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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 ...

Monday, January 31, 2022

and puts them into practice

“I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice.  He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on a rock.  When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.  But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.” (Luke 6:47-49)

Thomas Kelly once said that “Practice comes first in religion, not theory or dogma.”  Jesus would certainly seem to agree.  It is not just the hearing of his word that counts, but also the doing of it.  We typically encounter God through the avenue of the spiritual practices.  The only problem with the spiritual practices is that in order for them to work, you actually have to do them.  You can think about them and talk about them all you want, but they will really never do you any good until you start doing them. 

As G. K. Chesterton once said, “The difference between talking about prayer and praying is the same as the difference between blowing a kiss and kissing.”  The spiritual practices are the way we make time and space to encounter God, and unless we actually do them, chances are that blowing a kiss is as far as we’ll ever get.  Is that okay with you?

Saturday, January 29, 2022


“My heart is not lifted up, O Lord, my eyes are not raised too high.  I do not occupy 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.” (Psalm 131:1-3)

The great temptation of our culture is to move “up and to the right.”  The only problem with that is that Jesus calls us to do the direct opposite.  While we are more concerned with up, high, and great; he is more concerned with down, low, and least.  Life in the kingdom is about the trajectory of our lives matching the trajectory of his, yet few seem willing to really do that.

How do we wean our souls from this obsession to being bigger and greater and more?  Maybe the same way King David did it—by prayer.  Maybe when we let the words to this ancient prayer seeps down into the core of our being, it changes us.  It makes us want the things God wants and makes us pursue the things that he pursues.  For only then can we ever hope to be set free from acting out of ambition and need, and be able, instead, to begin acting out of humility and love.

O Lord, help me never to get too full of myself.  Help me to stop trying to climb higher and become bigger.  Those are not the things of your kingdom, but the things of this world.  And I want to be like you, not like them.  Have mercy on me, O Lord, and give me the courage to join you on the downward journey.  Amen.

Friday, January 28, 2022

from rock to stumbling block

“Get behind me Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23) 

In the matter of a few short verses, Simon Peter somehow managed to go from “rock” to “stumbling block.”  I mean, how in the world does something like that happen?  Well, in this case it happened through a subtle but severe shift in thinking.  It happened when Simon Peter stopped “having in mind the things of God” and started “having in mind the things of men.”  It happened when he stopped denying himself and became full of himself.  It happened when he stopped taking up his cross and, instead, started trying to force his own agenda.  It happened when he started trying to save his life, rather than being willing to lose his life.  That’s all it took.

Is that not frightening?  Could it really be that easy to lose our bearings?  Could it really be that easy to get sucked into the world’s way of being and seeing?  And the really scary part is that, oftentimes, the shift takes place without our even knowing it.  Therefore, we must pay careful attention, lest the very same thing happen to us. 

Thursday, January 20, 2022

but when he saw the wind

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink. He cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’” (Matthew 14:30)

You were doing great, what happened?  Why did you allow your surroundings to determine the state of your heart?  Why did you let your fear overpower your faith?  Did you not think I would take care of you? 

I know the wind is strong, but I am stronger.  I know the waves are big, but I am bigger.  Do not be afraid of them.  Do not let fear make you its puppet.  Chaos does not have the final word, peace does.  Fear does not have ultimate control, love does.

Just keep your eyes focused on me, my child, and all will be well.

Lord Jesus, when the storms come and the winds are blowing, when the waves threaten to sweep me away, help me to keep my eyes focused on you and not on the chaos that is going on within and around me.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

so we actually can make this stuff up

“But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ and cried out in fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take courage; it is I.  Do not be afraid.’” (Matthew 14:26-27)

So the disciples had convinced themselves that Jesus was a ghost.  Interesting.  They had created a story that was not even there.  Circumstances clouded their vision, producing fear and keeping them from being able to recognize that it was actually Jesus who was standing out there on the sea.  I wonder how often this is the case with us. 

I wonder how often we allow our response to circumstances to create a narrative that simply doesn’t exist.  I wonder how often we create stories for ourselves and for others that are only the creation of our own fearful minds and insecure hearts.  Because of sin, we are prone, like the disciples, to misinterpretation.  We create stories for ourselves and for others that are not even there.  In other words, because of sin we have become unreliable narrators, even of our own story.  Sin has kept us from being able to see clearly. 

Which makes me ask, what is the story I am telling myself right now?  And is it even true?  Where have I convinced myself that something is true, when it is really not?  Where have I allowed circumstances to keep me from recognizing Jesus? 

Lord Jesus, help me to realize that the storms and chaos of this life can keep me from seeing and recognizing you.  They can even cause me to make up stories about myself and others that are simply not true.  Help me, Lord Jesus, to live in your truth, because it is your truth that sets me free.  Amen.

Monday, January 17, 2022

i deserve better

luke 7:2-10

i deserve better
is the ultimate deception
poison to the soul
for it produces 
spirit of entitlement
rather than 
heart of gratitude

it erodes joy
and befriends bitterness
it chooses pride
over humility
it abides in darkness
rather than light
it feeds on lies
rather than the truth
leading to bondage
rather than freedom

it is the broad road
that leads to destruction
avoid it at all costs

Tuesday, January 11, 2022


“How long will you assault a man?  Would you all throw him down—this leaning wall, this tottering fence?  They fully intend to topple him from his lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse.  Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.” (Psalm 62:3-5)

The number one assault on our soul’s ability to find rest in God alone comes from the lies of the enemy.  Somehow, we have bought into the notions that: God’s love must be earned, and our worth must be achieved.  So much so, in fact, that it has made rest an impossibility.  If our salvation and our honor depend on us, instead of on God alone, then we will go through life desperately trying to prove to ourselves, to our world, and even to our God, that we are worth loving.  And that definitely doesn’t lead to rest.

In fact, the enemy has done such a masterful job of convincing us of this fallacy that we even experience a good amount of shame over the idea of rest.  Can you believe that?  Feeling shame about something God has actually commanded us to do.  How messed up is that?

Thus, it is extremely important in the spiritual life to pay careful attention to the lies we are buying in to.  How do we do this?  One way is by constantly meditating on the truth.  When we know the truth of God to the depths of our being, then we will be able to spot even the most subtle lies when they rear their ugly heads.  And once we recognize the lies, we will be able to fight them.  We will be able to respond to the lies with the truth, which is the only thing that can set us free.  If we are not free, it is because we are believing something that is not true.

O Lord, our souls will never be able to find rest in you alone as long as we continue to buy into the lies of the culture and the enemy.  Help us to identify these lies and to fight them with your truth, for your truth will always set us free.  Amen.

Monday, January 3, 2022

left behind

"After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.  Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day.  Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends.  When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.  After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.  When his parents saw him, they were astonished.  His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this?  Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

Why were you searching for me?” he asked.  “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:43-49)

so they were the ones 
who left him behind 
and then they complained, 
“why have you 
treated us like this?”  

shouldn’t he have 
been the one 
asking that question?  

i guess not much has changed 
in the last two thousand years.  

Saturday, January 1, 2022

new wine in the new year

“Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins.  If they do, the skins will burst the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:17)

Thank you, O Lord, that in this New Year you long to do something new and beautiful in us.  Help us to have the wisdom and the courage and the grace to receive that “new wine” and to nurture it and give it the space and the time in needs to grow and take root within us.  Forgive us for our tendency to try and put this new wine into the same old wineskins.  Amen.