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Sunday, May 31, 2020


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you want us to be free men and women.  And thank you that you made us in such a way that the truth sets us free.  Help us, then, to know what is true and what is not.  Help us to see the things that we believe that are simply not true.  For until we see those things and expose them to your truth, nothing will ever change in our lives.  We will live lives of bondage rather than lives of freedom.  Help us, Lord Jesus.  We cannot do that apart from you.  Amen.

Scripture: John 8:31-32

Journal: What are the areas of your life right now where you are not experiencing freedom?  If you are not free, what are you believing that is not true?

Reflection: If the truth sets us free, then when we are not free it must be because we are believing something that is not true.  Makes sense, right?  But the big question is: What is it?  What am I believing that keeps me living a life of fear and bondage?  Identifying that belief is key in the process of change and freedom.
     I guess it’s different for everyone, but for me one of the main things I believe that simply is not true is this: What people think about me and say about me determines my value and my worth.  It is a belief that buried deeply in the fabric of my being and one that has far-reaching implications.  For instance, when I believe that my value and worth are determined by what people thing and say, comparison is constant.  It becomes a way of life.  Worth and value are a scarce commodity that must be competed for.  Secondly, insecurity is rampant.  My entire sense of well-being is determined by people opinions and reactions to me, which change daily.  Which then means that anxiety is prevalent.  I must always worry about how others are perceiving me.  Next, rest is impossible.  How can I rest if my value is constantly on the line?  And finally, performance is predominant.  I must always be “on.”  I can never let up.  Who I am is constantly determined by what I do.
     There are a lot of things you can call such a life, but free is not one of them.  This is ultimate bondage.  Only when I change my belief, only when I truly believe that my worth and value are determined not by what I do, but by whose I am, everything changes.  I am valuable because of the One who made me uniquely and loves me dearly.  That is not something I can lose.    


Closing Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that when you set us free, we are free indeed.  Help us to live like it.  Amen.

Monday, May 25, 2020


Opening Prayer: Forgive me, Lord Jesus, when I forget that down is up in your kingdom, and I start trying to climb again when I should be trying to descend.  Give me the strength and the grace and the courage to follow you down, because it is the good and life-giving way.  It is the way straight into your heart.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 8:34-37

Journal: How is God inviting you to follow him downward these days?  Will you?



O Lord
here we go again
as you take me down
into the dust and dirt
the muck and mire
to make me more into 
the person you want me to be

it is a hard
but necessary trip
this downward journey
meant to accomplish 
something wild and wonderful
difficult yet life-giving
in me

for it takes a lot
of humiliation
i am told
to equal an ounce of humility
and humility is the mark
of those who know you best
and love you most

so whatever it takes
Lord Jesus
to make me more like you
i’m in
have your way with me

you emptied yourself
and made yourself nothing
for me
seems the least i can do
is return the favor

your glory was your pain 
and in dying 
you brought new life
so help me to be open
to that same downward path
lest i just become another old fool 
unwilling to accept 
that the road to life 
actually leads downward


Closing Prayer: Your way, Lord Jesus, always leads downward before it takes us heavenward.  It is on the downward path where we learn all of the best things about the spiritual life.  It is on the downward path where we learn how to not end up as an old fool.  It is on the downward path where we learn the humility that is the mark of those who know you best and love you most.  Take us, Lord Jesus, on your downward path, today and every day.  Amen. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, when will I finally realize that I am your treasure?  When will I finally stop trying to be treasured by everyone and everything else and find my joy and my peace and my contentment in you?  Help me to believe that it’s true.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 10:17-31

Journal:  What do you really treasure?  What does that tell you about your heart?  Do you really believe that you are God’s treasure?  What does that do to your heart?

Reflection: The scriptures tell us that “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34)  Which makes total sense, but seems a little backwards.  For we live in a world that says, “Follow your heart and it will lead you to your treasure.”  But the truth is that it’s actually our treasure that will lead us to our heart.  When we get that mixed up, it can lead us on a bit of a wild goose chase.  Just ask the rich young ruler.  
     He was stockpiling “treasures” that could never satisfy the deepest longings of his heart, that’s how he found himself at the feet of Jesus.  All of the wealth and the power and the fame he had achieved was still not enough.  Something was still missing.  His heart was still not full.  All he really wanted was to be treasured himself, he was just looking in the wrong places.  He was looking for people and things and achievements to give him the fullness that only God can give.  The deepest cry of his heart was simply to be treasured, to be loved for who and what he really was.  The same is true for each of us.  
     We all long to be treasured.  We all long to be valued beyond measure, but mere mortals can never offer us the fullness we are searching for.  The problem is we spend all of our hours and our days looking for something we already have—in Jesus.  “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”  There it is, right in front of him, and he is either unwilling or unable to see it—or truly believe it.  He is simply unwilling to let go of his many “treasures,” in order to allow himself to be truly treasured.  What a tragedy.  But one that we all repeat every day.
     We are all on a quest to be treasured.  We think that somehow if we can be treasured by that person or that thing or that crowd, then all our dreams will come true; our hearts will finally be full and content.  But they won’t.  We were made more.  We were made to be treasured by God.  Whose we are was always meant to define who we are, not vice versa.  So every day we face the same choice as the rich young ruler, to treasure God or to treasure things other than God.  To be treasured by him, or to seek to be treasured by others.  What will it be?


Closing Prayer: Convince me, Lord Jesus, that I am your treasure.  Then everything else will finally fall into place.  Amen.

Saturday, May 23, 2020


Opening Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to always find my hope in you, rather than in myself, my surroundings, or my circumstances.  They are never reliable guides in this life, but you are.  You alone are worthy of my trust and my hope, so help me find my hope in you this day.  Amen.

Scripture: Hebrews 10:23

Journal: How do you define hope?  Where do you find hope within you?  What is that hope in?  What does it mean to hope in Christ?  How is life in him giving you hope these days?  Where in life is your hope waning or being challenged?

Reflection: “There is a story of an old woman who went into a shop and asked for a quarter pound of tea. The grocer asked her what sort of tea she expected to get. She replied that she hoped for the best, but was prepared for the worst. This, of course, was not the virtue of hope.   
     Hope, the second of those spiritual powers in man which tends toward God, is a completely confident expectation; that sureness and certitude with which the awakened soul aims at God and rests in God.” (The House of the Soul by Evelyn Underhill)


Closing Prayer: My hope is in the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.  In him alone will I trust.  Amen.

Friday, May 22, 2020

training against nothing

Opening Prayer: O Lord, if we want to live life with and for you, it will not just happen accidentally, we must be both purposeful and intentional.  We must learn how to train ourselves for the purpose of godliness.  Give us the strength and the grace and the courage to do so.  Amen.

Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:7

Journal: What does it meant to train yourself to be godly?  How are you currently doing that?  In what ways/areas are you not?  Why?  What is your biggest obstacle?

Reflection: You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, “I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked”. The Christians describe the Enemy as one “without whom Nothing is strong”

     And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man's best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off. (The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis)


Closing Prayer: Lord God, do not let us be led astray by the power of Nothing.  Instead, help us to train ourselves to be godly.  Help us to do whatever it takes every single day to make space and time for you to grow and shape and mold us more and more into your image.  Amen.

Thursday, May 21, 2020


Opening Prayer: O God of Peace, let my soul be so overcome and overwhelmed by your peace that it simply flows out of me to others.  For only then can I truly be a peacemaker.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 5:9

Journal: Where in your life are you being called to make peace?  What does that look like?

Reflection: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)  The word for peace in the Greek is eirēnē.  It means to join.  Thus, when we think of peacemaking, we think of people who are committed to the practice of joining people together, rather than allowing them to continue to live in division, dissention, hostility, or isolation.
     Peacemaking is not fight, or flight—although it might entail both of those at times—but something in between.  Peacemaking does not mean avoiding, denying, or trying to escape conflict.  Nor does it involve being argumentative, combative, or ultra-confrontational.  It is not about winning or defeating, but about joining and bringing together.
     When we commit ourselves to the practice of peacemaking, something beautiful happens.  We begin to look more and more like our Father—the God of peace (shalom).  That’s why peacemakers will become sons of God, for the process of joining and bringing people together will make us more and more like him.  


Closing Prayer: Only those who know your peace, O God, can ever hope to extend your peace to others.  Make us both vessels and vehicles of your peace this day.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. 

Scripture: Matthew 5:7

Journal: How do you define mercy?  How are you in need of mercy?  How do you receive it?  How is your capacity to receive mercy tied to your ability to extend it?

Reflection: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)  I don’t know about you, but far too often I am critical rather than merciful.  And I hate that.  It’s just a knee-jerk reaction.  It’s like grabbing my elbow when something hits my funny bone.  And I’m not exactly sure how to go about changing it.
     I do have a desire to be merciful.  And I certainly want to receive mercy.  But the giving of it is a bit more difficult.  What does it take to make someone a merciful and compassionate person?  What has to go on deep in the heart and soul of a person, in order for the first impulse to be compassion rather than criticism, comparison, or competition?  Can I train myself to react mercifully?  Or do I need to immerse myself so deeply in God’s mercy that it just becomes a part of who I am?  It becomes what I bleed whenever I am cut.  Who knows?  Maybe it’s all of the above.  Maybe it’s not either/or, but both/and.  Whatever it takes, I have a suspicion that just sitting back and doing nothing is not the answer.
     Maybe it all starts with prayer.  Maybe it all starts with making the Jesus prayer my intimate companion.  “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  Maybe through something as simple as praying this prayer hundreds of times each day, mercy will begin to take root in me and flow out of me.  One can only hope.   
     O Lord Jesus, please make me more like you.  Have mercy on me, that I might have mercy on all who cross my path.


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, please make me more like you.  Have mercy on me, that I might give mercy to others.

Monday, May 18, 2020

hungry and thirsty

Opening Prayer: It is you, O God, that I really want.  It is you that my soul hungers and thirsts for.  So please keep me from chasing after fullness apart from you, for it can never happen.  Make me hungry and thirsty, instead, for righteousness.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 5:6

Journal: What are you hungry and thirsty for these days?  What is at the core of that hunger and thirst?  How is that really just a hunger and thirst for God?  What does it look like to hunger and thirst for righteousness?  

Reflection: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)  Okay, let’s face it, we are all hungry and thirsty.  The only question is how we will go about trying to fill that hunger or thirst.  Which then begs another question, what do I really believe I am hungry and thirsty for?  Or, to put it another way, what do I really believe will satisfy the deepest longings of my heart and soul?  For that is what I will pursue. 
     Jesus talked a lot about hunger and thirst, but he was always very clear that we don’t hunger and thirst for just anything, ultimately our hunger and our thirst are for God.  That’s why he uses the word “righteousness” in the Beatitudes.  Righteousness is when every, including us, is as it was intended to be.  And that can only happen in right relation to God.
     “If you want to be filled,” Jesus says, “then you must hunger and thirst after righteousness.”  And God is the only one who is truly righteous, so fullness only comes through hungering and thirsting after him.  David knew that truth as well.  “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My souls is thirsts for God, the living God,” say the words of his ancient prayer. (Psalm 42:1-2)   
     The truth is that other things and other people simply cannot fill us the way God designed us to be filled.  They can consume us, but they cannot fill us.  As a matter of fact, when we consume things and people in search of fullness, in the end they end up consuming us instead.  Which leaves us exhausted, empty, and frustrated.
     So why on earth would we keep pursuing those people and those things, when God offers us the fullness we most deeply long for?  Let us hunger and thirst for him instead, that we may be filled.


Closing Prayer: As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My souls is thirsts for God, the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?  Right now, O Lord, right now.  Help me turn to you this day and be filled with your life and your love and your righteousness.  Amen.

Friday, May 15, 2020

pure heart, clear eyes, can't lose

Opening Prayer: Give me a pure heart, O God, for I have no hope of being able to see you until my heart and my eyes are clear and clean.  I cannot do that myself.  Lord, have mercy.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 5:8

Journal: How are your eyes and your heart connected?  How does that affect the way you see God?  How does it affect the way you see yourself?  How do you pursue purity of heart?

Reflection: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)  It is amazing how connected the eyes and the heart are.  Jesus knew it.  Why else would he make a statement like this?  
     If our hearts are pure, it means our eyes are clear.  It means we are able to see things accurately.  But if our hearts are impure, if our motives are self-centered or our desires are self-serving, then our eyes are cloudy.  We are not able to see God clearly, because your own stuff is in the way.  We need to have our lenses cleansed—which is literally what the word pure means in the Greek.  But we can’t just clean our lenses, we must start on the inside—with our hearts.
     “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me,” say the words of the ancient prayer. (Psalm 51:10, ESV)  David knew where true and lasting change takes place.  He knew that we must start with the heart, if we were to ever have any hope of having clear eyes.  And that is a work of the Spirit of God.
     So let us join David in praying this prayer.  Let us pray it early and often.  Let us beg and plead for God’s mercy and grace to fall upon us and empower us.  Let us allow him to enter in and clean our dirty hearts, that we might, one day, be able to see God.  Because, to change the words of a popular phrase a little, the truth is that “Pure hearts, clean eyes, can’t lose.”


Closing Prayer: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  For only then will I be able to see you clearly.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020


Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, I want to be more like you every day.  I want to possess the qualities that you talk about in the Beatitudes.  But I can’t do it apart from you, so have mercy on me.  Give me the strength and the courage and the grace to live the life you call blessed. Amen. 

Scripture: Matthew 5:5

Journal: How do you define the word meek?  Is it a quality you possess?  Where do you see evidence of meekness in your life?  In those around you?  How will you pursue meekness this day?

Reflection:  “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5, NIV)  Meek has always been a bit of a slippery word for me.  I’ve never been quite able to get a handle on it.  And yet, here it is, at such a crucial point in Jesus’ teachings, just as he is highlighting the qualities that most characterize those who live in the kingdom of God.  I don’t know about you, but that seems pretty significant to me.  Oddly enough, even as significant as it seems, the word is used only three times in the entire New Testament.  Once here in Matthew 5:5, once in Matthew 21:5 when it describes Jesus coming into Jerusalem “gentle and riding on a donkey,” and once in 1 Peter 3:4 describing how God desires a wife’s spirit to possess “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
     So exactly what is meekness?  Well, maybe the best way to begin is by talking about what it is not.  It is not aggressive, it is not demanding, and it is not prideful.  It is not arrogant, it is not pushy, and it is not showy.  It is not needy, it is not fearful, and it is not insecure.  It is not rash, it is not harsh, and it is not reactive.  It is neither possessive, nor obsessive.  It does not seek to impose or impress.  It does not try to control or manipulate.  It does not seek its own way or work its own agenda.  It is not opinionated, not argumentative, and does not need to be right.
     But what is meekness?  Is it humility?  Is it gentleness?  Or is it something else altogether?  Maybe the reason it’s so hard to define is that it’s all of those things, and more.  It is a quality of being, a spirit, and an attitude that displays itself in a peaceful, calm, and contented demeanor.  It is a state of heart and mind.  It is not being full of yourself or thinking too much of yourself.  The Greek word for meek is praÿs, which means mild, humble, and gentleness of spirit.  The dictionary defines the word meek as humbly patient and overly submissive; gentle and kind.  J. B. Phillips says that the meek are “those who claim nothing.”  And Eugene Peterson says they are those “who are content to be just who they are—no more, no less.”  
     Meekness is the quality of being at home with your true self, comfortable in your own skin.  It is an ability to be yourself in a way that allows others to fully be themselves.  It is the quality of being content and at peace, whole and free.  Thus, the meek are described as blessed.  And why wouldn’t they be?  After all, if you are meek, then there is no need for jockeying or posturing or performing.  The pressure is off.  You are free to love and to be loved.  Free to be gentle with yourself and with others.
     I suppose that’s why the meek will inherit the earth, because they don’t need it to make them worthwhile.  They have no need to try and take it by force or by storm.  The world will always resist those who try to take it, but will always be open to those who gently and kindly and meekly love it and serve it.  And that blesses everyone.


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, make me meek, like you.  Amen.

Monday, May 11, 2020


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you tell us that those who mourn are blessed.  Thank you for that, because there is so much to mourn in this life.  Help us to always mourn as those who have hope.  Help us to lament and to let go, so that we may be open to the new life that follows.  And with you, new life always follows.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 5:4

Journal: What are you mourning these days?  How is that toed to letting go?  What do you think this mourning and letting go might be preparing the way for?

Reflection: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)  Why on earth would those who mourn be blessed?  I mean, mourning is something we neither welcome nor enjoy, right?  So what could possibly be so good about it?  That is unless that very grieving and mourning is the substance of what’s preparing the way for something new and good and beautiful to be born.
     Mourning almost always involves some sort of letting go, and none of us is very good at that.  We don’t do loss very well, so we have to grieve it.  Grief and mourning is the process by which we let go of what was, in order to embrace what is to come.  We cannot have one without the other.  Release always comes before receive.  Therefore, the refusal to let go is a refusal to grow and change.  It can leave us angry and bitter and frustrated.  
     That’s where lament comes in.  Lament is the spiritual practice of mourning, grieving, and letting go.  Lament celebrates what was, grieves the fact that it is no more, and opens us up to what is to be.  Lament is how we keep from getting stuck hanging on in desperation to what has been, but is no more.  And as long as we hang on to the way things have always been, there will be no room within or among us to imagine, and be open to, the beauty of what things can be.  That’s why so many of the psalms are prayers of lament.  They invite us to face our loss and our sadness, they invite us to grieve the pain of that reality, and they invite us to make space for trust and for hope.  
     That’s why Jesus tells us that those who mourn are blessed.  For not only will they be comforted in the life to come, but they will also be comforted in this life as well.  Their grieving will make room for new possibilities.  In God’s economy, death always leads to new life.  It’s almost as if Jesus was telling us: “Do not refuse to let go of what is gone and cannot be regained, for it will keep you from taking hold of all that is to come.  And what is to come is more beautiful than you could ever imagine.”    


Closing Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that mourning always prepares us to receive new life, if we are willing to let go of the old.  Give us the grace and the strength and the courage to do just that.  Today and everyday.  Amen.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

poor in spirit

Opening Prayer: Thank you, O Lord, that in your kingdom poor is rich, down is up, meek is strong, empty is full, and less is more.  Help us to get on your page when it comes to what is really important in life.  Help us to see things the way you see them.  For only then we will truly be blessed.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 5:3

Journal: What does it mean to be poor in spirit?  How does this bless you?  Are you poor in spirit these days?  What does that look like?  What has been the fruit of it?

Reflection: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3, NIV)  Wait, what?  You mean we are at our best when we are not full of ourselves?  We are fortunate when we are “at the end of our rope” because “with less of us there is more of God and his rule?” (The Message) You mean blessed is the man who really believes in his heart that “apart from you, O Lord, I’ve got nothing?”  
     How counter-intuitive is that?  But it is so true in God’s topsy-turvy kingdom, where down is up and last is first and less is more and low is high.  For some crazy reason the greatest joys of this life come when we give ourselves away, when we die to self, when we put others first, when we seek lowliness, and when we humble ourselves.  What an incredible kingdom this King of ours created!  


Closing Prayer: Empty me of self, O Lord, that I might be full of you!  Amen.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

learning to pray

Opening Prayer:  Forgive me, O Lord, when my own preferences and opinions get in the way of what you long to accomplish in and through me.  Help me, by your strength and grace, to move from “my will be done” to “Thy will be done.”  Amen.

Scripture: Hebrews 5:7-10

Journal: What do the prayers of Jesus teach you about your own?  How have your learned obedience in your suffering lately?  How has this impacted the way you pray, or how you think about prayer?

Reflection: “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.  Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.” (Heb. 5:7-8)
     So Jesus prayed to the one who could save him from death and he was heard because of his reverent submission.  But the one who could save him from death, did not.  All because Jesus learned obedience from what he suffered.  
     Sometimes prayer is way bigger than just us and what we want; it is about what God is up to both in and through us.  It is about greater things than we can imagine.  It goes far beyond our own agendas and preferences.  And sometimes it is difficult for us to see that.  Sometimes, what for the life of us looks like something hard and painful and bad, can be used to accomplish things that are true and right and good.  Our limited perception just keeps us from being able to see their goodness.
     Thank you, O God, that you want more for us than we even want for ourselves.  Thank you that you can and will use the difficult content of this broken and painful life to accomplish your divine purposes in and through us.  We just need to trust in you.  Help us to not get so caught up in our own patterns and preferences that we miss what you are up to both within and around us.  Amen.


Closing Prayer: Thank you, O God, that you want more for us than we even want for ourselves.  Thank you that you can and will use the difficult content of this broken and painful life to accomplish your divine purposes in and through us.  We just need to trust in you.  Help us to not get so caught up in our own patterns and preferences that we miss what you are up to both within and around us.  Amen.

Friday, May 8, 2020

not ready

Opening Prayer: O Lord, as time goes by, and as we continue to wait for you to show up in the midst of our lives and our world, help us to not lose heart and start to forge ahead.  That would be a grave mistake, for waiting causes us to depend on you.  Waiting accomplishes things within and among us that doing simply cannot.  So help us to wait for you, O Lord, no matter how long it may take.  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 130:5-6

Journal: Where does God have you waiting on him these days?  How are you doing in the midst of it?  What are you tempted to do?  What is waiting accomplishing in you?  How is it helping you to become?


still waiting

psalm 130:5

if nothing else
waiting tells us
that we are still 
not ready
for what is to come

not ready 
for an answer
we cannot yet fully live
not ready 
for an existence
we cannot yet maintain
not ready 
for a life
we cannot yet sustain

there is a ripening
that still must take place
the fruit is not yet ready
to be plucked from the vine
it needs more time 
to become
so we wait

the process of becoming
cannot be hastened
nor can it be shortened
time must run its course

so for now we wait
and still we wait


Closing Prayer:  O Lord, help me to wait for you.  Help me to trust that whatever you are up to in the midst of this waiting is well worth it.  Amen.