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Friday, August 31, 2018


Opening Prayer: Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (Isaiah 40:28-29, NIV)

Scripture: Isaiah 40:12-31

Journal: Who is God to you these days?  How has he revealed himself to you lately?

Reflection: But who is this Lover of mine?  Is He the Father, whom I approach through His Son?  Is He the Son whom I ask to bring me closer to His Father?  Do I open myself to the breath of the Spirit blowing through me, carrying me before Him as by storm of grace?  Who is this Person into whose arms I run?
     Before me there is a whirlwind, and the center of the whirlwind is a still, small voice, saying, I am.
     I am, before the world was made.
     I am, that to which all the world is striving, the love to which all eros drives, the food for which all hunger reaches.
     I am, the shepherd on the hillside, bearing you up in My arms.
     Loving Ephraim when he was a child.
     Giving my angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.  Letting them bear you up, lest you dash your foot.  Letting you tread on the lion, the adder, the young lion, and the dragon.
     Telling you to untie your sandals, for the place where you’re standing is holy ground.
     Leading you beside still waters.
     Tipping the pitcher and dousing your head with holy oil.
     Better one day in My courts, than a thousand in the tents of wickedness.
     At the heights, this is how He speaks, not only to Moses and the prophets, but to us.  He asks us to cut loose, to be His, to be unbound, attached to nothing but heaven and him.  He asks us to unravel everything that binds us, everything that holds us in the here and now, to come as we are, now, without a change of clothing, without looking back, on a way from which there is no turning back; a strange and unconsoling path along a hidden and unglamorous way. (Clinging by Emilie Griffin)


Closing Prayer: Help me to know you, O Lord, to truly know you.  But how can I?  How can I possibly know you, unless you reveal yourself to me?  Come, Lord Jesus, and show me the Father.  Have mercy on me.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

drink up

Opening Prayer: O God, fountain of life, you invite us continually to come and drink from your river of delights.  Why on earth do we not do that more often?

Scripture: Psalm 36:5-10

Journal: Why do you not drink more often from the wells of God?  What keeps you from it?  What helps you to do it?  Will you stop and drink today?

Reflection: They say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”  I guess they were right, whoever they may be.  As strange and funny as it may sound—and as thirsty as our souls are—there is just something within us that refuses to drink from the wells of God. 
     Why on earth would I do such a thing?   I mean, here God is—the very God who made me—offering me a drink from his river of delights and for some crazy reason I refuse.  Is it fear that keeps me from drinking of God?  Or is it the lack of belief that the “water” he offers is better than that of the world?  I don’t know, maybe it is simply a refusal to stop.  For stopping seems to be a prerequisite for drinking.  Or is it that I simply don’t know how to really drink from him?
     I suppose it might be different for each person.  But what is not different is his continual invitation to drink deeply of his love and grace, every minute of every day.  For he truly is the fountain of life.  O God, give me the grace and the courage to drink up.


Closing Prayer: Jesus, give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.  Let me drink the water you give me.  Amen.

Monday, August 27, 2018


Opening Prayer: Kiss me with the kisses of your mouth, O my Lover-God, for your love is better than life itself; more delightful than wine.

Scripture: Song of Songs 1:2

Journal: Sit still in God’s presence this day and receive his kiss.

Reflection: Let us not suppose ecstasy is ruled out for ordinary people like ourselves.  It is not as though we had invented it, or as though we had written the rules.  The Lord seizes us suddenly with a quick burst of affection.  His power flows to us.  He sweeps us up.  Everything else stands still for a kiss that is passionate, tender, demanding.  In anticipation of this kiss, whole lives are altered and overturned.  In the aftermath of this kiss, destinies and ambitions and careers are discarded like old pairs of gloves.  This is the sign of a love in which there is no disenchantment, no chance of boredom, no ultimate letdown.  All is climax.  This kiss is the pledge of a union that feeds and heals us, clothes and shelters us, that makes us Christ. (Clinging by Emilie Griffin)


Closing Prayer: Oh, my God, let me not be afraid, no matter how high I am, knowing that you are near and that You are the maker and originator and master of the heights. (Clinging by Emilie Griffin)

Saturday, August 25, 2018


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

Journal: How and where is God leading you these days?  What is he calling/inviting you to?

Reflection: For each of us the way lies straight ahead.  There is, immediately in front of us, an assigned task, a call: some difficult, clear, utterly simple thing the Lord is asking us to do.  It is not a general admonition to whoever might happen to be standing about.  It is instead an utterly private request whispered, as it were, into each one’s ear.  What the Lord is asking me, He is asking no one else.  More than likely, it is a request with no particular glamour or notoriety attached to it.  And if I pay attention, the Lord leaves me in no doubt about it.  Especially if I ask in prayer, He tells me very clearly. (Which is why, sometimes, I don’t hurry to find out.)
     And I cannot accomplish this thing God asks without grace.  The call, this request is completely beyond my grasp, quite impossible—without His help.  Yet even as He asks it, He makes it clear that His grace will be poured out.  He will not leave me abandoned or alone.  He does not ask the impossible.  Our God does not play tricks.  Or, to put it another way, when He asks the impossible, we remember that nothing is impossible with God.
     But why are we surprised by this?  We knew from the beginning that prayer would bring us closer to the mind of God, more able to know His thoughts and do His will.  We knew that, yet when by a kind of radar we sense it, when we feel ourselves being moved and led in a given direction, we feel awe, we are afraid.  Afraid perhaps that we are acting, actors in a drama we did not design.  Somehow the story has been set in motion and the characters are mainly two: God and I.  It is a dance!  It is a suspense story.  It is leading to an unknown destination.  It is once-upon-a-time, and now, and what-is-yet-to-be, all at once.  It is now and forever, and yet it is not a dream.  It is happening and it is real.
     And now there is no turning back.  The commitment has already been made: The escalator is ascending, the elevator door is closing, the plane is moving down the runway.  Something very definite has been set in motion, is gathering momentum, is picking up speed.  It seems we can hardly stop now, especially when the journey is starting to get interesting!  Even so, we are fearful.  Now that the cabin door is closed and the motors are revving, the shudder and the trembling are perhaps not so exhilarating as we had thought.
     Yet, we have signed on for this.  We are here by our own consent.  Even if there should be pain interwoven with this commitment, some intimation of suffering to come, there is, at the very same time, a knowing—we know Who it is that’s asking and this intimate sense of a God who loves us is present even when He is leading us into the furnace or the deep.  Our God will not betray us.  He is just and fair and tender.  He does not forget us in the time of trouble, He that keeps Israel does not slumber or sleep.
     So we go on, straight ahead, with no more sense of direction than just to make the next step and the next.  We are not out to make high jumps, to take the next three steps at a time.  There is no longer much question of spiritual ambition or advancing in prayer.  We have no sense of height.  We can’t tell whether or not we are ascending.  If we are climbing (and we are), we sense that only in our muscles and bones.  The climb is costly.  But it does not feel upward.  It is not high.  It is neither consolation nor desolation.
     It is ascent, but not ecstasy.  In a sense, it is deeper than ecstasy, or perhaps one could call it the ecstasy of every day, a union that continues while everything else is also happening, existing within whatever activities are necessary, an abandonment known only to us and God, ecstatic only in that it is so very complete.
     This abandonment is the very heart and essence of Christian prayer, and it has nothing in common with strategy and second-guessing.  It is the pray-to-win mentality turned inside out, and yet it is not s pray-to-lose mentality.  It is the prayer that has moved beyond intending, directing, steering, second-guessing God.  It is the dancer moving completely in the rhythm of the partner, prayer that is utterly freeing because it is completely at one.  Utterly beyond asking, beyond the anger that rattles heaven’s gate.  Prayer that does not plead, wants nothing for itself but what God wants, it is the will-not-to-will, rooted in grace, that makes it possible to be abandoned, free, and then (by some further miracle) able to act with a semblance of coherence and freedom even when completely surrendered to and possessed by the loving will of God. (Clinging by Emilie Griffin)


Closing Prayer: God of Fire and Grace, you offer love that knows no bounds, forgiveness that pardons the lost.  Pour your presence into me, fill me with passion, then consume me with your Spirit’s hungry flame.  Take me wherever you want, change me as you wish, mold me into the shape of your dreams.  Break through the comforting illusions of my life and bring me something terribly wigglingly, writhingly real.  Amen. (A Heart Exposed by Steven James)

Monday, August 20, 2018


Opening Prayer: O Lord, my God, Lover of my soul, you call me to arise and come with you.  Give me the grace and the courage to do so.  Through Christ, Amen.

Scripture: Song of Songs 2:10-13

Journal: What does “Arise, and come with me” look like for you right now?



song of songs 2:10-13

neither mood
nor circumstance
get the privilege
of determining
your season

that right
is reserved
for me
i am
he who calls
and determines
and declares
i am
the one who
sets the seasons

and i say
arise my beloved
my beautiful one
and come with me

winter is past
the rains are over
flowers appear
in the land
the season of singing
has arrived

so arise
get up
it’s time to leave
wherever you have been
and come with me
to the beautiful place
and the beautiful season
i have set for you
for i am
your Lover
your God
and there is
no other


Closing Prayer: O God, you are my Lover, my Pursuer, my All.  Help me to never settle for anything less than intimate communion with you.  Through Christ, Amen.

Sunday, August 19, 2018


Opening Prayer: God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts.
     So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath; My arms wave like banners of praise to you.
     I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy; I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises! If I’m sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection. (Psalm 63:1-6, The Message)

Scripture: Psalm 63:3-6

Journal: What is prayer like for you these days?  What do you most deeply long for?

Reflection: Some people say they don’t know how to pray.  What they want is to be told the correct way: surefire forms of words, reliable prayers and recitations, meditations and exercises.  These are good ways to prayer.  But they are only means and instruments.  They are systems for coming to quiet, methods often meant to slow us down and make it possible for us to hear God’s voice, to, sense His presence.  They are not yet prayer itself.  They are paths toward prayer, the stepping-stones from our furious activity and movement into His life, His being.
     It is there that the Lord teaches us to pray.  When we begin to pray, he prays in us; it is His power and grace that help us pray, till we don’t know where we leave off and He begins.  We yield.  And when that yielding comes, we find that all the prayers made since time began are swept aside and something new occurs.  Something happens now for the first time between the Lord and us, something springs from His reality and our response, from His identity and ours in Him.  We do not speak.  He speaks.  We do not ask.  He asks.  He is the music that fills the universe, and we—with our first fumbling steps—now catch the rhythm of the dance.
     There are no words now, for our prayer moves beyond words.  And yet there is a to-and-fro about it.  He is calling us and we are following.  He is surprising us—now here, now there—and we are chasing Him.  Time stops, the music of His presence moves us, leads us in ways we had not dreamed of, shows us gleams of an existence we hardly guessed at.  We are children now, chasing the kingdom, stepping free of where we were and who we were, into new selves, made in His image and likeness, selves of His making, meant for heaven and for Him.
     Now we exist with God.  In Him we live and move.  That is so always, the reality of our existence even when we do not sense it.  But now we know it to be true; in prayer, the truth of it is suddenly made clear.  His presence overshadows us, His power is ‘round about us.  In prayer, we know, just for a time, that He who hung the stars and moves the planets made us, too—made us for His own reason, called us into being, holds us each instant in existence, and calls us to reality in Him.
     How can we know that, except by grace: God in us, making known the mystery beyond speech, a knowing deeper than all ordinary knowing?  It is as though our lives were lit up from within and some revelation—not breaking through like miracles, but some entirely natural disclosure meant for each one alone—were being whispered in the depths of the heart. (Clinging by Emilie Griffin)


Closing Prayer: O True God, You are my God, the One whom I trust. I seek You with every fiber of my being. In this dry and weary land with no water in sight, my soul is dry and longs for You. My body aches for You, for Your presence. I have seen You in Your sanctuary and have been awed by Your power and glory. Your steadfast love is better than life itself, so my lips will give You all my praise. I will bless You with every breath of my life; I will lift up my hands in praise to Your name.
     My soul overflows with satisfaction, as when I feast on foods rich in marrow and fat; with excitement in my heart and joy on my lips, I offer You praise. Often at night I lie in bed and remember You, meditating on Your greatness till morning smiles through my window. (Psalm 63:1-6, The Voice)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Opening Prayer: How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity.  It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.  It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Zion.  For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. (Psalm 133:1-3, NIV)

Scripture: Psalm 133:1-3

Journal: How is your sense of community these days?  How committed are you to living life with others, rather than going it on your own?  Do you really believe that your own personal relationship with God will never be all that it can be if you are not living it in community?  How will you begin to do that?

Reflection: How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.  For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. (Psalm 133:1, 3)
     When we live in loving community with those around us, we truly reflect the glory and the beauty of the Three-in-One God.  That is why unity leads to the bestowing of God’s blessing and life, for it is life the way it was intended to be.  Thus, community (as is worship) is merely the invitation to enter into the joy and gladness and delight of the life of God himself.  What an invitation!
     R. Thomas Ashbrook asks: “What might it mean to live fully and freely in the life of the Trinity, knowing and loving God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as they know and love each other?”  I think part of what it might mean is that we begin to live like that with each other as well.  That joining in the Dance of the Trinity means that we dance with each other that way as well.  It is merely a reflection of who he is, and who we are in him.  God cannot help but bestow his blessing because his very life is flowing in and through and among us.  Which is good and pleasant indeed.


Closing Prayer: Help me, O God.  Give me the grace and the courage to join the Dance of the Trinity, and to begin to dance with those in my life and world in that way as well.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


Opening Prayer:  Make us alive, Lord Jesus, for if you don’t we can only be dead forever.

Scripture: Ephesians 2:4-7

Journal: How has Christ brought you to life?  How is he currently making you alive?

Reflection: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
     The bottom line to this life of faith is that Jesus is always about making us alive.  It’s just who he is.  He breathed us into being at the beginning, he raised us from the dead at the cross, and he breathes new life into us each day by his Spirit.  Everywhere Jesus goes he brings life.  Everything he touches comes alive in his hands.  Everyone he calls forth from the tomb—even the tomb of doubt, or despair, or depression—is raised up from the dead.  If you don’t believe it, just look at the gospels.
     Therefore, if we are in relationship with Jesus—if he is living in us and working through us—the question is not if but where.  Where and how.  Where and how is he making us alive?  Today.  What is being raised up, or renewed, or resurrected within us these days?  Where is there new life blooming?  Because where we are most alive, Jesus is at work within us.


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to pay attention to the places we are most alive.  For where we are most alive, you are at work within us.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

very good

Opening Prayer: O Lord, our God, when you breathed the world into being you looked at it all and said it was “very good.”  Thank you that we are a part of your very good creation.  Thank you that the blessing preceded the fall.  Help us to be a part of reversing the effects of the fall and restoring all things to their creation intent.  That is our mission.  Amen.

Scripture: Genesis 1:27-31

Journal: What does it mean to you that you were made in God’s image?  How does that help or inspire you today?


     very good

when God saw
all that he had made
and called it 
very good
he also saw 
you and me

we were made
to reflect his 
very good ness


Closing Prayer:  Lord God, thank you that you made us in your image, to know and enjoy the very intimacy of the Trinity.  May we live in the awareness and experience of that Divine Love and delight this day.  Amen.

Friday, August 10, 2018

let it

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you say, “Let my peace rule in your heart” and “Let my word dwell in your richly.”  All I have to do is let them.  Why do I make it so difficult?

Scripture: Colossians 3:15-17

Journal: Is Christ’s peace ruling in your heart?  Is Christ’s word dwelling in you richly?  If not, why not?  Why are you not letting them have their place in you?


     let it

let my peace
rule in your heart

let my word
dwell in you richly

let my truth
set you free

let my love
transform you

it will
if you let it


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have given me great and wonderful gifts: your life, your love, your word, your peace.  All I need to do is take them.  Why do I not do that?  Lord, have mercy.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

God's will

Opening Prayer: Thank you, O Lord, that you are not trying to trick us.  Knowing your will is really not all that complicated.  You are not playing some cosmic game of hide and seek.  Nor are you are some tricky game-show-host-sort-of-God who is making us pick between door number one and door number two, knowing full well that disaster awaits the wrong choice.  Thank you that you don’t work like that.  All you ask is that we love you and follow you, and everything else will pretty much fall into place.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Journal: What is God’s will for you these days?  How will you lean into that?


     God’s will

1 thessalonians 5:16-17

in case you
ever wonder
what God’s will
for you is
here you go

be joyful always
pray continually
give thanks 
in all circumstances

all the rest
is peripheral


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus. Thank you that ultimately your will is that we love you and follow you.  It is not all that complicated.  Help us to do the things that help us to be the people you desire us to be.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

goals destroy rest

Opening Prayer: Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 62:5-6, NIV)

Scripture: Psalm 62:5-8

Journal: How do you find rest in God alone?  What helps?  What hinders?

Reflection:  So I found something out on my latest vacation.  It is something I can’t believe I didn’t recognize years ago, especially after coming back from vacation after vacation more tired than I was before I left.  What I found out is this: Goals are the enemy of rest.  I know, I know, it sounds so countercultural, or certainly counter-intuitive.  But think about it; when was the last time you really rested?  And what were the dynamics that made it possible?  And what are the things that have been obstacles to rest in the past?
     My typical pattern is that I go on vacation with a plan, a list of things I’m hoping to accomplish.  That should tell me something right there.  Don’t get me wrong, they are good things, really good things.  They are things that I enjoy and things that have the potential to bring me rest.  But somehow when they become a list, they take on a life of their own.  All of the sudden I am trying to rest—I’m working at rest.  Thus, the rest is gone right out of it.  Now I’ve just got a bunch of goals, a bunch of things to do.  And when the things on my list don’t get done, or somehow my goals are blocked, I get frustrated.  By the way, that’s what happens when our goals get blocked—we get frustrated.  If you are ever frustrated and don’t know why, just ask yourself what goal you have (spoken or unspoken, acknowledged or hidden) that is being blocked.   
     Take the last few days, for instance.  We had the opportunity to spend a few days at the beach.  Immediately I thought, “Oh great, a chance to get a little sun, read a little, exercise a little, and be still and quiet.”  All good things, yet when those good things subtly become my goals, I’m setting myself up for failure.  All of the sudden I am working at accomplishing my goals, rather than truly resting.  I don’t know, maybe folks that are wired differently from me don’t have this struggle.  But I sure do.  
     All of the sudden, getting a little sun becomes work; something I’ve got to do.  And the rest of it drains right out.  Then it rains and I find myself frustrated.  Or that quiet reading under the umbrella by the beach that I had envisioned in my mind is interrupted by the bazillion people that are now crowded around on every side, talking loudly enough for folks five umbrellas down to be able to hear them, and blaring their music from their wireless speakers.  Strike two.  And that run on the beach I had envisioned is interrupted by the pulled soleus that has been nagging me for the past few months, and now decides to flare up again.  Strike three.  Awesome!  (Not awesome in the sense that “this is wonderful,” but awesome in the sense of “of course, this always happens to me.”  Funny how the same word can have two completely different meanings depending on the tone they are uttered in)
     So somehow I have to figure out how to take the work out of rest.  Somehow I have got to learn how to be intentional about making the space and time for rest to happen without turning it into a goal.  Because goals really are the enemy of rest.  Somehow I have got to start holding things loosely, taking things as they come, and enjoying whatever the present moment has to offer.  Which is not easy for me, being the anxiety-ridden person that I am.  But if I ever hope to have any deep sense of rest, it will only come when I learn to stop doing and start being.  Just being alive and present.  Breathing in and breathing out.  Living and savoring time and space, rather than always filling it.  Just enjoying, as one of the saints of old once said, the sacrament of the present moment.  It’s going to take some practice, but hopefully one day I’ll get there.  Hopefully one day I will actually go on vacation with no list.  A man can dream, right?


Closing Prayer: O God, full of compassion, I commit myself to you, in whom I am, and live and know. Be the goal of my pilgrimage and my rest by the way. Let my soul take refuge from the crowding turmoil of worldly thought beneath the shadow of your wings. Let my heart, this sea of restless waves, find peace in you, O God. Amen. ~St. Augustine

Monday, August 6, 2018


Opening Prayer:  O Lord, my God, you are indeed a good, good Father.  Thank you for the way you have parented me through the years.  How do I offer the same space and guidance and grace that you have offered me?

Scripture: Ephesians 6:4

Journal: How were you parented?  How has God parented you through the years?  What does it look like to give a child fruitful space to grow into who they were meant to be in Christ?



no matter how much
i might like to try
i do not get
to write this story

all i can do
is try not to hinder
the becoming
but make good space
and wait expectantly
for its beautiful unfolding


Closing Prayer: Thank you, our Father, that you have given us the space and guidance and the love and the grace we have needed to become all that you dreamt us to be.  May we offer the same to those in our lives and in our world.  Amen.