Category Archives: Dallas Willard

Follow the Ancient Paths…

Devotional Thought of the Day:

16 The LORD said to his people, “Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths and where the best road is. Walk in it, and you will live in peace.” Jeremiah 6:16 GNT

As you come upon verse 18 (1 John 7), you may prayerfully dwell on the ways in which love—God’s love for us, our love for him and love among people on earth—pushes fear out of all relationships. You may think of the fearless child surrounded by loving parents, of how loving neighbors give us confidence and relieve our anxieties. You may dwell on how the assurance of God’s love given to us in the death of his Son suggests that we will never be beyond his care. Seek God’s help in comprehending this and in seeing what your fear-free life might be like.

I do believe that the Church, from congregations like mine, to mega-churches and denominations, all the One, Holy, catholic and Apostolic church is at a crossroads.

To many of our communities are dying off, others are wandering away, some to be relevant, some to shrink back and protect what is theirs. Some will embrace change, and some will point to a passage like the one above from Jeremiah, trying to justify doing things the “old way” as it is good and proper and safe.

Not that the ways, from how we do liturgy to how we teach scripture are all relatively new. Not one of them existed at the time Jeremiah wrote this warning from God to His people.

So there is that.

Jeremiah isn’t talking about the liturgy, or the role of women in the church. He’s not talking about polity and structure, nor do I think we need to rebuild the temple. In fact, reading on in Jeremiah it was the worship they took so much effort in that God was going to reject. The tabernacle was already going to be rejected, which would include all the sacrifices.

If the system of worship established in the first 5 books of Moses isn’t the ancient paths walked upon how could we claim the latest liturgy or our favorite hymnal form the 1940’s or 50’s is this “ancient path?”

So what is?

Faith.

Faith, that relationship that is so special that we can depend on God in every circumstance of our life. Faith in the one we have a relationship with, the very thing that Hebrews 11 describes as how Abel, Abraham, our fore-fathers and the prophets saw sustain them,

Faith, which sustains because it is based on God loving us, a love revealed at the cross, and in the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Faith, which is possible because we don’t travel down that ancient way alone, but Christ is that way, and we walk with Him.

The ancient way is the life in the Garden, where God walks with us, His people, as He did with Adam and Eve.

Finally a thought, that ancient way is none other than Jesus, the son of God. So let us walk with Him, as He leads us to Father, as He brings us home. AMEN!

Dallas Willard and Jan Johnson, Hearing God through the Year: A 365-Day Devotional (Westmont, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015).

Devotions aren’t for the devoted…

One of my first Bibles looked like this..

Devotional Thought for the day:

14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15† so that you may be innocent and pure as God’s perfect children, who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people. You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, 16 as you offer them the message of life. If you do so, I shall have reason to be proud of you on the Day of Christ, because it will show that all my effort and work have not been wasted. Phil. 2:14-16 GNT

While the entire psalter and the holy scriptures altogether are also dear to me, as they are my sole comfort and life, nevertheless, I have struck up a very special relationship with this psalm, so that it must be mine and be called mine. It has worked quite diligently for me, deserving to become mine, and has helped me in some great emergencies, out of which no emperor, king, sage, clever person, or saint would have been able to help me.

You may have been told that it is good to read the Bible through every year and that you can ensure this will happen by reading so many verses per day from the Old and New Testaments. If you do this you may enjoy the reputation of one who reads the Bible through each year, and you may congratulate yourself on it. But will you become more like Christ and more filled with the life of God?

My daily devotions changed a few years ago, when I discovered a book called Celtic Daily Prayer (and now volume 2) and another book called The Way. Before that I saw devotions as a task, and as what a good pastor did, and tried to model to his people. I did the read through the Bible in a year, I even wrote the predecessor to this blog. Looking back, I am not sure I could have answered the question posed by the last line of the quote from Dallas Willard.

It wasn’t the books that changed my devotional life, they just showed up and in the right time and place. It wasn’t on a quest for holiness, that this process grew, nor do I see myself holier or more mature.

I may have grown in holiness, I may be more “devout” (I believe that is very much up to debate), I pray that I am more like Christ.

What I am is more aware of how much I need to depend on God. I resonate with Luther, about this passage and that ministering to me more than others. ( 1 Cor. 2:9, Ezekiel 26:25, Exodus 50:20, Phil. 1:6, Hebrews 12:1-3 Romans 12:1-3 ) for a few that have that effect) greeting me like old friends when I get to them. Jeremiah 20:7 as well, oh gosh has that saved me in despair more than once.

Yet it has been reading through scriptures and my other aids that have led me to those passages. The words of Escriva, Luther, Willard and Popes Francis and Benedict have help me see what I am missing, and far too often, what I encounter gives me the strength I need when something big is looming. (and it seems like something always is looming)

I am not doing this because I am a saint, or devout, or because I want to impress people. I am doing this because I need to, I need to remember that God is benevolent, and merciful, and loves me, and then that He loves those I struggle with, and desires that we all come to repentance.

It is why I encourage you to spend time in the word, like a miner digging for diamonds, trying to find those verse that will reveal God’s love to you so completely that you don’t recognize the change. But you cling to them.. oh.. do you cling to them, as you are comforted and healed by the Holy Spirit who uses them to heal your heart, soul and mind. AMEN!

Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Luther, M. (2007). Luther’s Spirituality. (P. D. W. Krey, B. McGinn, & P. D. S. Krey, Eds., P. D. S. Krey & P. D. W. Krey, Trans.) (p. 203). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

The Joy of Re..

Photo by Ric Rodrigues on Pexels.com

Devotional Thought of the Day:

19  “No longer will the sun be your light by day Or the moon be your light by night; I, the LORD, will be your eternal light; The light of my glory will shine on you. 20  Your days of grief will come to an end. I, the LORD, will be your eternal light, More lasting than the sun and moon. 21  Your people will all do what is right, And will possess the land forever. I planted them, I made them, To reveal my greatness to all.
Isaiah 60:19-21 (TEV)

It isn’t God who must change but the person. This is the obvious goal of prayer, and that is the reason why prayer is the privileged place of exile where the revelation is given, that is, the passage from what one thinks of God to what he truly is.
It is an exodus of purification where we are led by God through the dark night of the exile on the way to the contemplation of his face.
Then, we finally will be changed and transformed into the likeness of Him.

Often it will be an act of real humility and creaturely honesty to stop what we are doing, to acknowledge our limits, to take time to draw breath and rest—as the creature, man, is designed to do. I am not suggesting that sloth is a good thing, but I do want to suggest that we revise our catalogue of virtues, as it has developed in the Western world, where activity alone is regarded as valid and where the attitudes of beholding, wonder, recollection, and quiet are of no account, or at least are felt to need some justification.

Before we explain the Lord’s Prayer sequentially, we must first counsel and entice the people to prayer, just as Christ and the apostles did.2 First, we are obligated to pray because God has commanded it. Thus, we heard in the commandment, “You shall not take God’s name in vain,” that God’s holy name should be praised, called upon, or prayed to in every need. To call upon it is nothing other than praying

It may help to remember these words of Thomas à Kempis in The Imitation of Christ:
“Of what use is it to discourse learnedly on the Trinity, if you lack humility and therefore displease the Trinity? Lofty words do not make a man just or holy; but a good life makes him dear to God. I would far rather feel contrition than be able to define it. If you knew the whole Bible by heart, and all the teachings of the philosophers, how would this help you without the grace and love of God?”

I am hoping you made it through the incredible quotes above, looking forward to finding out where this incredible joy is found. What the “Re” is… are you ready for it?

Repentance..

Yes, you read that right, there is an incredible joy when the Holy Spirit gifts us with repentance. It is freeing, it lifts burdens, it is that wonderful mysterious transformation that God works in us.

It is why Luther urges us to prayer, reminding that this commanded, not for God’s sake, but for ours. For it is in that transformation that we experience that mercy and love of God that causes the repentance to occur.

Repentance, this transformation, finds us with the ability to bhold, wonder and remember the presence of God leaves us stunned, and sometimes, unable to speak, because the grace of God is so wonderful, because it so sets our hearts at ease, our mind cannot proceed. Repentance leaves us in awe, for the work the Holy Spirit crafts turns causes us to reflect and resemble Jesus , something that is beyond our ability to conceive of..

That is why Pope Francis talks of this change in the way he does. As we go from our thoughts and our visions of what a god should be, and it is revealed to us, who God is. He is the One who loves His people, and repentance is that process where experiencing that love changes everything, for it changes us.

Lord, help us not fear this work of Yours that is repentance. Help us to embrace it, to revel in it, for it is an experience where Your love is so manifested in our lives. When we are struggling with sin, grant the desire ofr repentance. in Jesus name. AMEN!

Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 258). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.

Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 255). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Luther, M. (2007). Luther’s Spirituality. (P. D. W. Krey, B. McGinn, & P. D. S. Krey, Eds., P. D. S. Krey & P. D. W. Krey, Trans.) (p. 198). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: IVP Books.

How Do We View the Scriptures: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Devotional Thought of the Day:

21 Christ rules there above all heavenly rulers, authorities, powers, and lords; he has a title superior to all titles of authority in this world and in the next. 22† God put all things under Christ’s feet and gave him to the church as supreme Lord over all things. 23 The church is Christ’s body, the completion of him who himself completes all things everywhere. Eph. 1:21-23 GNT

I do not mean that the Bible should be worshiped. Its uniquely sacred character is something that does not need to be exaggerated or even insisted on, because it is self-authenticating. It confirms itself to any earnest and open-minded user. For just as openness to and hunger for God leads naturally to reading the Bible, so the eager use of the Bible leads naturally and tangibly to the mind of God and the person of Christ.

To worship is to be filled with the love we have for the one with whom we enter into communion. None of us worship anyone we don’t love or who doesn’t love us. We are loved by God! We are dear to Him! “God is love”!
This certainty is what leads us to worship God with all our heart, because “He first loved us”
(1 Jn 4:10).

I started studying scripture academically in 1983. Up till then, I had read it and been taught it devotionally, been taught its principles. But studying it in the Greek and Hebrew, specifically looking at the culture and how people would have understood it then, well, that is different.

The challenge is that every pastor, no matter how formally or informally trained, approaches the scripture with a predisposed attitude toward it. That attitude makes a difference in how they will present it to their people, how they preach, teach, counsel, and how their people see their own ministry.

As with anything, there are extremes in this, and a bulk of ministers fall into the middle ground, and then there are a few oddballs, not on the spectrum.

On one side, we have the people who think that the Bible has many flaws, and that it is the job of the pastor )or at least the professors) to help people discern what is true, what is added to scripture, and what should not be heeded at all. They would place the wisdom of man as more reliable than the Bible. On the very extreme, they dismiss all the miracles, and much of the “moral” teaching as only being relevant “then.”

On the other side, we have pastors and professors who confuse the “word of God” (the scriptures) with the “Word of God” (Jesus) Often they will claim to teach and preach “verse by verse” and “book by book”, plunging the mysteries and finding hidden meanings that become rules and doctrines. ( An example of this would be those who adore the KJV to the extent that every other translation is a ruse of Satan)

So how do we approach scripture? Is it something so holy and precious that we honor it and bow down to it, or is it something we can treat like a good philosophy or self help book? Do we take every word of every translation (or just ours) as if sacred, or do we dismiss this part and that, based on our knowledge and research?

I think there is a different route to take (yes, I am the oddball mentioned above).

I believe the word of God is the inspired word of God, the message it conveys is critical for us to understand. It is more than a matter of life and death.

It leads us to praise God, to adore Him, it is there to reveal to our broken hearts, minds and souls the mercy and love of our Creator, and therefore it is beyond all other books.

But it reveals God, it isn’t God. It is a tool, a device, that has to be used with care, keeping in tension doctrines to complex for our minds to fully understand. While this revelation is an incredible gift, the relationship it reveals, describes and encourages is the treasure.

And while it is without error, we are are not. Therefore we have to be careful with our interpretation, with how we understand it, with how we teach it. We have to check what we teach against all of scripture, understanding the covenants, the history, and the tension that exists as scripture reveals our brokenness and the hope of healing that is found in Jesus.

That is why our constant focus has to be on what scripture is promised to deliver to us, to reveal Christ, whose love caused Him to endure the cross for us, to rescue and deliver us from the bondage of sin…and restore us to our heavenly Father.

Heavenly Father, please reveal to us Your love as the Holy Spirit cuts open our hearts with Your holy, inspired word, allowing the work of Christ on the Cross, and at Your side interceding for us to make us holy. May we realize what a blessing the scriptures are, as the words reveal to us Your care. Help us to neither dismiss the scriptures, nor prize them more that the message they bring. In Jesus name. AMEN!

Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: IVP Books.

Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 254). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.

The Struggle Within…

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Devotional Thought of the Day:

3 This is the message which he told them to give to Isaiah: “Today is a day of suffering; we are being punished and are in disgrace. We are like a woman who is ready to give birth, but is too weak to do it.
King Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went to the Temple, placed the letter there in the presence of the LORD, 15 and prayed, 16† “Almighty LORD, God of Israel, seated above the winged creatures, you alone are God, ruling all the kingdoms of the world. You created the earth and the sky. 17 Now, LORD, hear us and look at what is happening to us!
Isaiah 37:3,14-17 GNT

To focus on entering new life with Christ requires that we take a stand as to who we are in this new life, that we identify with the Christ-life in us and against the sin still present in our selves and that we settle in our will the question of who we intend to be. This is what it means to “count [ourselves] dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).
Pray: Talk to God about the two lives, two streams of awareness and power, mingling together. Ask God to show you what you need to know about how to untangle them and choose more to be “alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

As I read the section from Isaiah this morning, the despair the Hezekiah described struck home. Against his enemies he felt too weak, all Israel seemed to weak. The graphic comment about a woman in labor who cannot, and surrenders to the weakness seems all too similar.

Our enemy is just as powerful, though not a horde, or a arm y can roll over us. It is far too integral to us, this old life of sin. It seems to wrap around us like one of the strands of DNA, unable to be separated from the other, Defining ourselves without the sense of brokenness we care too weak to defeat seems illogical. Like Paul that strand of sin, winding through our being causes us to do what we do not want to do, and prevents us from doing what we desire to do, what we know pleases God.


Theologically we know we are called to be holy, set apart to live life in the glory of God. Practically we find ourselves struggly, and even getting to the point where we give up the fight, where we are unwilling to fight anymore. Sin becomes the norm, again.

In the midst of the weakness, in the midst of despair, Hezekiah does something as outrageous as it is incredible. He enters the temple, he goes and places the letter from his oppressor in the presence of the LORD. He goes into the Holy of Holies, the place a priest awas allowed only once a year, and begs the LORD to look at their situation. The place where high priests could die because of their sin, he walks right in and says, “God, Look at this, help us! We are too weak, we have to have Your help!”

In the Holy of Holies, there he finds hope…

This is huge for us, as we need to realize that we can enter the presence of God almighty with that much boldness, setting aside everything that would restrain us. (see Hebrews!) That place where Hezekiah entered? It was the place of ultimate mercy, the place forgiveness, the place where the blood would be shed.

The place we need to abide, to dwell with God. The place where sin is separated from our DNA, for it was killed off to bring us to this place. The place where we know God rescued us no from the Assyrians, but from that which haunts us, our guilt, our shame, our brokenness, our sin.

The struggle within fades in the presence of God, when we realize His work to defeat it as the cross, and in our baptism, and everytime we take and eat His body, and drink His blood, testifying to the blood out, to cover our sin, to His death for us.

The struggle is still there, and until God complete the work He began is us (Phil. 1:6) we will struggle against this foe… yet that struggle is dealt with, not by our own strength, but simply by being in the place where God is with us…Overcoming it isn’t about 30 seconds there, but learning to dwell with Him (see Col. 3:1-3) To dwell in His presence in the darkest moments, to dwell with Him as He addresses our brokenness.

To know He, the LORD is with us!







Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: IVP Books.

Living in Two Worlds, Two Kingdoms

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Devotional Thought of the Day:

2  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. They lived in a land of shadows, but now light is shining on them. 3  You have given them great joy, Lord; you have made them happy. They rejoice in what you have done, as people rejoice when they harvest grain or when they divide captured wealth. 4  For you have broken the yoke that burdened them and the rod that beat their shoulders. . Isaiah 9:2-4 (TEV)

3† You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God. 2 Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Col. 3:1-3 GNT

Temptation has its own “style” in the Church: it grows, spreads and justifies itself. It grows inside the person, rising in tone. It grows in the community, spreading the disease. It always has a word at hand to justify its stance.

When [Luther] was asked whether it was enough for a person to confess sin and believe in absolution and not use the sacrament [of the altar], he replied, “No! It is stated in the words of institution, ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ [1 Cor 11:25]. Everything that is required of a Christian must be in the sacrament: acknowledgement of sin (which we call contrition), faith, giving of thanks, confession. These things must not be separated from one another.”

Dear Jesus, help me to spread your fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being, so utterly, that my life may only be a radiance of yours. Shine through me, and be so in me, that every soul I come in contact with may feel your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me. But only Jesus! Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as you shine; so to shine as to be a light to others; the light, O Jesus will be all from you, none of it will be mine;
It will be you, shining on others through me. Let me thus praise you in the way you love best by shining on those around me. Let me preach you without preaching, not by words but by my example, by the catching force,the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to you. Amen.
(the radiating prayer of St Theresa of Calcutta )

One of the problems with theology is semantics, for there are not enough terms to enable everything to be put in nice orderly thoughts. For that matter there are too many thoughts to keep them straight, even for the brightest and largest minds.

If I talk to a Lutheran about two Kingdoms, they often think of a divide between the secular and the sacred, and though God operates and reigns in each Kingdom, the theory is that there are different rules, different concerns, and for some, a different sense of ethics and morality.

Others would think of two kingdoms as the Kingdom of Darkness where sin reigns (or perhaps Satan) and God’s Kingdom, where righteousness and holiness are predominant.

A slight difference, for in Lutheran thought, God still reigns in the secular, in other systems, it represents a warzone, good against evil, Satan against God. Lutherans miss this often, and often the awareness of how different a life lived in sin is different, or should be different, than one lived in grace.

As a pastor, I see people struggling with this all the time, this idea of living a life affected by grace, a life of holiness, a life separated to God. The life Paul describes to the church in Colossae, where he urges them to set their minds and fix their hearts on things that are above, for the reality they truly dwell in is found there, in the presence of God. It is that transition that Isaiah prophetically described, as people were awakened from the darkness, and would learn to live in the light, with the work of the Child who would be given.

Even so, we have to live in this world between the two kingdoms, this world of shadows. This place where we can be dragged back into the darkness by temptation. A temptation that can affect those in the church, just as powerfully, just as dramatically, as it does the world which it dominates over. This is the great challenge, to live in this Kingdom, but not be of it. To minister to those broken by it, and yet not let it dominate us.

Luther sees the answer in the sacrament of the Eucharist, (which is why we should commune often!) because of all it includes. To spend that time with our heart set and minds fixed upon Christ Jesus. To feel the relief of being forgiven, to celebrate the blessing of being freed from darkness,

It is from that point that an amazing thing happens, the prayer of St Theresa becomes visibly answered. Not by our own will, not even by our effort, but simply from having God work in our lives, not being as aware of it as His presence. Not understanding it, but simply reveling in this world of glory that we dwell in, with Him.

That glory of God radiates from Him through us, even as it did through Moses. As we spend time, focused heart and mind on God, experiencing the love, our life changes… and ministry happens without our knowing. In this place the secular and the sacred overlap.

It is a glorious thing…it is holiness, a life set apart to God. It is who we, who have seen God’s glory invade our darkness, were reborn to live in.

So let’s do it, living in both Kingdoms, reflecting the light that others might fight the freedom of being loved by God. AMEN!






Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 238). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.

Luther, M. (2007). Luther’s Spirituality. (P. D. W. Krey, B. McGinn, & P. D. S. Krey, Eds., P. D. S. Krey & P. D. W. Krey, Trans.) (p. 183). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

[Joseph MC. (2012). From Adoration to Serving the Poor. In A. Reid (Ed.), From Eucharistic Adoration to Evangelization (pp. 177–178). London; New York: Burns & Oates.

Injustice. Sin. Brokenness. DEAL WITH IT

Concordia Lutheran Church – Cerritos, Ca , at dawn on Easter Sunday

Devotional Thought of the Day:

1  With so many witnesses in a great cloud all around us, we too, then, should throw off everything that weighs us down and the sin that clings so closely, and with perseverance keep running in the race which lies ahead of us. Hebrews 12:1 (NJB)

Worship of God is an act of justice towards Him which disposes us, indeed sets us free, to be just towards one another, because it is the living out of our filial relationship towards God; and it is the living out of our common filiation or sonship in Christ. Worship is therefore in a very real way the basis of any human action, especially towards one another. Pope Benedict XVI echoed similar sentiments:

There is a permanent temptation for the Church: to put aside the cross
(cf. Mt 16:22), to negotiate with the truth, to avoid persecution, thus diminishing the redemptive power of the cross of Christ.

Yesterday I was talking to a young lady at the chiropractor’s office. She was kind of curious about me wearing a collar, and while I waited to get adjusted, we talked quite a bit. She was a little surprised at how I talked about my church, and how we tried to deal with our brokenness, rather than hiding it, or ignoring it. She liked the idea, even more than she liked hearing about California and the celebrities I have run into across the years.

As I was reading this morning, I thought about the fact our society is broken. We see it in the poverty in some communities. We see it in the interaction of our public figures. We see it in the horrors that we encounter, if we bother to hear the news from Africa, where illness and disease and war still kill people daily.

There is a part of me that thirsts for justice, that thirsts for it all to be fixed. To see our politicians grow up, to see them work together to bring peace, and if not prosperity, then at least and end to poverty that results in death. We need to deal with it, just not ignore it! We need to take on such injustice and brokenness, and work to find the healing of our lives, and our society, and our world. I want to see the brokenness of the church dealt with as well, rather than just ignored, or dismissed because it won’t affect me or mine.

I want to cry out, “Deal with it!”

But that is a temptation that I consider naive at best. Not because people will not (and for the most part, they won’t) but because how we cast aside everything and “deal with it”.

You see, what I need to do is cast aside all of that stuff, all the stuff I need, that we need to deal with, first. Because, let’s be honest, I can’t cause AOC and Trump to sit down and reconcile, and I can’t solve the problems in middle Africa, or for that matter in Cerritos, Ca, or Windham, N.H. I can’t replace injustice with righteousness quickly enough.

But I can walk with the Lord, who will do that, who will work thorugh His people, who will change us, and through that change enable us to love each other in a way that is effective and transformative. That will bring about reconciliation, that will teach people to care more about helping others than compiling their own wealth.

You see these things that we long for are the side effect of something bigger. They are results of worship, of clinging to the cross where we discovered we are loved, where all of the injustice in our lives is crucified with Christ, where all our sin and the things that break us down are shattered. Where we learn what matters, what is worth our praise, what transforms us.

And as we look to Christ, as we worship, as we dwell in the presence of God, we are transformed. We begin to love because we are loved, we begin to help others find that justice and righteousness and they in turn are transformed as well, not by force, but by the process of realizing they are loved.

Deal with it…

Father, deal with us!

“deal with it, please, dear Father in Heaven… by dealing with us! Make real Your presence, Your love, Your transforming us… AMEN!”

Turkson, P. (2012). Adoration as the Foundation of Social Justice. In A. Reid (Ed.), From Eucharistic Adoration to Evangelization (p. 172). London; New York: Burns & Oates.

Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 233). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.

Oh, You’re here?

Devotional Thought for the Day:

16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” 17 But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!” Gen. 28:16-17 GNT

While communication with God would be a stretch for many, there is still more. In the progress of God’s redemptive work, communication advances into communion.
Communication often occurs over a certain distance, even amidst possible opposition. We can still communicate with those with whom we are at war. God communicates with us even while we are his enemies, dead in our sins. When communication between two people rises to the level of communion, there is a distinctness but also a profound sharing of the thoughts, feelings and objectives that make up our lives. Each recognizes the thought or feeling as his or hers, while knowing with joy that the other is feeling or thinking in the same way.

Often out journey through life is reflected in the journeys we see in scripture. Or perhaps our journey is simply following in their steps.

Jacob grew up in a house of faith, and yet his life didn’t reflect it, at first. Though there would become a time where God would define himself as the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, that time was only just dawning at the point the passage mentions above. He will still need to wrestle with his God, he will still need to reconcile with his brother, but the work has begun.

God has made his promise known to him. The relationship will begin to deepen and make the change from communication to communion. To the point where feelings that once had to be expressed are now known. Jacob’s heart and mind will slowly begin to resonate with God, as the repentant man slowly is transformed, becoming one of our fathers in the faith.

Communion is what prayer really is about. It’s not just communication, it is so much more. It is more than talking, more than just telling God what you and others need. It is complete sharing, letting him heal the heartache, letting His cleanse out you life, replacing the old stone heart with a one that beats in the Spirit’s time, conforming our mind to that of Christ.

We have to remember this is a journey, that it takes time, that we will stumble along the way. Jacob doesn’t go from Sinner to Saint in one night. We struggle with the old person trying to pop back up, even though crucified with Christ. Jacob will see this as he will still have to deal with his uncle, and his wives, he will still live in fear of his brother. Yet he will grow, as we will.for God is at work.

We see it when we have those “aha” moments. When we realize we have been standing/sleeping on Holy ground. When we suddenly realize what we should have known, the Lord is here, and we didn’t ever know it. But now we do, now, in the moment, there isn’t a doubt.

The Lord is with you…

Those aren’t just words in that moment, this is our existence. In the presence of the Lord who loves us, who comes to dwell with us. Not just to be studied, not just to talk to, but to commune with!

He is here! AMEN!



Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: IVP Books.

A National Pastime that Needs to Go!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

10† We must not complain, as some of them did—and they were destroyed by the Angel of Death.
11 All these things happened to them as examples for others, and they were written down as a warning for us. For we live at a time when the end is about to come.
1 Cor 10:10-11 GNT

The word of God—primarily the gospel of his kingdom and of the life and death of Jesus on our behalf—enters our mind and brings new life through faith. As we open our entire life to this new power and to those sent by God to minister the word to us, the word moves into every part of our personality, just like the water and soap move through the shirt’s fibers. God’s word pushes out and replaces all that is false and opposed to his purposes in creating us and putting us in our unique place on earth.

What would facebook look like if we were able to filter out all of the posts that were complaints? What would it sound like to sit down and talk to people if there were no complaints uttered?

We complain about politics.
We complain about referee and umpires calls in sports.
We complain about the traffic on the way to work, or to the store
We complain about our bosses, the people we work with, our parents, our spouses, our children.
We complain that we haven’t had time for our coffee, and then complain that people want us to function without our daily dose of “happiness.” (Are we complaining about their complaints about our complaining?)

The Apostle Paul wrote that we must not complain, and this command sits not to far from a discussion on idolatry, and along with a discussion on sexual promiscuity and putting God to the test – both forms of self idolatry.

So is complaining idolatry, not much more than an adult form of a child’s temper tantrum. Yes. Because it boils down to our not getting things arranged our way. It calls into question our will and our wisdom, for if we are complaining, doesn’t it mean we think we know what is best?

What complaining is, when it comes down to it, is questioning God, and His ability and action. A complaint rests on the assumption that God isn’t providing what we need, and that the life He has called us to live is not sufficiently abundant.

But complaining is a national pastime it seems, if not an international one. (even as I write this, someone asked how I was doing, and I started complaining!) It is an ingrained part of our nature.

So ingrained we can’t stop ourselves….

We need help, we need to be transformed, we need to see the Spirit doing this transformation, as the word of God is used by the Holy Spirit to clean us, even at our deepest most internal points. The places were the sins of stain are so dark we can’t stand to look at them, the places where our narcissism doesn’t even attempt to hide.

God is there, cleansing us, transforming us. THe word and sacraments doing for us what we cannot do ourselves. what God has promised to do in our lives.

25  “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26  And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27  And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NLT2)

This is our hope, the presence of God, using His word to cleanse us, as He declares us to be His holy people.

A people who live in awe of His love, so in awe we forget to complain about life around us…

Lord, help us to see Your love for us, revealed in the cross of Christ. Fill us with Your peace and glory, the abundant life You have promised. AMEN!

Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: IVP Books.

Dad, Why Does God Allow Earthquakes?

Twenty five years ago, yet as real as yesterday

Devotional Thought of the Day:

18  Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19  For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20  Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21  the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22  For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23  And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. Romans 8:18-23 (NLT2)

4  What about those eighteen people in Siloam who were killed when the tower fell on them? Do you suppose this proves that they were worse than all the other people living in Jerusalem? 5  No indeed! And I tell you that if you do not turn from your sins, you will all die as they did.” Luke 13:4-5 (TEV)

If we have an openness and are willing to learn, we can come to recognize the voice of God with assistance from those who are familiar with the divine voice from their own experience. On the other hand, we should understand that it is in Satan’s best interest to make an inherent mystery of God’s word coming directly to us. In this way the power of God’s specific word for our lives can be hindered or lost. Without qualified help working alongside our desire to learn and readiness to cooperate, God’s direct word may remain a riddle or a game of theological charades.
This is generally the condition of the church today, I suspect. This would explain why there is such great confusion and difficulty about what it really means to walk with God
.

As a father, yesterday I wonder if I failed yesterday.

We had a nice rolling earthquake as we were watching a movie. 100 or so miles away, it must have really rocked and rolled. But for us, it was a long drawn out thing, enough to cause us to wonder what was coming next.

The day beforehand, I panicked with a similar long distance quake. I flashed back to January 17, 1994, and our apartment in Canoga Parker/Warner Center. Not far from the epicenter of the Northridge Earthquakes. THat too was a longer quake, but we were closer, and the damage to our apartment and community was intense.

Here is where my failure occurs, as we tried to calm down after yesterday’s rolling quake. As we talked, as I mentioned my almost moving to Arkansas after Northridge ( I would have moved anywhere after that – even Texas!) I think my fear and anxiety affected my son.

And the 12 year old child I struggle to see as a child, (he is 5’11.5″, 170 lbs and has a IQ like Einstein) got anxious. Enough so at bed time he could relax, came into my bedroom and we talked. Plate tectonics, distance from epicenter, fault effects, etc. And then the question…

“Why does God allow earthquakes?”

I stumbled to remember where the Tower of Siloam passage was above, and tried to show the law and the gospel in it. We need to keep our relationship with God a priority, the priority, because we don’t know what comes next. And while God doesn’t cause the earth to groan. Thanks to Apostle Paul for that reminder – that creation is subject to God’s curse, and it groans under the pressure of the sin it is subjected to! Such “groaning” God will use to remind us of the shortness of life, and that He is indeed with us.

He is there, in the darkness, in the anxious times, in the times were we shake or the ground does. in the moments where we don’t get that He is, and He is with us. In the moments where our kids pick up on fear and anxiety, and we fail to be the strong, wise, shameless heroes we want to be for our kids, God is with us there.

Willard is correct, theology can often become a charade, an act we ut in place when we can’t find the answer. When we are as shaken as the land our in Searles Valley. (an odd connection to my home back east there) Theology, and Biblical guidance must point us to the presence of God, that we walk with Him, that we depend on Him when our anxieties mount, when we ourselves fail. Whether it is when we don’t see what the Holy Spirit is guiding us to in scripture, or how to react to trauma, or frustration.

He is there, bringing comfort and peace, love and mercy and forgiveness…

Walking with us. Even standing in the doorway, or seeking protection under a table, or sitting on a bed trying to explain what doesn’t make sense, He is there! And depending on Him is the answer we need to come to, and know this. God will bring us to that answer, that He is the answer.

Lord Jesus, remind us of the presence of the Holy Spirit, the comforter, in our lives. When we are full of anxiety, fear, or just don’t have the answers, Lord bring us peace, and help us to be a peaceful presence in others lives. AMEN!



Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: IVP Books.

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