Ten Years of the ‘Daily Devotional’

Over the past few months I’ve heard this question or some variation of it more than a few times:

“Are you going to keep writing devotionals?” The short answer is ‘Yes. Absolutely.’ They’ll be showing up occasionally through the summer months here on this blog.

It hardly seems possible to me, but ten years have passed since I first started writing daily meditations on the Bible for the congregation of the Peachtree Presbyterian Church. Writing the so-called ‘devos’ has become an important part of my vocation and my spiritual life. Now that fourteen years of ministry there are ended I’m in a reflective frame of mind, remembering how all of this came to be a part of my life and work.

A Summer Writing Gig

In the summer of 2006 Marnie and I had been on the pastoral staff at Peachtree for just over four years. The ‘Peachtree Daily Devotional’ had already been going out via email to our congregation each morning. The idea was to take the text from Sunday’s sermon and tease it out further throughout the week, inviting our people to a deeper dive into what they had heard (or missed) on Sunday.

A colleague of mine had been managing the content for the devotional since its inception. She was doing a great job, but she also carried a hefty load of other duties and by the summer of 2006 she needed a break. In late May our Senior Pastor and my boss, Vic Pentz, called and asked if I would be willing to do the daily devotional for the upcoming sermon series on Ecclesiastes.

Churches are much like other organizations. When the boss shows a willingness to entrust a task to you, you step up and do it gladly – and with confidence. Once I had said yes, however, a mild panic set in, a low-grade freak out. How would I ever come up with something to write day after day for the whole summer?

My first ‘daily devotional’ went out on June 5, 2006. Week after week, day by day I opened my Bible and lingered with a text from Ecclesiastes. With each morning the manna lay on the ground, just what was needed for that day. Rarely have I been able to ‘get out ahead’ when it comes to writing these meditations. God has been kind to give what is needed. Yes, as the archives have grown over the years I’ve allowed myself to edit and ‘recycle’ some of the reflections. And whenever I’ve put down words when I really had nothing to say, the fault for that has been entirely my own.

Lessons from a Decade of ‘Devos’

I’m stunned that ten years have slipped by since that summer series on Ecclesiastes. God has been faithful. Readers have been both tolerant of my weak writing and generous in affirming what they found helpful. And I have been blessed to partner with gifted colleagues on staff, particularly Len Wilson, an author who loves words and has an eye for the way images can bring the written word to life.

With the passing of time I’ve become convinced of two things that I’d like to convince you of as well.

First, the Bible is an inexhaustible book. As Hebrews 4:12 says, it is indeed a ‘living and active’ word. God continues to speak to us through scripture, and because God is always speaking we’ll never scrape the bottom of the barrel when we search the Bible. The Psalmist rightly marveled at the vast sum of God’s thoughts (139:17). If the Bible is an ocean depth, I’m still standing on the shoreline with waves just covering my feet when it comes to discovering what this book has to say to us. I want to be a better student of the Bible and I want to get better at sharing what I find in its pages. I’ll spend the remainder of my days doing this.

Second, anyone can do what I’ve been doing in these daily meditations. That’s not to say that everyone will want to write short (or not-so-short) reflections that explore a biblical text – but anyone can tell stories and all of us have stories to tell. What’s more, all of those stories can point us in some way to the God revealed in scripture. Read your Bible. Pay attention to your life and to your world. Find the places where one touches the other. There are plenty of them to be discovered.

All of that to say . . .

I guess I’ve shared all of this to get to the purpose of this blog. Marnie and I are moving to a new ministry this summer. Someone else will assume responsibility for the Peachtree daily devotional. But I’d like to keep reading the Bible and writing about what I read. If you’re reading this now I hope you’ll come back and keep reading. Better yet, I’m shameless enough to ask you to subscribe to this blog so that the content will come directly to you.

The thoughts of God “are more than the sand” (Ps. 139:18). There’s much to be seen in God’s word. From time to time as we ponder it there will be things to say. So let’s stay at it together.

Here we go.

6 thoughts on “Ten Years of the ‘Daily Devotional’

  1. Mark, your words have been manna to my daily time with God and I thank HIM for using you to help me and so many others learn from His word. I pray blessings on His continued anointing that has been placed on you to write and share the love of Jesus.


  2. To be candid, Mark, I have not read every single one of these marvelous devotionals — but: I have saved every one of them, from the time I subscribed. Not sure what I will do with them. Maybe make them into a book and send them to you for approval and possible publishing.

    In any case, the ones I have read have hooked me thoroughly. You have an uncommon gift for words and thoughts and a spiritual sensitivity second to no one. You have an uncanny ability to address the concerns that are troubling me, and, I suspect many others as well.

    Unless I have occasion to come to where you are, I doubt that we will see each other again. But you are in my heart and vivid in my memories. I intend to follow your writings anywhere I can.


  3. Mark, the distance between Bethlehem and Atlanta won’t seem so great when we read your inspiring words of insight into Scripture. Thank you for continuing to lead us and teach us all. While Peachtree “Can’t wait for Dave,” we also “can’t wait” for Mark’s words! We love you and Marnie and pray for God to use you in powerful ways in your new church calling!


  4. My mother-in-law shared a Presbyterian Peachtree Devotional with my wife and I years ago. Mother-in-law is Baptist, my wife was raised Methodist, I was raised Catholic, but my wife and I now are in love with a non-denominational church, WellSpring Christian Church in Spring Hill, TN. To this day, I keep on my phone, two devotionals that you wrote that changed my life. “Crooked Sticks,” from February, 2014, and “You Have To Be A Beloved,” from before that. Thank you. I shared Crooked Sticks when I spoke at the graveside service for my sister-in-law who died in July of this year. It was perfect and well-received. By the way, I gave you credit for the words and gave God credit for the glory. The reason it was so perfect is that she had taken her life. My wife is still struggling to understand, but I wanted to let you know you are a “beloved” in my book. Thank you for sharing your gift. By the way, my sister-in-law was Episcopalian! Peace.


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