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 breathe 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…

July 1


Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. 
1 PETER 4:10 

Before Walt Disney dreamed up Disneyland, he was fired from his job at a newspaper in Kansas City because his editor said he "lacked imagination." Can you believe it? The editor missed that one in a big way. Whenever I'm at Tom Sawyer Island, I think about what would've happened if Walt Disney had dug in his heels at the newspaper instead. The world would have never met Mickey Mouse. Failure forced Walt Disney to pursue his passion. 

Our habits shape our days, and our days make up our lives. Without much thought, we can settle into routines that keep us stagnant for decades. There's nothing wrong with staying put if you've found your passion, but many of us have a dream tucked away inside of us, a dream fear keeps us from pursuing. We fear we don't have the skills or resources to see the project through. We worry we won't be able to weather financial instability as we transition. We tell ourselves there are already other people doing it, and the world doesn't need one more voice to add to the noise. 

If we only do what we're familiar with, we might miss what we've been made for. God didn't put those passions inside of you just to give you material for your daydreams. He gave them to you because your gifts and personality uniquely qualify you to do the things God created you to do. Don't get so comfortable where' you are that you miss where God wants to take you. 

What gifts do you have that God might want to use? 

July 2


Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? 
LUKE 10:36 

On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright became the first people in history to successfully fly an airplane. At 10:35 a.m., they saw their dream lift off the ground for the first time. But I always wonder: What were they thinking at 10:34? None of us live at 10:35. We don't know if what we attempt will work or not. 

The plane had been their idea from beginning to end. They invented it, built it, and got it off the ground. But surely they must have known the odds were against them at 10:34. No one had been able to create a machine that could launch people into the air and bring them back to the ground safely. They must have felt the weight of the risk. They were probably concerned for their physical safety. Even more, they knew if they failed, it would be a big, public face-plant. But at 10:34, Orville and Wilbur chose to focus on their beautiful ambitions rather than all the reasons not to try. 

It's always exciting to start a new project, but it's hard to see it through. Distraction shows up in lots of different ways: we're enticed by the promise of easier success elsewhere or scared by the possibility of failure. I've heard a couple of people call this resistance, and they talked about it like it was a con­stant force of the universe. I agree. 

Don't give into the resistance pushing against your vision. Be wholly sold­out and captivated with purpose instead. Like the Wright brothers did at 10:34, keep your eyes fixed on the prize. Will it work? I'll tell you in a minute. 

What dream do you need to wholly sell out to? 

July 3


The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent. 
JOHN 6:29 

At the law school where I teach, there's a sense of huge excitement as we get closer to graduation. But there's also a sense of dread that's subtle but ever­present in the students. It comes in the form of this question: "What's next?" A lot of people act like they have a plan, and a couple actually do, but many times they don't. More often than not, if you ask a student this question at graduation, they will stare back at you in silence. You can literally see the dread. 

The best way to find the life you were meant to live is to get started, even if you have to pivot later. Great ideas that don't work out are usually on-ramps to better ideas that do. And every time you put your passions into action, you learn things you couldn't have learned sitting still. We grow on the way.

Jesus' disciples had the same question most of us have: What's our work? Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent." That's it. Our job is to believe in Jesus. The problem is that we keep adding to it, thinking there's a different "plan" out there. Resist the urge. 

That said, where we live our lives best is usually where our passions, our purpose, and our capabilities intersect. We can't miss God's "plan" for us because His plan is for us to use our gifts He gave us to love the people around us. Most of the decisions we make aren't usually between right and wrong; it's more like choosing between a right turn or left. God doesn't force us to go places we don't want to go, and no matter which way we turn, we'll find Him already there if we're looking. 

What changes in you when you put God first in your life? 

July 4


"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better. and it will not be taken away from her." 
LUKE 10:41-42 

Sweet Maria knows how to throw a party. My greatest triumph preparing for guests is lining up my shirt buttons correctly, but she has this knack for creating spaces that are comfortable and beautiful and restful. The reason is simple. She pays attention to the details, yet she's learned to let go of perfection when we're hosting friends. She knows turning napkins into swans isn't more important than the right conversations we'll have even if she doesn't. She learned this by listening to Jesus. 

There was a time when Jesus joined two of his friends for dinner, Mary and Martha. When He got to their home, He sat down to tell them some sto­ries, and Mary sat at His feet listening to every word. Meanwhile, Martha ran around the kitchen trying to prepare for the evening. She was doing the kinds of things we can relate to: cooking, cleaning up, and setting the table for a nice meal together. It's akin to a young couple hosting their first Thanksgiving dinner for family. 

Eventually Martha got fed up with Mary for not pitching in, and she complained to Jesus. But Jesus responded by saying Mary had chosen to do what was most important. Martha's evening was filled with activities, but those weren't the activities Jesus wanted. The goal for Him was just to be with one another. 

It's easy to confuse a lot of activity with a purposeful life. Don't get bogged down by the details; choose true engagement instead. Paper plates work just fine. 

In what ways do you focus more on being busy than being in God's presence? 

July 5


"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." The second is this: "Love your neighbor as yourself." There is no commandment greater than these. 
MARK 12:30-31 

When kids are young, parents can seem like the sheriffs stopping all the fun. Kids need to ask permission to do everything. "Can we stay up later?" "Can I go to camp?" "Can I go to the movies?" As our kids grow up, the questions become, "Can I have some money for the trip?" or "Can I borrow the car?" Adults are the gatekeepers of life. 

Parents know that healthy guardrails are good for their kids. But these boundaries in childhood conditioned some of us to look to someone else before we took a step as we got older. Even with beautiful things in our lives that bring us happiness and joy, we're conditioned to think our desires will lead us astray, so we're hesitant to fully embrace them. We become suspicious of our hearts and look to people in authority to affirm we're on the right track before we take a next step. 

What was once good parenting can cause us to stagnate as adults. God gave us a sense of direction for our lives by creating us with gifts and passions to lead the way. He wired us with beautiful desires that point us toward the next right thing. We don't need to wait for permission to take the next step toward the vision He gave us; we just need a little courage. He's already tossed you the keys to the car. Get it out of the garage, take it out on the road, and see what it will do. 

We're past the days of needing to wait for permission. If your plans include loving the people around you the way Jesus did, you've already got all the green light from God you need. 

What are you waiting on permission for? 

July 6


In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. 

When Jesus came to be with us, He said He was the light of the world. 

Sometimes people of faith try so hard to be a light that they shine a spot­light on their faith every chance they get. They give complicated arguments for their faith or confront people they think are wrong. Regardless of the situation, they always seem to get a word in. Usually they shut down conversations rather than creating a space for light to get through. 

There's a difference between a bright light and a spotlight. We can light up the world with our love, making it easier for people to find their way in the dark. When we light up the world, we're a gift to the people around us. We're an encouragement, not an imposition. But when we live with our high beams on, we blind the people around us and ultimately push them away. 

We can be the light of the world without leaving our high beams on and annoying everybody. Acutally, how about we give love away like a mighty river, then we can be a floodlight. When Jesus said He was the light of the world, it was to illuminate darkness with His love, not to make everyone turn away. Let's turn off our high beams and light up the world with our love instead. 

What have you done this week that demonstrates the love of God? 

July 7


I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, "My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please." 
ISAIAH 46:10 

When you read a really good book, it's easy to think it came from the author's head fully formed, start to finish. But did you know novelists usually don't know the end of their stories when they start writing them? They start out with characters sketched in their minds, and they imagine the setting for the story. They have a rough idea of the conflicts. The narrative is driven by the characters and their responses to one another, not the author. The writer is just along for the ride, taking notes. 

I've always felt like life works the same way. We don't know the ending of our stories when we begin. We don't even know where a chapter will cake us. We all just sketch out a rough idea of who we are and show up with all the passion and whimsy we can muster. 

Don't let an unknown ending keep you from beginning. Just stare. Uncertainty is God's way of inviting us to join Him. God knows the other characters who will come into our stories. He knows the conflicts we'll face and the ways we'll grow through the process. There's no place we can go where He's not already authoring our story as well as those of everyone around us. 

We don't need to have all the information ·co start; we just need courage to take the first step. Don't worry about next week's potential problems. Give today everything you've got. Our stories are written as we live, so live fully. Our love is refined as we give it away genuinely, so love the people around you authentically. Let the story you're writing be a page-turner. 

What's your next step? 

July 8


God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 

Whenever I'm in the self-help section of a bookstore, things start to feel a little suspicious. If everyone is telling the truth, I can apparently lose twelve inches in twelve weeks, work for less than half a day a year and make more money, get more friends, increase my influence, have more confidence, and at least a dozen other things by just changing one or two simple things in my life. 

I bet some of these books actually work. But the reason I'm suspicious is because the promise of a shortcut isn't how I see the most important thing in my life, which is my faith. Cutting corners in faith can rob us of something important: the challenges we need to face and the relationships we need to make along the way. We need a challenge to grow, to break the plateau of our faith or our routine. The relationships we make add layers of richness and teach us we can't do everything alone. Sometimes the only path to the life you want has to go over some tough terrain. 

God isn't trying to make our lives easier. He wants to make them more meaningful. And the meaningful stuff happens when we invest ourselves in our passions and in the people around us. Our best memories are the ones where we overcome adversity at the end of a long struggle. They include people who have seen us at our worst and loved us all the more for it. There are no shortcuts to a more meaningful life and a deeper faith; it takes a lot of love and courage. Will we encounter some setbacks? You bet. Stay the course. 

What setbacks have you faced that are discouraging you from progress? 

July 9


You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased. 
MARK 1:11 

If you're arguing with your spouse, the experts say you should steer clear of two phrases: "you always" and "you never." As in, "You always criticize me," or "You never listen." It's not so much that these never and always statements probably aren't true. It's more that people who love each other shouldn't use words like weapons. 

Some people have lived their whole lives without having a parent tell them they were loved. The words the people closest to you didn't say can have as profound an impact as the ones they did say. We are reflections of or reactions to the people who have been closest to us. Be a beautiful reaction. 

The words we use-whether spoken or unspoken-have tremendous power in the lives of those around us. Look someone in the eye today and tell them something wonderful and true. Imagine I'm sitting across from you right now: You are brave. You are kind. You are valued. You have what it takes. You have a spark that is unique to you. 

Go use your words to build someone up. They won't be the only ones who are changed by these words. You will be too. 

What words could you add to your vocabulary that would help you be more loving? 

July 10


Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought. to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 
1 JOHN 4:11-12 

One of the most influential people in the civil rights movement didn't give many speeches. Unlike Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks took her stand by quietly taking a seat on a public bus, refusing to give it up for a white man. This quiet act of courage made her "the mother of the freedom movement," according to Congress, and she became an inspiration to young people fighting for justice and equality around the country. 

If you aspire to become an influential leader or simply want to create more good in the world, you might be conditioned to think of people on stages or screens as the ultimate examples. The loudest voices don't always deserve to be the most heard. Listen for the truest voices. People like pastors, activists, and leaders, who stay behind the scenes and quietly work for the good of people within their reach, make the most lasting impact. They hand out clothes to the homeless or take the woman just freed from jail to her halfway house. They don't need stages or microphones because their love does all· the talking. The reason is simple. Bright lights don't need spotlights. 

Words will never move people the way love does. If our actions are moti­vated by love, we don't have to worry about having big platforms or positions of power, because nothing holds a candle to love that has no agenda. 


If you want to change the world, don't be loud. Be love. 


What are you going to do today to be love? 

July 11


We make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 

There are all kinds of random jobs in the world. Sometimes I'll hear what someone does, and I think to myself, I didn't even know that existed. Here's an example: I met these guys who are professional dart players. They travel across the world to compete with other people who throw darts. There are tourna­ments and sponsorships and jerseys with logos. Who knew? I went to watch one of their matches and was completely amazed. These guys could whiz a dart right into the bull's-eye. They could do it over their shoulder. They could do it with their eyes dosed. If they were using bows and arrows, they would have been splitting them down the middle with every shot. 

After the match was over, I started thinking about their darts and the importance of knowing your target. I started thinking about all the darts I throw and whether I was aiming at the right stuff Forget splitting an arrow. I'd be lucky if I hit the tree. 

I can find myself waltzing through a day, tossing my darts all over. Finish this project, make that call, do the chores. Remember my quiet time, get to church, don't forget to pray. Even the things that seem like right targets can be wrong if we're only trying to get them off a checklist. 

When I look at Jesus, I see someone who lived a life on mission. He lived a purposeful and intentional life. He knew what He was aiming for. Here it is: He wanted to do His Father's will. This didn't seem as elusive to Him as it seems to many of us. He even explained it to someone when they asked. He loved God with His heart and soul and mind, and He loved His neighbor. Go and do the same. 

What's your mission today, the problem that deserves your attention and love? 

July 12


Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." 
MATTHEW 14:27 

One of the fears common to all of us is fear of the unknown. It's tied to other big fears, like the fear of the dark or failure or the fear of death. What these fears have in common is not knowing what's coming. For some people, uncertainty is like a day at the circus. But for others, if they don't know what's coming, they know they can't control the outcome, and the loss of control leaves them feeling helpless. Understanding the reality of our situation makes life unpredictable and reminds us how small we are. 

But fear only has the power we give it. You've experienced this before. The speeches we're certain we'll bomb end up moving the people who hear them. The relationships we fear will become stronger when we drop the act and allow people to truly see us. The stories we tell ourselves about the unknown are always worse than the future that unfolds. 


We can only move past our fears by testing them. We can be vigilant and prudent without being reckless. But you won't find out if fear is telling the truth about danger ahead unless you take a step toward it. You might find out you had reason to fear, and then you can use the new information to move in a different direction. Bue you can't learn anything about the unknown until you walk right up to it, stare it in the eye, and say you're not listening anymore. 

One of Jesus' favorite phrases was "fear not." He knew we weren't created to be anxious and stressed out. We were made to live, to engage, to remain open to the people and opportunities we encounter. Fear only has the power we give it, and Jesus said we shouldn't give it any. 

What's fear saying to you today? What's God saying to you today? 

July 13


Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. 

Oprah was fired from her first television job for getting too emotionally invested in her stories. Thomas Edison's teachers told him he was too stupid to learn anything. J. K. Rowling was on welfare when she started writing Harry Potter. It seems no good thing or great success comes on a silver platter. 

It may seem counterintuitive, but if success came easily, most people would see their visions die-because visions only come to life with a lot of hard work and unwavering persistence. Challenges draw something out of us that easi­ness could never ignite. If the reason behind our vision lacks purpose, if it's to become famous or earn approval, we'll get discouraged the moment we face rejection. We'll likely throw up our hands and walk away because we'll believe we missed the mark. But if our vision is tied to a clear purpose, we won't be discouraged when times get tough. 

Turn the volume down on your doubts and stay focused on your purpose. Set aside the belief that the end goal will come quickly. It's the process, with all the ups and downs and triumphs and misstarts, that will ultimately get you there. In the meantime, surround yourself with people in need and give away love like you're made of it. If it takes a little longer to achieve your goals, you're doing things that last.

What do you need to do today to refocus on your purpose? 

July 14


Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people. I would not be a servant of Christ. 

When I was in college, my buddies and I didn't know how to have fun unless a little danger was involved. We liked driving to the ocean to explore new spots for cliff diving. We liked having conversations on roofs because there was a chance one of us could fall. Any fun outing became more exciting the moment our lives felt at risk in the process. 

Inevitably, someone in our group would be scared of heights. The guy usually tried to play it cool, but you'd see him slide down to a lower ledge to jump or find a safe way to shimmy down. My friends often gave him a hard time about it, but I always had a soft spot for the guy who couldn't quite handle the high places. We all bring different fears with us on our adventures, and his just happened to look different from mine. 

Those excursions taught me chat even if everyone's leap looks different, we are all in it together. In the end, it doesn't matter whether someone jumps from a high place or a low; what matters is that we make the leap. 

We all face different challenges, and chose challenges require different kinds of faith. Sometimes faith looks like taking aid to civilians in war zones, and sometimes faith looks like reading bedtime stories to toddlers as they drift off to sleep. God never told us to compare our faith with another's. Comparison is a punk. God told us to be faithful to the path laid out before us and take our next step, not someone else's. 

Who have you been comparing yourself to lately? What are you going to do to stop? 

July 15


It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. 

I was on a hike one time and saw a sign to an offshoot trail that said, HEAD­WATERS THIS WAY. I was curious because I had never seen headwaters before, which is the place where a stream or river literally begins. I imagined a massive river coming out of a cave carving its way through the forest. But when I arrived, I couldn't tell if I was disappointed or even more amazed. Bubbling out of the ground, a stream began at the base of a large oak tree and trailed through the forest as a babbling brook. I could hardly believe it. How could this trickle eventually turn into a river? 

Small streams don't plan to become mighty rivers. They just run in the direc­
tion they were created to move, and their Creator decides what they'll become. 

In today's world, we look on with envy as a friend takes the risk to start a business and gets crazy successful. We see the lead guitarist melting people's faces with a solo on his Fender Stratocaster. Or we look up at the stage won­dering how that speaker became so influential, secretly wishing we could have the same thing. But I don't think God is wowed by people whose aim is more money or more fame. If those things come through a life of faith, the faithful person knows not to overvalue them. What dazzles God are humble people who use the gifts they have and let God use them any way He decides to. 

Don't make following Jesus more complicated than He made it. Don't hand God a list of your expectations about what He'll do with your faithful­ness. Start. Figure out what you've got. Move in the direction He sends you and let Him determine what He's going to make out of it. 

Have you been making it too complicated? 

July 16


We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 

Every year our street has a parade to kick off the New Year. We started it when my kids were young because they were all bored on a New Year's Day and were looking for something to do. I tossed out the idea of starting a parade where no one watched but everyone was in it. About five minutes later, we started knocking on doors and telling our neighbors we needed them to show up. Part of me wondered if people would think we were crazy, but none of us knows what will happen until we ask. 

It's a few decades later, and we're still knocking on our neighbors' doors to invite them. Instead of dozens of people, there are hundreds of them. The rule has remained the same. Everybody in; nobody watching. There's a Grand Marshal to lead the way, and we always pick a New Year's Day Queen from the people on the block. The annual event has turned into a celebration of life and community and the power of love without an agenda. 

When Jesus told a lawyer like me who was trying to set Him up that the most important commandment included loving our neighbors, it's easy to think this is a metaphor for something else. But it's not. Jesus wants us to love people right where we are. I think He knew that we'd be tempted to go somewhere far away for a week of service and call it good. My hope when I was younger was that I would do things and they would "work." These days, I want to do things that will last. Loving your neighbor will last. 

Invest in things that last. If you have to choose between projects and people, pick people every time. Projects work or they don't. Loving people lasts. Of all the things we accomplish in this life, only love remains. Go big on love and let the rest work itself out. 

What are you investing in today that lasts? 

July 17


Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 

You know what's great about making new friends? You're invited into stories you've never heard before. When people feel a sense of welcome and safety with you, they begin to tell you where they've come from and who they've been throughout their lives. You get the highlight reel of the major moments, what shaped them into the people they are today. 

What stands out in those stories is love. Even in the midst of challenges and trials, we get to hear about the praying grandmother who never stopped believ­ing in them. We get to hear about the coach who took our new friend under his wing and treated him like a son. These stories give us a glimpse into the struggles, but they almost always introduce us to heroes who faithfully loved; 

God said of all the virtues we strive to live out, faith, hope, and love remain. And the greatest is love. Not surprisingly, these things that God says remain are the very things the world attacks. Our programs might work, but it's love that lasts. After the curtain falls on our lives and people reflect on who we were and what we did, they won't remember the extra hours we put in at the office or that the house was always tidy. They'll remember the ways our love impacted their lives. 

At the end of our days, I'm certain we'll find that what we did with our love is what we did in our life. Nothing else will make the highlight reel. Everything else-our titles, our accomplishments, our books, our notoriety-will end up on the editing room floor. Anything is worth doing if it's done with love, and nothing's worth doing if it comes at love's cost. Hold your priorities up to love's test and do this: throw yourself into anything that passes. 

What have you been prioritizing lately that doesn't hold up to love's test? 

July 18


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 

One of Jesus' best friends was a guy named Peter. I love Peter because he got it wrong more often than he got it right. I can relate. Do you remember the time he got into a fight with another friend over which of them was Jesus' favorite? Every one of us does thi􀁌 in less obvious ways all the time. Rather than sidelining Peter because of his shallow behavior, Jesus tapped him to carry on His kingdom movement after He left. I would have bet against Peter, but he obviously got something right about Jesus. 

Peter knew he would be misunderstood if he loved people the way Jesus did, and that's exactly what happened. A few years after Jesus left, Peter, who was Jewish, met a guy named Cornelius, who was a Gentile-someone the Jews weren't supposed to associate with. Through his friendship with Cornelius, Peter came to realize the Jews had been wrong to tell an entire group of people they couldn't join their community. And since "Gentiles" meant anyone that wasn't Jewish, that basically meant just about everyone was in. 

Peter put himself out there and reached out to the Gentiles, even when he knew his own people would criticize him for it. He said: "I now realize how true it is that God doesn't show favoritism." In other words, we're all tied for first in God's view. 

This is what it looks like to follow Jesus. When we're criticized by reli­gious people for sticking up for those who are pushed out, we're probably doing something right. Loving people the way Jesus did means a life of catching heat because of the way you love. If that's happening to you, you're in good company. 


Who have you been neglecting to put first when it comes to sharing love? 

July 19


The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LoRD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LoRD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper." 
1 KINGS 19:11-12 

Nothing puts a damper on a night out with friends like a restaurant that's too loud. We all know the feeling of leaning in close to our buddies, putting our ears up to their faces in hopes of being able to get the gist of what they're saying. 

We can't hear one another when there's too much noise in our lives. We miss our kids' subtle cries for help and our friends' invitations into deeper relationship. As we run from commitment to commitment on autopilot most of the time, we lose sight of all the things that bring us to wonder. We don't see them because we don't hear them. If we can't hear the people around us amid all the noise in our lives, think how hard it is to hear God, who the Bible says often speaks to us in a whisper. 

I don't know about you, but I've never heard the audible voice of God. I've asked Him plenty of times to say a sentence to me, or a word. I've even asked to buy a vowel. But it's been crickets. If you want to hear God's words, just read the Bible out loud. He's never answered my prayers with a booming voice or crash of thunder. I understand Him by reading what He said. God also speaks through hunches, ideas, and new desires. For all of these, they will be informed by our faith, our hopes, and our experience. God speaks through invitations that show up just days after I prayed for direction. God's voice often feels like my own thoughts, but wiser and more tenderhearted. Here's the thing: I only hear God when the noise around me fades and it's quiet enough for me to tune in to His soft whispers. 

God won't try to speak over all the noise in our lives. Be still. Turn down the volume on the chaos of everyday life. Sit in the silence with expectation, and wait for love to whisper your name. 

What environments help you be still and hear the voice of God? 

July 20


Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 

The sunrise is hands down my favorite moment of the day. Sweet Maria and I like to wake up while it's still dark outside, when the day is so still it almost feels fragile. With a sense of peace and expectation, we wait for the light to burst onto the horizon. 

Every time I look out the window to catch a sunrise, I wonder why any of us would ever miss it. Here's the reason why we do. I think we miss sunrises because we get carried away in the night. It might be with work or worry or relationships or sometimes addictions. Darkness holds onto our fears through­out the day too.

Dawn waits until there's enough quiet to whisper for us to come back to God. Lies live in the dark. Lies about ourselves, people we love, and the God who's crazy about us. And even if the darkness doesn't destroy us, it can keep us distracted long enough to cause us to miss the hope that comes with the sunrise the next morning. Don't miss it. 

Sometimes the greatest threat darkness poses in our lives isn't necessarily what it does to us. It's that it keeps us away from beauty. Good things can distract us from better things, and when they pull us away from the joy of relationships or the hope of our Creator, then they're no longer good things. 

Don't be fooled into thinking the darkness is always destructive. Sometimes it's just distracting. Trade in the darkness for a couple of sunrises instead. Hope is always eager to burst onto the scene every single morning, but you need to be there to catch it. 

In what ways have you been distracted by the darkness in the past few days? 

July 21


Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 
LUKE 16:10 

I always get a kick out of the way kids love to obey when there's something in it for them. Take a group of boys to shoot BB guns, and they'll be on their best behavior. Promise a treat after the rooms get cleaned, and you're wondering why they don't do it more often. It's easy for kids to get in line when there's a reward after the work. It's a different story when it comes to math class or doing chores around the house. When rules are laid out for an activity we don't enjoy, it's harder to sell us on the beauty of obedience, so we settle for mere compli­ance. Compliance is just behavior. It's good manners. Obedience is about doing what we don't want even when we don't fully understand. 

We like to think we outgrow the grumpy spirit of dissent when we don't get what we want, but I'm not sure we ever shake the tendency. We often just act better. It's easy to follow God's will when He sends us in the direction of what feels fun or exciting or gratifying. But it's not so easy when he keeps us in jobs we don't want or in relationships with difficult people. Those are the moments, however, when our faith is put to the test. It's when we actually find out who we really are. 

The mundane tasks, the unpleasant obedience, and the difficult people are report cards on what we've learned about love. If we can be faithful under circumstances we wouldn't choose, people will see what our faith is all about. Hang tight when things get tough. It's training ground for the next adventure. Is God asking you to do something you don't want to do? This is where it gets good. 

What's something you need to do that you've been avoiding? 

July 22


Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 
1 PETER 5:6-7 

I love going to places like New York City because the city itself is like a constant soundtrack. The honking horns might be overrepresented, but that's okay. I love hearing the city streets filled with the sound of a classically trained vio­linist or the guy drumming on plastic barrels or the man with the saxophone wailing out the blues in the subway. Musicians play music because they can't help it. The same is true for writers: · they write. They get up every morning, and regardless of the size of their audience, they put their pens to the paper. Whether they write to move people or write for therapy, they write. The prac­tice of thdr art makes them artists. 

I think faith works the same way. It's not just a system of doctrines and behaviors and beliefs. It's about what we do with the things we believe. People will figure out what we believe when they see how we live. When we actively care for people who have been handed a difficult life, we show people love isn't all talk. When we bring peace to heated debates, our truest beliefs about the value and dignity of other people shine through. When we choose to risk a new relation­ship or a new business, we acknowledge God is in charge of the outcome, not us. 

There is something infectious about seeing someone captivated by their passions. We see it in musicians and artists. We can do it with our faith. When people see this kind of passion in our lives, they'll see more clearly the God who created those desires. 


What we do with our love is where we are in our faith. 


In what relationship or venture do you need to acknowledge that God is in charge? 

July 23


Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. 

When I was young and in school, I remember hearing about the president's "cabinet" and assumed he was keeping a secret stash of snacks in the Oval Office. Then I learned the cabinet was a group of people who surrounded the president and offered counsel on how to lead various parts of the government. (I'm still holding on to the idea of snacks too.) 

My wife also knew about the president's cabinet and loved the idea so much that she decided to create one of her own. If it works for the president, she figured it would work for her too. Throughout her adult life, she's had an informal cabinet of five or six people. She's pretty choosy about this group and makes sure it's stocked with people who listen and offer advice without forgetting the role of love and acceptance we all need. None of us outgrows the need to get feedback from other people who see the world differently. But a bunch of naysayers can stymie your progress. Cynics are lightweights. Keep them at a distance. 

I expected to see Sweet Maria's cabinet members help her make wiser deci­sions, but I found something more-something maybe a little bit better: they give us emotional support. When we're wrestling with big life decisions, most people want love and acceptance first and information second. When we've failed, we need hugs, not advice. If you happen to be on someone's cabinet, whether they made it official or not, the first purpose of your appointment is to be an terrific encourager. 

Who would be in your cabinet? 

July 24


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 

In-N-Out is a famous burger chain, and there are plenty of locations where I live in Southern California. If you've ever eaten there, you know it may not be the healthiest choice, but they have some of the best burgers on the planet. Which is why, many times, I have faced the temptation to hit the drive-through even when there's a feast with friends or a wedding reception planned hours later. This usually happens when I skip lunch or get up extra early and my body is signaling for more fuel. Our hunger urges us to seek immediate satisfaction, and the apple we brought with us doesn't stand a chance next to a burger with everything on it. It proves a point. We easily settle for second best when a feast is already prepared for us. 

We do this in a lot of other ways too. We settle for work that doesn't inspire us because we want some fast cash. We settle for friends who put a wet blanket on our dreams and constantly bum us out, but they're available so we keep inviting them into our lives. We settle for lives that fall far short of our imagi­nation because short-term pragmatism wins out over long-term perseverance. 

We don't need to feel ashamed about our tendencies. All of us have settled for second best at some point in our lives. I think it's part of being human. The only thing worse than settling for second best today is allowing shame to keep you there tomorrow. 

The good news is this: there are always second chances. If the path you took overpromised and underdelivered, then get back to dreams you started out with, and let today be the day you hold out for your God-given passion. You don't need to settle for second best anymore. 

What have you been hungering for lately that isn't God's presence? 

July 25


As God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 

Most people don't know this about me, but I carry a slingshot and a compass with me everywhere I go. They remind me of fun and adventure and also teach a couple of lessons. 

When I travel to conferences to speak to a new group of friends, I've got my slingshot. We shoot salt water taffy at each other there. When I go to Iraq to check up on our school and find ways to support refugees in the region, I take the com­pass with me and we guess where north is. I get a couple of leaders together and instead of talking policy, we knock over a few cans together. I've learned it's hard not to become friends with someone you have some fun with. Try it sometime. 

When I first set out to learn how to love people more, I wouldn't have thought to just play with them more. But that's how love works. We set our hearts on building relationships with people, and then we find a way to live into it. We won't figure it out through reading a book. There's no way to chart it out. With compass in hand, we figure out where true north is and keep head­ing for that. God doesn't give us a blueprint. He just tells us to be humble and connect with people who might not have been our first choice. 

No map will take us where God wants to lead us, because He created each of us for a different purpose. He made you the way you are so you could bring your flavor of love and creativity to the world, and your expression of love will look a little different from mine. That's not a bad thing. It's a great thing. 

Put on kindness and humility and let love lead the way. You won't be disappointed with where it takes you. And wherever you go, bring a slingshot and a compass. 

What have you been "putting on" this week? How can you put on kindness and humility instead? 

July 26


The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. 

I was recently at an event, and we tried a little exercise. On the count of three, everyone in the room yelled out the word sad! to represent all the sorrows we carry. We did it again, but one guy in the room yelled "hope!" And you know what? Everyone in the room heard the guy who screamed about hope. It sounded like the right note while we all sang something off-key. 

We hear bad news almost every day. None of us escapes sorrow completely. But it's amplified by all the negativity around us. Isn't it great to know one positive voice can'drown out all the others if we're listening for it? We can be that voice in the world if we don't allow our voices to be drowned out by the people we surround ourselves with. 

Be picky about who you give the microphone to in your life. There will always be people who tell you what you can't do. They don't usually i.nean you any harm-they're just insecure and actually feel like they're contributing something by telling you all that's wrong. Their voices won't carry if you listen to the ones who remind you who you're becoming. They might not be the loudest voices, but they'll be the truest ones. 

God already told us we'd have trouble in this world. He prepared us for the grief and the sense of loss we all feel from time to time. We need to feel free to acknowledge our pain with friends who can sit with us in the sadness. But we also need friends who will remind us of the promises of Jesus: that all the brokenness can be mended. We need to give the microphone to people who speak joy and hope into the world. Listen to the people who tell the truth about the grief and the hope in our lives. They're the voices who sound like Jesus. 

Who rejoices and mourns with you? 

July 27


Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: "See that you don't tell this to anyone." 
MARK 1:43-44 

With the advent of sodal media came this urge we have to essentially market ourselves. We might not do it intentionally, but friends display unwritten rules on social networks. We're subtly invited to curate only the best moments, and we're given filters and tips to make our pictures look better. We know we're telling a story about ourselves, and we don't want to be misunderstood, so the story reflects only the best. It's a misrepresentation of who we are, and we're misunderstood. 

I'm sure I'm guilty of falling into this kind of innocent misrepresentation too. Since it's the air we breathe as a culture, it's hard to step outside of it and consider another way of interacting. But it might be easier than you think, because Jesus paved the way for us. Whenever He healed people or worked miracles in their lives, He always left them with the same instruction: "Tell no one." The greatest humanitarian of all time had no marketing pitch and no plan to scale His work. He just loved whoever was in front of Him and wanted to make their lives better. That was enough for Him. He didn't need matching hoodies or a name for what He was doing. He knew love already had a name. 

We won't be as concerned about our image if we're more concerned with seeing the image of God in other people. When we love others well, we don't have the energy to worry about what they think of us. If you find yourself wrapped up in trying to present only the best in your life in hopes of winning the approval of other people, dream up a way to make someone else's day the way Jesus would. Here's what He'd do-He would love people with no photos, no expectations, and no announcements. Give that a try today. 

What act of kindness and love will you show someone today without reporting about it on social media?

July 28


All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. 
MATTHEW 28:18-20 

One of my favorite people in the world is a film director named Tom. Tom has a brilliant way of telling stories on the big screen, and he's got an eye for characters who are just the right fit. One of his favorite people to cast was a guy named Jim. They've worked together long enough that Tom knows, as soon as he reads a script, that Jim is the right lead character. He often chooses scripts with Jim in mind, knowing the story will come together magically with him as the lead. 

Wouldn't it be crazy for Jim to audition for the part when Tom ch9se the movie with him in mind? It would be a waste of everyone's time to have Jim show up and go through the motions when the decision had already been made. 

As strange as it might sound to you, God already picked you to play a role in the story you find yourself in.


He's doing something through you that looks different from the lives of others, and He's not worried about whether you'll fit the part. He had you in mind before the first scene started. He's got the lead in the story. 

We don't need to keep auditioning for parts we've been cast for. God wired you with a unique way of giving away love, and then He told you to go play. Embrace those around you, enjoy your story, and give away love like you've got the part. Jesus has written it just for you. 

What are you going to do today to align your life with God's mission in this world? 

July 29


Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 
JOHN 14:12 

A few times in my life I have been at a crossroads, unsure of which way to turn. We all come to those from time to time, when life is perfectly okay but we know we were made for a greater purpose. We weren't born to be typical. When I get to those places, I often reflect on a question an older, wiser friend of mine asked. He said, "Bob, if you knew without question you would not fail, what's the one thing you would do with your life?"

It's funny how some can answer that question in a snap, and others just can't. I think I know why it's sometimes hard to answer. Perhaps it's because 'Ye get wrapped up in fears and insecurities because we think of all the ways our plans might fail or all the reasons we don't have what it takes. But most of the time our fears lie to us. They keep us from seeing what we were made for and tell us it's impossible before we've even started to try. 

We won't know what we should trade our time for until we figure out what we'd trade our lives for. What's the one thing you would devote your life to if you knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you would not fail? Do that. Will it work? Who knows. Try it anyway. Take all the time and energy you pour into worrying about the outcomes and put that energy toward your passions. 

Jesus wouldn't have told us we'd do greater things than Him if He didn't think we could: Take Him up on His word. 

What's the one thing you would devote your life to if you knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you would not fail? 

July 30


You are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 

A recurring theme in the Bible is welcoming the stranger (or foreigner). Jesus and His followers tried to live this out and, in many cases, benefited from others welcoming them. Hospitality is always a marker of people who follow Jesus. 

Some of us think of hospitality as an industry, like hotels or restaurants. We might think hospitality is cooking a nice meal for friends or someone crash­ing on our couch when they're in town. But hospitality is much more costly and intimate than we tend to think. A spirit of hospitality is a willingness to open our doors when it's inconvenient for us. It means prioritizing people in need when we might have other projects we'd prefer to work on in a given moment. Hospitality looks like finding joy in creating a place for people we wouldn't naturally choose, people who can be difficult to love. 

When my kids visited all those world leaders years ago, you know what we took as a gift for princes, kings, and dignitaries? We took them a copy of our house key. At least a hundred people can just let themselves in if they happen to be in the neighborhood. It's just another reflection of what hospitality looks like when we let it off the leash. 

It's easy to trust God's idea of welcoming when it's about people we already know and who are easy to love. It's a little harder when it means an extended stay by someone who dirties up our dishes and borrows the car and returns it on empty. Those are the moments we find our whether we really trust that God knew best when He told us to love one another or if it's just a suggestion we can ignore. 

Who's the stranger in your life you can welcome and show love to today? 

July 31


I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. 
PSALM 32:8 

Do you remember how you felt after you first graduated high school? I remem­ber feeling thrilled and terrified at the same time. The world was thrown open in a way it had never been before. The regimen of the first eighteen years was largely determined by other people-school assignments, meals, bedtimes, and drivers education. We had to sit in classes chosen for us for at least eight hours a day. Our parents decided what meals we would eat and when we'd be home every night, then we'd sleep for the next eight hours.


Even though many of us broke some of the rules, there were at least clear boundaries in our lives. As frustrating as they were at times, they provided us a sense of security. 

Everything changed once we were out on our own. Whether we went to work or went to college, we didn't know what title the next chapter of our lives would have. We didn't know which group of friends we'd fall into or what subjects would catch our interest. We didn't know if we would soar into great adventures or fall into a sense of hopelessness. We didn't know if we'd lose faith or find it all over again. 

It might have felt more intense then, but I think we all revisit those feel­ings of uncertainty fairly often in our lives, no matter our age. We feel it with moves and job changes, when the kids go back to school, or when we wake up to an unexpected nudge that it's time to move on. Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won't have a title until much later. 

Which part of your life feels uncertain? 

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