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Book of the Month: Schola Caritatis: Learning the Rhythms of God's Amazing Love

  Starting a new feature for the next several months called Book of the Month.  I will present one of my books and tell you a little of the ...

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

torn to pieces

Come, let us return to the Lord.  He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.  After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” (Hosea 6:1-2)

There is a tearing to pieces that comes from love and results in healing and restoration.  It is a tender but severe tearing, a stripping away of all that binds and hinders and enslaves.  It is a tearing that feels like death, but is really life, because it involves the stripping away of all that is false, in order to leave only what is true and beautiful.  That’s the kind of tearing and injuring God does when we are courageous enough to return to him.  It is a tearing and an injuring that helps us become all that he dreamt us to be.  So when you find yourself in his crosshairs, do not be afraid.  What is happening to you might feel like death, but it is really life.  Ultimately, it is both good and beautiful.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

which one is lost

Jesus loved finding lost things, be it sheep or coins or even sons. (Luke 15:1-32) He always had a soft spot in his heart for those who had gotten a little turned around in their lives, which is a beautiful thing since all of us find ourselves in that position from time to time.  The problem is that sometimes it’s hard to identify the ones who are actually lost.  Oh, maybe not in terms of sheep and coins, those are fairly obvious, but when it comes to sons it’s an altogether different story.  In fact, the hardest ones to find are the ones who don’t think they are lost at all.

The younger son ventures off into a foreign land with his pockets full of inheritance money and his heart set on squandering it all on wild living.  But eventually it all catches up with him and he comes to his senses, finding his way back to the father’s house where he is greeted with hugs and kisses, as well as shoes and a ring and a feast.  Yet he is not the lost son; he is actually the found one.  There’s another son in the story who is in desperate need of being found, only he doesn’t know it.

The lost son is the one who is still in his father’s house, yet still so far from away from experiencing his father’s love and affection.  Just listen to what he says: “Look!  All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.”  Does that sound like someone who knows he is loved, or like someone who is trying desperately to earn something he’s always had?  To me it sounds like someone who is working his ass off to try and win the approval and affection of a father who knows him better and loves him more fully than he could ever ask or imagine.

The younger brother returns home and is able to experience that love firsthand, but what about the older one?  He has been at home all along, but has somehow missed the unconditional love and affection the father was continually offering him.  What would it look like for him to return to the father? 

We are not really told how the story ends for the older brother, which is probably intentional.  It is an open invitation.  Each of us is invited into the story to make that decision for ourselves.  What does returning to the Father look like for you today?  Will you return to him? 

Saturday, March 11, 2023


there is an emptying
that comes from God

a profound deepening
meant to hollow out
space within you
that only he can fill

so do not be hasty to
grasp at the first thing
that comes along
in an effort to fill the void
lest you miss the gift
he is trying to give

that void might actually
be there for a reason

*Can't take full credit for this one.  It was inspired by some words my friend, Will, shared with me.  I really just put them on paper.  I pray that you have community like the incredible men God has given me to do life with.  They make me better each day.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

pass through

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.  As they pass through the Valley of Weeping, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.  They go from strength to strength until each appears before God in Zion.” (Psalm 84:5-7)

You can stay there, in the Valley of Weeping, if you want to, but it is only as you pass through the valley that you make it a place of springs.  Eventually you have to work your way through it, or you will be stuck in the Valley of Weeping forever.  It’s really up to you.  Avoiding or denying or refusing only assures that you will never pass through it and come out the other side.

This life is a pilgrimage; you must keep going in order to arrive at your glorious destination.  At some point you must leave the Valley of Weeping behind and press on to the land of promise.  So, pass through, don’t pitch your tent.  Don’t take up residence in such a miserable place.  Don’t set up shop; pass through.  The place of springs is only possible if you are willing to pass through.  Don’t let the Valley of Weeping hold you hostage; pass through.

O Lord, this life is such a pilgrimage, help me to always keep moving toward you no matter what.  Give me the strength and wisdom and perseverance, when I get stuck, to keep on walking, to keep pressing on toward you.  Give me faith when I need to believe, grace when I need to forgive, and courage when I need to let go.  Help me to go from strength to strength until I appear before you in Zion.  Amen. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023


“Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)

The key to a fruitful life and ministry is not activism but abiding.  It is not incessant activity but prayer.  Unless we move from autonomy to obedience, from independence to dependence, and from control to surrender we can never hope to bear the fruit that Jesus designed us to bear—that only comes by abiding. 

And abiding is not as much about trying, as it is about joining.  It is being joined to the very life of God in a profoundly intimate way.  It is allowing the life of God to flow in and then through us.  Thus, it is not something we can produce or manufacture, but something that must be grown organically.

Lord Jesus, you are the vine, and we are the branches, never let us forget that.  Forgive us when we try to manufacture and produce what can only be grown by abiding in you.  Help us to learn how to do that.  Amen.

Friday, February 24, 2023

absolute surrender

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.  Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:18-19)

There is a shift necessary if we truly want to follow Jesus.  It is a shift that’s as demanding as it is unavoidable.  It is the shift from autonomy to obedience, the shift from independence to dependence, the shift from clenched fists to outstretched hands, the shift from leading to being led.  It is ultimately the shift from control to absolute surrender.

That is the invitation of Lent, the season where we are invited by Jesus to “Come and die, that I might raise you to new life.”  Which makes the real question of the season: What needs to die in me in order for something beautiful to be born?

Lord, you know me better than I know myself.  Your Spirit pervades every moment of my life.  Thank you for the grace and love you shower on me.  Thank you for your constant, gentle invitation to let you into my life.  Forgive me for the times I have refused that invitation, and have closed myself off from you.  Help me in the day(s) to come, to recognize your presence in my life, to open myself to you, to let you work in me, to your greater glory.  Amen. ~St. Ignatius

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

ash wednesday 2023

ash wednesday is
about moving from
control to surrender
from clenched fists
to open hands

whenever you sense
the movement from
control to surrender
you can be quite sure
that the Spirit of God
is behind it

Jesus is not just inviting us
to let go of some things
he is asking us to let go
of everything

Thursday, February 16, 2023

the story i'm telling myself

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32, ESV)

“Don’t let the false narratives keep you at their mercy.  The story you are telling yourself is rarely the story that’s actually true.”  That was the message from my time with Jesus this morning. 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about false narratives, those I live by and those that I allow to hold me captive.  The lies I’ve bought into about myself, my world, and even my God, that make me the absolute worst version of myself.  They make me fearful and anxious and insecure.  They make me busy and driven and manipulative.  They call me to acquire and compare and compete.  They tell me I need to earn and achieve and perform, all in hopes of convincing myself and my world that I am actually worthy of being loved.  And until I realize that I am already loved, and therefore of infinite value and worth, I will never really be able to love anyone else.  I will be too busy trying to extort and manipulate love out of them. 

I don't know what your false narratives tell you, but mine tell me I am not enough—not talented enough, not gifted enough, not skilled enough, not smart enough, not attractive enough, etc.  And they tell me I suck: I suck as a writer, I suck as a worker, I suck as a son, I suck as a husband, I suck as a dad, I suck as a friend, I suck as a man, I suck as an everything.  

When I am believing these lies, they cause me to interpret everything in light them--which is actually oh so dark.  In turn, this causes me to create narratives for others that do not exist and assign motives that are simply not true, which just reinforces the lies I believe about myself and my world, only making them stronger.  It is a downward spiral that is impossible to pull out of unless Jesus--the way the truth and the life--intervenes.  When I let these voices control and consume me, my neediness and fear and insecurity rule the day.  It’s astounding, and more than a little baffling, that I give these voices the free rein that I do.

Then Jesus comes along and tells me the truth: “You are seen, you are known, and you are deeply loved.  You are of infinite value and worth and do not have to do anything to prove it.  You don’t have to do anything to justify your existence.  You don’t need others to give you your value and your identity because I have already done that.  Let my love be the basis and foundation for everything you do.  Don’t let the false narratives hold you hostage, I came to tell you the truth.  Abide in my word and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.  For if you are not free, it means that you are believing something that is not true.  So stop listening to the lies and start believing the truth.”

Lord Jesus, save me from myself.  Let your love and your grace and your truth define and determine me.  Free me from the lies I believe about you, about myself, and about others, and help me to constantly abide in your truth.  Amen.


Monday, February 13, 2023

treasure me

“One thing you lack.  Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

One thing you lack.  In fact, the very first one.  The first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me.”  I must be your one thing.  I must be your treasure.  Let go of whatever you treasure most, in order to treasure me above all else.  Whatever the currency of your life is, whatever (or whoever) occupies that first place, let it go and follow me.  There is no other way to the life you seek.  Treasure me.

Thursday, February 9, 2023


“But now you are being asked to let go of all these self-made props and trust that God is enough for you.“ ~Henri Nouwen

What does it really mean that God is enough for me? It means I can stop living for the attention, admiration, adoration, and affirmation of others. It means that I can stop trying so hard to please and perform and impress, and just rest in the love and affection and enough-ness of God. It means that even if no one ever calls or asks or invites, even if no one ever buys or reads another of my books, it’s okay. God alone is enough for me. It means that I am finally free.

Sunday, February 5, 2023


1 cor 2:16

when i have
the mind of Christ
i think what he thinks
i see what he sees
i say what he says
i do what he does
i love what he loves

Lord have mercy
i have so much
further to go

Friday, February 3, 2023

waiting, not limbo

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

I think I have always thought of waiting as being in limbo, when that’s not what waiting is at all.  Waiting is an invitation into transformation.  If I can make that leap in my mind, I can learn to embrace waiting—and the transformation it brings—rather than resisting it.  As long as I continue to view waiting as some sort of limbo, I will always feel stuck in some way, rather than freed.  But if I can begin to see waiting as the vehicle through which genuine transformation takes place, I will be more likely to enter into the space it offers.  Then I can come to see that I am not waiting for transformation; waiting is transformation.

Help me to learn how to wait for you, O Lord, and not just my desired outcome.  Give me the surety that something beautiful is happening in the waiting, even if I cannot yet see or perceive it. 

Sunday, January 29, 2023

first love

“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance.  You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.  Yet I hold this against you: You have left your first love.” (Rev. 2:2-4)

“You have substituted busyness for intimacy.  You have confused being busy for me, with being in love with me, and that makes me really sad.”

Sing your song of love deeply and tenderly into my heart and soul this day, O Lord.  Draw me into your divine embrace and seize me with the power of your great affection.  Lord Jesus, may you always be my first love; may you always be my first and truest affection.  May my life always be an overflow of your divine love.  Amen.

Friday, January 27, 2023

too busy

“After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone.  There he was transfigured before them.” (Mark 9:2)

Nowadays, it seems like the biggest enemy of encountering Jesus and seeing his glory is incessant busyness.  Sadly, this is particularly true of those in ministry.  And why not?  After all, we are working for kingdom purposes here, right?  Well, maybe...and maybe not.  Sometimes our unbridled busyness has more to do with us—our egos, our need to be needed, our perceived indispensibilty, and our insecurity—than it does to do with Jesus.

The problem is that if we never encounter Jesus ourselves, how can we ever hope that those under our care will?  We must relentlessly make time and space in our lives for ongoing encounter with Jesus.  But the sad truth is that all too often we fail to see the glory of Jesus, simply because we are too busy to follow him up the mountain.

Lord Jesus, free us from the addiction of busyness.  Help us to never love the things we do for God, more than we love the God we do them for.  Help us to never get too busy to follow you up the mountain.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

left alone

“So Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.” (Gen. 32:24)  

Community is a beautiful and necessary thing, but it is the nature of life with God that some battles must be waged alone.  Especially battles of identity.  Because as nice as it is to have people around you, encouraging you in the fight, we often use those very people, and that very encouragement, to fortify the false self.

Jacob had to be left alone, because God was going to strip away every bit of false from him, so that he could be exactly who and what God made him to be.  All of the props needed to be removed, until it was just Jacob, vulnerable and naked before God.  You see, the battle of identity requires a stripping away of all the ways we feed the beast of the false self.  And the only way to kill it is to cut off its food supply.

God was about to give Jacob a new name, a true identity, but first he had to wrestle away all that was false.  And Jacob must have known this, because once the wrestling began, he refused to let go until the process was complete.  Only then he was able to walk away—or limp away—a new man.  He was no longer Jacob, he was now Israel, because he had struggled with God and with men and had overcome. 

But in order for this transformation to take place, he first had to be left alone.  I, for one, am grateful for his courage.  I am afraid enough to cut myself off from all of the things and the voices that feed the false within me, let alone to be wrestled down to what is really true.  O Lord, give me the courage and the strength and the grace enter into that transformative space with you…alone. 

Monday, January 23, 2023


“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” (Genesis 28:16)

How often have I had eyes but failed to see and ears but failed to hear?  How often has God come to me with a dream, or a vision, or a word, and I was too preoccupied to notice?  How often has he tried to give me a gift, but I was too busy to receive it?  How often has he tried to show me something glorious and I was too consumed to pay attention? 

Surely, O Lord, you were in this place, and I did not know it.  Please forgive me. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

leaving the crowd behind

"That day, when evening came, 
he said to his disciples, 
‘Let us go over to the other side.’ 
Leaving the crowd behind, 
they took him along, 
just as he was, 
in the boat.” 
(Mark 4:35-36)


i love that Jesus never seemed 
to have any trouble 
leaving the crowd behind 
i wish i could say the same

Monday, January 9, 2023

it's not about me

“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.” (Mark 1:2)

There is a huge difference between preparing the way and getting in the way.  Luckily, John the Baptist understood that.  Me, not so much.  

I tend to have a hard time remembering that this life is about him, not about me.  My role is to prepare the way for him, not vice versa.  I am not the way; I am just called to help prepare the way.  In fact, my main job is to stay out of the way.  Unfortunately, however, I do somehow manage to get in the way more often than I would care to admit.  I start inserting myself into settings and situations out of my own need and insecurity, and things just go south from there.  It is a sad day when I try to take up all of the room that was meant for him.  Maybe one day I will learn.  A man can dream, right?