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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

glorify your name

Opening Prayer: Forgive me, Lord Jesus, when I am content to give you part of me, rather than all of me.  And all of me is what you require.  Give me the strength and the grace and the courage to totally surrender myself to you.  Amen.

Scripture: John 12:23-33

Journal: Where in your life have you reduced the gospel from all to some?  What does absolute surrender and total abandonment look like? 

Reflection: I don’t know about you, but I am amazed at how often I pray, “Father, save me from this hour,” rather than, “Father, glorify your name!”  It shows me where my true allegiances lie.  I am much more committed to my own comfort and ease than I am to God being glorified in my life and world.  It’s really pretty sad.

Life with God is about absolute surrender and total abandonment.  My problem is that I want a little bit of surrender and partial abandonment, which is impossible.  Surrender doesn’t really happen if I am holding anything back.  And abandonment that is partial, is not really abandonment at all. 

Jesus is trying to move me form a “less of me, more of him” mentality, to a “none of me, all of him” mindset.  That’s why he said, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground AND DIES,” rather than, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and becomes less.”  The death of self is a necessity in glorifying God.  Jesus did it, and calls us to do the same.  We must die to self, in order to live in God.  There is no half way.


Closing Prayer: O Lord, forgive me when I care more about my own comfort than I do about your glory.  Give me the courage to pray, with Jesus, “Father, glorify your name!”  Amen.

Monday, March 29, 2021

abundance or scarcity

Opening Prayer:  Help my life, Lord Jesus, be nothing more than a grateful response to your Divine Love.  Amen.

Scripture: John 12:1-8

Journal: Where do you see yourself in this story?  What does it stir up within you?  What is the main difference between Mary and Judas?  Are you operating more out of abundance or scarcity these days?  Why?

Reflection: When we have been captured by the abundance of Divine Love, we have no choice but to offer abundance in return.  What else can we do?  We have been so overcome and overwhelmed that the only possible response is overflow.  It is the way we were made.  If we live out of abundance, we will offer abundance.  If we live out of scarcity, all we can offer is scarcity. 

Mary is a prime example.  She is so overwhelmed and overcome by the love of Jesus that her heart overflows with a grand and extravagant gesture of uninhibited love in return.  That’s the way love works.  “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Thus, she takes the treasured contents of her alabaster jar and pours it all out on the feet of Jesus.

Judas, on the other hand, is operating out of the scarcity of self.  Therefore, all he has to offer is criticism.  He does not understand the heart that has been seized by the power of the Great Affection.  Thus, his heart is a mass of fear, anxiety, and insecurity.  That’s what pours out.  His life has become nothing more than a desperate grasping for what he cannot ultimately reach.  It’s is quite a contrast: abundance or scarcity.

What about you?  Where do you see yourself in this story?  Which person best describes your life these days?  Are you living out of the abundance of God’s unfailing love, or out of the scarcity of your own limited resources?  And if you are not sure, just take a look at what’s overflowing from your life; that will give you a pretty good indication. 


Closing Prayer:  Lord Jesus, help me to live this day out of your abundance, rather than out of my own scarcity.  Amen.


Saturday, March 27, 2021

as it is in heaven

Opening Prayer: On earth as it is in heaven.  Yes, please!  Give me a vison, O Lord, for what this could, and should, look like in my life, in my ministry, and in the world.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 6:10

Journal: What does this verse stir up within you?  How does it touch your deepest hopes for life and family and work and friendships and ministry?

Reflection: “On earth as it is in heaven.”  What an absolutely beautiful, albeit often overlooked, phrase.  And what a beautiful prayer; one that I am going to start praying for the people in my life and world today. 

What a beautiful vision for what life and ministry could, and should, look like.  Everything becoming all it was intended to be: true shalom, wholeness, flourishing. 

And we are invited to be participants, as well as agents, in that process.  Living whole lives and bringing that wholeness, health, and peace into our world.  Rolling back the effects of the fall and ushering in a way of being that is closer to what God had in mind. 

Thus, “On earth as it is in heaven,” becomes for us a model for life, a model for prayer, and a model for ministry.  Thanks be to God!


Closing Prayer: On earth as it is in heaven, O Lord.  Make things on earth the way that they are in heaven: whole, joyful, and free.  Amen.

Thursday, March 25, 2021


Opening Prayer:  Thank you, O God, that you alone can redeem us.  Forgive us when we continually try to redeem ourselves.  Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 103:4

Journal: What “pit” do you need to be redeemed from?  What would it look like to be “crowned with love and compassion?”  Where in your life are you trying to let go, and where in your life are you desiring to be let go of?

Reflect: There is a big difference between letting go of the things we hold onto and being released from the things that hold onto us.  Both are a necessary part of the spiritual journey, but the dynamics of each is quite different.  Both involve the idea of release—on the one hand releasing, and on the other, being released from.  But one places the ball firmly in our court—by the grace of God—and the other involves something that is completely out of our hands.  For example, you can let go of something that has a hold on you, but that still doesn’t let you go.  It still doesn’t offer you true freedom; that takes a power outside of yourself.  To some degree you control letting go, but you have little to no control over being let go of.  That takes an act of God.

That’s where redemption comes in.  In its purest form, redemption means to be bought back out of the bonds of slavery.  It means to be released, to be set free.  Thus, redemption is a work of God, not something we can do for ourselves, which puts us in a place of powerlessness, helplessness, dependence, and vulnerability.  A place where God does some of his very best work.  Redemption has nothing to do with how strong and capable we are.  It has nothing to do with how hard we try.  It depends totally on the strength of our God.  What if most of our problems in the spiritual journey come from trying to do for ourselves what only God can do for us?  

For instance, Psalm 103 doesn’t say, “I pulled myself up out of the pit," or "I figured out how to climb out of the pit,” but, “He redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion.” (Psalm 103:4) Thanks be to God, who does something for us that we cannot do ourselves—he redeems us!


Closing Prayer:  O Lord, when will I ever realize—and admit—that I can’t, but you can.  For until I realize—and admit—that, I will never make any progress in this journey of faith.  Lord, have mercy.  Amen.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

if you are willing

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that your perspective is much bigger than ours; you see things that we cannot see and you know things that we do not know.  And thank you that you are good and loving, and can be fully trusted with our lives and our prayers.  Help us to fully trust you today.  Amen.

Scripture: Mark 1:40-42

Journal: What are you begging God for these days?  Are you willing to ask him if he’s willing?  Will you trust him even if he’s not?

Reflection: God wants more for us than we even want for ourselves.  That’s why our prayers so often fall short of God’s deepest hopes and dreams for us.  He sees the bigger picture that we cannot see.

I think that’s why I am so intrigued by the words of the leper: “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”  What an incredible prayer that would be.  “I know you can, but will you?  I know you see what I cannot see and know what I do not know, and I trust that you are good and always working for the ultimate good in my life.  So if you are willing, great.  If not, then I trust that you have something better in mind for me—although it might involve some pain and struggle.”

What if God would have given Mary and Martha what they wanted when they sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus was sick?  They would have gotten a healing, but would have missed the awestruck wonder of him being raised from the dead.  Jesus had something far better in mind.

Jesus had something far better in mind for them, and Jesus has something far better in mind for us.  Therefore, our prayers should reflect that.  I’m not saying not to tell God what you want, that would be disingenuous.  He knows your heart.  What I am saying is that we approach God like the all-seeing, all-knowing God that he is.  Acknowledging that we really do not know what is best for us in the long run.  He has perspective that we do not have.  He knows that, even in the face of death, “To live is Christ and to die is gain,” (Phil. 1:21) while we live as if, “To live is gain and to die is Christ.”  He sees things through a whole different set of lenses, which makes, “If you are willing” such a great prayer.


Closing Prayer: Give us the courage and the strength and the grace, Lord Jesus, to ask you if you are willing.  And then to fully trust you, whatever the response.  Amen.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

descend, detach, depend

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 souls within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, both now and forevermore. (Psalm 131:1-3)

Scripture: Psalm 131:1-3

Journal:  How is God asking you to descend these days?  What is he wanting you to detach yourself from, so that you can be free?  How is he asking you to depend more and more on him?


          psalm 131


          it’s the
          Jesus way


Closing Prayer: O Lord, give me the courage to descend, so that you may be lifted up.  Give me the strength to detach from the things of this world, so that I may be attached to you alone.  And give me the grace to depend on you, rather than trying to depend on my own gifts and abilities.  Make me more and more like Jesus each and every day, that he may live his life in and through me.  Amen.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

freely justified

 Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for your grace and mercy.  Help me to live my life in light of both of those things today.  Amen.

Scripture: Romans 3:21-26

Journal: How do you try to justify your existence?  What would living in response to the free justification offered through Jesus look like?

Reflection:  Who, or what, determines the purpose, the path, and the pace of your life?  Are you living life trying to justify your own existence, trying to prove to yourself and your world that you are worth loving, or are you living your life in response to having already been fully and freely and unconditionally loved by Jesus?  There is a huge difference.

Nowadays, it seems like we have allowed our culture and our world to determine these things—particularly our pace—rather than our God.  For some odd reason, we tend to take a lot of pride in how busy we are, in how full our schedules are, and how fast-paced our lives have become.  Bigger and more and faster have become the top measurements of success and worth and value, even in the Christian culture, much to God’s chagrin, I am afraid.  It seems that we have forgotten that life was always intended to be the result of the overflow of the life of God within us.  And the life of God within us requires time and space and silence and breath to grow and flourish.

We must, therefore, return to the ways and the values of the kingdom.  We must recapture a life that is not constantly trying to justify its existence, but one that is a living response to having already been freely and fully justified by the love and grace of Jesus.  We need to live in the joy and the power and the freedom and the overflow of the life of God that is welling up within us.  That is the way life, and ministry, was designed to work.  For when we have nothing to prove, we are finally free to love.


Closing Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that I no longer have to justify my own existence because you have fully and freely justified me.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

torn to pieces

Opening Prayer: Help us to trust you, O Lord, when life is hard and we feel like we are being torn to pieces.  Help us to trust that, even in the chaos and brokenness, you are doing a good work in and through us.  Help us to trust your heart, even when we can’t see your hand.  Amen.

Scripture: Hosea 6:1-3

Journal: How has God torn you to pieces, so that he might heal you?  How has he injured you, so that he might bind up your wounds?  How is he reviving and restoring you?  How is that helping you to live more and more in his presence? 

Reflection: If you are looking for easy, then life with God is probably not for you.  God is never, it seems, about easy, or convenient or comfortable, for that matter.  God’s heart for us is so good and so loving that he will not let us settle for less than who he made us to be.  In fact, he will stop at nothing to make us exactly who and what he had in mind before the foundations of the world, even if it involves some tearing and injuring.  His deepest desire is that we would live our lives in his presence.  Thus, he might tear us to pieces, so that he can heal us; and he might injure us, so that he can bind up our wounds.  Because somehow, mysteriously, through that process of tearing and healing and injuring and binding us up, he is working to revive and restore us.  Which means that life with God is not for the faint of heart, but it is for those who want to be whole and alive and free.  For those who want to be congruent with his creation intent.


Closing Prayer: Thank you, O Lord, that your heart for us is good.  Thank you that we can always trust that you are working good in us, no matter what happens.  Revive us and restore us, O Lord, no matter what it takes.  Help us to live every minute of our lives aware of your peace and your presence.  Amen.


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

lost and found

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are people who are constantly in need of your grace.  Thank you that you are always more than willing to offer it.   

Scripture: Luke 15:11-32

Journal: What does this story stir up within you today?  In what ways have you been found by God recently?  In what ways are you still lost?  What is the Father’s invitation to you in that today?

Reflection: The fifteenth chapter of Luke could easily be entitled, Lost and Found.  Whether one hundred sheep or ten coins or two sons, in each case one is lost and is in need of finding.  And, as the dust settles on the chapter, we are left with one lost son standing before his father, but not the one we might imagine.  This lost son actually thinks he is found, which is the point of the whole chapter.  Jesus is talking with the Pharisees, making a point about who is lost and who is found.  And in this particular story the “lost” is found and the “found” is actually lost.  It is an interesting dynamic, to say the least. 

Which makes the moral of the story this: If you do not know you are lost, then you have no idea you are in need of being found.  Thus, a significant part of the spiritual journey involves a continual recognition of our lost-ness.  One of the biggest dangers, for those of us who have once been found, is to lose touch with the ways we are still lost—and they are many.  It is knowing our extreme need that makes us aware of the ridiculous magnificence of grace.  For even though we have been found, we all still get lost in our lives from time to time.  Thus, we are in need of being found over and over and over again.  It is a humbling place to be, but a really good place to be.  In fact, this place of dependence and need creates some of the most fertile soil for God to do his work in and through us.

The interesting part is that we are not told how this story ends.  I guess that’s because we have to write that part.  Will we go into the father’s house and join the celebration, or will we stay outside?  Will we be found, or will we remain lost?  The choice is up to us. 


Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are people who are constantly getting lost in our lives.  Thank you that you specialize in finding us.  Find us this day, whatever that may mean, whatever it may look like.  Come, Lord Jesus.  Come and find us.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

do you want to get well?

Opening Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you want me to get well.  Thank you that you want healing and life and freedom to define me, rather than brokenness and sin and dysfunction.  Give me the courage and the strength and the grace to “Get up! Pick up my mat and walk.”  Amen.

Scripture: John 5:1-9

Journal: Do you want to get well?  What will getting well look like?  How is Jesus telling you to “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk”?  What does that look like?

Reflection: It was called the House of Mercy for a reason, for it was one of the most broken places in all the city.  There a great multitude of disabled people used to lie: the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  And one man, in particular, had been there for thirty-eight years.  That’s a long time!  John does not tell us his name, but does tell us that the man was an invalid (astheneia), literally meaning one without strength.  Luckily for him, Jesus always shows up in the broken places—both then and now.

Jesus saw (eidō) him sitting there on his mat.  Oh, how long had it been since this man had been truly seen?  How long has it been since you have been truly seen?  Yet, Jesus saw into him, as he does into you.  He didn’t just see the brokenness of his body, but, more importantly, he saw the brokenness of his heart and soul.  And when he saw him and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, Jesus asked the man a question: “Do you want to get well?”  Or, literally, “Do you want to be whole?”  Which, on the surface, seems like a ridiculous question, but, in reality, is anything but that.  It is actually quite profound.  Not only profound then, but also profound now.  For all of us, like the strength-less man, are, deep within, resistant to change.  We have grown oddly comfortable in our brokenness, our dysfunction, and our sin.  So when Jesus asks us that question, he is really asking us: “Do you really want to get well?  I mean, really?”  He doesn’t ask this to shame us, but to awaken us to a quality of life and wholeness and freedom that he desires for us; one that life on the mat can never achieve.

“I have no one to help me,” replied the broken man, “whenever the water is stirred up someone else gets into the pool ahead of me.”  A telling answer to a profound question.  Luckily, Jesus was there to help.  He was there to make the broken whole again, even if the broken are resistant to the responsibilities of a changed, whole life.

“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk,” Jesus told the man.  “If you really want to be well, I can make you well.  But it will mean that you have to get up from where you are, pick up your mat, and walk.  If I make you well, you can’t simply return to life on the mat again.  You can’t simply return to your old ways of being and seeing; everything must change.  Life with me requires movement.  I want you to be healed and whole and free.  And immediately the man was healed; he picked up his mat, left his old ways, patterns, and dysfunctions behind, and started a whole new life. 

The bottom line in the spiritual life is that something must die within us, in order to make room for something beautiful to be born.  What is that for you?  What needs to die within you?  How do you need to get up?  What mat do you need to pick up?  What life do you need to leave behind?  And what beautiful thing does God want to do within you as a result?  God wants to do a work of healing, wholeness, freedom, and beauty within you, the only question is: “Do you want to get well?”


Closing Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you always show up in our broken places, offering healing and wholeness and freedom.  Show up in our broken places this day. Whatever that might look like.  Amen. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

life from death

Opening Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you always bring life out of death.  Amen.

Scripture: John 12:24

Journal: What needs to die in me during this season, in order for something beautiful to be born?


“Unless a kernel of wheat
falls to the ground and dies,
it remains only a single seed. 
But if it dies it produces
many seeds.” (John 12:24)

The main question
that Lent tends to ask us
is this: What needs to die
in me during this season,
in order for something
beautiful to be born?


Closing Prayer: Jesus, please do not allow the fear of something dying to keep me from the joy of something new being born.  Amen.

Monday, March 1, 2021

crucified with Christ

Opening Prayer: Give me the courage and the strength and the grace, Lord Jesus, to be crucified with you, so that I no longer live, but you live in me.  It is the only way to true life.  Amen.

Scripture: Galatians 2:20

Journal: What does it mean for you to be crucified with Christ?  What does that look like?

Reflection: To be crucified with Christ means that I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  It means that my life is no longer about my own preferences, but about his preferences.  It means that life is no longer about my own direction, but about his direction.  It means that life is no longer about my own dreams, but about his dreams for me.  It means that life is no longer about me, but about him.  To be crucified with Christ means to surrender complete and total control to him alone; I no longer live, but Christ lives in and through me.


Closing Prayer: Forgive me, Lord Jesus, for being so resistant to being crucified with you, or being crucified at all, for that matter.  Lord, have mercy!  Amen.