Tuesday, December 31, 2019

the blue book is now available on amazon


Exciting News!  The Blue Book is now available on Amazon!  And not only that, but it also has a bunch of new content!  I've been working for the past year or so to write an opening reflection for each chapter and I'm really excited about the end result.  I hope you will be too.  So please spread the word.  Tell your friends that the strange blue devotional book that has always been so hard to find, is hard to find no more.

*Update: Thanks for the great response!  Glad to see the book still seems to be helpful to so many in making space to hear God's voice and know of his great affection.  Since the book has been released on Amazon I do, however, find that I miss the contact with many of you.  I miss hearing the stories of how God has used the book in your life or ministry.  So, if you have the time, I would love it if you would just leave your comments here, or drop by Amazon and give a review.  And, as always, feel free to email me with your Blue Book story if you'd like.  I love hearing them. Blessings, Jim



Sunday, December 8, 2019

no pain, no gain

Simone Weil once said: “There are two things that pierce the human heart.  One is beauty.  The other is affliction.”  If you are like me, you are ready, willing, and able to sign up for the beauty part right here and right now, but not so sure you are up for the affliction part.  I mean, what kind of person would wish, or welcome, pain upon themselves, right?

Somehow we need to get over the notion that pain is some kind of cosmic accident that is always bad and should be avoided at all costs.  This way of thinking hinders our growth and maturity in significant ways, because pain always has intent.  God subjected us to this kind of a life in order that we might be liberated from bondage to decay and be brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-21)  Pain has purpose.  Somehow it is through affliction that we come to know real love, and it is through bondage that we come to know true freedom.  God uses our pain and sadness to deepen and widen us, so that we might be able to receive even more of him.  Thus, avoiding pain is avoiding God, and embracing pain is embracing what God is trying to do in and then through us.

The crazy thing is that God actually uses our pain and our unmet longing to arouse and expand us within.  Just listen to the words of Eugene Peterson: “All around us we observe a pregnant creation.  The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs.  But it is not only around us; it is within us.  The Spirit of God is arousing us within.  We’re also feeling the birth pangs.  These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance.  That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than it diminishes a pregnant mother.  We are enlarged in the waiting.  We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us.  But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” (Romans 8:22-25, The Message

So help us, O God, to stop running.  Give us the grace and the courage to stop trying to avoid and escape pain and suffering and brokenness at every opportunity.  Help us to actually embrace it, so that we will receive the gifts that it has to offer—becoming more like you in the process.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Get Ready for Advent

Watch and Wait: A Guide for Advent and Christmas

Just wanted to remind you that if you (or any of your friends, family, or coworkers) are looking for a companion to journey with you through the seasons of Advent and Christmas, you might want to try Watch and Wait.  It is available on Amazon.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

prepare


There is a preparing (Isaiah 40:1-5) that must be done in Advent, but it is not the type of preparing that one might expect.  This preparation has more to do with stopping and slowing down and coming to stillness.  It has more to do with sitting and pondering and reflecting.  This preparation has more to do with being than it does with doing.

For we cannot manipulate God into coming; we cannot demand or manufacture the how and when and where of that coming.  All we can really do is prepare the way; it is up to God to do the rest.  Fortunately, if we are faithful to do our part—whatever that may be—he is faithful to do more than his.  “And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,” say the words of the ancient text.  That is the promise of Advent.

So let us make space, make time, be still, be quiet, watch, wait, listen, and pay attention—for these are the “activities” of Advent.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that the how and where and when of your coming is not up to us, all we are called to do is to prepare the way.  Help us to know what that is supposed to look like during this season of Advent.  Amen.

Monday, December 2, 2019

God will come

The promise of Advent is that God will come (Isaiah 35:1-10), not just once, but always again.  It’s just who he is.  He cannot stay away from his beloved.  And when he comes, he will bring life. 

But in the meantime we wait.  We do not, however, wait as people without hope.  We wait in the full assurance that he will, indeed, come.  It is not a question of if, but a question of when.  Therefore, we can strengthen our feeble hands and our knees that give way.  We can thrive in our waiting and hoping and groaning, rather than merely trying to survive.  We can live in hope instead of fear.

We can live in the assurance that one day this wilderness in which we live will be turned into a place of pools; dry sand will become bubbling springs.  That is simply how the life of God within and among us is—it gushes forth.  It is not a trickle, as it sometimes feels like in this life, but a torrent.  It is a wellspring of life and love.  Jesus called it living water, David described it as a cup that continually overflows, and Paul described it as being filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

We get but a tiny taste of that on this side of eternity, but one day we will get it in full.  One day we will be filled with a fullness we never imagined possible.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait.

Thank you, O God, that you are, and have always been, the God who comes.  It is just who you are.  Fill our hearts and souls and minds with the joy and the hope of that coming, so that we might live our lives in this world in a way that anticipates, and even participates in, the life to come.  Amen.



Sunday, December 1, 2019

Just Released





















Hi friends.  Thought you would want to know that my new book Teach Us to Pray has just been released on Amazon.  Tell your friends!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

a litany of gratitude

we are grateful, O God,
for who you are
and for how you love us

we are grateful that
your heart is good
and will never change

we are grateful
that you are both
strong and loving
so that we can fully
trust in you and
rest in you

we are grateful
that even though we get so
involved and distracted
with our everyday lives
and continually forget you
you never forget us
even when we feel forgotten
you are always with us
in ways we cannot
perceive or imagine

we are grateful
that you alone
are the giver of all good gifts
the greatest of which are
your love and your grace
which you shower upon us
every minute of every day
though we don't deserve it

may we be captured this day
by the depths of
your great affection
and may we live in such a way
that others may be
captured by it as well