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Saturday, February 17, 2018


Opening Prayer: Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.  As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore. (Psalm 125:1-2, NIV)

Scripture: Psalm 125:1-2

Journal: What does it look like to trust in the Lord?  Does it keep you from being shaken?  Why or why not?  How can you have a more unshakeable trust in the Lord?

Reflection:  If being shaken is the number one way on knowing whether we are really trusting in the Lord, I’m in big trouble.  I mean, I get shaken all the time.  My anxiety shakes me.  My insecurity shakes me.  My circumstances shake me.  The list goes on and on.  Does that mean I am not really trusting in the Lord?  Maybe, maybe not.
     I think the thing I’m learning about trust is that it is not a one and done type of thing, but a continual process.  I might be able to trust God fully with one thing and then not really trust him fully with something else.  I might be able to trust him one minute, and then not the next.  The key seems to be in the turning—turning back to him, time and time again.  The word for trust in the Hebrew is batach, which means to hie for refuge.  To run to him again and again and again.  Don’t get me wrong, I do think that there is a way to live in God to the point where we are able to trust him in all things; I just haven’t arrived there quite yet.
     So for me, as I learn to live more and more in him, it is a process of running to him in every situation and circumstance.  It is a choice I must make each and every time something comes along that disrupts my life or challenges my faith in him.  Who knows, maybe through running to him over and over and over, I will eventually learn to never leave.  I will eventually learn that I cannot handle this life on my own, and I should stop trying to do so.  Maybe someday trust will be something I do naturally, rather than something I have to remind myself to choose.  In the meantime, I guess continually returning to him will have to do.


Closing Prayer: O Lord, it is easy for me to say that I trust you, but my anxiety and insecurity continually tell me otherwise.  Help me to REALLY trust in you, for only then will I REALLY have your peace.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

the long way

Opening Prayer:  O God, help us to trust you, even when the way is long and the road is hard and there seems to be no end in sight.  Help us to REALLY trust that you are doing something very good in us, so that we will REALLY have your peace.  Amen.

Scripture: Exodus 13:17-22

Journal: Where in your life does it feel like God is leading you on the longer way?  What do you think he is trying to accomplish in the process?  Will you trust him?

Reflection: Why is it that God always seems to lead us by the longer way?  Have you ever wondered about that?  I mean, it’s all over the pages of the scriptures.  One story after another of God trying to do something really good in the hearts and souls of his people by leading them on a long and arduous journey.  It’s almost as if they could never fully arrive at his chosen destination if it were not for the journey that led them there.  
     The short way is too easy, I suppose.  It requires and demands so much less of us: less faith, less dependence, less trust.  It also accomplishes less in us.  Lessons that come easy are almost never transformative.  But the ones that come from the long way are burned into the depths of our souls.
     So if God has you on a longer journey, once again, fear not.  Just trust that he is up to something along the way—something good and beautiful—that could never be accomplished if the journey was short and easy. It’s just the way he works.


Closing Prayer:  O Lord, you usually tend to lead us by the longer way.  Help me to embrace it rather than resist it.  Amen.

Monday, February 12, 2018

get behind me

Opening Prayer: Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart, and give me right faith, certain hope, and perfect charity, wisdom and understanding, Lord, that I may carry out your holy and true command. Amen. ~St. Francis of Assisi

Scripture Reading: Mark 8:31-33

Journal: How does operating by your agenda get you in trouble sometimes?  In what areas of life is it most tempting to charge ahead before getting direction from God?  What would it look like for you to have in mind the things of God, rather than having in mind the things of men?  Are you willing to get behind Jesus?

Reflection: I don't know about you, but it is easy for me at times to get ahead of myself.  To move and act and live life before I have really reflected and thought and prayed about the life I most want to live—or the life that God most wants to live in me.        
     And it is also easy in this life of faith to get ahead of God at times as well.  It is easy for us to charge ahead with our plans and schemes and agendas—even for the kingdom, mind you—without really listening and seeking and getting direction from God.  
     I’m glad to see that I am not alone.  Peter had the same problem.  So much so that when Jesus told him what was to come, he adamantly disagreed with him—even rebuked him—because those plans did not agree with his own.  That's where the "Get behind me, Satan!" part comes in.  Peter had charged ahead when the place he needed to be was firmly behindbehind Jesus.  And Jesus reminded him of that, quite boldly I might add.  
     It is just so easy to charge ahead sometimes; to follow our own plans for how we think things should work, or things should go, or things should be.  There is obviously a great danger when that happens.  For when we charge ahead, we actually become a stumbling block to Jesus rather than a follower.  For ours is not to charge ahead, ours is just to follow closely behind.  What will that look like today?


Closing Prayer: O Lord, my God, forgive me when I have in mind the things of men rather than the things of God.  Help me to be willing to embrace your direction and your will in all that I do., rather than my own.  Amen.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

a new land

Opening Prayer: Lord God, there are so many times and so many places in my heart and life where I am still resistant to you and unwilling to let you have your way with me.  I am unwilling to follow you to uncomfortable or unknown places.  I am unwilling to set aside my own convenience and comfort to embrace your desire and direction for my life.  I am unwilling to let go of the many things, patterns, and agendas I am constantly pursuing in order to fully pursue you.  O Lord, forgive me for my unwillingness.  Change my heart.  Lord, have mercy!  Amen.

Scripture: Genesis 13:1-18

Journal: What new land (or season) is God trying to lead you into these days?  How are you responding to his invitation?  What must you let go of in order to enter this new place?

Reflection: I have a suspicion that God longs to lead each of us to a new and beautiful land, if we would simply be willing to follow.  But all too often our refusal to let go of the old, safe places and patterns and ways and habits and seasons keep us from being willing, or able, to fully embrace and enjoy all that he is trying to do in and through us.  Fear or comparison or complacency or cowardice takes hold of us, and keeps us from entering into this new place or vocation or season.  Thus, we end up sacrificing our future because of our past, and we lose out of all that God has in store.  Could it be that he is trying to nudge us into a new way of seeing and of being?  One that will make us realize that we can either lead safe, comfortable lives, or we can fully enter into all that is being offered us.  May we all embrace the new land and the new season that God is offering us.  O God, give us the grace and the courage to do so.


Closing Prayer: Take, Lord, and receive all that I am and have.  You’ve given it all to me; I give it all back to you.  Do with me as you want.  Just give me your love and your grace and that’s enough. ~St. Ignatius

Thursday, February 8, 2018

a god directed life

Opening Prayer: Father, you alone know what lies before me this day, grant that in every hour of it I may stay close to you.  Let me today embark on no undertaking that is not in line with your will for my life, nor shrink from any sacrifice which your will may demand.  Suggest, direct, control every movement of my mind; for my Lord Christ’s sake.  Amen. (A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie)

Scripture: Mark 1:35-39

Journal: Who or what determines what you do on a daily basis?  What would it look like if God determined that?

Reflection: Jesus is up till the wee hours healing; the whole town gathered at his doorstep.  And yet, early the next morning, while it is still dark, he sneaks away to a solitary place to pray.  And somehow, during that time of prayer, his direction is set for the day ahead.  
     So even as his disciples come to him, imploring him to come back because “Everyone is looking for you!”  Jesus responds with clarity:  “Let us go somewhere else, to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also.  That is why I came.”
     Somehow, in his time with the Father, he is reminded of who he is and why he came.  He is guided by something far bigger than whim and opinion and circumstance.  And so, in spite of enormous pressure for him to return to Capernaum, he heads elsewhere.
     And the lesson that follows is so important for us to understand.  The lesson is that prayer comes first.  It is prayer that helps to remind us of who we are.  And it is who we are that helps us to know why we are here.  And it is why we are here that is meant to determine what we are to do.  The order is significant: prayer, who, why, what.  When we get this out of order we operate at the mercy of opinion, pressure, and circumstance, not the Spirit.  For if we are not clear about our who and our why, we will never be clear about our what.
     Maybe the reason we do not really know who we are is because he have not really learned how to pray.  God is dying to tell us, if we will just listen.


Closing Prayer: O God, help my what to always be determined by you—not me, not others, not needs, not circumstances.  Guide me this day.  Remind me of who I am and of why I am here.  I pray this in your name and for your glory.  Amen.

Monday, February 5, 2018

he sat down

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, Lamb of God and Great High Priest, you are our living sacrifice.  You alone make us clean and pure and holy.  You alone do for us what the blood of sheep and bulls could never do.  Thank you that through your sacrifice we might be brought back into loving union with the One who made us for himself.  It is what we were made for.  Amen.  

Scripture: Hebrews 10:11-14

Journal: What are you trying to accomplish in your life?  In your life with Jesus?  What has he already accomplished for you?  How can you rest in that?


     he sat down

day after day
every high priest stands
performing his duties
offering sacrifices
again and again
because his work
is never done

but when jesus
our great high priest
offered his sacrifice
he sat down
at the right hand of god
because his work
was completed

why is it
that we spend our lives
constantly trying to achieve
something that has
already been 
for us


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, our Great High Priest, thank you that you have accomplished for us, what we could never accomplish for ourselves.  Thank you for your sacrifice.  Make us holy, as you are holy.  In your name we lift our prayers.  Amen.

Saturday, February 3, 2018


Opening Prayer: Eternal One, let me understand my end and how brief my earthly existence is; help me realize my life is fleeting. You have determined the length of my days, and my life is nothing compared to You. Even the longest life is only a breath.
     In truth, each of us journeys through life like a shadow. We busy ourselves accomplishing nothing, piling up assets we can never keep; We can’t even know who will end up with those things. In light of all this, Lord, what am I really waiting for? You are my hope. (Psalm 39:4-7, The Voice)

Scripture: Psalm 39:4-7

Journal: What does this scripture do within you?  Where does it lead you?  Toward sorrow and despair, or toward hope and resolution?  Why?  Where is your hope these days?

Dear Jim,
     Since life is so incredibly short, here is what I want you to do today: Laugh more.  Love more.  Worry less.  Take yourself less seriously.  Lighten up.  Enjoy.  Savor.  Bring joy and delight to others.



Closing Prayer: O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!
     Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. (Psalm 39:4-7, ESV)