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…

Feb. 1


Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: "See that you don't tell this to anyone."

MARK 1:43-44 

"Go and tell no one." That's what Jesus said to people after He restored their health or even their lives with the wave of His hand. People came to Him covered with leprosy, cast out of their communities while they waited to die, and Jesus cleared it up with a touch. But before they skipped back to their families and friends, before they appeared healthy and ready to get back in the mix, He told them one last thing: Don't tell anyone. This was His plan for self­promotion. For His entire life, Jesus did His best work in secret.


I have to admit there have been times when I've made someone's day in a much smaller way, and I wanted a megaphone to tell everyone about it. I wanted the New York Times to put its best reporter on the story and for it to land on the Sunday morning cover page. I'm sure after all that work drawing attention to myself, I'd wave my hand and say something like, ''Ah, it was nothing," just to cover the huge tracks I'd left leading to me.


These days, Jesus has helped me get out of the way. He's helped me realize that big love doesn't need to attract big attention. You know, there's something transformational about showing love to someone without all the glitter and spotlights. The people who understand this make joy their reward. Give it a shot today. Drop a check in the mail for someone who's running low on cash or slip a lollipop to the kid who's screaming on the airplane. Maybe ask the parent first-they'll have to deal with the sugar rush. Wherever you are and whoever you're with, make more room for love by getting your ego out of the way. Leave the applause for the circus.


What secret act of love can you do for someone today? 

Feb. 2


Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.

JOHN 8:7

Jesus' friend John tells this story in the Bible that I bank on for peace at least once a week. Jesus heads to the temple for another day of teaching, when the Pharisees march in with a woman who had been caught in adultery. "The Law commands us to stone women like her," they say with a sneer. Then they ask what Jesus has to say about it.


Jesus doesn't answer their question, actually. I like to think Be touches her chin, looks her in the eye, and turns to the crowd to say, "Let any one of you who is without sin cast the first stone."


John says one by one the Pharisees drop their stones and walk away. Then Jesus looks at the woman and asks where they went. "Has no one condemned you?" He wonders aloud. "Well, I don't condemn you either."


He didn't shame her. He didn't ask if it was true. He didn't outline a path to recovery. He didn't even use it as a teachable moment to tell the people around Him about repentance or forgiveness. He simply embodied love and grace and let His actions speak for themselves. It was like He drew a circle around them both and said she was in. Grace does that.


It can feel uncomfortable. It can feel absurd. It can feel scandalous, right? Most of us have had moments where we felt a person in the wrong deserved punishment. But if we want to live like Jesus did, we have to default to a reaction like His. Most people who have failed don't need information. What they want is a hug. People need love and acceptance a lot more than they need advice.


Who is someone you know who might not "deserve" love, but God's inviting you to love anyway? 

Feb. 3


Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.


Next time you meet someone, listen for their "I am" statements. It usually comes when we ask what they do and they say, "I am a ___ ." They're an attorney or a pastor or an actor or a college student or a stay-at-home mom. With that one piece of information, we can imagine the broad strokes of their life. In other words, the details of someone's life flow out of who they think they are.


I think love works the same way. When our identity is based on who we are as God's beloved kids, we start to live like we're just that. Beloved kids. We don't have to give ourselves pep talks just to visit a friend who's a little lonely, because our instincts begin to look like love. When we see people through a filter of love and imagine them as worthy of love, we can't help but snag a seat in their fan section.


This isn't the same as having an identity based on a religion. A lot of people say they're a Christian before anything else, but it quickly spirals into these same people thinking they have "the truth" everyone else needs. This may be true, but here's the problem: it morphs into an identity rooted in having answers rather than being love.


Jesus didn't tell us to become religious. He told us to be like Him, and He was love. We won't need to break our backs trying to convince others about Jesus if who we are, before anything else, is love. The reason is simple. Love isn't something we do, like a job. It's someone we become, like Jesus.


How have you been becoming love lately? 

Feb. 4


As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.

JOHN 15:9 

When my kids were little, I used to hang piiiatas from our favorite tree in the backyard as often as possible. Sometimes we did it for their birthdays, but sometimes we did it because it was Saturday, and what better day for a piiiata than Saturday? I'd sneak off to the store to get a dinosaur or unicorn or rainbow-colored zebra, fill it full of candy, and two hours later we'd be scrambling through the grass in search of Starbursts.


The more opportunities I've had to blow it as an adult, the more other peoples' responses have reminded me we're a lot like .those pifi.atas from my backyard. When people erupt into fits of rage when they're wronged or surprise us with tenderness when we know they've been hurt, we get to see what's inside of them. We see what they're made of whenever they break.


Hopefully it's not with a baseball bat, but at some point in life something will break you. We can't avoid it, because we're all a little broken and we're bound to get things wrong. Someone will eventually nestle their way into your heart and then let you down. And when they do, you'll either explode in anger or show a steady stream of love. Be love, so love will flow out when people fail you, just like it flowed from Jesus when He took the fall for us.


Give away love like you're made of it. Let it fill you up like candy in a pinata, so when you take a hit, it's what will pour out of you.


What loving thing can you do today for someone who isn't expecting it? 

Feb. 5


A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, 
so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

JOHN 13 34-35 

We've all slept in on a holiday or Saturday and woken up in a frenzy. We were supposed to be there fifteen minutes ago. We grab the clothes on our floor that smell the cleanest, splash water on our faces, snag a banana, and rehearse our excuses as we speed off to an office we were supposed to be at already.


That's the power of habit. Our bodies get into routines that launch us into motion without our brains taking the time to process what's happening. It's why we can dial a number on our phones without looking at the numbers. It's why we know how to spell words without thinking about it. Sure, sometimes we get it wrong, like when we put milk in the pantry or Froot Loops in the fridge, but our habits usually get it right.


If our bodies can be trained to act without our conscious awareness, surely our spirits work the same way: when joy is a habit, love is a reflex. You see it when a guy falls head over heels for a girl. She can show up two hours late for a date, and his immediate response isn't anger or irritation-it's pure bliss that he gets to see her another time.


How do we make joy a habit in our everyday lives so our reflex is always love for the people around us? I can't think of a better way than gratitude. When we're intentional about giving thanks for everything we come across, we can't help but feel joy over the pure gift of another day. And when our joy has become a habit, our love becomes a way of living.


What new habit of love do you want to start building in your life? 

Feb. 6


If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.

JOHN 4:10 

If you've spent much time in church, you've probably met some really smart people who know a lot about theology. If you're like me, you've been in one or two Bible studies where it's like people are speaking a foreign language. As soon as someone starts saying what words mean in Hebrew or Greek, they've pretty much lost me. My faith isn't a complicated one. I just know I met Jesus and He changed my life. He made me kinder and less selfish, and He invited me to do life with Him. The longer I've followed Him, the more I've realized we don't need all the answers to all the questions. Instead, loving people the way Jesus did is great theology.


Jesus gave us some blueprints, and here's one of my favorites: He walked into a town called Samaria, where Jews weren't supposed to go. Strolling right up to a woman, which men didn't do, He snagged a seat next to her at a well. He crossed all the cultural barriers that broke the religious people's rules, and He saw her. He listened to her. Jesus told her about the living water He could give her. He didn't say what all this meant in three different languages. He didn't study her and didn't ask her to study Him. She eventually mentioned her husband, and He said, "Oh, right, you've had five of them, and the man you're with now isn't actually your husband." But here's the thing: He didn't judge her.


Jesus didn't walk her through the Romans Road or try to prove some obscure, hard-to-understand rule of faith. No, He sat, He listened, and He saw. He went straight to the heart of the matter and saw her heart in the process. Now, that's great theology.


What simple truth of God's do you need to remember today? 

Feb. 7


I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but 'Christ lives in me.


When I first met Jesus, I tried to surround myself with people who were on the same path as I was. But over time, there were so many people who looked and acted like me that I lost sight of the way Jesus sought out people outside the fringes. This is what changed everything. I made an effort to become friends with people whose lives looked different than mine. I sought out people with different worldviews. I found people who rolled different than me.


Much to my surprise, there were people who didn't go to church but loved Jesus. For one reason or another, they didn't feel accepted at church or didn't feel like they were truly welcome. They made choices people didn't agree with. They had lifestyles that were unconventional. They had things about their faith they were still working out, and this made some people feel uncomfortable.


These friends reminded me that we grow where we are loved, not where we are merely informed. These new friends were told they had to change in order to belong, so they decided not to belong. They didn't want to stay quiet or hide their struggles, so they stayed away.


What they feared was rejection, so they found people who accepted them just as they were. Some of these friends found different churches, while others just found good friends. They found places where they were loved.


Who is it you have been avoiding? Who is it you disagree with? Who has a lifestyle you disapprove of? What if we showed grace and loved them rather than trying to change them? People grow where they're loved.


Is God inviting you to grow closer to someone who is different from you? 

What's your plan to be distracted by Him today? 

Feb. 8


Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.


In our busy lives, it can seem like the only way we ever see friends is to make an appointment with them. Whether it's Tuesday night small groups, Thursday morning playdates, or Friday afternoon happy hours, there's a clear script for how and when we connect. These codes can make our interactions feel more formal, and I think it dampens a sense of genuine connection.


In truth, we want to be in homes together, with no end time and no fear of imposing. We want people to stop by unannounced on their evening walk and then stay to join us for leftovers. We don't want to worry about whether the house is clean or the kids finger-painted the walls. We want to be seen by one another in ways that reflect our actual lives.


Who decided friendship needed all these rules? Since most people feel lonely and want to be truly known, why not just change the rules? It takes courage to step outside the norms-to spontaneously show up for people on a Monday night with pizza, or to welcome them into our messes when we want them to imagine we're more like Martha Stewart. But we're not! So why keep forcing each other to act like we've got it all together?


We have the power to change this. People might think we're a little weird, and because of their own fears they might even turn us down. But that's okay. We don't need to settle for typical. We just need to have a little courage.


Who in your life will you let in more to your messy world? 

Feb. 9


Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

ROMANS 5:7-8 

The person who's taught me the most about love in this life has been my wife and partner in crime, Sweet Maria. I've seen her wake up while it's still dark to bake wel­come cookies for friends and stay up late to clean the kitchen after serving friends who showed up unannounced. She has selflessly poured herself out for me and the kids, and she was so patient with us when we didn't appreciate it. At every point, she's shown me grace when I've missed the mark-and that happens pretty often.


I've seen from the sidelines how costly love and grace can be. The mom who always has room for one more kid at the sleepover? She doesn't have more energy than the rest of us, but she gives anyway. The friend who remembers your impor­tant meeting and makes it a point to call the moment it's done? The spouse who forgives you for the mistake you made one hundred times? These people have a nat­ural bias toward grace. They forgive when it's costly, not just when it's convenient.


Just as we can't wait for inspiration when we're trying to hit a deadline, we can't wait for all the feelings to catch up to us before we give away extravagant amounts of love. Selfless love is always costly. Fear can't afford it, pride doesn't understand it, but friends never forget it. Make the decision to step out in love today. Even if you don't feel like you can afford to leave work early or say yes to an extra kid around the table, you will never regret that you did it.


Who do you know who has an extra dose of grace in their lives to give away? How can you show appreciation to them this week? 

Feb. 10


He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

ISAIAH 53:3 


A few years ago, one of my friends announced a change in how he would run his organization. His team helps people all over the world find hope in the midst of poverty. People from all over the world have respected his organization for dec­ades, and the impact his organization has made is immense.


Well, this guy loves Jesus. And because he loves Jesus, he decided he wanted to let more people who love Jesus come work with him. Rather than making sure they checked every box on a religious report card, he chose to hire people based on their love for Jesus and their qualifications for the job. And boy did that blow up! Supporters went crazy when they heard he was widening the circle, and many of them cut off financial support within hours. It seemed like half of earth hated him. A few days later, he reversed his decision, and then the other half of earth appeared to hate him too.


Loving people the way Jesus did means a life of being constantly misunder­stood. Some people didn't want to include people who made them uncomfortable. It's totally understandable. We all have people we struggle to include. But we can't be surprised when we step out like Jesus did and people respond the way the religious people did in His time.


The day my friend came under fire, I started sending helium balloons to his office with the hope of filling it. He didn't need another opinion. He needed a friend. We've got to support one another when we get heat for loving people like Jesus did. If you know anyone who's getting flak for the way they love, buy them some cupcakes or send them some balloons. Let's love each other the way Jesus loved us.


Who do you know who is frequently misunderstood? How can you encourage that person today? 

Feb. 11


If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

JOHN 15:18 


One time Jesus and His disciples wanted to go to a village in Samaria. Here was the problem: the people in the village weren't having it. Apparently, they had an issue with people from Jerusalem. The disciples heard the outcry from the village, and do you know what they said? "Jesus, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy them?" Yikes. It seems a little harsh, yet at the same time not unfamiliar. We're a lot like the disciples sometimes, wanting to tap into nuclear weapons when people say something we don't agree with or rub us the wrong way. At some point, we started to believe that our doctrine is the defining characteristic of our faith. We got it in our heads that knowing the truth and telling others about it was our greater purpose here on earth than simply loving the people God made.


The gospel isn't a set of doctrines we agree with, though. It's actually Jesus. He said He was the way, the truth, and the life. Don't add to it. It's possible to have great doctrine and lousy theology. Loving people the way Jesus did is great theology. The Bible helps us understand how God wants us to live, but never let anything block your view of the fact that He's the one who holds all things together. He's the one who rescued us and who still rescues us when we slip up and need some grace.


There will be times you're not welcomed. There will be times you're mis­understood. There are times you'll be angry about it. We don't need to ask God to rain down fire on the people who have been difficult. Just keep moving forward, eyes fixed on Jesus and off of everyone else.


Is there someone you've written off because of the way they once responded to you? 

Feb. 12


While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

MATTHEW 910-11 


If you ever went to camp or joined the Scouts as a kid, you knew the insecurity that came with the trips. We were thrown onto smelly buses with lots of new faces, and it was unclear where we'd fit (or whether we'd fit at all). It quickly became dear whether you were in with the cool kids or you were out, and it was a long week if you were out.


We'd like to think we've left those days behind, but our adult lives can look pretty similar. Most of us still try to huddle up with the cool kids and, in a subtle way, blast it on social media. It's no different than those bus rides. The definition of cool has just been tweaked a little bit.


What's crazy is that Jesus spent His whole life engaging the people most of us spend our whole lives avoiding. He found people who thought they were "out" and said they were in. He didn't vet the guy on the cross next to Him. He said, ''I'll see you in paradise."


Even wilder, Jesus also showed love to the self-righteous people who excluded those He loved. He called them out but also let them know there was always more room for humble people. When He said to love our neighbors and our enemies, He didn't just mean the easy ones. He meant everyone.


What kind of person do you find it most difficult to love? Jesus says they're in. Don't act like they aren't. Get to know them. I know it'll be difficult, but it will be worth it.


What kinds of people are hard for you to love?  

Feb. 13


By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

JOHN 13:35 


If you've ever run a business or led a team of people, you know what it's like to send someone in your place. You know they're going to interact with a person who might not know you, and that person will base their opinion about you on the someone you sent. Parents feel this too. We often feel like our kids are little representations of us. If they're kind and respectful, people say we raised them well. If they toilet paper the neighbor's house, we worry others will judge us for our kids' behavior.


God works in much the same way. When people interact with difficult, judgmental people who say they follow Jesus, it's hard to imagine how the God they say they're speaking for is gracious and kind. We can say all the right words, but if we don't model love the way Jesus did, people won't just think we're mean-they'll think God is. I get that.


The best way to give people a glimpse of God is for us to be exactly who He says we are: love. He says people will know we follow Him when they see how we love one another. He put His confidence in us to represent Him because He knows what we're capable of if we'll put down our pride. He wouldn't have put us on the job if He didn't think we were ready.


Remember that you are God's kid, but you're also a tangible expression of Jesus to the world. Don't tell people what Jesus meant; love them the way He did.


How can you more simply express the love of Jesus to others today? 

Feb. 14


I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"



You might know that I put my personal cell phone number in the back of a couple of books I wrote. When I told my publisher what I wanted to do, they said, ''Are you crazy?!" I thought for a minute and said, ''Actually, yes and no." I've noticed that the people who have had the most impact in my life were the most available. Granted, I get a lot of calls. And guess what? I answer every single one unless I'm on a plane or out of cell range. It's terrific. I can't get a thing done.


Here's the point. It'll be hard to be like Jesus if you don't want to be available to people. It's what He did. Every day. If you don't want to be with people, you're going to hate heaven.


What's more important to God than the people He made? Not much. And if one of those people wants to talk to me, I want to be available. Perhaps this isn't for you. That's fine. Find something else you can do to connect with the people God made in His image. God says people are the purpose. It doesn't matter whether our plans succeed or fail if the people around us don't feel wanted. Loving people the way Jesus did means a life of constant interruptions.


Everything changes when we start to see interruptions as opportunities. We heal people when we show them they matter, when their well-being is our main concern. This isn't hard to do. Sometimes all it takes is picking up the phone and saying hello. Be generous with your time and your presence, and people will feel the love of Jesus.


What can you do today to become more available for loving others? 

Feb. 15


They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over

LUKE 9:17 


Jesus always taught for free. There was no honorarium, no speaker's fee, and no long bio reading about His qualifications and achievements before His talk. There were even a couple of times when lunch was included. On those two occasions, thousands of people showed up. Jesus didn't call a caterer. He told the people around them to just bring what they had and let Him make what He wanted out of it.


Jesus' friends came back from the crowd with a few pieces of bread and a handful of fish-not exactly feast material for a few thousand people. Then Jesus' friends started passing out what they had. A fish and some bread for this person, and again for another, and again for the next. The food just kept on coming. I wonder at what point they started elbowing one another, saying, "Did you see that?" After the meal, after thousands of bellies were full, there was loads of food left over. It didn't make any sense. God's· economy rarely does.


I don't think God expects us to make sense out of our lives or what we do with them. Maybe He wants to show us how to love extravagantly every chance we get. Even when it doesn't make sense, that's the only way love does things.


The miracle of the story isn't only how Jesus generated all the extra bread and fish. It's that Jesus didn't make just enough-He made what was more than enough for everyone. Jesus' friends were ready to just cancel lunch. Love has a way of multiplying well past what we think is possible. Jesus is providing lunch today. He's not going to provide just enough. He'll provide more than enough. Don't just ask what you're hungry for but what the people around you are hungry for.


What are the people around you hungry for in their lives?

Feb. 16


Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others 
to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.



Meteor showers top the list of my favorite shows in nature. There's nothing more awe-inspiring. You head out with blankets and friends and lie in a field on your back while you wait for heaven's fireworks. If you're like me and you don't know if it's Orion's belt or the Little Dipper you're looking at, you just point with confidence and guess. Who's going to know the difference?


Only a few mishaps-like rainstorms, skunks, and lights from the ground-can ruin these magical moments. Whether it's headlights from approaching cars or city lights in the distance, they steal the attention from the black velvet sky showing off the diamonds.


Man-made lights have a way of getting in the way of God's glory blazing through the sky.


I've noticed we do the same thing sometimes when we try to draw attention to our love. We'll make an extraordinary sacrifice in secret, lighting up a small corner of the world with our love, but then we try to shine a light on it and the glory is gone. Sure, we're supposed to be the light of the world, but spotlights make star lights go missing every time. When we opt to make it about us, it's like the insecure teenager inside of us turned on the truck lights and we couldn't see the beauty in the sky any longer.


The fix is as simple as stargazing. Quit standing up. Lie down. Let your love blaze in the night like a thousand stars. The less extra light we introduce, the better.


What secret loving thing can you do for someone this week? 

Feb. 17


I want you to know, brothers and sisters. that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man. nor was I taught it; rather. I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

GALATIANS 1:11-12 


There's a story in the Bible about a guy named Saul who had it out for Christians. He devoted his life to targeting them, oppressing them, and hurting them. While he was consumed with anger and hate, Saul met God. You know the story. On his journey to persecute another group of Christians, God struck him blind and told him to go find a man named Ananias in the city of Damascus.


The people traveling with Saul got him to Ananias, who was a Christian and a guy who understood the threat Saul posed to him and the people like him. Ananias went to him anyway and laid his hands on Saul's shoulder: "Brother Saul," he said, "the Lord has sent me to restore your sight and fill you with the Holy Spirit." After everything Saul had done to Christians, can you imagine how Ananias must have felt to have the job of telling Saul he wasn't who he used to be?


Saul got up and immediately began devoting his life to serving God. He carried the message of God's love to people across the ocean, facing ridicule, shipwrecks, beatings, and more than a little jail time along the way. Saul believed God when He told him who he was. He lived the rest of his life with extravagant love. He did it because there was a guy named Ananias who was brave enough to tell him who he was.


What would it look like for you to live your life this week like you're exactly who Jesus thinks you are? God doesn't think you're a mess-up just betause you've messed up. He's got a new name and a new job for you. He wants you to be His.


What would it look like for you to live your life this week like you're exactly who Jesus thinks you are? 

Feb. 18


Do every thing in love. 


Conferences have a way of gathering together speakers who fit a specific iden­tifiable set of characteristics. We sometimes call it a person's "brand." Whether it's an academic retreat, a Christian summit, or business development day, we divide people into categories and invite them based on their expertise or area of interest. We've got the justice seeker, the leadership guy, the expert on millennials, the tech-savvy speaker, the innovative woman entrepreneur, or the psychologist. We take a multifaceted, complex, whole human being and give them a tagline. I'm not saying that's all bad-it's just not the whole story. 


No one is completely defined by their knowledge or what they've accomplished. At the end of each of our lives, if you ask the people who knew us what they'll miss the most, it'll be the small ways we loved the people around us. It'll be the memories we made and the big mess-ups we walked through together. It will be our kindness, not our qualifications, that outlast us. It will be the time we unsuccessfully tried to wrap a puppy up for Christmas, not the perfect vacation we planned or the raise we got. It will be the fire we started by mistake in the house while trying to make indoor s'mores during a storm. We won't be missed because of the lectures we gave or arguments we won. We'll be missed because someone will want to call us to share a joy from the day and remember we're no longer there to share the celebration. 

In short, we'll be known for our opinions, but we'll be remembered for our love. Don't forget what will matter in the end. The love you leave behind will be your legacy. 

What's something simple you've done for someone recently because you loved them? 

Feb. 19


Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 
1 PETER 4:8 


I hear a lot of talk about people going into ministry or serving in ministry. I know it's a term pastors and religious leaders use, but it feels a little weird to hear it thrown around so much. The guy working at the tire store probably won't know what you're talking about. 

Most people don't want to feel like someone's stooping down to serve them. They just want someone to empathize with their situation. Whenever I've messed up, the least helpful thing I've ever received was a lecture. The most helpful thing I've ever received was someone's agenda-free presence. They might've been a little older or even a little younger than me, but they never said they were "ministering" to me-they just thought we were friends. 

I'm usually doing a good job serving people, right up until I start telling everyone I'm serving people. Because when I do, I make it all about me-and it'll never be about Jesus if we make it about us. We all want to feel like we come together as equals, with each of us bringing something unique and vital to the table. That's how friendship works: we join forces, knowing each of us has something to learn from the other, and both of us benefit from the relation­ship. You bring the brains, I bring the ice cream, and everyone wins. As soon as someone thinks they're there to "minister," we are no longer equals. 

What if we all got together and schemed ways to go make more friends? Whether we make soup for people, or sit down and talk with discouraged kids, or do some tutoring-what if we just did it because it was Saturday or Tuesday and these are great days for new friends? It might make people feel like they're sought after for friendship rather than approached as a project. There's no need to give what we do a new label. Love already has a name. 

What's a simple act of love you can do this week to build a stronger friendship with someone? 

Feb. 20


I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace. 
ACTS 20:24 


You might not know this, but I spent decades working as a lawyer. I know, Jesus had a lot to say about lawyers, and not much of it was good, so it keeps me on my toes. I think I might have been the luckiest lawyer in the world because I partnered with a bunch of people who knew my work at my law firm was just that-it was work. It was a job. It's something I did to provide for my family and then fund all the things I'm passionate about, like building schools for kids in Uganda and Somalia and Afghanistan and rescuing victims of human trafficking in India. 

I used to devote way more of my time and energy to being a lawyer, but then t􀀣o things hit me one day. First, all we'll leave behind is our love, and second, our legacy will be in the people we loved. That's when I realized I had to make a change. My life couldn't revolve around trials and lawsuits. So here's what I did: I quit. I'm not kidding. I got everyone at the law firm together and told them I was out. I took the key to the office door off my key ring and left-and I've never gone back. 

I made the necessary changes to free me up to give more time, attention, and emotional energy to people in more desperate circumstances than I was in. I wanted to live a less traditional life. One that fit more closely with the person I had become, rather than the guy I used to be. I asked myself the question that might be worth asking yourself Are you doing what you're merely capable of or what you're called to? 

I've set aside Thursdays now to quit something. It's easy to get so buried under responsibilities that we lose sight of who we've become. So here's the deal. Quit something! What will it be? What's been holding you back? Taking up too much time? What no longer inspires you? Pick whatever day you want-it doesn't have to be Thursday. Today is a pretty good day to start. Pick today. You don't have to quit your whole job or move overseas, but you can start cutting things out on a regular basis. You'll free yourself up to live a life that will give you a great sense of purpose and feed your passions. 


What do you need to quit to make more room for love? 

Feb. 21


"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. 
MATTHEW 22:37-40 


When I first started following Jesus, there were times I was a little confused by what it meant to love God. He's invisible, right? I don't know about you, but I find it hard to love someone you can't see, touch, or hear. I know we can pray (and I've done a lot of it since I had teenagers), but even prayer feels somehow a little different than just loving a God we can't see. 

So I looked around at different religious leaders to see what they meant when they said they loved God. It seemed like a lot of them meant they spent a lot of time reading the Bible, or reading books about the Bible, or teaching people how to think about God, I know those are common things people do when they love God, but it still didn't seem like it was the way to love God. 

I finally figured it out when I went back to the words Jesus spoke to His friends. Some peoRle asked Him what the greatest commandment could be, and Jesus told them the greatest commandment was to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind. Then He said this: "And the second one is like it." The second commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. Loving God started to make more sense when I realized loving a God I couldn't see was a lot like loving the people He made and put all around me. 

Everyone is made in the image of God, so every person reflects a part of God's creative expression in this world in one way or another. Think about the people God has put in your life already and the characteristics you see in them that inform your understanding of God. 

Who in your life is teaching you about the nature of God's love these days? 

Feb. 22


Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right." 
ACTS 10 34-35 


Every year when I was in school, we were required to go to "athletics," better known as gym class. I always hated it because there was a possibility we'd play kickball or dodgeball or pretty much anything that required a ball. This meant there would be team captains to pick players. It is a time-honored tradition that picking teams in gym class starts with the best and goes to the worst. I often hoped God would make the bell ring forty-eight minutes early because I knew what was about to happen again. I wouldn't get picked. I was huge. I almost blocked the sun. This was good. But I was clumsy, which was bad. 

It was a terrible system, leaving me and all the other uncoordinated guys stranded on the sidelines looking at each other in our gym shorts and T-shirts. It was clear who was cool and got picked and who wasn't. I'm so glad God doesn't chose who will be with Him the way the guys in gym class picked who would be on their team. 

Ifl ever teach a gym class, I'm going to draw a big circle in the middle of the group and say, "Everyone is in." That's how God chose us. The Bible says God loved the whole world, every person in it. Not just the cool ones or the knowledgeable ones or the ones who believed all the right things or made all the right moves. He doesn't want anyone to suffer, and He doesn't want anyone to feel alone. He doesn't want anyone to go through life without Him, and He doesn't want us to spend eternity without Him either. 

We don't have to burden ourselves by wondering who's in and who's out, because God already told us: He wants us all. If you're someone who knows about God's extravagant love, you've let grace find you. Once He does, the question is what we'll do next. Love picked us so grace could use us. 


Reflect on God's unconditional love for you today. What comes to mind? 

Feb. 23


Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 


Years ago, I was headed out with a friend to see a movie. He zipped around the corner on my street and screeched to a halt in front of my mailbox. Smoke was still swirling around his car as I walked out the front door. Maybe I shouldn't go, I thought. But this guy was my friend, and I really wanted to see the movie. As I settled into the bucket seat, I buckled my seat belt and a few of the other seat belts in the car. Then I prayed. 

It's kind of a silly example, but there's a truth in it: most of our decisions are driven by either love or fear. Should I stay or should I go? Should I speak or stay silent? Should I risk it or back away? In these times, we've got to stop and remind ourselves that fear has many faces. If we're down on ourselves, it's fear saying we won't measure up. If we're worried about what people will think, it's fear saying no one will love us if they see our flaws. If it's a hot rod revving the engine in our driveway, maybe we should just stay home. That's just common sense. 

But the truth is, love says we're free to do a lot more than we think. We can love more people, we can trust God more, and we can risk more. If we find ourselves considering others more important than ourselves, serving in secret, or loving without an agenda, then chances are, it's love doing the talking. If we're backing away from opportunities because we're not sure they will work, hedging on our love, and risking little in our relationships, fear might have the microphone. The trick is to figure out who's doing the talking before we decide what to do next. 

How is fear getting in the way of your loving others?

Feb. 24


I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
ROMANS 8:38-39 


Sweet Maria is an amazing chef. One of her specialties is making pie. It's one of the ways I know God loves me. And if Sweet Maria is ever making pies, she usually makes several kinds. I haven't decided which of her pies is my favorite because each one is tied for first in my belly. When the pies are out, I usually get a slice of each one-apple, pecan, pumpkin, chocolate. I know, that's a lot of pie, but how can you blame me? 

The downside of pie is in the limited number of pieces you can get out of one, even if you cut them into the world's smallest slices. Love doesn't work that way. We can never run out of love, never give or receive too much. Sometimes we start to think it's finite because resources like time and energy can run low. But when we choose to give more love, we get to watch it multiply. People return our love, giving back what we gave away with a little extra. Then the cycle happens all over again, everybody getting a little more than they gave away. Love is one of the few things we don't have to guard. We don't have to be greedy with our love. It multiplies when we give it away. 

Don't worry about who to choose when it comes to love. Go ahead and love everyone. 

What would you do differently today if you believed that love never ran out? 

Feb. 25


Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 


On one of my trips to Africa, I got malaria. There's not a good version of malaria, but I got a really aggressive kind, and it just about killed me. You learn a lot about love when you end up in the hospital. Love brings your favorite breakfast to spare you the stale pancakes or smuggles a puppy in an oversized purse. Love holds your hand when the doctor finally comes in with the results. Love stays for hours on the faux leather chair next to your hospital bed, maybe overnight if necessary. 

Great love leaves little doubt, because great love shows up. Great love doesn't go away, and it never has an eye on the clock to see when it should call it quits. When you're in need, you learn about great love because you see people go all in to ease the burden a bit. 

But you don't need an emergency to show great love. We have the oppor­tunity to show up for one another in simpler ways every day. When we drop what we're doing to listen to someone who needs an ear, we show them we're for them. When we honor our neighbors by knowing their names, we tell them they're worth an entire parade. 

Great love is about consistently showing up, which is both easier and harder than it seems. It's easier because it's something each of us can do. We don't need to come up with money for extravagant gifts or publish poems in their honor. But it's harder because it demands our time when we're tired, our homes when we're full, or our attention when all we want to do is retreat. What's your next move? Who could you reach out to? Great love makes itself available time and again. It shows up. 

Who can you show up for today? 

Feb. 26


Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same. 
LUKE 3:11 


I have some friends who are really successful in business. I hear them use this phrase "return on investment" when they talk about their work. It makes sense. What do you put in? What do you get back? Most people are hardwired to want to know their efforts will be effective. This is a business metric that can be used not only in the for-profit world but also in the not-for-profit world. If you donate money to a cause, you want to know how the money will be used and later whether it accomplished the goal. Simple enough. If you send your kids to school, you want to know how much they learned. That's fair. If we're going to spend our dme, energy, and resources on something, we want to know it's worth it and that we made a good choice. While that's a good way to look at a lot of things in life, I'm starting to see how we have to ditch that model when it comes to love. 

Love was never meant to be transactional. It doesn't give to get. It doesn't cre­ate spreadsheets to analyze how well it's working. It doesn't track how much love you put in and measure it against how much love you got back. Yet sadly, that's what we often do. We don't want to admit it, but we're looking for the return on investment. We want to know if our expression oflove "worked." Keeping track of your investment is a fine way to gauge progress in the business world, I suppose, but it's a lousy way to measure a relationship because it turns people into projects. 

The return on investment with love is love itsel£ We don't have to know how our love makes a difference for it to be a good idea. We can just give it away like we won the lottery. People aren't projects, and love doesn't need to keep track of the outcomes. Think of a friendship, a relationship, or a venture you're involved in right now where you've been keeping track of how much love you put in and how much you've received in response-and figure out what needs to change. 


What would you do differently today if you weren't concerned anymore about getting something in return? 

Feb. 27


Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 


I used to think we were supposed to do nice things for people so we could get their attention and tell them about our faith. Here's a scenario: Someone needs food, and you meet that need in a tangible way. Then, once you've helped them, you tell them about your faith-and if everything goes the way you were hoping and they are willing, you ask if they want to repeat a prayer after you. 
Jesus never healed someone and then asked if they wanted to say a prayer to invite Him into their life. When we look at the life of Jesus, we see Him feed people simply because they were hungry, not because they recognized their desperate need for Him. He healed people because they were sick and celebrated their wellness, not the path to getting there. He turned water into wine because the bride and groom needed more wine to celebrate, not so the celebration would become about Him. Jesus met the needs of people simply because He loved them, no strings attached. We're not always good at that. When we tie a religious experience or expression to our love, we turn our faith into a business deal. 

I don't have these things figured out yet, but I've been on the lookout for ways to not make a business deal out of Jesus' deity. We have an organization that builds schools and safe houses and tries to get children out of some really difficult circumstances. When it works, we don't ask people to pray with us once they're free. We just celebrate their new lives. We don't limit the opportu­nity for a child to get an education to the kids who believe in Jesus. We don't think we lead people to Jesus. We think Jesus leads people to Jesus, and what we have the opportunity to do is to love people without an agenda. 

All this doesn't make what we do less worthy or more worthy. It just keeps what we do an expression of our faith, not a transaction. Most people know we love Jesus, and sometimes people ask us about Him. That's terrific. We're always happy to talk about Jesus because He's our source of joy and excitement in life. But there's no undisclosed agenda we have going on behind the scenes. Are there things you're unintentionally doing that feel transactional with your beliefs? Be confident in this. Every act of love is a profession of faith because it whispers His name. 

Who could you love better without worrying how they'll respond? 

Feb. 28


Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 


A while back I had a problem with my sight in one eye. It required a couple of surgeries to fix. Afterward, they gave me an eye patch to wear. I was so pumped to finally be a pirate. Wearing it somehow made a lot of sense for a guy who holds meetings on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland each week. 

You would think an eye patch would limit my sight, and I guess technically it did. But it also enabled me to see in a different way. What my eye patch gave me was a lot of perspective. It helped me realize something I'd missed when both my eyes worked. It's this: the way I usually see things is usually only half the picture. 

When I see someone lashing out in anger, I'm only seeing the half they've disclosed in their big show of frustration. What I don't see is the thing under­neath the waving arms, the raised voice, and the grimace. In the moment, it's hard to see the other half-the beautiful and loving and terribly insecure person who is the other half buried underneath. When someone is incredibly kind or generous, that's not the whole story either. There's another half to see. Perhaps it's trying to receive validation from someone who withheld love. Maybe there is some deep hurt only they know. It could just as easily be that they had experienced extravagant love and wanted to pass some along. When we're tempted to judge someone for their behavior or think that other person has it easy and all together, put on an eye patch to get some much needed per­spective. You're probably only seeing half-and that's rounding up. 


When you see faults in others, go a little easier on them. The same applies to you. Don't be so hard on yourself when you blow it, okay? And if you catch yourself overstating the good you've done, do a little bit less of that. Deal? If you're beating yourself up over a mistake or thinking you're the best thing since sliced bread, put on an eye patch and look in the mirror. Your failures and successes are only half the picture. The other half is love, and it'll outlast everything else you'll ever achieve or fail at. 

Who are you being a little too hard on these days? 

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