunately, it is something that we are typically not very good at.  We are too used to earning to ever be able to receiveReceiving puts us in a vulnerable, dependent position, and we don’t like that. 
     And, to make matters worse, Jesus tells us not only to receive, but to receive as a little child, which is such a contrast to our normal mode of operation.  We like to be in control.  We like to be the ones dictating how and when things will happen.  But, when it comes to receiving, all we can really do is open our hands and wait.
     But there is a step that comes before the opening of our hands, and I think that’s what Jesus is really getting at here, especially given the contrast between a little child and the rich young man.  One of the things that is particular to the way in which a little child receives is their willingness to drop everything else once a gift is offered to them.  If you hold out a gift to a little child, everything else becomes secondary.  They will empty their hands of whatever they are carrying in order to take hold of the gift that is being offered, which is exactly what the rich young man is unwilling to do.
     You see, in order to receive anything, an emptying must take place first.  You can’t receive a gift if you already have full hands.  Thus, a refusal to let go, in order to receive, will stop the whole process in its tracks.  We cannot receive anything when our hands—and our souls—are full.  We must make room within us to receive whatever it is that God desires to give.  Little children know this all too well.  I wonder why we “grown” adults often forget.


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, what do you want me to give me today?  And what do I need to let go of in order to receive that gift like a little child?  Give me the grace and the courage and the strength and the willingness to do so, whatever it may be.  Amen.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

seizing jesus

Opening Prayer: Disturb us, Lord, when we are too pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.
     Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim.
     Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wilder seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.  We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push back the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.  This we ask in the name of our Captain, who is Jesus Christ. ~Sir Francis Drake

Scripture: John 10:22-39

Journal: What was so disruptive about Jesus?  Why do you think the Jews were so hostile to him?  How is Jesus trying to disrupt you these days?  How are you responding?  How do you try to seize control of Jesus?  How do you need to be disrupted?


     seizing jesus

Again they tried to seize him,
but he escaped their grasp. (John 10:39)

Lord Jesus
We can never seize you
Any better than they could
So I wonder why
We keep on trying

You are always
Too big for us
And too small
You are always
Escaping our grasp
Thanks be to God


Closing Prayer: Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, make us more and more like you each day.  Help us to live as you live and to love as you love.  For the sake of your kingdom.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 5:43-48

Journal: What do these words of Scripture do within you today?  What do they inspire?  What do they disturb?

Reflection: I don't know about you, but every now and then I read a verse and it has the opposite effect on me than I think it was intended to have.  This verse in Matthew is a prime example.  I think it is supposed to create this wonderful desire in me to strive to be like my Heavenly Father.  But, if I am really honest, most of the time it makes me feel deflated, defeated, and hopeless.  Why is that? 
     I think it might be because my definition of one particular word is so skewed and flawed.  Most of the time, when I think about the word perfect, I tend to define it as being without flaw, which makes me feel like it is something unattainable, impossible, and beyond my reach.  So when I hear Jesus saying, "You must be without flaw, as I am without flaw," it feels depressing, frustrating, and a little oppressive, which is not at all the way I think Jesus intended it to feel.  I think he meant it, and said it, in a much more positive, hopeful, inspiring way.
     Which made me start to think that maybe my definition of the word perfect was the problem.  Maybe I had a flawed definition to begin with.  So I decided to look it up.  As it turns out, the forth definition on the list (dictionary.com) was indeed without flaw, but the first three were much more positive and hopeful, defining the word as the state of something becoming what it was intended to be.  Which is further supported by the Greek word that is used in Matthew (teleios) that means to be complete or whole; to be brought to its intended end or purpose.  Now that's a definition that I can embrace, one that creates some really good momentum within me.  It is a definition that pulls me toward change rather than trying to push me into it.  And I discovered long ago that pull (love, affection, longing, desire) has always produced much more long term transformation in me than push (ought, fear, guilt, shame) ever has.  Not saying that both aren't necessary, because they are, but one (pull) has definitely been much more fruitful in my life.  When I hear Jesus say, "Be all that I intended you to be," it does something very good in me.  It creates some positive energy toward living a quality of life (both with him and for him) that I most deeply long for.
     So I think Eugene Peterson may have been on to something when he translated this verse in Matthew: "In a word, what I'm saying is Grow Up.  You're kingdom subjects.  Now live like it.  Live out your God-created identity.  Live graciously and generously toward others the way God lives toward you." (Matthew 5:48, The Message)


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, continue to capture my heart with your great affection.  Continue to transform me into that beautiful image you imagined for me long ago, before the foundations of the world.  Continue to make me more and more gracious and generous with each passing day.  Continue to make me more like you.  Amen.

Friday, June 17, 2016

the heart of love

Opening Prayer:  O God, our heavenly Father, help us to lay our heads on your great heart of love and find our rest and contentment in your presence this day.  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 131

Journal: What does the image of a weaned child with its mother do within you today?  How do you long to be just that?  What keeps you from it? 

Reflection: Just as the weaned child on its mother’s breast seeks no physical nourishment but enjoys the riches of unspoken love given and received, so the soul in quiet adoration lays its head against the heart of Love and absorbs all that Love yearns to bestow.  His Love draws out what is truest and best in all it touches, shapes all things toward the wholeness proper to them, is quietly victorious amid the strident self-importance of the world. ~John S. Mogabgab


Closing Prayer: O God, lover of my soul, give me the freedom and the courage and the peace to simply lay my head on your great heart of love and rest my soul in your caring embrace.  Amen.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

a new thing

Opening Prayer: Lord God, thank you that you are doing a new thing within and among us, if only we can perceive it.  Give us eyes to see and ears to hear exactly what this new thing is.  Thank you that you are always making a way in the wilderness.  Amen.

Scripture: Isaiah 43:18-19

Journal:  How do you feel like you are in the wilderness these days?  How is God making a way within you through it?  What new thing is he doing (or growing) in you?

Reflection: It is so easy at times to get completely consumed with the wilderness we find ourselves in the midst of, that we are unable to see the God who is making a way for us in the midst of it, much less the new thing he is trying to do both in and through us as a result.  I guess that's because we have a tendency to get so consumed with where we are in our own lives and journeys, so caught up in our own smaller stories, if you will, that we cannot see the larger story of God and where he is leading us and what he is doing in our lives and in our world. 
     Being in the wilderness is a necessary part of the process.  The saints called it purgation.  It is the part of the journey where we empty ourselves—or God empties us—of whatever we might be full of other than God.  It is the part of the journey where we make room within us to receive whatever new thing God might want to do in us.  For if we are too full—of guilt, or shame, or fear, or anxiety, or insecurity, or even ambition—then there is no room for God to work.  Purgation makes space for illumination (the second part of the ancient dance), which then brings us to the possibility of union, the thing God desires most, both for us and from us. 
     The problem is that if we end up in the wilderness for a substantial amount of time, we begin to believe that that's all there is.  We forget that there is more to the story.  We forget that this season is making a way to something, or somewhere, good and beautiful.  We forget that purgation is simply one part of a much larger dance.  In fact, we can become so consumed with the wilderness we find ourselves in the midst of that we really can't see anything else.
     Therefore, it is essential to remind ourselves of, and engage in, the larger story.  When we focus on the larger story, of God and his work in our lives and our world, then it gives us perspective and hope.  Therefore, we must not get caught up—or consumed, or stuck—in the smaller story, but continually push ourselves to look beyond it.  Because God is always about a larger story, and all of our smaller stories only make sense in light of his story.


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us not to be stuck in the past, whether it be good or whether it be bad, but help us to see the way you are now making in our wilderness.  Help us to know and have confidence in the fact that you are doing a new thing, whether we can perceive it yet or not.  Amen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

emptied to be filled

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, what you really want from me is not some sterile, duty-filled perfection, but simply to be the beautiful creation that you intended for me to be from the very beginning.  Continue to make me, by your grace, complete and whole in you.  Amen.

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:1-3

Journal: What does your life need to be emptied of?  What does it need to be filled with instead?

Reflection: God means to fill each of you with what is good; so cast out what is bad!  If he wishes to fill you with honey and you are full of sour wine, where is the honey to go?  The vessel must be emptied of its contents and then be cleansed.  Yes, it must be cleansed even if you have to work hard and scour it.  It must be made fit for the new thing, whatever it may be. ~St. Augustine


Closing Prayer: Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know, to love what I ought to love, to praise what delights you most, to value what is precious in your sight, to hate what is offensive to you. Do not allow me to judge according to the sight of my eyes, nor to pass sentence according to the hearing of my ears; but to discern with a true judgment between things visible and spiritual, and above all things, always to inquire what is the good pleasure of Your will. ~Thomas À Kempis

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, continue to capture my heart.  Continue to transform my life into the beautiful image you dreamt for me long ago, before the foundations of the world.  Take hold of me and give me the courage and the grace to take hold of you and not let go.  Continue to make me more and more like you.  Amen.

Scripture: Genesis 32:22-32

Journal: What, or who, are you wrestling with these days?  How are you wrestling with God?  What is he doing in you as a result?

Reflection: I have a suspicion that at least part of what needs to happen within me these days has something to do with God wrestling away the old in me in order to make way for the new.  It's almost like I am stuck in a decaying orbit and have no hope of breaking free from the gravitational pull that keeps me bound to it, unless I am liberated by Someone much larger than I.  Someone who can set me free from my old ways of being and of seeing, in order that I might live my life more fully the way he intended (and desperately desires) me to live.  The problem is that the way to this new life of freedom and wholeness leads through a wrestling that is likely to leave me, as it did Jacob (Genesis 32:22-32), wounded and broken first.  Yet that path seems the only way to the new life and the new (true) identity I most desperately long for.  The wrestling can't be avoided or bypassed. 
     Thomas Merton said it so well when he said that: "Only this inner rending, the tearing of the heart, brings this joy.  It lets out our sins, and lets in the clean air of God's spring, the sunlight of the days that advance toward Easter.  Rending of garments lets in nothing but the cold.  The rending of heart is that tearing away from ourselves and our vetustas--the oldness of the old man, wearied with the boredom and drudgery of an indifferent existence, that we may turn to God and taste His mercy, in the liberty of His sons."  There is a wounding in this wrestling that is intended to make way for the new to be born.  So the wrestling, albeit frightening and uncomfortable, is a glorious necessity in the process of being made whole.  I cannot do it on my own (heaven knows I've tried), only God can give me the power to break free from the old and the tired, and step into the new and the fresh.
     The tricky part is that we, like Jacob, don't always recognize right off the bat that we're actually wrestling with God.  Jacob just thought, at first, he was wrestling with a man.  It wasn't until later, new name and all, that he finally realized that it was indeed God he was wrestling with.  The same is true for me.  At times I think I am wrestling with my anxieties or my insecurity, or that I am wrestling with a person with whom I am in conflict.  At times I think I am wrestling with my circumstances or my church or my spouse or my vocation.  At times I think I am wrestling with motivation or frustration or discontent.  And if I look real closely behind each one of those, I will recognize that the man behind the curtain, the one I'm really wrestling with, is God.  And when I realize this, it changes everything.  I realize that it is not just about my death, but about my life.  I realize that it is not my circumstances or my relationships or the people in my world that need to change, it is me.  God is wrestling with me, trying to accomplish something deep in my soul.  Something that will change everything about me, the same way it did with Jacob. 


Closing Prayer: O God, give me eyes to see that it is You.  It is You that I'm wrestling with and not the face, or the circumstance, that is before me at the moment.  And it is You that is wrestling with me; trying to strip away all of that old man, trying to keep me from living out of those old (false) names and patterns that I tend to live out ofIn order that I might receive the beautiful new name that You long for me to know myself by and to live out of.  Thanks be to You.

Monday, June 13, 2016

the radiance of intimacy

Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me, this day, to walk in the light of your presence and not in the darkness of my selfishness, insecurity, anxiety, and fear.  For when I walk in your light, as you are the light, I become more like you.  Then I am more able to live like you, and to love like you.  Amen.

Scripture: Exodus 34:29-35

Journal: Have you ever known anyone whose face was so radiant that you could tell they had been spending time with God?  What happened within you when you saw the glow of God in their face?  What did it produce in you?  What effect does your time with God have on you? 

Reflection: I don't begin to know all of the reasons Moses covered his face with a veil after he spoke God's words to the people of Israel.  The third chapter of 2 Corinthians gives us a bit of a clue as to one of them; that he didn’t want the people to see the glory as it faded.  But I also wonder if there was something more involved.
     The very worst parts of me, if I were Moses, would want the people to see the radiance as long as it lasted, so they might think more highly of me as a result.  "Oh, there's the guy that talks with God face to face.  Look at him!  Wow, he must be pretty special.  I wish I had a relationship with God like that."  I mean, it wouldn't be the first time I'd used some sweet gift that God had given me just to get people to think more highly of me than they ought. 
     The best parts of me, on the other hand, love the beauty of Moses not wanting the people to see his shining face, fading or not.  After all, it wasn't for them.  It was something that was the direct result of the intimacy that Moses had experienced with God on the mountain.  And intimacy, by its very nature, is something that is spoiled when it is broadcast.  Some things just aren't meant to be shared, they are meant to be savored and cherished.  That's what intimacy is all about.  So what if Moses put a veil over his face to say, "This radiance is not for you.  It is for me.  It is the sweet result of an unspeakably intimate relationship forged on the mountaintop as God and I shared indescribably beautiful moments together." 
     God obviously had specific things he wanted Moses to share with the people of Israel when he came down from the mountain.  In fact, he was carrying those things on the stone tablets in his arms.  But there was also a part of the experience that was just for Moses, and maybe Moses knew that.  Therefore, he put the veil over his face when he was with the people to savor the sweetness of the time he had spent with God. 
     Moses knew that God was not just a means to an end, but he was the end itself.  C. S. Lewis once said that if we are approaching God as a means to an end, we are really not approaching God at all.  Moses obviously knew this.  He wasn't using God to further his own reputation or standing or position or ministry.  He wasn't using him to gain admirers.  He wasn't approaching God just so God might give him something to say that might wow the crowd.  He wasn't just approaching God so that God would give him something to make an impact on the lives of those around him.  That is the great temptation of ministry.  He was approaching God simply because He was God, and the rest would take care of itself.  I pray that I might be able to do the same.


Closing Prayer: Lord God, help me to burn and shine with love for you, this day and every day.  Amen.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

god waits

Opening Prayer: O gracious and Holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive you, diligence to seek you, patience to wait for you, eyes to behold you, a heart to meditate upon you, and a life to proclaim you; through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord. ~Saint Benedict

Scripture: Isaiah 30:18

Journal: How does it make you feel that God waits (rises or longs) to be gracious to you?

Reflection: There are a lot of places in Scripture, I am learning, that encourage us to wait for the Lord.  Thank you Andrew Murray.  And I am trying to discover exactly what that means and what it looks like in the life of a very ordinary man.  One thing I am coming to see more and more is that I have always thought of waiting for God as something to do, when, in fact, waiting for God is a way to be.  "This blessed waiting," writes Andrew Murray, "must and can be the very breath of our life--a continuous resting in God's presence and his love, an unceasing yielding of ourselves for him to perfect his work in us." 
     But here, in Isaiah 30, the idea of waiting takes a delightful turn.  Here, instead of us waiting for God, we have a beautiful picture of God waiting for us.  A picture of God waiting, even longing (as the NIV translates it), to be gracious to us.  A picture of a God that is so ready to pour out his grace and his love and his compassion on us, that he can hardly contain himself--if only we would turn to him and receive it.  A God who is waiting for us to wait for him. 
     O my children, if only you would turn your gaze and your heart to me.  If only you would lay the head of your soul on the heart of Love and wait for all that Love yearns to bestow.  Then you would know me the way I long to be known.  And then you would know yourselves as I know you.  O my Beloved, wait for me.


Closing Prayer: We wait for you, O Lord, and in you we put our hope.

Saturday, June 11, 2016


Opening Prayer: Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.  For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.  Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you. (Psalm 33:20-22)

Scripture: Psalm 33:20-22

Journal: Where is your hope these days?  What are you trusting in for your life?  How is God your help these days?  Your shield?  How in touch are you with his steadfast love?

Reflection: All the exercises of the spiritual life, our reading and our praying, our willing and doing, have their very great value.  But they can go no farther than this, that they point the way and prepare us in humility to look and to depend alone upon God himself, and impatience to wait his good time and mercy.  The waiting is to teach us our absolute dependence upon God’s mighty working, and to make us in perfect patience place ourselves at his disposal. (Waiting on God by Andrew Murray)


Closing Prayer: We’re depending on you, God; you are everything we need.  What’s more, our hearts brim with joy since we’ve taken for our own your holy name.  Love us, God, with all you’ve got—that’s what we’re depending on. (The Message)

Friday, June 10, 2016


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to listen to you this day, for listening to you brings life to our souls, and direction to our feet.  Please remind us that listening to you should always come before speaking for you.  Amen.

Scripture:  John 12:49-50

Journal: How often do you speak of your own accord, rather than listening first to the voice of God?  What would it look like if you listened before you spoke?

Reflection: The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside.  And only he who listens can speak. (Markings by Dag Hammarskjold)

Why is it so difficult to be still and quiet and let God speak to me about the meaning of my life?  Is it because I don’t trust God?  Is it because I don’t know God?  Is it because I wonder if God really is there for me?  Is it because I’m afraid of God?  Is it because everything else is more real for me than God?  Is it because, deep down, I do not believe that God cares what happens to me?
     Still there is a voice.  The question is, can I trust that voice and follow it?  It is not a very loud voice, and often it is drowned out by the clamor around us.  Still, when I listen attentively, I will hear that voice again and again and come to recognize it as the voice speaking to the deepest places of my heart.  (Here and Now by Henri Nouwen) 


Closing Prayer: Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.  Amen.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


Opening Prayer: O Lord, my God, how you long for me to come to you, rather than running to the many places I try to feed my soul each day.  You are the Living Bread, Lord Jesus.  You are the bread that we can eat and never hunger again.  And yet so often we run to other things and other people to try and satisfy the deepest hunger of our souls.  Forgive us.  Help us to come to you this day, and listen to you, that our souls may live.  Amen.

Scripture: Isaiah 55:1-3

Journal: What do these verses do in you today?  What do they bring to life?  How do they challenge you?  Will you come and listen to Jesus today?

Reflection: I am becoming more and more convinced that listening to God is one of the most important practices in all of the spiritual life.  I am also becoming more and more convinced that it is something we do far too seldom.  Maybe it's because we are afraid that if we really try to listen to God, he will not say anything, which will lead us to doubt, hopelessness, and despair.  Or maybe, on the other hand, we are afraid that he will say something, but not the something we were hoping to hear.  In either case we cannot deny the importance of the practice.  It is mentioned so frequently in the Scriptures.  For it is in the listening, and then in the hearing, that we find life.
     So the other day I asked myself (or maybe God asked me, come to think of it), "What do I think God is trying to say to me today?"  And here was the reply: "Relax.  Stop trying so hard.  Find rest in me.  Unburden yourself.  Live at peace in me.  Breathe.  Be free."  Now that's something worth listening to!


Closing Prayer: “Hey there! All who are thirsty, come to the water? Are you penniless? Come anyway—buy and eat! Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk. Buy without money—everything’s free! Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest. Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. (The Message)

Monday, June 6, 2016


Opening Prayer: Jesus, you want so much more for us.  You long for us to be pure and holy.  Help us to raise the standard in our lives, whatever that may look like.  Whatever that may cause us to cut off or pluck out.  Nothing is too much if it helps us to be more like you.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 9:42-50

Journal: What does this passage do within you?  How does it disturb you?  What feathers does it ruffle?  What areas of your life need to be “cut off” or “plucked out?”  Why do you tolerate them?

Reflection:  You don’t have to look far to see how important purity is to Jesus.  It is important enough to cut off, or pluck out, something vital in order to preserve the purity of the whole.  And maybe preserving this purity is the whole idea; thus the connection with salt.  The question then becomes: If purity is so important to Jesus, why is it not equally important to us?  We tend to operate under a whole different paradigm.  We tend to tolerate far too much.  Maybe it’s time for us to raise the bar.  Maybe it’s time that purity become as important to us as it is to Jesus.  What would that look like?  What do we tolerate in our own lives that Jesus simply would not tolerate?  How does Jesus want us to raise the standards of our own lives?


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us not to tolerate things and habits and patterns that keep us from being wholly yours.  Give us the courage to fully walk with you, whatever that may look like.  Amen.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

they are yours

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for praying for us.  Thank you for carrying us in your heart.  Thank you for loving us enough to intercede on our behalf.  Thank you that we are yours.  Amen.

Scripture: John 17:1-11

Journal: What most captures your heart today from this prayer of Jesus?  Why?  How does the phrase “They are yours” strike you?  What does it do within you?  Why? 

Reflection: At times I have a tendency to operate as if everything were up to me.  To be quite honest, it is a frightening way of living life, and can easily leave me overwhelmed and worn out.  But the prayer of Jesus today, in John 17, reminds me that all is not, in fact, up to me.  God is the one to whom all things and all people ultimately belong.  He is in control, and therefore I do not have to be.  Thus, when I begin to treat the people around me as if they were totally my responsibility, or as if they were somehow my possession to manipulate affirmation or significance out of, then I have taken a terribly wrong turn.  They belong to God, not to me, and I must always treat them as such.  When I do that, there is freedom.  Freedom to let God be God.  Freedom to let me be myself.  And freedom to love instead of manipulate.


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to fully trust you with our lives and the lives of all those around us that are dear to us.  They are yours, and we are glad.  Amen.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

as i have loved you

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach us to love like you love.  And help us to know that the way we do that is to pay careful attention to the way you have loved us.  O how you love us!  Thank you.  Amen.

Scripture: John 13:34-35

Journal: What arises within you when you first read these verses?  Why?  What is the first thing that God wishes would rise within you?  How has God loved you lately?  What does that have to do with these verses?

Reflection: I don't know about you, but most often, when I read these verses, the first thing that arises are a list of oughts and shoulds that primarily focus on how poorly I love.  But today was different.  Today God gave me a sweet invitation.  Today God said, "Stop focusing on yourself and instead focus on me.  After all, the sentence begins, 'As I have loved you.'  Why not focus on my love, and how I have loved you?  I have loved you fully.  I have loved you completely.  I have loved you unconditionally.  I have pursued you.  I have embraced you.  I have romanced you.  I have drawn near to you.  I have whispered my affections in your ear.  I have listened to you.  I have guided you.  I have protected you.  I have provided for you.  I have been present to you.  I have comforted you.  I have even given my life for you.  Let my love overwhelm and overcome you.  Let my love completely capture you.  Then all of the rest will take care of its self." 


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to love like you love.   I am far too selective about the who and the how of my love, often thinking that I actually have a choice about who I will love and how I will love them.  Your love for me does not give me that option.  You call me to love like you love—unconditionally, extravagantly, and indiscriminately.  Help me, this day, to love those that I have a hard time loving.  And I know that I can’t possibly do that on my own, I’m going to need your help.  Lord, have mercy.  Help me to love as you love.  Amen.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

a place

Opening Prayer: O Jesus, thank you that you go to prepare a place for me.  And thank you that since you go to prepare a place for me you will come back and take me to be with you that I may also be where you are.  It is the deepest longing of my soul.  May the hope of that day sustain me.  Amen.

Scripture: John 14:1-3

Journal: How are you trying to make your place in this world?  What does it mean to you that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you?

Reflection: It seems that so much of my life involves trying to make, or earn, a place in this world.  Trying to build my own house, if you will.  What a relief to know that I do not have to do that.  I do not have to anxiously scurry around, jockeying for position, breathlessly performing all kinds of tasks, trying to convince myself and my world that I deserve a place in their house, or a seat at their table.  You, Lord Jesus, have already prepared a place for me.  My worth and value, my place in the grand scheme of things is not up for grabs.  You have secured it for me and it cannot be lost.  I have a place to be.  I have somewhere that I belong.  You have made a home for me in your heart for all eternity.  Help me to live like it.


Closing Prayer: My place, Lord Jesus, is secure.  I do not have to earn it, or prove I am worthy of it.  It is not a result of how well I perform or how many things I achieve.  It is simply the result of your unfailing love for me.  Thank you!  Amen.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Opening Prayer: O Lord our God, when we try to do it ourselves—whatever it may be—it is always in vain, regardless of how early we get up or how late we get to bed.  No matter how hard we try, we just can’t keep everything under control for long.  We always end up feeding on the bread of anxious toil.  And that is some of the worst bread there is.  Give us the wisdom, O God, to turn to you and surrender everything to your care.  O Lord, help us to always trust in you.  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 127:1-2

Journal: Where in your life are you eating the bread of anxious toil?  Where are you trying to build the house?  What is the effect of each?

Reflection: It is a very subtle thing.  At times hardly noticeable at all.  It may begin with a growing sense of frustration, and then progress into a significant amount of anxiety.  That’s when I start getting suspicious that I’ve done it again.  I have taken over the building of the house once more.  I don’t know what causes me to do it.  Maybe somehow I believe in my heart of hearts that it’s all up to me to build this life, or this ministry, or this career, or whatever else the house might be.  Or maybe it’s even uglier than that.  Maybe I am determined to be the one in control of it all.  I am determined to be the one who decides what it looks like.  I am determined to be the one who chooses the size and the layout and the paint colors.  Maybe I am actually unwilling to trust God with it. 
     Either way it always leads me to the same place—eating the bread of anxious toil.  No matter how early I get up, no matter how many hours I put in, and no matter how late I go to sleep (if I go to sleep at all), it is all in vain.  And there’s really nothing I can do about it, no matter how hard I try.  Somehow I have to come to the realization that it is not up to me.  Somehow I have to confess that building this house is a job far bigger that I have the capability or competence to handle.  It is a humbling place to be.  I must confess that I have once again tried to take control of something that only God can truly care for.  And I must repent, return the hammer and the plans and the blueprints to the One who dreamt the whole thing into being in the first place, and trust.  Then maybe, finally, he will give his beloved rest.


Closing Prayer: If God doesn’t build the house, the builders only build shacks. If God doesn’t guard the city, the night watchman might as well nap. It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves? (The Message)