The Daily

Daily devotions and thoughts from Cypress Meadows


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


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

March 1


A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" 
MARK 1:40-41 

I was at the grocery store one day, hoping to get in and out in a hurry. I was tired and wanted to just grab a couple of things and get home to Sweet Maria. Within moments of entering the store, it happened. It was the classic "I bumped into someone." I saw someone I knew, and I knew they were going through a tough time. I'll be honest-I was tempted to· duck behind a pile of grapes or camouflage myself with a pineapple and a few papayas. I'll admit, getting through the check­ out line and heading home was more important to me than engaging a friend. 

The Bible shares stories of how people in that time avoided the tax collec­tors and the very ill. I don't know any IRS agents or anyone with leprosy, but I still have the problem Jesus talked to His friends about. He gave examples about people who helped those in need and those who passed by them. These days we avoid people when they are inconvenient or their personalities rub us the wrong way or we strongly disagree with them. We avoid people who make us feel anxious or insecure. We may feign engagement and say something polite, but everyone on the receiving end knows they were just avoided. 

The ones we avoid are the ones Jesus engaged. He spent his whole life seeking out the people most of us have spent our whole lives avoiding. When he saw a leper, he saw a person with a dark history and a bright future. When he saw a woman, he saw a leader. When he saw a sinner, he saw someone in need of grace. When we pay attention to the people around us, we find a lot of people who are rejected by others and loved by Jesus. Those are the ones He wants us to move toward, and when we move toward them, we'll learn a lot about the God who moves toward us too. 

Who are you avoiding? What can you do to put their needs before yours? 

March 2


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

In one ofJesus' most popular sermons, He told people how to become love. He told them to be humble. He urged them to turn the other cheek when someone came swinging. He said to give their stuff away, not to store it up here on earth. But the most radical part of the sermon was this: He told people to love their enemies. 

Jesus said it's easy to love people who love us back. Anyone can do that. But we're to love those who don't love us back-even those who have it out for us. 

I think we water down Jesus' call to love our enemies by thinking of them in broad and extreme categories, like people in countries we're at war with. Terrorists, leaders of drug cartels, criminals who have done great harm. A person walking their dog isn't your enemy, right? A teacher you've never had but have heard stories about how strict they are isn't actually an enemy. How can they be, when you don't know them? Here's the thing: I think our enemies aren't just the extreme examples that come to mind. They are the people who make us crazy. They annoy us with their insincere words or their rash behaviors. They're the bosses who call us into the office on holidays or the parents who gossip about our kids. These are the ones we enjoy the least and disagree with the most. 

Whoever it is, Jesus told us they're the ones who will show us how real our faith is. The way we treat people is a report card on how far we've come in turning our beliefs into our biographies. Even when we're sure they're in the wrong, we have an opportunity to remember God's response to us_ when we were even more wrong: it was total grace. Loving our enemies is a hard test to pass. But when we do it right, we show ourselves to be eager students at the feet of a great and compassionate Teacher. 

Who's the most difficult person for you to love these days? 
What can you do to draw closer to loving them this week? 

March 3


God does not show favoritism. 
ROMANS 2:11 

I think there is a universal experience for people who go to church. At some point in the service a baby will start to cry. It's not the baby's fault; it's what babies do. But for everyone else, it starts a multistep process that generally goes like this: feel compassion for the child; realize it's just a child and try not to get annoyed; try to stay focused on the sermon; wonder why the child is still crying; wonder why the parent isn't taking the child away; think about how to make the parent cry; repent from being so annoyed that a baby is disrupting the service. Perhaps we need to chill out a little. After all, it was a baby who brought us together in the first place, two thousand years ago. 

We need to give some thought to any number of reactions we have to the distractions. Perhaps it's how someone looks or the way they live their life or express their love that unbalances us. We would never tell a baby to figure out the whole "crying thing" before coming to church. But we tend to have higher expectations for adults. We have a habit of telling people to "come as they are," but seeing how we treat people who are still waiting for their growth spurt, I wonder if we really mean it. We want to include everyone, but we want to include them on our terms. We tell people to come as they are, but we insist they change before they arrive. If this is you, I've got two words for you to take to heart: stop it. 

That's not who you are, it's not who we are, and it's definitely not who Jesus is. If Jesus were on the stage, He'd probably point us to the baby and encourage us to become more like him. He'd tell us to get that real with our feelings and that safe with Him and each other that we could express what's going on inside of us. Not only do we miss the spirit of Jesus when we insist people change in order to belong, but we miss out on the ride of getting to love people right where they are, with no qualifications. We're meeting people at the starting line, not the finish line. Let them know they're not just invited; they're welcome. 

What would change about how you treat others if you accepted more about who they were, messes and all? 

March 4


Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 

I've traveled to enough churches and conferences to hear plenty of Christian leaders refer to the "issues" their churches are facing. Sometimes they're real issues, like if a church lost their building in a fire and can't host two thousand people on Sundays. Or they don't have enough places to store all the food they want to give away. Those are issues. 

But more often than not, issues mean that people who make us uncomfortable are coming to our churches and we don't know what to do about it. They're distracted by who they love or how they live or what they think or what they've done. We start thinking that the people are the issue because they are the ones telling us about the way we should vote or act or which gender gets to take the pulpit. Those aren't issues we're discussing; they're people. 

Remember this: God makes people, people make issues, but people aren't issues. The person with an "issue" of [fill in the blank] who wants to lead the church in worship ... that person isn't an issue. He or she is a person who probably loves Jesus more than I do and wants to use his or her gifts to serve the church. If you want to know more about what these people are thinking, just ask. Will it be uncomfortable? Sure. Will you be misunderstood? Maybe. Do it anyway. 

Is there scripture that speaks to the topics you're thinking about? Terrific. Go figure that out for yourself You're not the sheriff and they're not the enemy. You're two screwed-up people who desperately need Jesus. 

These "issues" we talk about are only masquerading as people. Do yourself and the rest of us a favor and separate the two rather than merging the person and the issue into one. Does that mean everyone will agree with each other? Of course not, but that's the not the point. Don't separate the truth of the scriptures from the issue of the day, but do separate the person from the issue. It'll take some humility and even more guts, but if we do, we'll learn a lot about love, and we'll welcome people who have perhaps felt far away from God. 

Who's making you uncomfortable these days? Why? 

March 5


Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 
1 JOHN 3:18 

Have you ever had a friend or relative who "loves you so much" they can't have a single conversation without rehashing all the ways they think you're wrong? Or have you been told you're "loved so much" that you can't come around anymore? Or have you been denied something you really wanted arid needed because you're "loved so much"? So often someone tells us they're doing it for our good when it feels like it's for their good. 

For a lot of people, love looks a lot like telling us we're cut off until we fall in line. Some people call it "tough love," but I don't think Jesus had this phrase in His vocabulary. 

We make loving people a lot more complicated than Jesus did. Jesus thought love meant a lot of things. It meant eating meals in people's homes, even when they were the kind of people who had been cut off by religious communities. It was touching the untouchable. It looked like making time for the people others passed by. Jesus wasn't scared away by those who had a reputation for being scandalous or unclean, because He saw through the labels that had been slapped on them and He believed in who they might become. 

We'll miss the opportunity to see people grow if we won't meet them with love where they are. Sometimes it appears it's more important for us to be "right" than to be Jesus. No one has ever been argued into a change of heart. No one's ever been coerced into becoming more like Jesus. If you're hoping to spread the love ofJesus to those you think are wrong, try loving people like Jesus. 
Next time you feel like you "love someone so much" that you want to give them a piece of your mind, try giving them a glass of strawberry juice instead. Love isn't as complicated as we make it. Just love people. Don't add any qualifiers. 

What can you do this week to love someone with actions rather than words? 

March 6


Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 

The Bible promises that when we believe in Jesus, He'll start the process of transformation to make us like Him. In a sense, that happens completely in an instant. But as every Jesus follower knows, the change takes a lifetime. This process needs some new space to breathe in your life. Think of it like a scrap­book for your soul. You can't be more like Jesus if you're spending your days staring at all the pictures of who you used to be. 

One way to find space comes during a season called Lent, which is the forty days leading up to Easter. The theme of Lent is denying yourself something in order to focus more on Jesus. Maybe it's chocolate or the Xbox, shopping or lattes. Whatever it is, the purpose of Lent is quitting something to make space for Jesus. There might not be a natural connection between giving up chocolate and being transformed, but it's often exactly what happens. The urge to enjoy the thing we gave up reminds us why we gave it up in the first place. 

We won't be new creations if we're clutching the things that were yester­day's news. Here's the fix: quit something today. Make some space in your life. I've never met anybody who made space in their life and started knocking off liquor stores. You might not know what will fill its place, but you'll come across beautiful opportunities when you have the space to engage them. 

You don't have to wait until Easter to give something up. You don't need a season called "Lent." Just do it because it's Thursday. We all get one of those every week. Quit something today and then wait with expectation for God to show up and surprise you tomorrow. 

What are you going to quit today? 

March 7


Weeping may stay for the night. but rejoicing comes in the morning. 
PSALM 30:5 

Childhood for me was full of BB guns and climbing trees and scraped knees and "be back home in time for dinner." I never thought about utility bills or the mortgage payment or taxes or how much blue jeans cost. When I heard my dad mention he was "changing the oil" in the car, I hoped he was installing something to cause an oil slick behind him like Batman. Parents work hard to shield their kids from the "real world" until they're old enough to understand it. But eventually something happens. It might be a big disappointment that makes you feel like the real world is crashing in or an even bigger responsibil­ity that causes you to play at a much higher level. It's all part of growing up, I suppose. I've never met a single person who's avoided this shift. 

The weight of growing up can be immense. Balancing a life, a few relation­ships, a career, and the uncertainty of it all can feel overwhelming. I've come to understand, though, that what brings us to tears will lead us to grace. God takes the weights of the pressures and disappointments in our lives and turns these into the very things that anchor us in our faith. 

We saw this happen in the life of Jesus. He experienced the same sadness we feel, and He endured it so we would know God can sympathize with our sadness. He doesn't judge us or expect us to bounce back from sorrow. He gets down into it with us. 

The night before Jesus gave His life for us, He kneeled in a garden and cried as He prayed for the painful night to pass. But He didn't skip over it even though He could have. He knew grace was on the other side of His grief. When we can't see past our sorrows, we can trust God is traveling with us with His love. 

What are you sorrowful about today? 

March 8


All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner." 
LUKE 19:7 

I've made a habit of reaching out to people when they've stepped into some sort of firestorm on the internet. Maybe they caused it, or maybe people came after chem for something they said. However it starts, it's rough to get lambasted by people online regardless of why it happened. I'll see a pastor say something controversial and instead of adding to all the noise already surrounding the comment, I'll send them a cake pop with no return address. It doesn't matter whether I agree with the person or not. I figure they're having a rough time and cake pops make tough days a little more tolerable. 

I used to be concerned about being right, but now I just want to be more loving. We'll always disagree with some people, but we'll know we're growing when we're more concerned about the other person than the big disagreenient. You'll know you're making progress when your love for people overshadows your opinions about them. 

We have a tendency to huddle up with people who look like us and think like us. It makes sense. People who are like us validate our life choices and worldviews. Here's the problem: we miss out on the beautifully diverse ways people see the world when we only associate with "our people." Jesus' tribe was a mix of men, women, fisherman, scholars, and tax collectors. Good guys, bad guys, and undecided. They wouldn't have seen the world the same way, but they all knew love had the last word, and that was enough for them. 

Next time someone pushes your buttons, send them a cake pop instead of an angry message. They've probably got enough critics out there, and like most of us, they could probably use a little more love than lecture. Let love be louder than your opinions. 

What progress have you made lately in loving others? 

March 9


Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. 

Because I fly on planes so much, getting through security, boarding, buckling, and getting to where I'm going feels as normal as a morning routine getting ready for work. That's why I get a little rattled when the plane comes to a slow stop and the pilot's voice comes through the speakers: ''Ladies and gentleman, all the gates are in use. Please remain seated and we'll update you when we have more information." It's like getting to your car to drive to work and seeing the flat tire. Life has messed with your routine, and you're instantly annoyed and deflated. 

I think about those runway stops when I come across difficult people. They usually don't want to be a pain, and, like you and me, they want to be better. But they're stuck on the tarmac for a minute. 
Each of us knows how complicated life can be. We know how quickly pressure builds with all the responsibilities that weigh us down. We're well aware of the unique ways those anxieties surface in our lives, especially when they seem to manage us more than we manage them. And we want people to show us grace. We want the benefit of the doubt. 

Love difficult people. Give them the grace you want people to offer you when you stall on the tarmac. Give them your pretzels or cookies and remind yourself they've got a little farther to go, just like you. 

What makes it difficult for you to love difficult people? 

March 10


The commander of the LORD's army replied, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so. 
JOSHUA 5:15 


Every few days there's another flare-up in what people call the "culture wars." Apparently you can load a weapon with an idea, aim it at someone you've never met, and it becomes a war. 

What strikes me is how quickly something on the news becomes a flash­point among people in our faith community. Within hours, pastors and thought leaders often publish articles, weighing in on whether somebody is biblically correct. These critics are usually anything but kind. It gets personal. It feels mean-spirited. I'm not sure if it's obvious to everyone or just a few how incredibly insecure these people are. 
These tug-o-wars rarely reflect the kind of love Jesus urged us to embody. When we live in grace and walk in love, we can empathize with people and the circumstances that were the context for the problem. Most often I've thought the most honorable thing to do was to pass on jumping in. Something in us wants to take sides. Joshua had the same experience. He met an angel and asked which side the angel was on. "Neither. Take off your shoes" was the response. 

Jesus didn't have to take sides. We don't either. He loved people on every side, and we can too. He didn't see issues; He saw people. He didn't see an article to be written; He saw a bad misstep to be rewritten. He stood with and for whoever was pushed to the edge and was rejected. Their acceptance didn't come at the expense of someone else. There has never been a capacity issue with God. The more who come, the bigger the room gets. Why do we feel so strongly about constructing walls between us to identify who's in and who's out? God sends out an invitation to every single person in the world and checks the mailbox every day to see who RSPV'd. Be one of them. 

Next time you feel torn between two sides in a debate, remember God's love isn't as complicated as we make it-nor does it have the divisions we want to enforce. 

What side have you taken that you need to let go of? 

March 11


You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 


Have you ever wondered what it would look like if Jesus wrote a book on leadership? The tide might be something like The Greatest Among You Shall Be the Least or Don't Worry About It. Companies would have to invert all their org charts. The CEO would get a mop and bucket, and the janitor would get a corner office and maybe a jet. That's not the message you see in bookstores though. There are books about how to be more influential, make more money, innovate more quickly, manage more effectively. None of this is wrong. In fact, much good can come from organized, focused efforts. Here's the deal though. You can sum up leadership books with one phrase: Here's how you crush it. But even though Jesus was the most influential person to ever live, I don't think He would write that book. Here's why: God didn't give you influence so you'd lead people better. He gave it to you so you'd love people more. 


Jesus' model for leadership was more interested in our laying our lives down for our friends than increasing the number of people who admire us from afar. Be famous with your family and friends. Leave the building of platforms to painters. Jesus was a carpenter who never cared about them. Any influence we've been given isn't meant to increase the size of our audience. It's so we can welcome even more people into the experience of God's love. 

The best leaders don't care whether they're in positions of power. They don't care about their stats on social media or the praise they receive from people who follow them. They love without distraction or distinction and find their reward in the celebration of love rather than by chasing the approval of others. Of course they wane to encourage people, because they love big and want that love to spread. But they're in it for others, not for their own egos. 

If you find yourself in knots about whether you're leading people in the right direction, just look at whether you're the chief servant. If you're the big cheese, take a breath. Figure out how to become more downwardly mobile. Great leaders don't have time co think about themselves because they're too busy scheming ways to love other people and lift them up. Who can you do this for today? Blow their minds. Give them your office, maybe even your car. It'll sound crazy right up until you do it. 

What kind of leader are you? 

March 12


Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." 
MATTHEW 19:14 


Thirty years ago, I wrote a letter to a guy I admired a lot. He was one of the early contemporary Christian musicians: Keith Green. Of course, when we write someone who is well known, most of us think we'll never hear back from them. At best, I thought I might get a generic response from someone who worked for him. This isn't what happened. Instead, I got a personal letter back from Keith Green. His letter to me was only three sentences long, but the fact that he took the time to write to me made a lifelong impression. 

Most of us undervalue the impact our words and our availability can have on the people around us. We don't get to decide how tall or short or rich or talented we are. I'm never the smartest guy in the room, but I learned a long time ago that I can be the most available one. I also learned from Keith Green the massive impact availability can have in someone's life. More than just incredibly validating, the act of extravagant availability says "I see you," "I hear you," "You matter." 

Don't be stingy with your time; fill it with words that matter to someone. Release them into the world like they were hundreds of helium balloons and see what happens in the lives of the people around you. You'll be blown away by what you see. 

I receive hundreds of e-mails a day. Anyone who e-mails me gets a response from me. Do you know why? Because thirty years ago, Keith Green got a let­ter from a young guy he didn't know and instead of ignoring it, or staffing it out, or blowing it off completely, he made himself available to send me three sentences. Honestly, I don't even remember what he wrote-but I remember this: I felt like a boss because he decided to be available to me. 


So, what do you think? Is there someone you can be available to? You don't need to do it for a whole year. How about in the next ten minutes you don't make a big deal out of it but write somebody who has reached out to you a note? It only needs to be three sentences long. 

Who do you need to be more available to? 

March 13


A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel. 


Whether it was at school with a teacher when we were young or at work after we got our first job, we've all worked with someone who made the fateful decision to go toe-to-toe with the boss in an argument. Bad call. We've cringed when they've launched the initial missile in the form of a confrontational question, declaring war. With raised eyebrows and glares traded with friends, we sit back and wait for the destruction as the two gunslingers square off and pull their jackets back, exposing their six shooters. Even if they're hands-down right, we all know there's a built-in risk when our coworker pokes the dragon. And if the disagreement escalates, we can watch our colleague both win the argument and lose the job in one glorious explosion of bad judgment. 

Those moments remind us how foolish it is to try to win an argument instead of preserving a relationship. Don't get me wrong. I've been a lawyer for several decades. I've learned that whether it's with family, friends, or acquain­tances online, we lose when we argue without love. Healthy disagreement can help us all grow, but when it's more important to win arguments than love people, we need to start all over again with our faith. 

Jesus was right 100 percent of the time, but when people walked away, they felt seen and loved even when they were flat wrong. Jesus looked past disagree­ments to the question behind their questions. He saw the fears and insecurities that were driving the behaviors. He saw the need behind the fa<;:ade. And when faced with the choice of winning an argument or loving a friend, He led with humility and let kindness do the talking. 


Many of us spend much of our lives trying to win arguments that love won a long time ago. Who has been caught in the crossfire of a disagreement you've had with them? You know what to do next. Get love back in the middle of it, or take a walk around the block and start over again with your faith. 

Who do you need to apologize to for arguing with them? Who do you need to forgive? 

March 14


What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. 
JOHN 2:11 


I've never met a new parent who isn't positive their baby is the cutest on planet earth. Even the so-so ones in their minds could rival George Clooney. The thing is this: parents give their baby the benefit of the doubt. Even the things that drive everyone else nuts they find worthy of celebrating. Parents see an emerging personality when the rest of us hear a scream. They see affection when the rest of us see a toothless child gnawing on a table leg. Every giggle, every curve of the mouth, every grip of the finger. We see squirming behaviors, they see Einstein in a diaper. Parents know something about their babies that some of us forget about ourselves. Parents are certain that their kid is a miracle. 

We come across people at all different stages of life, and sometimes we decide that someone is ordinary based on what we observe. All that happened is this: we've missed their quiet moments of courage, their tender moments of inexplicable compassion, the sleepless nights filled with despair. We've caught them in chapter seven of a book with twenty-two chapters, and we evaluate the whole book without knowing how it began and where it will end. 

Jesus worked countless miracles while He was here on earth. He brought people to life and brought life to groups of people. Just like the time He turned water into wine when a celebration had jumped the tracks, Jesus was always in the business of restoration. Nothing He touched remained ordinary, and His fingerprints are on every person who shows up on the scene. 

Look closely at yourself Think about some of the people you work with or live with. Look closely at them too. Every time we miss the miracle in ourselves or the people around us, every time we see people as ordinary, we turn the wine back into water. 

What miracle is happening in the growth of someone around you that you haven't noticed before? 

March 15


Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 


If you haven't hit a time in life when you're crawling beneath rock bottom, you probably know someone who has. It happens when you're married to the love of your life and divorce papers arrive. It happens when the faith that stitched you together begins to unravel. It happens when someone you've loved leaves you or breaks an important promise. Without warning, the lights go out inside of us, we have no candles co light, and we don't know how to walk in the dark. 

When our lives fall apart, we don't need trite answers; we need a couple of solid friends. We need presence. We need someone holding our hand for the diagnosis or staying by our side when our big mistake goes public-and viral. We need a friend when we courageously head to rehab to address the problem or to court to receive the verdict. Occasionally we need people to gently ask us the right questions, but more often than not we need friends who will give us a hug and then listen with big ears and seemingly endless amounts of time. 

When we're looking for answers, sometimes God sends us wise friends. When He doesn't tell us which way to go, He'll bring people to go with us instead. It's important to know what to look for when we feel like we're falling apart, because God doesn't often send what we think we need. He sends us what He knows we need. 

Who's hurting around you? Is it possible God could send you to love them without having you say a word or make a suggestion? Who has been there for you during an uncertain time? Drop them a note. Let them know it mat­tered. Next time your world is turned upside down, look for friends instead of answers. God's lifeboats usually come in the form of people. 

What can you do for someone today whose life is unraveling? 

March 16


Then the master told his servant, "Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full." 
LUKE 14:23 


You learn a lot about adulthood when you plan a wedding. At first, it's so exciting you wish you could bottle it up in a snow globe. Engagement rings, parties, and toasts. What's not to like? Everything is so blissful. Then you start to plan­photographer, venue, caterer, tuxedos and a wedding dress. It turns out getting married can be quite expensive. The wedding ceremony is just the beginning too. Next, you hear the cost of a plate of food. Corn dogs and fries start to sound pretty good when the reception in your imagination looks more like a room full of price tags instead of friends. 

If the engagement survives all of this, you sit down with your sweetheart to make an invitation list. You envision a reunion with your childhood best friends and college buddies, but the other person insists on all the· second cousins. You have to make decisions between your fiance's mother's book club and your brother's girlfriend. There are the people you really want to invite and those you feel obligated to invite. What started out as bonding time turns into a sad ranking of the people in your lives. 

God's family works on an entirely different system. He's planning a cele­bration for the whole world, and He's got an unlimited number of seats. There's no budget and no tab that runs too high. It's already settled: there's enough room and more than enough love for everyone. 

We're wrong when we're tempted to think we'll be a guest of honor with God just because we do something nice or sacrificial for someone. The corollary is just as wrong when we think we' II get seated at the table reserved for the troublemakers and ne'er-do-wells just because we've messed up. Because Jesus stood in our place, every seat at God's table is reserved for His family. We just need to decide if we want to come. Don't rule yourself out because you think you've messed up the celebration or the planning. Grace draws a circle around everyone and says we're in. 


Who is missing at your family table? 

March 17


These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. 
ISAIAH 29:13 


We all know what it's like to watch board game night with friends devolve into civil war. The beginning is always promising: someone brings up Pictionary or Charades and you split into teams, ready to laugh. Then it all takes a turn when someone with a competitive streak takes charge. Maybe they were cut from their middle school basketball team or have an axe to grind because they lost a board game when they were five. Whatever it is, the competitiveness fills the air in the room like a thick fog. 

Rules emerge that no one knew about. Even the rules have rules. It's no fun anymore. It quickly becomes obvious to everyone that being right isn't as important as being together. What happened? It's simple. The purpose of the game is to enjoy one another, not to win. If someone takes it too seriously, they ruin it for everyone. 

Life works the same way. We can be so consumed with being "right" that we miss the opportunity to just be together. Humble people stay quiet when speaking up might cost them a friend. They know life isn't a competition. There's no winner or loser in God's family because everyone has access to infinite love and grace. There are no more chips we can collect or play money to hoard. Don't trade a dozen great relationships for a few unverified rules. 

Here's a pro tip: Don't be "right"; be Jesus. Be the one who brings people together and is self-aware enough to know that the purpose of our lives is to lift everyone up, not put people down. 

What would change if you cared more about being loving than being right? 

March 18


Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LoRo our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. 
PSALM 95:6-7 


Noching says relaxation like a slow cruise in a canoe or kayak on a windless summer day. Sometimes Sweet Maria and I sit on our dock in Canada as campers from a Young Ufe camp next door paddle by. We underhand-throw saltwater taffy to the ones who are close to shore and try to land it in their vessels. For those who are a little farther out, we have slingshots to get the taffy out to them. There's a big difference between being loved on and being We've all experienced a little of both. 

The thing about canoes is this. They're tippy. The same can be true of us. They say when you feel like you might tip over in a canoe, you can avoid it by getting down on your knees and leaning forward. The tip happens when your center of gravity gets too high. The same is true of us. If our heads are full and our hearts are empty, we'll tip over. 

The way to avoid a fall in life is pretty similar to the old advice I got from camp leaders in canoes years ago: get on your knees. When we're willing to humble ourselves and get low, we see ourselves and others from another per­spective. We listen. We pray. We're able to hear wisdom and receive it instead of getting defensive and taking a dive. 

We won't get very far in life on information alone. Eventually we'll realize we were wrong about things we thought we knew, and we'll wish we'd just loved people instead of trying to prove them wrong. Don't lose your center of gravity as you travel through life. Pack light, stay low, keep paddling, and let love lead the way. 

What happens to you when you humble yourself and get on your knees? 

March 19


Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else-to the nearby villages­ so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." 
MARK 1:38 


A few of my best friends happen to be creative geniuses. Think Einstein with a paintbrush or a Moleskine making word-pictures. I've learned a lot about the power of well-told stories from them, but even better, I've watched them live beautiful lives. They've taught me we're all constantly telling a story with the things we share online, the people we hang out with, the way we engage or react to the events around us, and the words we use. Brands are what cowboys put on cattle, not what we call our love. The way they engage their lives is more like a watermark. It's something you only really see when you hold it up to the light. 

These days, I pay more attention to people's patterns than their statements. Some are like an all-night television show-all theology all the time. Others focus on business and making money. We each have our own metrics for how we define success and contribution to the world. 

Have you noticed that someone will say something a certain group thinks is great but another group will tear it to shreds? Or maybe someone will have a bad day, and their tribe will send love and support for all to see, but those who have a different worldview are slow to encourage. They might even be a little combative or give off the impression that they are quietly delighting in the headwinds someone else is facing. It goes beyond these things. 

Jesus invited us to walk in a different way. He wasn't concerned with who people saw Him associate with. He was an image bearer, not an image maker. He was seen with religious leaders and loose women at the same events. He didn't care about money or status. He cared about the state of people's hearts. He showed us how to tear down the walls that divide us. 


If we avoid being identified with people we disagree with, we join the crowds. We've traded in God's brand of love for popularity. We're just one more voice calling for Barabas. Be like Jesus instead. Stand in silence if you need to, but offer words of hope to all, whether you agree with them or not. Jesus was more concerned with seeing other people than managing how they saw Him. 

What would be different if you cared less about your image and more about loving others? 

March 20


Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city. 


My sons, Richard and Adam, used to be wild boys. Nothing's really changed, and today they're wild men. Now that they're grown, their love of adventure makes them a great team. But when they were little, they did what all siblings do-they fought with each other. We hid all the sharp objects in the house, knowing they might be used. It usually started over toys or who was going to take the lowest branch first in a race to climb the tree. Fighting can be cute when it involves plastic trucks or barricades made of pillows. Our boys even­tually grew out of it. Some people don't. 

When our boys couldn't resolve an issue on their own, I would swoop in to pick them up, one in each arm. As their dad, I would try to approach the moment with tenderness and strength to bring a sense of peace, order, and calm in the midst of the meltdown. 

I often remember those days when I see people leaning toward criticism. Like little boys pulling hair and yanking toys, unfettered criticism doesn't show strength; it's evidence of weakness and insecurity. It masks itself as strength because it wants to establish dominance at the expense of relationship. It comes out swinging and yelling but is as transparent as it is ineffectual. Real strength builds up; it doesn't tear down. 

Love has the kind of power that criticism only wishes it had. Where criti­cism attacks, love mends. 
Sometimes love shows us our blind spots. Young and old alike have some­thing to learn. But love is always humble and always kind. It always wants the best for other people, and it's never defensive. Love sees who people are becoming even if they're not there yet. 


Next time you're tempted to lash out, go in for the hug instead. Even if your feelings have you all wound up, gestures of love toward others can bring down your blood pressure too. 

What kind gesture can you give to someone you've been harsh with today? 

March 21


Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 
ROMANS 12:10 


Birthdays are the only time we celebrate people just because they exist. They don't have to do anything special that day-no book launch or graduation or job promotion or space shot. We celebrate them because they were born. 

I love birthdays so much that I've started doing away with the birthday system where we only get to celebrate people one time a year. Think about it: Jesus performed thirty-seven miracles, depending on how you count them. Our friends are the thirty-eighth miracle. Now, that's something to celebrate. Those closest to us are a gift every day-fall, winter, summer, and spring. They make bad days more bearable with their comfort and attention. They make sweet moments all-out celebrations because their presence amplifies our joy. Whose idea. was it to only set aside one day a year to bake them cakes and shower them with gifts? 

That's why I make it a point to send friends balloons on random Tuesdays or flowers at the end of a mundane workday or a package full of surprises, just because. Sometimes I throw a dinner party with Secret Santa gifts in July. I'll get on the grill and Sweet Maria will bake a cake and we'll shower a friend with affection because they were born and they bring us such joy. It's not to cheer them up or affirm their achievements; it's just to tell them they're a gift to the world. 

Break the rules that say you have to contain your love to specific days. Pick a person and celebrate them today.


We don't need to wait for permission to throw a party. Who can you celebrate today? What will you do? 

March 22


We are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 


One of my best friends from college turned out to be an amazing artist. We gave him a hard time in school, telling him he'd always have a place to stay on our couch or in our basements. Then he surprised us all and made it as an artist! People pay top dollar for his paintings, and his work shows up these days in museums all over the country. 

When I look at his paintings, I think about where on the canvas he started and whether the picture resembles the one he imagined. I marvel over the way he could capture a moment in his imagination and then move his hands and brush and put it on display for the whole world to see. I don't think I will ever understand how he does it. 

I often think about what he'd say if I walked up midway through the pro­cess and told him he was going about it all wrong-that he needed more purple instead of red or swirlies instead of dabs with the brush. It would be ludicrous because I'm not the one who imagined the painting. I know very little about how to make the strokes that move an image from his mind to a canvas. The truth is, I make a better observer than artist. 

It must look a little like me telling my friend how to hold the paintbrush when we try to control the work God is doing in other people's lives. He cre­ated them, and He knows who they're becoming. He's got a plan in place to turn them into a masterpiece, and He's got the brushes He needs to make it happen. God sees the whole picture when He looks at His creation, and He knows exactly what we need when we need it. 

Have you been reaching for the brushes in someone else's life? Are you racing God to finish the canvas He's painting in your life? Take a breath. God's going to do what only He can do both in our lives and in the lives of the people around us. He doesn't need another artist to finish His work. His hope is that we'll delight in watching Him as He completes what He's started. 

What is God doing in your life or in others that will end up being beautiful and good? 

March 23


After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. 


My friend, Ben, is an amazing musician. He writes songs and travels around the country playing the piano and jumping on stages with his guitar. Maria and I go to his shows every chance we get; we sing the words to his songs we've memorized, which is all of them, and we elbow each other at the first note of our favorites. 

I've noticed concerts bring people together like few things do these days. You'll see guys in tailored suits squished between women wearing bandanas and cutoff jeans. You could be next to someone you've always had a hard time with and still smile and sing without even thinking about it. 

I think shows like my friend Ben's give us a little glimpse of heaven. God never intended for us to separate into groups; He calls us a family. He doesn't want a bunch of people going it alone either. Think symphony, not soloist. He said we were brothers and sisters, that we belong to one another and we don't need to settle for just tolerating one another. Sure, family members don't always see eye to eye and there are times we might not even choose one another; but still, try. Is it going to be tough at times? Of course it will. Is it possible you'll take a hit? You will. Do it anyway. 

It's okay to surround yourself with people who are loving and supportive and easy to be with, but huddles are best when they're open for more people to join. The next time you have a tough run-in with a family member or an old friend from high school on the internet, go to a concert with them, tap your feet, sing the words you know, and don't worry about the ones you don't. Don't let the difficulties you've had with someone keep you from singing along together. 

Who are you drawn to even though they're so different from you? What can you do to get closer to them? 

March 24


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


Could you imagine what people would think if we had a couple of shouting matches on the fringes of the church parking lot? We should have plenty of arguments at church; let's just argue about the right stuff 


Maybe folks would be more interested in filling spots inside if we arm wrestled for the worst parking spots on the outside. We're all creatures of habit. These rou­tines and patterns can free us up from making many of the distracting decisions we would otherwise need to be tracking. This can be good, but there's also a back side to that wave. We get comfortable. We become grafted into our routine. We're on autopilot. We park in the same spot, occupy the same pew, go to the same restaurant afterward for lunch. When any of that gets disrupted, we act like it's an assault on our rights. If we're not careful, our preferences will become the most important thing to us, and it will show. Here's the problem: when we want everyone to defer to us on Sundays, we abandon altogether the whole revolution Jesus started. "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave," He said. 

There's no middle ground with Jesus on this one. Like He said time and time again, to truly follow Him is to get familiar with taking cuts to the back of the line, to coming in last. We ought to be fighting to get the worst parking spots at our churches, not the best ones. And not let it end there. That's what people are hoping to see when we talk about the kind of love Jesus came to give-selfless, irrational, sacrificial love. 


How can you get extravagant with your love today? It starts with mixing up some of the routines we've become used to. Every day, we get another chance to shake up the status quo and extend love's border in our lives. Here's how you win in Jesus' reverse economy: Don't settle for the best spots. Fight for the worst parking spots. 

How can you get extravagant with your love today? 

March 25


Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. 
JAMES 4:10 


Some of my sweetest memories include friends playing music on the dock at our lodge in Canada. It's still light at 10:00 p.m. during the late summer evenings. With the sun and the moon hanging together, we huddle around when our friends begin to sing. They'll close their eyes and sing from their hearts as tears stream down all our faces. 

What makes these times even more magical is the way the soft voices carry for miles, bouncing off the mountains and echoing into the night. Who knew nature had its own surround-sound system? 
Those intimate moments always remind me that humble voices carry the farthest in the world. It's never the person making a statement on a soapbox that sticks with us. They might get our attention in the moment or capture the news cycle for a day, but their moments are brief and their influence quickly fades to silence. 

Humble people speak love whenever they see an open heart, whether it's on a stage or by a hospital bed. They speak their words quietly, whether they are in the limelight or in a dark night. They don't need a megaphone because their actions amplify their words and people are drawn to their message, which can be heard from afar even when it's whispered. Because they're faithful in small ways, their influence reaches farther than a viral video ever could. 

God has a way of making humble voices travel far. No matter where we are, God amplifies true and kind voices who confidently speak the language of love into the world. Don't be loud; be humble. Why? If you want to reach the whole world with your message, humble voices always carry the farthest. 

In what ways is God inviting you to step more fully into humility today? 

March 26


Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on. 
MARK 12:43-44 


Have you ever been to a fancy fundraiser where they put the names of donors on the big screen as the money comes in? If you send a text with your credit­card number, your name and the amount you gave will be announced-and if there's not applause, you can be sure the whole crowd knows. I get why we do this, and I'm sure the live reports generate excitement around giving, but Jesus told His friends a story about a different way. 

He was at the temple when a bunch of rich people paraded to the front to give large gifts. Everyone saw what they had done. Trailing behind them came a poor widow who humbly placed two copper coins in the treasury. No one even noticed-except Jesus. "This widow has given more than all the others," Jesus said. "They gave out of their wealth, but out of her poverty, she's given everything she had to live on." 


Jesus knew that in God's economy a small, humble gift given in secret goes further than a big check written with the hope of being seen. The size of the gift doesn't matter as much as the heart behind it, because God doesn't need our stuff-He just wants our hearts. 

God delights in our secret sacrifices. He created us with the hope that we'd join Him in restoring all that's gone wrong with the world, wherever we find ourselves. He uses the big, grand things everyone knows about, but He also uses the barely seen. Don't worry about the size of your gifts or whether people will know you did it for Jesus. Every unselfish act oflove whispers God's name. 

What small, humble gift can you give to someone today? 

March 27


Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight. 
MATTHEW 12:18 


When a trial lawyer is picking a jury, there's not a lot of information to go on. How people dress, the inflection of their voices, the look on their faces, how they sit in a chair. It's not much, but that's what they use to figure people out. 

We all do the same. Have you ever taken a sip of a drink expecting it to be one flavor but it turns out to be something else? If you're a die-hard Coca-Cola fan, you know what I'm talking about. 

Sometimes it's good to know what's inside the bottle before you drink it, and that's where labels come in. Labels give us a trustworthy starting point and help us batch the little details of our lives in useful ways. They help adjust our expectations and find what we're looking for within the brackets of our desires. 
Pizza = cheesy, delicious, guilty pleasure. Kale = cardboard, disgusting, not food. Ice cream = breakfast food, right? 

It's all well and good scrounging through the fridge. The trouble starts, though, when we do the same with people. Our minds want to kick into human label makers. Without realizing what we're doing, we can find our­selves running around putting stickers on all the people we know (and some we don't know!). 
Lazy, nerdy, avoidable; charming, the funny guy, full of themselves; pretty, popular, will say no to promposal. 

Labels can be helpful, but when we let other people decide who we are, that's when we need some adjustments. We can't be poured into convenient identity containers. We're people after all-each one of us expertly crafted to uniquely display aspects of an immeasurable love. 

We can't stop other people from making judgments about us based on very little information, but we can pump the brakes when it comes to doing it ourselves. Let's stop giving control to other people to figure us out. Leave sizing people up to lawyers and undertakers. Don't let other people decide who you are. Perhaps one of the best ways to start is to rip off the stickers we've placed on other people. 

Whose voice is loudest when it comes to telling you who you are? What's different between their voice and God's? 

March 28


When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 
JOHN 11:33 


Most people of faith go through times of questioning when the foundation cracks and we brace ourselves, waiting to see if the whole structure will crumble. Maybe a college student gets challenged by a respected professor. Or perhaps you see the behavior of someone who has been saying their faith is important to them and are so disappointed you might just walk away. You don't always hear people voicing their uncertainties, because the people up front who appear to have it together also seem to have all the answers. But doubt finds each of us at different times and in different ways. 

Most of us are constantly surrounded by unanswered questions. We wonder whether our kids will make it through their batcle with addiction or what we'll find on the other side of stage-four cancer. We don't want someone else's answers, and we don't need someone's opinion, because more opinions just create more anxiety. What we really want to know is that we're not alone. We need to know someone else has endured nights of barely breathing and they kept waking up to new mornings. 

Over the years, I've learned the most compassionate response we can give some­one who's not okay is, "That must be really difficult." That, plus a hug. It doesn't resolve their question or relieve their fear, but it reminds them we're in this together. It removes the sense of shame we feel when we struggle in secret and removes the facade of needing to pretend we have the simple answer to really complex issues. Just enter into the ambiguity with the hurting people around you. Admit that you don't know what they are feeling, but you do know you're with them. They're not looking for a quick answer; they need a good friend. No one's going to believe any of our answers if we don't let them know we have a couple questions too. 


Who around you needs a hug and a reminder that you're with them? 

March 29


As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people." At once they left their nets and followed him. 
MARK 1:16-18 


Did you know there are churches in cities across the country that meet outside, in parks and under bridges? It's true. These people know church walls can sometimes keep people out, so they take Jesus' message to the streets. If you show up on a Sunday morning, you'll see homeless people leading worship and kids eating hotdogs during the sermon. Some are sitting and others are stand­ing. There's no separate room for the babies who cry or the deeply wounded souls who forgot how to. No one tells the people who come to be quiet because it's more like a celebration than a study hall. 

Jesus said following Him meant going where He went, and He went to people who couldn't make it to Him. People with criminal records were wel­comed with compassion. Desperate men and loose women were accepted. Those with disabilities weren't shunned because they were different. Groups of people who were typically excluded from community found a safe place to be themselves in Jesus. 

If we look around our lives and only find a crowd of people like us, it's time to make some changes. Sure, we could love people by creating a special group for them that meets on Tuesday nights when the church is otherwise empty, but why not grab your knees, do a cannonball, and join them?. Imagine what would happen if we changed the comfortable rhythms of our lives to include some new friends, peers, and people we've merely been polite to while staying distant from. 

The world will know what we really believe when they see who we authenti­cally love. If it's our buildings that keep people out, let's get rid of the buildings. If it's membership that is creating a divide, lose it and let everyone in. God always seems to show us the most from the most unlikely of teachers. Who can teach you more about something you're sure you already understand? Which new friend would show others what you believe? Go find those people. 

What would be different in your life if you truly loved people who others assumed were far off from God? 

March 30


The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means "God with us"). 


When I turned seventeen, I decided to drop out of high school and head to Yosemite for a life in the mountains. I didn't have a job or a particular plan in mind, but I had a 1971 Volkswagon bug and a tank full of gas. On my way out of town, I stopped by my friend Randy's house to say goodbye. He' d been a Young Life leader, and I wanted to thank him for looking out for me through the years. 

Much to my surprise, Randy asked if he could go with me to Yosemite. On the road, Randy didn't say anything about sticking it out until I finished high school. He didn't tell me what a bad idea it was to drop out or tell me I would need a stable income to make rent and that finishing high school would probably help with that. He just kept saying he was "with me" no matter what I did. When God sent Jesus to be with us, He said to name Him Immanuel-which means, "God with us." 

I had gone to every store and pancake house in Yosemite Valley at least twice looking for a job, and no one was hiring. After a few nights camping, I had run out of money. What I thought was going to be the rest of my life turned into a three-day camping trip. With a lot of disappointment, I told Randy I might as well head back to finish high school. Do you know what he told me? Simply this: "I'm with you." 

Randy figured out something a lot of us are still trying to get a handle on. Throughout our entire trip to Yosemite, Randy told me who I was instead of telling me what I should want. He told me I was his friend and he was "with me." These days when I'm trying to figure out how to help someone in need, I think of Randy's example. He was content to be with me, rather than busying himself trying to educate me or change me. 

Who is someone you can just be "with" today? 

March 31


He said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." 


There's this moment plenty of people face when they get to be around forty years old. They stop and ask themselves, "Is this it?" The routines of life and all that they've worked toward start to feel a little empty. At least it's not living up to the hype and their expectations. Facing a future filled with several decades of monotony is paralyzing. It's not what we imagined when we were kids. 

Some people buy motorcycles or get new tattoos when the boredom settles in. Some get into trouble and ruin the few beautiful things they had going for them. What I did was this: I traded in my office in a downtown Seattle high­rise for a spot at Tom Sawyer Island. 

We don't feel the dull ache of boredom because we don't have options. We feel the ache because we've forgotten the magic in everyday moments. Here's the good news. We're all just one good decision and a trip to Tom Sawyer Island away from the life we can still remember and really want. 

God put us on a playground with billions of people to hang out with. He told us we could be a part of His plan to make every person feel seen and celebrated. He gave us cotton candy and Ferris wheels, pianos and people who make music. He gave us imaginations so we could dream things no one's ever done and a sense of humor so we' d find delight in everything. 

Sure, quitting my own law firm and moving to Tom Sawyer Island was a bad economic move, but it was a great "new-creation" decision. Don't miss the chance to make yours today. Take the shot. If your faith feels boring, it's probably because you lost your sense of wonder a while back. Quit settling for a reasonable faith. Trade it in for something far better: faith like a child's. 

What could innocent, childlike faith do to change your perspective today? 

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