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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 ...

Friday, April 29, 2022

how to become your truest self

“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)

We spend far too much time in this life trying to fortify a manufactured self, rather than allowing God to peel away all of the accumulated layers of falseness, so he can show us what is most true and beautiful.  This cannot be done by trying, but by trusting.  It will not happen by endless effort and willpower and activity, but by learning how to wait for the Lord.

The secret to becoming our truest selves always involves waiting for the Lord.  If we do not wait, we will never become who and what we were meant to be.  We can’t force or contrive of manufacture of control our own transformation, it is a work of the Spirit.  All we can do is wait—make time and space to sit openly before him as he does the work, in his own time and in his own way.

One hint, however: our truest self will always result in us looking more and more like Jesus, who “made himself nothing,” rather than trying to make himself something. (Philippians 2:7) Thus, only when we stop trying to “make ourselves something” and start trying to “make ourselves nothing” can we ever hope to find our truest selves.  We find our lives by losing them. (Mt. 10:39) We find our truest self, by letting go of all of the false selves that we have somehow convinced ourselves through the years are true.  And, irony of ironies, it is not until my life stops being about me that I can ever hope to discover who I truly am.  In the kingdom of God, we always have to “die to become.”

Help me, O Lord, to learn what it means to wait for you.  And help me to resist the temptation to think everything—even my own transformation—is up to me.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

deeper and narrower

“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” (Ps. 42:7)

The depths of God is constantly calling out to the depths of man, inviting him deeper into the beauty and the mystery of who He is.  God does not want us to settle for less of a life than the one he created us for, but, unfortunately, oftentimes we do.  We grow content and comfortable with the safe and familiar, and are afraid of what it might mean, or what it might take, for us to enter into the life and the depth and the freedom God offers us.

Thus, there comes, for each of us, a moment of decision, when we must decide whether we will follow the voice of the One calling us deeper and narrower, or settle for a life that’s a mile wide and an inch deep.  There is definitely a process involved that leads us to this moment, but there always comes a moment when a decision must be made.  A moment when we must choose to move, to cross the bridge to the other side, to take his hand as he leads us toward a new and unknown land, or to stay where we are.  A moment when we must choose between the comfortable and the familiar or a new life and a new birth.  It’s one or the other, we can’t have both.  So, what will it be?

O God, thank you that your depths is constantly calling out to my depths, inviting me further into the beauty and the mystery of who you are.  Give me the strength and the grace and the courage to say yes to that call.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

old and new

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

As long as we continue to cling to the old, we will never be able to take hold of the new.

Show me, Lord Jesus, all of the ways I am still clinging to the old, in order that I might actually be made new.

Friday, April 22, 2022

living with open hands

Life with God is about learning to open our hands.  The only problem is that hands—particularly the hands of the soul—tend to open slowly, often one finger at a time.  It is a long process, requiring much time and space and focused attention.  A process that requires as much patience as it does diligence.

While life (particularly spiritual life) typically moves from orientation to disorientation to reorientation, our knee-jerk reaction to disruption and disorientation is to revert back to—or strive to achieve—some old form of orientation, rather than allowing it to usher us into something that is new and beautiful.  And when we do this, it is almost always destined for failure, frustration, or, even worse, stagnation.  We cannot cling to our old ways and think that growth can still be a possibility.

“Clinging creates a shrinking within the soul,” writes Sue Monk Kidd, “a shrinking of possibility and growth.  The need to cling to ‘how it was’ can be overpowering.”  God wants so much more for us than that.  In fact, he is always calling us beyond where we are, not back to where we were.  Clinging to the old always seems to result in an inability to welcome the new and beautiful.

Thursday, April 14, 2022


do you think the trees ever ask

how long, O Lord,
do we have to stand bare

how long must we wait
before new life begins to
well up within us once more

or do they just lift their arms
patiently to you and wait
trusting that life will appear again
just like it always does

Sunday, April 10, 2022

believe and know

“Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69)

Years ago, a young couple who are dear friends of ours were going through a significant life struggle.  The pain and desperation were both devastating and overwhelming.  When I asked the husband how he was dealing with the struggle and the heartache, he replied, “At first I was tempted to get mad at God, but then he said to me, ‘We’re past that now, aren’t we?’  And he was right.”  He had come to understand God, and God’s goodness in a deep and profound way.  He didn’t just believe that God was good, he knew that goodness.

I think that’s what Simon Peter was saying right here.  After all, many of Jesus’ disciples had “turned back and no longer followed him,” but Simon Peter had stayed.  What was the difference?  I think the difference was that Simon Peter, just like my young friend, not only believed in the goodness of God, but he knew it—he had experienced it firsthand in a deep and profound way. 

To believe (pisteuō) means to be fully persuaded of, and to know (ginōskō) means to become intimately acquainted with.  One without the other will not suffice.  It is not enough just to know intellectually.  In order to truly believe, we must also know relationally.  We will never be convinced of the goodness of God’s heart until we have experienced that goodness firsthand.  It is this relational knowing that anchors our intellectual believing in a deep trust in, and experience of, his goodness.  That’s why Simon Peter just couldn’t walk away; he knew better.  His response was not, “I have no other choice,” but, “I know, I know, I know, that you are good, whatever this life may bring.”  May we be the same.

Friday, April 8, 2022


“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.” (Mt. 27:50, ESV)

If you look up the word yield in the dictionary, it will say “to give up or over; to relinquish or resign; to surrender.”  And if you look at the Greek word used here by Matthew (aphiēmi) it means “to let go, let alone, let be; to give up.”

True confession time: I am not a great yielder.  I am not good at letting go of my rights, privileges, preferences, plans, or agendas, for the sake of another.  In fact, whenever I see a yield sign on the road, my knee-jerk response is, “If I get there first, then they will have to yield.”

Yet here in Matthew we see our Savior yielding up the most precious thing of all, his very life.  He lets go of his rights and privileges and preferences for our sakes.  And then he has the audacity to tell us that if we really want to follow him, we must do the same.

Oswald Chambers said it well when he said: “He never asks us to decide for Him, but to yield to him—a very different thing.”  Life with Jesus is not about conquering, but about yielding; something he tried to get the disciples to understand time after time.  And now it’s our turn.

Lord Jesus, teach us what it means to yield up our lives to you the way you did for us.

Monday, April 4, 2022

poor in spirit

“Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 5:3)  

What does it really mean to be poor in spirit?  The word poor in the Greek is ptōchos, which means “to crouch; to lower oneself; to take the posture of a beggar; to be lacking anything.”  It is both a realization and a choice.  Thus, those who are poor in spirit have chosen, like Jesus did, to make themselves nothing.  And since they are not concerned with building their own kingdom, they can be fully given to the kingdom of God.

Forgive me, Lord Jesus, when I try to raise myself high rather than crouch low.  For only when I learn to crouch low will I be truly blessed.

Friday, April 1, 2022

a fertile emptiness

philippians 2:7

if you really want to be like me
the way you say you do
then let go of every way
you try to make yourself something
and make yourself nothing instead
just like i did