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Thursday, October 25, 2018


Opening Prayer: Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. (1 Samuel 3:10)

Scripture: Isaiah 55:1-3

Journal: As of late, what has been the fruit of listening in your life?  What have you heard God say to you?  What is he saying to you in these verses?

Reflection: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters, and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.  Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.” 
     Just look at the words: Come, come, come, come; listen, listen to me; give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.  Do you think coming and listening are very important to God?  It would certainly seem so.  I wonder, then, why we don’t actually do it more often. 
     Is it because we are far too busy trying to control and manage our chaotic lives?  Is it because we are too consumed with trying to find life on our own?  Is it because we do not really believe that God speaks?  Or is it because we do not really believe that we can, or will, hear him?  There must be some compelling reason, otherwise, from these verses alone, it seems like we would be beating a path to God’s door.  
     I mean, look at what the fruit of coming and listening really is: your soul will delight and your soul will live.  Isn’t that what we all most deeply desire?  Aren’t we all desperate for the deepest, truest part of ourselves to come to life like never before?  Why on earth, then, would we not do everything within our power to obtain the delight and the life that Isaiah is talking about?  All it takes is for us to come, to shut our mouths, to open our ears, and to truly listen to whatever it is that God has to say to us.  It is not all that complicated.  The only question is: Will we?


Closing Prayer: Speak, Lord, to the heart of your servant, that my heart may speak with you. ~Guigo II

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, help me to always remember that I am absolutely nothing apart from you, but more than I could ever ask or imagine when I abide in you.  Help me to do that this day.  Amen.

Scripture: John 15:5

Journal: What is your sense of your own nothingness today?  When and how are you trying to be something apart from Jesus?  How will you abide in him this day?

Reflection: Morning by morning and day by day and hour by hour and step by step, in every work, I have to abide before him in the simple and utter helplessness of one who knows nothing, and is nothing, and can do nothing.  Oh, beloved workers, study that word nothing.  You sometimes sing: “Oh, to be nothing, nothing”: but have you really studied that word and prayed every day, and worshiped God, in the light of it?  Do you know the blessedness of that word nothing?
     If I am something, then God is not everything: but when I become nothing, God can become all, and the everlasting God in Christ can reveal himself fully.  That is the higher life.  We need to become nothing.  Someone has well said that the seraphim and cherubim are flames of fire because they know they are nothing, and they allow God to put his fullness and his glory and brightness into them.  Oh, become nothing in deep reality, and, as worker, study only one thing—to become poorer and lower and more helpless, that Christ may work all in you.
     Workers, here is your first lesson: learn to be nothing, learn to be helpless.  The man who has got something is not absolutely dependent; but the man who has got nothing is absolutely dependent.  Absolute dependence upon God is the secret of all power in work.  The branch has nothing but what it gets from the vine, and you and I can have nothing but what we get from Jesus. (Absolute Dependence by Andrew Murray)


Closing Prayer: Forgive me, Lord Jesus, for trying to make myself something, when the truth is that apart from you I am nothing.  My biggest problems in life typically come when I try to avoid that nothingness, rather than embracing it.  Help me to learn what it really means to abide in you.  Amen. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


Opening Prayer: Be still and know that I am God.  I will be exalted in the heavens, I will be exalted on earth.  The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:10-11)

Scripture: Psalm 46:10

Journal: How is God being exalted in your life?  How and where are you trying to exalt yourself instead?  How does that affect your ability to be still and know that he is God?

Reflection: I will be exalted in the heavens.  And I will be exalted on earth.  I will be exalted in your life and I will be exalted in your family.  I will be exalted in your work and I will be exalted in your church.  I made you to participate in that process, not to compete.  I made you to exalt me, not yourself.  And the best way you can do that is to be yourself; to be the person I dreamt into being before the foundations of the world.  For, ironically, when you try to be more than yourself, you become far less.  
     So be still, and know that I am God.  Stop trying so hard.  Stop trying to impress and compete.  Stop trying to perform and achieve.  Stop trying to look and sound like you know more than you do.  Stop living in fear that others will get the recognition from the world that you so deeply desire.  Stop trying to lift yourself up above others, and above me.  It is not the reason I made you.  And if you keep it up, it will wear you down and burn you out.  I want so much more for you than that.
     You are my masterpiece, not the Master.  You are a work of art never to be repeated.  Be who you are, and let me be who I am.  In fact, being who you are is a living example, a walking testimony, of who I am.  The masterpiece does not exalt itself, but the one who created it.  A beautiful painting does not say to the world, “Look at me!  Look what I did!”  No, it is simply a beautiful expression of the One who painted it.  And a song cannot take credit for having been written, or sung.  No, it is content to be the glory of the One who brought, or sang, it into being.  Be content to be my song to this broken and hurting world.  For when people hear the music, they will be drawn to its Source.  And I will be exalted in the heavens. And I will be exalted on earth. 


Closing Prayer: Lord God, you made me so that I might exalt you in all things.  Forgive me when I exalt myself instead.  Forgive me when I use the gift and the abilities you have given me to try and lift myself up, rather than you.  All I am and all I have comes from you; I can take no credit for any of it.  Let me take all that I have and all that I am and give it freely and fully back to you.  That you alone may be exalted.  Amen.

Monday, October 22, 2018


Opening Prayer: Be my ever-present help in trouble, O God, and let my faith in you not be determined by how I want things to work out, but by an unflinching trust in your unfailing love.  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 46:1-11

Journal: How do you trust God even when things don’t go the way you’d hoped they would?

Reflection: The Lord is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though the waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3)  The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:7, 11)
     It is pretty easy to have faith when everything is going your way, or when God is answering your prayers in the way that you hoped he would.  But what about the times when the answer to your deepest, most desperate prayers is different from what you were asking and hoping for?  It is easy to have faith in God when you get a yes, but what about when you get a no?  And inevitably, in this life, that happens to each of us.  So it really is not a question of  if, but of when.  And when it does happen, what will your faith look like then?  Will it be shaken, or will it remain strong?
     Thus far in my journey with Jesus, I can remember two different times when God's answer to my deepest, most desperate prayers was a resounding no.  No, he would not let things work out like I was begging and pleading for him to.  No, he would not give me what I was asking for.  But what he would give me was himself.  The greatest truth of our faith is that even when the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, even when the waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging, God has not abandoned us.  The Lord Almighty is with us in some mysterious, wonderful, intimate, and powerful way.  The God of Jacob is our fortress.  And it is this with-ness that changes and transforms us.  At least it has me.
     The two times I got a no from God were the hardest, but most transforming times in my life.  Because God did not leave me to travel the hard and painful road alone, but he traveled it with me.  As a matter of fact, he traveled it before me.  How else could he possibly know how to be with me in such a sweet and intimate way, if he had not traveled the road of pain and suffering himself?  God, the Lord Almighty, was right there with me.  Right in the middle of the pain and the tears and the struggle and the mess, giving me his strength and his comfort and his healing and his presence and his tears and his love, when I could not possibly find them on my own.  What a gift!
     So just remember, the next time the earth does give way and the mountains do fall into the heart of the sea, God is not far off, but is right in the midst of it.  The next time you do get a no from God, do not let it shake your faith, for even if he is not giving you what you are asking for, he is giving you himself.  He is with you, loving you and caring for you and holding you and comforting you and strengthening you, and yes, transforming you more and more into the beautiful creation he dreamt you to be.  So stand firm, he's got this.  Better yet, he's got you.


Closing Prayer: Lord God, help my hope and my confidence not to be merely in you answering my prayers the way I want them answered, or making things work out the way I think they should work out, but in your unfailing love.  Then, and only then, can I have a faith that is unshakeable.  Amen.

Friday, October 19, 2018


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you made yourself nothing.  Nothing!  Not something, but nothing.  And you call me to do the same.  Give me the grace and the strength and the courage to follow your example.  Amen.

Scripture: Philippians 2:5-8

Journal: How do you make yourself nothing?  How are you tempted to make yourself something?  What does it look like in your life to follow Christ’s example of making himself nothing?

Reflection: As long as we are something, God cannot be all.  (Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray)


Closing Prayer: Help me to see, Lord Jesus, what it looks like to make myself nothing this day.  And then help me to do it.  In the name of—and by the power of—Jesus I pray.  Amen.

Thursday, October 18, 2018


Opening Prayer: Thank you, Almighty God, that you are with us.  Thank you, O God of Jacob, that you are our fortress.  May we find our rest and refuge in you.  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 46:1-11

Journal: What does it do within you to know that the Lord Almighty is with you?

Reflection: If you want to understand the keeping, remember that it is not only an all-inclusive keeping, but it is an almighty keeping.
     I want to get that truth burned into my soul; I want to worship God until my whole heart is filled with the thought of his omnipotence.  God almighty, and the Almighty God offers himself to work in my heart, to do the work of keeping me; and I want to get linked with Omnipotence, or rather, linked to the Omnipotent One. To the living God, and to have my place in the hollow of his hand. (Absolute Surrender and Other Addresses by Andrew Murray)


Closing Prayer: God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake, before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us. (Psalm 46:1-3, The Message)

Monday, October 15, 2018

listen to him

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, shut our mouths and open our ears, that we might hear your voice and order our lives accordingly.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 17:1-5

Journal: In what ways (or areas of life) do you need to listen to him these days?  How can you encourage others to listen to him?

Reflection: While he was speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.  Listen to him!" (Matthew 17:5)
     Listen to him!  What great words.  What a great answer to anyone who might come our direction for wisdom or advice: Listen to him!  Don't listen to me.
     But all too often, my pride—or my insecurity, it's hard to tell which—enters in and I feel like I actually have got something of value to say.  The only problem is that whoever is sitting, or standing, before me at the moment doesn't need what I've got to say.  What they really need is what He has to say.  So the best answer I could possibly give is: Listen to him!
     Several years ago I was at a major decision point in my life.  And as I sought God for clarity, I was really torn as to what I should do.  The stakes felt really high.  Saying yes to the opportunity in front of me would mean a major disruption for my family--moving, changing schools, etc.  I went back and forth; one day I would feel one way and the next day, the other.  I was in agony.  Luckily a dear friend and wise mentor was coming to town for a visit, and I thought surely he could help me figure it all out.  Yet when I asked him what I should do, he very wisely said, "I have the utmost confidence in your ability to hear God in the matter."  Or, in other words, "Listen to him!"  The exact words I needed to hear.
     Henri Nouwen once said: "The loud, boisterous noises of the world make us deaf to the soft, gentle, and loving voice of God.  A Christian leader is called to help people to hear that voice and to be comforted and consoled."
     As leaders we are NOT called to tell people what to do.  Rather, we are called to tell people to get away from the noise and chaos, to retreat into silence and solitude, and then to simply Listen to him!


Closing Prayer: Forgive us, Lord Jesus, when we try to do a million-and-one things to figure out what we should do with our lives, instead of just stopping to listen to you.  Help that to be the first thing we do, rather than the last.  In your name we pray.  Amen.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

join in

Opening Prayer: Lord God, you have breathed your life-giving breath into all of creation.  Help us to have eyes to see and ears to hear your song of joy in all that is around us, that we might join in that song with all that is within us.

Scripture: Isaiah 55:12-13

Journal: What is your soul most like these days, a thorn bush or a pine tree?  What is more prevalent in your heart these days, myrtle or briers?  How is God inviting you to join in the joy of his creation?

Reflection: There is a way of being that allows us to see God in all things—that hears the song of the mountains and joins in the dance of the trees.  It is a way of living that sees and hears the God who truly inhabits his creation.  And it joins him in the celebration of life that is constantly going on all around us.  This kind of seeing and hearing is what allows the pine tree to grow instead of the thorn bush, and myrtle instead of briers.  It is a way of being that is filled with joy and life and gratitude.  O God, give me eyes to see and ears to hear.  Give me s heart that is attentive, open, and receptive to your presence and your joy in all things.  Help me to take you up on your invitation to join this dance, to sing this joyful song—to dance and sing and clap and play in the glory of your presence today.


Closing Prayer: The heavens are telling the glory of God, and all of creation is shouting for joy.  Come dance in the forest, come play in the field and sing, sing to the glory of the Lord. (Canticle of the Sun)

Friday, October 12, 2018


Opening Prayer: O God, you who expressed yourself fully in the Lord Jesus, help us—we who are made in your image—to be living expressions of your love, care, and creativity in this world.  For it is only when we pour ourselves out, that we are being most like your Son.  Help us to do just that, today and every day.  Amen.

Scripture: Philippians 2:17-18

Journal: How is God asking you to be poured out?  What gifts did he give you that only find their ultimate expression and satisfaction when they are being poured out to others?



O to use the gift
You have breathed
into each of us
is like a fountain
a well springing up
to overflowing
which cannot
and should not
be contained

how good and pleasant 
it is when that which
was breathed into us
is poured out

it is as if the soul itself
were calling out
from its depths
for this i was made

for there is a filling
and there is a pouring
that is all part
of the grand design

life begetting life
begetting life
begetting life
and on and on
to eternity

reflecting all the while
the nature of our creator


Closing Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you have given me gifts, in order that I might give them away.  And thank you that this giving away has a glorious effect on my soul—renewing and replenishing itself even in the giving.  This is your grand design.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

will you?

Opening Prayer: O God of all creation, you made us each to fearfully and wonderfully express you in a way no one else ever can or will.  Give us the grace and the courage to be the people you made us to be.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:14-27

Journal: Will you use your gift today?  How?


Will you?

Will you use your gift today?
Will you give the world
that thing that no one else
in all of creation can give?

Will you be yourself,
and give yourself,
the way God designed you to?

If you do not,
then no one else can.
If you do, 
then we will all
be richer as a result.

So what will it be?
Will you use your gift today?


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, you made us many, in order to make us one.  Never let us hold back our part, or the entire body suffers.  Amen.

Monday, October 8, 2018

spiritual disciplines

Opening Prayer:  Help us, O Lord, to constantly make time and space for you.  For if we will make the time and the space, you will be faithful to show up in it.  Thanks for that.  Amen.

Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:7-8

Journal: What things bring your spiritual to life on a regular basis?  How, where, and when will you make those things an intentional part of your life?

Reflection: Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion.  Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please!  Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. (1 Timothy 4:7-8, The Message)
     Spiritual disciplines are not just things to do, but things to do that help us to be.  They are not an end in themselves, but intended to make time and space for God to make us come alive inside.  In that old familiar story in Luke 10:38-42 about Mary and Martha, we are told that Mary sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what he said.  Those are spiritual disciplines.  Sitting and listening are things we can do that actually help us to be more and more who God intended us to be.  And in that classic Psalm about God as our Shepherd, we are told that he makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside quiet waters.  Again, spiritual disciplines.  Lying down in green pastures and being led beside quiet waters have a particular effect on our souls—they restore them.  So pay careful attention to the things that create life within you, and figure out how to intentionally make those things a part of your daily rhythm.  Not for the purpose of duty and obligation, but so your soul and spirit will be alive and vibrant—open and receptive to God's voice and God’s movement within you.


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to never think of the spiritual disciplines as a duty to perform, but help us to see them as a person to engage—You!  May we make time and space to be with you today.  Amen.

Friday, October 5, 2018


Opening Prayer: Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace. (The Confessions of St. Augustine)

Scripture: Revelation 3:20

Journal: What would it look like for you to open the door to Jesus today?



there is a door
in every soul 
at which you stand 
each day and 
patiently knock

you are not one
to barge in
that is not your style

your way
is to wait
and to knock
until desire
or disaster
finally wakes us
from our 
distracted slumber
and moves us
to answer

for you want 
to be wanted
you desire
to be desired
you enjoy
being enjoyed

so you knock
and you wait
until we hear
and open

for apparently
you would rather 
wait outside
than force 
your way in

i love that
about you

your love 
never forces
but always waits
to be chosen


Closing Prayer: Help me to hear you knocking today, Lord Jesus, and to open the door—that you might come in to be with me and me with you.  O please, Lord Jesus, do not let me, in my busyness and distraction, leave you outside, knocking.  Come, Lord Jesus, into this time and space and fill it with your love and joy and peace.  Amen.

Thursday, October 4, 2018


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you do not want us merely living for you, or with you, but you want us living in you.  Help us to never settle for anything less than that.  By your grace and your power.  Amen.

Scripture: Colossians 2:6-7

Journal: What is your sense of living in Christ each moment of each day?  What helps that?  What hinders it?  How will you try to live in Christ this day?

Reflection: Thomas Merton once wrote that “Some people live for God, some people live with God, and some people live in God.”  Now, the for and the with are great, don’t get me wrong, but living in Christ should be the goal of us all.  And, as Paul so clearly states in these verses, living in Christ is his chief desire for us.  And not only living in Christ, but living continuously in Christ.  That is the key to life in the Spirit—continual union with God in Christ.  For if we continue to live in him, we will be rooted and built up in him, strengthened in our faith and overflowing with thanksgiving.  I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of life I’m looking for.


Closing Prayer: Live your life in me today, Lord Jesus, that I might live my life in you.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018


Opening Prayer: O Lord, forgive me when I invest so much time and energy trying to get people to see how awesome I am, when my real job is to get out of the way and help people see how awesome you are.  Lord, have mercy.  Amen.

Scripture: John 3:24-30

Journal: How are you trying to increase these days?  How is Jesus calling you to decrease?


     a little deal

everything within me
wants to be a big deal
except the Jesus within me

he wants me 
to be a little deal
he wants me to live 
a small and quiet and hidden life
that pays careful attention to 
the movement of his Spirit within me
and how he desires 
to be expressed in the world


Closing Prayer: Help me this day, Lord Jesus, to become less, that you might become more.  Amen.

Monday, October 1, 2018


Opening Prayer: Thank you, O Lord, that my salvation and my honor depend on you and not on me.  What a relief to know that I do not have to earn or achieve either of those.  Therefore, my soul can find rest in you alone.  Thanks be to you!  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 62:7

Journal: What does it mean to you that your salvation and your honor (value) depend on God alone?

Reflection: How fine, how beautiful, our true likeness is, which God carries with Him all the time and which He so much longs to show us!  Out of love He has had respect for what we willed and has chosen to wait.  The likeness can only be the likeness to his Son, who in advance of us lived out a true sonship and was obedient to the Father’s will, right up to death on the cross.  From His prayer, from His striving, living and dying, we learn how to pray. (Teach Us to Pray by Andre Louf)


Closing Prayer:  My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in him at all times, O people, pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:7-8, NIV)