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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

must decrease

Opening Prayer: O God, help me avoid pandering to accolades and applause, and willingly disappear into you instead.  (A Heart Exposed by Steven James)

Scripture: John 3:29-30

Journal: What does decreasing look like for you these days?  How are you trying to increase?

Reflection: The bride belongs to the bridegroom.  The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice.  That joy is mine, and it is now complete.  He must increase and I must decrease. ~John 3:29-30
    There is just no way around it.  As much as I might like to increase, life with God is about me decreasing.  Just ask John the Baptist, he had it all in perspective.  Although I'm sure it was hard, even for him, to keep it that way.  The rule of the Kingdom is simple: I must decrease.  It is not an option, it is a must.  Otherwise I will just be in his way.
    My desire for attention must decrease, that I might cast all the attention on him.  My desire to be great must decrease, that I might make him great.  My desire for affirmation and acclaim must decrease, that he might be affirmed and lifted up above all.  My desire to have impact must decrease, that he might actually have eternal impact.  He is the one who is essential here, not me.
    You see, the bride does not belong to me (any more than she belonged to John), she belongs to Jesus. He is her groom.  He is her lover.  Her desire must be for Him, not for me.  I am just the one waiting and watching and listening for him to come, so that I might help join their hands in an eternal embrace of love.  And then I must step aside.


Closing Prayer: Forgive me, O God, when I get this backwards.  Help me to work to make you great, not myself.  Teach me what it means that I must decrease, for it is so against my nature.  Amen.

Monday, August 28, 2017

being led

Opening Prayer: Thank you, O God, for meeting me here in ways far beyond my knowing.  I thank you for working in me in ways far deeper than my awareness.  I thank you for your love.  It enfolds me even when I am most resistant to your presence.  I thank you for your grace.  It offers yourself to me even when my back is turned.  I thank you, as I come to you this day, for the infinite variety of your creative power in my life.  I thank you for the infinite diversity that you have crafted into me.  It makes me a unique person.  As I think upon this, I pray that you will enable me to be truly thankful for the creation gifts you have given me.  Enable me to offer myself to you in them for the work you want to do in me and through me in my life and in the world. (Invitation to a Journey by M. Robert Mulholland) 

Scripture: John 21:15-19

Journal: How is Jesus calling you to give your life away in loving service to him?

Reflection: Do you ever wonder what all Jesus was trying to teach Simon Peter as they walked together on the beach only days after the resurrection?  Of course He was offering him a beautiful restoration, giving him three opportunities to profess his love after the three denials only days before.  And of course He was trying to teach Peter that the most important question in all of the spiritual life is "Do you truly love me more than these?"  Whatever our these may be.  And of course He was trying to show Peter that in the days and weeks—and even years—ahead that undying, passionate love for Jesus is the only way to truly feed the sheep without feeding on the sheep.
     But I also wonder if one of the main things He was really trying to teach Peter was that until our lives are ordered and determined by Jesus' love and His kingdom, then we really aren't following Him at all, but only following ourselves.  I think that's why He makes that disturbing statement in verses 18-19.  Almost as if to say, Okay, okay, when you were younger you called your own shots and determined your own agenda.  But when you get older, when your life of faith grows and matures, you must put yourself completely under my control.  That's what this life of faith is really all about.  You must stretch out your empty hands and let me do all the leading.  You must operate by my plans and my agenda.  I must be the one that determines how and where you spend your days, even if it means going to places that you'd rather not go.  That's what following me really looks like.  There is a shift that must take place deep within you; a shift from leading to being led.  First you are led (by Me) and then, and only then, you lead.  True service always involves following before it involves leading. 


Closing Prayer: My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.  And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.  I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.  And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. (Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton)

Saturday, August 26, 2017


Opening Prayer: Set my feet on the rock, O Lord, and give me a frim place to stand.  Put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to you, my God.  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 40:1-4

Journal: What word best describes life for you right now: orientation, disorientation, or reorientation?  What do you think God is to in that?  How does this Psalm offer you perspective or hope?

Reflection: I waited patiently on the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth; a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.  Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust. . ." (Psalm 40:1-4)
     It is a pattern woven into the story of faith: order, disorder, reorder; birth, death, rebirth; orientation, disorientation, reorientation.  It happens over and over and over again.  It makes me wonder, when seasons of chaos or disorder come, how in the world we can possibly be surprised.  But we are.  The life of faith is seasonal, but there is a reliable pattern to it all.  After all, he has made everything beautiful in its own time. (Ecclesiastes 2:11)  And that truth, and this pattern, should help us to be able to navigate the seasons of chaos whenever they come.
    At the core of all chaos lies the question, "Can God really be trusted?"  What do I really believe about him?  Is he always at work (the way Jesus claims in John 5:17) and is his heart for me good?  If so, then even in the midst of the anxiety and uncertainty of disorder and chaos, I can rely on the fact that he us ultimately going to bring about something new and beautiful, both within and around me, that could come about in no other way.  So even when I find myself at the bottom of the slimy pit (which is often), wallowing in the mud and mire, I can rest assured that ultimately he will come.  He will come, he will lift me up, he will set my feet on a rock, and he will put a new and beautiful song in my mouth.  Therefore, I can actually wait patiently on him.  That is the hope that life with God offers.  That is the hope of this pattern of life and faith: disorder is always followed by reorder, death by rebirth, disorientation by reorientation.  Something new and beautiful is being born that I cannot yet see.  Thanks be to God.


Closing Prayer: Help us to trust you, O Lord, even in the midst of the chaos and disorder this life can sometimes throw at us.  Help us to realize that you are way bigger than the circumstances of this life and can use all things to accomplish your good and beautiful purposes in us.  Help us to have faith in you, even when we can’t see beyond the pain and disorientation of our current circumstances.  We pray in the name and power of Jesus.  Amen.  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

the heart of god

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for showing us the heart of the Father.  Thank you for making a way for us to rejoin the intimacy of the Trinity.  Truly, in you we have indeed received grace upon grace.  Thank you.  Amen.

Scripture: John 1:16-18

Journal: How have you received grace upon grace from Jesus these days?  What is the life he is inviting you into?  What does he show you about the heart of God?

Reflection: No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.  What extraordinary words!  We were born out of the love, joy, and laughter of the Trinity.  And through Jesus we get a little peek into the depth of love and intimacy that exists in the heart of the Godhead.  And we, of all things, are invited to join in that Dance of endless delight.  It is what we were created for.  It is the deepest longing of our hearts.  It seems too good to be true—grace upon grace upon grace upon grace.  What we see of God through the eyes (and the life) of his Son should change everything about us.  It should capture our hearts with such love that everything in our hearts and souls should be seized by the power of his great affection.  Thanks be to God!


Closing Prayer: To the one who is three; to the three who are one.  I know of only one way to make sense of my senseless life: disappear into the love flowing from your words.  Your story tells me all that needs to be said, fills all that needs to be filled, restores all that has fallen apart, and heals all that has been infected with selfishness and greed.  The world is confusing and even though my questions pester me, I see that everything will make final, perfect sense, but only when I look into the laughing, illuminating light of your eyes.  Mystery. (A Heart Exposed by Steven James)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

kingdom life

Opening Prayer: O God of peoples, nations and history; you who became incarnate in the midst of economic, social and political injustice; you who call us to incarnate the reality of your kingdom in the midst of the world’s destructive values, structures and dynamics; we confess that we would much rather limit our relationship with you to the comfortable confines of our own insulated world.  We are prone to withdraw and create islands of security within which we can live in some degree of peace and comfort without having to see the pain and anguish of the world outside.  We are tempted to limit our spirituality to the narrow boundaries of our self-circumscribed world.  O God of justice and mercy, help us to see that to be conformed to the image of Christ is to be thrust out into the world as agents of your redeeming, healing, liberating, transforming grace.  Help us to see that our growth toward wholeness in Christ cannot move toward its fruition apart from our life in the world.  Guide us in our consideration of this reality and help us to be open and responsive to what you are saying to us. (Invitation to a Journey by M. Robert Mulholland)

Scripture: Mark 10:35-45

Journal: What do the verses today do within you?  Where do they cause to come alive?  And where do they disturb or disrupt you?  What are the words of Mark 10 calling you to today? 

Reflection: A Christian leader is not a leader because he announced a new idea and tries to convince others of its worth; he is a leader because he faces the world with eyes full of expectation, with the expertise to take away the veil that covers its hidden potential.  Christian leadership is called ministry precisely to express that in the service of others new life can be brought about.  It is this service which gives eyes to see the flower breaking through the cracks in the street, ears to hear a word of forgiveness muted by hatred and hostility, and hands to feel new life under the cover of death and destruction. ~Henri Nouwen

Closing Prayer: God of our creation and re-creation, you who are constantly at work to shape me in the wholeness of Christ, you know the hardness of the structures of my being that resist your shaping touch.  You know the deep inner rigidities of my being that reject your changing grace.  By your grace soften my hardness and rigidity; help me to become pliable in your hands.  Even as I pray this, may there be a melting of my innate resistance to your transforming love.  Amen. (Invitation to a Journey by M. Robert Mulholland Jr.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

jars of clay

Opening Prayer:
Dear Potter,
The lump of clay that I am
keeps crying for some form
day by day
I yearn for you to mold me.

This is a trust-song, Lord
I am in your hands like clay
I am ready to be transformed:

I expect
     to be molded
I expect
     to be beautiful
I expect
     to be loved.

And if by chance
someone should drop me
as your apprentices sometimes do,

I expect
     to be hurt.

I’m just trying to say
I have surrendered
     to your dream for me
I am in your hands
     like clay. 
Seasons of Your Heart by Macrina Wiederkehr

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

Journal: How aware are you of the treasure that lies within you?  How does that humble you?  How does it make you grateful?  

Reflection: The older I get, the more appropriate the words “treasure in jars of clay” have become, and I don’t just mean physically.  Oh sure, my body is indeed getting older and “wasting away” little by little, but what I am talking about is more on the inside.  Seeing the all-surpassing beauty of this priceless treasure sheds light on everything that is around it, and shows it all for what it really is.  I am amazed at how much angst and anxiety and fear and insecurity still dwells in my heart.  I thought by now I would have been past all of that.  But it seems that the older I get the more pronounced it has become, or the more noticeable, it is hard to say which.  
     Either way, it ends me up in the same place—both humble and grateful.  Humble at what a flawed and imperfect container I am, and grateful that God would somehow see fit to place himself within me.  As Evelyn Underhill once put it, I am “a created dwelling place or sanctuary of the uncreated and invisible Divine Life.”  Simply amazing.


Closing Prayer: Thank you, O God, that you have deposited the treasure of yourself in this old, broken jar of clay.

Monday, August 14, 2017


Opening Prayer: Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.  Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. (Isaiah 55:2-3)

Scripture: Isaiah 55:1-3

Journal: What voices are loudest within you these days?  Do they give life to your soul of deplete your soul?  How will you listen and hear that your soul may live?

Reflection: I am full of voices.  So full in fact that it is often hard to discern one voice from another.  The voices of my anxieties, insecurities, and fears are loud and demand constant attention.  And to be honest, when I listen to them they completely drain and deplete my soul.
     God’s voice, on the other hand, is quiet and soft and nonintrusive.  It, by design, can only be heard when my soul is still and silent and at rest.  Which can make hearing it a bit of a challenge.  But when I am finally at a place, and in a space, where I can come to stillness and hear his voice, it has the direct opposite effect on my soul.  God’s voice produces life within me, and peace.  It nourishes and nurtures, it guides and directs, it creates joy and delight.
     My challenge, then, is to listen, listen to him and not allow the more obvious voices to overwhelm and control me.  My job is to give ear, come to him, and hear.  It is a process that will not just happen on its own.  It will not just fall on my head.  It means that I must be intentional.  I must make time and space to quiet all of the voices that negate life, and to listen the still, soft voice of God that nourishes and creates it.  The only question is: “How will I do that today?”


Closing Prayer: Lord, teach me to listen.  The times are noisy and my ears are weary with the thousand raucous sounds which continuously assault them.  Give me the spirit of the boy Samuel when he said to Thee, “Speak, for thy servant heareth.”  Let me hear Thee speaking in my heart.  Let me get used to the sound of Thy voice, that its tones may be familiar when the sounds of earth die away and the only sound will be the music of Thy speaking voice.  Amen.  (The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

the slimy pit

Opening Prayer: I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3, NIV old)

Scripture: Psalm 40:1-8

Journal: What slimy pits do you regularly fall into in your life?  How do you try to battle your way out of those?  What does it look like to rely on God to lift you out of it and give you a firm place to stand?  What is the new song he has put in your mouth these days? 

Reflection: This life is absolutely full of slimy pits, and it seems I fall into the same ones over and over again.  I will be going along, living my life, minding my own business, and then suddenly something happens—a critical remark, a biting comment, a feeling of inadequacy, a disappointment, a failure, an opinion that is not valued or listened to, fear, anxiety, you name it—and there I am, at the bottom of the pit, stuck in the mud and mire once again.  It happens so fast at times that it can make your head spin.
     That’s when the wallowing begins.  The inner dialogue turns toward attack, defense, or self-contempt, and deeper and deeper into the mud and mire I go.  When am I ever going to learn where these pits are and how to avoid them?  And when am I ever going to learn that once I have fallen into one of them, I cannot get myself out if it?  I must turn to God.  I must allow the words of this ancient prayer to become my own.  Only God can lift me out.  Only God can set me on a rock.  Only God can give me a firm place to stand.  Only God can put a new song in my mouth.  Only he can replace those old, dysfunctional ways of being and seeing with new and beautiful ones.  Only he can give me hope that one day the slimy pit will not be my constant reality.  May that day be today!  Lord, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.


Closing Prayer: I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God. (Psalm 40:1-3, The Message)

Friday, August 11, 2017


Opening Prayer: Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.  You are my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:6-7)

Scripture: Psalm 32:6-7

Journal: Where do you go in times of trouble?  How has God been your hiding place?  How does he want to be your hiding place right now?  What does that look like?

Reflection: My Lord Jesus, I beseech you, do not be far from me, but come quickly and help me, for vain thoughts have risen in my heart and worldly fears have troubled me sorely.  How shall I break them down?  How shall I go unhurt without your help?
    Truly, this is my hope and my only comfort—to fly to you in every trouble, to trust steadfastly in you, to call inwardly upon you, and to abide patiently your coming and your heavenly consolations which, I trust, will quickly come to me. ~Thomas à Kempis


Closing Prayer: Every one of us needs to pray; when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts we’ll be on high ground, untouched. God’s my island hideaway, keeps danger far from the shore, throws garlands of hosannas around my neck. (Psalm 32:6-7, The Message)

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Opening Prayer: Confirm me, Lord, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and give me grace to be strong inwardly in soul and to cast out from it all unprofitable business of the world and of the flesh, that it may not be led by unstable desires of earthly things. . . .
    Therefore, O Lord, give me true heavenly wisdom, that I may learn to seek you and to find you, and above all things to love you, and to understand and know all other things as they are, after the direction of your wisdom, and not otherwise. ~Thomas à Kempis

Scripture: Psalm 16:1-11

Journal: What is the state of your soul these days?  What is affecting it most?  How will you seek God in that?

Reflection: Oh to have the grace to be strong inwardly in my soul, and to be led not by the unstable desires of my flesh; what a joy that would be.  Instead, it is my constant battle.  In fact, the older I get, the more I realize what a mess I really am.  In my younger days I had a much higher opinion of myself.  Funny how time has a tendency to reveal the truth about things.  With age comes wisdom (not that I have much of that, wisdom I mean).  Wisdom to see things as they are, not through the world's eyes but through God's.  In my thirties, I had a hard time truly believing the words of the ancient prayer: "Apart from you I have no good thing." (Psalm 16:2).  I was full of myself. I thought I had a lot to offer this poor old world.  But sitting in my place of prayer this morning, at 57, I have no trouble believing the words of Psalm 16:2 at all.  Apart from God I am a total and complete mess.  But I think that realization is a really good thing.  It is that realization that causes me to recognize my great need for God.  It is that realization that leads me to seek him. And seeking him is what this life is all about.  Thanks be to God!


Closing Prayer: O Lord, you know what a mess I am apart from you; please save me from myself.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

hearing god

Opening Prayer: Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:4-5)

Scripture: Proverbs 3:5-6

Journal: How, or in what circumstances, are you trying to discern God voice these days?  How will you know when he has answered?

Reflection: How are we to know, or find out, what the Will of God is?  I do not think that any general answer can be given to this.  In clear moral or political issues, we must surely judge and act by the great truths and demands of Christianity; and if we have the pluck to do this, then, as we act, more and more we shall perceive the direction of the Will.  That choice, cause, or action, which is least tainted by self-interest, which makes for the increase of happiness—health—beauty—peace—cleanses and harmonizes life, must always be in accordance with the Will of the Spirit which is drawing life towards ultimate perfection.  The difficulty comes when there is a conflict of loyalties, or a choice between two apparent goods.  At such points many people feel unaware of any guidance, unable to discern or understand the signals of God; not because the signals are not given, but because the mind is too troubled, clouded and hurried to receive them.  “He who is in a hurry,” said St. Vincent de Paul, “delays the things of God.”  But when those who are at least attempting to live the life of the Spirit, and have consequently become more or less sensitive to its movements to have no clear light, they will often become aware, if they will wait in quietness, of a subtle yet insistent pressure in favor of the path which they should take.  The early Friends were accustomed to trust implicitly in indications of this kind, and were usually justified.  When there is no such pressure, then our conduct should be decided by charity and common sense; qualities which are given to us by God in order that they may be used. (The Spiritual Life by Evelyn Underhill) 


Closing Prayer: You, O Lord, will make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Opening Prayer: Forgive me, O God, for all of the muttering and murmuring and grumbling that goes on regularly in my heart and soul.  Give me a deep sense of trust in you and a contentment that enables me to be joyful even when circumstances are challenging, annoying, or painful.  Amen.

Scripture: Exodus 16:1-21

Journal: Where are you grumbling in your life these days?  What is its source?  What is at the core of it?

Reflection: And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.” (Exodus 16:8)
     Hello, my name is Jim and I am a grumbler.  It is sad to admit, but it is true.  I grumble a lot.  I murmur under my breath (and even out loud at times) and complain in my heart pretty regularly about what is going on with the people and the circumstances around me.  It is not a pretty sight and is definitely not something I am proud of.  Yet, when I read this passage in Exodus 16 my disgust with the incessant nature of my complaint and criticism was taken to a whole different level.  For this scripture reveals the fact that when I grumble, ultimately my grumbling is not against those around me, but against God.
     What exactly is grumbling anyway, and where does it come from?  The definition of the word grumble is to murmur or mutter in discontent; to complain sullenly.  The Hebrew word is luwn, which means to be obstinate.  It conveys the idea of an attitude of complaint that one dwells and persists (or even abides) in.  Grumbling, therefore, is not just an isolated incident, it is a spirit and an attitude that cause a certain way of being.  It is one part pride and one part discontent, with a heavy dose of selfishness sprinkled in.  Grumbling occurs at the odd intersection of arrogance and insecurity.  It criticizes and tears down in an effort to convince ourselves that if we were in charge things would be much different, much better.  At its core, grumbling involves a heart of distrust.  Grumbling is a subtle, and not so subtle, way of saying to God, "I don't trust you, I trust me.”  Therefore, it is toxic to the soul.  Grumbling dries up the life of the Spirit within us, producing dark sadness, gloom, grumpiness, and discontent in our souls; the total opposite of the way God created us to live.  And unfortunately it is a difficult addiction to break.
     That is why we must turn to God regularly in prayer (see Psalm 32), acknowledge the state of our hearts, admit the ways we have fallen short of his ideal, and ask him to forgive us and restore a right spirit within us.  Only God can detox our souls from the spirit of grumbling that has taken up residence deep within us.  Only God can uproot this spirit of complaint and criticism and discontent, and fill us with the Spirit of joy and gladness and gratitude instead.  Then we, like King David, can pray, "Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!" (Psalm 32:11)  For the Lord our God has been so very good to us.   


Closing Prayer: Lord, forgive me for my grumbling spirit.  I acknowledge it to you, confess it, and ask for your forgiveness and your cleansing.  I grumble a lot and I am sorry for that.  Please forgive me.  Replace my grumbling with your Spirit of joy and gladness and gratitude.  Amen.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Opening Prayer: O God, help our faith in you to take concrete shape and form in our lives this day.  May we always walk in such a way that it speaks of you, and our love for you, and reveals your love and your character to everyone we come in contact with.  Amen.

Scripture: Ephesians 4:1-3

Journal: How are you walking these days?  How is your walk with God ordering and determining your walk in the world?

Reflection: Holiness and devotion must now come forth from the closet and the chapel to possess the street and the factory, the schoolroom and boardroom, the scientific laboratory and the governmental office.  Instead of a select few making religion their life, with the power and inspiration realized through the spiritual disciplines, all of us can make our daily lives and vocations be “the house of God and the gate of heaven.”  The living Christ will make it happen through us as we dwell with him in life appropriately disciplined in the spiritual Kingdom of God.
     The Spirit of the Disciplines is nothing but the love of Jesus, with its resolute will to be like him whom we love. (The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard)


Closing Prayer: Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86:11)

Friday, August 4, 2017


Opening Prayer: Late have I loved you, O Beauty, so ancient and so new, late have I loved you!  And behold, you were within me and I was outside, and there I sought for you, and in my deformity I rushed headlong into the well-formed things that you have made.  You were with me, and I was not with you. ~St. Augustine

Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:7-8

Journal: What specific ways are you training yourself each day for the purpose of godliness?

Reflection: So while I write to teach, to add to our knowledge, my ultimate aim is to change our practice radically.  This book is a plea for the Christian community to place the disciplines for the spiritual life at the heart of the gospel.  When we call men and women to life in Christ Jesus, we are offering them the greatest opportunity of their lives—the opportunity of a vivid companionship with him, in which they will learn to be like him and live as he lived.  This is the “transforming friendship” explained by Leslie Weatherhead.  We meet and dwell with Jesus and his Father in the disciplines for the spiritual life.
     Our meeting place, the disciplines are part of the good news of new life.  We should practice them and then invite others to join us there.
     I want us to take the disciplines that seriously.  I want to inspire Christianity today to remove the disciplines from the category of historical curiosities and place them at the center of the new life in Christ.  Only when we do, can Christ’s community take its stand at the present point of history.  Our local assemblies must become academies of life as it was meant to be. (The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard)


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

Thursday, August 3, 2017


Opening Prayer: O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you. (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture: Psalm 63:1-8

Journal: What are you “earnestly seeking in your life these days?  What does that mean?  What does it look like?  What does it mean to earnestly seek God?  How are you doing that?  How will you do that?

Reflection: O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you.  And therein lies the problem.  The truth is that we might seek God on occasion, and we may even be seek him with some regularity.  But the real question is, are we seeking him earnestly?  And what does that even mean?
    The word used here in Psalm 63:1 is shachar, which literally means at dawn, or early.  It gives us the definite impression that David is calling himself, as well as each of us, to seek God before everything else, to seek him first.  God is not to be one of many things, or people, that vie for our attention and our affection; he is to be the first thing.  And everyone and everything else must fall in line behind him.
    The question then, that we all must answer, is: Do we seek God first?  Do we seek him before all else?  Do we seek him before our own comfort and convenience?  Do we seek him before our own plans and agendas?  Do we seek him before our friends, families, and loved ones?  Do we seek him before all of the other demands and expectations that are placed upon us on a daily basis?  What are we earnestly seeking in our lives?  What is first?
     The truth is that most of us want God, and life with God, but we lack the will and the courage to make him the first priority in our lives.  Oh, we might say that he is first, but the way we live our lives would seem to contradict that.  In the words of Dallas Willard: “The general human failing is to want what is right and important, but at the same time not commit to the kind of life that will produce the action we know to be right and the condition we want to enjoy.”
    I think that’s why the words of this ancient prayer are so important.  They encourage us to constantly examine our lives, and to regularly recommit to a life (not just a desire) that seeks God first, above and before all else.  O God, give us the grace and the courage and the strength to seek you earnestly this day.


Closing Prayer:  O God, give us the grace and the courage and the strength to seek you earnestly this day. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

earnestly i seek you

Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, make me more like you this day.  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 63:1

Journal: What does it look like to earnestly seek God in your life?

Reflection: We can become like Christ in character and in power and thus realize our highest ideal of well-being and well-doing.  That is the heart of the New Testament message.
     Do you believe this is possible?
     My central claim is that we can become like Christ by doing one thing—by following him in Christ, we must believe that he knew how to live.  We can, through faith and grace, become like Christ by practicing the types of activities he engaged in, by arranging our whole lives around the activities he himself practiced in order to remain constantly at home in the fellowship of his Father.
     What activities did Jesus practice?  Such things as solitude and silence, prayer, simple and sacrificial living, intense study and meditation upon God’s Word and God’s ways, and service to others.  Some of these will be even more necessary to us that they were to him, because of our greater or different need.  But in a balanced life of such activities, we will be constantly enlivened by “The Kingdom Not of This World”—the Kingdom of Truth as seen in John 18:36-37. (The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard)


Closing Prayer: O God, my Heavenly Father, transform me into the beautiful work of art you dreamt me to be.  Give me the courage and the strength to settle for nothing less.  Make me more and more like your Son, Jesus.  May I live each day continually seized by the power of your great affection.  Amen.