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…

June 1


The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." 

It's easy to spot someone who thinks a little more highly of themselves than the rest of us. Take a sports team for instance. There's often a player with extraordinary talent, but he's not necessarily the most valuable player became he hasn't figured out how to bring out the best in his teammates yet. He's the guy who doesn't pass the ball. Who knows where this comes from? Maybe it's the kid from school who got too much attention for his or her looks and not enough for their character. 

It's much easier to be talented than it is to be humble, but its hard to be successful without humility. When we aim for fame instead of sound character, pride slips in the back door every time. It lies to us not only about our value but about everyone else's. It says either we're not good enough or they aren't. Pride loves to compare itself with the next person in hopes that they don't quite measure up. Humility says there's room for all of us to flourish side by side doing our best. Pride says success means beating the competition, and everyone is the competition. Kindness passes the ball and lets everyone take a shot. 

The hidden cost of pride is isolation. We create distance between us and people who are difficult to be around. Sometimes we create it instantly, and other times it takes a while, but the result is usually the same. Since pride feeds on being better than other people, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to lift others up when we're consumed with proving we're better than them. Pride springs from insecurity that tells us there's not enough love, attention, recognition, and success to go around, so it grabs as much as it can. Humility sees rivers of opportunities and delights in seeing others have their time in the spotlight.


Isolation is costly. It will cost you your friends, your beautiful opportunities and your reputation. None of us can afford it.

In what ways have you been isolating yourself? Or, do you know someone who is isolating themselves? 

June 2


Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 
ROMANS 12:3 

According to researchers, we're bombarded with upward of five thousand advertisements a day. That's a big number. These ads tell us we'll be more likable if we buy the right car or soap or get in better shape. Without really knowing why, other than the desire we all have for love and acceptance, we get the car or soap or buy the new gym membership, some trendy workout clothes. and cutting-edge supplements. The ads tell us we'll be more at peace if we remodel our home, so we set our hearts on marble countertops and a new deck outside, imagining the dinner parties we'll have and the compliments we'll get.

Advertisers know that what we long for more than anything else is con­nection. We want to be accepted unconditionally and have deeper relationships where we're more fully known. But they make us think we need more stuff to make it happen, so we spend our time trying to make the money we hope will lead to more intimacy. They know they have us when we believe that we need to spruce ourselves up to get what is already incredibly available to us.

Don't take the bait. We don't need to present a different version of ourselves to make new friends; we need to be more authentic with the ones we already have. I've enjoyed dinners on friends' decks before, but I've never left thinking about the deck. I left thinking about the laughter, about the deep conversation, about the beauty of talking about real life. We don't need to renovate our kitchens to invite people over for dinner parties. We just need to make sure the local pizza place delivers.

Money will make you happy from time to time. Living into the simplest version of who God made you to be will always make you rich in friendship These friends don't care what you have. They love who you really are.


Who do you feel most comfortable being yourself with? 

June 3


And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. COLOSSIANS 3:14 

When my kids were young, we designated a spot on the wall in our kitchen to keep track of how fast they grew. Each of our kids had a section, and we marked their height in pencil every few months. It was fun to see how quickly they sprang up, and it let Sweet Maria and I know where all the food was going. Sadly, for the kids, they knew this also meant we'd stand our ground about eating broccoli. That wall became a measure of progress-both for their growing bodies and for our effectiveness as parents.

We all want some metrics to look at so we can see if we're making progress. That wall reminds me of the tendency we all have to know that our efforts are making a difference. We're hoping for a raise at the end of the year. A more important job title. During a fund-raiser, we want to see the thermometer get filled in with a marker until we hit the goal. If you're a college student, you tally each class, credit, and semester to the ultimate goal of a degree. It's normal to want quantifiable results from our efforts. It helps us make our choices.

Love, on the other hand, resists all our attempts to measure how well it's working. Whether it's a close friend, a family member, or a young person we’ve taken under our wing, we love them simply because they're worthy of love. When love has an agenda, it isn't love anymore. It's just another program. We choose to give away love for no other reason than our recognition that people are worth it.

People aren't projects; people are people. For us that means that love doesn't need to keep track of how much it costs us or try to control the outcomes.

Who can you show today that you see them as a person not a project?

June 4


Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 


One of my favorite things about Jesus was His knack for seeing who people were becoming and helping them move in that direction. When He walked by Matthew, He didn't see a tax collector who was likely ripping people off. He saw a friend who would stick with Him like a brother-one who would eventually write a book about His life. When a woman was pulled from a scandalous love affair and thrown at His feet to be scorned, He didn't see an adulteress. He saw a person who was about to begin living a better story. He knew what the power of redemption was when it was let off the leash. He knew love had the power to transform anyone, and He lived like everyone He met was in the process of turning into love. 

It's easy to look past our own shortcomings because we know the person we're becoming. We know the lessons we've learned, the efforts we've made, the sleepless nights we've endured, the promises we've made to ourselves. We know our own good intentions, and we're able to believe there's hope for personal growth, even if we have a few setbacks along the way. 

Grant that same grace to others. Don't go for the low-hanging fruit. Start with a few of the people who may have hurt you. Maybe you thought you were moving in the same direction, and they changed. Maybe you were betrayed and haven't quite healed. Jesus endured the ultimate hurt when He was nailed to a cross, and even then He proclaimed a better future for the ones who were responsible and for the thieves by his side. Jesus set the example for us: tell people who they're becoming, not who they used to be. 

Who will you encourage today with words of affirmation?

June 5


Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. PROVERBS 19:20 

When I was younger I owned a yellow truck that you'd be generous to call a clunker. I was pretty neglectful of the maintenance needs, especially changing the oil. It actually became a kind of game to see how badly I could treat that bucket of bolts and see how long it ran. I was kind of hoping the engine would burst into flames while I drove down the highway. How cool would that be? Because I was always driving with the strong possibility I'd soon be hitch­hiking, there's a special place in my heart when I see a driver stranded on the side of the road, smoke billowing around them while they look at the engine, probably for the first time in their life. 

While they're guessing which thing is the engine and which one is the radiator, a wave of relief washes over them when the friend they called twenty minutes ago slows to a stop behind them, yellow lights blinking. Instead of pulling out the oil stick or banging something with a wrench, all they needed was someone with more knowledge to help.

The same is true for many other problems we face in life. We think we need to become an expert on a given topic to figure out how to solve a problem when all we really need is someone else to come alongside us. It's true when we need to fix a car, and it's true when we want to understand grace. Sometimes when we're looking for an answer, God sends us a friend. 

What problem are you facing that you need help with?

June 6


The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out. 

In the early seventeenth century, Galileo fell in love with the telescope and made some big discoveries. When he looked through the lens to observe all the other planets, he realized the sun didn't actually revolve around the earth. It was the other way around. 

It seems obvious to us now because it's been common knowledge in our life­time, but it was a groundbreaking discovery then. It also contradicted the teaching of his church. Their beliefs about the Bible's description of the earth and the sun made them hold fast to a doctrine that the earth was the center of the universe, and Galileo's discovery threatened to unravel their framework for understanding the world. They actually charged him with heresy and threw him in jail. 

Sometimes we think we have all the information, and we cling to it for our security. We think we have the truth, and we're sure we're right about really complicated things. Then we find out the information was wrong. Things aren't quite as certain as they seemed. It goes against what we thought was absolutely true. 

When that happens, we can only hope we're the kind of people who put our trust in God rather than our knowledge. We'll want to be the kind of people who went all in on love so if our understanding of the truth changes, we're still good. 

It will be the people with the greatest love, not the most information, who influence change. Knowledge is important, but our ideas change-and God's already given us His greatest idea. Love. 
What belief are you holding on to that isn't 

leading you to become more loving? 

June 7


Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. 

A friend of mine invited me to a NASCAR race one time, and I love this friend, so I thought, Sure, why not? I'd never been to a car race before, so I wasn't quite sure what to wear. Most of the people I know who love NASCAR wear racing jackets and hats with a bunch of logos on them. Right around the time I was Googling drivers to try to figure out which driver's jersey I would wear, I remembered I don't know any drivers and I don't know anything about NASCAR. Here's the thing: it didn't matter what I wore. We don't need to dress like the rest of the crowd just to enjoy an afternoon with a friend. We just need to show up the way we are. 

We spend a lot more time than we realize thinking about what others might think. We worry about whether we'll wear the right clothes, or say the right words, or be accepted by whichever group we're around. The truth-is, it gets in the way of us just being who God made us to be. 

We don't need to conform in order to belong. You'll rob people of the opportunity to see the world through your eyes if you try to act like everyone else-or even worse, somebody else. The price of acceptance is too high if it costs who you are. 

Do you want to do something awesome for God? Go be you. The more yourself you are, the better chance we have to see a little bit more of Jesus uniquely expressed through you. 

In what ways are you focusing too much on what others think about you? 

June 8


Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah? 
JOHN 4:29 

In certain circles, "witnessing" means approaching total strangers and asking them very personal questions about what they thought would happen when they died. Maybe you've been approached by someone doing this, and it threw you on your heels for a second. Even if you follow Jesus, it can feel a little strange to be accosted by a stranger with an agenda no matter what they're selling, even if it's eternal life. 

Once I became a lawyer, I found out what witnesses actually do. Witnesses are called to the stand to tell people what they saw arid heard and experienced. They give details about how they experienced what was being testified to. They don't take the stand to say what it all means. This is left to the experts. I started to wonder if that's what Jesus meant when He told us to bear witness of Him by simply telling people what we've seen and heard. 

Bearing witness to the story of Jesus can happen in any form and in any place, but it seems to happen best when we have relationships of trust with people. We don't have to gain a bunch of knowledge and figure out all the answers before we share our thoughts about our faith. God invites us to let people know what we've seen and heard and experienced. We're all amateurs, not experts, when it comes to faith. 

The teachers I've learned the most from didn't think they were teaching me, and they didn't claim to be experts; they just thought we were friends. They didn't come at me with a step-by-step plan to move me in a certain direction or talk me into faith. They just told me what they had seen and heard and experienced firsthand.

If you have to choose between being a teacher or being a friend, be a friend. We bear witness to an immense God by being the most authentic version of ourselves. 

Who in your life needs you to bear witness to God's love by being a true friend?

June 9


You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 
PSALM 139:13 

When I was little, I had a friend with a pet parrot. I used to love going over to his house after school. I had seen a lot of birds by then, but this was the only one I had seen that could talk. My friend taught his parrot some words he probably shouldn't have, and I remember standing there with my mouth open when the parrot gave me an earful. 

My fascination with the parrot got me thinking about what it would say if it didn't just have to repeat what other people said. Think about it. If a parrot is smart enough to mimic the sounds of English, maybe it's smart enough to express some original ideas. I'd love to get inside a parrot's head. 

We'll never know what life looks like from the parrot's perspective, but my curiosity about the parrot's ideas made me curious about what other people think. Each person has a unique perspective they bring to the world. They have different characteristics that show us some small part of who God is, and they open our eyes to new ways of seeing when they let us in on their experience.

A lot of us end up acting like parrots, though-just repeating things we hear from other people. We miss the opportunity to tell people about our unique perspective because we're too concerned with sounding like everyone else. The world doesn't need another copy of someone else; the world needs you. 

In what ways can you be more authentically yourself today? 

June 10


May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. 
PSALM 20:4 

I love being around someone who's chasing an audacious dream. Everything they do and how they see the world is all about moving toward it. It's infectious. I've been hosting gatherings we call Dream Big where we get people of all ages together and ask them about their big ambitions. Then we work together as a group to put some wheels on their dreams. Some of the people who come to Dream Big already know what they're chasing. Others come because they feel stuck and their lives need a rocket boost. 

By the end of our time together, this group of strangers becomes lifelong friends, which is so beautiful. Sharing our dreams has this affect on us. It involves vulnerability, creates community, and with this comes intimacy and relationships. My favorite part is when we break into groups so everyone can get some outside perspective from their fellow dreamers. What happens is that these dreamers think of totally new things for themselves when they hear about each other's ambitions. They come up with ideas that unlock a problem or broaden a horizon for someone else. Everyone ends up imagining a new possibility they had never even considered before. 

That's what friends do. They hope for things in our lives we may not have been able to hope for ourselves yet. They see pathways of possibility that had looked like dead ends to us. They have clarity that comes from objectivity, and they see what's possible for us, not all the obstacles that could hold us back. 

Find some good friends and bring your biggest ambitions. Spread them out on the table and talk about them. Why is it that you want what you want? What are the setbacks you've experienced? What needs to happen to land the plane with your idea? You'll know you've found the right friends to share your ideas with if their hopes for you outdistance even your own hopes for yourself 

What big ambition are you holding in your heart?

June 11


"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. 
MARK 10:51 

For the most part, I don't set meetings. I just ask people to call me whenever they want to talk. To some of my friends, this sounds a little weird at first. Some of them have careers where setting up and attending meetings takes up much of ech day. Here's what I've found: most of us spend more time setting
up a meeting and then moving it a couple of times than we do meeting.


The tension here is that we want our days to be predictable and measured. We want to be efficient because our lives are already crammed with competing activities. But this efficiency comes at a price. If we're not careful, we can turn our friendships into appointments. We'll trade a life of engagement for a bunch of engagements. But when I look at Jesus, I see a person who was willing to be constantly interrupted. When a little child or a person in need came to Him He didn't ask one of His disciples to find a slot later in the day when He wasn't booked. He stopped what He was doing to find a woman who had touched Him. He had lunch with a guy who was hanging out in a sycamore tree.

One time He and His disciples were traveling together with a large crowd around them. A blind man named Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus, begging Him to have mercy, and the crowd kept hushing him. But Jesus thought Bartimaeus was more important, so He asked them to bring Bartimaeus so He could restore his sight. Jesus saw Bartimaeus as a person, not a problem. Jesus never saw people as interruptions. He saw them as opportunities.


Don't carve out time for people in your life. Make your whole calendar an opportunity to be more like Jesus. We might be known for how much we knew or what we said, but we'll be remembered for how available we were.


Who can you be more available to today? 

June 12


Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 

We live in a world pretty obsessed with celebrity. We have celebrity chefs, celeb­rity pastors, celebrity gymnasts, and celebrity athletes. You can be a celebrity if you eat the most hot dogs or bake the biggest cookie. It seems most of the world around us says the pinnacle of existence is to become a celebrity at something. The same dynamic plays out on social media platforms. They become a measure of our popularity and influence-the more followers the better. We've engineered our world to amp up ourselves.

But Jesus had a way of making life about everyone else. Think about your birthday. It's a day you get to revel in the attention. For Jesus, His birthday is an annual reminder that He came to give Himself to others. He gave up the heavens to come be with us in the mess we had made. There was no day in His life when Jesus was all about Himself; His concern was always the lonely and forgotten. He did incredible, new, worthy things in people's lives, and He usually whispered to them, "Tell no one." This was His plan for self-promotion.

The hidden cost of our faith is that everything doesn't get to be about us anymore. Being like Jesus means giving up our comfort and security so we can widen the circle to include more people. Not just the "cool kids." Following Jesus means we don't get the last word anymore; we defer to others instead.

The great thing about following Jesus is that we don't have to worry about self-preservation or popularity, because our purpose shifts from promoting our­selves to helping other people. To whatever degree people look to you, you don't need to deflect attention. Instead, reflect your faith by skipping the curtain call and getting back in the crowd to lift up more people. If we make everything about us, it'll never be about Jesus.


What would shift inside you if you focused more energy and perspective on pursuing God's kingdom today? 

June 13


Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 

I'm not a big fan of routines. They tend to make life a bit too predictable for me. There are a few I keep though, mainly to make sure I get out of bed and don't leave the house with one pant leg tucked into a sock. Routines, or beau­tiful habits, can be clarifying for us. They can be great reminders of what's important to us and guide us back to those important truths. The problem arises when we apply our habits and routines to the people around us. What I mean is, we tend to box people into our assumptions and expectations about how others should spend their time. You'll know this is a problem for you if you develop an impression of someone because of what you've · experienced them doing and, without really meaning to, stop seeing the possibility that they could change or surprise you with some new, beautiful aspect of who they are. 

Here's a routine I've started: I've stopped letting my opinion become a filter that interprets someone's every move or every word. When someone does something I don't understand yet or reacts differently to a situation than I would, I assume that God's up to something beautifully different in their life than He is in mine. 

What if our default setting toward others wasn't a pile of opinions? What if it was a load of assumptions that they have wonderful motives tempered by the same insecurities and failures at execution we experience? 

If we're going to do this, we'll need to reprogram the way we see each other. Changing this routine isn't an overnight exercise. It'll take practice and diligence. It is rooted in believing we ourselves are loved and being self-aware enough to realize we all have a few rough edges we're working to smooth out. It's allowing others the same grace we want for ourselves. Next time you engage with someone and assume they'll be the same version of themselves, pause for a moment. Find a new routine. Carve a new groove in your brain. God created each of us, and much of the work He's doing in people is happening in their hearts where we can't see it yet.

Make love your routine, even when (especially when) someone reinforces the opinion that they're difficult. We'll know we're growing when our love for people dwarfs our opinions about them.

What new routine could you create that would enable you to be more consistently full of love?

June 14


The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. 

A buddy of mine was telling me the other day how proud he was of his daughter. She's smart as a whip and was being pursued by a lot of top universities because of her test scores and top-of-class GPA. What surprised me, though, was when he told me she wasn't choosing college based on the pedigree of the institution but by the caliber and quality of students who go there. When I asked why, he said that she wants to surround herself with the kind of people she wants to grow into. While she could have a framed degree from a world-famous univer­sity, she'd rather have a heart that reflects the values she cherishes. 

It made me wonder: What if our personal growth depends less on what organizations and social issues we identify with and more on who we're sur­rounded by? When I look at Jesus, He seemed less concerned about the place and more concerned about the people in it. He wasn't interested in recognition by the biggest institiutions or most powerful people. He seemed more drawn to those in need and less mesmerized by people who had little influence as society may measure it. 

If you're on the cusp of a major transition in life or just feel a little stuck in the life you have, take a look around at the people. Are they people who are pouring love into your life? Are you putting a big load of your love into thein? Are they interacting with the world by leading with their opinions, or do they see the world through the lens of love? 

You can trade all the accolades from strangers and a dozen degrees from pedigreed institutions for a couple of good friends. We only really grow where we're loved. Don't trade one for the other. 

Who are you surrounding yourself with these days? What influence are they having on who you're becoming? 

June 15


Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? 
JOB 12:7-9 

It's amusing to watch little kids hard at work with a box of crayons. Their tongues stick out a little while they concentrate on staying inside the lines or make a messy explosion of colors and swirls. Regardless of the style, it seems every little kid runs up to mom or dad when they're done, waving the picture in front of them. They want to know if they did a good job. Their work feels like an extension of them, and they want to be praised for it. 

When God created Mount Everest and the beach in my backyard, He was showing us a little part of Himself. Out of the overflow of all the joy and life within Him, He threw stars in the sky and told the sun to rise every morning. He made hippos and mice and giraffes and kangaroos with pouches for more kangaroos. I think He wanted to instill in us a sense of awe and wonder when we see these things. God wasn't looking for our approval when He did these things. He was hoping maybe we'd look to the One responsible for the beauty and see how He delights in creation and in us. 

Since God isn't here with us in physical form, sometimes it's easy to feel like He's distant. It can be hard to know how He feels about us or what His character is really like. I think that's why God painted parts of Himself into creation. He said He made human beings in His image, each of us reflecting a little part of who He is. 

If you don't feel like you can see God very clearly today, look up and look around: He hid parts of Himself in everything He made. You hold part of His essence. Your friends do too. So do the mountains and lakes and trees. Breathe it in. Take it in today. Give thanks to God for the countless ways He chose to dazzle us with His creative expressions in the world. 

What attributes of God do you see as you orient yourself to nature and God's creation? 

June 16


Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 

I grew up in a family where my sister and I didn't get along very well. God's idea of putting us in families wasn't a mistake. It was a terrific idea. It's great having people bring us soup when we're sick and help to rake the leaves. When we're kids, a sibling becomes a built-in playmate to find mischief together. One of the biggest ways families are a gift is how they teach us to disagree with one another. Here's why. 

Our family shows us that our feelings matter and people are meant to have different perspectives and opinions. We find out early on that sometimes we're right and sometimes we're wrong. We also have the opportunity to learn that, most times, being "right" isn't as important as staying in our relationships. We also learn to say we're sorry and make amends when we've hurt someone's feelings. 

All this is a good warm-up for the rest of our lives. We will encounter people we disagree with every day, and Jesus calls us to love chose people, not just tolerate them. Jesus never told us to be "right." He told us to be gracious. He told us to love people who disagree with us and to even love our enemies. There are ways to disagree poorly and well, but love knows how to do it right and do it often. 

Wise people know the right arguments to lose. The fact is, it's most of them. If it's more important for you to be "right" than to be like Jesus, then it's time to get back to the basics of your faith and your relationships. Good relationships can last a lifetime. Don't let an argument spoil even a few moments. 

What plank do you have in your own eye? 

June 17


Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 
1 JOHN 4:7 

Sometimes it can be tempting to go it alone. When the time it takes to teach someone the job· exceeds the time it would take us to do it, we think, I'll just do this by myself When you've had an argument with a friend or spouse, it's tempting to want to tag out. Don't do it. We need a community around us because we need each other. 

God designed us to do life together, and He teaches us love's greatest les­sons in community. Why? I'm not really sure. Here's what I do know: if you have a solid community of people and fail big time, they'll still be there when the smoke clears. If you ace the test or get the big promotion, your friends celebrate with you, but they're not fooled. They know you're more than your accomplishments. At its best, a community shows us how God feels about us and is a living demonstration that He's not going anywhere either. 

When I think about the relationships that matter the most to me, they are the people who run toward me when I mess up, not away. They lean in when I'm trying to understand a big dream, and they help me get there without tell­ing me what to do. They show up when I'm stuck in bed with the flu or take the wheel when I have an eye patch and can't drive. 

God made us to need each other. So if you're stuck or tempted to live in isolation because it seems easier, think again. You need a community to get there, not more time alone. Think bus, not unicycle. The people God has already dropped in your life are proof that God is on your side, that He loves you, and that He's in it for the long haul. 

Who in your life is proof that God loves you? 

June 18


Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else. 

We're born into a world of comparison. We're asked whether we prefer the ocean or the mountains, chocolate or vanilla ice cream, tea or coffee, mild or spicy. We compare prices at the grocery store and football players on fantasy sports teams. We compare sermons and singers and writers. It's hard to imagine a world where one thing isn't better than another. 

God doesn't compare what He creates. Sure, we all have preferences, and there's nothing wrong with that. There was a time when Jesus' disciples got into an argument about which of them was the greatest, and do you know how Jesus responded? He pulled a child onto His lap, saying whoever welcomes children welcomes Him. Greatness wasn't rated on strength, wealth, or intelligence; Jesus said it was about humility and a childlike faith. He ushered in an entirely new set of rules. He said if we wanted to be great in His kingdom, we needed to be servants. If we wanted to be rich in Him, we'd identify with the poor. 

. It's hard to believe we don't have to be better than the person next to us in order to please God. Jesus said, however, He's impressed when we serve the people around us and lift their interests above ours. This is how things work with God. He's not looking at all of us like we're in a horse race to see who's in front. God looks at us and He sees His Son, Jesus. He says we are perfect because of Him and there's enough love to go around. 

He loves each of us like we're His favorite ice cream. He loves us like the mountains and the beach-He doesn't need us to be the same. We can stop trying to jockey with each other for position and instead stand shoulder to shoulder, knowing God's eternal love is poured out in equal measure to everyone. 

Who are you tempted to compare yourself to? 

June 19


Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. 
JAMES 5:16 

The pace of life and the demands of a day can throw us all. I remember a few of those days when I was a partner at the law firm. I'd come home after a big day in court and plop down in my favorite chair, exhausted. A stay-at-home mom leaves it all on the field and has nothing left. The guy at Arby's is just trying to make rent. If that means slicing roast beef, he'll do it. These can be the hardest moments to stay engaged and connected with the people who are most impor­tant in our lives. We just don't have the energy for it. So we keep it shallow. 

Needing a little downtime is no crime, but if you string too many of those days together, you create the habit of staying on the surface with everyone. When we stay on the surface, we miss the opportunity to share our fears and insecurities and doubts, and we forfeit the chance to hear the same. We trade the few deep conversations we should be having with the ones closest to us for many shallow conversations with everybody else. 

The shallow end isn't always as safe as it looks. We can skate through life without having many vulnerable conversations, and our flaws and fears will remain unexposed. If we're never willing to get real, we'll never really be known, and if we're never known, it's hard to feel truly loved for who we actually are. Try anything you want, but being vulnerable is the only pathway to true connection. 

The fix is simple. Identify a handful of people who have gone through hard times and have come out stronger on the other end. Invite those people into a couple of the difficult parts of your life-the ones you don't quite have figured out yet. Sometimes, the only thing worse than going through storms is going through them alone. Invite a few friends to join you. 

Who will you invite into your deeper journey? 

June 20


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 
JOHN 14:27 

It seems like a universal constant that if you're running late, you hit all the red lights. There must be a sinister operator cackling as he clicks another button while you pound your steering wheel and check your watch every five seconds. 

Fear can be like those red lights. Fear tells us that if we actually tell the truth, the punishment will be too costly. It tells us if we really open up to a friend or spouse, we'll be rejected. It tells us there's not enough in the bank account to give, or the person seems too different and scary, or risking the big move in your career is doomed to failure. Fear robs the world of some amazing things. Your imagination is one of them. What could happen if fear didn't exist? What if we could shut it off somehow? It would be like driving down the road with nothing but green lights. 

Don't let fear take the wheel and drive you away from where your faith wants to take you. I'm not saying you should live entirely without fear. Some fears can be helpful and inform our actions with wisdom. Don't miss out, how­ever, on what God has for you because taking the step merely feels too risky. Push out a little· farther from shore. Throw the nets in the water. Fail trying; don't fail watching. Don't let fear call the shots in your life. 


God is inviting you to floor it with your faith. Don't let fear keep you from where Jesus wants to take you. 

Which fear do you have that you need to say no to today? 

June 21


Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. 
MATTHEW 18:20 

When God laid out His vision for us, He didn't tell us just to be nice to each other. He told us to be a family with each other. He said even the people we don't like are brothers and sisters, and we don't get a pass on learning to love them. If you're like me, it's easy to agree with this but hard to live it out. 

One of the best ways to learn how to love people we disagree with is to do more things with them. You don't need to book a trip to Europe together, but maybe just get coffee down the street. Jesus' disciples didn't have much in common when He called them. Peter had a short temper and John was a sensitive soul. Some were tax collectors and sophisticated thinkers while others got their education on fishing boats. 

But when Jesus invited them to join His family, they were forced to learn how to love each other. They traveled together and shared meals. They didn't have a plan laid out. They went through storms together, witnessed Jesus' miracles, and experienced tremendous disappointments. Starting out, they didn't have much in common, but the more experiences they shared together, the closer they grew. 

Look around your community and find the people you struggle to love. Find something to do with them. Go to the blood bank together. Make them drive. Ask them a couple of questions and learn a few things about them. Invite them into your world and learn to appreciate the perspective they bring. Even if they're wrong. The more experiences you share, the more you'll find you were wrong too. 

God didn't tell us to put up with each other; He told us to love one another. Don't miss out on someone you've written off. Grab them by the hand and go do something. I bet you'll find they're worth your love once you do. 

Who are you going to do something meaningful with this week? 

June 22


"Come, follow me,'' Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people." 

It's hard enough having to endure our failures, but the failure itself usually isn't as bad as the story we tell ourselves about it. We'll tell ourselves our worth took a hit because we've tied it to our performance. Our darker angels say we should've known we wouldn't amount to much because we let someone we love down. We say we'll never risk giving our heart away again because it just never works out. The failure isn't where we get roadblocked. Failure's just a part of being human. The problem is usually the story we tell ourselves that keeps us from moving· past it. 

Jesus saw people's failures as an opportunity to tell them the truth about themselves. After Peter denied Him on the loneliest night of his life, Jesus told him he would become the rock the church would be built upon. After the woman was caught in adultery and thrown at His feet, Jesus told her she wasn't condemned. He said there was hope for a beautiful future if she wanted it. As He forgave people who brought shame upon themselves, He always took the opportunity to say they were more than their mistakes and His grace was bigger than their lives. 

Jesus pointed people toward a better version of themselves. He saw their shame and knew the story they told themselves could have a greater paralyzing effect on their lives than the failure itself. He wanted them to know their value wasn't based on their ability to get it right. He wanted them to understand who they were was more than what they'd done. He wanted them to know He saw them at their worst and had never loved them more. 

Next time you mess up, don't invent a new plot. Don't tell yourself a story different from the story Jesus has been telling about you. Listen to Jesus instead. 

What would Jesus say He really thinks about you? 

June 23


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. 

One of the greatest miracles of living in the twenty-first century is how exten­sively we can travel. No previous generation has had the gift of being able to step on an airplane so easily, lean back for a nap, and wake up on the other side of the world. No matter where we are in the morning, by the evening we can lie on the floor of the Sistine Chapel or float in the Dead Sea. Traveling opens our eyes to see beauty in ways our great-grandparents couldn't have imagined. 

But after a trip, as the plane touches down and we drive the last stretch home, we're reminded that the most beautiful scenery in the world is when our friends come into view. Even the best moments from our trips don't quite compare to the hugs and smiles we get when we walk through the doors of our homes and into the arms of our loved ones. 

Boredom and discontentment spread like germs. They whisper lies to us in our daily routines, telling us we'd be happier if we could be free to go wherever we want, whenever we want. They try to entice us with the freedom we could enjoy if only we weren't tied down by all the responsibilities that come with being invested in a community. 

But the strings that tie us to the people we love are the ropes that pull us up when life gets hard. Don't believe the lie that you would experience more beauty if you could only get a break from the people you're sharing your life with. The most beautiful view in the world is the sight of the faces who show up for you no matter what. 

Do you need to re-see the beauty in someone in your life? 

June 24


"Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am." 

If anyone had reason to believe they had blown their big chance to use their influence for good, it was Moses. Moses was a Hebrew boy and was supposed to be killed according to a decree by the pharaoh. But the pharaoh's daughter had compassion and adopted him. After he had grown up, Moses went for a walk, saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave, and killed the Egyptian in a fit of rage. He thought no one had seen it, but when he realized his sin had been exposed, he ran. 

Moses fled to the desert and stayed there for forty years. Moses was tending a flock on a mountain one day when he saw a bush had caught fire. Moving closer to check it out, he heard a voice from the fire-the voice of God. God told Moses that he had heard the cry of the Hebrew people in slavery, that He had seen them in their suffering and had compassion. Then He told Moses to go back to Egypt to lead His people out of slavery. 

It's easy for us to feel like our mistakes disqualify us, that we've missed our opportunity when we mess up the plan. Shame shackles us. Our failures prepare us. God meets us where we are and uses our stories to bring courage. He's not looking for us back at the place where we made the wrong turn-He follows us down the road and guides us into a better story. Love finds us where we are, not where we were. 

What past mistake or failure do you feel disqualifies you from God's love? 

June 25


You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 

John 15:16

When each of my kids turned ten, I took them anywhere in the world they wanted to go, just the two of us. It sounds extravagant, but I have free airplane tickets like farmers have corn. Lindsey loved tea, so we went to London for a tea party. Richard wanted to summit Half Dome at Yosemite. Adam picked riding motorcycles across the desert. 

The only plan was that we wouldn't make a plan. The kids dreamed up exactly what they wanted to do, and we set out for an adventure together. That's how the best adventures unfold for all of us. We decide to follow a pas­sion and bring people we love along with us for the ride. 

A father's job is to get down on both knees, lean over his children's lives, and whisper, "Where do you want to go?" Their answers had me flying over sand dunes on motorcycles, huddled together in tents during snowstorms, and lifting pinkie fingers as we sipped tea on the Thames. 

I used to think adventures with God meant living in foreign countries alone. I feared I'd have to enter the priesthood or go door to door or do some­thing I didn't want to do at all. But I've learned that God lets us decide what we want, even if it's not the kind of thing He might have picked. He's not trying to manipulate us. He wants to be with us. He hopes we'll trust Him enough to tell Him what our desires are. 

God isn't as concerned about where we go as much as about who we become along the way. He wants us to become His. God doesn't force us into things we don't want to do. He's more interested in joining us as we run after our dreams. He leans over our lives and whispers, "Where do you want to go?" 

Where do you want to go? 

June 26


As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. 

"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." You hear this when a child or grown kid acts like the parent, and it usually has a negative slant. I've always wondered how you would say a kid was completely different from the parents. "That apple fell in the next county." Or "How did that kumquat come from that apple tree?" 

The truth is, we can't get away from the influence our parents had on us growing up. We might be able to turn down the volume on their voices, but we can't do away with them completely. God made us highly impressionable. We pick up phrases and habits from our friends almost without even realizing it. And if you're trying to act differently from your parents or some friends in your life, guess what? They're still the people you're pivoting off of. 

We can't choose the families we're born into, but we can choose the com­munities we'll link arms with for the rest of our lives. Be choosy. These friends will either replace or reaffirm the tapes we grew up hearing, and some might do a little of both. 

God doesn't ask us to avoid the people we're trying to be different from. And it's pretty hard to toss out all the old tapes. But God gives us friends to add new voices to the mix. Find friends who sound like Jesus, and keep them on repeat in your life. 

Who is the best reflection you've seen of Jesus? 

June 27


In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 
HEBREWS 1:1-2 

One time my son Richard and I were rushing to the airport with some friends. Once we got past security, he came to a halt in front of a tech gadget vending machine. He needed a new pair of headphones, and he saw the kind that drown out all the noises you don't want to hear. They were at a crazy-low price, so he decided to get a pair for every person in our group. The blood drained out of his face when he realized he'd misread the price tag: $199.99 instead of $19.99. Yikes! 

That was a costly goof. But what price would you put on hearing the right voices in your life? What would you pay to drown out the voices of doubt, fear, and insecurity? 

God speaks to us through His Word, through our friends, through our desires and dreams. Are you listening to them, or are you giving the micro­phone to the voices that make you envy what your friend has or fear that the next move will end in total failure? Have you put your head next to a mega­phone that screams you back into the person you were? 

And what kind of voice are you in the lives of others? Remember that fear calls out our insecurities and doubts. God calls out our names. Listen for His voice and be like it too. Speak of love and beauty, trust and acceptance, grace and forgiveness-and you'll be the voice people are longing to hear. 

What kind of voice are you in the lives of others? 

June 28


Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. 
JAMES 5:16 

I have a few friends who have been brave enough to go into recovery programs. They made the courageous choice to quiet the voices in their hearts saying they wouldn't be accepted if they told the truth and got the help they needed. 

The battle leading up to recovery can be a lonely fight, I'm told. People hear one voice saying they need help right now while the other voice says, "You can stop after the next one." And the next one, and the next one. After all the next ones, brokenness crashes in where reason couldn't, and the last episode becomes the catalyst someone needs to ask for help. Help comes in the form of people who don't run away. 

Plenty of us have our secrets. Bumping into the car. Fudging taxes. Too much alcohol. The relationship. Whatever it is, bad choices have this whiplash effect, causing us to avoid anyone who might discover them. That will cause distance and loneliness. Most of us have something we're afraid to tell the other people in our lives. We tell ourselves we can beat it alone, but our solo struggle against it keeps us isolated. 

Don't fake perfection. Go for broke instead. The hidden cost of faking it is isolation, but the payoff of vulnerability is community. Find someone safe and share the part of your life you hide from others. You're going to find the rejection you fear is a myth and lie. People will still love you. Hope will catch you on the other side of your confession. 

What do you need to confess today? 

June 29


Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, "Son, your sins are forgiven." 
MARK 2:4-5 

Once Jesus was teaching a crowd of people-a bunch of religious leaders from all over the region. As He taught, a group of men tried to approach Him car­rying a paralyzed friend on a mat. They believed if they could just get him to Jesus, he would be healed. 

The crowd was too big for them to get in-the line for this club stretched around the block. So they created a new entrance. They climbed up onto the roof and lowered him down through the tiles. I've always wondered what all the scraping and commotion would sound like to the people inside. I also wonder how far these men carried the guy. How far are you willing to carry a friend on a stretcher? These friends lowered him right to the feet of Jesus, and the Bible says when Jesus saw the faith of the man's friends, He forgave and healed the man. Isn't that amazing? It wasn't even the man's faith that moved Jesus to heal him. The faith of his friends was enough. They didn't wait for a more convenient time, and they didn't wait until the guy on the stretcher got all the theology right. 

We need friends to have the faith we can't muster up on our own. We don't need theology cops making sure we can recite the Creed correctly. We need people willing to be Jesus in our lives. We need friends who will hope things for us we're too discouraged to dream for ourselves. We need people who will lower us down through the roof rather than waiting for permission. 

Which of your friends will carry you to Jesus? Who will you carry? 

June 30


All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 
ACTS 4:32 

This guy named Shane was in college when he started to make friends with people who lived in poor neighborhoods in his city. Shane could've gone the expected route after graduation-get a job, start building a 40l(k), health insurance-you know the drill. But he chose to live with people in poverty instead. He and some friends pooled together enough money to get a house in a struggling neighborhood. Their only goal was to be good neighbors. 

At any given point, Shane and his wife have up to ten people living in their home, and they share everything. They put all the money they earn into one pile and spend it as needed. It's kind of like a modern-day version of what you read about in the book of Acts. Their purpose is to show hospitality and gen­erosity to their neighbors, so they're not too concerned with their appearance or net income. 

We won't be distracted by comparison if we're captivated with purpose. If we're captivated with purpose, most everything else fades into the background. The pressure to live a particular script or keep up with the Joneses gets exposed for the distraction it is. Look for the people around you who are suffering in some way, and take one of their worries off their plate in secret. You don't need to start a new nonprofit-just step in and relieve a little stress. We won't have time to measure ourselves against one another if we fill our time scheming ways to lift one another up. 

What are you willing to share? What are you unwilling to share?

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