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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 ...

Saturday, October 30, 2021


“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.  Therefore consider carefully how you listen.” (Luke 8:17-18)

Listening is so important in the spiritual life.  But, unfortunately, it is a bit of a lost art.  That’s probably because, in our day and age, silence and solitude have been replaced by noise and hurry and busyness.  Listening requires time and space.  It requires stillness and silence and solitude.  How can we ever hope to hear anything from God if we never stop, shut up, and pay attention to him? 

The reason listening is so important is because how we listen and what we hear have so much bearing on what we believe and how we live.  What we truly believe determines how we act; and who and what we listen to almost always determines what we really believe.  Living falsely is almost always the result of believing things that are not true.

Thus, if we are really listening, then things will be disclosed, made know, and brought out into the open, no matter how hard we try to deny or escape them.  No matter how hard we try to hide and conceal them.  Listening is the place where we open ourselves up to the voice of God—the voice of truth.  And abiding in his truth is how we are set free.

So many voices, Lord, so many voices—both around and within.  It gets really confusing.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell who is really telling me the truth; and even harder to tell where I have come to believe things that are just not true.  Help me, O Lord, to listen to your voice.  Help me to pay careful attention to how I listen to you, so that I can know the truth that will set me free.  Amen.

Friday, October 29, 2021

false ways

“Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate very false way.” (Psalm 119:104, ESV) 

The ability to see falseness, in whatever form it takes—particularly within ourselves—is so important in the spiritual journey.  Because it is easy for us to live falsely and not even recognize it.  And, as with most things, the best way to be able to recognize the false is to mediate on the true.  When we are constantly mediating on the truth, it increases our capacity and ability to recognize the false.

O Lord, help me to see my false ways today.  And help me to walk, instead, in your truth.


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

autonomy and authority

“When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests and Levites.  It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left.” (Deuteronomy 17:19-20)

Autonomy [aw-ton-uh-mee] – independence, as of the will or one’s actions; self-government; subject only to its own laws.

Authority [uh-thawr-i-tee] – a power or right delegated or given.

All too often I think we equate freedom with autonomy, when that is really not the case at all.  Freedom is not about total autonomy; freedom is the ability to thrive and flourish under the proper authority. 

Even the king of Israel was not given total autonomy, he was God’s servant to his people.  That’s why he was instructed to put himself under the authority of God’s word and God’s law by keeping it with him, by reading it constantly, and by following it carefully all of the days of his life.  For when a leader is not under authority, he has a tendency to go astray, either to the right or to the left.  He starts to look after his own interests, rather than those of the people under his care.  He puts himself above the law and, thus, above all of those who are under that law.  He becomes full of himself, impressed his own observations, enamored by his own wisdom, inspired by his own voice, and seduced by his own power.  He becomes his own authority, which is never good.

Leadership in God’s kingdom, however, is meant to be much different than that.  It is a life under authority.  Leadership in God’s kingdom is not a life of isolation, but of community.  It is not a life of power, but of humility.  Not a life of taking, but of giving.  Not a life of becoming more, but of becoming less.  It is not a life of independence, but of dependence. 

So be very careful of the seduction of autonomy, it is a dangerous thing.  It is one of the surest ways to get lost in this life, without not even knowing it.

Monday, October 25, 2021


Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose iniquity the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2, NIV) 

We are indeed blessed when we come to realize that our transgression are forgiven, our sins are covered, and the Lord no longer counts our iniquity against us.  The cross has taken care of all of that once and for all—past, present, and future.  But what about the part that says we are blessed when we have no more deceit in our spirits?  That’s a little more difficult.  I mean, how in the world do we rid our spirits of deceit?  That seems like a tall order. 

The essence of deceit (rmîyâ) is living falsely.  It isn’t just about telling a lie; it’s about living one.  It’s about presenting a false front.  It’s about trying to make people believe we are better, or different, than we really are.  It is about manufacturing an appearance that is not true.  We do it all the time; every minute of every day.  We do it when we posture and pose.  We do it when we hide and conceal.  We do it when we conform and camouflage.  And we do it when we masquerade and pretend.  We do it when we jockey and perform.  Trying to create ourselves, rather than become ourselves is a great temptation.  And it can become so subtle, so second-nature to us, that we do not even notice it.

That’s why the words to this ancient prayer are so helpful.  Only God can rid our hearts and lives of deceit.  Only God can show us when we are being false rather than true, fake rather than real.  Only God can help us to become who he made us to be, but it takes a relentless openness and attentiveness to his word and his Spirit in the silence and solitude of our won hearts and souls.  It takes constant prayer and reflection and confession and repentance.  It is an ongoing battle, but one that is worth the time and effort, because at the end of it all lies a life that he calls blessed.

What bliss belongs to the one whose rebellion has been forgiven, those whose sins are covered by blood.  What bliss belongs to those who have confessed their corruption to God! For he wipes their slates clean and removes hypocrisy from their hearts. (Psalm 32:1-2, TPT)

Saturday, October 23, 2021

taking possession of the land

A large part of the spiritual journey, it seems, is learning what it means to take possession of that which we have already been promised. God promised a land to the people of Israel.  It was a land that was beautiful and abundant and fruitful.  It was a land that represented his goodness and his peace and his presence.  It was a land where they could grow and flourish and prosper.  And yet, for so many years, and for so many reasons, they simply failed to take possession of it.

So God spoke to Joshua and encouraged him to lead the people of God into the land he had promised them. (Joshua 1:1-9) He told him three separate times to “be strong and courageous” and not let anything, or anyone, deter or dissuade him.  Because taking possession of this land, even though God had promised it to them, would be no easy matter.  In fact, it would not happen without a fight.

Which sounds a little odd to me, that they would have to fight in order to take possession of something God had promised them.  But that’s just the way life with God is.  As Richard Foster so beautifully reminded us, “It will not just fall on our heads.”  We will have to arrange our lives in certain ways, if we ever hope to experience the depth and the fullness and the richness and the wholeness of the life God made us for. 

The question is, are we up for it?  Are we willing to fight for that life?  Are we willing to do whatever it takes to experience the love and the joy and the peace and the presence God made us for?  It will not come easy, but it will definitely be worth it.

Lord God, give us the courage and the strength and the grace to fight for the life you want for us.  Help us to never, out of fear or discouragement or apathy, settle for less than the life and the love you made us for.  Amen.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Advent 2021 is coming


Advent 2021 begins on Sunday, November 29.  If you are looking for a good companion for yourself, your family, your small group, your staff, your church, your volunteers, or your friends then Watch and Wait might be just what you are looking for.  Don't wait till the last minute.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2021


when people are buying
what you’re selling
it’s easy to get seduced
into believing that all is well
when it’s really not

pretense always makes  you
the worst version of yourself
because it’s not really you at all
but merely a fabrication and an illusion
someone who does  not actually exist

at some point real has become
nothing more than a growing
proficiency in image management
and manipulation

Continue to make me, O Lord, into the person you want me to be.  Forgive me for trying to make people believe I’m better than I am.  The only good in me is because of you.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

divergence and convergence

Divergence and convergence.  Two important, and really underrated, concepts as far as the life of the Spirit is concerned.  One involves a growing apart, while the other involves a coming together.  One consists of differing paths, while the other consists of adjoining ones.  One involves dissonance, and the other consonance; one harmony, and the other disharmony.  One often requires a letting go, while the other requires a taking hold.  I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

It is often with these subtle, almost imperceptible movements, that the Spirit of God attempts to lead and guide and direct us.  Which means we must be in constant prayer.  We must pay careful attention to the very ebb and flow of his currents, both within and around us.  If not, we might miss what he’s up to; for God’s nudge is ever so gentle at times. 

Thus, it is imperative that we keep a lookout for the ways and the people and the places where life and love and growth and fruitfulness and freedom are bubbling up within and around us, so that we may join with him in those.  And it also means that we must pay careful attention to those ways and people and places where just the opposite is happening.  The places where there seems to be a growing distance, either spiritual, emotional, or physical.  The places where differing goals or desires or passions or paths are trying to communicate a need for a reorientation of some sort.  Or maybe even a letting go (even if it's just a letting go of expectations and demands), if that is what God is calling us to.

So let me ask you, where are you noticing divergence and convergence within or around you?  And what is God trying to say to you through that?  Are there ways he is asking you to let go?  And are there ways he is inviting you to take hold?  These questions can be a great help as you seek to know his will and his ways.

Friday, October 8, 2021

prayer is the first thing

Sometimes we forget, in the midst of the pain and chaos and need of the world around us, that our primary role is to pray—to stand in the gap between God and men, and beg for his mercy. (Genesis 22:16-33) Sadly, all too often prayer is the last thing we do, instead of the first.  I guess that’s pretty telling.

If the lives of the saints have taught us anything, it’s that the first movement of ministry is always toward God, not toward man.  He alone can save, we cannot.

O Lord, apart from you, we can do nothing.  And apart from you, this world has no hope.  Help us to be willing to stand in the gap and beg for your mercy.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

open doors

“Always maintain a habit of prayer: be both alert and thankful as you pray.  Include us in your prayers, please, that God may open for us a door for the entrance of the mystery of Christ (for which I am at present in chains), and that I may make that mystery plain to men, which I know is my duty.” (Colossians 4:2-4, JBP)

More and more, it seems, I’m finding that our main role in life and ministry is just to pray and pay attention.  To look for, and pray for, open doors, and to walk through them, however God leads.  A part of that process is to realize that we can’t open the closed doors, but we can certainly miss the open ones if we are not paying attention.  Personally, I find it amazing to consider how much time and energy I have wasted through the years trying to force open closed doors, while open ones are standing right in front of me.

Help me, Lord Jesus, to not get so consumed trying to force open the closed doors that I miss the open ones.  Help me to be prayerful, alert, and attentive to the movement of your Spirit within and around me.

"We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his doors to us.  We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise." (Romans 5:1-2, MSG)

Friday, October 1, 2021

true confession

do not let us
o Lord
stop too near the surface
in our confession

for if we do
we never really
get to the source
of our problem

we merely chop the weeds
off at the surface
only to see them
grow right back again
instead of pulling them
up by the roots

for apart from you
we don’t really even
know what to confess
we deal only with symptoms
rather than the disease

so show us
o Lord
what we really need to see
and give us the courage
to confess it
so that we might be free