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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 ...

Sunday, May 30, 2021

start by stopping

“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?

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

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

Monday, May 24, 2021

hindrances to freedom

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.

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

Being able to discern the lies from the truth is one of the key elements of the spiritual journey. (John 8:31-32) 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 by 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.

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. 


Friday, May 21, 2021


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.” 

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 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?

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

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.

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.