The Daily

Daily devotions and thoughts from Cypress Meadows


The Daily is a short but thought provoking reading from Bob Goff’s book: ‘Live in Grace – Walk in Love’.  It will arrive via a text on your phone every morning and is designed to help you pause, spiritually center yourself, and let your soul breathe.  


So find a space, take a few moments, and breath in deep of the grace of heaven. Then go step back into you day “walking in love” and you will be a force to be reckoned with…

April 1


"Truly I tell you," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life." LUKE 18:29-30

When you find the perfect house and you're ready to close the deal, you know there are two different prices on the home: the one that's listed and the one they'll accept. If you have a good Realtor, you can play hardball and walk away with enough money left over to put a treehouse in the backyard. We all know this is how it works: people aim for the high price and predictably settle for less. 

But when it comes to love, Jesus settled the question. He was approached by a guy who wanted to know what it looked like to follow Him. The guy wanted to become love. Jesus told Him to follow all the commandments. This guy said he had, so Jesus said if he really wanted to go all in with love, he had to sell everything he had and give the money to the poor. Well the guy, who had never broken a law, thought about how much he had and walked away sad because· he couldn't give it all. 

Going all in on love isn't like buying a house. We can't make a deal and get away with giving less. Love's asking price is everything, and there's no negotia­tion. I don't know ifJesus meant we have to go sell our stuff and give it away today, because He also told us to cook meals for people in our homes, which means we can hold on to our houses. But the heart of His message is clear: love costs everything. We don't get to haggle over the price. 

What has God asked you to surrender that you keep holding on to? 

April 2


Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. COLOSSIANS 3:23 

When my kids were young, they loved to read Choose Your Own Adventure books. They would speed read up to the points where they were faced with a choice that would alter the direction of the story based on what they decided. They would make a choice, turn to the page where their new storyline took off, and then they'd speed read again to get to their next big choice. 

I got into the books, too, because you get to feel like you're participating in the story. We all like that feeling where we're not just passive readers waiting to see what happens; we're characters, we're protagonists, we're heroes. We all like to shape the story while we're living it. 

These books mirror the story God is writing through us. We might not encounter obstacles on exotic islands like the kids in the stories, but we face choices every day that move the narrative in one direction or another. We're active participants in the story God's writing. We're not just observers. We've been invited to be active participants. 

None of us will know all the outcomes until the end. It's a good bet we'll find out God has made right some of the wrong choices we made along the way. Some of the choices we thought were right will no doubt turn out to be wrong. Here's the thing: Jesus didn't want us to just be believers; He wanted us to be participants. God set His story in motion with us in mind, inviting us to join with Him as He moves to bring restoration to everything around us. 


Don't settle for being a passive observer in the story God is writing around you. Jump in the action right where you are and take note of what happens. 


In what ways is God inviting you to be more of an active participant in what He's doing? 

April 3


You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor. and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. LUKE 18:22 

Confession: I'm a little ambivalent about personality tests. I don't mean the kind that tell you if you're a Griffyndor or a Slytherin or what your rapper name would be. At the time I was writing this devotional, one test called the Enneagram was all the rage. People can't tell if it's a cult or something. People are always asking me what "my number" is or they're telling me what my num­ber is, they're just sure of it. While I'm not against a little self-understanding, knowing more about yourself should never head-fake you into thinking you've become more like Jesus. 

A test might help you take steps toward a healthier and more well-balanced life. But loving people the way Jesus did will take leaps, not steps. 

Jesus said to take all our time, our energy, our dreams, and our things and to handle them like gifts for others to unwrap. He invited us into a selfless way of life that changes where we live, how we live, and who we love. Loving like Jesus means having a spirit of welcome for everyone-even the people who talk too loud and drink straight from the carton in our fridge. It means our first response is yes when we're asked to help someone move on a Saturday morning. 

I think if Jesus came up with a personality test, it would ask all about how we love sacrificially. And if we're looking for something to improve or a way to grow, Jesus' life is the only test we need. 

What feels uncomfortable inside you as you ponder going all in with Jesus? 

April 4


 know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. JOB 42:2 

When my kids were in grade school, they came up with the idea to write to all the presidents, prime ministers, and dictators in the world to ask if they could come and see them. They wanted to take what Jesus said about being peace­makers literally, and they thought there would be more peace in the world if they could get leaders who didn't get along to connect. They decided to ask these leaders whJlt they were hoping for, so they could share those hopes with other leaders to clear up any misunderstandings. 

Wanting co encourage their ambition, I said, 'That's a great idea!" So our kids sent letters to every world leader. It turns out the kids wrote to hundreds of them. 

We never thought any of the world leaders would respond, but sure enough, invitations started arriving. We got the cheapest airplane tickets we could find and our family sat down for meals and meetings with presidents and princes. We all learned so much. But I learned the most about faith from my kids. I learned anything can happen if you can dream it. We need to do more than dream it up, though. We need to lick the, stamp, pick up the phone, or get on the airplane. Even when your hopes seem unlikely, I learned it's better to have an improbable faith than a predictable life. 

It's easy to fall into the boredom of a routine life, where your thoughts revolve around your waistline, your job title, or the number on your bank statement. But kids remind us the only thing standing between our current life and the adventure we want is faith. Big faith risks making big requests. 

Don't settle for a life that is just like your neighbor's; risk believing Jesus meant what He said about our doing greater things than Him. 

If you're willing to take a risk, buckle up because you're about to see some things start happening in your life. 

What call are you going to make today? Who are you going to write to?

April 5


Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." MATTHEW 28:9-10 

The disciples were dejected in the days after Jesus died. I can understand why. They had gone all in banking on Him to be the Savior who would rescue them. But after beautiful miracles came a betrayal and a violent crucifixion. They were all out of hope. Sure, they knew He said it was all part of the plan: He would be torn down and built up again three days later. But the gap between the grief and the miracle was long enough for them to lose sight of hope, and they rewrote the story in the dark. This happens to all of us at one time or another. 


They were huddled in the second story of a house with the doors locked when Jesus appeared. Wait, what? He understood their sadness and sense of loss, but He told them two powerful words: "fear not." Even after the lights had gone out, He told them not to be afraid. 


Few times are as loaded with negative energy as the space between bad news and good. It doesn't matter what the doctor says after he's told you something's wrong; you just want hopeful test results. No kind words bring reassurance after you're let go at work unless it's someone else saying you've been hired. Even if you know there's light on the other side of the storm, it's lonely to travel in the dark. 

When the lights have gone out and you can't find your way, remember the end of the story has already been written. What difficulty are you facing? Have you been hoping for something and were let down? Be not afraid. Even if you don't feel like hope is here right now, it's waiting for you just up the road. 

What are you afraid of today? 

April 6


Now you are the body of Christ. and each one of you is a part of it. 1 CORINTHIANS 12:27 

Isn't it weird how you barely remember you have a pinky finger until you sprain it? After years of taking it for granted, suddenly your pinky makes itself known every time you pull out a credit card or reach for a fork. It reminds you every part of your body matters. What about a stubbed toe? Isn't it amazing how a one-inch toe can bring a six-foot man to his knees? 


God says we're His body here on earth. It sounds strange to think that we'd be standing in for an infinite God, but it all makes sense when you think about how He set things up. He uses small things just like they were big things. Fingers, toes, you, me. Jesus had to go for a while, so He told us He would leave His Spirit with us and we would do the things He did. He said we were going to be His body here on earth. 

If we are God's body on earth, every part has a role to play. Whether it's the eye, the mouth, the heart, the pinky, or the toe, we've all been assigned an important and irreplaceable part. Just like we can't overlook the smallest of parts, we can't overlook any of the people God made because He's given each of us a gift; everyone reflects a different part of Him. And when we work together, allowing each person to live the role God designed just for them, people will know and feel the love of Jesus. 

God knew we would be weak on our own and stronger together. The way we love each other is the best evidence that Jesus is still alive. Whether you are big or small, tall or short, wide or narrow, your Christlike love for other people is how we move forward as God's body on the earth. What's your part,? What's your role in the body, and how can you work with the people who have a different role? Can you do it without any expectation of reciprocation? 

What role do you play in the body of Christ? 

April 7


We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 
ROMANS 8:28 

I have a bit of a bias for predictable movies. I want the hero to win and the bad guy to get his just desserts. I want the complicated love story with the uncom­plicated ending. I want the asteroid destroyed before Earth gets obliterated. 

But even with these kinds of films, there's always an unpredictable turn. The hero is caught in the inescapable chamber. The couple falling in love hurt each other in ways that can't be mended. The bomb designed to save Earth malfunctions during the countdown. 

I love these kinds of movies because I think they're an accurate reflection of life. We all know life is unpredictable. The unexpected diagnosis, the lost job, the lost love. Things rarely, if ever, turn out the way we think they will or should. For various reasons, in unexpected ways, life messes up our plans, and that can make us feel unhinged and directionless. What we were counting on evaporates before our eyes, and we're left empty-handed and empty-hearted. 

I think God is the best screenwriter and knows exactly how to land your story, how you'll move through the tension and the challenge toward the truth in your life. Just like in the movies, we already know God rescues all of us in the end. Even when it looks like evil is about to win, we know Jesus rose from the grave, kicked death in the teeth, and gave grace the last word. 

Don't give into fear just because life took an unpredictable turn. We already know how the story in each of our lives is going to end. 

What's unpredictable in your life right now? How are you responding to it? 

April 8


Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. 

When I was in college, I packed up my car and drove across California to win back my high school sweetheart. She had written me a letter outlining all the ways this frat boy she had met was a better fit for her, and I was devastated. I knew she was the one even if she had temporarily forgotten. So I hopped in my VW bug and headed south, rehearsing my speech for eight hundred miles. 


The day didn't go as I had planned. She was kind enough to let me in when I showed up unannounced, but her kindness felt more like pity than rekindled affection. As I returned to my car to face my new life as a single guy, I knew my heart would forever beat a little slower.

I've often looked back on that lonely drive home with such gratitude. It reminds me that sometimes the best gift God can give is keeping us from getting what we want. We latch on to a vision of what we think will make for the "perfect life," but it turns out our vision is a little shortsighted. God has a much wider angle for your life and mine on His lens. If I had won back my high school sweetheart, I would've missed out on Sweet Maria, and my old girlfriend would have been stuck with me. I never would've known what God had waiting for me if I had only aimed at what I already had. 


God is always better than the plans we imagine for our lives. It's okay to dream big, but let's hold our plans loosely in case God wants to give us something different and better. Remember that whatever you're aiming for, God's better. 

What situation in your life right now do you need to trust in God's outcomes, not yours? 

April 9


Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 
HEBREWS 10:22 

I wasn't raised in the church. After putting my hope in Jesus, I went to Bible study. I wasn't really sure what that was, but I remember we would always pray at the end, each person following the next around a circle. There was one guy who always knew how to pray. Know what I mean? His words would come out eloquently like he'd been reading Shakespeare all day or had a speechwriter on staff A couple of times I opened my eyes just a little bit to see if he was reading from a teleprompter. "Lord, God, Father, Almighty One, we beseech You" led every sentence in the keynote address. I remember thinking I would be a little weirded out if someone beseeched me after calling me "Mr. Goff, Robert, Bob, Hey you." 

I'd get all tongue-tied and didn't have anything to reach for except really simple words and phrases. I felt like a kindergartner in front of these learned and well-versed believers who might as well have been reciting Hamlet. I didn't have the Bible memorized. I didn't have a big vocabulary. My prayers felt more like my conversations with imaginary friends when I was little, with a few more requests and apologies. 

I'm not knocking people who are good with words-it's a true gift and one I appreciate. But you can imagine my relief learning God isn't wowed by fancy words. He delights in humble hearts. He knows what we want already, and He sees through our words, big and small, to the heart behind chem. He's not looking for code words; He's just glad to hear from us. 


God's more interested in a conversation with us than a rehearsed speech. He values the relationship, and relationships happen with real people who use whatever words they can to communicate what's inside. We don't need to worry about impressing God when we come to Him. We've already won His heart. 

What would be different about your interaction with God if you approached Him more informally? 

April 10


In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 
PSALM 95:4-5 

I love it when I'm driving down the road and see a big, shaggy dog with its head out the window, tongue flapping in the wind. It seems so free to me, so unconcerned and pure. Maybe I love it so much because I used to do it as a kid. I would stick my head out the window as far as my seat belt would let me and squint my eyes as the wind roared past, pretending I was flying like Superman or sprinting like the Flash. 

Looking back, what I loved most· about it was the pure feeling of being completely enveloped by the world around me. I think God created the world with so much beauty to remind us about Himself And He gave us the senses to take it all in. We'll never be able to wrap our minds around His extravagant love, so He gave us mountains and oceans and told us to go swim and jump and climb and, yes, put our heads out the window a couple of times. We'll never understand how grace holds us, so He gave us the wind and said to let it brush against our faces. 

God is everywhere if we have the eyes to see Him. We feel His Spirit when we listen to a symphony and sense His kindness in the eyes of a newborn baby. Whenever the words we use to talk about God start to get jumbled, it's time to step outside the words and into His world. Let grace blow your hair back like your head's out the window. 

As you look around your surroundings, what signs do you see of God's presence? 

April 11


Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. 
ISAIAH 59:1 

Most of us have whispered impossible prayers at some point. We pray for an A on the exam after we blew study days at the beach or-for the police officer to forgive us for going twenty over the speed limit. Some of us have prayed more serious impossible prayers when we heard our parents fighting, when our teen­agers are out way past curfew, or when we hear about atrocities in our country or around the world. 

No matter if your prayers seem impossible or even downright ridiculous, God delights in them. He created us for relationship, with Him and other people, and communication is the heartbeat of a strong relationship. God loves it when we go to Him with our anxieties, big and small. When we could easily escape our feelings altogether, it fills Him with joy when we choose to turn to Him instead. 


One of my favorite verses in the Bible says God's arm is not too short to save us. I love the image: we can never fall too far out of His reach. At any point, no matter how unlikely it seems, God can reach into our impossible circumstances and rescue us. Sometimes God will use what seems like an impossible circumstance to remind us of our desperate need for Him. 

Next time a voice tells you not to pray for something because it's so small, pray anyway. Next time you feel like God doesn't care about the details of your life, pray anyway. And when you feel like the problem is too huge to be turned around, even by the hand of the Creator Himself, pray anyway. God delights in hearing our impossible prayers because it reminds us of our absolute need. 


For what impossible situation in your life is God inviting you to have greater faith in Him? 

April 12


He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 
PSALM 18:16 

When Sweet Maria and I go to the lodge in Canada, one of our favorite things is hosting a small group. Our invitation is as simple as Jesus' invitation to His friends: "Come aside and rest awhile." It's a little bit like adult summer camp with lots of free time. We jump off cliffs, walk through waterfalls, and gener­ally get into some really fun mischief At the end of our time together, we have a tradition where we each take a bit of nylon cord, wrap it around one wrist, and melt the ends together. The only way to take it off is to cut it. More than merely a cute tradition, we learned this from modern-day sailors. Have you ever tried to pull someone back in the boat when they've gone overboard? Because their hands are so wet and slippery it can be nearly impossible to get a good grip. Sailors use those cords so they have something to hold when someone goes overboard. It's the kind of knot a deckhand, not a captain, would wear. 

We wear those cords to remind ourselves that we are there for each other, to pull one another up when we go overboard. We're just the deckhands, not the captains of the ship. 
Plenty of our friends have gone for an accidental swim. Yours have too. But instead of shaming them or walking away, we lean over the rail of the boat like deckhands and start fishing for something to grab on to. 

That's what God does; that's what grace does. God never asks us to get ourselves back in the boat as if we don't need His loving grip. He isn't waiting for us to prove ourselves. Our biggest su􀀕cesses don't qualify us, and our even bigger mistakes don't eliminate us. He comes to us before we even know we need Him, He reaches out toward us, and He lifts us up if we're willing. 


In what ways can you see God reaching out to you?

April 13


Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing 
a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
ISAIAH 43:18-19 

It's a little alarming to do an inventory of all your stuff when it comes time to move. We think it's going to be a breeze and then open a closet to find stacks of high school yearbooks piled on top of boxes with twenty-year-old bank statements. Then we rediscover attic storage we had forgotten about packed tight with broken lamps, old tennis shoes, picture frames, and pool cues for a pool table we don't even own. How do we acquire so much stuff without our awareness? 

To push back against my hoarder tendencies, every time I move, I give away as much as I can and vow to keep space open for more beautiful things to be added. If we wantto make room for beautiful things to be added to our lives, we have to get rid of some of the old stuff This doesn't just apply to the physical things. It applies to the hurts and memories we collect over time. 

Just like our closets fill up, our schedules slowly fill up with every yes we give. It's all good stuff It's hard to say no. It's like drowning in chocolate. Even when our time is packed with great people and opportunities, we have got to learn how to pump the brakes and make some room. 

The sweetest moments in life happen unannounced. They're long drives down country roads in autumn or hikes that leave room for exploration. They're quiet evenings with people you love, when you can sit together in silence and still feel heard. God can't add beautiful things to our hearts if there's no room in our lives. What will you quit so you can get some rest? You'll never regret making space for the treasures you've been too busy to cherish. 

What do you need to let go of so you can make more space for what's truly good and beautiful? 

April 14


Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him. 
PSALM 37.7 

I love Palm Sunday. It's the one time of year we get to bring trees into church and wave them around like lightsabers. You don't have to meet a certain standard to participate. There are no bad palm wavers. Every year when Palm Sunday rolls around, I get my branch and get ready to go palms up as we recite the story of when Jesus rode into Jerusalem to launch what we now call Holy Week. 


And every year as I wave my branch, it gets me thinking about what it would look like to go palms up the rest of the year. I don't mean we should carry trees around with us wherever we go; I mean we could be palms up with our hands. Here's what I mean. 

Did you know it's almost impossible to be defensive when we sit with our palms facing upward? Try it! Right now. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting on your legs with your palms up. The position of our bodies and the position of our hearts are connected, so it's hard to be angry while sitting in a posture of welcome. 

What if you went palms up every day of the year? Instead of arguing with people or getting defensive, what if you made a habit of keeping a posture of welcome? It' ll change you. 

What changes inside you as you go palms up? 

April 15


Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. 
MATTHEW 17:20 

When our organization, Love Does, decided to help people all over the world, we knew there was no way we could do it. We didn't know what people in Uganda needed; we just fell in love with some Ugandan friends and wanted to help make life better for them. We didn't know what we could do in India or Nepal either. Somalia didn't have a government and Afghanistan's leaders were under attack. 

We prayed for God to show us how we could be helpful, and then we asked friends in each of the countries what they needed most. Our friends in each of the countries said they needed better schools and safe houses, so we did what it took to get started. And guess what? It worked. Not at first, but eventually. One schoolhouse became two, then three, then five. Eventually the one-room schoolhouses became a boarding school for more than one thousand students. 


In the early days of Love Does, we decided not to aim for things we could do, because the truth was, we couldn't do much. We had bigger plans in mind than we could afford, so we asked God to do what only God could do. He connected us with local leaders who had way better ideas than we did. He continued to bring money to fund the work, money we never could've come up with on our own. At every point, God showed up and surprised us with the way He's taken our small hopes and turned them into futures for kids He adores. 

What is it you've been dreaming of? What seems impossible? Quit aiming for what you're able to do. Pick a couple of things only God could do. You won't see miracles if you only set out to do things you already know you can accomplish. 

What's a dream you have that would be impossible to consider unless God does something miraculous? 

April 16


I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. 
GENESIS 28:15 

Every time my parents drove through a tunnel when I was a kid, I used to hold my breath and make a wish, sure it would come true if I could hold it to the end of the tunnel. Anticipation built as my face turned red. I would stretch in my seat to catch a glimpse of the crack of light announcing the end was near. It was the nervous excitement of knowing there was life on the other side, if only I could make it. 


I think that's what heaven felt in the days between Jesus' death and resur­rection. God watched as sadness swept through His people. They had lost their only hope, and they didn't know if there would be life on the other side of it. They saw no crack of light in the darkness. So heaven took a deep breath and held it because everything was about to change. 

God knew it was coming. The angels took a breath in anticipation. They knew in just a few days Jesus would kick death in the teeth, burst out of the tomb, and call His loved ones by their names. God sees things we can't see from our tiny corners of the universe, so when He tells us not to be afraid, we can believe Him. He sees the light at the end of the stretch we're anxious about, so He tells us not to worry. He knows life is waiting for us when we step out in trust. Grab His hand today. You don't need to close your eyes or hold your breath. Just take a step. 

God is doing something unseen in your life. What trusting next step can you take? 

April 17


The last will be first, and the first will be last. 
MATTHEW 20:16 

If you knew kids who were in theater or choir when you were in school, you knew the anticipation of auditions. Maybe you've tried out for a school play or a talent show and hoped you were destined for stardom. 
You can get knocked down a few notches when you learn your assessment of your talents doesn't match up with everyone else's. Very few people aspire to the role of the donkey in the stable to witness Jesus' birth or set their sights on playing tambourine behind the band or becoming vice president someday. 

Even more difficult to accept than the role of Tree #4 is the supporting role we often play in real life. We might not admit it, but most of us imagined ourselves growing up to take the lead. If it's business, we imagine ourselves as the boss. If it's ministry, we envision ourselves as lead pastors. Aspiring writers dream of bestselling books, and musicians dream of hit singles. 

But God's kingdom doesn't work like the world. Jesus said the real heroes are the servants, the ones who take cuts to the back of the line. He said our impact isn't measured by our accolades but by the sacrifices we make. 

We'll know we're growing when we let God replace who we thought we'd be with who He thought we'd be. Your face might not be on the cover and your song might not be on the charts, but you'll be more humble. It won't be our successes that point people toward Jesus; it will be our kindness. 

What can you do today to step into God's invitation to love others like He does? 

April 18


The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 
1 JOHN 2:17 

I joined a bunch of Bible studies when I first started following Jesus. Everyone around me was in at least one, so I thought there must be some rule or eleventh commandment and I had just missed it. We sat in circles, and I assumed we'd either start making friendship bracelets or start talking about Jesus. We ate chips and cookies, and I heard lots of opinions about every social topic, about whether it's okay to watch rated R movies, and about what words meant in Greek and Hebrew. It wasn't long before I started to feel bored with the whole thing. 

That's when some friends and I started a "Bible Doing" group. We read what Jesus said and then schemed ways to actually go do those things. It might sound strange, but think about it: Jesus never said, "Study Me." He said, "Follow Me." 

Jesus invited us to find people who don't have food and to get them some­thing to eat. He said to hang out with people in prison. He said if you know someone who doesn't have a place to stay, help them find one. He was all about doing things for widows and orphans, not becoming informed about them. 

Following Jesus is way more exciting than studying Him. Do we need to know the Scriptures? You bet. But don't stop there. Our faith can start to get confusing and boring when we exercise it by debating about it. I'm not really sure what happens when we get to heaven. We'll find out when we get there. What we do know is this: Jesus invited us to be a part of the redemptive move­ment He started when He was here. It's a pretty extraordinary invitation, and it's easy to understand. You want more faith? Do more stuff 

What message of Jesus do you need to obey today? 

April 19


See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LoRo rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 
ISAIAH 60:2 

It was a dark and lonely Friday. One of Jesus' close confidants handed Him over to those who wanted to kill Him. The rest of His friends scattered when it looked like their lives might be on the line too. He was taunted until He ran out of breath. When He died, thunder crashed, and the lights went out on earth. Perhaps in the whole universe. 

Much like stars unseen until the darkness falls, hope flickered out among Jesus' friends. Only then did we get a glimpse into the heavens with the women at the cross. His mother and His precious friend, Mary, sat weeping and pray­ing, holding each other as they mourned. These women awoke before dawn Sunday morning so they could take incense to the tomb where Jesus lay. These women were still searching for the Savior. 

The hope they showed with their consistent presence whispers the side of the story so many miss: the time in between miracles. This is where most of our lives are lived. The last miracle almost forgotten and the next one merely hoped for. These women were counting on Jesus to surprise them, even if they didn't know when or where or how. They knew it wasn't the end of hope. They lived in anticipation in those moments of despair. They knew they were in the middle of a story, and they were the first to see Jesus at the tomb on Sunday morning. 

When heaven started a countdown to the resurrection, Mary Magdalene and the mother of Jesus were counting on Jesus to show. Hope doesn't go to sleep just because it's dark outside; it lights a candle and stays up waiting for the rest of the story. Are you living in anticipation of God surprising you? This is the place where God meets us with the power of the resurrection. It's in the dark places. He finds us in the places between the miracles. 

In what ways is God surprising you in your life right now? 

April 20


He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise." 
MARK 9:31 

I'm a lawyer and keep secrets for a living. But there's one big exception. I'll confess, I'm not great at keeping secrets when it's a surprise for someone I love. When I was a kid, I'd spill the beans the moment I heard about a Christmas gift someone was going to get. I just couldn't contain my excitement. Surprise parties? Forget about it. My grins and leading questions gave it away faster than a viral video. I've grown a little in this area, but only because I've told friends to limit the details they share with me. I'm just too big of a gamble. 

It's easy to get excited when we know something good is about to happen. We do this when we know what's coming will change someone's life for the better. Their future joy is our joy right now, and we can't keep quiet. 

I think that's how the angels must have felt when they knew Jesus was going to burst out of the tomb. They had to stand guard and keep watch as Jesus' friends mourned and accepted the death of a revolution. The angels knew better. I bet they were thinking, The disciples' minds are about to be blown. Just like us, the disciples had lost sight of what Jesus had told them about what would happen next. They returned to life with no imagination for the miracle about to come three days later. 


There was no way to ruin the plans God had made since the beginning of time. The Roman soldiers stationed guards at the tomb to try to control the outcome. The reason was simple. They wanted to get ahead of the narrative so they could stomp out any sign of a miracle. But Jesus busted through anyway. No tomb could contain what love was about to release. 

What is Jesus releasing in your life today? 

April 21


Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the 
disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. 
JOHN 21:12 

Shortly after Jesus rose from the dead, His friends were embarrassed and con­fused. So they went back to what they knew best: fishing. I don't blame them. It's comforting to do things you know you're good at when you feel bewildered or ashamed or insecure. 

Jesus' friends pushed back out into the water and started fishing. A voice came from the shore and said something that must have sounded familiar. The voice told them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat. This had hap­pened before. It was life bookended with the same statement. You know how the story ends-these men ended up with so many fish, they almost broke their nets. That's when the nickel dropped. Peter knew it was Jesus. He immediately jumped in the water and swam to the shore. Sans swimsuit. 

When Peter got to shore, he saw a fire burning with fish on top and some bread set aside for them. Jesus didn't say the biggest "I told you so" of all time. He didn't chastise His friends for deserting Him in His greatest moment of need. He didn't take advantage of a "teachable moment" to tell them what to do the next time they were tempted to say they didn't even know Him and desert a friend. What He did was simply this: He made them breakfast. He let His presence on the shore with them do all the talking. 

If we commit to becoming the kinds of people God created us to be, our lives will tell better stories than our words ever will. They will be the testimony people need to see and feel before they hear a word we're saying. Who is it you think you need to teach a good lesson to? Don't make a lot of noise in their lives; make them a stack of pancakes. 


Who will you make a stack of pancakes for? When? 

April 22


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 
1 PETER 1:3 

It's easy to be in love on your wedding day. Your best friends pack out the chapel. The flower girl runs out of petals halfway down the aisle. The bride practically levitates as her dad walks her to the groom. The vows fly out just like the getaway car waiting outside will do the moment the doors close behind the newly minted couple. 


Not too much lacer, the first fight comes. Maybe it's during the honey­moon because you forgot to bring fancy clothes, and you're stuck with a flannel shirt and jeans for the fine dining restaurant. Some couples fight about how to load the dishwasher or who left the lid up. Before the wedding, your spouse­to-be thought it was cute when you messed up. Those days have passed. The wedding is over, and it's time to be married. 

The way you love people on any Tuesday will say a lot about what the wedding was about. The wedding was just a celebration of the love that would come; it was the proclamation of vows that were yet to be tested. It's a lot like Easter Sunday. The marriage is what happens next. 


Easter morning is the time to get up and put on our Sunday best to cele­brate the greatest act oflove the world has ever seen. We sing and proclaim the truth of God's grace on Easter Sunday, but the truth of that love is the story we tell with our lives in the days that follow. The way we love everyone around us is the best way to explain what Easter is all about. 

What part of you is God bringing to new life? 

April 23


Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. 

Every group of people has a few who clearly didn't get enough hugs when they were kids. You know the ones. They're usually easy to spot because they never like the food they order at a restaurant and they don't laugh at any of your jokes. There's a familiar phrase: "When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Well, they're some of those hammer people, and you've been nailed a couple of times. It's tempting to want to tag out and call it quits with people like that. Life is so much easier when you don't have to deal with difficult people, isn't it? 

But the way we love difficult people is the best evidence we have that the tomb is as .empty as we've said it is. We spend a lot of time talking about exactly how it happened-how Jesus defeated death and made grace the currency we would spend for the rest of history. We have beautiful ambitions for everyone around us. We want people to know they're forgiven. We want them to know evil won't have the last word. We want them to know Jesus isn't a philosophy or a worldview or just a historical figure. 


The best way for us to convince people love won over death and is still alive is to live like His love is still alive in us. We won't convince people with our arguments or Bible verses; we'll move them with the kind of sacrificial love that precludes every other explanation. 

It's easy to love people who love us back, but the empty tomb has far more depth to it than that. The resurrection says God loves the good people and the difficult ones too. Don't downplay the story and miss the message by only loving the easy ones. Go a little deeper with your love. Engage the people you've avoided. Delight in how different they are. Will they still be hard to love? You bet. Do it anyway. 


Who's the difficult person in your circle? What can you do to change your perspective about them? 

April 24


God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you."' 
EXODUS 3:14 

Parents know their words have power. When they say their kid's name, it's game over. When you broke the expensive vase or thought you won the war with the vegetables on your plate, you heard your name. A fit in the toy store came to a screeching halt when you heard your name. When parents say the middle name, kids know they're in some troubled territory. 

Our parents didn't have to elaborate. Because of their position of authority in our lives, and because we knew we were dependent on them for snacks, they didn't have to give a speech. Just saying our name would do. 

God knows this about names. He had a meeting with Moses in the desert and told him he would go back to Israel to lead his people out of slavery. God told him to march into the dictator's house and inform him all the workers would be leaving. Moses understandably wanted some information to take with him. He thought maybe if he knew God's name, maybe a little backstory, it would help his case. 
But God has all the power, and when you have all the power, you don't need all the words. God simply responded, "Tell them 'I AM."' 

God created the universe, and He created beauty; He battled death and won. We know He has all the power and He uses it for good. God's not towering over you with His hands on His hips when you mess up. He knows your name, and get this-He calls you His beloved child. Wear that name today like it's yours, because it is. 

What "I am" do you need to trust in today? 

April 25


In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. 
1 PETER 1:3-4 

I've been with plenty of friends when they received a devastating diagnosis. I've learned there's nothing you can say to someone who just learned they have one year to live. There is no pep talk for someone who's just been told they'll likely never get out of the wheelchair. Sometimes the only appropriate response is to grab a hand and cry. 

I've also lived long enough to watch these friends stare into the face of uncertainty and choose hope. They've chosen to say; "Sure, the odds are against me, but God is not." They've chosen to hope for an extra decade with their families or to imagine one more walk by the ocean. Why? Because choosing the way of hope is far better than anything uncertainty puts in front of us. 

We might not have faced anything as devastating as these things, but we've all faced the choice between hope and fear. Whether it's questions about what exactly will happen when we pass away or uncertainty about whether we' 11 find love in our lives down the road, we've had to face the unknown. But when we stand at this intersection, fear tries to shrivel our hearts and shrink us down. Hope is the opposite, though-it swells our hearts and makes us expand. Hope restores the life fear tries to steal. Yesterday already happened and tomorrow isn't here yet. We only have today. We've got people to encourage and another huge invitation to a life of whimsy. We can either wring our hands about what we don't know, allowing fear to take over the moment, or we can choose hope and let love reign. The path is yours and mine to choose every day. 


What will it be for you today? 

March 26


On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the c;Joors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 
JOHN 20:19-20 

Speeches can be a great show, but most of the time not much comes of them. Speeches are great for inciting passion or bringing about awareness. But after a while, the words pile up-and piles of words will never magically become action. 

Jesus was aware of what a mountain of words would stack up to, and that's why He let his actions do the talking. When He rose from the dead, Jesus didn't make a speech to the world or chastise his closest friends who scattered. Instead, He made breakfast for them. This action was a reminder from Jesus that His friends belonged, that they weren't disqualified because they'd made a mistake, and that the dream of God's love was still alive-for them and everyone else. 

We create space for change in our lives when we put down the megaphones, stop shouting at everybody else, and show up for our own faith. No heart can be transformed by a bunch of words. Change comes from belonging, and belonging is borne out of being with others. But it can't stop there. Belonging without doing feels like a clique. It feels empty. Whether we're invited onto the stage or posting on a Facebook account, we're tempted to think that our words equate to real change. That's just a first step. Let your lives spring into action, and let what comes of that do the talking. 


Instead of telling someone what we think or believe-or telling them what they should think or believe-what if we just ate a meal with them? It sounds insignificant at first, but it's not. Love in action has the kind of power many of us haven't tapped in to. Maybe you're bummed to hear this, but a casserole or a bag ofln-n-Out Burgers say more than any five sermons on how Jesus loved us. 

Who do you need to change your approach with and just sit down for a meal? 

April 27


You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. 
ISAIAH 26:3 

One of the worst feelings in the world is going on a hike and realizing you've strayed waaaay off trail. But it looked like a trail, you think, as you're standing all alone in the middle of the forest. Then it occurs to you that bears travel the same paths, and you might be on the menu. It isn't long before you're negotiating with God, promising not to cuss anymore or to become a full-time missionary or to stop cheating on your taxes if He'll just lead you back to a safe place so you can get to your car and drive to a Starbucks. 

Life can be a real bear too. The future we imagined for years is suddenly threatened by a career change we didn't anticipate. The family we've always wanted feels just beyond our reach when the doctor tells us our odds for kids are slim. The uncertainty of our lives reminds us we're not in control. We can't Google our way to a solution or change our circumstances by simply trying harder. All we can do is trust God is still good, and He'll use the circumstances in our lives to bring about beauty somehow, at some time. 

Those are the times when childlike trust has the opportunity to transform us. God is bigger than the mountain where you're lost, and He exists off the trail and off the map. It's an adventure He's invited us on, not a business trip. He's not out to destroy our dreams; He only wants to make us more like Him. God uses uncertainty to remodel our hearts. Don't waste your time looking for a way out of the difficulty you're in; look for Him in the midst of it. He's not the destination we're aiming for. He's the guide along the path. 

What situation do you need to trust God's guidance for? 

April 28


He is before all things, and in him all things hold together_ 

Parents save their kids' lives at least once a week until they're teenagers. They keep them from running into streets after the basketball that got away from them. They pull their hands away from the hot stove top. They invest in float­ies and driver's education classes and bicycle helmets. 


I think God has been like our parents in the ways He's sustained us. It hasn't always been obvious to us because He's done it so consistently for so long we just assume that's how the world works. We can live our lives believing we've provided for ourselves through hard work and personal sacrifices. But this is only because we haven't seen the ways He's guided us toward life when we went bounding toward danger. We didn't see Him behind the person who stepped in to take our hand when we were on the verge of giving up altogether. It's easy to forget He breathed life into us in the first place, and He holds us together when we would have otherwise fallen apart. 

At every point, whether we've known it or not, God has protected us and sustained us. Our good behavior didn't earn it, and our failures haven't ruined it. When we get puffed up with pride about what ;,.e've accomplished, let's stop for a moment and give credit where it's due. If you are financially secure, that's God's provision. If you're fit as a fiddle, that's God's mercy. If your marriage is thriving, that's God's love. We wake up to new days, we take our next breath, we dream some dreams because of God's grace. We did nothing to earn any of this. 

God doesn't want anything from you, because everything you have is already His. If you want to dazzle Him, give Him thanks by sharing what you've been given. Freely, with gratitude. No strings attached. 

Looking back on the last week, how has God been sustaining you? 

April 29


Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. 
PSALM 62:6 

It's hard to believe the religious leaders were the ones lobbying to crucify Jesus. Of all the scandalous people Jesus hung out with-the prostitutes, tax collec­tors, and drunks-the self-proclaimed "righteous" people were the ones who took Him down. Stop and sit with that for a moment. It's worth wondering why Jesus was so offensive to them. Why did they think He posed such a threat? 


I think it was because Jesus didn't come to impress them. He didn't come to cower before them either. He passed right by the people who thought they were already good enough for God's favor. They were looking for a pat on the back, but He wasn't impressed by well-behaved people. He saw through their deeds to their hearts. He didn't applaud their accomplishments or sort the world into columns, putting the capable on one side and the rest of us on the other. He knew there were no good or bad people but a bunch of well-intentioned, confused people who easily lost their way, some more noticeably than others. 

Here's the thing: Jesus is offensive to people who don't like dependence on someone else or who find their worth in feeling morally superior to everybody else. Just when we think we might have earned our way into God's good graces, we find out God won't trade His love for good conduct. We're the ones trying to make it a negotiation. He's not. 

The simple message of the gospel is that our best isn't good enough and our worst doesn't disqualify us. Jesus gave His life so we wouldn't have to prove ourselves anymore. Yesterday's successes aren't enough to get us in, and today's failures aren't enough to keep us out. We're in because Jesus says we are. 

What parts of your life do you need to trust God in more fully today? 

April 30


Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by 
name; you are mine. 
ISAIAH 43:1 

I love the movie Monsters, Inc. Ever seen it? In the story there's a world full of the monsters who scare kids at night. They go into kids' closets through spe­cial doors, scare the bejeezus out of them, and those screams are harnessed as the natural resource that powers the monsters' lives. Think electricity, but the outlet is a screaming five-year-old. Scaring and screaming seem normal to the monsters until one of them encounters a precocious little girl who doesn't seem afraid at all. She thinks the monster is a pet, and she just laughs. It's a great movie-you should see it. When I watch that movie, here's what it shows me: monsters only have the power we give them. 

Fear works the same way. We lose sleep dreading scenarios, we toss and turn thinking of all the horrible outcomes, and then we wake up to another new morning. We could've skipped over the sleepless nights if we had only given in to hope instead of fear. We might not be able to laugh like the little girl in the movie, but perhaps we could muster a grin knowing the outcomes are God's to decide, not ours. Fear is usually a story we tell ourselves. We tell ourselves people wouldn't love us if they really knew us. We tell ourselves trying means failure and failure means worthlessness. 

We don't need to be stuck looking up at the ceiling worrying. We can choose to tell ourselves a story of hope instead. One that says we'll be even more loved when we're seen as we are. That the monsters really aren't that scary and probably aren't even real. Hope reminds us there's always grace when we fail. Hope reminds us we just might succeed too. 


Take all the power you're giving to fear and hand it over to hope instead. 


What power are you giving to fear today? What will you do to give God that fear? 

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