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Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Opening Prayer: May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.  (Psalm 33:22)

Scripture: John 5:31-40

Journal: How do you try to testify about yourself?  How does that work out?  What does God say about you?  Rest in that.

Reflection: If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid.  There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid. (John 5:31-32)
    I don’t know about you, but it seems like my life is one long case of me trying to testify for myself; constantly trying to make an argument that I am worth loving.  The burden of proof being on me.  But it is not.  I love that Jesus understood this—and longs for us to understand it as well.  The burden of proof has already been satisfied.  It is what God says about us, not what the world says, that counts.  God’s passionate, extravagant, unfailing love for you and for me is all the proof we need.  We are valuable.  We are worth loving.  Case dismissed.  Thanks be to God!


Closing Prayer: O Lord, why do I constantly feel the need to prove to myself and to my world that I am worth loving, when you have already called me your Beloved?  Amen.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

stilled and quieted

Opening Prayer: Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side.  Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.  Leave to thy God to order and provide.  In every change he faithful will remain.  Be still my soul, thy best thy heavenly friend.  Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Scripture: Psalm 131:1-3

Journal: How do you try to still and quiet your soul?  How is that going?  How are you making time and space for that to be a possibility?

Reflection: I have stilled and calmed my soul like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. 
     Okay, let’s be honest.  When was the last time your soul was still and calm, like a weaned child with its mother?  Has it been a while?  Why is that?  
     I don’t know about you, but my soul can be pretty chaotic and turbulent at times.  It can be so full of noise and clamor and busyness that stillness doesn’t even seem like a remote possibility.  It can be so needy and anxious and demanding that a weaned child is the last thing my soul is like.  Yet that is what God desires, both for me and from me.  He wants me to be still and calm and secure and content in his loving embrace.  Just like a mother wants to sit and embrace and love and adore and stare in wonder at her precious child, so does our God long to embrace us.  Why do we have such a hard time just sitting still and being loved?  
     Probably because we think that God’s love is like the world’s—it must be earned.  And when we truly believe that, rather than believing that God’s love is totally unconditional, we will never be able to be still, much less find rest.  We will wear ourselves out, continually trying to prove that we are worth loving.  It is exhausting.  
     But God offers another way—the way of the weaned child.  The problem is that the stilling and calming of our souls is our part of the equation.  Notice David said, “I have stilled and quieted my soul.”  It is up to us to make time and space to sit in God’s embrace.  It is up to us to still and calm our turbulent souls.  It will not come quickly.  And it will not be easy.  It will take some effort and commitment on our part—some intentionality.  And it will take some time, maybe a lot of time.  We must make time and space to sit before God in silence until all of the voices and chaos and turbulence within us finally starts to settle down.  If we don’t commit ourselves to making this a regular practice, it is unlikely that we will ever be able to say, as King David did, “I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”  Lord, have mercy.


Closing Prayer: Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake to guide the future as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake; all now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Monday, November 20, 2017


Opening Prayer:  Pull me, O God, into your holiness, for I can get there no other way.  Amen.

Scripture: 1 Peter 1:13-25

Journal: How is God pulling you towards himself these days?  How is it changing your life?

Reflection: So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”
     You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.
     Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.
     Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God’s living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! That’s why the prophet said,

          The old life is a grass life,
              its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers;
          Grass dries up, flowers droop,
              God’s Word goes on and on forever.

This is the Word that conceived the new life in you. (1 Peter 1:13-25, The Message)


Closing Prayer: O God, let me be pulled by the power of your great affection, deeper and deeper into your great heart of love, that I might reflect you in all I do.  Amen.

Friday, November 17, 2017

the word alive within

Opening Prayer: Plant your word within me, O Lord, and make it come to life.  That I might be alive with the very life of God within me.  Amen.

Scripture: Deuteronomy 30:11-14

Journal: Where and how is God’s word alive in you these days?  How are you making time and space to give his word room to come alive within you?  How is it fleshing itself out in your life?

Reflection: If we let the word of God take up residence within us, it will become something.  It is alive.  In fact, “It is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword,” the writer of Hebrews reminds us.  We do not have to try and make it into something, it already is something, and will become something more in us as we give it time and space.
     The problem is that while we may indeed read the word of God, we do not typically allow it the time and the space to become—to live and dwell within us.  We do not give it room to have a life of its own.  Therefore, more often than not, the seed of the word falls on the hardened path of our own busyness and activity and comes to nothing.  What a tragedy.
     If we truly desire intimacy with God, if we truly want to hear God speak to us, we must learn how to plant his word in our hearts and souls in a way that it comes alive in us, and then works its way out into our lives and our world.  We must, as Eugene Peterson so beautifully said, turn our eyes into ears.  We must come to God’s word fully realizing its personal and specific nature, fully realizing its potential to speak deeply into our hearts and lives.  And we must make time and space for it to do so.  It will not happen by accident.    


Closing Prayer: This commandment that I’m commanding you today isn’t too much for you, it’s not out of your reach. It’s not on a high mountain—you don’t have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. And it’s not across the ocean—you don’t have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. No. The word is right here and now—as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it! (Deuteronomy 30:11-14, The Message)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to realize that unless you wash us we have no part with you.  Wash us clean this day of all that keeps us from being completely yours.  Make us whole.  Make us new.  Amen.

Scripture: John 13:8

Journal: Where do you need to be washed today?

Reflection: One of my good friends always used to say, “You can come to Jesus with dirty feet, but you can’t stay that way.”  And I wonder if that was not exactly what Jesus was trying to communicate to Simon Peter on this particular night.  Come to me.  O come, you dirty and messy and broken.  Come to me, all of you who are screwed up and fouled up and lost.  Come to me, all who are anxious and fearful and insecure.  Come to me, all who are filled with guilt and doubt and shame.  Come to me, you whose feet—and hearts and lives—are covered with filth, and I will make you new.  I can make the foulest heart clean.  I can turn your mess into maturity.   I can make the most broken life whole.  Just come to me.  But if you come to me, you must realize that you cannot stay the way you are, because everything that I touch, I transform.  It is just the nature of who I am.  I make things back into what they were intended to be.  So come to me, for unless I wash you, you can have no part with me.  What do you say? 


Closing Prayer: 
Wash me, O Lamb of God, Wash me from sin!
By Thine atoning blood, O make me clean!
Purge me from ev'ry stain, Let me Thine image gain,
In love and mercy reign O'er all within!

Wash me, O Lamb of God, Wash me from sin!
I long to be like Thee, All pure within.
Now let the crimson tide, Shed from Thy wounded side,
Be to my heart applied, And make me clean.

Wash me, O Lamb of God, Wash me from sin!
I will not, cannot rest Till pure within.
All human skill is vain, But Thou canst cleanse each stain
Till not a spot remain— Made wholly clean.

Wash me, O Lamb of God, Wash me from sin!
By faith Thy cleansing blood Now makes me clean.
So near art Thou to me, So sweet my rest in Thee—
O blessed purity, Saved, saved from sin!

Wash me, O Lamb of God, Wash me from sin!
Thou, while I trust in Thee, Wilt keep me clean.
Each day to Thee I bring Heart, life— yea, ev'rything;
Saved, while to Thee I cling, Saved from all sin!
(Wash Me, O Lamb of God by H. B. Beagle)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

flame on

Opening Prayer:
O living flame of love
That tenderly wounds my soul
In its deepest center!  Since
Now you are not oppressive,
Now Consummate! If it be your will:
Tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!

O sweet cautery,
O delightful wound!
O gentle hand!  O delicate touch
That tastes of eternal life
And pays every debt!
In killing you changed death into life.
O lamps of fire!
In whose splendors
The deep caverns of feeling,
Once obscure and blind,
Now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
Both warmth and light to their beloved.

How gently and lovingly
You wake in my heart,
Where in secret you dwell alone;
And in your sweet breathing,
Filled with good and glory,
How tenderly you swell my heart with love.

—John of the Cross

Scripture: Luke 8:16-18

Journal: What is the state of your inner fire these days?  What tends and nurtures the flame?  What hinders it or covers it up?  How does that light desire to shine itself in your life and world?

Reflection: No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed.  Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light." (Luke 8:16)
     You have lit this flame in me, O God, and I burn with love for you.  Yet at times I am content to hide the flame, to put it in a jar or under a bed, rather than setting it on a stand and letting it shine.  Sometimes I do this out of fear, sometimes I do it out of laziness, and sometimes I do it out of comfort—not wanting to go through the anxiety and the angst that putting this light on a stand creates in me.  But this flame, which you have lit, was made to shine, so that those who come in can see the light.  All it really costs me is to be; to be the one you have made me to be, and shine.  After all, that's what a light does, right?


Closing Prayer: Shine your light in and through me, O God, that those who come in can see the light of your love and your presence that resides in my heart and surrender themselves to you.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Opening Prayer: Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3)

Scripture: Psalm 1:1-6

Journal: What are you meditating on day and night these days?  What fruit is it producing in your heart and soul?  What would it look like to meditate on God’s word today?

Reflection: Meditation is one of the ways in which the spiritual man keeps himself awake. . . .  Meditative prayer is a stern discipline, and one which cannot be learned by violence.  It requires unending courage and perseverance, and those who are not willing to work at it patiently will finally end in compromise.  Here, as elsewhere, compromise is only another name for failure.
    To meditate is to think.  And yet successful meditation is much more than reasoning or thinking.  It is much more than “affections,” much more than a series of prepaid “acts” which one goes through.
    In meditative prayer, one thinks and speaks not only with his mind and lips, but in a certain sense with his whole being.  Prayer is then not just a formula of words, or a series of desires springing up in the heart—it is the orientation of our whole body, mind, and spirit to God in silence, attention, and adoration.  All good meditative prayer is a conversion of our entire self to God.  (Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton)


Closing Prayer: How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119:103-105)

Monday, November 6, 2017

the god of peace

Opening Prayer: Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!
    Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:4-7, The Message)

Scripture: Philippians 4:4-11

Journal: Where in your life are you experiencing the peace of God?  Where in your life are you experiencing the God of peace?  What is the difference?  How does prayer enter into that?

Reflection: When we give our anxieties to God in prayer, we know the peace of God.  And when we meditate on the beauty and wonder and excellence of God, we know the God of peace.  Knowing the God of peace, it would seem, can lead us to knowing the peace of God.  And we get to know the God of peace by fixing our hearts and souls and minds—and prayers—on him.  When we focus on God, and the character and nature of God, rather than on our own anxieties, it does something really good within us.  It makes us the best version of ourselves.  It allows us to live and love in trust and freedom, rather than scrambling and controlling and grasping and jockeying.  Christ becomes the center of our universe, not our worries. 


Closing Prayer: Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. (Philippians 4:8-9, The Message)

Friday, November 3, 2017


Opening 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)

Scripture: Isaiah 55:1-3

Journal: How are you making space in your life to listen to God?  How is that going?  How do you listen?

Reflection: Listening means being released from willfulness, arrogance, and self-assertiveness.  It calls for respectful presence to the mystery we are meditating, for humble openness to its meaning.  Such listening or apprehending is prior to our appraisal of these meanings and our decision to incorporate them into our spiritual development, should God give us the grace for this growth. . . .  Listening is only possible to the degree that we let go of the grip of our egotistic will and become inwardly and outwardly silent, alert, receptive, attentive.  Then we may be able to think clearly or meditate; it becomes possible to reflect on our lives as a whole or on a text we are reading.  What we hear sinks from our minds into our hearts.  Ideas are not exploited to serve our purposes but to direct us to deeper wisdom, to a revelation of persons, events, and things as they are in themselves.  We become the servants rather than the masters of the world. (Pathways of Spiritual Living by Susan Annette Muto) 


Closing Prayer: Speak, O Lord, as we come to You, to receive the food of Your holy word.  Take Your truth, plant it deep in us; shape and fashion us in Your likeness, that the light of Christ might be seen today, in our acts of love and our deeds of faith.  Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us all your purposes, for Your glory. (Speak O Lord by Stuart Townend, Keith Getty)