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Sunday, June 13, 2021

humble YOURSELF

Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, if we ever hope to become like you, we must consistently choose to humble ourselves.  Give us the grace and the strength and the courage to do so.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 18:14

Journal: How are you consciously choosing to humble yourself these days?  Today, how will you choose to become smaller, choose to move lower, choose to become less?

Reflection: “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)  It is one thing to be humbled by life’s situations and circumstances, but it is quite another to pursue a lifestyle of actively humbling yourself.  That takes a significant amount of courage and fortitude.  It is one thing to feel small and forgotten and invisible, but it is another thing altogether to choose to make yourself those things.  Yet that is what Jesus calls us to do. 

In the kingdom of God last is first, low is high, and the least is the greatest.  In the kingdom of God less is more, small is big, and poor is rich.  In the kingdom of God the one who is honored is the one who serves, you save your life by losing it, and you become full by emptying yourself.  All of which involves a conscious decision to move in the opposite direction of the culture around us.  But when we do, it produces some of the very best fruit possible, both within and among us.

Humbling yourself is definitely not for the faint of heart, but for those who truly want to follow Jesus, wherever it may lead.  Knowing that when they do, they become more and more like him.  Which is what this life is about in the first place, right?

Pray

Closing Prayer: God, have mercy on me, a sinner.  Amen.

 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

trust and rest

Opening Prayer: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I said of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whim I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)

Scripture: Psalm 91:1-2

Journal: Are you able to rest?  Why or why not?  How is that ability, or inability, connected to your trust (or lack thereof) in God’s love and care?

Reflection: The connection between rest and trust cannot be overstated.  In fact, without trust there can never be any real rest.  Rest requires security and safety of soul.  It requires peace of mind and heart.  It is an inner reality that allows us to not be dominated and ruled by our circumstances and surroundings.  It requires and unyielding belief in God’s infinite goodness and care.  Which comes about as a result of constantly dwelling in the shelter of the Most High. 

Prayer

Closing Prayer: O Lord, help me to trust in you.  For until I do, my soul will never be able to find rest.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

yoke

Opening Prayer: Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30

Journal: What (or whose) yoke are you wearing these days?  How’s it fitting you?  What is the state of your soul, as a result?

Reflection:

     yoke


stop trying so hard
to be everything
and do everything
that is a yoke
you were never
meant to bear

instead
come unto me
take my yoke upon you
i made it just for you
and it fits you perfectly
it is who you really are

you won’t have
to try so hard to be
someone you are not
thus you will find
rest for your soul

Prayer

Closing Prayer: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG)

Sunday, June 6, 2021

goodness

Opening Prayer: Thank you, O Lord, that your goodness and unfailing love pursue us all the days of our lives.  Help us to really believe that.

Scripture: Psalm 23:6

Journal: to what degree do you really believe that God is good?  How does that play out in your life when things aren’t going so well?  Is your belief in God’s goodness contingent on the goodness of your circumstances?  What does it look like to trust in God’s goodness, even when the times are hard?

Reflection: “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” (Ps. 23:6, NLT) It’s easy to acknowledge God’s goodness when times are good, but what about when times are not so good?  How much of our belief in God’s goodness is contingent upon our circumstances at the moment?  Either God is good or he’s not, our circumstances should have no bearing on that reality.  But as soon as things get hard, we tend to call him into question.  We begin to doubt his goodness.

That’s where Psalm 23:6 comes into play.  And it starts with the word surely.  Did you get that?  Surely!  It is a fact that his goodness and unfailing love will pursue us all the days of our lives, not just the best days of our lives.  Thus, every day, regardless of our circumstances, we can trust in God’s goodness, whether things are turning out the way we want them to or not.  God is good.  All the time.  Period.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: You are good, O Lord, all the time.  Help me to trust in your goodness and your unfailing love this day.  Amen.

 

 

Saturday, June 5, 2021

motives

Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, give me the grace and the strength and the courage every day to get up, leave the house, go off to a solitary place, and pray.  For only then will I have any real hope of living the life you want me to live.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 1:35-38

Journal: Applause or demands?  Which do you typically live for?  What is the result?  What would it look like to be motivated solely by the love of Jesus instead?

Reflection: “Everyone is looking for you!” (Mark 1:37) How would you respond to that statement?  Does it fill you with excitement and anticipation, or with dread and obligation?  The answer to these questions will tell you a lot about what really motivates you.

Some are motivated by applause.  They hear the statement as a reflection on their own popularity, desirability, and worth.  I mean, everyone wants to be wanted, right?  Everyone wants to be sought after, at least to some degree.

But others are motivated by demands and expectations.  They live life with a certain degree of pressure and responsibility.  Their greatest fear is that they would disappoint those around them.       

What do these two have in common?  They both have fear at their core.  Whether it is a fear of not being seen as valuable, or the fear of disappointing others, both are fear-based.  And fear—at least this kind of fear—as a motive doesn’t typically lead to healthy results.

But what about Jesus?  How did he respond?  He did not allow his direction to be controlled by applause or demands, but only by the voice of the One who loved him.  Because he got up (while it was still dark, mind you), left the house, went off to a solitary place, and prayed, he was rooted in God’s direction and agenda, rather than that of those around him.  In fact, he replied, “Let us go somewhere else so I can preach there also.  That is why I came.” 

There is simply no substitute for this.  It is the key to life with God.  Period.  If we ever hope to have any substance and depth and rootedness in our lives with God, we too must get up, leave the house, go off to a solitary place, and pray.  Every single day.  That is the only way that our motives will actually become God’s motives.

Prayer

Closing Prayer:  Not demand, nor applause, O Lord, but your voice alone.  Amen.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

start by stopping

Opening Prayer: O Lord, remind me, this day, that you want my affection far more than you want my activity.  Help me to start by stopping.  Help my first movement to be toward you.  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 23:2-3

Journal: How is God inviting you to stop these days?  How is he making you lie down in green pastures, or leading you beside still waters?  What is his intent?  Will you do it?

Reflection:  “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3) 

Apparently, in the spiritual life, we start by stopping.  We do the things that actually help us to be who God wants us to be.  Thus, this stillness and silence are the first movements of the life of faith.  We must first “love the Lord our God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, with all of our mind, and with all of our strength,” before we move on to “loving our neighbor as ourselves. The second love can only be a reflection of the first.  Unfortunately, we get that backwards all too often.

I suppose that’s why the Shepherd has to make us lie down in green pastures, and why he must lead us beside still waters.  He knows that we will not typically do those things on our own.  And they are vital, not only to our own well-being, but the fruitfulness of our work for his kingdom.

Annie Dillard said it so beautifully when she said: “You don’t have to sit outside in the dark.  If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary.”  Likewise, you don’t have to “lie down in green pastures” and “sit beside still waters.”  If, however, you want your soul restored, you will find that they are necessary.  The only question is, will we?

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord God, never let me run ahead of you.  Make me lie down in green pastures.  Lead me beside still waters.  Restore my soul.  For only then will I be of any real use to you.  Amen.

 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

the Spirit of freedom

Opening Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that your Spirit always brings freedom.  Help us to know how to step into that freedom today.  Amen.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

Journal: How is the Spirit bringing about freedom in your life these days?

Reflection:

 
wherever the Spirit is
there is freedom
the freedom of the unveiled face
unobstructed and unashamed
reflecting the beauty of the One
who breathed us into being
hastening us to become the truth
we were meant to embody
transforming us back into
the likeness of the Divine

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Transform us, O Spirit of the Living God, into the people you dreamt us to be. 

Monday, May 24, 2021

hindrances to freedom

Opening Prayer: Thank you, O Lord, that if the Son sets us free, we are free indeed.  Help us to see all the ways we ignore, deny, or even resist that very freedom. 

Scripture: John 8:33-36

Journal: How are you choosing to live in God’s freedom these days?  How are you still choosing to live in bondage and captivity?  Why?

Reflection: So the Jews who had believed in him said, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves to anyone.  How can you say we shall be free?” (John 8:33)  Wait, what?  I mean, did they not remember Egypt?  Or Babylon?  Their whole history involved being taken into captivity, and God freeing them from their slavery.  Had they simply forgotten, or were they just denting it?

One of the biggest enemies to freedom is the unwillingness to admit, or recognize, our captivity.  When we forget, ignore, or deny the places we are still in bondage, we make it impossible for God to free us, since we don’t even realize that we are imprisoned. 

But, even as bad as that is, what’s worse is when we actually come to love our captivity; when we prefer captivity to freedom.  I know, it sounds crazy, but you see it all the time.  In some incredibly strange way, we become convinced that the things—or the people, or the circumstances—that are holding us captive are better than the life we would have without them.  In the words of Thomas Merton: “How can I receive the seeds of freedom if I am in love with slavery and how can I cherish the desire of God if I am filled with another and opposite desire?  God cannot plant his liberty in me because I am a prisoner and do not even desire to be free.  I love my captivity and imprison myself in the desire for the things that I hate, and I have hardened my heart against true love.”  In other words, the cell door has been opened, but we still choose to live in our own, self-imposed, captivity.

Thus, if we are not experiencing freedom in our lives, we must ask ourselves, “Why?”  Where are we being held captive without even recognizing it?  Or where, or how, are we denying it?  And is there a possibility that we even love our captivity?  Until we begin to answer these questions, there is really little hope that we can ever experience the freedom that Jesus offers us.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to see the ways I am still being held captive, and give me the grace and the strength and the courage to step out of that captivity into the glorious freedom of the sons and daughters of God.  Amen.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

the key to freedom

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, may we abide in your word today, and may your words abide in us; for that is the only way we can ever know the truth.  And it is by knowing the truth that we are set free. 

Scripture: John 8:31-32

Journal: What is the key to freedom?  How will you know the truth today?  And how will you make room for the truth to set you free?

Reflection: Being able to discern the lies from the truth is one of the key elements of the spiritual journey.  Our freedom will always be determined by the degree to which we are believing the truth, rather than listening to the lies.  Thus, if we are not free, it is simply because we are believing things that are not true.  But how can we possibly know what is true, unless we are abiding in God’s word?

Rarely has the second half of a passage been so remembered, and the first half so forgotten.  Knowing the truth does not just fall on our heads, we must seek it.  And the way we seek the truth is by abiding in God’s word.  Did you get that?  Abiding.  Not just by reading it, or by memorizing it, or even by studying it, but abiding in it.  That involves listening to the word, opening ourselves to the word, romancing the word, and allowing the word to form and shape and mold and come alive in us.  Abiding in the word is making our home in the word and allowing the word to make its home in us.  That is how we come to know the truth.  And that is how the truth sets us free.   

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, it all starts with abiding in your word.  Never let me forget that.  Amen.

 

Friday, May 21, 2021

grounded

Opening Prayer: Apart from you, O Lord, I am nothing.  With you, I am everything.  Help me to never forget that. 

Scripture: Psalm 131:1-3

Journal: What do the words of this ancient prayer stir up within you?

Reflection: Stay low to the ground.  Don’t try to look like you’ve got it all together.  Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought.  Don’t spend your life trying to get people to believe that you’re awesome.  Don’t overestimate your importance and necessity in the grand scheme of things.  If you live your life according to this ancient prayer (Psalm 131:1-3), it will produce humility and a sense of grounded-ness, which will enable you to still and quiet your soul so that you will be able to hear the quietest whispers and sense the slightest movement of the Spirit within you.  That’s the life God wants for you.

In the words of Henri Nouwen: “He who thinks he is finished is finished.  Those who think they have arrived have lost their way.  Those who think they have reached their goal, have missed it.  Those who think they are saints, are demons.” 

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Keep me grounded in you, Lord Jesus.  Keep me from climbing, posturing, and jockeying.  For your way is the downward way.  Give me the strength and the grace and the courage to go there.  Amen.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

choose

Opening Prayer:  You chose me Jesus: thank you for that.  Now, help me to choose you each and every day.  Amen.

Scripture: Joshua 24:14-15

Journal: Who will you serve?  What does that look like today?

Reflection:  Choose for yourselves this day who you will serve. (Joshua 24:15) Every day I have a choice to make: Is it going to be me, or is it going to be Him?  Who will I serve?  Will my life, today, be about making me bigger and better and more?  Will it be about making a name for myself, achieving my goals and desires, and building my own kingdom and reputation?  Will it be about building my life and my fortune and my empire?  Will it be about me climbing and positioning and jockeying?  Will it be about me setting the tone and schedule and agenda?  Or will it be about Jesus?  The two cannot go hand-in-hand; I must make a choice—every day.  So, what will it be?

Prayer

Closing Prayer:  Give me the strength and the courage and the grace each day to choose you, Lord Jesus.  Left to myself, self is all I will ever care about.  Have mercy!  Amen. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

following jesus

Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, forgive me when I forget that this life is about you and not about me.  Show me, this day, what following you really looks like.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 9:57-62

Journal:  Are you really following Jesus these days, or are you asking him to follow you?  Where are you setting the course and the agenda, and where is he?

Reflection: Following Jesus is not about what I want, it’s about what he wants.  Why do I keep forgetting that? 

In the life of faith we talk a lot about calling and passion and giftedness, when what we really should be talking about is obedience.  It might be that following Jesus means that he calls us to do certain things that we are not particularly gifted at, or passionate about.  Just ask Moses, or Jeremiah, or Peter, or Paul.  I mean, how many people in the Scriptures did God ask to do things that they felt totally inadequate to do? 

When we say yes to following Jesus, we say yes to him calling the shots; to him setting the agenda.  And it’s very likely that his agenda will include some things that are difficult, unenjoyable, and downright uncomfortable.

Prayer

Closing Prayer:  Lord Jesus, help me to truly follow you today, wherever that may lead, whatever it may entail.  Amen.

Friday, April 30, 2021

awakened

Opening Prayer: Awaken us, Lord Jesus, to your life and your love.  For unless you do, we will never have any real hope of true and lasting change.  Amen.

Scripture: John 4:28-29

Journal: In what areas of your life are you longing for awakening?  How do you think this will come about?  Where (and how) are you still trying to do it yourself?

Reflection: Old patterns and dysfunctional habits are not broken through ought and should, through guilt and shame, or through doubling down on our own efforts to "do better."  They are broken when God pulls us to himself in a new and beautiful way.  When he awakens us to a new way of being.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, I’m so tired of trying it on my own.  Change is hard, and I just can’t make it happen on my own.  I need for you to awaken me to a new way of being and seeing.  Pull me toward yourself in a way that changes everything about me.  Amen.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

come on down

Opening Prayer: Forgive me, Lord Jesus, for spending so much time and energy trying to be somebody, when you call us to be nobody.  Give me the courage and the strength and the grace necessary to walk the downward path to you.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 18:9-14

Journal: Is your life mostly about ascending or descending these days?  Why?  How does that mesh with the call of Jesus to humility?  How is Jesus asking you to follow him downward?  What does that look like?

Reflection:

“Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)

Down is up in the kingdom of God.  Jesus said it himself, “He who humbles himself will be exalted.”  It makes me wonder why I still seem so hell-bent on climbing; on trying to exalt myself, rather than embracing the call of Jesus to downward mobility. 

The warning is clear.  Jesus doesn’t say, “Those who exalt themselves run the risk of being humbled.”  And he doesn’t say, “Those who exalt themselves sometimes get humbled.”  He says, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled.”  Did you hear that?  Everyone.  Not just most, or some, or the majority of, but everyone.  Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled.  No might or can or probably to it; he will be.

It seems to me, we can either humble ourselves, or it can be done for us.  The choice is ours.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, you will get us to humility somehow, it is up to us exactly how we want that to happen.  Help us to accept your call, O Lord, downward.  For when we do, we will find you there.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

peace

Opening Prayer: Rejoice in me, always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Do not, my children, be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to me.  And my peace, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

Scripture: Philippians 4:4-9

Journal: How do you typically fight fear and anxiety?  How well is that working for you?  What would it look like to think about the beautiful things, rather being consumed by the things that make you anxious and afraid?

Reflection: You don’t fight fear and anxiety by not focusing on the bad things, but by focusing on the good and beautiful things; not by reciting our woes, but by rejoicing in God’s goodness and blessing.  I think that’s why Paul starts this section of Philippians with the word rejoice.  He is trying to remind us that the battle against fear and anxiety is won or lost by what lenses we choose to look at life through.  Do we look at life through the lenses of fear and anxiety, or do we look at life through the lenses of joy and gratitude. 

And remember, Paul is writing this from prison.  He could easily be overwhelmed by sorrow and sadness and despair, but he’s not.  Instead, he is choosing to “Rejoice!”  And so can we. 

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent and praiseworthy—think about such things.  And I, the God of peace, will be with you.  Amen.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

true self

Opening Prayer: “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all of my ways.” (Psalm 139:1-3) Help me to be exactly who and what you made me to be, for only you know who that is.  Amen.

Scripture: John 4:23-24

Journal: Where is your sense of self coming from these days?  Is it true?

Reflection:

     authenticity


if our sense of self
must be managed
or manufactured
it can most certainly
only be false

true self cannot
be attained
or achieved
but only bestowed

and it can only
be bestowed
by the one who made us
it is the gift of God

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive (false) way in me, and lead me in the way (truth) everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

Saturday, April 17, 2021

abundance

Opening Prayer: O Lord, please remind me that the road to abundance leads through the fire and through the water.  Forgive me when I try to avoid those two things, for when I do, I miss what you want to do in and through me.  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 66:8-12

Journal: What is the fore and water for you right now?  Can you trust that God is leading you, through it, to a place of abundance?

Reflection:

psalm 66:12


there is a land
called abundance
on the other side
of the fire and water

take my hand
and I will
lead you there

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Help me to trust you, O Lord, even when the road is not an easy one; knowing that you are always leading me, ultimately, to a place of abundance.  Amen.

Friday, April 16, 2021

nets

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for continually trying to do things on my own.  Forgive me for trying to fill my own nets, for without you I will always come up empty.  When will I ever learn?

Scripture: John 21:1-13

Journal: How are your nets these days?  How are you trying to fill them?  What would it look like to stop trying and allow Jesus to do that?

Reflection: So, let me see if I’ve got this right: empty nets without you, full nets with you.  Why, then, do I keep trying to do it on my own?  Note to self: Stop trying to fill your own nets!

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, come and fill the nets of my life and my ministry, whatever that may look like, for I cannot do it on my own.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

surrender

Opening Prayer: Forgive me, Lord Jesus, when I live as if this live was about me, rather than about you.  Give me the grace and the strength and the courage to truly surrender myself to you.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 8:35

Journal: What does it mean to completely surrender to Jesus?  What would this look like in your life?

Reflection: Do I really have the desire for change in my life, if I constantly resist that change?  Do I really want to follow Jesus, if I continually refuse to surrender to him?  If I constantly try to manage and control my own life?  If I refuse to embrace the powerlessness and dependence necessary to be truly led by him?  If I refuse to be still and listen.  If I refuse to respond to his will and his direction, rather than forcing my own?  If I refuse to become nothing, so that he might become everything?  If I refuse to become forgotten, so that you can be remembered?  If I refuse to become small, so that you can become big?  If I refuse to be hidden, so that you might be seen?  If I refuse to become no one, rather than always trying to be someone? 

The answer: probably not.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to know what it looks like to lose my life in order that you might save it.  Then give me the strength to do just that.  Amen.

Monday, April 12, 2021

resurrected

Opening Prayer: Risen Jesus, the women went to the tomb that first Easter morning, fully expecting to find you there, but you had risen.  And now, Risen One, you are likely to show up at the times, and in the places, we least expect it.  During this season of Eastertide, help us to be alert and attentive to however, wherever, and whenever you might choose to show up.  Amen.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

Journal: How are you remaining open and attentive to however, wherever, and whenever the risen Jesus might choose to show up?

Reflection:


     resurrected

a road
a beach
a locked room

there is no telling
how or where or when
you might show up next

you are wild and free
not bound by expectations
not coerced by demands

you will not be
controlled or contained
you cannot be
conjured or contrived
nor will you
be manipulated

you come and go
as you please 
all we can do
is stay ready
open and alert
to however
and wherever
and whenever
you might choose
to show up

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you are alive!  Therefore, help us to look for you in all the areas of our hearts and lives, for we can never tell when—or where or how—you might show up.  Amen.

 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

weaned

Opening Prayer: My heart is not lifted up, O Lord; my eyes are not raised too high.  I do not concern myself with great matters, or things too wonderful for me.  But I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.  O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, both now and forevermore.  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 131:1-3

Journal: What do you need to be weaned of in order to experience the stillness and quietness that God desires for you?

Reflection:

Me: Lord Jesus, my desire to be noticed and valued is insatiable.  It makes me feel so needy and helpless most of the time.  It keeps me running from person to person, from activity to activity, and from achievement to achievement, trying to satisfy something deep in my heart and soul. 

Jesus: How is that working out for you?

Me: Not very well, I’m afraid.  It just leaves me frustrated and exhausted, which turns me into the worst possible version of myself: fearful, manipulative, controlling, insecure.  It seems like no matter how hard I try, it is never enough.

Jesus: That’s because those things were never meant to fully satisfy you; you can never get enough of them.  They will always leave you wanting more.

Me: Well then, what am I to do?

Jesus: Come to me.  Still your feet and quiet your soul.  Stop trying so hard to be somebody and simply find your value, and your rest, in me.  Become like a weaned child in the loving embrace of its mother: at rest, at peace, and totally content.  You must truly believe that I am enough for you, and then you must let me be.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Still my feet, O Lord, and shut my mouth.  Calm my spirit and quiet my heart.  Let me climb up into your great arms of love and rest in the beauty and the wonder of your loving embrace.  Wean me off of the oxygen of applause and attention and let me breathe the life-giving breath of your Spirit instead.  Amen.

Friday, April 9, 2021

recognizing jesus

Opening Prayer: Risen Jesus, come and walk alongside me.  Help me to see your face, hear your voice, and sense your presence in the comings and goings of this day.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 24:13-35

Journal: When and how have you recognized Jesus in the past couple of weeks?  What helped that happen?  What hinders it happening more often?  How can you live in such a way that you are always watching for him and listening to him?

Reflection: Apparently a significant part of living the resurrection life has to do with being able to recognize the Risen Jesus when he is standing right in front of us. (Luke 24:15-16) We are told that the travelers on the road to Emmaus were kept from recognizing him, but we are not told who, or what, kept them.  Was it somehow Jesus himself that was hiding in the encounter until it was the right time to reveal himself?  That’s a definite possibility.  Or was it their circumstances, their distractions, or their own state of being that kept them from being able to tell it was Jesus?  Who knows, maybe it was their own opinions, preferences, and agendas that kept them from being able to recognize his presence.  Maybe they were so full of themselves that they had no room for Jesus; we are not told.  All we know is that recognizing the Risen Jesus is essential to being able to enter into the resurrection life with him.

Wouldn’t it be great if somehow we were able to train ourselves to look for him and listen for him in every event, encounter, and conversation?  My guess is that if we could actually do that we would see him and hear him much more often.  And what we would see and hear would probably be much different from out preconceived thoughts and notions of what should happen in any given situation or circumstance.  Only when we are truly open and truly free can we even begin to hear his voice, rather than our own, and to see his hand, rather than forcing ours.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to recognize you.  Help me to be able to see you and hear you in the midst of all the circumstances and conversations that will fill my day.  Help me to look for your hand and listen for your voice.  Help me never to miss you because I was so preoccupied with my own thoughts, concerns, and insecurities.  For only then can I hope to be a non-anxious presence in this anxious and fearful world.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

shift

Opening Prayer: Risen Jesus, what a joy to enter into a season that celebrates new life!  Help us to pay attention to all that is being born, or raised to new life, both within and around us.  Amen.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:17

Journal: Where do you sense new life within and/or around you?  How will you embrace it and celebrate it?

Reflection:

        shift


we must be intentional
about the shift
from lent to eastertide
or else we will continue
to be consumed by
what needs to die
and neglect the beauty
of the new that is
already being born

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that because of the resurrection we are able to move from asking, “What must die within me?” to asking, “What beautiful thing is being born within me?”  

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

consumed

Opening Prayer: Risen Jesus, if I am going to be consumed by anything today, let me be consumed by you.  Amen.

Scripture: John 20:10-18

Journal: What is consuming your heart and mind and attention these days?  How is that keeping you from being able to recognize the Risen Jesus?

Reflection: It is possible to get so consumed with what’s going on in our lives that we miss the fact that the Risen Jesus is standing right in front of us.  Just ask Mary.  She was so full of her own grief and sadness and pain that Jesus was standing right in front of her and she didn’t realize it.  Which just goes to show that when our inner space gets so full of our own worries and cares and concerns, there is just not room for anything else.  Our vision gets so blurred and distorted that it keeps us from being able to see Jesus standing right in our midst.

The sad reality is that we allow many things to consume our hearts and minds other than Jesus.  And when we do that, we lose our ability to recognize him.  We can become consumed with our hurts and our sadness and our pain, like Mary was, that it only turns us in upon ourselves.  Or we can allow our fears and our worries and our anxiety to have free reign within us, which makes us the worst possible version of ourselves.  Or we can even allow “good” things to consume us—work, success, achievements, endeavors, and even ministry.  And when we allow these “good” things to consume us, they are good no longer.  They just become diversions and distractions from the one thing—Jesus.

So instead of allowing all of these other things to consume us, let us be consumed by Christ Jesus instead.  Let us fix our hearts and mind on him.  Let us never neglect him—the one thing—for the many things.  For whatever consumes us, other than Jesus, becomes a hindrance rather than a help.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to never let the concerns and cares and joys and struggles of this life consume me and keep me from being able to recognize you.  Amen.

Monday, April 5, 2021

what's it going to take?

Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, the cry of Easter is “He is risen!”  Help us to really believe that, not just for that day way back then, but for every day.  Amen.

Scripture: John 1:1-18

Journal: Where do you find yourself in the Easter narrative?  Who can you most relate to?  Why?  What do you carry with you to the empty tomb?  How does that affect whether or not you will believe that Jesus is risen and wants you to be as well?

Reflection: I have to believe that in John’s account of the resurrection (John 20:1-18), the mention of him getting to the tomb first involves something more than just letting us know that he was faster than Simon Peter.  That sounds petty to me, and the Scriptures are never petty.  They are, however, inspired and intentional.  There is a reason John mentions it.  Maybe it is to show us that his eagerness to get to the tomb, was followed by a hesitation to go in.  Simon Peter may have been a little less eager to arrive at the tomb; he certainly would’ve had good reason to be.  Or, then again, he may have, indeed, just have been slower, who knows? But once he arrived on the scene, he went right in.  And then there’s Mary, who stood outside the tomb weeping; still convinced that someone had stolen the body, rather than believing that Jesus had risen from the dead.  She, like Thomas later on, was unable to “believe” until she encountered the Risen Jesus outside the tomb.

So whether it was John in his eager hesitation, or Peter in his reluctant boldness, or Mary in her weeping confusion, or Thomas in his doubting demandingness, Jesus met them all exactly where they were.  And that is the beautiful thing.  They were all different.  Each had processed his life and his death a little differently.  Each carried different ideas and wounds and baggage and hopes and dreams to that tomb on the first Easter morning.  Thus, Jesus showed up to each of them in exactly the way they needed him to.  John needed to see to believe, Thomas needed to feel to believe, and Mary needed to hear Jesus tenderly call her name in order to believe.

What about you?  Where do you find yourself on this Easer morning?  Where do you see yourself in the story?  What do you carry with (or within) you to the empty tomb?  What is it going to take for you to really “believe,” again and anew?  Whatever it is, Jesus wants to meet you there.  Because he is risen, and he wants you to be as well.

Prayer

Closing Prayer:  Lord Jesus, help me to really believe that you are risen, and you want me to be risen as well.  Amen.