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PLANS

We each spend countless hours planning things that never happen. In fact, most of what has actually occurred in my life I never planned at all.  I am at peace with that, having mostly accepted that God establishes my steps. I will not cease making new plans, but will hold them loosely, knowing that God is in control. Father, what comfort there is in leaning into Your arms. You work all things for our good.

THE HOURGLASS

Like sand slipping through the hourglass, each moment quickly slips into the past. I feel the sting of lost opportunities, mistakes and unchangeable past events. An eternal perspective rotates the impulse of our lives; instead of dwelling on the past, we are pulled toward an unlimited future filled with hope. What is behind becomes a footnote as eternal purpose unfolds. Eternal Father, I joyfully move forward.

RESTART

Sleep reminds me of pushing "restart." The screen goes black, silence, then light, whirring, clicking and there it is: a fresh start. God is so smart; though He never sleeps nor slumbers He knew that we would need to re-boot. Each new day still carries the information of yesterday, yet offers a new beginning. Lord, I praise You for your indescribable wisdom and nurture. Help me take hold of this new day.

UNREADINESS RESOLVED

When I take an honest look at the distracted unreadiness of my soul I realize why God’s blessings so often delay. It is the goodness of God to withhold divine action until I am properly postured to receive. The reliable discipline of the Great Shepherd prepares me for still waters. I am not ready when I want to be ready; I’m ready when, in truth, I’m ready. Father, I meander, but You lead me in THE WAY!!

DIVINE AUTHORITY

We confuse exercising biblically granted DIVINE AUTHORITY with being an AUTHORITY ON THE DIVINE; confidently condemning those not like us. From there it is a slippery slope.  Discernment has great value, but we can easily move into judgment and declarative pronouncements that are careless and hurtful rather than helpful. Lord, help me to discern, think and speak things bathed in Your love.

THANKFUL

I woke up thankful today. Thankfulness floats close to the surface for me, but it is usually not my first reaction. Constant, auto-response gratefulness requires a level of surrender that still eludes me. Typically I must first navigate through a maze of my own thoughts and emotions BEFORE I reach the bliss of thankfulness. Today, I am there quickly; thank You Father for the early gift.

CONTROL

Each day, I am increasingly aware of how little actual control that I have. This is good; I do not warrant unmitigated control of my life. My record is littered with the debris of failures where I attempted to be my own final authority. Oh yes, many attempts. Master, I am at peace with surrender to Your control. Grant me DIVINE PURGING today that I may more easily yield to your primacy. My life is Yours alone.

PRAISE NOW

A mental grasp of God is wholly unnecessary since His greatness is beyond human comprehension. I don’t have to wait for more understanding of His works and ways to praise him. He is worthy of outrageous, extravagant acclamation and adoration NOW. Great are You Lord and worthy of all honor and glory! My heart and mouth is full of praise to You my God and my strength.

FRIENDS

How do new friendships come? Like summer rains, they often build surprisingly quick and seemingly come from nowhere. Actually, God SENDS rain and God SENDS friends. They are irreplaceable gifts from the Holy One. Blessed Lord, Friend of Sinners, thank you for granting me friendships, old and new. Help me to be a better friend to others. Lord, bless my friends today.

SAFE ADVANCE

I will not live my life in a fear-fueled rage against circumstances. While there are many things I would like changed, I accept that I don’t understand what is best for each moment on this earth. I do know that God is generous, loving, meticulous, and wise. He is ultimately in control. I’m good with that. Lord, knowing You is enough. All things are in your perfect hands; I safely advance.

THE VOICE

Will God speak to the depths of a heart not open to His voice? Can I expect God’s guidance in issues closed to His counsel? Provoked by His extravagant love, He does speak through humanly held barriers, standing just outside the door knocking. Holy Father, I seek hope that only You may bring; uproot every impediment to Your voice within me. I long for Your words my Lord and Redeemer.

JUST BEYOND REACH

I must keep in mind that whatever is beyond my reach was put there by God. In some cases things are just beyond touch to urge me forward, in others, the extra distance is for my protection. Ultimately, the One who places things beyond my grasp can just as easily drop them in my lap if it accomplishes His will. Blessed lord, I trust Your ways, knowing that what is inaccessible for me is firmly in Your grip.

PAIN

Pain has a unique way of capturing all of our attention. Life without agony of some variety seems impossible. I must not allow sorrow of any sort to have more than momentary notice or it will soon sequester everything around it. Giving, serving, or any act of selfless love requires doing so through pain. Lord, I earnestly believe Your words: “those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy”. My harvest is on the way.

UNRESOLVED

As soon as I awake my mind is bombarded with unresolved problems; there is never a shortage of them. My first inclination is to share my anxiety with others, yet I know the ultimate answer is not there. No, I will cast my cares upon Him who cares for me more than any other. Lord, I yearn for Your consoling voice. Instruct me from You limitless knowledge, strengthen me with Your benevolent power.

THE QUIET SHOUT

The quiet shouts, morning is dawning. One day closer to forever. The darkness slips away and my soul awakens to another moment of God’s unfailing love. I haven’t been here before, so I must not presume that it is like any other I’ve traversed. New beginnings. Lord, show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Fill my heart with fresh expectation. Use me to lift others today.

BY FAITH

The simple phrase “by faith” opens a universe of understanding and divine power. By faith, I confidently approach the Throne of Grace. By faith, I can love others without terror. By faith, I can march through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. By faith, my heart is filled with the abundance of the unseen. Lord of Faith and Goodness, Your Promises grant me uncluttered assurance; point me in Your way.

PRAYER IMPULSE

As of late I have experienced an impulse to pray. While prayer has been a part of my daily life for a long time, this is different. Specific people have been on my heart in greater volume and intensity. As I pray for others, God lays open the cover-ups within me, healing incurable wounds, breaking through invincible walls. Father, in Your mercy, hear my prayers. Thank You for the gift of interceding for others.

OUT OF THE SHADOWS

While shrouded in yesterday’s darkness, I observe in advance of the day the light of the hope of saints. With pardon and help, I will escape the shadows of the abyss of my own self-generated fogginess and walk fully in the light of a new beginning. This new day is a gift, I am thankful for another. Lord, dispel the murkiness of wrongdoing that has infused me and cut me loose from all that binds me to disobedience.

WALKING WITH THE ALMIGHTY

My earthly excursion must be trod on mountaintops and deep valleys alike; each day brings gains and losses. My goal is to please God, yet it is difficult to take hold of eternal things while constantly immersed in the temporal.  Unruly sin and deep regret accompany my pilgrimage, but mercy and forgiveness deliver me daily. Lord, I thank You that You walk with me, before me, after me, within me.

MOUSE STEPS

MOUSE STEPS produce little forward advance, but are often the prelude to the monumental. I prefer GIANT STEPS, but they must be taken with greater caution and forethought. There is a time for each. Everything God does with mankind must seem like mouse steps to Him. Eternal Lord, You who holds the universe in Your palm, thank You for Your patience and delicate care. Make me more like You.

DEEPER

I am, of late, being drawn into a deeper place. This newest spiritual advance requires little outward action, however, a lot is happening inwardly. Past growth means little here, no, only the present. Attitudes, commitments and practices are being put to the test; fresh excitement and passion is gurgling. Shepherd of My Soul, thank You for fresh winds. Help me to not take shortcuts. Be magnified in me.

NEW DAY

The table is set for a new day. Only God knows exactly what is prepared and ready to be set before me. I must now leave behind my simple-minded ways and ready myself for new insight, higher life, greater things. Am I ready for today? Only the day will tell, but the One who provides it will also carry me through it. Lord, today is the day You have made; I’m good with that. Lift me in Your arms.
The basic human instinct for harmony, symmetry, balance and rhythm is continually assaulted by the unpredictable anarchy that each day brings. In art, the imperfect, the incomplete, the suggested are central to its beauty, its mystery. The work of God’s Spirit is precisely to bring order and truth out of chaos. Lord. Help me trusts Your artful work throughout this day. I will trust Your eye for beauty from ashes.

MERCY

The mercy of God requires no conditions. By the time we need mercy, nothing more CAN be done, that is why we need it. We who know little of unconditional love struggle with the very idea that God offers mercy of this nature. Don’t get me wrong, grace and mercy are deadly. Every last strand of selfishness will succumb to their work. Most Merciful and Gracious God, do your holy work in me today.

PEOPLE TESTS

People are God’s principle means of developing divine qualities in us.  As we learn to be truly grateful for this process we make huge spiritual strides. How would God provoke me to change without others? Raw truth, without the test of practical application, would leave me fundamentally unchanged. Lord, thank you for the relentless test of walking in love. Guide me through the maze of forgiving, blessing and lifting others.

ONLY JOY

Imagined happiness can never offer the authenticity of the joy that God provides. Since human happiness is rooted in temporary circumstance, with ebbs and flows like tidal waters, we learn to anticipate its departure soon after its arrival. No so with the joy of the Lord. No, this sticks. It’s not as giddy, but offers exquisite texture and is loaded with extras. Lord, I love Your joy, no substitute will suffice.

HEART FENCES

I cannot permit my heart to have open borders; it must be guarded since everything I do flows from it. It is really simple, garbage in garbage out, treasure in treasure out. Like the physical body, my inward man must be nourished, protected and cultivated for it to stay healthy. A free roaming heart will stray into danger. Lord, Shepherd of my Soul, help me stay in Your shadow. Keep me safely in Your care.

GRACE GROWTH

While I have grown spiritually over a lifetime I continue to struggle with the same basic human issues. This discouraged me as a younger man, but now my response is different. I am actually encouraged by the knowledge that it is grace upon which I must wholly depend; it always has been, it always will be. Father, that I must continually lean upon Your goodness provides a liberty that self assurance never could.

SEASONAL SHIFT

A seasonal shift, change in the air; almost unperceivable at first, then obvious signs emerge. I love how God works in both nature and in me. There is always something afoot, new seasons arrive unannounced. Grace for where I have trod recedes, grace for what is next appears. Lord of Seasons, acclimate my heart to what approaches, more of You in me…much more.
Discretion is a precious gift from God. If I ignore its protection I suffer the consequences. Time spent with thoughtful people increases my discernment and guards me from inappropriate recklessness. Good judgment does not lock us away from the world around us, but empowers us to walk safely among all. Giver of All Wisdom, grant me foresight and good sense today.

THE CHASE

Chasing after God must be done in spite of many obstructions. I not only face the difficulty of human selfishness, but also the twisted theology of contemporary Christian culture; that personal fulfillment is on the same level as the will of God. A full embrace of the Cross will finish this. Father, pull me toward You when I pull away. Teach me to hold tightly to the finishing work of Your death, burial & resurrection.

UNPLUGGED LOVE

I treasure the moments when God’s love flows freely through me to others. I know it should be constant, but sadly, perpetual self-awareness regularly restricts its unobstructed passage. On those occasions when the channel is open, His divine passion passes unhindered and I myself am more exhilarated and deeply fulfilled than at any other time. Lord, forgive me for monopolizing Your love by my neediness.

WHY

We spend a lot of time considering what we want and how we will attain it, yet make little effort to understand why we want it in the first place. Too often, after obtaining long-sought goals, our pursuits leave us exhausted and disappointed. Discerning the “why” before the start can deliver us from the wrong chase. Lord, help me truthfully discern my desires. Keep me from running headlong down empty trails.

GOD'S WILL

I am not capable of mapping God's incredible will. I must trust Him to reveal it in each step of obedience. He has promised to guide the steps of the righteous. The steps. I prefer more foreknowledge. Yes, advanced guidance seems reasonable, yet faith must be developed God’s way rather than my own. Lord, I am pleased to do it Your way. Teach me the daily walk of faith and cheerful trust.

FRIENDS

Friendship brings pleasantness to one’s life, but the greatest treasure is the earnest counsel that springs from a true comrade. While all advice must be properly weighed and measured, even the wounds of a trusted friend lifts and blesses our soul. Earthly love always comes laden with imperfection, but when authentically offered, leads us to God’s amazing, perfect love. Father, thank You for my friends.

DIVINE DISSATISFACTION

I have a welcome case of divine dissatisfaction. His goodness is what stirs discontentment with our current condition. He will not leave us in the squalor of yesterday’s spiritual attainment. God induced turbulence is ultimately terminal, bringing every unregenerate attitude or behavior into the open for disposal. Blessed riddance. Father, thank you for provoking me to go deeper. May it ever be so.

SHADOW WALK

I am far more familiar with the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” than the “Mountain of Transfiguration”. Apprehension is the constant companion of faith; each step forward is a repudiation of doubt. Ultimately we must learn that faith does not rely upon circumstances and that its fullness is often developed in the darkroom. Lord, take my hand as I step through the shadows, in You do I put my trust.

CONUNDRUM

Striving to enter rest, the daily conundrum of the soul. It seems that most of my energy is exhausted in resistance, only to find rest in abandon. What sweet whisperings await the relinquished heart! Lord, arrest me, body, soul and spirit. Teach me to succumb to Your promptings BEFORE running headlong into walls. Constrain me to “Come Unto” before I ”Go Therefore.” At Your feet is the better part.

CRITICISM

Criticism is an important component of our growth process. Even if offered with wrong motives, it is a huge motivator for needed changes. I do not like to be criticized, but have learned that much of my progress has been impelled by it. A person fully conscious of the firm grip of God’s hand may be stung, but never devastated by the disapproval of others. Father, sustain me and transform me.

SPEED BUMPS

I despise speed bumps. Understanding their purpose and safety value doesn’t seem to help. I create workarounds to avoid them or limit wheel contact. Commentary on their size, placement, justification and frequency is obligatory. Slowing down when I’m ready to roll just bothers me. Father, I get it. Thank You for the necessary slowdowns of life. I will not resent Your placement of required pauses.

FEELINGS

I almost always feel that I am right. Thankfully, I’ve learned that feelings are not dependable for guidance. Emotional fervor is no substitute for the rock solid combination of biblically informed, spirit-guided and humbly surrendered discernment. God protects and directs the submitted heart like a watercourse. Father, break every stronghold of prideful stubbornness in me. Make my heart pliable and my path sure.

BIG SHOES

As a child I would kidnap my father’s shoes and walk in them. It was clumsy, awkward, adventurous and a bit perilous. It still is. Now that my daily pursuit is to walk in my heavenly Father’s shoes, I often feel the same; too small, amateurish, inelegant, vulnerable. No longer a child, I realize that I am being groomed for purpose. Lord, I am still learning. Risk is reward when taken in pursuit of Your highest.

FAITH

The life of faith does not require complete suspension of human reason. The mind is an integral part of faith and is essential to good judgment, obedience and creativity. However, since I only know in part, every thought must be brought under the guidance, cleansing and dominion of He who knows everything. Father, may my thoughts only be those which reflect Your will. Help me keep my mind set on the right things.

PAINFUL TRIAL

Having suffered a painful trial in the past does not take away the sting of a new trial, even if it is similar to ones passed through long ago.  Prior grace will not relieve the dark night of the soul. I must return to the foot of the cross and behold the Son.  Grace for today is given freely to those in renewed surrender. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, yes to You, no to all else.

HUMILITY OF GOD

The level of selfish ambition and vain conceit that still drives my behaviors is disappointing. After a lifetime of the dealings of God there remains plenty more to be transformed in me. I cannot promote the best interest of others while in hot pursuit of my own. Lord, You make yourself smaller to relate to all You have created. I know that if I am to love as You do I must do so with the humility You have.

JOYFUL COMPLIANCE

Since God sees into our souls, grudging obedience will not suffice. Joyful compliance puts a smile on our Heavenly Father’s face; He loves a cheerful giver. Resentful servitude leaves us empty and does not produce in us the purpose God intends. Willing submission releases copious fruitfulness and enduring peace. Oh Lord, Keeper of My Soul, teach me to love You without reserve in all that I do.

JOYFUL COMPLIANCE

Since God sees into our souls, grudging obedience will not suffice. Joyful compliance puts a smile on our Heavenly Father’s face; He loves a cheerful giver. Resentful servitude leaves us empty and does not produce in us the purpose God intends. Willing submission releases copious fruitfulness and enduring peace. Oh Lord, Keeper of My Soul, teach me to love You without reserve in all that I do.

JUST OFFSTAGE

I’m standing just offstage; the curtain is about to rise on a brand new day. Past performance informs the moment, but this hour has never been. Will I confidently step forward in grace and mercy, or will I drag along yesterday’s shortcomings, misgivings and calamities? Lord of New Beginnings, You have given me this new day. Let Your light wash over me. May the glory of Your brightness be seen in me.

IMPERFECTIONS

To openly live a life of faith is not a proclamation of personal perfection. In fact, the opposite is true. My imperfections become the stage upon which the amazing grace and relentless love of God are displayed. In my weakness, His awesome strength is discovered and brought to the forefront. Lord, You are my Fortress and Deliverer, reveal Yourself in me. May my failings spotlight Your exquisiteness.

SPIRITUAL SUPERIORITY

The heart that understands the unmerited grace God offers will not fall victim to a superiority complex toward others. If we are still under the delusion that we are blessed because of our moral rectitude or exceptional behavior, then prideful judgmentalism is assured. Godliness produces sound judgment, not a sense of spiritual superiority. Lord have mercy on my prideful ways.

CLOUDS

My family lived in Costa Rica and on several occasions we visited Mt. Poas, an active volcano. We were amazed at the spectacular view of the huge, steaming crater. On a couple of visits we never saw more than clouds; its incredible power and girth shrouded by something as fleeting and inert as vapor. Father, forgive me for allowing temporary things to cloud my view of Your Awesomeness.

FORCE

Extension of the Kingdom of God in me and through me to others must not be an afterthought; spiritual progress cannot be accomplished with life’s leftovers. Scripture proclaims: “the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. Today matters, and how intentionally I approach it will affect its outcome. Lord, help me lay hold, rattle my cage until I come at last to You.

PERFECT LOVE

My love for God and the people He loves is authentic, but still contains a polluting mixture of conditional, selfish, human love. While at times I wish to be entirely free of it, I know it is only a half-hearted aspiration. Yet, progress is being made and for every millimeter forward I am grateful. My Lord, My God, forgive my recklessness. Help me to be vigilant to not mix selfishness into Your perfect love.

STRONGER

As with muscles, my giftings and abilities grow stronger as I use them; so my best strategy is to get busy and put them to the test. I can ignore the daily opportunities that God grants me or I can step into the challenge and man up. I could grow today, make a difference, become more effective, please God. Father, help me move farther in, deeper down, higher up, farther out. Awaken my soul to You.

SURGERY

I am in the debt of those who have touched my life. Like surgical instruments in the hands of the Great Physician, God has pressed people into my life to cut away what harms me from within. I have often resented those used for the deepest cuts, only later to realize that they have done me great good, even if they intended otherwise. Father, keep me under the knife and thank You for all whom You choose to use.

DELUSION

It is a common deception to fall in love with a false image. We imagine only the good about something or someone, only to subsequently discover that we have successfully ignored the truth. Human love is delusional because it is selfish at its core. Only a godly worldview can prepare us to properly love people or things. Father in Heaven, You love the imperfect perfectly. Grant me Your love, deliver me from my own.

DIVERSITY

The diversity of people is as much a gift of God as any other treasure He offers. While differences engender many difficulties, they also provide ample opportunity to learn the many angles of love. Like a diamond turned in light, each person reveals another facet of God’s imprint upon each of us, even in those wholly unaware of His presence. I praise You Father for Your Glory and Majesty.

TRUSTWORTHY

There is no trepidation in not knowing if you can count on someone trustworthy who does. Indescribable rest is released when assurance exceeds ignorance. Knowing the greatness of God is vital for significant personal progress. The unknown paralyzes; knowing the All-Knowing One mobilizes. Therefore, I will move forward in confidence and peace. O Lord Most High, my hope and strength are in You.

ANOTHER DAY

Some days are better than others, but each day we are given is preferable to no day at all. God’s offer of another diurnal passage portends unlimited possibilities. I am alive with purpose, His purpose. Joys and sorrows come unannounced; that they come is of less import than how I respond. Father, You care for us more than we can know in this world, I praise you for the joys and cast my cares upon You.

FRAGRANCE

It is a delightful mystery how an aroma can transport me to a different place. Fragrances bind with events, places, people; a passing scent can return me to my great grandmother’s home, awaken a lost memory, activate an emotion. God has bequeathed unlimited ways for us to learn, grow and experience fullness of life. O Lord my Creator and Sustainer, I stand in awe of You, I marvel at Your ways.

GUIDANCE

Every human heart needs a moral guidance system. A life without biblically informed principles is easily swept into the abyss of self-indulgent foolishness. Surrounding culture exerts daily pressure to assimilate. Principle-centered living provides continual protection and accurate navigation. Father, teach me Your ways. Awaken in me a deepening hunger for truth.

ENTHRONED

Catastrophes have a way of being all consuming; the worse the situation, the more absorbing it is. The beginning point for moving forward is to enthrone God in our praise. As we behold Him, the circumstances of life come into proper perspective. Praise validates the sovereignty of God in our soul. Soon, the effect of praise provokes us to proclaim His greatness to others. Lord, I praise You.

THRUWAY

The construction of highways through mountains has always intrigued me. Millions of tons of rock must be repositioned, much of it with explosives. A violent process produces a safe and peaceful journey for subsequent travelers. Only God’s Word can construct a highway through the mountains of confusion we face in this life. Lord, only You offer a thruway of truth and guidance through worldly obstructions.

BIG & SMALL

I generally do better in big crises than with relentless small annoyances. It seems that the SIZE of a difficulty elicits different responses. In BIG problems I quickly realize that I must turn it over to God. With SMALL ones I foolishly feel confident to handle them on my own, but the volume of leaking joy soon empties me. Lord, forgive my self-reliance. Help me entrust to Your hands things both large and small.

SELF-GENERATED ANARCHY

Selfishness is incredibly powerful. It can turn liberty into indulgence, freedom into irresponsibility. There can be no outward freedom without internal freedom. Mostly what binds me, what strips away my capacity to practice genuine liberty is my own wandering heart. Master, help me to love You first and always. Deliver me from self-generated anarchy. You alone are Lord.

PAINFUL PEOPLE

Some relationships are as welcome as a toothache. Yet, a painful tooth is a vital message: “something is wrong”. An unseen crack, decay, fractures, root issues, all reasons for pain, all reasons to get help. It occurs to me that God uses people to expose my cracks, decay, fractures and root issues. Father, thank You for sending people into my life to uncover my need for Your help and healing.

CHANGE

Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever. Everything else is subject to change. Life seems random. A bright summer day can quickly turn dark and dangerous. A thunderous storm can linger for days or clear away in mere minutes. The lesson? Be ready. A heart that is prepared for change remains at peace. Unchanging Lord, grant me a right spirit as change approaches.

GENUINE LOVE

I have run aground a few times, thinking I had sufficient draft. Surface appearances can be deceiving. In dealing with people, shallow love is useless; love must run deep. Every attitude that is contrary to true love for our fellow man must be exposed and replaced with godliness. Comingling of motives must cease. Father, teach me to love authentically, faithfully, consistently and tenderly.

FACES

Two little faces above a baby gate; I stopped and squatted to their level. These guys I know well, but we’re still at the “I know you” stage. Mostly silent stares, clunky questions, growing acceptance. Another face appeared; introductions, lot’s of smiles, conversation with a cute lisp. It was difficult to walk away. The hunger for connection we each have proclaims our longing for God. Lord, You are Love.

NOBLE CHARACTER

It is an oasis in the desert to be with someone of noble character. Instead of pulling you down, their presence lifts you higher, provoking godliness, inspiring greater things. I wish to be such a person. The effect of Christ on the disciples caused their judges to note “these men had been with Jesus”. Would anyone be able to tell if I didn’t say? Lord, make me into an engraved man; Your image on constant display.

911

9/11. I was praying with a group of pastors when the North Tower was struck, South Tower, the Pentagon, Pennsylvania. We watched in horror, wondering what it meant. Then it came to me, those who know little of God’s love and supremacy will live in a constant state of fear. They don’t understand that there are higher laws than our own at work. Lord, Your sovereignty will prevail. I have no fear.

HAPPY HEART

While I have my moments of sorrow, I am thankful that God has gifted me with a happy heart. There is an unquenchable, unrestrainable joy nested in the heart of the willingly submitted. Hope abounds, outlasts, overcomes; corners turn upward, then sings my soul.  Lord of Everlasting Joy, thank You; thank You again, and again. There it is, joy has come in the morning, I’m smiling.

BATTLE

I live in a moment by moment battle. I wish that I could say that it was solely a four-star, gallant fight against dark forces in high places. While it is a spiritual fight, mostly it is a constant battle against selfishness. Self-love, self-indulgence, self-interest, they are always insidiously present, lurking within the shadows. Shepherd of My Soul, thank You for relentless conviction and unending grace. Victory!!

MANIPULATIVE OBEDIENCE

God cannot be manipulated by my obedience; doing His will must be an act of love and abandon, not a form of leverage. Self-righteousness postures us as feeling worthy of His favor and is the enemy of the true believer. It is the humble acceptance of His single act of redemption that invites unrestricted blessing. Father, Redeemer, teach me to trust in Your work and not my own.

I MUST HEAR

I must hear from God daily; thankfully His voice of wisdom, knowledge and discretion cries out by many means. Everything I hear with my ears, behold with my eyes, touch with my hands, or think in my mind can be used by the Ancient of Days to bring understanding. Enlightenment awaits the attentive heart. Lord God Almighty, blessed is the man who listens for Your voice, watching daily, camping at Your doorway.

CONDITIONS

Doing God’s will does not depend upon perfect conditions. In fact, negative circumstances are practically a requirement for things done in faith. Usually, I have only fragments of clarity, not the whole picture. Trusting God to pull the pieces together while navigating through troubles is both cleansing and exhilarating. Father, thank You for the unique joy faith brings. Grant me grace to love You more.

SPINNING

We are spun round and round by the everyday swirl of life. It feels as if I am a lump of clay spinning on a potter’s wheel. As a matter of fact, I AM. The Master’s touch presses in, reshaping me for His envisioned purpose. Why do I resist? My failed attempts at shaping myself should be evidence enough; yield to the Potter’s hands. Have Your way Lord, I am waiting yielded and still; mold me, make me after Your will.

HOPE

Hope is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. The kind of hope of which I speak is not rooted in this world; it is firmly grounded where translucent gold is pavement and background music is angelic chorus. God promises, hope springs alive, faith is awakened; everything changes. Father, You are the only source of eternal hope, teach me to abide in Your words.

TREMORS

I have been through a few tremors, but only once through a genuine earthquake. It is disorienting to discover that everything can be shaken at once. We don’t expect the very ground on which we live to convulse, but sometimes it does. In those bewildering moments, on what will I stand? Father, You have proclaimed: “The Lord will be your confidence”. Lover of my soul, You’ve set my feet on solid rock.

FATHER'S REBUKE

I do not resent the Lord’s rebuke. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like it at the time, but I realize that His discipline is a necessary expression of His unfailing love. I would surely settle for less than His best; He will have none of that. The Love of God chases us, pulls us back from ruin; He never lets go. Lord, You ARE my Father. Your hand of discipline proclaims Your delight in us as Your children. It hurts so good.

A WAY THROUGH

There is always a way through. It may be treacherous, obscured, laden with challenges and setbacks; but breakout is possible. Inward breakthrough precedes outward liberty. While circumstances are difficult to change, with God’s help, perspective can be transformed this very moment. Lord, You are the Way, the Truth and the Life; in You there is all that I need for my journey to complete freedom.

EASY TARGET

The unrestrained heart is an easy target for enticing arguments that lead us astray. In addition to His Word and Spirit, God’s loving protection is provided by our conscience, responsibilities, disciplines, values and even fears. Lord God my Keeper, let me not be overcome by allurements, and empty arguments. Help me to stand strong in times of overwhelming tiredness or selfishness. You call me by name.

LITTLE ADVANTAGES

I saw a small bird flying full speed with a hawk in hot pursuit. They swerved, rose and fell, then darted into a patch of trees. I don’t know the final outcome, but it seemed disturbingly familiar; I am often that little bird. While the chasing hawk seems destined to win, I am not without advantages. Lord, thank You that we each have more than we think. Help me run this race with speed and dexterity.

FEARFULLY FEARLESS

Fear of God delivers us from every other fear. It contains no trepidation, anxiety, panic or horror, only reverential respect and deference to His nature and will. Fear of God opens our understanding, fills our lives with true praise, grants peace in a storm and empowers us to love others. Forgiveness is rooted in it, holiness and kindness as well. Lord, I fear You Alone, my heart is at rest and happy.

NO FOOLIN'

God cannot be fooled. It seems ridiculous to say it, but I have tried. Self-justification is such a part of the human condition that we are blind to its techniques. Strangely, we can see it in others, but all a man's own ways seem right to him. The triple punch of Scripture, Spirit and covenant fellowship with serious brothers and sisters in Christ can purge us of self-deception. Lord, weigh my heart.

LISTENING

Listening to God’s voice is central to keeping my heart on the right path. I am easily distracted, so there must be daily intent to hear. Inward quietness, which can be difficult to come by in such a busy world, is rooted in peace with God. Peace with God begins with acceptance of His ways rather than our own. Father, I rejoice in the hope of entering Your glory. I lift You high, draw me deeper.

TRUTH IN LOVE

We are commanded to “speak the truth in Love.” In fact, most of what we pass off as honesty is grounded in fear. We typically tell the truth only when we are reluctantly exposed, or feel it necessary to protect something we value. This fare of “honesty” rooted in selfishness bears almost no resemblance to honesty motivated by love. Lord, You are impeccably honest. Yet, Your truth, bathed in love, makes me free.

PERSONAL PAIN

Pain is personal; each heart knows its own bitterness. Outward laughter often masks inward grief. To the one who truly knows God as Father, those times become uniquely precious; sorrows turn to joy that no one else can share. Mourning becomes dancing, grief becomes gladness, pouting becomes praise; joy in the morning! My Lord, my God, You are Awesome and Beautiful in all Your ways!

ANNOYANCE

I can tell when I am being selfish, most of us can. One of my indicators is annoyance. When I am walking in humility, the foibles and minor insults of others do not linger in my mind. When I am being selfish, every annoyance is amplified, I take them personal and start a running list; a web of annoyance is spun and I'm the one trapped in it. Father, please help me keep my heart humble today.

EFFORT

Much of our effort produces little of measurable value. I have poured my emotions, energy, time and resources into something only to discover that all I expected from my enterprise came to nothing. Yet, it is the effort itself that has great value. Faithfulness, stewardship, passionate pursuit; these are divine treasures produced by effort. Lord, may I never grow weary in doing good. In Your mercy, keep my shoulder to the plow.

CROSSROADS

I come to crossroads daily. Wisdom is always there like a friendly old farmer at a roadside produce stand: easily seen if you look, lots of fruit simply waiting to be chosen. I want to stop and browse, but so much to do, in a rush I drive forward, often to my own harm. Life's choices require God's input. Father of All ...Wisdom, forgive my haste. Help me take time to choose wisely. Thank You for Your constant Presence.

DISCIPLINE

I am thankful for the rather strict discipline I received as a child. God designs each of us with a unique package of tendencies and abilities; many of mine require clear boundaries. Without internal and external borders we stray wherever our desires, opportunities or appetites lead us. Only a fool ignores discipline or hates correction. Father, I feel Your Love in the rod of correction, it is a welcome refuge.

FOGGY VIEW

This morning’s dawn is veiled with light fog. I strain to see details that I could otherwise see. The obscurity focuses my attention to what I WANT to see, what I NEED to see; things of less importance fade into the background. Yes Lord, I think I get it. Help me today to focus more carefully on what You want me to see each moment. Cause the non-essential whirling by to drift into the background.

LEAKING HEART

My heart leaks; it fills, then leaks. I must guard it, continually replenish it with truth and make it a tabernacle of praise. It must be searched, clean, inclined to hear, willing, contrite, broken, circumcised, turned from stone to flesh, thankful, freed from deceit and chase after God. Well, it sounds as if my heart will have a busy day. Lord, my heart belongs to You my King and my Redeemer.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

Disappointments are as much a part of life as breathing; reality rarely matches expectations. Dwelling on letdowns, large or small, can lead to discouragement and discontent. There is a more excellent way. Today I choose to lay hold of divine proclamation: “all things work together for good.” Lord I do love You and know that Your purpose is never thwarted by passing circumstances. It is well with my soul.

DEPENDENCE

Mankind was not made to go it alone. Our dependence upon God and others is wired in at the deepest level of our being. While it is true that we can build walls around our heart, pull in the drawbridge and consider all others intruders, to do so is to condemn ourselves to a self imposed prison. Father of Freedom and Purpose, help me to tear down the walls. Incite my heart to openness and
love.

STEP AWAY

That God works through us is an astounding notion, laden with so many wounds of a fallen world. In one crossing, the nation of Israel put to rest past betrayal of brothers, 400 years of straw and mud, 40 years of burning desert. The Lord Almighty still opens the waters of new beginnings. Eternal Father, today I again stand at the margin of the river. Help me step away from all behind and to seize what is ahead.

WHISPERS

Daybreak is very quiet. God’s whispers seem more easily heard in the gentle rollout of a new day. Soon the world awakens and the still of dawn is lost in the cacophony of life. An indispensable characteristic of the Christ-centered life is hearing and obeying the voice of God. Dearest Lord of Life, early will I seek You. Thank You for the blessedness of silence. Teach me to hear accurately and obey swiftly.

INDIGNATION

I am not an angry person, yet it comes to me too easily. I have no malice toward anyone and keep short accounts. Still, anger pops up like burnt toast. Jesus got angry without sin; I have to work on that one. I must learn to cleanse the Temple without cleaning someone’s clock. Lord, help me to bridle all of my emotions to respond in a way that pleases You. Remind me of Your mercy at my moment of indignation.

DIVINE DISREGARD

I should be grateful whenever I see spiritual progress in others or me. Sadly, this is not always the case. I sometimes do not like the source through which betterment comes; the process just doesn’t fit my plan. Not surprisingly, God ignores my opinion in these situations. Divine disregard: I often need it; God’s goodness provides it. Lord, thank You for taking little notice of my commonly contaminated opinions.

BREAKTHROUGH

How many more steps to breakthrough? I don’t know. I never know until AFTER the final step, so I walk. IN faith, I walk. BY faith I walk. In confident persistence, I walk. Through valleys of doom, I walk. Past shadows of fear, I walk. Over mountains of doubt, I walk. Through jungles of entanglements, I walk. Shepherd of my soul You are with me, Your rod & staff comfort me, my cup overflows…so I walk.

HONESTY

Robust relationships require honesty; honesty requires risk. Honesty with others is dependent upon the level of honesty we have with God. He knows everything anyway, why do I ever avoid the truth? There is NO RISK in trusting the Master. Truth hurts, heals, liberates, directs, delivers. Lord, let Your light shine in every dark crevasse of my heart today. May I have an honest heart before You and others.

AWESOME WONDER

Morning light, arriving earlier each day. Earth spinning, tilting, hurtling through space, day, night, seasons, all in the palm of His hand, every last detail considered. Beginning, end, all the same to the Alpha and Omega, Maker of Heaven and Earth. "O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy hand has made!" Today should work out just fine, my soul is already singing!

MAKE SPACE

I am hard-wired for incessant enterprise, my mind requiring almost constant occupation. In prayer, I heard two words: “make space.” Like a muddied spring or a polluted well, a cluttered mind is functional, but not beneficial. Many whisperings of the Almighty are lost in the din of mental noise. Father, help me to rest in You. Deliver me from relentless mental activity that impedes Your Voice. Teach me to be still.

FINGERPRINTS

Lanky silhouettes of palm trees against a backdrop of soft pinks and light blue sky, wisps of moss dangling quietly from massive oaks. It is morning and God's fingerprints are already all over this day. The Magnificent One has previously passed this way. Whatever awaits me, God has erstwhile touched each moment. I am at peace. Holy and Mighty One, help me fix my eyes upon Your glorious handiwork today.

HUGS

One of the constant blessings of my life is giving and receiving so many hugs in fellowship. The love of others gives me great joy and encouragement and activates the love of God within me. Little arms, huge arms, soft touches, warm embraces, shoulder squeezes, they nourish my soul. Just another way that God supplies all our needs. Lord, my arms are Yours, may I be Your hands extended this day.

FULL MOON

Why am I always surprised when the moon is full? The lunar cycle is absolutely predictable, but there I am awestruck, again: its beautiful glow brilliantly transforming dust and rock into glorious wonder. The moon, Divine work of the Almighty, is merely a huge dirtball turned into resplendent light. Sounds strangely familiar. Lord God of Wonders, thank You for Your transformational work in me.

NO DESPAIR

Why give in to the convenience of discouragement? Despair offers no reward. The path of trust is much steeper, but grants still waters, restored soul. The Lord is ALWAYS our Great Shepherd, even when we are wholly unaware of it. In the deepest, darkest valley I never trod alone. Oh Shepherd of my soul, from sinking sand, You lift me, With tender hand, You lift me, all is well.

YESTERDAY'S GONE

Another day. Yesterday? Gone. Tomorrow? Beyond the horizon. What I have is today, now. Time to ignore what should have been or what might be. What does the Lord require of me THIS day? Mind in the game. The careless ease of self-confident fools destroys them. Too often, I drift over the line or drop a wheel off the pavement. Lord, I commit my ways to You, I will pay attention THIS day.

RABBIT TRAILS

I waste significant portion of every day, not by lack of activity, but by pursuits doomed to failure. Rabbit trails are exhausting. There is only One who can reliably deliver those things which truly matter. Lord of Life, it seems I am still a rookie, but You patiently instruct me nonetheless. Thank You for Your Goodness and Mercy. Guide my steps and grant me grace this day to step only in Your footprints.

WANDERING HEART

My wandering heart often strays into perilous terrain. Only God can safely guard my steps, only He will release my feet from the snare. While I have matured over the years, I continue to require daily supervision and assistance. My heart is humbled and filled with gratefulness that all the ways of God are loving and faithful. Lord of Love, I stand amazed in Your Presence, lead me in Your path.

BELOW THE SURFACE

From our dock I saw a log float by in the middle of the river; most of its bulk suspended silently below the surface. Something as docile as a fallen tree can be deadly in certain circumstances. I offered a prayer for passing boaters, then one for myself. How many seemingly harmless things float just below the surface in my life? Lord, please expose in me those things that are harmful in me and clear them away.

SCHLEPPING

I usually let each day begin fresh, but I realize that I am still schlepping yesterday's concerns. This will not do. Anxiety about the past or the future can obstruct valuable moves forward and neutralize God's daily whisperings. Blessed Father, I must hear from You today. Forgive my moments of worry as I now cast my cares upon You. I will listen for your instructions and am pleased to do Your will, Your way.

TRANSFORMATIONAL PRAYER

I find myself praying as if I were a reporter, informing God of currents events. Prayer should never be an attempt to enlighten the “Greater One” who knows all things. Rather than pointing to circumstances, my prayers should allow circumstances to point to me; to what needs to change in my heart and actions. Lord, shine the Light of Your Presence upon that which You desire to transform.

TODAY

A new day is dawning. Will I turn the page or will I try to rehash or relive yesterday? The challenges and opportunities of THIS day await me. THIS is the day the Lord has made, I rejoice & am glad in it. Today is a gift from the "Ancient of Days." I do not want to disregard its value by living in the past or future. Thank You Lord, Shepherd of My Soul, for another day. My heart is tuned to Your Voice TODAY.

PEOPLE

The rise and fall of each tidal visit deposits treasures upon the sand. So it is with people that come in and out of our lives. I am convinced that God orchestrates friendships. In fact, even the most painful relationships deposit value and wisdom into our lives. Even passing strangers, who just for a moment drop through can be a divine gift. Dearest Lord, thank You for the ebb and flow of people in my life.

MORE THAN ENOUGH

Many things happen I cannot control; yet there is God. While my current state of affairs may not change, with Yahweh (“He Brings Into Existence Whatever Exists”), I can change. That is enough. We each waste valuable time imagining that different circumstances would produce a better outcome. Trust is the more excellent way. I can do no better than that. Lord, You are more than enough.

GOOBERS

I've thrown many prayers God’s way. Some Scripturely blueprinted and humbly lifted, many selfishly constructed & tossed up, others seemingly crafted by God and filled with spiritual vigor, still others, just GOOBERS. All prayer should be bathed in biblically formed expectation, genuine surrender & offered with commitment to change. Father in Heaven, I cannot pray without Your guidance and help. Lord, hear my prayer.

COMFORT ZONES

Comfort zones quickly become dead zones. God reveals His ardent love by propelling me into the joy of breaking through again and again. Would I ever step out in faith without His prompting? Would I cast anchor without approaching storms? I will never know, for His love never ceases. King of Glory, thank You for Your Divine impulse, Your compelling love, Your relentless pursuit.

GREATER THINGS

Yesterday’s quota of bricks dutifully met, its residue is still with me. Mud and straw again before me, I am ready. Today? Greater things are ahead, prompted by the inexhaustible benevolence of the GREATER ONE. Lord, teach me faithfulness through daily obedience, each moment submitted to Your care. Grant me grace this day to build an enduring legacy of submission to Your pleasure.

FALSEHOOD

Not that He needs my personal endorsement, but I can certify that God is truthful. There is nothing false in Him. What a contrast to me, where pretense runs deep. God hates all falsehood and is continually exposing in me every element of duplicity. Blessed riddance. Almighty Father of TRUTH and LIGHT, do Your deep, holy work in me today. Thank You that Your Truth arrives embodied in Your Perfect Love.

ONE DAY WISER

As morning breaks, light is crawling over the face of the earth. I cannot live in yesterday’s light. I now turn my thoughts from darkness past and step into the brightness of this new day. I am one day wiser; In fact, I have never known more or have been more experienced than this very moment. Lord God Almighty, thank You for this fresh opportunity to do Your bidding. New light is shed upon me and joy is in my heart.

WONDER

Earth whirling, sunlight advances, darkness flees, God is already voicing commands into this day. His Word precedes every moment and then holds it in place as it appears. Still, He is not finished. As each split second unfolds in His mighty grasp, He proclaims His will into it and pronounces His blessing upon it. Good morning Lord, this day is Yours already. All is well. I am thankful to be Your servant.

EARLY

“Early will I seek You,” sound advice from a shepherd. No doubt, every day quickly filled with bleating sheep, constant demands. Why delay? Like a road trip, starting late means additional traffic. Meditations of the Master do not belong bumper to bumper on a slow moving freeway, cares of this world cutting into holy space. No, God first, that’s it. Other thoughts can wait, must wait. Oh God, early will I seek You.

ACCURACY

Family, friends, culture and even sincere Christians around us are only a relative measure. Without realizing it, I may feel justified in my actions, yet be completely off course in the eyes of God. I need a precise plumb line by which I can see whether I measure up to God’s will and ways. Lord of Righteousness, may Your Spirit and Word expose my pretense and accurately guide my steps today.

READINESS

I awake today with inward readiness. Even the smallest thing can inspire me when I’m ready to receive. This day is brimming with everything I need for life and godliness. God has saturated every moment beforehand. What noble things await discovery? This is Your day Lord! I am rejoicing in it already. Grant to me good discernment. May Your WiILL dominate every desire, Your PRESENCE every step.

LEADERS

Much of my life is spent in leadership meetings. Difficult decisions managed by imperfect people under constant pressures in challenging circumstances. How precious to me are these times of collective wisdom, prayerful discourse, surrender, trust, discovery and faith. Lord, thank You for those willing to lay down their lives for others, I am not worthy of such privileged fraternity and enterprise.

WAITING

I often feel I'm waiting on God to do something; answered prayer, doors of opportunity, spiritual breakthrough. Am I waiting on Him or is He waiting on me? Delaying action until conditions are perfect only extends the wait. While I cannot force things before their time, I CAN act in faith, thinking, speaking and doing what I know. Lord, “Who call things that are not as though they were,” grace for now to act.

VERY COOL

Darkness fades, morning approaches; Yesterday’s passing offers a brand new start. New beginnings, what a gift! A NEW DAY ready to unfold. The foundation I now lay establishes firm footing no matter what the day contains. The Word, prayer, praise, surrender, resolve, forgive, thank, bless, joy, believe, love; okay, I’m ready now. Lord, thank You for another day...very cool.

CARDINALS

A cardinal just landed on our fence. Must be difficult to hide when you are RED, especially in the glaring light of day. It is for me. Seems like God has focused extra light on me lately. Intense, heated, constant; He is after every last corner of dark self. Even shadows must go. Lord, thank You for the brightness of Your Truth. May all wrongful pride be relinquished, selfishness expunged. Blessed riddance.

REDISCOVERY

I rediscovered a few muscles yesterday. I know the drill: Today, it hurts, tomorrow, my pain diminishes and I become stronger. It is the micro-tearing of tissue that builds strength and endurance. Consistent training leads to consistent gains. Lord, help me to remember this physical, mental & spiritual cycle of growth. Guide me through today's miseries on my path to tomorrow's strength and victory. It hurts sooo GOOD.

BAMBOOZLED

Generally, I am not easily bamboozled. The great exception to this is my self-generated excuses to not do something I should. Sadly, I often find my internal arguments for non-action quite impressive. Thanks be to the Spirit of the Living God. His constant and compelling promptings counter my self-deception and provoke me to action. Lord of Truth and Light, I am earnestly listening, fall afresh upon me.

GOD'S CHARACTER

How foolish it is that we judge God’s character by what we perceive HE ALLOWS. If something good occurs, then we consider God as good, something horrible and unexplainable, then He is of questionable character. Our challenge? Using knowledge that could fit on a pinhead to calculate formulas that frame the universe. Lord God Almighty, forgive my presumptuousness. I trust and rest, there IS No other way.

REALITY

Reality is a game-changer. Much of life is propped up with facades and imaginations. We are architects of our own fantasies. Then truth comes rolling in like a rhino in a china store. Lord of Truth, I have many delicate things balanced on flimsy shelves. You only knock down to build up, You push to the side that which is of no lasting value. While there is pain in the moment, I welcome Your truth.

READY

I like to be busy, but is it not equally important to be ready? While it is required that I obediently do what I know to do, I must simultaneously learn to wait, to be ready for what is coming. There is always more happening than I can perceive; busyness can be the enemy of effectiveness. Dearest Alpha and Omega, You hold all things in Your Hands, grant me grace to do and to not. Help me stay ready.

WITNESS

As Christians, we hope that unbelievers will admire us for our fine character, our family values or our lower number of vices. Instead, they immediately see beyond our words to our personal failings and consider it all as hypocrisy. The answer? Humble authenticity. Faith in Christ must be genuine, unwavering and most importantly, contrite. Lord, grant me grace for walking humbly before You and others.

CHILDLIKENESS

Nothing clears the mind of clutter quite like a conversation with a three year old: innocent curiosity, unrestrained laughter, simple words, clunky attempts at philosophical and technical concepts, humble openness. We are commanded to “change and become like little children” to enter the Kingdom of God. Father in Heaven, please forgive my outlandish pretense. I am Your child, teach me Your ways.

GUIDED STEPS

At some point we must each give up the childhood game of attempting to walk in someone else’s footprints. It does me no good to compare my steps with those of others. Every step forward, no matter the size, in the final analysis is a step forward. Dearest Father, You have promised guided steps for those seeking You. Yes Lord, may Your will and wisdom guide my every step this day.

CANVAS

Today's sunrise looked as if God dipped His finger in florescent paint and stroked a soft orange, backlit ribbon across a silvery blue background. What else has the Master crafted into this day? I will watch for His work. Perhaps He will stroke the canvas of my soul. Lord, I desire Your Holy craftsmanship. May my heart be a ready landscape, I welcome the touch of Your holy brush.

UNCONDITIONAL

I do love God, but I realize that much of my love is rooted in selfish desire and need. When I am content (the result of His love), the intensity of my love lessens; when I am in need, I hunger more for Him. He knows this, but never backs away. While I necessarily depend upon unconditional love, returning it is still difficult. Dear Father, help me today to be consistent in my love for You and others.

NEW YEAR

I will not mourn the close of 2009. Yet, I suspect that many future BLESSINGS will be rooted in THIS YEAR. So perhaps it is the finish of the foundation on which greater things will later rest. No doubt, change will occur. Lord, please do not let me ignore the lessons and good that have emerged in this pivotal year. But I must say a heartfelt "Happy New Year to all."