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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

as he went along

Opening Prayer: Help me, Lord Jesus to see those who are in my path as I go about my day today.  They desperately need to be seen and loved.  Help me to do just that.  Help me to enter in to what you are doing within and around me today.  Amen.

Scripture: John 9:1-7

Journal: Who and what is God calling you to today?  What if he’s just calling you to be more present and attentive to where you are and to who crosses your path?  What would that look like today?  How will you be more present and available to God during the course of your day?  How will you really see people?  How will you see what God is doing in and around you so you can join in to it? 

Reflection: “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.” (John 9:1)

     Most of us, it seems, like to imagine that following Jesus means we are called to go to exotic places and do heroic things.  And while that might be true for some, it is more likely that our call contains more humble beginnings.  In fact, it starts right where we are, with whoever is in front of us at the moment.
     The truth is that you and I will go places today, and we will see people as we go.  The question is: Will we really see them?  Or will we merely pass them by in our haste to get to the next thing?  Jesus saw people.  And he saw them as he went.  It didn’t take an exotic location or an important person to get his attention.  He wasn’t, it seems, out to do heroic things.  He was more concerned with simply showing up and loving whoever was in front of him at the moment.  
     We would be wise to do the same.  For all of ministry starts where we are.  We are sent first to Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)  So let us pay great attention, not to our “to do” list, but to where we are going and to who will be there as we go.  Stop.  Look.  Listen.  Engage.  Ask God what he is up to and join in to that.
     “As you go, see people.  Really see them.  They are dying for that.  And as you see them, look for what I am doing within and around them.  Be aware of where I am already at work and join me.  What could be more heroic than that?”  


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to see as you see today, that I may join you in the work your Father sent us to do.  Amen.

Monday, October 28, 2019

it's not about me

Opening Prayer:  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about me.  Amen.

Scripture: Ezekiel 36:22-32

Journal: How do you try to make your own name great throughout the course of a day or week?  What would it look like to make God’s name great instead?  What does it look like to make life about God instead of about yourself?  How will you do that today?

Reflection: It is so easy in this life to get caught up in making a name for ourselves.  I, fact, if we are not careful, we can easily fall into the trap of believing that the life we live here on earth is more about us than it is about God.  Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.  It is not, ultimately, for our sakes—or our name—that God does any of these amazing things within and among us, but for the sake of his name.  To show who he is.  His works are meant to testify to his character and his power and his love.  We are just the fortunate recipients of his grace, the adoring objects of his love, the unworthy vessels of his power.  When we are being all that he created us to be, we are showing all of creation who he really is and what he is like.  In other words, we are making his name great.  Thus, the way we make his name great is to be all he made us to be.  But it is for his glory and his name, not our own.  It is easy to forget that. 


Closing Prayer: Remind me, O Lord, that this life is about making your name great, not my own.  Amen.

Saturday, October 26, 2019


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you made yourself nothing, that we might become something in you.  Give us the strength and the courage to follow your example.  Amen.

Scripture: Philippians 2:1-11

Journal: How are you trying to make yourself something these days?  What would it look like to make yourself nothing?  Will you?

Reflection: Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing. . . ." (Philippians 2:5-7, NIV)

When I try to make myself something, I am no longer following the Jesus who "made himself nothing" and calls me to do the same.


Closing Prayer: Jesus, the life you call us to is so completely opposite from the life the world tries to draw us into.  The world says climb up, while you say journey downward.  The world says be the greatest, while you say be the least.  The world says ascend to the heights, while you say descend to the depths.  The world says be something, while you say make yourself nothing.  Lord Jesus, give us the grace to follow you, wherever you may lead.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the only one who really sees, really knows, and really loves me.  Help me to know that I have no hope of really seeing others, until I have been seen, known and loved by you.  Otherwise I will spend all my time and energy trying way too hard to be seen by them.  Lord, have mercy!  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 7:36-50

Journal: How well are you really seeing others in your life and world these days?  How is that related to how well you are being seen by Jesus?

Reflection: Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?” (Luke 7:44) Okay, I get it.  Seeing is always a two way street.  How we see things is always determined by our own inner dynamics at the time.  In order to be able to see things, and people, the way they really are, we must first be truly seen by the One who made us, the One who knows us, and the One who loves us.  Without first being seen, known, and loved by Him, we will always be far too consumed and concerned with the way we are seen by others.  We will always live in order to prove our worthiness, rather than living because the One who made us has pronounced us worthy.  We will always live in order to achieve an identity, rather than living because he has already bestowed an identity (as his beloved) upon us.
     That was certainly the case with Simon the Pharisee.  He was so consumed with himself that he was unable to see who and what was right there in front of him.  He was so full of his own fears and insecurities that he had no room to see the beauty of what had just taken place between Jesus and this sinful woman.  He was so busy criticizing and comparing and trying to convince himself and his world that he was more worthy of love, that he was unable to see the passion and the affection and the beauty of her gesture.  Because when you are consumed with yourself, you can never see others for who and what they really are; they become threats and competitors rather than fellow travelers and pilgrims in this amazingly complex journey.  
     Simon could see nothing but himself, so Jesus had to take a moment to help him see the situation for what it really was.  He pointed out the beauty of the woman’s act of love, as well as the contrast of Simon’s lack thereof.  In helping Simon see the woman, Jesus had also helped Simon see himself.  For only after we have been seen do we having any hope of seeing others the way God intended for us to. 


Closing Prayer: You see me, Lord Jesus.  Wherever I am, and whatever I am doing, and whatever is going on in my life, help me to always realize that you see me, you know me, and you love me. And because of that I have the freedom to see, know and love others.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Monday, October 21, 2019

let us

Opening Prayer:  O Lord, let us consider what life might look life if we lived it in authentic community, rather than in isolation.  Help us to be one as you are one.  We can only do that in you.  Have mercy on us.  Amen.

Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-3

Journal: Does let us define your typical mode of operation, or let me?  What are concrete ways you can move toward an us mindset?  Have a conversation with your nearest and dearest friends about what this could look like.

Reflection: “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
     Let us.  Did you get that?  It’s not let me, or let you, or let him, or let her, but let us.  Such a small, subtle change, but an incredibly powerful one.  I mean, with one tiny little phrase there comes a complete change in perspective.  With two little words we are able to make a major paradigm shift.  A shift from “I am all on my own” to “We are in this together.”  Let us takes us from isolation to community, from loneliness to togetherness, and from scarcity to abundance.  Maybe that’s why the author of Hebrews uses the phrase so often, he realizes that the power of us is way stronger than the power of just you or just me.
     Let us run together, with perseverance, the race marked out for us,” is a whole lot different than “Let me run by myself, with as much perseverance as I can muster on my own, the race marked out for me.”  There is strength in numbers.  That’s probably why Ecclesiastes reminds us that “Two are better than one because if one falls there is someone there to help him up.  But pity the man who falls alone.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) There is just something about the throwing off of everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles that was always meant to be done in the context of community.  I mean, we can continue try on our own if we want to, but we will always end up right back in the same old place.  It’s like trying to pull yourself up from the bottom of a hundred-foot well. 
     There is just something beautiful and life-giving about living life in community.  There is something good and right about doing whatever we do with the great cloud of witnesses, not to mention our closest friends and fellow pilgrims.  It is easier to actually run the race with perseverance when you have your nearest and dearest running right beside you; at times your faith will sustain them and at times their faith will sustain you.  Four (or more) eyes fixed on Jesus are far more attentive and accurate than two.
     So let us begin to ask ourselves what running the race together—as opposed to alone—is supposed to look like.  Let us dream a little and talk a little and make some commitments to each other.  And then let us start to actually do it.  At every given opportunity, let us choose communion over isolation.  I think you will find that you are able to journey together to places in life and faith where you could never journey alone.


Closing Prayer:  Give us the strength and the courage, O God, to live in community the way you made us to live in community.  Let us be a living example of the life and love of the Trinity.  Amen.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

i'm waiting for you

Opening Prayer: I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. (Psalm 130:5-6)

Scripture: Psalm 130:5-8

Journal: How are you waiting for the Lord these days?  How is he waiting for you?

Reflection: I have a suspicion that waiting for the Lord is not as cut and dried as it seems to be.  For while we are waiting for God to move or to speak or to act, he is also waiting for us.  He is waiting for us to finally come to the end of ourselves and fully depend on him.  He is waiting for us to stop trusting in our own gifts and abilities and efforts, and, instead, trust fully in him.  He is waiting for us to stop trying so hard to manage and manipulate and control everything, so that space can be made for him to move and to act.  He is waiting for us to finally let go of our self-sufficiency and prayerlessness and cry out to him in desperation and surrender.
     How long, O Lord, how long?  How long will it take for us to finally realize that we cannot do it on our own, and fully turn to you?  Lord, have mercy!


Closing Prayer: Forgive us, O Lord, for our self-sufficiency and prayerlessness.  Humble us, and help us to pray and to seek your face and turn from our wicked ways, that you might hear our prayers and forgive our sins and heal our land.  Amen.

Monday, October 14, 2019

find 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)

Scriptures: Psalm 62:5-8

Journal:  What do you typically try to find rest in?  How well is that working for you?

Reflection: Find rest, O my soul, in God alone.  He alone is the only source of true rest.  Do not try to find it in your own ability to manage, control, or manipulate.  You will never find it in performance or achievement or affirmation; not in what others think or say about you.  True rest is much bigger than what pleasant circumstances or convenience or ease have to offer.  It cannot be gained through hiding or placating or just trying to get along.  It cannot be arrived at through avoidance or denial or escape.  It cannot be obtained through indulgence or pleasure or gratification.  None of these things offer the rest your soul most deeply longs for—that comes from God alone.  So find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.


Closing Prayer:  You alone offer rest for my soul, O God.  May I always find my rest in you.  Amen.

Friday, October 11, 2019

i am

Opening Prayer: Help me to always remember, O Lord, that this life is not about me, but about you.  Forgive me when I get that backwards.  Amen.

Scripture: Exodus 3:1-15

Journal: How can you relate to Moses in this passage?  Where and how are you asking the question, “Who am I?”  What is God’s response?

Reflection: “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)  It’s a fair question, right?  After all, it’s a huge mission.  Moses had to be thinking: “Wouldn’t there be someone better, someone more qualified than I am to accomplish such an undertaking?  I mean, who I am that I should go and do such a thing?”
     But Moses was asking the wrong question.  You can see it in God’s response.  He didn’t tell Moses who Moses was, he told Moses who God was: “I will be with you.”  The question was not about Moses’ level of competence to perform such a daunting mission, it was about God’s.  Moses was being asked to not trust in himself, but to trust in his God.  
     “Don’t worry about who you are,” God seems to be saying.  “It’s who I AM that counts.  This life is not about you, but about me.  This mission is not about who you are, but about who I AM.”  And when we are finally able to get that straight, everything else kind of falls into place.


Closing Prayer: 
My Beloved,

Always remember that this life is not about who you are, but about who I AM. 


Thursday, October 10, 2019

be careful

Opening Prayer: I love you, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer: my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. (Psalm 18:1-3, NIV)

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:12

Journal:  What ways are you most susceptible to falling?  How are careful so that you don’t?  Are you more apt to overestimate your own strength, or underestimate the strength of your opponent?  How do you typically try to protect yourself from the attacks of the enemy?

Reflection: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Cor. 10:12)  Sound advice, right?  After all, isn’t it the moments when we don’t think we can fall, when we are actually the most susceptible?  Those moments when we let our guard down because we either overestimate ourselves or underestimate our opponent—both of which can lead to disaster.
     I’ll be the first to admit that there are many times in my life where I think, “I got this,” only to find out that I really don’t.  But there are even more moments in my life when I don’t give my opponent the credit he deserves.  In fact, quite often I do not even recognize that I have an opponent.  I think that all that is going on within or around me is something that I’m coming up with all on my own.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, when I think that way I am playing right into his hands.  The best way for my opponent to defeat me is to convince me that he doesn’t even exist.  Then he can go about his business without any notice or resistance.
     The truth is that we do have an opponent.  Or, more accurately, we have an enemy.  The Enemy.  The devil himself, whose sole purpose is to defeat and destroy us.  His main weapons are lies and deception.  He wants us to believe things—about ourselves, our world, and our God—that simply aren’t true.  He whispers to us a story that we actually believe is one of our own making.  A story in which we are the main characters and all of life revolves around us.  A story in which we are on our own and must take care of ourselves, because no one else will.  No one else really cares.  He whispers to us a story about a God whose heart cannot be trusted, a God who is not good.  And then he encourages us to interpret the events and happenings and hardships of our lives in such a way that it only increases our deepest fears, doubts, and suspicions.  All without ever recognizing or acknowledging that he is the source of these lies.  Thus, every encounter and interaction, every harsh word or hurtful comment just adds fuel to the fire.  We recognize that we have fallen, that our lives are a total mess, we just have no idea how we got there, or how to get back up.  But this fall didn’t just happen.  We were actually led there, without our knowing it.  That is the craftiness and brilliance of our opponent.
     But our God is even more brilliant.  In fact, he (Jesus) is the way and the truth and the life.  And the truth, once we recognize it and believe it, is always the way back to freedom.  For Jesus tells us a totally different story.  He tells us the real story—the true narrative.  He tells us who we really are, and how life was really meant to work, and what God is really like.  Jesus is the only firm place to set our feet.  So let us all be careful to stand firm in him today, lest we fall.    


Closing 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, NIV)

Monday, October 7, 2019


Opening Prayer: The Lord is our refuge and strength, an 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 mountain quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3, NIV)

Scripture: Psalm 46:1-3

Journal: What does it mean to rely totally on God as your help?  How do your efforts to help yourself get in the way of that?  What would total surrender to him look like?

Reflection: “The Lord is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1, NIV)  As long as we keep trying to do it ourselves—even just a little bit—we will continue to get in the way of what God wants to do in and through us.  It’s not until we come to the end of ourselves, until we get to the point of total surrender, that we are out of the way enough to offer him the time and space he requires to move and to act.  Finally waving the white flag is a necessary act if we ever want God to be the one to lead and guide—and help.  He typically doesn’t step in while we are still trying to help ourselves. 
     I guess that’s why Eugene Peterson translates the first Beatitude (in Matthew 5:3) as: “You are blessed when you get to the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” (The Message) Or as a wise saint said many, many years ago: “So long as you hold on to even a little hope of achieving something by your own powers, the Lord does not interfere.  It is as though he says: ‘You hope to succeed by yourself—Very well, go on trying!  But however long you try you will achieve nothing.’”  
     There is no such this as letting go half way.  It is all or nothing.  When will we ever learn?


Closing Prayer: Forgive me, O Lord, for continually trying to do it on my own.  Forgive me for my refusal to fully let go of control—as if I ever had it to begin with—and totally surrender to your love and care.  Help me to fully trust in you, no matter how scary that might be.  Lord, help!  Amen.