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The New Year . . . A Gambit for More than spiritual. January, 2022.

People like spiritual - I mean, people think it is cool to say they are spiritual. Can I be straight up? I think ‘spiritual’ is a goofy expression because it can be anything or absolutely nothing. But in our context, it is a great thing to want to grow our spiritual lives, and as I said last, I am all about goal setting at the start of a new year, all about hope and expectation in the newness ~ which takes me back to a conversation . . .

After a very long day in the classroom, I exited the Harvard law building*, headed out into a cold, windy evening and walked quite a few blocks to a restaurant where many of my classmates gathered for a late dinner, exhaling out a tedious day, excited about conversation with new friends. On one side of me was a hostage negotiator from Switzerland, who I truly found fascinating, and a kind and gentle person. On the other side, a Belgian negotiator/mediator. Getting to know him was quite interesting as well.


Quite through happenstance, a more personal conversation with Mr. Belgium came the next night— more meaningful as it had to do with his faith in God. Catholic by religion, Bernard indicated faith does not really have much impact on his daily life. He began to tell me about an impasse in his family that has caused complete division and great heartache. Besides listening, the only thing I knew to do was pray—right then, right there—in the crowded noisy restaurant in Cambridge. I told him to just keep his eyes open and I would too and then I prayed that God would come and do what only he could do—that he would bring healing and restoration to Bernard’s family.

When we have relationship with an all-loving, all-powerful God--now that is the spiritual that is solid--we can go to Him in prayer and ask him to “do what only he can do!”

Our Morning Briefing readership has now expanded into a 146th country. Reading friends have asked how to grow in their faith, not quite sure how to make that happen. So here goes.

I remember the time Robby Burns asked, ‘Can you teach us how to grow in our faith?’ a high school lacrosse player in a Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle I was leading several years ago.

Growing a personal relationship with Christ is accomplished primarily in two ways: Bible reading and prayer. Prayer the students could kinda’ get, so I knew I had to start with Scripture. With about a hundred students gathered one particular night, I took them to John chapter 15 which just might be my favorite chapter in the Bible. Some of the students were opening Bibles for the very first time which was so cool to watch.

In this passage, Jesus had just shared the Passover meal with his beloved disciples in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. Now this was the last supper they would share together before Jesus went to the Cross. After he washed their dirty feet in the manner of a servant, he told them that one of them was about to betray him … and that where he would soon be going they could not come.1 Jesus told them of Heaven, that he was going to prepare a place for them, and they should not be troubled.2 He promised that when he left them, the Comforter would come3 … and then he said to them, “Come now; let us leave.”

And so Jesus leads his best friends down, out of town, and into the vineyard, where he uses the grapevine to symbolize believers’ connection with God.

I am the Vine, you are the branches.

Apart from me, you can do nothing.” John 15.5

When we finished reading the few verses, I asked the students three questions that they could apply to any passage of Scripture: ‘What are these verses saying?Simply, true life comes from being connected to Jesus Christ.How does that apply to us?We must then seek to be connected to him. ‘How? Is there any action we should take?’ Get to know him through his Word, get to know him by communicating with him----you know, pray! ‘Start your day by connecting with the one who made you, the one who knows all about you, the one who loves you.’

‘Want to grow in your Christian faith at the start of this new year? I invite you to spend a little time each morning, at the start of the day—with these Morning Briefings, and/or taking a verse or verses to study and then consider:

1) What are the verses saying?

2) In what way do the verses apply to me?

3) What, if any, action should I take?

Be wise; start by giving God more room in your life—use these tools. Nothing more than Jesus. It is about the God who stays:


*Why was I at Harvard? Mediation/Negotiating Training - educational, much more

1 – John 13.33

2 – John 14.1

3 – John 14.26

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