12.31.15–>”Looking Back on 2015. Looking Ahead to 2016″

Jesus laughing

Psalm 46:10

Be still and know that I am God.


Reflection, I have found, to be a most important of practices for us. If we never stop to take inventory, we will probably not notice what is actually happening in our lives–what is  going well, what is not working, or even where God is in our day to day reality.

To paraphrase and extrapolate from the late great theologian, Chris Farley, If you never shut your big yapper, you’ll never hear anything! Am I right? It is in stopping that we notice; it is in silence that we hear.

So I hope this week, or even this day, you’re able to sit and reflect on 2015. You will doubtless see, first of all, that you have much to be thankful for.

Here are some prompts that a friend sent me last year this time which may help spark some 2015 reflection for you:

Consolations: What has been life gaining and deepened your sense of connection to God and God’s purposes for you? How could you strengthen these aspects of your life?

Desolations: What has been life draining and made you lose that sense of intimacy with God and your confidence in God’s purposes for you? How is God speaking to you through this?

What are the major pressures in your life? Where do you think the pressure comes from? What are the underlying causes? What is one thing you could do in the next year to relieve some of this pressure?

How do the above impact your spiritual well being? Write down the positive and negative impacts of the consolations, desolations, and pressures on your life. Share them with someone you wholly trust. Converse with God directly about how you can harness this impact so that your heart may be broken open to new possibilities for a better future. What is one new practice you could incorporate into your spiritual disciplines to maximize the life giving nature of these forces?

What is one thing you need to do every day?

I hope this is a help!

Looking ahead to 2016, after prayer and consideration, I feel led to send revised and updated versions of the “Daily Meds” of 2014 on the Gospel accounts and Proverbs.

First off, I love and feel the need for reading through the Gospel accounts daily. I do not believe we can ever exhaust the wisdom and Life contained in these four accounts. If you read nothing else, read these, for in them is Life indeed. In them is straightforward Jesus Christ.

Secondly, paraenesis. We need to be continually reminded of what we believe. I’d rather know a few things really well, than a thousand things only an inch deep. Reading a chapter a day, you will have read through all four gospel accounts every quarter, and the wisdom literature of Proverbs every month.

This is good.

There’s always something new to glean from these.

About a fourth of you signed up this year, so these will be completely new anyway. And for those of you who have seen them, I hadn’t sent pretty pictures with them before, so that’ll be exciting, won’t it!

Ok, well, I love you all, and I love connecting with you in this way. It’s almost like we spend a little time together everyday in some distant yet bonding manner.

I pray a blessing upon your day today and your new year starting tomorrow!

I pray that you will make spending focused, undistracted time with Jesus your first and most important priority of the day, every single day, starting right now. For it is reward beyond words that I shall never tire of promoting.


12.30.15–>”My 11 Favorite books I read this year”

If you’re interested, I thought I’d share my eleven favorite books that I read and finished this year, as well as a short word on why I liked them so much.

Not everyone has the time to read that I am blessed with, so you want to be selective, and maybe this will help pique your interest to a few wonderful writings.

  1. Jesus of Nazareth: What He Wanted, Who He Was (2012)Gerhard Lohfink  This is probably the deepest book on Jesus I’ve ever read. And yet it is extremely accessible. I now feel I have finally started to grasp Jesus of Nazareth in His Old Testament & Jewish context. Incredibly enlightening. You think the subtitle is a little bold and daring, like “Who do you think you are to say what He wanted & who He was?” Then you start reading. And you’re like, “Oh…..Wow…..OK.” A big takeaway: Jesus did not do away with the Old Testament; He geniously interpreted it rightly…as no one else ever did.                                             Lohfink1
  2. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (2014)-Greg McKeown I’m listening to this for a second time because it was so very good and practically helpful. “Sacrifice the trivial many for the vital few” is the mantra throughout this book, as well as “Less but better.” Most of our life is noise, and here’s how to do what really matters. It’s not that this info is terribly new, it’s that McKeown’s delivery of it is so terribly awesome! I listen to a little bit of this almost daily as a constant, helpful reminder.                                               essentialism
  3. Fully Human, Fully Divine: An Interactive Christology (2004)-Michael Casey This is also the deepest book I’ve probably ever read on Jesus. It is deep in the heart/emotional sense. This Aussie monk, Casey, has become one of my absolute favorite authors this past year after reading Toward God and now this. Amazingly in tune with humanity and able to communicate it more viscerally than most anyone I’ve read.                        fully human fully divine
  4. Desiring God’s Will: Aligning Our Hearts With the Heart of God (2005)-David Benner This is the 3rd book of a most amazing trilogy, the first two being Surrender to LoveThe Gift of Being Yourself. I’d probably put this trilogy second to the Star Wars trilogy. Each one of these I end up putting my highlighter away because I’ll just end up highlighting the entire book. A major helpful idea Benner illumines is the difference of willfulness and willingness, and how it changes our lives.  benner DGW
  5. Escaping the Matrix: Setting Your Mind Free to Experience Real Life in Christ (2005)-Greg Boyd & Al Larson This is one of the absolute most practical books on how to really live your actual life in Christ. There’s neuroscience, exercises, examples, and plenty of Scripture. So many Christians are not free because they have not allowed Jesus into their subconscious, which is way faster than your conscious mind, and dictates reactions and deep emotions. This book shows you how to let Christ in to the deep recesses of your heart and life. I’ve used one of the exercises, “Experiencing Jesus”, with a couple of groups now, and it’s been deeply moving. escaping matrix
  6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (2012)-Charles Duhigg An extremely well written and fun read on the science of habit. You are a product of your habits, whether you like it or not, for good or for bad! Whether you know it or not, you are in the habit loop of “Cue-Routine-Reward.” Wake up to it, and harness its power!                                power of habit
  7. Abide in Christ (1882) Andrew Murray Every word of every book I’ve ever read of Andrew Murray is absolute gold. There is never a doubt about this guy’s devotion to Christ, or that he was totally tuned in to the Holy Spirit. You just can’t fake it and write the way this guy writes! I read a couple of Murray books every year no matter what. He wrote a lot of his books in the format of 31 short chapters so as to be digested over the span of a month. If you’ve never read Andrew Murray, then you’re probably not a real Christian. I’M KIDDING. But seriously, go read one of his books immediately.                                                      Abide in Christ-Murray
  8. The Illumined Heart: The Ancient Christian Path of Transformation (2001)-Frederica Mathewes-Green This little 102 page gem was the “surprise hit” of the year for me. I found it in the clearance section of Half Price Books, not knowing of this author. It looked quite intriguing, and proved to be very formative for me. She reminds us of the mind set of the earliest Christians from the first and second centuries. Their goal was to be one with Christ–no matter what. Their practices all led toward that end. (We sent “Is Theosis Our Telos?” based off this book.)   illumined heart
  9. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains (2010)-Nicholas Carr As the title states, we are becoming more shallow due to what the internet is doing to our brains. Here’s what’s been said of this masterpiece: “Eloquent,” “Riveting,” “Rewarding,” “Revelatory,” “Grade: A,” “Absorbing [and] Disturbing,” “Essential,” “Provocative,” “A Book Everyone Should Read.” I agree with all of these descriptions. It is incredibly fascinating, packed with history, science, and page-turning eloquence. This was very enlightening, and confirmed many suspicions of the internet dumbing us down as we sacrifice ourselves to it. Also, it was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.                   shallows
  10. The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind–A New Pespective on Christ and His Message (2008) Cynthia Bourgeault This gives a different angled look at Jesus, helping you to see Him through, most likely, a new lens. She looks at Jesus through the wisdom tradition, yet without taking away from His divinity. And that, is something I really loved about this book. A couple of takeaways were The Welcoming Practice and Kenosis.                                           wisdom jesus
  11. Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God–A Guide to Contemplation (2004)-James Finley One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read, to put it simply. And possibly my favorite cover of all time. The title says it all, what most of my life is about these days. So I loved this book with the deepest of loves. Just now I opened the book randomly to page 143, where I have this highlighted: “We meditate that we might live in a habitual awareness of God living in us, for us, and by us in all that we simply are.” BOOM.                                                  christian meditation

This has been fun! Enjoy your day!!

12.29.15–>”I Love it When I screw Up”

Mightiest Force in the World

Luke 11:9-10

So this is my word to you: ask and it will be given you; search and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.

You see, everyone who asks receives! Everyone who searches finds! Everyone who knocks has the door opened for them! 

Our two daughters started taking this after school art class that goes for an hour every Thursday. So instead of picking them up at 3:00 on that day, I have until 4:00 to do whatever I need/want to do.

On the Thursday before Christmas break, I confirmed that they were still having the art class so as to plan my day. Yes, it was still on this day before the big break.


Well, the power of habit.

3:00 approaches, and I trek right over to pick them up. As soon as they come out they ask, “Daddy, are we not going to illustrator class?” “Craaaaap! I forgot! Yes, you’re going. Go back in, I’ll get you in an hour, so sorry.”

“You said a bad word, daddy.”

“Just go back in, I’ll see you at four!”

Walking back to my car, I mildly berated myself for screwing up and wasting a precious hour, but nothing to cause me permanent emotional damage. Then I wonder what I’m gonna do with my new found free time, which is probably forty-five minutes by this point.

Normally, I think of the closest bookstore to go to, or maybe grab a coffee. But then I had the thought, “Just sit in your car and be still. You always have a book in the car. You don’t need to go anywhere.”

I looked through the four little paperbacks I keep in the car, and I chose Prayer: The Mightiest Force in the World by Frank Laubach. I’d been looking forward to reading this one for a while now.

Oh my. I can hardly describe the grand blessing I received reading this little book! I got through over fifty pages sitting there in the parking lot, and God spoke so powerfully through this experience.

First off, I was reminded of the obvious truth that there is always a blessing waiting to be uncovered, at each moment of your every day.

Secondly, God vividly reminded me of the power and efficacy of prayer.

A life saturated in prayer.

One thing God has shown me this year is that when my frustration levels rise with people, at their not doing what I feel they should be doing, the frustration is due to a lack of prayer for them on my part. It is difficult to be frustrated with people you are praying for continually. And the more you are praying for someone, the easier it is to simply love them. Your feelings toward them actually change.

Not only that, but I’ve seen people’s hearts soften as a result of prayer over them. Through prayer, that which we cannot make happen, is accomplished through YHWH. Laubach attests to many stories of this in his book. It was needed and inspiring to be reminded of this. I had gotten away from praying persistently for people, and found myself focused on too much on them and their shortcomings more than on God and just talking to Him.

Laubach writes about praying at the back of people’s heads on the bus, and how many times they would seem to know it, turn around, and start talking about the deep things of life with him “out of the blue.” I’ve experienced this myself. I remember one time at a concert praying for every person I saw, feeling the love of God for them intensely, and I ended up having three deep-things-of-life conversations with searching, hurting people pouring their hearts out that nite. And this at a metal festival. My buddy I was with was like, “Man that was weird.”

God is weird.

Another specific incident was on a Friday at the gym, where this guy said that he thought that there is no pure deed done by anyone. There’s always selfish motives in there somewhere. It really bugged me that he said that. It saddened me. I’m sure I took some of it even personally. But I remember deciding to give it to God, and I prayed for him all weekend long. I prayed for his heart, that God would reveal Himself to Him. And would you know, come Monday, he comes up to me and first thing he says, “Hey, I wanna take something back I said on Friday…”



I’ve had things like that happen many, many times.

Thank you, gentle Lord for reminding me of the power of talking everything over with You. Thank you for reminding me that You want to work in people’s hearts in a real way, but that You wait to hear from us first much of the time. Sometimes you wait a loooong time.

I’m thankful I screwed up and arrived an hour early to pick the girls up that day. I’m thankful I had that book in the car. I’m thankful that prayer makes a difference. That it is not merely talking to the wall, or pointless wishful thinking. It is power. It is energy in the form of some sort of telepathy that affects the world around and within us.

12.27.15–>”H.A. Williams”

When I attempt to make myself virtuous, the me I can thus organize and discipline is no more the me of which I am aware. And it is precisely the equation of my total self with this one small part of it which is the root cause of all sin. This is the fundamental mistake often made in exhortation to repentance and amendment. They attempt to confirm me in my lack of faith by getting me to organize the self I know against the self I do not know.

-H.A. Williams

12.25.15–>The Healing This Child Brings”


This child will bring healing to the world. Healing through freedom for each heart who believes…

Freedom from guilt.

Freedom from the need for approval of people.

Freedom from the search for significance and worth in anything but Me.

Freedom from the desire to possess.

Healing via metanoia— a change of vision, a change of how one views and approaches life.

To see the world as it really is, ascribing all that is in it its true value.

Ascribing all people infinite value, seeing the precious jewel at the core of each person.

To see all people with His vision: compassion, understanding, and self-offering

Healing with the gift of constant, direct access to the Source of Life and strength and love.

Healing by experiencing My moment-by-moment comforting Presence, support, guidance, help, and unconditional Love to all who seek it from the utmost sincerity of their heart.

This is what this child shall bring…


12.23.15–>”Jesus always said YES to His Father”

Frank Laubach

Forty-seven times in the Gospel of John, Jesus said He was under God’s orders, and that He never did anything, never said anything, until His Father gave the command. He was listening every moment of the day to His invisible companion and saying, “Yes.” This perfect obedience was what made Him one with His Father and what gave the Father perfect confidence in the Son. It is the reason the Father loves the Son so fondly.

-Frank Laubach