4.30.15–>”The Sacrament of the Present Moment-How to Slow Down Time”

Z and G Easter

“There remains one single duty. It is to keep one’s gaze fixed on the master one has chosen and to be constantly listening so as to understand and hear and immediately obey His will.”
Jean-Pierre de Caussade from The Sacrament of the Present Moment

Our daughter Zayra turns eight years old today.

It’s funny how people always use the old cliche, “It goes by so fast doesn’t it?” I’ve shared this with some of you before, but I always want to answer, “Well, no. Not if you’re paying attention.” For me, it’s not gone by very fast at all. In fact, we’ve been teasing Zayra lately that she has been seven for like three years now! I can’t believe our girls are only eight and nine.

Much of this I chalk up to being introduced to Brother Lawrence about 15 years ago, and making a concerted effort to live more in the moment. To pay attention to NOW. The more present you are, the more you appreciate at a given moment in time. It does not have to fly by. And anyone can do this in any situation, some situations may just require more work than others. It also helps that children start planning their birthday party approximately four months in advance, bringing it up every single hour of every single day of those four months.

From what I have studied, there are three ways to slow down time:

  1. Travel close to the speed of light. Albert Einstein found that the closer you approach the speed of light, the more time actually slows down. The problem here is that light travels about 670 million miles per hour, and the fastest thing I know of that humans have constructed is a satellite/telescope thing that goes about 34,000 miles per hour. So we have a ways to go on that one.
  2. You could stand on the edge of a black hole. This edge is called the “Event Horizon.” This would definitely slow time down, maybe more than you’d like. For every minute you stand near the event horizon of the black hole Sagittarius A, a thousand years goes by on earth! (It has to do with the fact that gravity trumps time, but that’s not important right now.) Again, from what I understand, we cannot stand on the edge of black holes yet. Anyway, I’m not sure you’d want to slow time down there, as there’s probably not much to do, and I’m guessing it would get pretty darn lonely.
  3. Practice the Presence of God. This one, by far, makes the most sense. No rocket ship required. Simply live in the present moment, aware of God with you, paying attention to the fact of His love and care for you in it, as well as all the beauty He offers within each moment. I like to call this the “Marian Moment Mindset” as each moment, like Mother Mary, is impregnated by the Holy Spirt, birthing God. Will we pay attention to the delivery?
I had a most beautiful moment last nite. I was sitting at the dining room table reading/studying for class, and the girls were in the backyard on the swing set. Suddenly, it caught my attention–their joyous laughter. Then the singing. I stopped reading, sat up at attention opening the window behind me, to hear them both singing together at the top of their little lungs, “Jesus, Jesus, How I Love Thee!” and other songs they’ve been learning. I had to get up and walk to our back kitchen window, where I stood and stared at them swinging on swings, laughing, singing, and lost in pure joy of one another and nature.

Talk about time slowing down. At my kitchen window, I was standing on the event horizon. There are no words that come close to doing justice to the joy of that moment. So I will choose simply to cherish it forever.

I believe we can live all of life in this kind of attentive appreciation.

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

4.29.15–>”Frank C. Laubach’s Game With Minutes”

Frank Laubach

1 Thessalonians 5:17

Pray without ceasing.

Frank Laubach is the twentieth century guy who really practiced the Presence of God, reaped the reward of it, and wrote of it.

Do you know this man? Pretty incredible dude. At one point, he set out to make the rest of his life an experiment to see if he could live every moment in conscious awareness of God being with him. Or, as he wrote in his journal, “But this year I have started out trying to live all my waking moments in conscious listening to the inner voice, asking without ceasing, ‘What, Father, do you desire said? What, Father, do you desire done this minute?'”

He came up with and wrote his Game With minutes–“to call Him to mind at least one second of each minute.” This was his way of growing this ever blessed habit of abundant living.

He had gone on mission work to the Philippines, and after much frustration with others and himself, he decided to just live each moment to please God, paying attention to Him moment by moment, listening to His voice.

Everything changed.

God gave Laubach a system of literacy, along with the motto “Each One Teach One,” and he is credited with being responsible for 100 million people learning to read! No joke. No misspelling. ONE HUNDRED MILLION (say in Dr. Evil’s voice–except it’s the opposite of evil)! Because he was obedient and listened to God.

His little book Letters by a Modern Mystic has been one of the great blessings of my life. It is his collection of journal entires in the 1930s. Inspiring, incredible stuff. I love Frank Laubach and cannot wait to meet him and hug him.

Closing his little book The Game With Minutes, Frank Laubach says, “You win your minute if during that minute you either”:

  1. Pray.
  2. Recall God.
  3. Sing or hum a devotional hymn.
  4. Talk or write about God.
  5. Seek to relieve suffering of any kind in a prayerful spirit.
  6. Work with the consciousness of God’s presence.
  7. Whisper to God.
  8. Feel yourself encompassed by God.
  9. Look at a picture or symbol of Christ.
  10. Read a Scripture verse or poem about God.
  11. Give someone a helpful hand for the Lord’s sake.
  12. Breathe a prayer for the people you meet.
  13. Follow the leading of the Inner Voice.
  14. Plan or work for the Kingdom of God.
  15. Testify to others about God, the church, or this game.
  16. Share suffering or sorrow with another.
  17. Hear God or see Him in flowers, trees, water, hills, sky.
Also, because of the great and bountiful work he had done, on September 2, 1984, the U.S. released a postage stamp with his face on it, commemorating the 100 year anniversary of  his birth as you can see below.

Seek God first, and all the other things will be added to you as well.

Frank Laubach stamp

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

4.28.15–>”A Subtle but very real distraction from God’s Presence”


1 Corinthians 7:35

I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.


Oddly, something that can distract us from God’s Presence, is the very practicing of God’s Presence.

It is easy, because of the subtlety of it, to be more focused on the practice than on God. 

We want to be extremely clear that it is our hope that these daily meditations are a catalyst to bring you closer to the person, Jesus Christ. We never want or intend to bring more focus on some discipline than on God. Every rhythm suggested has the point of unity with God. That is the end to which these means point.

Turning the mind to God. Turning your heart toward Jesus, your soul to the Holy Spirit. There is nothing greater than this! May we never get caught up in terminology or “things we have to do.” May we get caught up in Christ alone. It is all about seeking Him.

If, let’s say, I am focused more on the order or method of Lectio Divina then on God Himself within it, then I have missed the point, and it has become a notch above pointless. I say a notch above because hey, you’re still reading the word of God, am I right?

Someone has said that nothing can take us away from the love of God like service to God. We can be so into the service that we are not into God–this is the danger to watch out for.

I love love love Thomas Merton’s picture of this. Contemplation (connecting to God) is the spring, action is the stream. The stream always flows from the spring. The spring is, therefore, much more important. Without connecting to God, it is just a matter of time and willpower before we burn out.

And may we never forget the wisdom Yoda gave when Luke asked if the dark side was stronger:

“No! No. No. Quicker, easier, more seductive.”

One of the “101s” of prayer is to check yourself to make sure that, during your prayer, you are thinking more about who you are talking with (God) than the actual content itself of what you are saying. Again, this is just subtle enough to easily throw you off track.

To make this extremely simple for myself, I make it my goal each day to think about and talk with God more than I think about or talk with anybody else.

I Love You!


In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

4.27.15–>”Do Everything for the Glory of God…even Metal Concerts”

All For the Glory of God


I Corinthians 10:31

So, then, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do everything to God’s glory.

I recall having a conversation with my dad when I was probably in my late teens or so, and it culminated with me confoundedly “accusing” him with, “You act like every single thing we do is suppose to glorify God!”

“Well, yes,” was his simple and rock solid reply.

Not quite what I expected back. I thought I had made a fine statement pointing out the ridiculosity in his thought process.

Reminiscing on that now, I see that he was likely the incredulous one thinking, “What have I been trying to tell you all along? Is that such a foreign concept to you–to do everything for the glory of God???”

Inside, I was probably defensive because of my love for metal shows and movies, thinking I could not possibly do those things to the glory of God. Doing something for the glory of God meant going to church, or participating in ministering in the form of what we called “visitation” which, to me, was some uncomfortable interaction in which we try to convince people of what they should believe.

My thinking was off.

As I use to tell my personal training clients who were concerned with their lack of strength, “It’s not how much you do, it’s how you do it.”

I still go to metal shows and movies, but with different eyes, ears, and heart. I go with God, in His Presence, listening to Him, looking for Him, as well as the needs of the world. I’ll never forget going to an Avenged Sevenfold show with my buddy Todd, and having three incredible opportunities to share the love of Jesus with people hurting, in need, or looking for some sort of answer to life’s woes. We were blown away by how they were slow-pitch served up to us. We were simply paying attention, open to God, His leading, His glory.

By the way, what the heaven is glory anyway? Sometimes we throw around words or phrases in Christendom, and I wonder if we even know what we’re talking about. So I looked up “Glory” in a few of the many large, heavy, intimidating-looking books on my shelves to find that glory refers to honor, praise, dignity, reputation, as well as opinion, conjecture, and expectation. So we are seeking to bring attention to God’s reputation, not our own. His praise, not ours. To honor God, not ourselves. In the OT, glory referred to God’s tangible Presence in creation full of splendor and majesty, unapproachable because of its pure awesomeness. It was shrouded in the cloud on Mt. Sinai so as to shield humans from it’s terrible greatness.

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

4.26.15–>”Without this Foundation…”

What is Your House Built On?


Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it’s impossible to please God; for those who come to worship God must believe that he really does exist, and that he rewards those who seek him. [KNT]

This practicing the Presence of God stuff is really great, but only if it emanates from that which is constructed upon a solid foundation of belief in some basics.

Starting with the general and working toward the more specific, we begin with the need to believe there actually exists a transcendent supernatural Being. That this mysterious Being brought into existence the cosmos. The cosmos is the whole body of everything we observe. Existence and reality was brought into being by this Being.

We believe this (our) Creator has revealed itself to us in different ways. We Christians believe the ultimate revelation of Creator is Jesus Christ–the human form of God. So we can actually know what God is like. What is God like? Just like Jesus, the image of the invisible God. Other revelations are Holy Scripture, Nature, and the Holy Spirit, who reveals herself thru a variety of means: people, pain, dreams, books, and on and on. (Tho we can know God partly, we of course cannot comprehend God fully. We can know what He reveals and allows us to see, but the rest is mystery or else not God.)

Getting more specific, and closer to home you might say, we believe this God who has revealed Himself is the very essence of Love itself and desires to be in close conversational relationship with us. This is clearest in the ultimate act of selfless love of Jesus around A.D. 30. God’s desire to be with us culminated in this act of incomprehensible agape. All through history, God communicates with humans, wooing them to Himself to be one with Him.

This all has many implications for what we are to believe about ourselves then.

We are worthy of love.

We are loved right now exactly as we are.

We are cared for by our Creator.

We are worth communicating with.

And all of this just because. Just because you are you and were made for love. God is the great Initiator. We love Him because He first loved us. This is an uber important basic belief: God has initiated relationship with us already, and even has made and revealed the way to Himself so that we may be connected to Him in oneness.

He has already done His part in complete perfection, and patiently waits for us to say yes to Him. And He rewards those who diligently seek after Him. That is a promise.

Will we choose to participate in the Life that really is life which is life lived in His constant loving Presence?

I’ve always been moved by these words by Henri Nouwen:

We’re basically here on earth for twenty, forty, sixty, or eighty years to say to God, “I love You too.”

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

4.25.15–>”How to Live on the Doorstep of Hell”

selfish-me me me

“To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell.”  -Thomas Merton

My spiritual director reminded me the other day that “I am third.”

When priorities are right, when I am loving God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I am at shalom–considering God first, then others, then myself.

How often though I consider myself first and how something is going to affect ME, and then making decisions accordingly. Mostly, it’s “How much time will this rob me of doing what I want to do?”

This is a bastardized and self-worshipping version of “counting the cost” in my estimation. Always counting the cost to me. Me. Me. Me.

But when I am allowing God His rightful place on the throne of my heart, when I am practicing His Presence, my considerations look like this:

  • “How will this bring glory to God?”
  • “How will this encourage someone?”
  • Then, maybe, “What is the cost?”
And when prioritizing God above all else, living in His loving presence and guidance, the costs are seen as they really are–negligible. What cost is too great for the One who has loved me more than any human possibly can?

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

4.24.15–>”I’ve Been Thinking A Lot About Bread…”

“Bread Good. Fire Bad!” -Frankenstein as portrayed by Phil Hartman on SNL


Exodus 25:30

Put the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all times.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus saying He is the Bread of Life, and more specifically the promise that whoever eats it will never be hungry.

It hit me this week with deep meaning. Something I have experienced is that when I am feasting on God Himself, when He is my sole source of food for my soul, I have need of nothing else.

I am not hungry for anything from anybody. It’s as if I am so satisfied with this bread of life that nothing else sounds remotely as tasty. In this state, you don’t go off into apathy toward people, but you begin to need very little from them. Less and less you need things to go your way, for people to think you’re awesome, to treat you well, etc.

Though, when eating the Bread of the Presence for your soul’s nutritional needs, chances are you’ll see with your new set of eyeballs as more things going “your way” because of your enhanced trust of and rest in YHWH. People may even think you’re awesome and treat you well, but you don’t require it any longer. And some people will think you’re a total dork.


Feasting upon the Presence of God frees you from being so needy because so many of your needs are literally forgotten due to being stuffed on the Bread of Life.

“Take that dessert away, I’m so full, it looks disgusting!!!”

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

4.23.15–>”Practicing the Presence of God”

Brother Lawrence quote

Matthew 28:20

I am always with you, every single day, every single moment. [NRV]

No spiritual discipline is easier or more accessible to everyone than this one.

What is it?

It is simply waking up to God’s presence right now. All it requires is for you to remember that God is with you at this moment, for that is where God meets you–in the right now.

At this moment, as you read this sentence, remind yourself that you are submerged in God’s love.

BOOM. You just did it. You practiced the presence of God. That’s it. Could anything be easier? Now do that every moment of the day today.

There’s where the challenge arises. Not in the skill of doing it. If practicing God’s presence were in a game box, it would probably say “Skill Level 0” on it. It’s not difficult to do. There’s no math or even reading involved. The challenge is in the remembering it.

But the reward is infinite.

I believe that all spiritual disciplines end in this one, the conscious awareness and acknowledgement of the constant loving presence of God. Nothing is more transforming.

There’s been three authors* over the years known for having written on this practice (as well as having employed it mightily!), and they would all emphatically agree that remaining awake to God’s presence in the present moment is the single most important task of the Christian life and that no spiritual discipline is more foundational or transforming than this one.

Greg Boyd wrote a super fantastic little book on this in 2010 called Present Perfect. It’s one of those books I read every year at least once as it is such a beautiful reminder of what is most important. I love, and wholeheartedly agree with, what he shares personally on practicing God’s presence, so will leave us with his words today:

“I’ve been a Christian for thirty-four years now, during which time I’ve read close to a hundred books about the spiritual disciplines and attended numerous conferences on the subject. I’ve gained a lot of valuable insight from these sources. But like these three authors, I have found the simple practice of remaining  aware of God’s presence each moment brings me to the point toward which all other disciplines aspire. It is, I’m convinced, the bedrock of a vibrant relationship with God and the key to transformation into the likeness of Christ.”

Will you start today to remain awake to God’s presence and love for you each moment?

  • Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection (17th century)
  • Jean-Pierre de Caussade (17th century)
  • Frank Laubach (20th century)

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

4.22.15–>”Review & Reflection”


Review & Reflection

2 Corinthians 11:3

But the serpent tricked Eve with its cunning, and in the same way I’m afraid that your minds may be corrupted from the single-mindedness and purity which the Messiah’s people should have. [KNT]

In practicing what we preach, we will take a moment to review what we’ve gone over this month so far.We began on April Fools Day, as most Aprils begin, discussing “Small Wins.” Doing one small simple thing at a time consistently, watching it manifest into major breakthroughs. Small wins could also be called “Keystone Habits” as found in the incredible book The Power of Habit. What are those little things you can do everyday to bring you relationally closer to God and greatly improve your outlook on life?

The Point of it All. Before getting into some specific keystone habits for the spiritual life, it was important to know the point of it all so we knew the “why” of these habits. I believe we are here to become one with God just as Jesus said that He and the Father were one. To live a life of divine love and be filled with that divine love more and more everyday. In order to be filled, we must take advantage of the “means of grace” for the filling. “Operation: Fill & Spill” as I like to call it in order to become God’s Unconditional Love Machines spilling out His love onto the world. This is the healing of the nations–divine love through us all. Unless we employ those means of grace, I don’t see how we will be filled over time with more and more of God. That’s the point of these habits and the reason for the formation of them, to create space for the Spirit of Jesus to indwell us.

The means of grace, or maybe we could call them “filling stations” (this is what older people like my mom call gas stations), we are talking about this month are:

  • The Examen Prayer
  • Lectio Divina
  • Spiritual Partnership
  • Memorization
  • Practicing the Presence of God
Yesterday we finished the memorization part and the neurology to go along with it. Tomorrow we will start discussing The Practice of the Presence of God, which I believe to be key of keystone habits! This one was a real game-changer for me years ago and I look so forward to digging into it with you all…I wish we could do it in person. Hey, maybe we should have a monthly discussion time open to whoever wants to come. I just thought of that…I love the verse from 2 Corinthians above. May we never lose or stray from the simplicity of devotion to Christ.

Man, I am concerned you are losing your single-minded laser focus on Jesus and, therefore, your purity of devotion to Him which is what it’s all about! It’s like when that snake in the garden tricked Eve with his deceitful craftiness–the world and even religion bombards you with its lies, and it’s so easy to be led astray because of the constancy of it as well as the convincing eloquence with which it entices you.
2 Corinthians 11:3 [NRV]*

* New Roop Version: “Oh the NeRVe of this translation!”

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

4.21.15–>”The Neurology of the Good Samaritan”

What It All Leads


Luke 10:25-37

“Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy.” Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

So why talk about memory, memorization, and the neuroscience of it?

Well, because of the Good Samaritan I guess. Isn’t the connection obvious?

Here’s the conclusion being drawn by some of the scientists:

It takes a calm, attentive mind to feel and also demonstrate empathy and compassion.

The neural processes for the higher emotions are inherently slow. They take some time to process, in all of us. And experiments with brain scans are showing that the more distracted we become, the less we are able to actually experience compassion, empathy, and other higher emotions.

Some Buddhist monks’ brains were actually studied in an MRI tube while they were meditating. And it was found that “compassion meditation” seemed to reset their brain so that it was always ready to respond to another’s suffering. Even while not meditating, their brains are trained to always give some response to suffering. The doctor studying them said, “It is like having a paramedic team on standby: It is ready to go at a moment’s notice, and so is the brain at which the capacity for compassion has been cultivated.”*

So it’s not just the feeling of the higher emotions, but the ability to act upon them. When Jesus was asked once about inheriting eternal life, He responded with the two most important things: Love God with your whole being, and love your neighbor as yourself. The lawyer who asked the question wanted some clarification on who his neighbor was. Jesus’ answer was the parable of the Good Samaritan–a guy who acted on empathy and compassion at a moment’s notice, no matter what else he had going on at the time.

I’m sure many of you have heard of the experiment done at a seminary, in which it was staged for someone to need attention on the pathway of students rushing to some theology exam. About a third of the students stopped to help the person. The others had to get to their God test!

The more distracted we become, the more focused on ourselves, the more we miss the point of it all.

Now we’re not saying the Internet is satan. It’s just that we do need to pay attention to what’s happening in us and in those around us. We don’t want to become “pancake people”, spread thin, always scattered, and unable to feel deeply for and attend to people; for then we lose our very humanity.

So memorize some Scripture for Christ’s sake (literally), and not just for memorization sake. But to ingest more of God and become an ever deeper human being.

Paradoxically, one of the things I love about all this science stuff is that, in the end, we see that we don’t really need all the science stuff. It’s fascinating to me and very fun, but all we really need is to take God at His word. As the old hymn goes, “Only Trust Him.” All of this stuff He has already told us for living the fullest life. To be single-minded, to meditate upon Him and His word, to care more for others than your own wants, to “think on these things”, etc. Perhaps as we get so modernized, God allows us to see more and more behind the curtain. The brain science that He knew waaaaaaay before we did.

“Trust me. I know what I’m talking about,” I hear Jesus saying. Brother Lawrence said it almost 400 years ago, “God is infinitely good and He knows what He is doing.” I wonder what an MRI would’ve shown of his brain….

Remember the picture of the still lake as the calm mind. You throw just a pebble in and you see it clearly. But the distracted mind is like the turbulent water. Throw in a boulder and you won’t even notice the effect. Becoming intimately one with YHWH changes us because it rewires how we see and what we are able to see. Flitting about from thing to thing or being overly concerned about our own well-being because we don’t entrust it to God (Mt.6:33) inhibits our vision for those around us in need.

But focusing on just a few things that matter and entrusting ourselves wholly to God enables us to be calm and at the ready to share in suffering and be Jesus’s healing touch to those around us.

Like a paramedic team on standby.

Is that how the world sees us?


*Richard J, Davidson, Ph.D.

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria