Category Archives: Insights and Inspiration

Today, if your hear his voice…

Today, if you hear his voice…~Psalm 95

Has one line of Scripture ever stopped you from reading any further? 

Is “today” truly this day or the day the psalm was written?

What are the implications for “if you hear his voice”?

As a spiritual director, I am forever encouraging others to pay attention to what God is saying and doing in their lives. Listening to the Lord is not easy. And new each day you and I face the challenge of both hearing and responding well to God’s voice.

Our prayers often echo the psalmist’s pleas for help in recognizing God’s leading. In John’s gospel, Jesus tells the disciples what to expect when listening for the Lord’s voice.

Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice.  ~John 10:1-5a (MSG)

First there is an awareness of Jesus walking along the spiritual landscape of our lives with us. With patience and perseverance, a distant hope becomes a gateway for God’s goodness and mercy. As Jesus walks us right up to that hope, we will know its a place of beginning again because the opening is named “_your name’s__ way out.” 

I have no idea if today will be the day Jesus, our Shepherd, calls your name or mine. However, I do know today is a good day to begin again paying more attention to our Shepherd’s leading than the rustling of doubts and dilemmas. 

They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it. ~John 10:5b (MSG)

Slowly and evermore surely, I recognize God’s voice as a benediction of familiar words of hope!
I pray you do as well.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. ~Romans 15:13


If you are a spiritual director, how can recognizing Jesus voice in your own life equip you to listen well to others?

If you have a monthly spiritual direction practice, how can your spiritual director help you face the challenge of listening to and responding well to God’s voice? 

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Matters of the Soul

Souls who follow their hearts thrive;

    fools bent on evil despise matters of soul.

~Proverbs 13:19 (MSG)

Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared to death. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror. But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.” Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come ahead.” Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!” Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?” The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!”  ~Matthew 14:24-33 (MSG)

While reflecting on and journaling about Proverbs 13:19 for weeks, I heard a devotion on this passage from Matthew 14. As I listened, I wondered about the matters within the disciples’ souls. How desperate were their longings for a calm sea? How deep was their desire for comfort? How did Peter really feel when he got back into the boat? How did he hear Jesus words, “Faint-heart, what got into you?” Based on my own desperations and insecurities, I would have felt foolish.  

There was no foolishness or evil in Peter, who followed his heart out of the boat and seemingly jumped at the chance to feel the churning waves beneath his feet. There is no denying that Peter’s heart fainted for a split second. But for me Peter will now always be the one disciple wise enough to know that it is not everyday one gets invited to walk on water with God’s Son.

And there is no doubting, Peter denied Jesus at the time of his crucifixion. However, Peter is also the disciple who payed attention to his soul’s desire and in return experienced God in a very unique way. The book of Proverbs offers practical wisdom about life and relationships, including relationship with God.  Paying attention to matters of the soul, brings clarity to our experience of God so that our hearts can thrive. 

PS. I wrote this May 2nd. On May 3rd my father-in-law had a massive heart attack and on May 7th passed away. In helping to plan his graveside and memorial services, I learned that this verse in Proverbs was both his and his father’s favorite verse. I wonder now how often it was quoted in his childhood home on Liberty Street in Holyoke, Massachusetts. 

PPS. And so it is, these words have had to wait for a postscript to be added while I tended to the matters of my own soul and other details. Those other details included writing an article about spiritual direction and preaching a sermon on The Cross. It was impossible for my experiences of God during these past two months to not be part of my writing and speaking. Below are links to both.

I pray they deepen your understanding of spiritual direction and the Cross’s invitation to lament our losses with humility and hope. 

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Wholehearted Trust

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and do not rely on your own insight.

In all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make straight your paths.

~Proverbs 3:5-6 

I began February reflecting on these seemingly straightforward verses from the book of Proverbs. However, my times of reflection soon began to feel like a wrestling match. As March begins, I will continue to wonder what wholehearted trust in the Lord really looks and feels like. For now, I am grateful that I can share a few things I have learned.

Wrestling with God offers the space to authentically assess the fullness of our trust in the Lord. How much of “all your heart” is really trusting in the Lord…a quarter…a third…a half? With greater self-awareness, trust untangles our seemingly good intentions and insights so that the Lord’s straight path is recognizable.

Trust invites us to acknowledge that wrestling is part of our everyday life with God. And within that trust there is faith that at just the right moments, the Lord will lovingly come and lift us up off the proverbial mat of doubt and discouragement.

Love…always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. ~1Corinthians 13:7

Finally, trusting in the Lord’s deep and abiding love is an each-new-day endeavor that offers us renewed hope to share with others.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13

If you are a spiritual director, how is your trust in the Lord helping you listen lovingly and hopefully to others. 

If you are in spiritual direction, how can your practice of spiritual direction help you trust in the Lord’s love for you?

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Fresh Relational Wisdom and an Article

These are the wise sayings of Solomon,

    David’s son, Israel’s king—

Written down so we’ll know how to live well and right,

    to understand what life means and where it’s going;

A manual for living,

    for learning what’s right and just and fair;

To teach the inexperienced the ropes

    and give our young people a grasp on reality.

There’s something here also for seasoned men and women,

    still a thing or two for the experienced to learn—

Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate,

    the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.

Proverbs 1:1-6 (MSG)

At the end of last year, I was asked to write an article about how to heal broken relationships. This request led me to consider the health of my own relationships, past and present, and to wonder if I had any wisdom to share.

These first verses of Proverbs were a reminder that we all have experiences with God that move us beyond our own knowledge and understanding to living wisely with a firmer grasp on reality. Moreover, I recognized that to write this article I needed fresh relational wisdom to probe and penetrate the rhymes and reasons of my heart and soul. 

Every generation from the time of the Exodus has needed God’s fresh wisdom to resolve the conflicts before them. Irv Cross, a professional football player who went on to be the first black sport analyst on national television, wrote in his biography, There hasn’t been one problem I’ve ever had that wasn’t addressed in the Bible. To me, to solve any issue, you turn to Jesus Christ1

So I turned to the scriptures and the experiences with God that I and others have had to write the following article. It was and is my hope that it offers you relational insight and inspiration. 

1 Irv Cross with Clifton Brown, Bearing the Cross: My Inspiring Journey from Poverty to the NFL and Sports Television (New York: Sports Publishing, 2017), 45, Kindle. 

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