3.24.15–>”The Divine Hours”

Anchor Points

Divine Hours2

You know what really gets my motor runnin’? When I go to Half Price Books (or “Hale Prince Books” as my daughter Zayra calls it) and find all three volumes of The Divine Hours in hardcover! Just typing that right now sent a surge of electric energy throughout my body. Yes, it’s the little things in life that are so brobdingnagian.

So what do I love so much about The Divine Hours? Well let me tell you.

First off, if you are not familiar, it is the first major literary and liturgical reworking of the sixth-century Benedictine Rule of fixed-hour prayer. It’s a contemporary version of this beautiful centuries old practice of set prayers and readings to be done four times, or “offices”, a day.

You start with the morning office (anytime between 6 and 9 a.m.), then midday (between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.), vespers (between 5 and 8 p.m.), ending with compline (before retiring).

What I love is that it is a great way to give anchor points to your day, to revolve your day around Him who made this day. Praying in this way, for me, has been beautifully helpful with divine reminders of why I am here, who is ultimately in charge, and just how good and awesome our God YHWH is. Those simple truths get hijacked (if we allow) as soon as we step out into the world with its barrage of lies and false narratives.

The Divine Hours, prayed from the heart, can be liberatingly grounding.

Let me share the final prayer from this morning’s office:

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. 

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

3.23.15–>The Habit of Reflection


Psalm 118:24

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

I must say that one of the greatest habits I’ve established recently is that of regular reflection upon my day. Just taking some time via the prayer of examen to go back through my day in gratitude and remembrance has been extremely rewarding.
Someone said that it isn’t your experiences that change you, but rather your reflection upon them. Experiences themselves do not necessarily make us better. There is an element of choice and decision to move forward in growth, or to merely survive.


John Locke said, “Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” Reading just to read doesn’t do much for you, be it the Bible or Pride and Prejudice. But reflecting on what you’ve read, chewing on its meaning and implication, assimilating it into you to internalize and make it yours, now we’re talking.

The Oaks Academy teaches our kids, from a very young age, the habit of reflection for which I am so grateful. If only I had been taught to think about my experiences at a young age! Oh where I’d be today…I don’t even know what I’m saying right now. I need to reflect on it.

Don’t just go through your day getting by, doing things to just get them done, living some sort of monotonous pragmatism. Experience your experiences through real time reflection upon them.

Think about your thinking. Think about what you do. Look back through your day to see where God was in it at every moment.

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

3.22.15–>”The Bible Is Much More Than Just ‘How To Behave'”

The Bible is Much More Than Simply “How to Behave”

Life With God Bible

Though it is certainly not less than this, the Bible is much deeper than regulations for life. It’s not just “how to live”, as important as that is.The Bible is God’s story. The Bible is God’s revealing of Himself and His purposes. And an overarching theme, if not the theme, is God’s pursuit of His people. A slightly fancier word would be His “mediation” with humanity.God has been drawing us to Himself since, what we call, the beginning of time.You hear many people who read the Bible say they read it to live rightly or to “apply it to their lives.” This is good. This is very good. May we just never forget or overlook or let be swallowed up, the deeper truth that the Bible is God’s revealing of Himself for the purposes of us being able to know Him and be connected intimately to Him. This is first and foremost.

We have the need, desire, and craving for connection and belonging woven into our hearts. It’s undeniable. And you see this through stories. Even the harshest people I know love story. They, at bare minimum, love telling stories about themselves. Why? Connection. Belonging. Listen closely and you will hear it.

For your children, or your parents, what would you choose between the following:

~ That they always behave, never going against any of your rules or God’s, yet you will never be closely connected. Your relationship will never be “deep.” You won’t talk about everything, only stay near the surface–weather, current events, advice-giving, general conversation. No experiencing of life together.


~ They will break some, many, of the rules along the way, going against your wishes a lot of the time. Yet you stay connected via deep communication, growing in intimacy, due to the going through of many and varied life experiences together. Experiential involvement with them–actual engagement.

Sadly, many today I believe would actually choose “A”. Just do everything you’re suppose to do. Which of course translates into “Everything I want.” Well if that’s not a beautiful relationship, I don’t know what is!

Read the Bible carefully. Listen to God in the Bible. That, I think, is what God wants anyway. To read carefully with a listening ear attuned to Him for what He is wanting to say clearly to us. And in so doing, see if you really come to the conclusion that God wants you to go to church because you’re suppose to. Read the Bible because you should. Help others because you have to. That sounds like quite the imprisoning and, frankly, dumb religion. Not one that would emanate from an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving Creator. If that was it, I’d be like, “You create this entire universe of wonder, and that’s all you got as far as relating to us?”

When you go to church, read the Bible, help the poor out of obligation, you are “shoulding” all over yourself. You’re doing things because you should. And we all know what happens to us when we should all over ourselves–we become disgusting. There’s no beauty there. Beauty comes from doing out of love in the heart. If the inside is beautiful, the outside will automatically become beautiful.

“You Pharisees clean the outside of the dish, but your insides are full of greed and filth. How foolish of you! Isn’t God as interested in your insides as your outside?” (Luke 11:39-40)

“If you wash a dish well on the inside, won’t the outside come clean in the process?” (Matthew 23:26)

So back to God’s mediation with humanity in the Bible. Looking at that 30,000 foot view, here are the forms of His mediation as charted in the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible (now called The Life With God Bible).

  1. Face-to-face
  2. Through the family
  3. Through God’s terrifying acts and the law
  4. Through the conquest and learning to act with God
  5. Through the king, prophets, priests, and sacrifices
  6. Through suffering and the disappointments of life
  7. Through song, prayer, worship
  8. Through wisdom
  9. Through the prophets and the repression of the Gentiles
  10. Through punishment, being a blessing to their captors
  11. Through repentance, service, synagogue study
  12. Through the Incarnate Word and the living presence of the kingdom
  13. Through the Holy Spirit, persecution, and martyrdom
  14. In one another, through Scripture, teaching, preaching, prophetic utterance, pastoral care, the Holy Spirit, the sacraments
  15. Throughout the cosmos (Revelation)

Again, here we see more clearly, I hope, God’s purpose and desire to be with us, as revealed in and throughout the whole of Scripture.

May we read it with this in mind always.

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

3.21.15–>”The Gospel in a Nutshell”

The Essence of the New Covenant


Hebrews 8

This is the covenant I will establish,
After those days with the house of Israel:
My laws will I place in their minds, says the Lord,
And write on their hearts; thus I shall be God
For all of them; they’ll be my people indeed.
No more will they need to teach their own neighbors,
Or their brothers and sisters, to know me, the Lord,
For from least unto greatest, each one shall know me,
For I shall be merciful to their injustices,
And as for their sins, I’ll forget them forever.


It is good to regularly take a step or three back to get that 30,000 foot view of our faith/worldview. Of what the New Testament is about. And therefore, how to share it more accurately. I cannot say it better than George Guthrie in his commentary on this passage:“So the new covenant, in essence, has to do with a relationship with God established by the forgiveness of sins, lived out by the internalization of God’s laws, and conceptually set against the backdrop of God’s working through the people of Israel.”


“…biblical Christianity, as described in Hebrews 8 must be understood minimally as involving the forgiveness of sins, a transformation of the inner life in accordance with the laws of God, and an intimate relationship with the living God.”


“Using Hebrews 8 we can explain that God offers us a ‘meaningful agreement’ with himself–that he agrees to be our God and to allow us to know him. God agrees, furthermore, to transform us in our hearts and minds, providing us with intrinsic motivation for doing his will. Finally, he commits to forgive our wickedness and forget our sins. This ‘meaningful agreement’ is the gospel in a nutshell.”

oh, and

“…this passage, with its quotation of Jeremiah 31:31-34, provides an excellent beginning point for sharing the good news that God wants us to be in a committed relationship that forms both the foundation and essence of a superior way of living.”

Credo Ut Intelligam

3.20.15–>”How Can We Know God”

Knowing Through Love

I John 4:8

The one who does not love has not known God, because God is love.

The only means by which we can really know God and abide in Him is love.

Because He is love.

To love someone as they actually are is to truly know them.

To care for and pray for one’s soul even while they reject you, is loving them as God loves them, and consequently brings you into deeper intimacy with Him.

To love someone via soul care and prayer when they are acting in ways contrary to your liking or preference, this is to know God.

Hell, I think to love someone who is simply annoying brings you closer to Jesus. Someone who annoys the crap out of you and you can still see the precious jewel at the core of that person, to see them as God made and sees them–you are crossing over into knowing God.

It’s easy to know about God. Any dork with the internet can do that in a matter of minutes.

But to know God in terms of His essence?  Shoooooooooot…..

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

3.19.15–>”Belief or Trust?”


Matthew 13:44

“The kingdom of heaven,” Jesus continued, “is like treasure hidden in a field. Someone found it and hid it, and in great delight went off and sold everything he possessed, and bought that field.”

There’s a story of the man who entertained the crowds by pushing a wheelbarrow across a tightrope drawn across a gaping chasm. “Do you believe I can do it?” he asked them. “Of course we do,” they shouted. “Who will get in the wheelbarrow, then?” he invited. And they all fell silent.Do you merely believe that God holds your life in His hands, or do you trust His guiding of your actual living of it?

Jesus did not say the kingdom of God was like a man who believed there was a treasure hidden in a field. “Now that I know there’s a treasure in that field, my life is changed! I’m now completely debt-free simply for knowing this information!”

Uhhh, no.

We have equated spiritual belief with mere intellectual assent. From what I’ve studied, when Jesus or the apostles spoke of “belief” in their day, they meant something you stake your life on.

You sell all you have for that field to get the treasure in it.

That is trust.

Acknowledging the treasure without obtaining it is non-life-changing erudition.

Always only for my King

3.18.15–>”You Might Actually Enjoy What God Wants For You”

Maybe God’s Will is Pleasant

Psalm 37:4

Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Why do we so often assume that God’s will for us will be something we don’t or won’t like?
What if we believed in the possibility that what God wants for us is…pleasant

My share in life has been pleasant; my part has been beautiful.           –Psalm 16:6

Praise the greatness of the LORD, who loves to see His servants do well. -Psalm 35:27 (NCV)


 He takes pleasure (delights in) His servants’ well-being.                          -Psalm 35:27 (HCSB)

You know what? You might actually enjoy what God wants for you.

“Ignatius of Loyola suggests that sin is ultimately a refusal to believe that what God wants is my happiness and fulfillment. When I fail to believe this, I am tempted to sin–to take my life into my own hands, assuming I am in the best position to determine what will lead to my happiness. As I become convinced that God wants nothing more than my fulfillment, surrender to His will is increasingly possible.”

The closer you journey toward God, the more you realize you have everything you want already, because increasingly, all you want is God.

“I’ve said these things so that my joy may be in you, and so that your joy may be full.” -John 15:11

The quote in italics is from Sacred Companions by David Benner

Always Only For My King

3.17.15–>”Retrain One Thing at a Time


James 1:8

They are double-minded and, therefore, unstable in everything they do.

God has made us capable of so much that we do not realize most of the time. I believe He has gifted us with the power to shape much of our lives as He has given us the ability and choice of how to think about our lives.If you wake up and say, “Today’s gonna suck” there’s a good chance today will suck…for you at least. Same goes for how we reflect on our days. You can recount your day and focus your energy on all that went wrong or what you did not do or achieve or obtain, or you can go through hour by hour looking for everyt bless you appreciate and thank God for each one of them. At the end of the day, you can check to see if you’re “Gimme gimme gimme” or “Have have have.”

In these God-given ways, we can have much say in our reality.

Energy definitely does flow where attention goes. Have you heard of the “Observer Effect”? Not to be confused with The Ripple Effect, it refers to the changes that the act of observation will make on a phenomenon being observed. At the quantum level this is super wacky stuff. Positions of particles change just because someone looks at them! Weird. Anyway, is this perhaps a small clue God has allowed us to find to demonstrate how much we affect our own reality? It’s not that we’re God, but that God made us to interact with reality in this way and affect it.

Many times we do give ourselves too much credit and think we’re pure awesomeness. But sometimes we don’t give ourselves credit enough. Ultimatey, we don’t give God credit enough for making us such incredible beings. Jesus said we would do even greater things than He did, but we sit around thinking “Poor me” as if there’s nothing we can do about it.

As said yesterday, I firmly believe He has given us the gift to “change our mind at any time.” We can turn to God at anytime. We can choose to look at our life through the lens of gratitude at any moment. If this is not true…well just shoot me now and put me out of my uncontrollable misery. It does not mean necessarily that it’s super easy, but it can be done, and needs to be redone over time until the habit is formed.

Here is the power of one thing at a time. Habit formation and habit change. You can start forming any habit you want to form right now today, if you so choose to do so. It’s a matter of where you put your energy, and on how many things you put your energy toward.

A double-minded person is unstable in everything they do.

According to Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, there’s a reason why many successful people don’t automatically become very successful. And here I think of success in many areas of life, not just running a business. He calls the reason “the clarity paradox,” which he sums up in four predictable phases:

Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose it leads to success.

Phase 2: When we have success, it leads to more options and opportunities.

Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, it leads to diffused efforts.

Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that lead to our success in the first place.

McKeown concludes, “Curiously, and overstating the point in order to make it, success is a catalyst for failure.”

So we see the absolute necessity of being single-mindedly focused and keeping that way through to the end so we finish well.

Seventeen years ago, I was obsessed with getting my bodyweight to 200 lbs. I wanted to be like the bigger guys in the gym. There was a year in which all I thought about seemed to be getting to 200. I ate constantly, drank weight gainer shakes, lifted crushingly heavy weights all the live long day, and guess what? I did it. Energy flowed where direction…goed. It worked, I stepped on the scale and saw “200.” Now I’m one of the big guys in the gym. Well La De Freakin’ Da! Who cares? What a dumb, vain goal looking back. I mean it was fun, but I’m not sure what my getting to 200 lbs. had to do with the healing of the nations. No regrets, i’m just saying’…

What if my goal had been to become more like Christ? To be one with the Father. To be an unconditional love machine. To judge less. What if we set more worthy goals in life like those and focused our attention on them in a single laser-like manner?

I think there would be more peace in the world.

By the way, now I’m trying to get down to 192. But I’m not trying too hard!

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

3.16.15–>”Retraining: One Thing at a Time

One Thing at a Time-Focus

one thing2

Luke 10:42

“Only one thing matters.”

Don’t you love it when God shows you the same thing from multiple places? Yesterday, in this meditation thingy, I mentioned the above passage and how it seems God asks or gives one thing at a time for us to do.Then last nite I decide to start reading my wonderful friend Beth Booram’s brand new book Starting Something New. In the introduction she quotes this passage (Luke 10:41-42) and how in most of the interpretations you hear, Martha takes a beating, but she goes on to say,
“I wonder if there’s another application to this story. Jesus is really suggesting that ‘there is only one thing worth being concerned about’ at a time, and if you discover that, it won’t be taken away from you. Mary was embodying the posture of a person who was aware of what was most important in that moment, and she focused on it. She was present. She was a single-tasker. Martha, on the other hand, was a multi-tasker, she was worried about and distracted by many things.”

As soon as I read that in bed I heard the Twilight Zone theme playing. “Hey, that’s exactly what I was thinking this morning,” I said to my geeky self.

I’ve been thinking so much lately about this simplicity and focus. We’re really talking about being single-minded and therefore, focused.

“Energy flows where attention goes.”

I believe God made us capable of so much! I like the way one author put it:

“God gave you one gift for your journey and one gift alone. He said: ‘My Son, remember, you can change your mind at any time.'”

Well, I have more to say, but I have to go upstairs and get the girls ready for school. To be continued.

Blessings upon you this 74 degree day that cometh!
(In Indy, not sure about Hawaii or Japan, sorry for those of you there)

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

3.15.15–>”Retraining: One Thing”

one thing

Mark 10:21

“There is one more thing you need to do.”

Information overload.Distraction.


These sum up the cultural narrative that most of us have been born into and formed by. It has even infiltrated our Christianity.

We make it about so many things, when Jesus said, “There is one thing needed.”

We stay at the surface level thanks to our little mind-numbing, look-at-the-pretty-lights, magical devices.

We think we have to lighten our Lord’s load and pick up the slack for the Creator of the universe like it all depends on us for the events in the book of Revelation to get carried out correctly.

My goodness.

The longer I journey with Jesus, the simpler I find Him to be. The ease of His yoke seems to be that He gives us just one thing at a time to focus on, not a hundred. He knows we are easily overwhelmed. In Mark 10 He tells this rich young dude, “There is one more thing you need.” This guy came to Jesus humbly, asked him what He needed to do, and listened for the answer. Not a bad formula, if there is one.
All over Scripture we see Jesus giving a very manageable bite-size nugget tailored to the need of each person. And that nugget, that one thing, is something Jesus sees as so jugular that it is actually responsible for many things. In the case of this rich young guy, Jesus only asked Him to sell his possessions. That’s it. That one thing. But he had many possessions. I don’t know if they did estate sales back then or what, but I’m guessing it would take a minute to sell all you have. It would for us. Probably have to do Craig’s List, ebay, yard sales, give-aways. Not sure we could get it done in a week even.

Jesus told a lawyer to love God and others.

He told Martha to listen to Him.

Before His ascension, He told His followers to stay in the city until they are filled with the Holy Spirit.

He told the disciples to follow Him.

He told Nicodemus He must be reborn (born from above).

He told Zacchaeus to get out of a tree.

A Samaritan woman to call her hubby.

Lazarus to arise.

Before dying, He told the disciples to remain in His love.

After rising, to come and eat breakfast!

Peter to feed His sheep.

So we’ve got love, listen, stay, follow, be reborn, get down from the tree, call your husband, get up, remain in His love, feed the flock, and my favorite–have breakfast with me!

As you can see, we’re not talking’ rocket surgery here. One simple thing at a time that will have a domino affect on many areas of your life. And I’m not sure we even have to do all these things listed here–these were mostly specific to these people where they were. Let’s be careful thinking we have to do very single thing mentioned in the Bible.

What is Jesus asking of you right now?

In the very awesome book The Power Of Habit, they talk about keystone habits. These are those habits that are responsible for many other habits. It’s important to identify these in order to save yourself from expending the wasted energy on so many things, or trying to muster energy you don’t even have. Though they can be unique to each person, there are some keystone habits that are more universal. An example they give is regular exercise. Studies show that people who exercise regularly generally eat better, smoke less, and are more effective at their jobs than people who don’t exercise regularly. So instead of trying hard to eat better, smoke less, work better, you could choose to focus only on your workout rhythm. By concentrating the bulk of your energy on that one thing, you will automatically excel at other things without having to give much direct energy to all of them.

I believe one of these universal keystone habits in Scripture to be the Practice of the Presence of God:

You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusts in Thee.
-Isaiah 26:3

I keep my mind on God always; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

-Psalm 16:8

Pray without ceasing.

-I Thessalonians 5:17

Remain in My love.

-John 15:4

We see it throughout the Word, and if you’re always thinking, loving, praying to, and relying on God, then you’re most likely doing some good in the world, am I right?

What was it Luther said? Love God with all your heart, and then do whatever the hell you want.

I’m paraphrasing.

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria