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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

flip this house

Opening Prayer: Unless the Eternal builds the house, those who labor to raise it will have worked for nothing. Unless the Eternal stands watch over the city, those who guard it have wasted their time. God provides for His own. It is pointless to get up early, work hard, and go to bed late anxiously laboring for food to eat; for God provides for those He loves, even while they are sleeping. (Psalm 127:1-2, The Voice)

Scripture: Psalm 127:1-2

Journal: How is God stripping you or taking you down to the studs these days?  What good and beautiful thing do you think he is trying to do in this process?


     flip this house

unless the Lord
builds the house
~Psalm 127:1

in order to build
a more beautiful house
the old one must be
taken down to the studs

the soul is no different
god wants to do something
good and beautiful in us
but a little deconstruction
might need to be done first

so when it seems 
we are being stripped to the bone
we can rest assured
it is not absence or spite
but thoughtful intention

a renewing
of his image within us
a restoration of glory
the hope of 
what is to come


Closing Prayer: O God, Master Designer, Eternal Architect, Builder of all that is good and beautiful, do your work in me this day.  Make in me—and of me—a home that is well-suited for yourself.  Give me the confidence of knowing that whatever work you are doing in and through me, no matter how hard or uncomfortable, is producing a final result that is beyond my deepest hopes or wildest dreams.  You build this house, O God.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

planting and watering

Opening Prayer: Lord God, we confess: our lifestyles are too busy, our focus self-centered, and our world is consumed with fear, greed, and pride.  Sometimes, Lord, we react to the pains of others with a flippant "who cares?"  Yet, in our more receptive times, when Your Voice calls to our innermost beings, we know with absolute certainty two things we desperately need: To be loved…and to love.  Hear us, Lord, grateful, thankful to experience occasional breakthrough moments of unconditional love.  Be with those whose hearts are broken, demoralized by life's blows; those who mirror to us that unfairness and suffering is not lightened by pat answers or avoidance, but is made bearable because of fellow travelers who truly do care, and show it.  Walk with us, God.  Our trek is not always easy, our vision shortsighted, our love often hidden.  May we seek the deeper places where our compassion, our joy reflect you, the God who is Love.  Amen. ~Virgil Fry

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

Journal: How are you planting and watering seeds in your soul these days?  How?  What growth can you see? What is God growing in you these days?

Reflection: At times it is so easy to overestimate our own importance, particularly when it comes to the Kingdom of God.  We get the feeling from time to time, or should I say we deceive ourselves into believing from time to time, that if we don't make things happen for God, them no one will.  What a great reminder from Paul that God does very well on His own, thank you.  We are not a necessity.  Ours is not to make the seed, or the person, or the church, or whatever may be before us at the moment, grow.  That is God's job, and done in God's own time I might add.  The salvation or growth of people is not something I can make happen no matter how hard I try.  Ours is a much simpler task, to plant and to water—or in the case of some of the other parables, to scatter the seed.  What happens from there is the important part and fortunately—or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it—the part we cannot control . 
     I planted some seeds by my front door a few summers ago, hoping that one day they would turn into beautiful flowers.  The container they came in warned me that nothing would likely come of the planting until the next spring or early summer, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to speed up the process.  All I could do was to plant them and then consistently water the soil and let the soil, the seed, and the sunshine do its work.  It was a slow and hidden process that would need to occur.  And as I faithfully watered each day, I secretly hoped (but never told anyone) that somehow the flowers would miraculously appear any day.  No Luck.  Nothing.  In fact, I became so impatient and so filled with doubt that there was anything really going on under the soil that I was often tempted to dig them up just to see if, indeed, there was any growth taking place at all.  Of course that would've been a ridiculous thing to do, and would certainly damage or delay the process, but I have to admit that I was tempted nonetheless. 
     But planting is just that way, there is a letting go that is a necessary part.  There is a trust.  There is a knowledge of our role...and God's.  There is a patience necessary, as well as an attentiveness.  But also, there is a lot of waiting.  Waiting on the soil and the sun and the water and the seed to all do what they were made to do.  You just can't make a lot happen.  We can just work to make sure the conditions (the space, if you will) are right and make sure the seed is well planted—by means of conversation, relationship, writing, reading, or whatever your means of planting might be—and leave the rest to God, and to the waterer of course.
     Watering is another proposition altogether.  It's a little more involved.  It's a little more constant.  There is a little more attention necessary, and a little more work required over the long haul.  Last summer I planted a flowerbed in my back yard, in a spot I love to sit and enjoy the silence and the beauty of God's creation.  I made sure the flower bed was in a good spot for sun, and had good rich soil, but I didn't really think through the watering process.  Actually, we don't even have a water supply to that part of the yard.  Unless of course you use a hose, but in this case the flower bed was so far from a spigot that 3-4 hoses joined together wouldn't even reach it.  I thought of running the water line out to that part of the yard.  I thought of rain barrels.  I even thought of trying to use the water produced by the condensation from my air conditioner.  And after I shot all of those ideas entirely full of holes, I just decided to dip a bucket in the creek that runs along the back of our property line and do it by hand.  So every day of the summer I took my 10 gallon bucket, dipped it in the creek several times, and watered my flowers.  It was a pretty labor intensive process, especially when the dry season came. 
     It reminded me of Teresa of Avila and her thoughts on prayer as the way of watering the garden of our souls.  She mentions that prayer comes in seasons: some when you must use a bucket and get it by hand, some when you use a waterwheel to help bring it from its source, some when you can water by means of a stream or brook where the water flows more freely and easily, and lastly when it comes from the rains of God's Spirit as it falls from the heavens and drenches and soaks the ground.  Well, in my case, in absence of a waterwheel or irrigation system, my method was to continuously carry the water from the creek, and pray for rain.  For most of the summer the bucket was a necessity, but O the joy for several weeks toward the end of the summer when the rains fell about every day.  And on those days when it rained I rejoiced and really began to understand what St. Teresa was talking about—rejoicing in those days and those seasons when God takes over and prayer just comes like rains from the heavens.
     But now back to the point of the whole passage: So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  We should never take ourselves too seriously, or think of ourselves as too important in this process.  In fact, we are nothing.  We can produce nothing.  Fruitfulness only comes from God.  He is the One who makes things grow.  Mine is to plant or to water, to pray and to pay attention, to trust and to wait.  And watch what he does...and rejoice.  Thanks be to God.


Closing Prayer: Plant in me your good and perfect will, O Lord, that I might totally submit and completely surrender to your desires for me.  Grow your good fruit in me.  For the sake of your son Jesus.  Amen.

Monday, January 29, 2018

make every effort

Opening Prayer: God unto whom all hearts are open and unto whom every will speaks, and from whom no secret thing is hidden, I pray You to cleanse the intent of my heart with the ineffable gift of Your grace, that I might perfectly love You, and worthily praise You.  Amen. (The Cloud of Unknowing)

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:3-11

Journal: What part(s) of 2 Peter 1:3-11 speak to something deep within you today?  Why?  What words or images seem significant to you right now?  Why?  What is it about the list of qualities that captures your attention?  Are you able to identify some of those things within you?  Where do the words ineffective or unfruitful describe your spiritual life these days?

Reflection: The truth is that we’ve got everything we need.  We are not missing anything that would keep us from being able to pursue a life of godliness.  We have no excuse.  Yet we have so many, it seems.  I’m too busy.  I don’t have time.  Life is too crazy and hectic.  I have too many demands and expectations on me at work, or at home.  The list goes on and on.  Yet, Peter tells us clearly that we’ve got everything we need, we just need to make every effort.  Maybe that’s the part we’re missing.  I mean we make every effort to satisfy our bosses or clients.  We make every effort to get our kids to soccer games and baseball practices.  We make every effort to get—or to keep—all of our ducks neatly in a row.  But do we make every effort in our own spiritual lives?  Seems like we’ve gotten it a little backwards, haven’t we?
     Maybe what Peter is proposing here is that we try to keep the first things first; that we take a step back and see what is getting the majority of our efforts.  And then try and determine if the recipients of those efforts are actually worthy of them or not.  Are we giving God our best efforts or are we giving him our leftovers?  For, if we are giving him merely our leftovers, then it is not very likely that we will ever be able to fully participate in the divine nature and experience all of the fullness for which God made us.  I don’t know about you, but I want all of what God wants for me.  I do not want to settle for a spiritual life that is ineffective and unfruitful in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  What about you?


Closing Prayer: Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. (Disciplines for the Inner Life by Bob Benson and Michael W. Benson)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Opening Prayer: Grow, dear friends; but grow, I beseech you, in God’s way, which is the only effectual way.  See to it that you are planted in grace, and then let the divine Husbandman cultivate you in His own way and by His own means. (The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith)

Scripture: Philippians 3:12-21

Journal: Where are you needing to press on in your life with God right now?  What do you think the next step in growing toward maturity looks like for you?  How will you begin to move that direction?

Reflection: Now if you are to convey that spiritual certitude, it is plain that you must yourselves be spiritually alive.  And to be spiritually alive means to be growing and changing; not to settle down among a series of systematized beliefs and duties, but to endure and go on enduring the strains, conflicts and difficulties incident to development.  “The soul,” says Baron von Hugel, “is a Force or an Energy: and Holiness is the growth of that energy in love, in full Being, in creative, spiritual Personality.”  One chief object of personal religion is the promoting of that growth of the soul: the wise feeding and training of it.  However busy we may be, however mature and efficient we may seem, that growth, if we are real Christians, must go on.  Even the greatest spiritual teachers, such as St. Paul and St. Augustine, could never afford to relax the tension of their own spiritual lives; they never seem to stand still, are never afraid of conflict and change.  Their souls too were growing entities, with a potential capacity for love, adoration and creative service: in other words for holiness. (The House of the Soul and Concerning the Inner Life by Evelyn Underhill)


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, every single day the choice is before us to either believe that you are who you say you are and to follow you, or to be filled with doubt and despair and follow our own plans, schemes, and devices.  Lord Jesus, give us the grace, the strength, and the wisdom to choose you, this day and every day.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Opening Prayer: O creative God, who dreamt me into being before the foundations of the world.  Give me the strength, the courage, and the conviction to become all that you desire for me to be.  Mold me and form and shape me, that I might be conformed more and more to your image.  In the name of Jesus.  Amen. (Pieces II by Jim Branch)

Scripture: Luke 6:43-45

Journal: How does a fig tree grow figs?  What kind of tree are you these days?  What is growing on your branches?  What kind of tree do you long to be?  How will you be that?

Reflection: How does a fig tree grow figs?  No, it’s not a trick question. But it’s not rocket science either.  A fig tree grows figs by being what it was created to be.  When it is planted in fertile soil, and tended with care and attention, and watered by the spring rains, it will grow figs.  That’s just who and what it is.  If it tries to grow apples, or peaches, or anything other than figs for that matter, it’s in for a rough go of it.  Kind of makes you wonder why we ever try to be anything other than who we are.
     The reverse is also true.  If you want to know what kind of a tree you have before you, just look at the fruit it produces and it will tell you everything you need to know.  Figs are not produced by thorn bushes and grapes are not grown on bramble bushes.  Thus, a good tree does not produce bad fruit, and vice versa.  The kind of fruit that is growing on the vines and branches of our lives will tell us the truth about what is going on inside.  So, as you look at the branches of your life these days, what does it tell you?


Closing Prayer: Help me, O God, to surrender my life completely to your control and command.  Give it both a plan and pattern that constantly reminds me of your presence and consistently makes me more responsive to your will.  For the sake of Jesus, your Son.  Amen. (Pieces II by Jim Branch)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

cast your cares

Opening Prayer: O Lord, help me to cast all of my anxiety—my worries, my concerns, my burdens—upon you because you love me.  I do not have to face or fight them on my own, if only I will let go and give them completely to you.  Give me the ability to do so.  Amen.

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:6-7

Journal: What are you doing with your anxieties these days?  How are you managing them?  What would it look like to give them all to God, and not take them back?  Will you?

Reflection: I’m not quite sure why this one is so hard—this casting of our anxieties on the One who cares for us.  It sounds so easy, in theory at least.  But it is oh so hard in practice.  Because it seems like no matter how well I start out, the anxieties always end up right back in my hands, or on my heart.  What is the secret to giving them to God, and then leaving them with God?  I guess if I had the answer to that question I would be a rich man.
     I certainly don’t have a formula, but the verse itself, and those preceding it, might give us some helpful hints.  The Greek word used here for cast is epiriptō.  It means to throw upon.  The only other time it is used in all of the New Testament is in Luke 19:35 where it tells us that the disciples took off their garments and cast them upon the colt so that Jesus could ride into Jerusalem.  So it would appear that this casting is comprised of two parts—a taking off and a putting upon.  In other words, we cannot successfully cast our cares upon the One who loves us if we are unwilling to completely let go of them ourselves.  We must take them off in order to cast them upon.  Maybe this is where (one of the many places) we have trouble.  We want to give our burdens to God, but we still want to hold onto the, and control them, ourselves.  Obviously, this does not work.  We must first take them off, as the disciples took off their garments in order to cast them upon the colt.  
     I think the essence of this refusal to completely let go of our worries, cares, and burdens involves two things.  First, it involves an underlying belief that somehow we can manage our anxieties on our own—maybe even better than God can.  Control is a big issue for us, especially when we are being required to let go of it.  Somewhere along the line we have to become convinced of our own helplessness to truly be able bear the weight of these burdens.  That is the essence of the verse that precedes this invitation to cast our cares upon Him.  It calls us to a posture of humility.  It tells us that in order to fully give God our concerns, and let go of them ourselves, we must humble ourselves.  There is no other way.  We must admit we can’t do it and we must stop trying.  A lowering is required—a descent.  And in our culture, boy how we hate to descend.  We must come face to face with the fact that we cannot manage life—or our anxieties—on our own.  And that is a hard pill to swallow, much less admit.  Thus, maybe pride lies at the bottom of our inability to fully give our worries and cares to God.       
     The other thing that lies down there, in that dark place, is our lack of trust.  In our heart of hearts we doubt that God is either able or willing to take our burdens from us.  Or even worse, we are afraid of what he might do with them if we did.  We are afraid that if we give him full control of the things and the people that matter the most to us, that things might not turn out quite like we’d hoped or planned.  In essence, we doubt the goodness of his heart.  It is not a new struggle.  In fact, it goes all the way back to the garden.  One of the most common strategies of the enemy is to get us to doubt the goodness of God’s heart—therefore making us believe that we must take matters into our own hands.  Which will mean that we are forever destined to a life of trying to manage and control outcomes that we have absolutely no ability to manage or control.  Or, in other words, endless anxiety.
     Somehow we must choose a different way.  We must walk the path of trust.  We must become convinced of the goodness of God’s heart.  We must truly believe that God (as Psalm 62:11-12 tells us) is both strong and loving.  That he is both willing and able to carry our burdens, and to care for our lives.  In other words, if we are ever to succeed in the art of casting all of our anxieties on him it will be because we have become 100% convinced of the fact that he deeply cares for us.


Closing Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to cast all of my cares on you because you care for me.  Help me to see every happening, every circumstance, every event, conversation, and moment as an invitation to know you better and love you more.  You are my help and my hope.  You are my all.  Hold me in your strong and tender arms this day, that I might not fly from Thee, but stay close to your heart of love.  Amen.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


Opening Prayer: Keep the Festival of Unraised Bread! This marks the exact day I brought you out in force from the land of Egypt. Honor the day down through your generations, a fixed festival to be observed always. In the first month, beginning on the fourteenth day at evening until the twenty-first day at evening, you are to eat unraised bread. For those seven days not a trace of yeast is to be found in your houses. (Exodus 12:17-19, The Message)

Scripture: Luke 12:1-3

Journal: Where is there yeast in you?  What does it look like?  How will it be eliminated?



be on your guard
against the yeast
of the Pharisees

no yeast
not even a trace
nothing that taints
or mars 
or contaminates
will be tolerated

sweep every corner
clean every nook 
and cranny
for if any is present
it will work its way
through the whole lump

search the dark 
and hidden places
of your heart
expose every area
of your soul
to the light

let nothing reside within
that is not of him
let nothing live on
that must be eliminated
for he wants all of you
and will not settle 
for anything less


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, how I long to be wholly yours.  Eliminate everything from my heart and my life that is not in line with who you are and who you made me to be.  Make me fully your own. Amen.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


Opening Prayer: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (John 15:4-9, ESV)

Scripture: Luke 10:38-42

Journal: How will you stay in Christ today?

Reflection: This morning I had a bit of an epiphany, which is totally appropriate given the season, I suppose.  I realized that I normally do not have trouble coming to Jesus to sit at his feet and listen to what he says, as Mary did, I just have trouble staying there.  Even when I am worried and upset about many things, as Martha was (and as I am pretty regularly), I know the answer--take it all to Jesus.  My problem is that once I take it to Jesus, and find some measure of comfort and presence and peace, I do not stay there.  I allow my anxieties to lure me back into the dark country of fear and angst once again.  My problem is not in the coming, but in the staying.  I guess that's why Jesus went to such great lengths in John 15 to tell us the spiritual value of staying (abiding).  Coming is easy, but staying is much more difficult.
    "Why do you allow anxiety and fear to constantly beat the hell out of you?" he asks.  "You know the answer.  You know the way to peace and love.  And yet, so often you don't go there, or stay there.  Come to me; that is the beginning.  That is the easier part.  For when you come, I will meet you with my love and affection and care.  But don't just come, that is only a small part of the battle.  You must also stay.  So often you come, but you do not stay with me, even though I am always with you.  You turn right around and allow anxiety to lure, or to drag, you back into a dark and fearful land.  Come to me, and stay with me, then you will know--and live inside of--my peace.  For you will be living in me, even as I live in you.


Closing Prayer: My child, my dear one, my beloved, you are worried and upset about so many things, so consumed and distracted.  Come to me, and stay with me.  Sit at my feet and listen to my words of life and love.  Then you will know my peace and my great affection.  Then you will be able to love as I love.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, as the day dawns and calls me to my labors I ask you to enable me to gladly do the work to which you beckon me.  May I do it as a servant of Christ doing the will of God from my heart.  Amen. (Disciplines for the Inner Life by Bob Benson and Michael W. Benson)

Scripture: Matthew 5:44-48

Journal: What does it look like when the life of God grows within you?  What do you become?  How is this process going?

Reflection: 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 generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. (Matthew 5:48, The Message)

There is a tendering of the soul, toward everything in creation, from the sparrow’s fall to the slave under the lash…There is a sense in which, in this terrible tenderness, we become one with God and bear in our quivering souls the sins and burdens, the benightedness and the tragedy of the creatures of the whole world, and suffer in their suffering, and die in their death. ~Thomas Kelly


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to live generously and graciously today, that I might live in you and that I might be like you.  Tender my soul, that my soul might be like yours.  For your kingdom and your glory, I pray.  Amen.

Monday, January 15, 2018

being salt and light

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to be who and what you made us to be, for then, and only then, will we have any hope doing what you have called us to do.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 5:13-16

Journal: What do the images of salt and light do within you?  What is unique about them?  What is similar?  What does it meant to be salt and light?

Reflection: The older I get the more I've come to believe that ministry is much less about what we do and much more about who we are.  I think it is intended to be something that flows freely and pours forth from what God is doing in the depths of our hearts and souls, not something we have to manufacture or manipulate or create—no contriving, no forcing, no holding back (Rilke).  I think that's why Jesus says that we are the salt of the earth and we are the light of the world.  Salt and light do not have to work real hard to be salt and light, they just have to be what they were intended to be.  They have to bring out the flavor of God within them, and illuminate the beauty of God around them.  It is the same with us.  We're not called to do salt and light, we are called to be salt and light.  Being salt and being light are the natural expressions of the life of God in us.  If we are living in union with God, if we are falling more and more in love with Jesus each day, it will pour forth from our lives and it will find its way to those in our world.  Everyone will taste God's flavor uniquely in us.  Everyone will see the beauty of God illuminated by us.  All we have to do is to be our true—God breathed—selves.  When we are not being who God made us to be—when we are forcing or when we are holding back—we are like salt that has lost its saltiness, or like a light that has been put under a bowl.  And what good is that?  So instead of constantly trying to figure out how to do ministry, from now on I think I'm going to think more about how to be who and what God has created me to be.


Closing Prayer: Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we might sing for joy and be glad all our days.  Amen.  (Psalm 90:14)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

the fruit of abiding

Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, help me to truly abide in you. Today and every day.  Amen.

Scripture: John 15:4-5

Journal: What has abiding in Christ produced in you lately?  How is that helping you to be his presence to the world?

Reflection: Within yourselves you have made a room, a secluded space.  You have built it by prayer—the Jesus Prayer or whatever prayer you have found profitable.  You should be more aware of God than of anyone else, because you are carrying within you this utterly quiet and silent chamber.  Because you are more aware of God, because you have been called to listen in your inner silence, you can bring God to the street, the party, the meeting, in a very special and powerful way.  The power is God's but you have contributed yourself.  God has asked you and chosen you to be the carrier of that silent place within yourself.
     In a manner of speaking, nothing has changed in your daily schedule.  So you attend all the meetings as before, knowing in deep faith and its accompanying darkness that you are bringing Christ, the Christ who prayed to his Father all night, alone on the mountain.  You bring the Christ who stole away from the crowds to pray.  You are now carrying him back to the crowds.  So you should be "with" the crowds. ~Catherine de Hueck Doherty


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, grow your good fruit in me these days, that people in my life and world might taste and see that you are good.  Amen.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

seek his face

Opening Prayer: Almighty God, send the light of thy Son into our lives anew today.  Let your presence touch our minds and hearts with your mercy, grace, and truth.  Direct our thought, speech, and steps to the end that we may walk in your way today and always.  In the name of Christ.  Amen. (A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants by Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck)

Scripture: Psalm 27:7-14

Journal: What does God’s face look like to you?  What is the look in his eyes for you?

Reflection: Several years ago I was leading a retreat for some college folks who were deeply involved in a ministry of which I was a part.  The design and intent of the retreat was to create some space and some solitude in order for these dear folks to hear from God and to be renewed, refreshed, restored, or whatever they might need most from him at that point in their journey.  
     Not too far into our time together I could tell that one student in particular was really struggling.  And since we were in silence, instead of trying to interfere or intervene in whatever God was doing deep within her heart and soul, all I could really do was watch and pray.  Near the end of our time together, as we broke the silence with communion and some reflection, she was able to tell the group exactly what the nature of the struggle had been. 
     Seeking his face had been the theme of our time of solitude; and it seems it had been something much more elusive than she had anticipated it would be.  Try as she might, she was simply having no success focusing her gaze on the face of God.  That was until late in the retreat when, in her frustration, she cried out to him in her helplessness and he showed up.  He simply said to me, ‘Look at my eyes.  See what great love and affection my eyes hold for you.’  And once I focused on his eyes, everything changed.”  Maybe we would be wise to do the same.


Closing Prayer: Let me see your face, O God, that I might know the look of love with which you look at me, and give that same look to whoever you bring across my path each day.  In the name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Opening Prayer: O Lord my God, teach my heart this day where and how to see you, and where and how to find you. ~St. Anselm
Scripture: Luke 2:41-52

Journal: How do you feel like Mary and Joseph these days?  How have you been looking everywhere for Jesus?  Where did you find him?

Reflection: As workers for God we have to learn to make room for God—to give God "elbow room." We calculate and estimate, and say that this and that will happen, and we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses. Would we be surprised if God came into our meeting or into our preaching in a way we had never looked for Him to come? Do not look for God to come in any particular way, but look for Him. That is the way to make room for Him. Expect Him to come, but do not expect Him only in a certain way. However much we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that at any minute He may break in. We are apt to overlook this element of surprise, yet God never works in any other way. All of a sudden God meets the life—"When it was the good pleasure of God…" 
     Keep your life so constant in its contact with God that His surprising power may break out on the right hand and on the left. Always be in a state of expectancy, and see that you leave room for God to come in as He likes. (My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers)


Closing Prayer: O infinite God, the brightness of whose face is often shrouded from my mortal gaze, I thank Thee that Thou didst send Thy Son Jesus Christ to be a light in a dark world.  O Christ, Thou Light of Light, I thank Thee that in Thy most holy life Thou didst pierce the eternal mystery as with a great shaft of heavenly light, so that in seeing Thee we see Him whom no man hath seen at any time.
     And if still I cannot find Thee, O God, then let me search my heart and know whether it is not rather I who am blind than Thou who art obscure, and I who am fleeing from Thee rather than Thou from me; and let me confess these my sins before Thee and seek Thy pardon in Jesus Christ my Lord.  Amen. (A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie)

Sunday, January 7, 2018


Opening Prayer: I lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

Scripture: Psalm 123:1-4

Journal: What are your eyes focused on these days?  What impact is it having on your life or heart?  How might you fix your eyes of God instead?

Reflection:  In the spiritual life, where we fix our eyes is everything.  If we allow our eyes—and thus, our hearts—to be consumed by our own surroundings and struggles and circumstances, we are in for one wild ride.  But if we are able, by God’s grace and strength, to fix our eyes on the bigger picture, and not on whatever trouble we may be experiencing at the moment—if we are able to take out eyes off of ourselves and fix them on Jesus—then everything changes.  Oh, the circumstances themselves may not change much, but the spirit we have in the midst of those circumstances, and our quality of life as a result, will change immensely.  I guess that’s why the scriptures talk so much about it:  I lift my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. (Psalm 123:1)  So we fix our eyes not on what is see, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrew 12:2-3)
     It is really not that complicated—in theory at least.  But it is a little more difficult in practice.  For when my eyes are consumed with myself, and my little life and my little world, I find that I am filled with insecurity, anxiety, and fear.  It is a downward spiral that is incredibly difficult to break free from.  I don’t know about you, but I have the tendency get stuck inside myself at times.  But when I am finally able to fix my eyes on God instead, something beautiful happens within me.  Somehow he gives me the ability to climb out of the dark pit of self and come into the light of love.  It is an invitation that is always open to me.  Look at me,” says my God, “and you will be able to experience the joy and the life and the peace that I desire for you, rather than trying so hard to provide it for yourself.”  I pray that he will give us all the grace to do that more and more.


Closing Prayer:  O God, sometimes I get stuck inside myself, consumed with my own life.  When I do this my life is filled with insecurity, anxiety, and fear.  But you want more for me.  Fix my eyes on you, O Lord.  Let love conquer insecurity, let peace replace anxiety, and let trust overcome fear.  In the name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

epiphany 2018

Opening Prayer: Father of light, unchanging God, today you reveal to men of faith the resplendent fact of the Word made flesh.  Your light is strong, Your love is near; draw us beyond the limits which this world imposes, to the life where Your Spirit makes all life complete.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. ~The New Saint Joseph Sunday Missal

Scripture: Matthew 2:9-12

Journal: Put yourself in the place of the Magi today.  What do you see?  What do you hear?  What captures your heart?  What treasures will you offer to Jesus?



i am here
follow the star
and you will find me
search the obscure
and hidden places
and you will come upon me
look into the eyes
of the broken and lowly
and you will discover my presence
i am here
in every conversation
you have today
in every joy and every sorrow
you will experience
in every circumstance
you will face
in every challenge
you will confront
don't ever forget
i am here


Closing Prayer: Father, you revealed your Son to the nations by the guidance of a star.
Lead us to your glory in heaven by the light of faith.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen. ~The New Saint Joseph Sunday Missal

Thursday, January 4, 2018


Opening Prayer: Complete me, O God, in your own time and in your own way, that I may be a better and better expression of you in the world.  Amen.

Scripture: James 1:2-4, Philippians 1:3-6

Journal: How is God working to complete you these days?  What are obvious areas of growth?  What areas are still lacking/in process?

Reflection: God’s desire for us is that we would be complete in him.  He is not content, the way we are, to settle for less than that.  In fact, he will do whatever it takes, and allow whatever is necessary, to continue this work. Therefore, we are able to “Count it a joy,” even when things are hard or painful or difficult, because he is using these things to complete the work, in us and through us, that he has begun.


Closing Prayer: Forgive me, O God, when I settle for less of you, and when I am content to give you less of me.  You made me for way more than that.  You made me for completeness.  Continue your work in me this day.  In the name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to be like you; willing to lay aside our rights and privileges, willing to empty ourselves and humble ourselves, willing to become of no reputation, for your sake and your kingdom and your glory.  Amen.

Scripture: Philippians 2:1-13

Journal: Where is God doing a work of humility within you?  How?  How is this making you more like Jesus?  Will you embrace this process the way Jesus did?

Reflection: God has been teaching me a lot about humility lately; some through prayer and scripture, and some through hard experience.  He is teaching me about the great value of being unnoticed, unseen, and unnecessary.  He has actually been teaching me about these things for years, but finally, I think (and hope), I am beginning to embrace what he is trying to do in me.  Madeleine L'Engle once wrote: "When we are self-conscious, we cannot be wholly aware; we must throw ourselves out first."  It seems that this throwing ourselves out is what the work of humility is all about, so that we might be fully aware of God, and what he desires, and what he is up to within and around us.
     Humility is such a good and beautiful—and terrible—thing.  It creates such open, receptive soil in our souls.  It opens our ears, and our hearts, to God's voice because it keeps us from being so full of our own.  Humility brings about freedom and wholeness because it releases us from the burden of constantly having something to prove.  It empties us of self and creates space for God to move and to act by preparing our souls to receive whatever he might desire to plant in us.  It is a dying that makes way for a Living.  It is an emptying that makes space for a Filling.  It is an absence that makes us aware of a Presence.  It is a sorrow that brings about a Joy.  It is a letting go that leads to a Taking Hold.  And I have a suspicion that this work of humility God is doing within me is not so much a season as it is a destination—calling me to a new way of being.
     Eugene Peterson said it this way: "When God became human in Jesus, he showed us how to be complete human beings before him.  We do it the way Jesus did it, by becoming absolutely needy and dependent on the Father.  Only when we stand emptied, stand impoverished before God can we receive what only empty hands can receive.  This is the poverty of spirit in which Jesus blesses us (Matt. 5:3).


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, let humility do its work in me: emptying me of self, opening my ears to your voice, softening my heart to those around me, and allowing me to be, and to love, more like you each day.  Amen.