a meditation on Psalm 21

*photo credit: Scott Webb

….For the king trusts in the LORD. The unfailing love of the Most High will keep him from stumbling. — Psalm 21:7

It is indeed God’s love, and our embrace of it that will keep us from stumbling in all kinds of ways–morally, relationally, and in our faith. If we believe deeply in God’s love, not just that, his unfailing love (we cannot lose it), we will be unconvinced to sin, strengthened in temptation, relationally open and tender, putting our egos to the side for the sake of others. We are loved, unfailingly, so what is there to fear? Why would we rely on our own strength or our own wisdom when the Creator of all things, the Sustainer of all breath, and the Redeemer of all that is lost, loves us unfailingly? There is no reason we would. So, our fault comes in not embracing the truth that we are loved by God and that that love keeps us.

Holy Vulnerability: Spiritual Practices for the Broken, Ashamed, Anxious, and Afraid

Today’s the day! A new book was born into the world! If you ever experience shame, anxiety, fear, or get stuck in your own brokenness, consider this book a companion.

Have you ever noticed that when you begin to spiral into shame, act out in anger, or curl up with anxiety, you feel the effects in your body? And then you do stuff to cope with what you’re feeling–overdrink, overeat, binge on Netflix, bite your nails, scroll mindlessly through Facebook or Instagram. I’m convinced that we are not alone–as much as we may feel we are–in these moments and that it is precisely in these moments that God seeks to join us, to heal us, to transform us. But we need to invite him in.

In the book, I share these six spiritual practices that will help you bring your whole self before God so that you can experience his presence:

Surrender Your Body
Pray Common Prayers
Laugh Out Loud
Dig in the DIrt
Encourage Others
Eat Together

Diving in will take courage. But you’re not alone.

Get the book on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or wherever you buy books! Oh, also, it’s available on Audible too.

Overcoming Fear?

My new book, Holy Vulnerability: Spiritual Practices for the Broken, Ashamed, Anxious and Afraid, comes out on July 6, 2021, and I wanted to introduce some of the ideas in it here each week over the next few months.

The idea for Holy Vulnerability came to me on an international flight a couple years ago. I had boarded the plane and started to unpack all I “needed” for the long ride–headphones, neck pillow, iPad for movies and books, hard-copy book (in case my battery ran out on the iPad), anxiety medication, crossword puzzle book, pen, glasses, etc. You know, all the stuff one “needs.” Well, the guy sitting next to me didn’t have anything with him other than his boarding pass. I was pretty convinced he’d forgotten his bag with all his accoutrements in the terminal. And then I realized with a rush of embarrassment that I might not actually be able to live through the flight without all the things in my backpack. Sounds silly, I know, but for someone with anxiety, it’s pretty normal. I started to panic at the idea. Without all my stuff, I would be overwhelmed by fear. My stuff was the way I coped with my fear. And this fear, by the way, isn’t something I can simply overcome through thinking or praying. I’ve tried it. This fear is something I experience physically–my hands drip with sweat, my insides jump, my legs shake. It’s a bit hard to explain if you’ve never experienced this, but if you have, you know what I mean. You can’t just think it away.

I have been trying to overcome my fear of flying for years. But for some reason, this particular experience got me wondering if overcoming was really the right goal. When I look at Scripture, I see God instructing his people not to be afraid, but it’s not because there aren’t scary things in the world. Rather, he instructs us this way because he is with us in the midst of the scary things (see for example, Psalm 23:4; Joshua 1:9; Deuteronomy 31:6; Isaiah 41:10). But I still have had no success in just deciding not to be afraid, even knowing God’s promises and embracing them as much as my mind and heart know how. So, I thought I needed to try something else.

Because so much of my fear seemed to express itself in my body (shortness of breath, heart racing, hand sweating, shaking), I thought maybe my body needed to be involved somehow. So, I decided to learn more about the body’s role in my fear, my coping practices, and in my relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Turns out, all of these are really connected. And what I discovered applies not only to fear, but to sin, anxiety, and shame too.

How have you experienced your body in the midst sin, anxiety, fear or shame?

A New Book…Coming July 2021

The quarantine time from March-July 2020 was rough in so many ways for all of us. I wish I had written this book before it hit us because I think the spiritual practices I write about will help us all in times of difficulty and stress, when we’re seeking to cope with change, trauma, sickness, and fear. Even if we’re well on our way to a vaccine and emerge from this pandemic soon, this book will still be highly relevant and helpful. After all, to be human is to face brokenness, shame, anxiety, and fear. Some of us encounter these things more often, but we all experience them one way or another. Since I finished the book in July, I’ve turned back to the manuscript time and again to remind myself to notice the unhealthy ways I cope when I’m feeling anxious and put into practice those disciplines that lead me to holy vulnerability and, thus, healing. Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing parts of the book so you know what I mean and can start putting these valuable practices to use even before the book even comes out!

A Book…

Sacred Questions

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 6. I used to tell people that when I grew up, I’d have 12 kids, live on Cape Cod, and be a writer. Turns out, only one of those things was true, but really it is the most important one! I’m a writer. And, I’ve been a writer for a long time. Now, though, I also have a book! It comes out on November 6th and I couldn’t be more excited. The title? Sacred Questions: A Transformative Journey Through the Bible. You can read more about it (and pre-order it) on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

The back cover describes it best, so I’ll share that with you!

Sacred Questions invites you into a daily dialogue with God through Scripture. Step in for 20 minutes each day, and say yes to Jesus’ invitation to bring him your weariness, your burnout, your broken heart, your triumphs, your questions, and your devastating mistakes. On this yearlong journey of transformation, 14 intentional sections will guide you into a holy space where God will uncover your deepest questions and respond. Come, draw closer to the one who loves you. You will discover more of who he is…and who you are. And you will learn to live every day with your heart and eyes lifted to Jesus, and your hands open to a waiting world.”

I’m really looking forward to sharing this book with you. It comes out of a deep place and the most transformative discipline (asking questions in God’s presence) of my life.

If you’re interested in being on my book launch team, you can do that by filling out this simple form.  Oh, and the form says more about what it means to be on a launch team (I didn’t know either!).



An Evening Prayer

That this evening may be holy, good, and peaceful,
We entreat you, O Lord.

That your holy angels may lead us in paths of peace and goodwill,
We entreat you, O Lord.

That we may be pardoned and forgiven for our sins and offenses,
We entreat you, O Lord.

That there may be peace to your Church and to the whole world,
We entreat you, O Lord.

That we may depart this life in your faith and fear,
and not be condemned before the great judgment seat of Christ,
We entreat you, O Lord.

That we may be bound together by your Holy Spirit in
the communion of all your saints,
entrusting one another and all our life to Christ,
We entreat you, O Lord.

–from the Book of Common Prayer

A Simple Outdoor Practice for the Weekend

I led an outdoor experience Wednesday night at Willow Creek in which we practiced visio divina (holy seeing). This is a simple and compelling practice that helps us see the wonder of God’s creation and leads us into a posture of prayer. It takes about 15 minutes. This weekend is supposed to be beautiful outside. Why not give it a try and see what God does?

Visio Divina Practice

A Sacred Space for the New Year


If you’re looking to open some sacred space to welcome 2017, I created this table liturgy as a way to reflect, celebrate, and pray with friends or family around the table. Give it a try, you’ll be amazed at the conversation and holy things that emerge. Use some of it or all of it! Enjoy!

[There’s a pdf of the liturgy at the bottom of the post for easier use!]

Welcome to the table. Holy things can happen when friends and family gather around the table for a meal. May this liturgy help create space for reflection on and thanksgiving for the experiences, losses, and blessings of 2016, and serve as a reminder of the hope we have in Christ, the redeemer and restorer of all things.

Gathering Prayer


We gather together on this eve of the year 2017 in the name of Jesus and in the holy and loving presence of our God who sustains and preserves our every breath. Together we remember God’s goodness and active redemption and restoration of us and of the world throughout history. May the Holy Spirit guide us as we pray.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.

ALL:   Our souls yearn for you in the night;
in the morning our spirits long for you, O God.


Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

ALL:   Our souls yearn for you in the night;
in the morning our spirits long for you, O God.


Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened—
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.”

ALL:   Our souls yearn for you in the night;
in the morning our spirits long for you, O God.

Do not withhold your mercy from us, Lord;
may your love and faithfulness always protect us.
For troubles without number surround us;
our sins have overtaken us, and we cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of our heads,
and our hearts fail within us.
Be pleased to save us, Lord;
come quickly, Lord, to help us.

[Psalm 40:1–8, Isaiah 26:9]

Prayers of Thanksgiving

LEADER:       God and Sustainer of all things, you have brought us in safety to the eve of a new year: we thank you for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and all whom you have made.

ALL:               We thank you, Lord.

LEADER:       We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, the beauty of this world, the wonder of life, and the mystery of love.

ALL:               We thank you, Lord.

LEADER:       We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care that surrounds us.

ALL:               We thank you, Lord.

LEADER:       We thank you for setting us at tasks that demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments that satisfy and delight us.

ALL:               We thank you, Lord.

LEADER:       We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

ALL:               We thank you, Lord.

LEADER:       Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

ALL:               We thank you, Lord. Amen.

Confession & Assurance

 LEADER:       Let’s take this time in silence, in God’s loving presence and in the presence of each other, to confess our sins against God and our neighbor. [Keep the silence for about one minute then read the below.]

Hear these words from the Apostle Paul:

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

– 2 Cor 5:16–21

ALL:               Amen.


Reflection & Celebration

Below are two questions to discuss together. After each person shares in response to the first question, feel free join together in thanksgiving and celebration. Then, after each person shares in response to the second question, feel free to lift up the voiced longings in prayer.

  • As you look back on the year 2016, what are ten things for which you are most grateful?
  • What are one or two things you long for as you look ahead to 2017?

Prayers for the World

Invite each person around your table or gathering to select one of the prayers for the world to pray so that, to the extent desired, each person has a turn reading.


For Peace

O God, the Prince of Peace, guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

ALL:   Amen.


For Our Enemies

O God of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

ALL:   Amen.


For This Time of Division and Conflict

O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

ALL:   Amen.


For the Poor & the Sick

O God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons who it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord.

ALL:   Amen.

For the Oppressed

O God, look with mercy upon the people in this world who live with injustice, terror, war, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon all of us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty and apathy to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this world; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

ALL:   Amen.


For the Church

O God, we pray for your holy Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior.

ALL:   Amen. 

Closing Prayer

LEADER:       Let’s join our voices and hearts together in this closing prayer, committing ourselves to love God and our neighbors in this coming year.

ALL:               God of the heavens and of the earth, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray that you guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit in this coming year, that in all the cares and occupations of our lives we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your presence, ever living in your grace, and ever holding out your love to our neighbors; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


[The prayers of thanksgiving, the prayers for the world, and the closing prayer have been drawn in whole or in part from The Book of Common Prayer.]

*Created by Kellye Fabian

PDF Version: a-new-years-eve-table-liturgy