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Monday, April 27, 2020

believe the good news

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to truly believe that the Good News is really, really good.  Otherwise, we will never live the kind of lives you desire for us to live.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 1:14-15

Journal: Do you really believe that the good news is that good?  Why or why not?  What impact does that have on your life?  How do you define repentance?  How does that fit into the picture?  How do repent and believe fit together?

Reflection: “The time has come.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15)
     I’m afraid we may have gotten repentance a little backwards.  To repent (metanoeĊ), first and foremost, is to change your mind about something.  It is to change the way you think about something, or the way you see it, or understand it.  That is the starting point for repentance.  
     But unfortunately, when it comes to change, we typically try to start with our behavior.  We try to change the way we live before we actually change the way we think, which is doomed to failure.  No wonder we repent and repent and repent and repent and repent in an endless cycle.  No wonder our behavior never really changes.  Our behavior will not change until the way we think about things changes.
     That’s why the connection between repent and believe the good news is so important.  They are the first words of Jesus recorded in Mark, which has to be significant.  In order to experience true and lasting change, we must first believe the good news is really good.  For if we do not believe it is really good news, if we believe there is actually something better, then we will never see the true and lasting change we most desperately long for.
     It is an age-old temptation; the same one encountered by Adam and Eve in the garden.  It is the temptation to believe there is something out there better than what God offers.  Which, in essence, is to believe the good news isn’t really all that good.
     Until we have tasted God’s goodness and his unfailing love deeply enough to know there is nothing better, then we will always be wandering through this life searching for someone or something to fill the deepest longings of our hearts.  The problem is that nothing can.  There is nothing better than Jesus.  There is nothing that compares to God’s great love.  We simply have not tasted it fully enough to be convinced.
     So if you really want some change in your life, do not start with your behavior, start with changing the way you think about things, particularly the way you think about God.  Repent and believe the good news!  Change your way of thinking by believing in the goodness and love of our very good God.  For when we change our way of thinking, and believe the good news is the best thing there is, then our behavior will follow.  


Closing Prayer: Noting is better than you, O God.  Nothing!  Forgive me when I start to believe something different than that; it is a lie.  Your love is better than life.  Help me to taste your love and your goodness so deeply this day that it drives all the doubt and unbelief right out of my heart and soul.  In the name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

stop doubting and believe

Opening Prayer: Risen Jesus, thank you for coming through the locked doors of our lives and offering us your peace.  Thank you for inviting us to touch your hands and side and to “Stop doubting and believe!”  Give us the grace and the strength and the courage to do just that.  Amen.

Scripture: John 20:26-28

Journal: What are the areas of doubt in your life these days?  What does that look like?  How is Jesus inviting you to stop doubting and believe?  What does that look like?

Reflection:  Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it in my side.  Stop doubting and believe!” (John 20:26-27)
     Doubt has many faces, which can make it really difficult to identify and to combat.  Knowing the various faces of our doubts, knowing what they look like and what they cause us to do, as well as knowing what is really at their core, is so key in the process of overcoming them.     
     Sometimes doubt looks like not really believing that God can intervene in our lives in a real and tangible way, and sometimes it looks like not really believing that he will.  Sometimes doubt looks like not really believing that God loves us, and sometimes it looks like not really believing that we are worth loving.  Sometimes it looks like not really believing that God will act on our behalf, and sometimes it looks like not really believing that we are worthy of being acted for.  Thus, sometimes doubt has to do with ourselves, sometimes it has to do with others, and sometimes it has to do with our God.  
     But in all cases, doubt is about not really believing.  Not really believing that God is good.  Not really believing that he is trustworthy.  Not really believing that he is enough.  Not really believing that he is living and active.  Not really believing that he is always at work for our growth and well-being.  Not really believing that he is in control.
     And when we live in doubt, it sets us off in really bad directions.  Our lives become filled with fear and anxiety and insecurity.  Or we get overwhelmed and overcome with grief and despair and depression.  Or we find ourselves frustrated and angry and bitter.  Or we become obsessed with jockeying and performing, or with managing and controlling; all of which make us such terrible versions of ourselves.  And God wants so much more for us than that.  He wants us to believe.  
     That’s why he tells Thomas, as well as you and me, “Stop doubting and believe!”  It is both a command and an invitation.  Not a command in the sense of “Do this or else,” but in the sense of “Do this so that.”  Stop doubting so that your life will be all that I hoped and dreamed it would be.  Stop doubting so that you will be controlled and compelled by love, rather than by fear and anxiety and insecurity.  Stop doubting so that you can become more and more like the person I created you to be. 
     “Stop doubting and believe!” is also an invitation.  Jesus invites Thomas, as well as each of us, into a new way of seeing and of being.  He invites him to let go of certain ways of thinking and living, so that he can experience the life and the freedom he was made for.  He invites him to be set free from the old patterns and habits of the false self, in order that he might become new and true.  He invites him to “be transformed by the renewing of his mind so that he can test and approve of what God’s will is; his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)  And he invites each of us into that process as well.
     So what would it look like for you to “Stop doubting and believe!” today?  What does doubt look like for you right now?  What “face” is it wearing?  What effect is it having on your life?  How is Jesus inviting you to believe in such a way that it enables you to leave doubt, and all of its effects, behind?  What does that look like?  Will you do it?  
     For if you and I are willing to answer these questions, and if we are willing to “Stop doubting and believe!”, then maybe one day each of us will be able to stand before Jesus, as Thomas did, and utter the words: “My Lord and my God!”


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to “Stop doubting and believe!”  It is the deepest desire of my soul.  Amen.

Monday, April 20, 2020

stones, tombs, and locked doors

Opening Prayer: Thank you Resurrected Jesus, that you cannot be deterred, contained or held at bay.  You are always rolling away our stones, emptying our tombs and coming through our locked doors.  By your resurrection power, raise us to new life once again today.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 24:1-3, John 20:19-22

Journal: What are the stones, or tombs, or locked doors in your life these days?  How does Jesus want to enter in to those places and bring new life?


stones, tombs, and locked doors

no stone was too heavy for you
no tomb could keep you in
no locked door could keep you out

you cannot be deterred
nor can you be contained
and you will not be held at bay

you will not be dismissed
nor will you be managed
and you cannot be controlled

what stones have i set in place, O Lord
what tombs have i tried to seal you within
what rooms have i locked you out of

Resurrected Jesus 
come roll my stones away
empty my tombs
come through my locked doors
and raise me to new life again


Closing Prayer:  Forgive us, Risen Jesus, when we try to manage, manipulate, and control you.  Thank you that you are always bigger and greater, more powerful and more glorious than we can ever imagine.  Raise up those parts of us that are dead and lifeless, or twisted and distorted, or so much less than you imagined them to be.  Help us to live your resurrection life today.  Amen.

Saturday, April 18, 2020


Opening Prayer: Thank you, O God, that you work through all things—not just the joyful, fun, comfortable things— to make us into the people you desire us to be.  Give us the courage and the strength and the grace to embrace whatever comes, knowing that you love us, you will care for us, and you will make us into the people you most deeply desire us to be.  Amen.

Scripture: Romans 8:28

Journal: How is God using your struggles right now as a part of your becoming?

Reflection: There is an old story about a man who spent hours watching as a butterfly struggled to emerge from its cocoon.  It finally managed, after significant time and effort, to make a small hole, but its body was still far too big to get through it.  After much wrestling and toil, the butterfly appeared to be totally exhausted, as it laid there lifeless and still.
     The man had seen enough, he finally decided he just had to help.  He took a pair of scissors and cut and opening in the cocoon to allow the butterfly to be released from its struggle.  But no sooner had the butterfly emerged, than the man noticed its body was shrunken and its wings puny and shriveled.  It was incapable of flight.
     What the man—out of kindness and good intent—had assumed was that the butterfly needed to be rescued, when it actually needed to be left to struggle.  It was the struggle to emerge from the tight cocoon and the effort necessary to squeeze out of that small hole that were supposed to make the butterfly’s wings strong enough for flight.
     And so it is with each of us.  Our transformation cannot happen without struggle and pain and turmoil, although we try to avoid each.  In fact, it is the struggle and the toil and the wrestling that makes our souls into all that God desires them to be.  If we try to bypass the hard and the uncomfortable and the unpleasant, we will never be ready for the flight and the life that God has prepared for each of us.  It is both good and necessary.  It is vital to our process of becoming.


Closing Prayer: O Lord, help us to trust you in all things, even when the road is hard and the way seems long.  Thank you that you are always working for our good, even in things—and in times—that don’t look so good.  Thank you that you are bigger than our moods, our feelings, and our circumstances.  Amen.

Friday, April 17, 2020

kept from recognizing him

Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, the truth is that sometimes you are walking along with us and we do not, or cannot, recognize you.  Have mercy on us, O Lord, and help us to see you and to hear you.  For apart from that we have no hope.  Amen. 

Scripture: Luke 24:15-16

Journal: What most often keeps you from being able to recognize Jesus?  How has he typically opened your eyes?  Where in your life right now might he be waiting on you to recognize him?  Why might he be keeping you, temporarily, from that?  What do you think he’s up to?

Reflection: “While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.  But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” (Luke 24:15-16, NIV)
     Wait, what?  So someone or something was keeping them from being able to recognize Jesus as he walked along with them?  But who, or what, was actually doing this keeping?  That is the million dollar question.  
     I suppose it could have been their own circumstances or preoccupations that kept them from recognizing him.  Sometimes our own patterns and preferences and perspectives and agendas can keep us from being able to recognize exactly where Jesus is and what he is up to.  Heaven knows that has happened to me more times than I’d care to admit.  
     Or they could have been so engrossed in their own narrative, in their own thoughts and questions, and the conversation that ensued, that their hair could have been on fire and they would not have noticed.  Sometimes we can get so consumed with our own smaller stories that we miss the larger story unfolding right before our very eyes.  I’ve definitely been guilty of that one a time or two as well.
     But what if they were being kept from recognizing Jesus, by Jesus himself?  Right or wrong, that is how I have usually interpreted this passage, like Jesus was the one who was actually keeping them from being able to recognize him.  It was kind of a timing thing.  He didn’t let them recognize him earlier because he wanted them to struggle a little bit first.  He knew that the struggle would be a good thing, it would make them stronger and more open and more dependent.  It would make them more receptive to him when he finally made himself known.  To reveal himself any earlier might have hindered all of this from happening.  They needed the questions and the conversation and the struggle and the wondering in order that when they finally did recognize it was Jesus, it would have the desired effect.
     That would make total sense to me, because Jesus always has impeccable timing.  He knows how and where and when to reveal himself, so that when he does it will be effectual.  So he doesn’t show himself before we are ready and he doesn’t make us wait until it’s too late.  Eventually he always takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to each of us.  And when he finally does, our eyes are opened and we say, “Were not our hearts burning within us as he talked with us on the road.”  Thanks be to God!


Closing Prayer: Help us to recognize you, Lord Jesus, as you walk along the road with us this day.  Amen.

Thursday, April 16, 2020


Opening Prayer: Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord hear my voice.  Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.  (Psalm 130:1-2)

Scripture: Psalm 130:1-8

Journal: How are you disoriented these days?  What do you think God is up to in that?  What is his desire for you?  What is he trying to help you become?

Reflection: No matter how you slice it, we are living in a season of disorientation.  Things are not as they have always been, which brings confusion and chaos and sadness and anxiety and fear.  There is the grief of having to let go of the way things have been, and there is a fear and uncertainty to not knowing how things will look when this season comes to an end.  And it will come to an end.
     The fact is that there are three basic seasons in the spiritual life: orientation, disorientation, and reorientation.  Half the battle is knowing what season you are in and choosing to embrace that season, rather than ignore or deny or resist it.  The other half of the battle is the realization that whatever season we find ourselves in is actually leading us somewhere.  It is taking us to somewhere new, to a reorientation.  It is not taking us back to the good old days where it was easy and comfortable, but forward to a totally new place.  It is leading us to a way of being and seeing that is different, and better, than that from which we came.
     But living in a season of disorientation certainly has its challenges.  In fact, we would love to bypass it or escape it if we could, but we cannot.  Therefore, we must learn to let go.  Letting go might be the most significant spiritual discipline of the season of disorientation.  And letting go always involves some amount of grief.  So don’t be surprised if this season involves some pain and sorrow and sadness.  Don’t run from it, but enter into it.  Learn from it.  Let it build and grow you.  For the refusal to let go comes at an even higher cost: frustration, anger, bitterness, despair, depression, etc.  So we must, by God’s grace, learn to live well in our current season.  We must learn to let go well, which is going to call for some significant trust.  Trust that God is good.  Trust that God is always at work, even in the darkest and most painful times of life.  And trust that God is up to something good in and through us, regardless of how dire and desperate the circumstances appear.  He is leading us not back to an old season of orientation, but ahead to a new and beautiful season of reorientation.
     God always wants more for us than the life (and the season) we are currently experiencing.  And this more does not usually come easy.  So rest assured that this season—as hard and as dark as it might seem—is certainly no exception.  God is more concerned with our growth than he is with our comfort.  He is always about our becoming.


Closing 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.  O Israel, put your trust in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

jesus met them

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, unless you meet us this day we are just spinning our wheels.  The only way that we can be truly changed is if we meet you face to face.  Have mercy on us, Lord Jesus, and come to us this day in a way that changes everything about us.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 28:8-10

Journal: When was the last time Jesus met you?  What did it do within you?  How did it change you?  Are you praying that it will happen again today? 

Reflection: “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell the disciples.  Suddenly Jesus met them.  ‘Greetings,’ he said.  They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him.” (Matthew 28:8-9, NIV)
     As much as we’d like to think the ball is in our court, it is not.  We simply cannot change ourselves, no matter how hard we try.  Ultimately, it all comes down to God’s mercy.  Unless he comes to us, and meets us face to face, there can never be any real or lasting change.
     Maybe that should alter the way we pray.  Maybe instead of asking God to help, or to lead, or to guide, or to give us an answer, we should simply be asking him to meet us.  It seems like if that happened, the rest would pretty much take care of itself.
     O Lord Jesus, come and meet us face to face, this day and every day.


Closing Prayer: O Lord Jesus, come and meet us face to face, this day and every day. Amen.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

she didn't realize

Opening Prayer: Risen Jesus, thank you that you come to us, in the midst of our tears and our chaos, to help us realize your presence and experience your great love.  Do that once again today.  Amen.

Scripture: John 20:14

Journal: What is keeping you from realizing that the Risen Jesus is with you today?  How will you try to recognize the ways and the places that he is showing up in your life?  What is his invitation to you today?

Reflection: “At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t realize that it was Jesus.” (John 20:14, NIV)
     Not realizing is an interesting phenomenon.  Because a large part of not realizing is that you don’t realize that you’re not realizing.  That’s what makes it so tricky.  We get so far inside our own paradigm or perspective that it is all we can see.  Everything is seen and interpreted through that particular point of view.  It is complete tunnel vision.  And it is not something we can break out of on our own, we need help.  It takes a voice from outside ourselves, or from the Spirit within, to awaken us.  It takes an epiphany.  Otherwise, we will just keep maintaining the status quo.
     Mary didn’t realize that it was Jesus.  Either her grief, or her confusion, or her emotions, or her surroundings, or the chaos caused by all of the above had her so preoccupied and consumed with her own point of view that she could see nothing else.  Her eyes were so full of tears that her vision could not have been anything but distorted.  And in the midst of her pain and sorrow and sadness, she could not see that she could not see.  
     It took a voice gently calling her name.  It took the voice of her Savior.  He was the only one who could awaken her from the nightmare.  He was the only one who could help her realize that he was right there.  And when he finally spoke, she came to life once again.  His resurrection had brought about her own.
     That’s the way things tend to work in the spiritual life.  Oftentimes, we are so far inside ourselves, or our circumstances, that we cannot see Jesus, even when he’s standing right in front of us.  But thanks be to God that he doesn’t leave us that way for long.  Eventually he calls out our name and we awaken from our sleep and are raised to new life once again, just like Mary.
     Speak to us this day, Risen Jesus, that we might hear our name from your lips and realize that you are with us, even in the midst of our sorrow and our tears.  Raise us to new life again, that we might help others to realize that you are present in the midst of their chaos as well.  Amen.


Closing Prayer: Speak to us this day, Risen Jesus, that we might hear our name from your lips and realize that you are with us, even in the midst of our sorrow and our tears.  Raise us to new life again, that we might help others to realize that you are present in the midst of their chaos as well.  Amen.

Monday, April 13, 2020

the resurrected jesus

Opening Prayer: O Lord, help us, during this season of Eastertide, to always be on the lookout for the Risen Christ.  Help us to see him and to hear him and to receive his life-giving breath, that we may be raised to new life as well.  Amen. 

Scripture: John 20:1-8

Journal: How is the resurrected Jesus showing up in your life and world these days?  How is the resurrected Jesus causing you to let go of the Jesus you thought you knew?  How is he raising you to new life these days?

Reflection: “Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside.  He saw and believed.  (They still did not understand from the Scriptures that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)” ~John 20:8-9

     He saw and believed, but they still did not understand.  You’ve got to love that.  We don’t have to figure it all out before we are able to believe.  In fact, if we wait until we “understand,” we will probably never come to Jesus at all.  It is not a prerequisite.  In fact, in some ways it is a hindrance.  If we do actually think we “understand,” it only shows that we probably don’t know the real Jesus in the first place, because he is always bigger than our understanding.  Life with Christ (especially during Eastertide) involves constantly letting go of the Jesus we think we’ve found, in order to discover that he is bigger and more glorious than we ever imagined.


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you are bigger and more glorious than I could ever imagine.  Help me to believe, even though I don’t completely understand.  Amen. 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

the empty tomb

Opening Prayer: Almighty God, who through your only‑begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life‑giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. ~The Book of Common Prayer

Scripture: Mark 16:1-8

Journal: How has the resurrection of Jesus changed your life today?  What needs to be raised to new life in you?  Do you believe that the Risen Jesus can resurrect that part of you?

Reflection: “Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?  But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.” (Mark 16:2-4)
     It was the women who made their way to your tomb at the first light of morning.  As soon as the sun came up, as soon as they were allowed to come, they came, bearing spices and perfumes to anoint your body.  Mary was particularly good at this anointing, she had done this before.  But this time was different.  This time they were tears of grief and sadness rather than joy and gratitude.  But her mourning would be short-lived, for the tomb, with its heavy stone, could not contain you.  The stone was rolled away, the tomb was empty, you were not there.  You had risen!  You were alive!  Sadness turned into bewildered hopefulness.  Could it be?  Could it really be true?  They left the empty tomb not quite knowing what to think, excited yet afraid.  But you did not leave them that way for long, for just outside the tomb you appeared to them yourself, the Risen Christ.  And from that moment on their lives would never be the same.  And because of that, neither will ours.  Thanks be to God!


Closing Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you really are the resurrection and the life.  Thank you that through your resurrection power, we too might be raised to new life again, both this day and every day.  Amen.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

holy saturday and sabbath rest

Opening Prayer: O God, this day—Holy Saturday—is a day of waiting and resting.  It goes against everything within us, given all that has taken place over the last twenty-four hours, but it is what you are asking us to do.  For it is what you, yourself are doing.  Help us enter into this Sabbath rest and wait patiently on Sunday to come.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 23:50-56

Journal: How has God got you waiting these days?  How are you doing with it?  What do you think he is up to in the waiting?

Reflection: The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it.  Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes.  But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. (Luke 23:55-56, NIV)
     It is certainly no coincidence that the full day in which the body of Jesus laid in the tomb was the Sabbath day.  For as much as people might have wanted to “do” this or that in response to his suffering and death, they could not.  All they could “do” was wait.  Even God waited!  Even God observed the Sabbath!  He knew what Sunday would bring, and most likely could hardly wait for it’s coming, yet he did.  It was good and necessary for everyone to have some time and some space to let all that had just happened sink in.
     Which is a good lesson for us: In the times when we are most apt to spring into action, it might be that immediate action is not the best plan.  Time and space to let things settle and sink in might be what is most needed.  Unfortunately, waiting is not always our strong suit.  We would do well to remember the words of a wise saint who once said: “When you’re waiting, you’re not doing nothing.  You’re doing the most important something there is.  You’re allowing your soul to grow up.  If you can’t be still and wait, you can’t become who God created you to be.” 
     So thank goodness for Holy Saturday!


Closing Prayer: O Lord, give us the patience and the courage and the strength and the trust to wait in this day of waiting and resting.  Sunday will come soon enough, but there is still something you want to do in us first.  Prepare our hearts for your resurrection, O Lord.  Amen.

Friday, April 10, 2020

shall i not drink the cup?

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for your cross, for it is the power of God for all who believe.  May we be good companions to you on that journey of love today.  Amen.

Scripture: John 18:1-11

Journal: What is “the cup” the Father has for you?  Will you drink it?


     shall i not drink the cup?

if you were willing, O Christ
shall i not drink the cup as well?

if you held back nothing because of love
shall i not be poured out in full?

if you gave all that i might live
shall i too not empty myself of all?

who am i to think that
the same would not be asked of me?

may i never for comfort and ease, Lord Jesus
make you journey to the cross alone


Closing Prayer: O God, whatever the “cup” you have for me this day, give me the strength and the courage and the grace to drink it all, knowing that your will and your kingdom are what this life, as well as the next, is all about.  Amen.

Thursday, April 9, 2020


Opening Prayer: Lord, enfold me in the depths of your heart; and there hold me, refine, purge, and set me on fire, raise me aloft, until my own self knows utter annihilation. ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Scripture: John 13:1-17

Journal: What is your response to the offer of Jesus to wash you?  Do you really believe you are in need of it?  Do you really believe that if you do not let him wash you, you can have no part with him?  Will you let Jesus wash you today?  And will you then help in the process of others being washed as well?

Reflection: “Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’”(John 13:8, NIV)  
     A good friend of mine used to say, “You can come to Jesus with dirty feet, but you can’t stay that way.”  Which is, or course, the message of the cross.  We need washing, and we cannot do it ourselves.  Only Jesus can make us clean, we just have to be willing to let him wash us.
     I’m not quite sure why we, like Peter, would resist or refuse such an offer.  Who knows?  Maybe we don’t think we really need it.  Or maybe we think we are simply too far gone, our sin is too dirty and too awful, to ever come fully clean.  Maybe our pride and our self-sufficiency will simply not allow us to be in such a position of need.  Or maybe we just don’t think our sin is that big a deal.
     Whatever the reason, we must take Jesus up on his offer to wash us.  For if we do not, we can have no part with him.  A holy God simply cannot and will not tolerate our unholiness.  The beautiful part is that he gives us his own.  By washing us, Jesus makes us clean, he pronounces us holy once again.  That is the beauty of Holy Week.  That is the beauty of the gospel.  Will you let Jesus wash you this day?


Closing Prayer:  Wash me clean, Lord Jesus, for only then will I be truly clean.  Only then can I join in the life of the Holy Trinity.  And only then can I be a part of others being washed in your blood as well.  Amen. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

the God who sees me

Opening Prayer: O Lord my God, I come before you today as one in desperate need of your love and care and guidance.  I cannot possibly know who I am, or what my purpose is, apart from you.  You are the God who sees me and knows me, even better than I see and know myself.  Have mercy on me, O Lord, and reveal to me the answers to the deepest questions of my heart.  Amen.

Scripture: Genesis 16:1-14

Journal: Where have you come from?  What stirs within you as you think about that question?  Where are you going?  What does that question stir up in you?  God is the God who sees you, let him help you to navigate these questions today?

Reflection: The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur.  And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:7-8)  
     Where have you come from?  Where are you going?  Leave it to God to ask the best, most heart-probing questions.  For these are two of the most significant questions of life, and they are intimately linked to each other.  One almost always has a significant impact on the other.
     So where have you come from?  What are the things and the people and the experiences that have formed who you are and how you think about things?  How do these experiences affect how you see yourself and how your react in certain situations?  How have these experiences contributed to the patterns and habits you find yourself stuck in these days?  And how are you in need of healing from those experiences, so that you might be the person, and live the life of love and peace and freedom that God most wants you to live?  Like I said, when God asks a question, he doesn’t play around.
     And where are you going?  Where is God leading and guiding you in your life?  What are his deepest hopes and dreams for you?  What are your deepest hopes and dreams for yourself?  And is the life you are actually living headed in that direction?  If not, why not?  What direction is your life headed and how can you align it with the life that God most deeply wants for you?
     These questions alone could be great content for a week-long retreat.  And if we are willing enough and brave enough to really ask them, and then to really listen for the answers, then they can be used of God to chart the course for the life God most deeply wants to live in and through us.  For, in some ways, God is the only one who can help us to know the real answers to these questions.  Some of our issues are buried so deeply in our memories that we have repressed them or avoided them or tried to escape them for decades.  Only “the God who sees us” is able to help us to properly discern and decipher and reflect upon all of this.
     So invite the God who sees you to show you what he sees.  Give him the time and the space to help you accurately answer the questions “Where have you come from?  And where are you going?”  For he is the only one who can.  Blessings on your journey.


Closing Prayer: “You are the God who see me.  I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13, NIV)  Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Father, glorify your name

Opening Prayer: Forgive me, O Lord, when I try to make this life about glorifying my name, rather than glorifying yours.  Father, glorify your name!  Amen.

Scripture: John 12:23-33

Journal: How are you trying to glorify your name these days?  What would it look like to shift toward “Father, glorify your name” instead?

Reflection: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  I tell you the truth, unless and kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds. . . .Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say?  ‘Father, save me from this hour’?  No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:23-24, 27-28, NIV)
     The time had come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Interestingly enough, in these last days, whenever Jesus referred to this glorification, he was also referring to his death.  Somehow the two were intimately and mysteriously linked.  Somehow it was in doing what he had come to do—to bring glory to the name of the Father—that he himself would receive glory.  Somehow through the death of the kernel of wheat, that would then produce many seeds, God’s name was going to be glorified the most.  And that was the glory Jesus was really seeking; that was the very reason he had come.  His own glory was to do the will of his Father and bring glory to His name.
     Why would we think it would be any different for us?  Our very life is not about us at all.  Our constant striving to make a name for ourselves and to receive honor and glory will always come up short.  That is until we finally begin to understand what Jesus was teaching us in this text.  It is the glory of the Father, and bringing glory to his name, that really matters.  And that happens only when we are willing to allow our own little kernel of wheat to fall to the ground and die, so that it might produce many seeds of life and love and peace.
     O God, give us the same courage and strength and fortitude that you gave Jesus.  Help us to see that our glory will only come when we are willing to die in order to bring glory to your name.  


Closing Prayer: Father, glorify your name!  Amen