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…

May 1


Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great. and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 
LUKE 6:35-36

For the longest time, I only put things on my calendar for nine months and one day. You see, it's been my life's ambition to be a grandparent. This isn't something new. I've wanted to be a grandparent since junior high school. Some people want to be math teachers because they had a great math teacher in school. Others want to be professional athletes because they had a great coach. I wanted to be a grandparent because mine were great at it. 

My grandfather was a fireman on the docks in the San Francisco Bay for forty years. He worked the graveyard shift, and in the entire time he was there, he never put out a fire. I don't even know if he knew how to. My grand­mother never learned how to drive a car and worked as a telephone operator in the San Francisco stock exchange. These are hardly the kinds of jobs people write books about. Do you know what they did best? They lived without expressing any judgment of the people around them, no matter what. It was just beautiful. 

I think the reason they felt so free to not live in judgment of the people around them is that they lived in awe of the life around them. It was a simple awe, not a complex or expensive one. They had the same car, which had been given to them, for as long as I remembered. I don't think they ever rode on an airplane or went on a vacation. Yet they saw more sunsets for free than anyone I knew. They were in awe of the world, and of me, and they let me know it­ every day. 


They were completely unencumbered by the petty offenses others seemed to cling to for so long. In their simplicity dwelled their power. They lived simple, humble, grateful lives. This is my ambition. This is my goal. To be this type of grandparent. What it's going to take is so simple it escapes many of us. I want to live so much in awe of what is going on around me, there will be no time to live in judgment of the people around me. 

What kind of grandparent do you want to be? 

May 2


Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 
JOHN 14:1

I have some good friends who make movies. They write, direct, and produce them, and I love celebrating with them when the movie opens on the big screen. I don't know much about movies, but I know a thing or two about good stories, and there's always a plot twist or two just to keep you engaged. 

You know how it works. Midway through the first scene, something is terribly wrong. You don't know if the couple's love will be strong enough to endure or whether they will receive the approval they're looking for. You're anxious someone won't survive when the plane makes an emergency landing or when the ship flips upside down. You don't know which soldiers will make it out of the battle alive and which one will prove to be the unlikely hero. Regardless of the plot, this is the kind of stuff that keeps us coming back. The reason is simple. We want to see how it all turns out. 

The only person who isn't worried about how it all turns out is the director. He or she sees each scene in light of the whole story and knows how it will all resolve. The director is familiar with every detail of every character's life. What the director wants is for the character to simply play their part and not be distracted by the rest. 

When God looks at our lives, it's like He's sitting in the director's seat. He's never as nervous about our future or as concerned about our past as we are, because He knows how the story will end. We get to a twist and feel like all is lost, but He knows the twist is only going to heighten the triumph. Although it might feel like the worst part, it's actually setting up the best part. 

Stay calm when things don't make sense. Play your part. Keep your head in the game. Remain focused when you don't know where the story is going. God does, and He's a terrific storyteller. Let your life continue

to unfold. 

What are you allowing to unfold today? 

May 3


Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 

Sometimes when I've got a few minutes to spare in an airport, I head to the bookstore to flip through some of the new releases. While people rush around me to buy their almonds and newspapers, I flip to the middle and read a page here and there to get a sense of the story being told. 

I get a glimpse of the book when I start in the middle, whether the writer is serious or funny or uses big vocabulary words. I know I miss most of the picture by doing this. It would be crazy to think I could flip to chapter twelve and pick up on the ending to come or why the characters are worth rooting for, right? If l flipped to the middle of a biography, I might think it was a story about a guy trying to get girls to date him in college rather than a story of a beautiful marriage. I might think a pastor's story was a memoir about life in jail because I hadn't gotten to the part where the pastor came to faith in jail. 


No book is a chapter, and no chapter tells the whole story. The same is true in our lives: no mistake defines who we are. God sees our mistakes in light of the grace that will turn them into stories of redemption. We're not in the first chapter, and most of us aren't in the last one. We're somewhere in the middle. 


Hope makes our lives page-turners. Every good story has some unexpected twists, and even the best hero might lose her way for a few chapters. Don't worry about it. God is writing more chapters. He has the power to turn the story around with us. Don't let one bad chapter (or five) convince you that you know your whole story. You're in one of those middle chapters. There are more to come. 

What chapter are you in right now? 

May 4


In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. 
JOHN 16:33 

If you open the Bible to almost any chapter, you'll find stories of people just like you and me. The same people who cast out demons and defeated giants also made mistakes that would send the rest of us to jail. Seriously-consider what these guys did. They'd get life with no parole these days. Those who left everything to follow Jesus didn't get better jobs or more stable lives; they just got Jesus. They got a gulp of living water. 


Sometimes you hear Christians say following Jesus will make you more successful. Just watch some of them on TV on a Sunday morning and you'll hear it. They say God wanes to bless you, and by "bless" they mean make you rich. Sometimes it sounds like God is a short-order cook and will make us whatever we ask Him for. But Jesus never said anything like that. He said He didn't come to make life easier for us-He came to rescue us and make our lives more purposeful by making us more like Him. 

Jesus never promised to eliminate all the chaos from our lives; He said He'd bring meaning to them. He invited us into a story of grace and redemp­tion, probably because these are the stories the disciples got wrong, time and again. If you wonder why you still face some of the same struggles you brought into your relationship with God, you're in good company. He doesn't magically erase them like a product from an infomercial; He promises to be with us while we reach toward Him to find more meaning in our circumstances. That's the real blessing. 

What trouble are you facing right now? 

May 5


As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 
PSALM 103:12 

I have a friend who has this condition she calls the ''Angel Complex." She feels so driven to perfection that any slip is like a deadly sin. In about five seconds she'll forget the thankless way she helped or did a random act of kindness. But it will take her five years to forget the little mistake that caught her boss's attention or caused disappointment with her spouse. She's stuck in the past and can't move on. Her mistakes have become like links in a chain that bind her heart. It makes me so sad, and I try to remind her about all the good she's done and how wonderful she is. But she simply can't hear the words. 

Then it occurred to me God knows the feeling I get when I tried to encour­age her-because I'm just as hard to reach sometimes too. He knew we would get it wrong before He came to be with us, but He came anyway because that's what love does. Love forgives and then looks ahead. Love leaves old failures in the past. God doesn't keep score, and we don't need to either. 

God said our sins are as far from Him as the east is from the west. You don't need a tape measure to figure out that's a long way. They're erased from our history as far as He's concerned. But shame keeps bringing them back up. It says we're disqualified. We're unworthy. Shame tries to shackle us to who we were to keep us from becoming who we are.

Don't take the bait and waste your energy rehashing things God said you can forget. You lost a little time when you made the mistakes; don't lose more by dwelling on them now. What do you need to let go of? What's in your past that you keep dragging into the present? Let it go. 

What past mistake are you still allowing yourself to hold on to? 

May 6


'"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." 

"Come," he said. MATTHEW 14:28-29 

A quick boat ride away from our lodge in Canada, there's a hidden cove with a magnificent waterfall. Hardly anyone knows about it, so when I go, it feels like it's all mine-like God made a water park just for me. 

My friend Don and I made a trip to the cove years ago. Don and I waded over to the waterfall, and he stepped through the fall and stood next to the rocks while I stayed on the outside. Don was yelling my name. "Bob! Come through! You'll make it! I'm just on the other side! Come on, Bob!" I could barely hear him as the water crashed between us. But his voice was an invitation that demanded a response. It wasn't mere agreement he was looking for; it was actually me taking a step forward. 

Despite my fear, I shuffled forward as the freezing water forced down on me. It felt like a long way, but it really wasn't. After a few steps, I joined Don on the other side. It was the best version of a baptism you can imagine! Looking out toward the cove from behind the waterfall, I understood a little better about the time Jesus walked on water and invited Peter to join Him. Jesus wasn't looking for agreement or affirmation that this would be a great idea for someone else to do. Jesus wanted Peter to take a step. 

Sometimes God asks us to step out (or through). We don't know what we'll see until we go through the deluge. It's scary to step into the unknown, but it's also where we find Jesus; and wherever we find Jesus, we find life. Fear calls out our doubts; God calls out our names. When you hear Jesus calling your name, there's only one way to respond. Take a step. 

What's your next step? What's been holding you back? 

May 7


The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. 
PSALM 29:4 

It's funny the memories that stick with you from the time when you were a kid. Maybe you can imagine in vivid detail the Christmas morning when you got your first bike-the room, the tree, the texture of the carpet, and the fact you were out of bed at 3:00 a.m. Maybe you can remember a teacher who called out what was great about you, a compliment you can still hear like she's whispering it in your ear. These memories connect end to end and become who we are, and the words that stick on our hearts shape us the most. 

Just like some heckling kept us off the field because of how we threw or ran like a giraffe in roller skates, the right words from the right people put us on track to become nurses, public servants, or human rights advocates when they told us our talents could change the world. Powerful words gave us the gentle push we needed, the courage to push past. If we were to trace our steps back along the path that led us here, we would likely find it all started with a few well-placed words from someone we trusted. 

It's no surprise when you think about it: God set the universe in motion with words. He called for light, and the stars burst onto the backdrop of the night sky. He wanted kangaroos and koala bears, so He spoke them into exis­tence. God's words have the power to create life. He gave our words the power to shape lives.

Here's what we need to do: be picky about the words we say. They have the power to shape our lives and the lives of the people around us. Equally important, be careful about the words you cling to. Don't read the junk mail. Check out the return address first. If it didn't come from Jesus, it's not worth listening to. 

What words have you been listening to lately, other than God's? 

May 8


Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. 

When spring rolls around, I always admire my neighbors' lawns. I only have to walk by a few before I start to wonder why mine doesn't look as good as theirs.


You can imagine how excited I was the year I found out I could plant sod instead of seed and have a manicured lawn in an instant. For a little extra money, I could take a shortcut and have a pristine yard in no time. I learned in the process, though, that sod delivers a pretty lawn faster, but faster isn't always better. After a few months, some sections were patchy and parched. It's because the grass is grown on different soil. Good looks aren't always a reflection of good health. 

When we let His grace take root in our hearts, we don't just act like Jesus on the outside, we become more like Jesus on the inside. We become more patient with people who need a lot of grace. We're less interested in our image and more interested in people who are rejected by everyone else. God has you planted right where He wants you. Don't envy your neighbor's lawn or wish you were growing at a different rate. We might be able to look the part faster if we fake it, but our shortcuts will fade and become like a patchy lawn. 

Don't plant sod where God wants you to put seeds. Trust His process in your life. He's more interested in making us grow than having us look finished. 


Where are your feet planted? What would it look like for you to bloom there? 

May 9


1 tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 

We usually feel alone in our anxiety, but did you know most of us worry about the same kinds of things? We worry about whether our kids are safe. We worry we're not very attractive. We worry we sounded bad when we spoke up in a meeting or that we won't make ends meet financially. The root of our anxiety may look a little different for each of us, but our hand-wringing looks the same. Worry and distraction always travel together. We're worried, so we're distracted-and people who are distracted can't be present. How do we get back to being where our feet are? 

Most of the things we worry about don't actually happen. That's why Jesus told us not to worry about the future. He said to look at the flowers, how they're clothed with outfits kings couldn't recreate if they tried. He pointed to birds in the sky and reminded His followers the birds don't earn money or save things in barns, yet God always provides them with something to eat. Jesus said to look at things that actually exist, not all the things that don't. 

God hasn't brought you this far only to forget your name. Jesus said we won't add anything to our lives by worrying; we'll just miss seeing Him at work. Rather than live our lives distracted, we're better off trusting that God will come through once again. Instead of hiding under the table, He wants us to grab a front-row seat so we won't miss the action. 


If we're going to spend time thinking about the future, we might as well spend it hoping instead of worrying. Most of the things we worry about don't happen, but most of the things we hope for do. What are you worrying about? What has you wrapped around the axle and distracted? What are you hoping for? How come? Keep dreaming, and don't be surprised when you find out God has been dreaming with you all along. 

What do you find yourself worrying about?  

May 10


This is what the Sovereign LORD says:

"I myself will search for my sheep and look after them." EZEKIEL 34:11 

Did you ever get lost as a kid? Like, wandered too far in the woods behind your house, took a few too many turns on your bike, or hid in the department store clothes rack for too long? You look up and realize you have no idea where you are or that no one you remotely recognize is anywhere to be seen. Then the anxiety floods in. 

Do you remember what a relief it was to see your parents' car rolling down the road, hear their faint voice in the woods, or your name come through the speakers? Right when you felt the despair wash over you, your name was called and you knew people were coming to find you. 

We never outgrow the anxiety of feeling lost. As grownups, we usually feel it when we suddenly realize we don't recognize the face in the mirror. We feel it when we lose track of the person we set out to become or the principles we sought to live by. It's like who we've become went wandering a bit too far and can't find its way back. 

God didn't bring us this far only to forget our names now. You might not hear it as clearly as the voice booming through the department store speakers, but God calls your name every day. He's cheering us on, always ready to grab us by the hand when we ask Him to lead the way. 

Whether you feel like life has dropped you off in a strange place or feel like you've lost your way, know God's already there, and He's got you. 

How do you notice God pursuing you right now? 

May 11


"Come now, let us settle the matter," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." 
ISAIAH 1:18 

Have you ever seen the house of a hoarder? I haven't, but I caught one on TV once and it gave me the creeps. Little pathways between mountains of stuff lead to other rooms filled with magazines and dolls and dollar-store deals. While the majority of us don't live this way in our homes, plenty of us do in our hearts, clogging them with memories of our past failures. We stack our errors like old, outdated newspapers, and then we pick them up and read them. 

Past failures lie to us about who we are. The acclaimed author Brene Brown coined the idea that mistakes are something you do, but shame is something you are. A hoarding heart full of past failures can eventually convince you that you didn't just fail-but that you are a failure. Here's a load of truth for you. You're not. Why? Because God says so. 

If mess-ups were push-ups, I'd be totally ripped. Aren't you glad God's response to our failure is always grace? Jesus said forgiveness from Him is an unlimited resource-it never runs out. We might make the same mistake we've made dozens of times before, and God will keep drawing us close. Is it fair? Of course not. Don't worry about it. God still delights in us. 

Don't let your failures talk you out of God's grace. Grace moves us toward God and other people. When our failures try to keep us isolated, grace says it's safe to show up and be seen once again. Yank open the curtains and clear out the clutter. Grace is like the sunrise: it's there for us every day whether we choose to enjoy it or not. God already took care of the cost of grace. Why not receive it with joy? Bring your clutter to God with confidence He has the power to replace our memories with His Son. 

What's holding you back? What's your biggest mess-up? 

May 12


Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 

When my kids were little, every once in a while they'd ask to go roller-skating. Sweet Maria and I loved to say yes. But because I was a little older and didn't roller-skate very often, the next morning I was made aware of muscles I didn't even know existed. Who knew you could be so sore from going in circles on tiny wheels? Hiking up a mountain can be the same way. The next day that uphill trudge becomes a lesson in Muscles 101, and you feel like you're failing the class. 

But there are three things I've learned about climbing a mountain. First, there's almost always a point when you want to give up. Second, you don't get the breathtaking views until you push to the summit. And third, the summit is almost always just after the point when you want to quit. 


Life seems to work the same way: on the other side of our failures is an expansive horizon of love and acceptance. God already told us there's nothing we can do to change the way He feels about us. He wants us to keep pushing forward, to keep climbing, because He already knows the mind-blowing view He's got waiting for us. If we need to rest for a while, that's okay. He's not disappointed. He'll just wait with us while we're catching our breath. Don't give up. I know it's hard. Keep going. When you feel like giving up, remember something breathtaking is only a few steps ahead. 

What's your next step? What's your next move? 

May 13


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

Our house in Canada is right on the ocean, but there are no beaches. Cedar­ covered mountains slope right into the water. Because it snows a lot during the winter, spaces between these mountains that don't drain into the ocean collect the most perfect, crystal-clear water you can imagine. It reflects the sky and surrounding mountainsides like an exact upside-down replica. 

One day our family decided to have a picnic next to these natural reflect­ing pools, and it got me thinking about what we reflect in our lives. I started listening to my kids talk as they were using phrases and gestures that Sweet Maria and I use. Then I realized I was saying and doing things that some of my best friends and most trusted confidants do. The more evidence I saw of our reflections in each other, I concluded we become reflections of the people who have loved us most selflessly. The ones who have been the most available, the most forgiving, the most like Jesus in our lives. 

I also realized that you really can't escape this dynamic, for good or for bad. Have you ever heard someone say, "I'm becoming just like my mother!"? That could be the best compliment or a cause for serious dismay. 
Just remember that whoever you surround yourself with, their reflection will work its way into you, and vice versa. Reflect selfless love to others and you will have a lasting impact in their lives. They'll always be seeking your waters. 

Who are you surrounding yourself with, and how are they rubbing off on you? 

May 14


In this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 
ROMANS 8:24-25 

There's a reason Jesus pointed to kids when He talked about faith and the kingdom of God. Kids, by nature, are trusting and earnest. They're willing to go on the adventure without getting all the details. They're just happy they were invited. They're fine with being dependent on others too. Put another way, they don't have all the layers that adults accumulate over the years. 

As we get older, pain and rejection start to shift us away from the beautiful naivety of our youth. These voices tell us it's too risky to hope for our passion to come to life because there's a chance our dream will be squelched. Rejection chimes in and says it's better to keep your distance because if you let people in, you become vulnerable to being let down. The pain of our past tells us to play it safe by protecting ourselves. Don't take the bait. We were wired for hope. 

Jesus had a lot to say about hope. He said hope is the fuel that keeps the fire in our hearts burning. It's the oxygen we breathe. Hope is the foundation of our faith because it reminds us we haven't arrived yet; we're still on our way home. 

Jesus said all the pain in the world will one day come to an end, and we'll all celebrate with a giant banquet. The apostle Paul said faith was confidence in what we're hoping for and assurance in what we haven't yet seen. While we're waiting for the party to begin, keep hoping. Are you facing difficulties? Keep hoping. Are you confused? Keep hoping. Get the idea? 

Don't let fear keep you from going all in on hope. It's the only safe bet there is because God is hope and He's already won the game. 

What are you hoping for today? 

May 15


You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 
1 PETER 2:9 

Memorizing is easy for me. Any lawyer worth his salt has to earn a black belt in remembering stuff just to pass the bar. Too bad it doesn't seem to work for remembering names. If remembering names is hard, why is remembering failures so easy? 

My bar-passing regimen consisted of crafting crazy amounts of flashcards. I cycled through the stacks until recalling them was a reflex. 

Over. And over. And over. And over again. We handle our failures like that. We spend a lot of time remembering failures God spent a lot of love saying we could forget. The Bible talks about God separating our failures from us as far as the east is from the west. If we start thinking of failure like God does, we'll find ourselves saying no when it tries to catch us. 

We live like God's keeping score, like He's watering a garden of our wrongs to make us eat later when the time is ripe. 

God is very familiar with failures; nothing about them intimidates or baffles Him. He's seen it all before, and His policy isn't to feed them to us until we choke. Instead, God wants to bury our failures so He can grow new ways of thinking. 

The next time we find ourselves rehashing our failures over and over, studying them like flashcards, let's create a new set-cards that remind us we're met every morning with love and grace and the names son, daughter, and beloved


God wants us to memorize those. 

So let's lose the old ones. We don't need them anymore. 


What does God say about who you are to Him? 

May 16


The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 
2 PETER 3:9 

If I ever pick up a memoir, it's usually by someone who is almost done with their race in life. Why? As they walk us through their story, they recount years of wandering down paths that didn't seem to make sense. Maybe they left their job as a pastor and spent the next five years working as a real estate agent before deciding to go back to school to become a nurse. Sometimes they took detours that led to dead ends. A couple of things worked for a while, and even more didn't. 

Reading these stories is encouraging because we all feel lost so often in our lives, and it's comforting to see people who looked lost for a while when they were actually in the process of finding their way. I'm reminded to stay calm when I can't see how one chapter fits in with the larger story because the path looks more like a single wave than a straight line. 

Sometimes God lets us lose hope for a moment so we'll retrace our steps and find Him all over again. God gave us agency so we're free to choose Him the way we're free to choose one another. It's one of the qualities of relationships that makes love so sweet. The people who love us weren't forced to-they chose us because they wanted us. God wants us to want Him enough to find Him. 

God is looking for the same kind of relationship with us. He won't force us to love Him, so sometimes He lets us wander in our circumstances until love compels us to make our way back to Him. Don't panic when a chapter of your story doesn't make sense. God writes really great stories, and He'll write His next one in your life if you'll find your way back to Him. 

What about your life right now is causing confusion in you?

May 17


My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. PSALM 73:26 

I'm the only person I know who failed kindergarten. I'm not kidding! After the first week they politely asked me to pack my things and try again next year. How does someone flunk out of a class where you haven't learned anything yet?


My parents were both educators and were really embarrassed when this news hit the papers. I eventually got back in kindergarten and made it through grade school, but I failed more classes than I'm proud to admit. It's not easy to pay attention to math lessons when you've got more important things to do, like make friends and take care of the lizard you brought to school in your pocket. 

If I could just get through high school, I thought to myself, I wouldn't have to deal with these kind of failures anymore. And you know what? I was right. I found new things to fail at. 

Somewhere along the way I realized failure isn't a part of life; it's actually much of life. We fail to be patient with people we love. We fail to find the right words to give to someone in their moment of need. Sometimes we fail at fulfilling commitments to people we love, in big ways and small. 

Failure isn't a one-time event we have to endure; it's an ongoing reality that will make us better if we'll let it. Jesus showed kindness to people in the midst of their failures, and He always made a way for them to grow through them. There was always more grace then, and there still is now. 

Next time you fail something or someone, listen to the lessons it can teach you. It'll make you wiser and more gracious if you let it. What has been biggest failure? Bring it to Jesus. Let Him show you how you'll grow from it. 

How could you grow from your biggest failure? 

May 18


The Philistine said, "This day I defy the armies of lsrael! Give me a man and let us fight each other." On hearing the Philistine's words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. 
1 SAMUEL 17:10-11 

Don't you just love the story of David and Goliath? David is the superhero of the little guys. He was a young boy with seven older brothers, and he looked after the family's sheep. He protected them from wild predators with a slingshot. (As a kid, I always thought that was boss. Still do, actually.) 

David's people were at war with the Philistines, and the Philistines were led by a warrior named Goliath. I know you've heard of this guy. He was built like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, was as tall as your house, and had the latest battle gear. Every day for more than forty days, Goliath taunted the Israelites, asking if anyone had the courage to fight him. One day, when David came to deliver food to his brothers, David heard the challenge. You know how the story goes. 

The battle for our hearts can feel a lot like David versus Goliath. It seems like evil stacks the odds against us. Here's why: evil never plays by the rules. Do I have what it takes? we wonder. But God is with us. Am I strong enough? Remember, we rely on God's strength, not ours. God has already won. Take a breath. There's nothing left to win. 

Deep down you probably have some sense of who God made you to be: an artist, a politician, a pastor, a coach, a CEO, a mom, or whatever. Evil's great scheme is that it wants to squash who you were made to be, like Goliath thought he'd squash David. Don't give in and don't give up. Just reach into your pocket. I bet you'll find God has slipped in a few stones for you. 

What giant is facing you right now? 

May 19


Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. 

You're never as good as your greatest success, and you're never as bad as your worst failure. Thar's something I cell students on their first day at the law school where I've been teaching for almost a decade. When everything is going your way, it's easy to strut. When everything is crumbling, it's easy to chink you're a loser. What I'm getting at is this: our identity is not anchored to our best or our worst moments. We live between chem. 

A big theme that immediately develops when we follow Jesus is the need to start living by a different set of rules. The world says the more money you have, the more important or powerful you are. God says the more money you have, the harder it is to be like Jesus. Why? Because money gives you options and independence. And God is inviting you to become more dependent on Him and have less confidence in what you own. The world says the more followers or fans you have, the more popular you are. But God says if you want to be popular with Him, you'll stay close to the lowly in heart where He is. 

Jesus was drawn to the people who couldn't seem to get it together. He's crazy about the ones who are killing it, too, but often they just don't feel as desperate for Him. For most of us, there will be a time when chis all changes. Something will happen that makes what we put our faith in, other than God, fall like a house of cards. Each of us will experience a defining moment chat will shape our faith if we'll let it. 

I think God uses our failures to disarm our pride. He meets us in the wreckage, and He makes us more humble. If you're riding high on a run of fortunate events, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. If you're getting battered by a run of unfortunate events, remember that you're in good company. 

What past failure has taught you about humility and dependence? 

May 20


I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. 

I didn't set out to be an author. I wanted to build a school in Africa for child soldiers. If I wanted to bake cupcakes to sell, people would die. I'll stick with schools and words. A friend of mine encouraged me to write a book, so I did. I figured if there were a couple of typos-no big deal. We sold way over a million of them and gave all the money away, so I wrote another book. I learned I'm much better at living stories than making sure all the punctuation is correct, so I have a few people in my life who love that sort of thing, and they helped me out. One of them is Jon, who is married to my daughter, Lindsey. Jon is an engineer, but that also means he's really good with details, and he really likes grammar. (I still don't understand why, but I'm thankful nonetheless.) Jon would read my words and graciously fix all the errors I made. He didn't point out each one and shake his head in disapproval. He just took what I wrote and made it better. 

I used to chink God was like an editor trying to find all the typos in my life, standing over my shoulder like a schoolmarm ready to whack me on the knuckles with a yardstick. But I've learned that. God isn't an editor; He's a crea­tor. He's not giving us the hairy eyeball when we make mistakes. He's pointing toward the horizon with a gleam in His eye and asking us to lift our eyes up toward a better story. He wants to tell a story of redemption. Of everyone He could use to tell it, He's made you one of the main characters. He wants you to keep your eyes on Him. 

If there's a typo or two on a couple of pages of your life, don't obsess over it. Keep writing. God's got this. He'll help you make the changes you need to make, but His purpose for your life is much bigger than giving you a failing grade. 

What typo have you been obsessing over? 

May 21


The Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 
2 TIMOTHY 1:7 

Because I'm a lawyer, one day I decided I would put my fears on trial. You can interrogate fear and give it a legitimate trial. You get to be the prosecutor and the defense. Is the fear valid, or is it trying to head-fake you into paralysis? 

God gave us fear for a reason. It keeps us from going down that dark alley where a bunch of hoodlums are standing around. It compels us to leave the hurtful relationship. When fear works correctly, it keeps us safe. Nothing's wrong with that. 

The problems come when fear misfires. If you let it go unchecked, fear will push you into a corner and lie to you about your worth. It'll steal your lunch money while you're distracted. Fear tells you hope is your imagination talking and pitches cynicism as courage. Fear will tell you that the big dream you have will never work and everyone is going to think you're crazy. Give fear too much power and it will rob you of your life. In a word, don't let fear punk you. 

God gave us a spirit of wisdom so we would know when to listen to fear and when to shut it down. We get to be the gatekeepers who determine how much of it we'll let into our lives and in what circumstances. So next time you're racked with fear, put it on trial and judge whether the fear is warranted. 

If it's not, which is usually the case, quit letting fear call the shots in your life. Get back to building the rocketship that was supposed to be your life. 

Name the fear that you need to bring to Jesus. 

May 22


Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place." 
JOHN 18:36 

I don't watch a lot of TV I think the real world is way more interesting. But because I have several friends who work for the US government, and I serve as the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Uganda to the US, I need to stay up on things. I'll be honest, though-watching the news can be a real grind. It can make a person think everything is doom and gloom and that nothing good happens ever. I guess that's good for ratings.


But the sad truth is, throughout the world, every day something devastating is happening. A country overrun by war, a community crushed by a mass shooting, a person targeted for a hate crime. Still, I believe God is at work to put an end to this suffering. 

Sure, there's a lot to be concerned about, but we have even more reasons to be hopeful. Here's why: Jesus said His kingdom wasn't of this world. He said evil would win for a while, but that His kingdom of love would have the last word. And He said those of us who follow Him will be the ones who are laying the groundwork for His return. We'll be the runners who sprint ahead with the good news of what's coming. 

Don't believe the people who tell you there's no hope. It's everywhere. It's like the smell in the air right before the rains come. We have hope because we trust in the God who sits above every conflict. We bring hope when we choose to fix our eyes on Jesus rather than on all the distractions around us. 
Next time you hear bad news, ask yourself how you can be hope in the midst of it. 

What are you feeling hopeless about? How will you bring that to God? 

May 23


The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 
MATTHEW 23:2-3 

God is love. He said so. It's easy to get confused when you stroll through the Old Testament and find harrowing tales of wars between people with names ending in -ites. Where is the God supposedly synonymous with love in those stories? Or what about when the Bible reads like a phone book and lists off generations of people with hard-to-pronounce names? (We're talking about you, Gomer and Uz.) 

If God is love, we should spend our effort learning love, not dwelling on parts of the Old Testament God said He came to fulfill. It may feel good to correct someone's pronunciation of an obscure place in the Middle East or walk them through a maze of theological steps in the Minor Prophets. Some people delight in masking their own insecurity by making others feel small. They make faith complicated. Jesus had some stern words for them then and no doubt will in the future. 

There is no end to the learning the Bible can provide. But if we're learning to be "right" instead of learning to love people the way Jesus did, we've missed the lesson. 

There's nothing for us to gain from practicing love-no base pay, no guar­anteed tenure, no arm patch or leg up in spiritual discussions. Instead, we'll find ourselves succeeding in introducing people to the real Jesus, not the one often argued about. We'll have hearts ready to learn what love is all about and hands ready to help whoever love is chasing. And spoiler alert, it's every person you ever have met or will meet. 

God's love isn't as complicated as our discussions about it are. Keep it simple: love everybody, always. 

What simple act of love can you do for someone right now? 

May 24


The righteous cry out, and the LoRD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. 
PSALM 34:17 

I have a friend who started an organization to help people struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide. He's a compassionate guy and sees the hurt and need underneath the surface of people pretending they have it together. He's a great example to me. And he reminds me that there's this myth going around that if you believe in Jesus, feeling joy should be your defauli: position. But the Bible talks a lot about sadness too-it doesn't try to minimize it or sweep it away with saccharine phrases. The book of Psalms should come with Kleenex. 

What I'm getting at is that you don't have to feel bad for feeling sad if you're a Christian. Even Jesus was racked with sadness at times in the Bible. But God also says His mercies are new every morning-even the ones when you don't want to get out of bed. With every sunrise, God gives us another blank sheet of paper and invites us to fill it up with things that make us come alive. 

All of us experience negative emotions from time to time, and some of us were born with an extra dose of them because of our genes. Don't perpetuate the stigmas hovering around people already. Let people be sad if they need to be. Go ahead and be sad yourself if you need to. Then find your way back to hope. If you've lost your way, find someone who is safe and who you can trust. Find someone who will reach out to you the way God reaches out to all of us­fiercely and without stopping until He's got us wrapped in a hug. 

If you know someone trapped by their hurts, go to them. Don't make a list; make a call. And if you're the one hurting, be sad, but don't get stuck. Find someone to travel the path with you. You'll know you've found the right person if they don't try to fix you-they'll just want to be with you the way Jesus was with us. 

Who do you know who is grieving something right now? How can you bring God's message of love and hope to them? 

May 25


You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. 
MATTHEW 5:14-16 

My friend Doug and I volunteered as summer camp counselors for Young Life when we were in college. Young Life introduces youth to Jesus by loving them like He loved us-with no agenda. The young people who come don't have to know Bible verses or Christian songs or take positions on the social issues of the day to feel like they belong. We know, just like Jesus did, that we meet each other at the starting line, not the finish line. 

Spending every day outside with kids for weeks was a lot of fun, but it had us begging for a day off. Really, anything would do-even a twenty-four-hour virus. God answered those prayers by letting us catch something else instead: a renewed vision for what He was up to with the kids. Right after I'd pray for an illness-induced rest, one of the kids would open up to me about his lifelong desire to feel like his dad actually liked him or tell me his time at camp was the first time he had felt truly seen and loved. Just when Doug was ready to escape camp by canoe in the night, a kid would tell him he didn't want to use drugs anymore because he was starting to believe his life mattered. 

These experiences taught me that sometimes when we ask for help, God gives us hope instead. When we want help getting through another day, God gives us hope in what He's doing in and through us. 

The next time you find yourself looking for a way out, look for evidence of God on the move in someone's life around you. They've probably been asking God to give them a little hope, and what God is giving them is you. 

What evidence do you see of God using your life for good?

May 26


Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. 
MATTHEW 13:34 

My worst subject in school was always ... school. I couldn't focus in class and would fidget until the bell rang at the end of the day. I had an excuse for everything. Being late, not turning in homework, not coming to school at all. I was terribly bored, so I became incredibly detached. 

There was one teacher, though, who wasn't so focused on having his stu­dents just memorize information so we could pass the test. Instead, he tried to get us excited by telling us the backstories hidden within history. He told us about the less likely things, the surprising turns and feelings behind the failures. He wove together a true-to-life picture of real people in real danger, not just facts about battles won or lost. 

When cold facts were taught with threats of failure if we didn't memorize the data, I usually failed. Most of us don't learn because we're threatened or cajoled or shamed into it. But when stories were told about kind or compas­sionate or courageous people, setting an example for who we might become, I leaned in and my mind opened up. We're all wired this way. 

Jesus rarely spoke to anyone without telling them a story. The reason is simple. We accept the stories told to us with our faith, our life experience, and our hearts. Because well-told stories are so powerful in our lives, it's not surprising when we realize the stories we tell ourselves have tremendous power to shape us. If you tell yourself you're a bad student, you'll probably become one. If you convince yourself you don't have enough time to help in the soup kitchen, you probably won't. If you say to yourself you're not fun to be around for long enough, you probably won't be. 


Listen to who God says you are and what He believes is possible in your life. Breathe in hope and breathe out your life. Be picky about listening to the stories you or others have been telling over your life that just aren't true. You'll know if it's God telling the story because it will always be one filled with hope and possibility. 

What story is God telling through your life this year? 

May 27


Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 

As Sweet Maria will tell you, I haven't always been the most patient person. I think fast food takes too long. The best part about sushi is you don't have to wait to cook the fish. My default setting is all gas, no brake. Sometimes I have a hard time slowing down long enough to have the deep conversations I'd other­wise like to have or be asked the hard questions. But I'm trying to do better. Have you ever said that to yourself with an issue or trait you just can't seem to get some distance from? I'm trying to do better. While the people around us are hoping we'll try a little harder, you know you're giving it everything you've got-even if it doesn't look like a lot. 

We can give ourselves the benefit of the doubt because we know God is always changing us and transforming us into people who look a little more like Jesus. He's taking the long view with us. Thank goodness for that. 

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to give yourself some grace, but it's a lot harder to give it to someone else who we don't think is changing fast enough? What if we gave others the benefit of the doubt we're quick to extend to ourselves? When someone snubs us or makes us feel inferior, what if we remembered they're still in the process of becoming? They're probably just as insecure as we are and just made the kind of mistake we make all the time. Just like we're growing out of the impatient or unkind or dogmatic or pretentious people we used to be, other people may be changing too. Give them a little grace while it happens. 

So when someone slips up, celebrate how far they've come-don't think about how long it took them to get there. 

Think of someone close to you who's been going through a difficult time. What kind of growth have you seen in their lives lately? Share that with them today. 

May 28


Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. 

When I was in college, I started paying attention to the people who lived like Jesus. I wanted to figure out what made them different and set them apart from everyone else. It quickly became dear that one of the qualities they all shared was this: they were humble. They didn't seem too concerned about what other people thought of them. They were too busy thinking about other people. 

We often think humility means being down on ourselves. You know, the people who brush off compliments with self-effacing barbs. We think humility is the opposite of the guy at the gym who stares at his flexed muscles in the mirror. We know humility doesn't brag or name-drop, but we mistake being humble for becoming wallflowers. Humility doesn't insist we hide or make ourselves look small. Humble people aren't concerned with seeming less impor­tant. They just don't think about themselves much at all. 

God said humble people consider others more significant than themselves. Considering others means thinking about them, praying for them, doing the unlikely acts of love with no expectation of reciprocation. Considering others means taking all the time we obsess about how much people like us (or how much we wish they did) and thinking instead about who in our lives might need another friend just like us. 

God delights in humble people because they continue the work Jesus started in the world. Humble people pray for God to open their eyes to the pain of people around them. They give in secret without a second thought. They don't keep track of all of the good they've done. It's these kinds of humble people who dazzle God. 

What have you done out of humility in the past week? 

May 29


Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 
ISAIAH 43:18 

Peter Pan has a unique shadow. You might recall the scene from the Disney movie when Peter and his shadow chase each other around the kids' room until Peter wrestles his shadow down so it can be sewn back on his shoes. Sometimes our past gets stuck to us like our shadows. As much as we try to shake it off or outrun it, we turn around and there it is. I suppose you could eliminate your shadow by living in total darkness, but that's no life either, is it? Sometimes I wish I could just detach my past from myself permanently. There'd be no chase on my part. I'd let it run out the door and wave as it headed down the street. 

We can't escape our shadows like Peter Pan did, if only for a while. In some ways our past is stuck to us no matter what we do. We don't need to let who we used to be decide who we're going to be. When we treat the shadows of our past like they're living, breathing versions of ourselves today, we give our past too much power. Here's a truth that's worth believing: the stuff that happened yesterday that's hounding you is irrelevant to the tomorrow waiting to greet you. We can move forward in grace, knowing the fight with yesterday is over. Grace won, even if we don't realize it yet. 

Tomorrow is our Neverland, where our tries never run out of time. You can't escape your shadow, of course, but you also don't have to give it as much airtime. Grace means this: tomorrow's always a friend. It isn't that yesterday didn't happen. It just doesn't matter anymore. 

What from your past do you need to let go of today? 

May 30


Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. 

Someone once said, "Attitude is the difference between an adventure and an ordeal." So change your attitude and have a better life, right? If you're like me, you're thinking, Right. Easier said than done. Consider this: we can control our attitudes by choosing where we put our hope. If you're the kind of person who sees everything as an ordeal instead of an adventure, what you need is a big dose of hope. 

Hope and trust always travel together. Hoping without trust is just a wish. When my son Adam was learning to fly our plane and I'd give him the controls in the copilot seat, you can bet that I was wondering if this would end up being an ordeal or an adventure. I knew he was a trustworthy guy and an great pilot, so instead of just hoping, I had my parachute handy. I leaned over, then said to Adam, "You got this." 

When you're standing between an ordeal or an adventure, find someone you trust to go with you, and choose hope along the way. Hope can turn a crisis into a chance to grow. It can change a heated argument into an opportunity for deep connection. When we approach our days with hope, we loosen our white-knuckled grip and see something beautiful on the other side. We can turn an ordeal into an adventure. With someone we can trust and hope as our perspective, we'll find adventures where we used to see crises. God sent His Son into the world with a message for us. Jesus was someone we could put our trust in. He was someone who could help us when we needed more hope than we could muster ourselves.

When things go sideways on you, find your way back to Jesus. If you listen closely enough in the chaos, I wouldn't be surprised if you hear the words "You got this" whispered over you. 

What are you facing right now where God might be whispering to you, "You got this"? 

May 31


A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. 

It's always a little strange to hear someone introduce a person by reading a long biography at an event. Bios like this are usually lists of the most impressive things they've done, credentials they have, and recognition they've received. The idea is. to tell people why the speaker is qualified, why they deserve our attention for the next twenty or thirty minutes, and why they are an authority we should trust on a subject. But I always wish the bios sounded more like something a friend would write. I wish they sounded more like a wedding toast. 

When friends describe us, they share stories of how we dropped everything to be with them when they lost someone they couldn't imagine life without. They usually slip in an embarrassing story of a mistake we made during a time in our lives we're still trying to forget, and they always talk about how well we loved the people around us. You don't hear many highlights from their resume and their education or degrees or tide. You just hear about love and friendship. 

Acquaintances will know us for what we did. They'll know about the non­profit we started or the award we received. They might even know about our reputation for being kind and gracious. None of this is bad, of course. These are stories about our lives. They just don't have the same weight as stories from our lives. Friends will remember us for how we loved. They'll be impressed by our accomplishments only because they know the heart behind our actions. 

Keep in mind, we' 11 be known for our opinions, but we'll be remembered for our love. I can think of no better introduction, no better bio, than for people to say our greatest expression of love in the world was that we were a faithful friend. 

What expression of friendship have you received this week? 

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