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Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Opening Prayer:
There is a mild portending in the air
this last November morning, a persistent wish
that with tomorrow’s wreath and purple candles
at least something will begin, or should I say,
“begin again.”  Almost eighty of these now, after all,
and still—like weary Simeon—I’m scanning faces,
seeking, hoping, perhaps fearing.  If he did come in the end
how would I know him?  Would there be words exchanged,
a knowing look, even a fierce embrace?
Might I have already missed whatever is to come,
failing to recognize the fathoms deep beneath the daily pageant?
Or will this be the year, at last, when ancient word and melody,
rich color and the candled scent of evergreen
bear light to life and lasting joy within
these time-worn, aching bones.
~J. Barrie Shepherd

Scripture: Isaiah 40:1-11

Journal: What do the words of Isaiah stir within you during this day and this season?  What desires are aroused in you?  How do you long for God to come into your life and world?

Reflection: “Advent is all about desire,’ an elderly Jesuit in our community used to say every year as November drew to a close.  And whenever he said it, I would say, “Huh?”
     But gradually it dawned on me.  Christians desire the coming of Christ into their lives in new ways, a desire that is heightened during Advent.  The beautiful readings from the book of Isaiah, which we hear during Advent, describe how even the earth longs for the presence of God.  The wonderful “O antiphons,” sung at evening prayer and during the Gospel acclamations towards the end of Advent, speak of Christ as the “King of Nations and their Desire.”  The Gospel readings in the coming weeks tell of John the Baptist expressing Israel’s hope for a Messiah.  Mary and Joseph look forward to the upcoming birth of a son.  My friend was right.  It’s all about desire. ~James Martin, SJ


Closing Prayer: Come, Lord Jesus.  Come into our longing.  Come into our lives and fill them with the hope and the joy which we were made to know.  This day and every day.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

stop, look, and listen

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, during this Advent season give us eyes to see you and ears to hear you and hearts to respond to all that you are doing within and around us. Come, Lord Jesus!  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 10:21-24

Journal: What have you seen lately?  What have you heard?  Where have you noticed the activity of God within or around you?  Do you realize that you are blessed to be able to witness that?

Reflection: I don’t know if we realize how fortunate we are.  We have been given the Spirit of the Living God to dwell in our very hearts; to make his home within us.  And that same Spirit of God gives us eyes to see him and ears to hear him in ways that the kings and prophets of days gone by longed for.  The problem is that most of the time we do not realize it.  The activity of God goes on right under our noses and we miss it because we simply aren’t paying attention.  The worries of this life, or the cares of this world, or the state of our circumstances, distract us and preoccupy us, and we fail to notice what God is doing right in our midst.  Maybe it is time, during this Advent season, to stop, look, and listen.  Maybe it’s time to slow down and to make space and to turn the eyes and ears of our hearts to the One who dwells within us.  Maybe then we will actually begin to see and hear the very things that Jesus was talking about.


Closing Prayer: Lord, you know me better than I know myself.  Your Spirit pervades every moment of my life.  Thank you for the grace and love you shower on me.  Thank you for your constant, gentle invitation to let you into my life.  Forgive me for the times I have refused that invitation, and closed myself off from you.  Help me in the day to come, to recognize your presence in my life, to open myself to you, to let you work in me, to your greater glory. Amen. (The Spiritual Exercises by St. Ignatius)

Monday, November 28, 2016


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to be my best self today; the one you dreamt me to be when you breathed me into existence.  Amen.

Scripture: John 1:47-51

Journal: Are you living as you true, God-breathed, self these days?  Why or why not?  What is the biggest thing that keeps you from being who God created you to be?

Reflection: “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”  What a beautiful statement. Jesus saw Nathanael approaching and that is what he said.  The word used here (eidō) tells us that he didn’t just see Nathanael, but he saw into Nathanael.  And when he saw into the heart of Nathanael, he saw that there was nothing false.  The Greek word for false is dolos, which means deceit or trickery.  Thus, Nathanael was not pretending to be someone he was not.  He was not covering up or hiding behind anything.  He was not posturing or jockeying for position.  He was not acting or trying to fool anyone.  He was simply being himself.  He was being his true—created in the image of God—self.  I think that’s why Nathanael responds to Jesus with the beautiful words, “How do you know me?”  He didn’t argue with Jesus or try to correct him.  He didn’t try to deflect or deny the statement, he simply embraced it.  I think Nathanael did this because he knew to his core that he was being exactly who God made him to be.
     O how I long for the same.  Don’t you?  How I long to be the beautiful creation that God intended me to be when he breathed me into being.  But, more often than not, I tend to be something else altogether.  I do not regularly live out of my true self, but out of some distorted version of that.  I tend to live out of a false self instead.  That self that is a product of my deepest fears, doubts, and insecurities.  That self that is constantly trying to prove to myself and my world that I am, indeed, worth loving.  It is what I like to call the manufactured self, because it is a self of my own making; a response to my trying to create an identity for myself out of fear that the one I’ve been given is not good enough.  And any identity (or self) that I create can only be false, because my true identity can only be given (bestowed) to me by the One who made me.


Closing Prayer: Jesus, tell me who I am.  Speak to me those words of life and affection that will draw me into the life you intended for me to live, both in you and for you, this day and every day.  Amen.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

first sunday in advent

Opening Prayer: Keep us alert, we pray, O Lord our God, as we await the advent of Christ your Son, so that when he comes and knocks he may find us watchful in prayer and exultant in his praise.  Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen. (A Collect for Advent on Creighton University Online Ministries)

Scripture: Luke 21:34-36

Journal: How will you stay spiritually awake and attentive during this season of Advent?  How are you longing for Jesus to show up in your life during this season?

Reflection:  Today is the beginning of Advent, the time and the season when we watch and wait for the coming of our Savior Jesus.  And not only is it the time we need to watch for Christ, but also the time when we watch that our own hearts are not weighed down by things other than him.  The cares of this life can be a trap that distracts and consumes us, and diverts our attention away from the coming of the One who made us and loves us and delights in us.  Therefore, we must be on our guard and keep out spiritual wits about us.  We must stay awake at all times, so that when he does arrive, within and among us, we will not miss it.


Closing Prayer: O Lord, my God, help me to live my life in you.  Wake me up minute-by-minute, day-by-day, to your presence within me and around me.  Wake me up to your love and to your care, to your voice and to your Spirit.  Help me to come all awake within, and when I finally do, help me to find myself in your loving arms.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, as I celebrate Thanksgiving Day today, don’t let me get so consumed with my own life, and my own needs and desires, that I miss those who need your attention, your affection, and your tender care.  Give me a heart of compassion this day (of all days) for the poor and the broken who are sitting at my gates.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 16:19-31

Journal: Who is Lazarus in your life right now?  How aware are you of those sitting at your gate?  How is God calling you to respond to them?

Reflection: It is easy to get so caught up in the gravitational pull of our everyday lives and routines that we miss seeing those in need sitting right at our gates.  We walk right by them every day, but fail to really see them because our minds and our hearts are so consumed with our own needs and wants that we fail to notice.  Or, even if we do notice, we fail to respond because of all of the other things on our plates.
     Jesus, however, calls us to a very different way of being.  He calls us to walk with great care and attentiveness to those in need; Lazarus is simply a metaphor for that.  In fact, the name Lazarus means whom God helps.  Therefore, God calls us to a life that is not totally consumed with self, but one that is open and attentive and responsive to those in need; whomever they may be and whatever they may look like.  For if we fail to notice the needy and the broken and the outcast at our gates, we—in a very real sense—fail to notice Jesus.
     Who is Lazarus for you today?


Closing Prayer: Help me to see, Lord Jesus.  Give me eyes to see those in need; and give me the heart, the courage, and the wisdom to respond to them in whatever way you direct.  Amen.

Monday, November 21, 2016


o light
upon you
we wait
as we sit
in our darkness

it is the season
of longing
which we now
enter into

the season
of groaning
the season
of recognizing
that all is not
as it was intended to be

the season in which
we watch and wait
for all to be made right

and so we watch
and we wait
and we yearn
for your coming

and hope
is birthed
within us

we wait for you
o light
to come and shine
to blaze
to drive away
our darkness
our doubt
our fear
our despair
and bring us
the hope of life

and bring us
a little taste
of your kingdom
a little hint
of the way
things were intended
to be
and one day
will be

*Advent begins on Sunday, November 27.  Hope this helps get you in the mindset:) 

Friday, November 18, 2016

being and doing

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help my life and my ministry to always be a living expression of your life in me.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 9:51-56

Journal: Who, or what, determines how you will spend your days?  Who, or what, typically sets your face?  Who has God called you to be?  What is God setting your face toward these days?

Reflection: Doing and being can be really confusing.  As a matter of fact, we often get the two backwards.  We often start with doing rather than being, which leaves us constantly feeling like our lives are living us, rather than us living our lives.  When we live this way we are at the mercy of our circumstances, constantly living in reaction to whatever may arise.  It is a ready, fire, aim mentality.
     Jesus, however, shows us a whole different way of living.  He shows us that, in the life of faith, being must always come before doing.  What we do must always flow out of a deep recognition of who God has called us to be.  Jesus knew his mission.  He knew who he was and what he was about, and that determined his steps each day.  Thus, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.  It was a purposeful, intentional choice.  He was not the victim of circumstances.  His mission determined his direction, not vice versa.  And he invites us to live the same way.


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help my doing to always flow out of a continual sense of being with you.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, when we begin to compete and compare it makes us the absolute worst version of ourselves; not at all the loving and compassionate people you desire for us to be.  Help us, Lord Jesus, to understand what it means to be the least, for only then will we be free to love and care for people the way you made us to.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 9:46-50

Journal: Where and how are you trying to be the greatest?  What does it mean for you to heed the words of Jesus and seek to become the least?

Reflection: “Master, we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him because he is not one of us.” (NIV)  It is amazing how easy it is to get stuck in an us versus them mentality in life; even when it comes to ministry.  We are the ones that do it right, whatever it may be.  We are the ones who really understand how it is to be done.  They cannot be trusted to do it quite as well as we can.  How incredibly arrogant we can be at times.  And arrogance is not an attractive quality in the kingdom.  I don’t recall Jesus ever being concerned that the disciples had lost their swagger.  No, it was quite the opposite.  Whenever they were tempted to walk with a swagger, Jesus brought a little child into the room and encouraged them that the way you become great in the Kingdom of God is to become least.
     Us versus them is rarely a fruitful way of seeing anything.  Instead of uniting, it divides.  Instead of engaging, it separates.  Instead of giving dignity, it belittles.  Instead of creating compassion, it produces competition.  And instead of loving, it criticizes, judges, and condemns.  When we become consumed with proving how right we are and how wrong they are, there is little to no possibility of loving interaction or fruitful exchange.  Can you imagine what kind of impact we could have on the world if we finally stop needing to be great, and in humility came to see others as greater and most important than ourselves?  What a different world it would be; no more hierarchy, no more comparison.  We could actually begin to start having genuine, loving dialogue with one another.  We would be free to love.


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, when you walked this earth we got to see your heart of humility.  Your meekness and lowliness confused the arrogant, hindering them from being able to grasp your purpose.  Teach me what it means to follow in your steps; to seek the low place rather than the high, the hidden place rather than the seen, and to seek to serve rather than to be served.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us never to be too busy, or too afraid, or too consumed with our circumstances to come and ask you for understanding; knowing that when we do, you will give it.  Help us, Lord Jesus, to perceive what you are up to in our lives and our world.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 9:43-45

Journal: Where do you need to ask God for understanding?  How often do you ask him what he is up to, both within you and around you?

Reflection: Huh?  It was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it?  Say what?  Why in the world would that be the case?  Why would God not want them to perceive what Jesus was saying to them?  Or maybe that’s not the issue at all.  Maybe what God really wants is for them to come and ask.  “You do not have, because you do not ask,” James tells us (James 4:2), specifically where understanding is concerned.  “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)  “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you,” Matthew tells us. (Matthew 7:7)  There seems to be something in the heart of God that loves being asked and being sought.  The disciples’ problem was that they did not ask, so they did not perceive what he was saying (or doing).  My problem is that even when I do ask, I typically ask for solutions, or for a change in circumstances, but I rarely come and ask for understanding.  I rarely come to him merely asking him to help me understand what he is up to, either within me or around me.  If I did, I have a suspicion that it would be a much different story.


Closing Prayer: Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!  You have said, “Seek my face.”  My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”  Hide not your face from me. (Psalm 27:7-9)

Monday, November 14, 2016

silence and solitude

Opening Prayer:
Uncrowd my heart, O God,
until silence speaks
in your still small voice;
turn me from the hearing of words,
and the making of words,
and the confusion of much speaking,
to listening,

                        ~Thomas Merton

Scripture: Mark 6:31

Journal: Where do solitude and silence fit in your spiritual practice?  What has been the fruit of them in your life thus far?  Why do you think God invites you into silence and solitude?  Why do you think we resist it?

Reflection: Solitude and silence are a beautiful invitation from God.  They are an invitation to stop, to cease striving, to rest, and to breathe.  They are an invitation to be renewed and restored.  In a world where we are constantly on the go, living in a constant exhale, solitude and silence provide an opportunity to inhale.  They allow the life-giving Spirit of God the space and the time to blow his fresh wind into our parched and weary souls. Thus, solitude and silence are essential for both our spiritual and our physical well-being.  They offer us an invitation to come to him, to release our burdens, and to enjoy his presence, his peace, and his rest.


Closing Prayer: O God, my loving Father, let me rest in the silence and security of your strong and loving arms this day.  Help me to trust you completely—and to be occupied with nothing else but you.  Let me find my rest and my hope in you, both now and forevermore.  Amen.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


Opening Prayer: Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. ~Psalm 199:97-104 (NIV)

Scripture: Psalm 199:97-104

Journal: What role does meditation play in your life with God?  What does it mean to meditate on God’s word?  How will you do that today?

Reflection: When the soul is occupied with looking away from present trials into the face of Christ, and making this a regular and passionate occupation, this soul will become more tranquil and still, and therefore more able to reflect the being it adores. ~Marian Scheele

Through Meditation we can let the words of Jesus descend from our minds into our hearts and create there a dwelling place for the Spirit. (Bread for the Journey by Henri J. M. Nouwen)


Closing Prayer: Oh, how I love all you’ve revealed; I reverently ponder it all the day long.
Your commands give me an edge on my enemies; they never become obsolete. I’ve even become smarter than my teachers since I’ve pondered and absorbed your counsel. I’ve become wiser than the wise old sages simply by doing what you tell me. I watch my step, avoiding the ditches and ruts of evil so I can spend all my time keeping your Word. I never make detours from the route you laid out; you gave me such good directions. Your words are so choice, so tasty; I prefer them to the best home cooking. With your instruction, I understand life; that’s why I hate false propaganda. (The Message)

Friday, November 11, 2016

hearing and doing

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, open my ears this day to hear your voice and open my heart as well, that I may act on what you have spoken.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 8:19-21

Journal: How are your hearing and your doing these days?  Which side are you erring on?  How are you making space and time to listen to God’s voice?  What is he saying to you?  And what are you doing in response to what he is saying?

Reflection: I have a friend named Kevin who works out at the gym where I used to be a member.  Actually, I would have to say that Kevin is more of an acquaintance.  You see, almost every time I went to the gym to work out, I ran into Kevin in the locker room.  And each time we saw one another it would pretty much be the exact same conversation.  He would start by asking me all about my workout, wondering what body parts I was planning on working out that day, as well as the exercises I would do to work each body part.  Then he would proceed to tell me, in vivid detail, his plans for the workout ahead.  But one day, several months into this familiar dialogue (which we had three to four times a week, mind you), I had a bit of an epiphany.  I suddenly realized that I had never actually seen Kevin outside the locker room.  He was constantly telling me all about what he was going to do, but I never actually saw him do any of it.  Evidently he enjoyed talking about his plans and theorizing about his workout, but never really got around to doing any of it.
     Thomas Kelly once wrote, “Practice comes first in religion, not theory or dogma.”  I guess Thomas Kelly had met my friend Kevin.  Or, most likely, Thomas Kelly knew our propensity (every one of us) to do exactly what Kevin was doing; to talk and plan and imagine a particular state of being without ever really doing anything about it.  Yet, the reality is that faith and practice are inseparable.  You cannot have one without the other.  We can talk a lot about prayer and silence and meditation, but, when it comes right down to it, what we actually do (practice) is much more valuable (and fruitful) than what we merely say.  Jesus affirms that right here in Luke’s gospel: “My mother and brother are those who hear the word and practice it.”  Hearing and practicing are both essential to participation in the family of God.
     Talk is cheap.  By itself it will get us nowhere.  Therefore, let us be careful to practice what we preach.  Let us make sure that life with Jesus does not just stop at talk, but actually works its way into action.


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, never let me separate my hearing from my doing.  Always give me ears to hear your voice.  May I do nothing apart from that which you have told me to do.  And, at the same time Jesus, give me a willingness and an ability to do what you have said, for faith without works is not faith at all.  The two must always go hand-in-hand.  May it be so. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

how you hear

Opening Prayer: What are you trying to say to me these days, Lord?  Help me to slow down my life and quiet my heart this day, that I might be able to hear whatever it may be.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 8:16-18

Journal: Take care then how you hear.  How are you hearing these days?

Reflection: It is amazing how many times in the eighth chapter of Luke that the words hear or listen show up.  There must be something to that.  It must be a significant part of living life with God, or Jesus never would have mentioned it so often.  And here it is once again, this time preceded by the words take care how you (hear).  Take care, in the Greek, is the word blepō, which means to look carefully at.  It also is translated see, take heed, behold, and beware of.  Therefore, hearing is something we are asked to pay special attention to.  And it is not take care of what you hear, but take care how you hear, which changes things completely.  It gives the impression that Jesus wants our hearing to be done with great thoughtfulness and intentionality.  How we hear is of great importance.
     What role does listening play in your current life with God?  Do you really believe it is an important part of life with him?  How often do you set aside time and space specifically for that practice?  How will you, or do you, make space to hear from God?  And when you do set aside space and time to hear from him, how will you go about it?  All important questions if we are to take seriously Jesus’ words.


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, you told me to take care how I hear.  That means that listening to your voice must be pretty important to you.  For once I learn to hear your voice, the more often I will hear you speak.  And the more often I hear you speak, the more confident I can be that I am actually walking according to your will.  Help me to make time and space this day, O Lord, to hear your voice.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

the good soil

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, let me hear your word this day, let me hold it fast, and let me wait patiently for it to grow into all that you dreamt for it to be.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 8:15

Journal: What are the characteristics of the good soil that make it yield fruit?  How can you weave these things into your daily practice?

Reflection: I don’t know about you, but I tend to spend a lot of time and energy reflecting on the bad soils, and allowing my heart and mind to be consumed with them, when it would probably be to my benefit to focus instead on the good soil and consider the process by which the good soil yields its fruit.
     Jesus is pretty clear that it all starts with hearing.  The first step is to listen.  He who has ears, let him hear.  We must quiet our hearts and pay careful attention to God and to his word.  For if we do not hear what he is trying to say to us, there is a good likelihood that the seed of the word will never be planted within us to begin with.
     Once we have heard, the next step is to hold fast.  We must take hold of God’s word and allow it the space and the time to germinate within us.  We must hold on to it and not let go.  This can be a really long process; most good things take time.  This holding fast gives the seed of the word time to let it do what it was designed to do—grow.
     And not only must we hold fast, but we must hold fast with honest and good hearts.  In other words, our hearts need to be open and receptive to whatever it is that God wants to grow in us.  Our hearts cannot be hard, or closed, or preoccupied, or resistant.  They must be rich and fertile soil in which the seed can come to life.
     And lastly, this whole process takes a lot of patience.  A seed grows at its own pace, in its own time.  It cannot be rushed or hurried.  It cannot be forced or manipulated.  It must be free to yield its fruit in the proper season.  Therefore we must learn to wait.  We must surrender our agenda and our need to control the process and allow the seed to grow and develop as it wishes.  It will become.  It will bear fruit, even when we cannot yet see it ourselves.


Closing Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that the process of growth is not a complicated one; I make the space and you provide the growth.  Help me to make space and time for your word to have its desired effect in the soil of my heart and soul this day.  Amen.

Monday, November 7, 2016

prayer as passionate seeking

Opening Prayer: Lord, you are my lover, my longing, my flowing stream, my sun, and I am your reflection. ~Mechthild of Magdeburg

Scripture: Song of Songs 2:5-6

Journal: How do you think God sees you?  How do you think he feels about you?  What are his words of intimacy and delight to you today?  What are yours to him?

Reflection: Teresa of Avila once wrote that the Song of Songs is the Lord teaching the soul how to pray.  Thus, our role in prayer is to make the bride’s prayer our own.  For this is the kind of language in which God longs to hear the soul speak.  Therefore, there must be a radical shift in our perception of what it truly is to love and be loved by God.  Ecstatic delight in God’s presence is not merely the preserve of mystics, and therefore inaccessible to ordinary people living among the commonplace realities of everyday life.  Prayer as passionate seeking, as desolation in the absence of the beloved and rapture in finding him—this kind of prayer is not only possible for all of us, it is the kind of prayer that God, himself passionately in love with us, wants to hear. (Sacred Space 2016)


Closing Prayer: I am faint with love for you, O God.  Come now and cradle my head in your tender and loving hands.  Wrap your arms of love around me and take me into your warm and intimate embrace; that I may know your love and that you may know mine.  Amen.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

good news

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus. Speak your good news to our hearts and souls this day, that we might be captured with your great affection and filled with the joy and the gratitude that come from being truly yours.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 8:1-3

Journal: What good news does Jesus want to proclaim to you today?

Reflection: “What do you want first, the good news or the bad news?”  When someone asks you that question, which one do you typically pick?  And why is that?  Do you want the good news first, in order to soften the blow of the bad news?  Or do you want the bad news first, hoping that once it’s out of the way you can then focus on the good news?  I don’t know about you, but when I hear that question I usually can’t get past the fact that there is bad news.  That is the part that tends to consume me.  Which makes me so glad that Jesus didn’t approach people in that way.  His message was all about good news.  In fact it poured from his mouth and his heart wherever he went.  I think that’s because good news is something that can’t be contained.  When we have good news to tell, we must tell it.  And that is exactly what Jesus did, he came to tell us the good news about God.  He came to tell each one us that: “You are loved.  You are valued.  You are not alone.  You are cared for.  You are somebody.  You are significant.  You are a work of art.  You are God’s masterpiece.  You are beautiful and strong and brave.  You are Sought After.  You are beloved.  You are forgiven.  You are redeemed.”  And not only that, but he also came to tell each one of us that: “God is good.  God is kind.  God is loving.  He is faithful and he is trustworthy and he is sovereign.  He is strong and he is mighty and he is just.  God is full of mercy and compassion.”  Now THAT is good news!


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you are a loving and faithful God who longs for intimacy and union with each of us.  May we be captured by the beauty and the wonder of that good news today, and go forth into your world to bear witness to that good news to all who come across our paths.  Amen.

Friday, November 4, 2016


Opening Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you came to earth not to condemn, but to save.  Help us, this day, to rejoice in that salvation.  And help us to consider the ways we are still in need of your saving power in our lives.  Amen.

Scripture: John 3:16-17

Journal: How do you need to be saved today?  From what?

Reflection: An elderly man meditated every morning under a big tree on the bank of the Ganges River. One morning, after he had finished praying, the man opened his eyes and saw a scorpion floating helplessly in the water. As the scorpion washed nearer to the tree, the man quickly stretched himself out on one of the long roots that extended over the river and reached out to save the drowning creature. As soon as he touched it, the scorpion stung him. Instinctively, the man withdrew his hand. A few moments later, when he had regained his balance, he stretched himself again on the tree roots to save the foundering scorpion. Again, the scorpion stung him. This time the sting was so severe that the man’s hand became swollen and bloody and his face contorted with pain. At that very moment, a passerby saw the old man stretched out on the tree root, still struggling with the uncooperative scorpion. He shouted, “Hey, stupid old man, what’s the matter with you? Only a fool would risk his life for the sake of an ugly, evil creature! Don’t you know you could kill yourself trying to save that ungrateful scorpion?” At that, the old man turned and, looking directly into his detractor’s eyes, calmly replied, “My friend, just because it is in the scorpion’s nature to sting, that does not change the fact that it is in my nature to save.” (The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning)


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that it is your nature to save.  Save me, in whatever ways I need saving, again this day.  Amen.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, give us the grace and the strength to trust your heart, even when we can’t see you hand.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 7:11-17

Journal: How are you like the widow of Nain?  Where is God in the midst of the pain in your life?  How do you think he feels about it?  Tell him how you are feeling about your pain today, and then listen for his response.

Reflection: Where is God when we are in pain?  It is an age-old question.  One that, depending on how we answer it, can significantly impact our view of, and our relationship with, God.  Because when we are in pain our tendency is to think that God either does not care, or that he is not good.  Either he does care enough to do anything about our suffering, or he can’t do anything about it.  Or, maybe even worse, he won’t do anything about it.  All of which leave us either angry and frustrated, or anxious and insecure.
     Then along comes Jesus, the one who was sent to reveal to us the heart of the Father.  Jesus, since he is God in the flesh, shows us exactly how God feels about our pain.  And not only that, he also shows us how God longs to redeem that pain, in his own time and in his own way.
     On this occasion Jesus comes across a woman who has just lost her only son; and that after she had already lost her husband.  Can you imagine the grief and the sadness and the pain?  Maybe you can.  Maybe you have been there.  Maybe you are there.  Life has dealt her two crushing blows back-to-back, and she is left reeling.  “Where in the world is God?” she must be thinking in the midst of the chaos, “Doesn’t he even care?”
     Enter Jesus.  And when Jesus sees her, immediately his heart goes out to her (NIV).  He is heartbroken (The Message).  His heart overflows with compassion (NLT).  He is moved with love and compassion for her from the very depths of his being.  That is how God feels about her pain.  That is how God feels about your pain.  He is brokenhearted.  Her broken life is not at all the way he intended it to be.  But, even still, in the midst of her grief, God is able to redeem her pain.
     Jesus stops the procession, approaches the coffin, places his hand on it, and calls the young man back to life.  The young man sits up and begins to speak.  Then Jesus gives the young man back to his mother.  God redeems her pain.  God brings life out of death, just the way he always does.  Tears turn to laughter, sadness to joy, mourning to dancing.  And that is the way it will be for your pain as well.  Maybe not today, but someday.  Someday your pain will be redeemed.  Someday your sorrow will be turned to joy.  Someday Jesus will tenderly touch your face and wipe every tear from your eyes.  And sorrow and sadness will be no more.
     And they were all filled with awe and praised God (NIV), the Scriptures tell us.  God has come to help his people,” they said.  In fact, he has turned his face towards his people (JBP).  God is not distant.  He is not disinterested.  He is not uncaring.  He is not far off.  He is right here, right in the midst of our pain.
     Why is there so much pain and suffering in the world?  The only honest answer to that question is that I have absolutely no idea.  How does God feel about that pain and suffering, and where is he in the midst of it?  The answer to those two questions is a little more clear, all because of Jesus.  God is heartbroken over our pain.  And he is right in the middle of it.  That’s why he came to earth in the first place; to both share our suffering and to bear our suffering, that one day it might all be redeemed.


Closing Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you have promised that one day you will turn my mourning into dancing.  O how I long for that day!  Amen.