The Receptive Life

"We are beggars; this is true." (Martin Luther)

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 17

He Knows My Shame Scripture Reading:  John 8:1-11 Meditation She’s looking for “Mr. Right” in the wrong bed. It’s dawn. As the rest of the women in the village are getting dressed and going out the front door to do the morning chores, she’s sneaking through the back door of her neighbor’s house, getting undressed, taking off her wedding ring, and sliding under the covers into her forbidden lover’s embrace. The adulterous act feels all so right. And because it feels all so right, she wonders why it’s said to be all so wrong. Even if it is wrong, no one knows about […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Sabbath of Rest

“True to your word, you let me catch my breath, and send me in the right direction.” Psalm 23:3 Every journey has its share of starts and stops and it’s only the better part of wisdom that knows when it’s time to do which. Though the Good Shepherd asks his sheep to follow, he never outruns the flock. His pace might be steady but his steps never stride beyond the cries of the smallest lamb. Though some straggle, none are left behind. The Shepherd is always attentive to the needs of his flock. He knows when they need to stop. […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 16

He Knows My Refusal to Forgive Scripture Reading:  Matthew 18:15-35 Meditation Peter’s been hurt one too many times. One of his fellow believers has taken advantage of the gift of grace and has turned it into a license – a sanction to sin. To Peter’s credit, he’s tried to work it out. Step by step, he’s followed the law of love: in all things try and win the brother. “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 15

He Knows My Rebellion Scripture Reading:  Matthew 16:13-28 Meditation As Jesus walks toward Jerusalem, Israel’s nationalistic morale is low but its Messianic expectations are high. The crowd that follows this itinerant preacher from Nazareth is looking for someone to reclaim the crown of the kingdom of David. If Jesus wants to lead the rebellion against Rome, they’re more than ready to follow. All he needs to do is give the word. But intermixed with the expectations are questions. “Who is this Jesus? Where’s he going? What’s he going to do when he gets there?” Opinions are many. Answers are few. […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 14

He Knows My Reluctance to Love Scripture Reading:  Luke 10:25-42 Meditation Jesus knows that love is an art and that the art of love is to take notice. Ever since his ministry began, Jesus has been trying to paint pictures of what life is like in the kingdom of God. As he paints, the strokes of his brush are vigorous and his colors are vibrant, full of life. His images are vivid. His canvas is broad—love for the neighbor as well as for the Messiah. When once asked about the greatest commandment in the kingdom of God, he replied, “ […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 13

He Knows My Desire to Be First Scripture Reading:  Mark 9:30-37; 10:32-45 Meditation The road to Jerusalem leads to a cross but Jesus walks the path anyway. Though they pledge their allegiance to the Master, the disciples, however, want to go their own way. They want to walk the way of glory. They run after the crown and away from the cross. As they make their way to Jerusalem, Jesus tries to explain to his disciples what is about to happen. Back on the road, they set out for Jerusalem. Jesus had a head start on them, and they were […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 12

He Knows My Faith Scripture Reading:  Luke 7:1-10 Meditation Soldiers understand authority. They live and move under the chain of command. When their commander says ‘Go,’ they go. When he says ‘Come,’ they come. When he says ‘Do this,’ they do it double time. In the chain of command, every order is a link of life. Break the chain and someone could die. In the military, authority is respected. Orders are the norm and unquestioned obedience is expected. The centurion stationed at Capernaum leads one hundred soldiers, but while he leads, he also serves. He’s under the authority of another. […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 11

He Knows My Unbelief Scripture Reading:  Mark 9:14-32 Meditation When a child is in constant pain and a father’s persistent prayers go unanswered, doubt tears faith apart. The father who brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus’ disciples has faith, but it’s a faith intermixed with unbelief. And right now, unbelief is slowly taking over the lion’s share of this father’s heart. A small part of his heart still believes that God is powerful and merciful; that he does intervene and can do the impossible; that he, too, has a father’s heart that beats fast for his children. But when the demon attacks […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Sabbath of Peace

“You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.” Psalm 23:2 Peace. The very sound of the word is soothing to the soul. It’s a quiet word not easily heard above the clatter of the world’s daily chaos. It never shouts over the madness; it whispers calm into it. When the world overwhelms the heart, the peace of the Good Shepherd beds the weary down in lush meadows. He leads the thirsty to quiet pools. He sings nighttime lullabies and says bedtime prayers. He tucks the frightened child, shaking in all of us, […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 10

He Knows My Loss Scripture Reading:  Luke 7:11-23 Meditation For the widow from the village Nain, the death of her only son represents loss upon loss. As her son’s funeral procession makes it way toward the village cemetery, the widow carries a double burden. She’s walked the path from her home to the graveyard once before. Not long ago, she sorrowfully followed her husband’s coffin. Now her son’s pallbearers lead the way. Tears for her son mix with new tears for her husband. Grief is revisited. As she wails for one, she weeps for the other. Grief is multiplied. There […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 9

He Knows My Helplessness Scripture Reading:  John 5:1-15 Meditation The pool of Bethesda is where the angel of the Lord swims. Popular belief has it that whoever is the first to jump into the pool when the angel splashes is the one who would be cured of whatever disease he had. But there is only one miracle per angelic outing. The first one in is the only one healed. Day after day, hundreds of disabled people—the blind, the diseased, and the crippled—wait for the stirring of the waters.  They crowd in and camp out in one of the five alcoves […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 8

He Knows My Plea Scripture Reading:  John 4:43-54 Meditation The village of Cana is still abuzz about Jesus’ last visit. They all remember the wedding with the heavenly wine. But it was only after the wedding that they found out what had really happened. The groom had miscalculated—more guests than wine. Mary, Jesus’ mother, had whispered the news in his ear and he intervened. He changed the water that was stored in six stone jars into the best vintage the village guests had ever had. And no one was the wiser until after the wedding. That was the first miraculous sign Jesus performed […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 7

He Knows My Panic Scripture Reading:  Luke 2:41-52 Meditation A mother’s greatest joy is holding her baby close. But there comes a day when she has to open her arms and let him go. It’s a moment when she finds herself suddenly looking up at her son, not down. Suddenly she realizes that he’s no longer her little boy. When that day comes, she shakes her head. She sheds a tear and sighs, “When did my baby grow up?” For Mary, that day has come. Slowly, over time, Jesus has grown—infant to toddler, toddler to preadolescent, and preadolescent to young […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 6

He Knows My Terror Scripture Reading:  Matthew 2:1-23 Meditation As Mary and Joseph settle in Bethlehem, a river of blood flows through Judea. Its headwaters begin at the foot of Herod’s throne and its current courses through the small Roman province. Herod’s terror surges through every village surrounding Jerusalem, sweeping away royal foes, friends, and even family members. When a band of scholars from the East bring news of a newborn King of the Jews, Herod’s rage is diverted toward King David’s town—Bethlehem. After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory—this was during Herod’s kingship—a band of scholars arrived […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 5

He Knows My Confusion Scripture Reading:  Luke 2:1-20 Meditation For a young couple planning marriage, timing is everything. First comes the bended knee—the pledge and the proposal. Next, there are the wedding plans, showers, invitations, and excitement of the engagement. Finally, there’s the ceremony, the “I dos”, the best wishes from friends and family, the weeklong celebration, and the honeymoon. Then, after all of that, God willing, come the children. Up until the angel appeared, Mary and Joseph’s dreams kept a steady beat. Their plans kept perfect time, not a second too fast or a minute too slow. Their lives […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Sabbath of Provision

A David psalm “God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.” Psalm 23:1 David was the shepherd boy who became a king. Though he sat on the throne and wore a crown, his heart never left the green pastures and still waters. The nation of Israel might have been able to take the boy out of the fields but it couldn’t take the fields out of the boy. No surprise then, that when David wrote a psalm praising the character of his God, his memory ran back to the fields of his youth. He uses the metaphor that he knows […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 4

He Knows My Dreams Scripture Reading:  Matthew 1:18-25 Meditation Joseph’s a practical man with practical plans. He’s a carpenter. His life, like his work, is deliberate. He always starts with a set of blueprints. First he plans his work and then he works his plan. He measures twice so that he only has to cut once. He lives by the absolute of the plumb line. He makes sure everything fits, and then, when it’s all in place, he nails it down, snug and square. For Joseph, everything has to be on the level. He’s a simple man with simple dreams:  […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 3

He Knows My Emotions Scripture Reading:  Luke 1:39-80 Meditation Expectant mothers, more than others, are filled with emotion. As they sit next to the empty-but-ready cradles, they dream God-sized dreams for their unborn children. They glow with anticipation. As the due date draws close, each mother-in-waiting rocks anxiously. But when the baby is born, joy rushes in. The promise is fulfilled. The dream-come-true lays its head, fast asleep, in its mother’s arms. The waiting is over. The time has finally come and the baby brings with it a song. Mary’s a virgin yet she is about to become a first […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 2

He Knows My Questions Scripture Reading:  Luke 1:26-38 Meditation Up until today, the only questions that have kept Mary’s mind racing are the ones that have to do with her upcoming wedding to Joseph. “Who should we invite? How many? Where should we have the banquet? What should I wear?” But when Gabriel, the archangel of heaven, arrives with a pair of blue baby booties, Mary’s well-planned world shakes like the rattle her son will soon hold. “Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, beautiful inside and out! God be with you.” She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a […]

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 1

He Knows My Family Tree Scripture Reading:  Matthew 1:1-17 Meditation When the Father sent his Son into the world, he placed him in the care of a frail, human family. Though he was the only begotten fruit of the Father, Jesus fell from the limb of Abraham and David’s family tree. At his birth, the Son of God was given a set of fingerprints, a birth certificate, and a first and last name. God became Jesus, the Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.  The Alpha and the Omega—the one who had no beginning and no end—suddenly had […]

Lent 2016 – Forty Day Encounter with Christ

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 10th. I know that I haven’t added any new content to the site since Lent 2014 (and our “Forty Day Journey to the Cross”) but, I’d like to invite you, starting on Ash Wednesday, to join me for a NEW Lenten journey. Forty Day Encounter with Christ Here’s what I’d like to offer. On each day of the Lenten Journey I’ll post the following: a link to a Gospel reading a brief meditation a prayer and a few questions for reflection on the Sundays of Lent, I’ll post something brief so that we can “sabbath” Here’s a sample of what one […]