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Monday, July 30, 2018


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

Scripture: Psalm 63:1, Matthew 6:33

Journal: What are you really seeking these days?  How are you seeking God for what it can do for you, rather than seeking him for who he is?

Reflection:  Why do you seek God?  No, really?  What is the real reason?  Go ahead, dig down beneath all of the surface answers and really ask yourself that question.  It is an incredibly difficult one to answer—or at least to answer honestly—because the reality is that we seek so many things other than God, or at least under the guise of seeking God. 

     We seek notoriety, we seek success, we seek significance.  We seek answers, we seek relief, we seek control.  We seek attention, we seek applause, we seek affirmation.  All of which are not God.  Even in ministry we subtly seek things other than God, in the name of seeking God.  We seek results, we seek impact, we seek something to pass along to others, etc.  And when we seek these things, it is not ultimately God that we seek.

     “O God, you are my God,” David writes, “Earnestly I seek YOU.”  God is the end, not merely a means to an end.  The reason we seek God is simply because he is God, and he is worthy of being sought.  As C.S. Lewis once said, “If you are seeking God not as the end, but a means to an end, you are not seeking him at all.”  King David knew this.  He knew how easy it was for us to get off track.  He knew how easily we could be distracted from seeking God by seeking the gifts of God.  So he brought us back to the bottom line: Life with God is about seeking God—period.  Only when we get to the point of seeking him first, will the other things be added.


Closing Prayer: O my God, teach me to seek you, for I cannot seek you unless you teach me, or find you unless you show yourself to me.  Let me seek you in my desire, and desire you in my seeking.  Let me find you by loving you, let me love you when I find you.  ~St. Anselm of Canterbury

Thursday, July 26, 2018


Opening Prayer: To you, O Lord. I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.  Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. (Psalm 25:1-2)

Scripture: Psalm 25:1-10

Journal: Who or what are the most regular enemies of your heart and soul?  How do you fight them?  How often do you triumph over them?

Reflection:  How often do you feel like your enemies triumph over you?  Sadly, for me it seems like a daily affair.  Somehow, in the midst of the chaos and busyness and happenings of any given day, I lose focus, I let my guard down, and before I know it I am at the mercy of my enemies—without even recognizing it.  Anxiety, insecurity, and fear have me by the throat and I find myself reacting to them in the same old, dysfunctional ways I have always reacted to them.  It is amazing how the same scenario repeats itself over and over and over again.  You’d think that at some point I’d learn.
     I think that’s where the words to this ancient prayer come in.  They help me to be on guard and aware of the things and the situations—and even the people—that bring out the worst in me; that make me the worst version of myself.  They help me to call these dark emotions and patterns exactly what they are—enemies.  And once I am finally able to recognize that they are indeed enemies—and name them—I can finally begin fight them in some fruitful way.  For it is almost impossible to fight an enemy that you have not named, and that you cannot see.  They will continue to kick your butt day after day.  
     But once they are identified, and named, they tend to lose some of their power over us.  They can be fought, and eventually triumphed over.  For God takes over from there.  He is the one who fights these battle for us.  All we have to do is constantly lift our souls to him and put our trust in him.  He will fight our battles for us, once we finally realize that it is indeed a battle we are fighting.  He is the only one who can give us the victory we so deeply long for. 


Closing Prayer: O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress. My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies. (Psalm 59:9-10, ESV)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


Opening Prayer: Set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain, that I can’t control.  I want more of you God.  I want more of your God. ~Will Reagan

Scripture: Acts 2:1-21

Journal: How and where is the fire of God’s Spirit burning within you these days?  What nurtures that fire?  What hinders it?



burning within
consuming my heart
with the heat of
your great affection

transforming everything
in his holy path
destroying the old
and the worn
and the false

leaving only 
the new
and the true
the me you dreamt
from the beginning
working your will

empowering and engaging
restoring and refining
bringing a kingdom
that will never end

such is your Spirit
the fire of God


Closing Prayer: Burn, O Spirit of the Living God, consume my heart and soul.  Refine and renew and transform this life of mine into all you desire it to be.  For only then will I burn with a passion and a zeal that will impact the world around me.  No one can contain the fires of your Spirit, O Lord, so flame on.  Transform our lives and our world with the heat of your great affection.  Amen.

Monday, July 23, 2018

still and silent

Opening Prayer: O Lord, let me never be presumptuous.  Let me never begin my prayers with words rather than silence.  Let me be still and silent before you, before I dare utter a word in your presence.  Let me listen, in order that I might speak.  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 46:10

Journal: Where does listening and being still fit into your prayer life?  Where should it fit into your prayer life?

Reflection: Presumptuous prayer speaks to God without first listening to him.  It obsessively, anxiously, or pretentiously multiplies human words to God, but with, at best, a distracted, indifferent, or fitful interest in God’s words to us.  But God speaks to us before we speak to him.  If we pray without listening, we pray out of context. (Answering God by Eugene Peterson)


Closing Prayer: Lord, I know not what I ought to ask of Thee; Thou only knowest what I need; Thou lovest me better than I know how to love myself. O Father! Give to Thy child that which he himself knows not how to ask. I dare not ask either for crosses or consolations; I simply present myself before Thee, I open my heart to Thee. Behold my needs which I know not myself; see and do according to Thy tender mercy. Smite, or heal; depress me, or raise me up; I adore all Thy purposes without knowing them; I am silent; I offer myself in sacrifice; I yield myself to Thee; I would have no other desire than to accomplish Thy will. Teach me to pray. Pray Thyself in me. ~Francois Fenelon

Friday, July 20, 2018


Opening Prayer: I feel your love as you hold me to your sacred heart, my beloved Jesus, my God, my Master, but I feel, too, the need I have of your tenderness, and your caress because of my infinite weakness. ~Charles de Foucauld

Scripture:  Song of Songs 1:2

Journal: What is God’s invitation to you today?  How is he drawing you into more and more intimacy with himself?

Reflection: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine.” 

"You have seen the way we must follow, the order of procedure.  First we cast ourselves at his feet, we 'kneel before the Lord, our maker,' deploring the evil we have done.  Then we reach out for the hand that will lift us up, that will steady our trembling knees.  And finally, when we shall have obtained these favors through many prayers and tears, we humbly dare to raise our eyes to his mouth, so divinely beautiful, not merely to gaze upon, but--I say with fear and trembling--to receive his kiss; for Christ the Lord is a Spirit before our face.  And we who are joined to him in a holy kiss become, at his good pleasure, one spirit with him." (On the Song of Songs by Bernard of Clairvaux)

Through the centuries the saints and the poets who came before us understood something about God that most of us are only beginning to discover: At his core, God is a lover.  For we were created out of the overflow of Divine Love, in order to experience the very love that God had within himself—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And even after we had turned away and pursued other lovers, God did not give up on us, but came to earth in pursuit of his beloved.  Even to the point of giving himself, in the person of Jesus, so that he might redeem us, win back our hearts, and be reunited with us in love once again.  In order that we might live all of our days on earth in loving union with him and spend eternity basking in the warmth of his Great Affection.  For what God wants more than anything is loving union with us—his beloved.  And he will stop at nothing in order to make that a possibility. 


Closing 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

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Opening Prayer: Speak, O Lord, for your servant is listening.

Scripture: I Samuel 3:1-21

Journal: How do you listen to God?  What has he said to you lately?


how to listen

butt in seat
turn off phone
quiet the noise
come to stillness
pay attention
open ears


Closing Prayer: Speak, O Lord, for your servant is listening.

Monday, July 16, 2018


Opening Prayer: My God, I wish to give myself to thee.  Give me the courage to do so. ~Francois Fenelon

Scripture: 1 Kings 8:54-61

Journal: What are your “musts” these days?  What are God’s “musts” for you?

Reflection: We who have heard the call of our God to a life of entire consecration and perfect trust, must do differently from all this.  We must come out from the world and be separate, and must not be conformed to it in our characters or in our lives.  We must set our affections on heavenly things and not on earthly ones, and must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, surrendering everything that would interfere with this.  We must walk through the world as Christ walked.  We must have the mind that was in Him.  As pilgrims and strangers, we must abstain from lusts of the flesh that war against the soul.  As good soldiers of Christ, we must disentangle ourselves from the affairs of this life as far as possible, that we may please Him who hath chosen us to be soldiers.  We must abstain from all appearance of evil.  We must be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven us.  We must not resent injuries of unkindness, but must return good for evil, and turn the other cheek to the hand that smites us.  We must take always the lowest place among our fellow-men; and seek not our own honor, but the honor of others.  We must be gentle and meek and yielding, not standing up for our own rights but for the rights of others.  We must do all that we do for the glory of God.  And, to sum it all up, since He who hath called us is holy, so must we be holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” (The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith)


Closing Prayer: Lord, I am yours; I do yield myself up entirely to you, and I believe that you do take me.  I leave myself with you.  Work in me all the good pleasure of your will, and I will only lie still in your hands and trust you.  Amen. (The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith)

Friday, July 13, 2018

stilled and quieted

Opening Prayer: I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.  O Israel, put your hope in the Lord now and forevermore. (Psalm 131:2-3, NIV)

Scripture: Psalm 131:1-3

Journal: What is the state of your soul these days?  Why?  What would it take to still and calm your soul?  What would you have to believe?  What would you have to do?

Reflection: Wouldn’t it be great if all of our interactions with others came from this “stilled and quieted” place within us, rather than the place of our deepest fears and anxieties and insecurities?  Imagine what a difference it would make in everything if we knew deep down to our core that we were so passionately and completely loved that there was no longer any need to prove ourselves to anyone or anything.  Then we would be like a weaned child with its mother, rather than a restless, demanding, and insecure one.  Then we would rest secure in the loving embrace of our God—finding our hope in him—rather than everything always having to be up to us.  It would be a whole different—and wonderful—way of being.


Closing Prayer: Help me, O God, to be content and secure in your loving embrace.  For only then will I ever be able to truly love others.  Amen.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


Opening Prayer: Lord, awaken me, you whose love burns beyond the stars; light the flame of my lantern that I may always burn with love. (A Traveler Toward the Dawn by John Eagan)

Scripture: Romans 13:11-14

Journal: What are you absorbed in these days?  How is it causing you to miss what God is doing?  How are you asleep spiritually?  What would it take to wake up?  Will you?

Reflection: But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about! ~Romans 13:11-14, The Message

     Absorbed.  Ouch!  Hits me right between the eyes.  If I am honest, I have to admit that not a day goes by when it doesn't happen to me.  At some point each day (or multiple points each day) I get so caught up in what's either in front of me, or ahead of me, that I lose touch entirely with God's presence within me, and what he is doing around me.  I don't know that I would have called it dozing off, because it appears so active.  But that's exactly what it is.  It is getting so consumed with myself, and my agenda, that I fall asleep on God.  I get distracted and sidetracked by the things on my list and fail to even ask what might be on his.  I think that's probably the definition of absorbed.
     So how do I combat this tendency?  How do I wake up to God and fall asleep to myself?  How can I be up and awake to what God is doing?  I think the answer is easy; and really hard.  I pay attention.  I begin my day with God and I set alarms within my day that will bring my heart and my soul and my mind back to God in case I fall asleep.  I set something on my phone or I stick something in my car to remind me of his love and his presence.  I plant a word or a phrase or a psalm in my heart and let it take root there for the day.  I remember it every time it comes to mind, and recite it to myself.  I say the words of the ancient prayer and listen for the prayer of God that rises in my heart.  I set concrete times within the day where I will stop and return to him, just as the saints and poets and pilgrims have been doing for centuries.  I frame my day with the prayer; the prayers the Church has been praying since the beginning of time.  For this is not a new problem.
     And if I do all of that then maybe, just maybe, when I lay my head on my pillow at night, I will be able to smile. I will think back and be grateful for an awareness of God's presence and his work that has helped me to align myself more and more with his will rather than just my own.


Closing Prayer: Most Holy God, wake me up from my soul’s deep slumber and bring my life under your complete control.  By your grace, awaken me daily to the reality of your presence within and around me.  And, by the power of your Spirit, make me responsive to your will and your direction.  Amen.

Monday, July 9, 2018

common prayer

Opening Prayer: Teach us to pray, O Lord.  Show us what it means to have a common life of prayer; one that is practiced in community and not in isolation.  Help us to learn how to lift our voices to you as one.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Scripture: 1 Chronicles 23:1-6

Journal: What does your common life of prayer look like?  What do you think God wants it to look like?  How do you enter into prayer with the rest of God’s people?

Reflection: When we go to prayer in the Psalms we find, often to our surprise, that we have been ushered to a pew in the vigorously rich worship of Israel.  When David organized Israel into a worshipping congregation, thirty-eight thousand Levites were assigned to provide the leadership and support required.  Prayer in Israel was not left up to individuals to do or not do as they more or less felt inclined.  This was a public works project of impressive dimensions.  It was neither private nor peripheral.  Common worship takes precedence over private devotions. (Answering God by Eugene Peterson)


Closing Prayer: I will tell of your name to my brothers: in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: You who fear the Lord, praise him! (Psalm 22:22-23, ESV)

Sunday, July 8, 2018


Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues to all generations. (Psalm 100:1-5)

So, Psalm 100 is my psalm for the day.  As a matter of fact, it has been my Sunday psalm for a couple of months now.  Little did I know that it would be the Psalm for my birthday.  My 58th, to be exact.  And I can't think of a more appropriate prayer for this day.  My friend Robert always says, before he starts reading a psalm, "Listen to the words of the ancient prayer and listen for the prayer of God that rises in your heart."  Well, this psalm IS the prayer of God that rises in my heart today.  I am so incredibly grateful, so glad.  I'm so grateful for 58 years of life and love.  So grateful for 36 (in August) years of marriage to my best friend and the love of my life!  So grateful for my three incredible (grown) children and my one wonderful daughter-in-law.  So grateful for deep and wonderful friendships.  So grateful for the opportunity to make a living doing the things I love the most.  So grateful for the sweet (and totally undeserved) way that God continues to draw me further and further into his great heart of love.  If all of that doesn't make a person "shout for joy" and "worship the Lord with gladness" nothing will. 

Friday, July 6, 2018


Opening Prayer: Wait for the Lord.  Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14, NIV)

Scripture: Psalm 27:14

Journal: What does it mean for you to wait for the Lord right now?  How is that going?  How are you trying to avoid waiting?  What is actually helping you to wait?


waiting is a funny thing
on the one hand
when we are made to wait
it feels like we are wasting time
but on the other
it is not the wasting of time at all
but the ripening of it

waiting accomplishes something
a hidden agenda
divine purposes
a growing and readying
a preparation for the time
when all will be right
for the unveiling of all
that has been taking place
in the dark and fertile soil
of our becoming

waiting for the Lord
does not mean
trying to figure out
what we can do
while we wait
it just means waiting
thus there is no wait and
only wait alone
when we add the and
we stop waiting altogether

who knows
maybe God is trying
to get us to the end of ourselves
for we typically only wait
as a last resort
after we have
exhausted all other

wouldn't it be great
if somehow we learned
to wait first
rather than immediately
spring into action
for if we were to do that
it seems like
we would save ourselves
a lot of wasted motion


Closing Prayer: Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14, ESV)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me a heart of compassion this day; one that sees people the way you see them and loves people the way you love them.  Amen.

Scripture: John 11:1-44

Journal: Where do you see pain within or around you?  How do you think God feels about it?  How does he want you to feel about it?  What do you think he wants you to do about it?

Reflection: It is hard to read John 11 and not get the impression—especially when you study the words carefully—that Jesus was bothered.  Oh sure, he was heartbroken.  He was moved to tears by all of the pain and suffering he witnessed around him, especially the sorrow of his dear friends, Mary and Martha.  I believe it was the tears of these beloved sisters than moved him to tears himself.  
     But there is something more going on here.  Jesus was bothered.  You can especially see it in John’s use of the words “deeply moved” in verses 33 and 38.  On the surface they look like nothing but sadness and sorrow, but underneath they communicate much more.  The word used here in the Greek is embrimaomai, which literally means “to snort in indignation.”  Jesus was indignant.  He was not pleased.  He was frustrated.  Or, at the very least, he was really, really bothered.  He was bothered to see his friends in great pain.  And he was bothered again when the some of the onlookers said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
     I guess the real question is: What, exactly, was Jesus bothered by?  Was he bothered by the lack of faith being exhibited around him?  Was he bothered by the way it caused those around him to question the goodness of his heart?  Or was he bothered by the fact that it didn’t have to be this way?  This (a world of death and suffering) was never his intention in the first place.  And, who knows, maybe it was all of the above.  All we do know is that Jesus was bothered.  And you know what?  I’m glad.  Something deep within me wants a God who is bothered by death and suffering and sorrow and pain.  I think that being bothered is a necessary component of compassion.
     You see, compassion is not just pity, or even empathy.  Compassion is to be lovingly bothered.  It is to love someone enough to be deeply affected by their hurt and pain, but also to be bothered enough to do something about it.  To enter in somehow.  Compassion is love in action.  And it is the “bothered” part that keeps us from merely being heartbroken for someone, and moves us to action.  Compassion, as in this case for Jesus, hates the effects of the fall, and moves in the direction of trying to reverse them (with God’s help) whenever possible.  It is not merely being grieved about the world, but also being willing to do something about it.  Jesus was filled with compassion, and wants us to be as well.  What are you bothered about these days?  How has it moved you to  loving action?


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me when I am not bothered by what I see around me and within me.  Thank you that you were bothered; bothered enough to get involved in offering people the healing and the wholeness they desperately needed.  Help me to do the same.  Amen.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

from leading to being led

Opening Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I am still so divided.  I truly want to follow you, but I also want to follow my own desires and lend an ear to the voices that speak about prestige, success, popularity, pleasure, power, and influence.  Help me to become deaf to those voices and more attentive to your voice, which calls me to choose the narrow road to life.  I know this will be a very hard road for me.  The choice for your way has to be made every moment of my life.  I have to choose thoughts that are your thoughts, words that are your words, and actions that are your actions.  There are no times and places without choices.  And I know how deeply I resist choosing you.  Please, Lord, be with me at every moment and in every place.  Give me the strength and courage to live my life faithfully, so that I will be able to taste with joy the new life which you have prepared for me.  Amen. (The Road to Daybreak by Henri J.M. Nouwen)

Scripture: John 21:18-19

Journal: Where is Jesus leading you these days?  What is he asking of you?  Where might you be running ahead rather than following him?

Reflection: There is a shift that is necessary in the life of faith.  It is a subtle shift, yet an enormous one.  It typically comes when we have a few years under our belts; when we have seen the limited results of our own efforts.  When we begin to realize that all of the stuff we have been doing in our lives, may not have yielded the fruit, or the results, we had hoped.  When we begin to tire of running around in a million different directions, aimlessly trying to do a million-and–one good things.  
     It is the shift from endless activity, to dependent passivity.  It is the shift from trying to control things, to a willingness to surrender and let go of our own plans and agendas.  It is the shift from initiating to responding, from anticipating to participating, from doing to being.  It is the shift from dressing yourself and going where you want, to stretching out your hands and being led to a place you would rather not go.  It is the shift from leading to being led; and it is a hard one indeed.  
     For the call of Jesus to “Follow me!” does not involve us running ahead of him, but staying behind him.  It does not involve us running around doing a bunch of our own good stuff, but actually stopping to listen to him, so that we can do his stuff.  The only question is: Are we willing to do that?  Will we allow ourselves to be led by him, even if it be to places we’d rather not go?  After all, if we are truly following him, he is the one choosing both the route and the destination, not us.


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me the courage and the faith to truly follow you, wherever it may lead, whatever it might cost.  Let me give myself fully to your care and your control.  For your glory.  Amen.