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



Monday, January 21, 2019

become

there is a dreamer
dreaming you

there is a you
so beautiful
and so pure
that still exists
somewhere beneath
the brokenness
and dysfunction

it is a you
that has been
lost sight of
a you that
you no longer
believe in

but in spite of
all the wreckage
the dream still remains
buried somewhere
beneath the rubble

it is the image
of the one who
breathed you into being
with the divine breath
of his very own mouth
and longs to breathe
you once again

but this rebirth
cannot be achieved
or earned
you cannot work
your way back
to this eden
you can only
be taken there

give me your hand

Saturday, January 12, 2019

repent and believe

“The kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15)  

I love that Jesus reminds us that repent and believe are a package deal.  One really does no good apart from the other.  All too often I forget that.

I get repentance.  I really do.  In fact, during the course of a day I usually turn (or return) to Jesus over and over and over again.  My problem typically comes with the belief part.  It is the belief part that gives the repent part its power and its substance.

If I repent and then fail to really believe that repentance makes all things new again, then it does little good.  I am still trying to earn my way back to Jesus.  If I repent and fail to really believe that God sees me the way he says he sees me, then I will continue to perform and try to make myself worthy of his love and forgiveness.  If I repent and fail to believe that what God says about me is really true, I will continue to be at the mercy of my own (false) inner narratives.

Repent and believe means that the narrative of Jesus is the one that determines my life and my actions.  The narrative that says, “I love you.  You are mine.  Nothing in this world can ever change that.  You are valuable because I made you, because I dreamt you into being, because I created you fearfully and wonderfully.  You are my masterpiece, my poem, my work of art.  I imaged you before the foundations of the world and I breathed you into being with the breath of my mouth.  When I think of you it brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart.  Live your life out of that love and affection.”  

Now THAT is good news!

      

Sunday, January 6, 2019

epiphany 2019

if you follow the star
it will lead you to the Savior
but do not ever forget that
the star itself is not the point

so do not be distracted by
the things that shimmer and sparkle
for they have no brilliance of their own
they only reflect the radiance of the Son

help us Lord Jesus
to never stop at the star
for the star was always intended
to lead us to you.

Friday, January 4, 2019

done

After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… (Hebrews 1:3).  

No High Priest ever sits down; mostly because his work is never done.  There is a constant need for sacrifice, because of the continual presence of sin.  Yet Jesus sat down.  After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down.  Mission accomplished.  Work done.  It is finished.    


Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was enough; nothing else needed to be added.  But the question is: Do we let it be enough?  Do we allow his sacrifice be enough for us?  And do we let it be enough for those in our lives?  Or do we constantly feel the need to add to it? 
    
It seems like we are always tempted to try and add something.  In addition to his sacrifice, we somehow feel the need to add our own efforts, in order to work our way back into his good graces.  The problem is that we are already there.  All we need to do is repent—to turn back to Jesus—and let his finished work be enough.  To allow his work on the cross to be complete, and to receive it and rest in it.  To also sit down, if you will.
    
I guess we do this because that is typically how human relationships work.  We might apologize to someone for how we have hurt them or let them down, and they might even offer us their forgiveness, but we are not na├»ve enough to believe that it ends there.  We are also going to have to work our way back into their good graces.  Which is a funny expression, because grace is not something that can be worked back into.  But we—subtly, and not so subtly— demand it of each other.  We know the truth.  We know that we aren’t really going to be forgiven until we have earned it.  And even if we are ever truly forgiven, it will likely never be forgotten.
    
Yet God tells us a completely different story.  He tells us that he will remember our sins no more. (Jer. 31:34, Heb. 8:12, and Heb. 10:17)  There is no need to work our way back into his good graces for we—because of the finished work of Christ—are already there.  There is nothing else to add.  We can rest in the completed work of Christ.  He is enough.

So let me ask you a question. Is God’s completed work on the cross enough for you?  Is it really done?  Or are you constantly trying to add to it?  Are you constantly trying to work or earn your way back to him?  And is the completed work of Christ enough for those in your life who constantly disappoint you and let you down?  What would it look like in those relationships if you chose to do what God does—to say it is finished, the work is done?  How different would our lives and relationships be?

Lord Jesus, thank you that you sat down.  Thank you that your purification of us is done.  Help us to rest in your completed work on the cross, and to sit down ourselves.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

a new year's prayer 2019

Lord Jesus, in the year ahead: help me to live more like you lived, help me to care more like you cared, help me to serve more like you served, and help me to love more like you loved.  May I be more like you at the end of the year than I was at the beginning.  By your grace and power.  Amen.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

why have you treated us like this?

"Why have you treated us like this?  Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." (Luke 2:48)

We are not so different, it seems, from Mary and Joseph.  For when we can’t seem to find Jesus—when he is not where we think he ought to be—we also tend to ask the questions: “Where are you?  Why have you treated us this way?”  As if our idea of where Jesus should be and what he should do were somehow more accurate than his own.

But luckily Jesus doesn’t cater to us.  He doesn’t always behave quite the way we want him to.  He operates on a whole different wavelength.  He sees things from a larger, more eternal perspective, and he acts accordingly.  Therefore, he doesn’t always give us what we want, or what we think we need.  But he is always present; just maybe not in the ways we are demanding and expecting at the moment.  He is always right where he is supposed to be.  “Why were you looking all over for me?” he says.  “I’m right where I’m supposed to be, in my Father’s house.  I am also in my word and in my creation and even in your heart, as well as the hearts of those you are in community with.  So don’t run around anxiously looking for me, you know right where to find me.  I am, and always will be, Emmanuel, God with us.” 

So when we find ourselves asking Jesus, as Mary and Joseph did, “Why have you treated us this way?” we need to ask ourselves what is behind that question.  For there are two different ways of looking at it.  One way is through the lenses of demand and entitlement, as if saying, “Jesus, why are you not where I think you should be and why are you not doing what I think you should do?”  But the other way of seeing this question is much different, and much more life-giving.  It is looking at it through the lenses of grace and gratitude.  It is when we come to Jesus, not demanding that he show up in some preconceived way, but grateful that he has made us his own when he did not have to, and when we did not deserve it.  It is coming to him with a spirit that says, “God, I do not deserve you.  I do not deserve your grace and I do not deserve your blessings.  But even still, you, because of your great love, have made me your own.  You have blessed me with life and salvation and family and community that I do not deserve.  Thank you!”  The question is, what lenses will I choose to look through today?  How will I ask that question?  Because how I ask that question makes all the difference.