Friday, August 31, 2018

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



Wednesday, August 15, 2018

arise

song of songs 2:10-13

neither mood
nor circumstance
get the privilege
of determining
your season

that right
is reserved
for me
i am
he who calls
and determines
and declares
i am
the one who
sets the seasons

and i say
arise my beloved
my beautiful one
and come with me

winter is past
the rains are over
flowers appear
in the land
the season of singing
has arrived

so arise
get up
it’s time to leave
wherever you have been
and come with me
to the beautiful place
and the beautiful season
i have set for you

for i am
your Lover
your God
and there is
no other

Sunday, August 12, 2018

one

How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.  For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. (Psalm 133:1, 3)

When we live in loving community with those around us, we truly reflect the glory and the beauty of the Three-in-One God.  That is why unity leads to the bestowing of God’s blessing and life, for it is life the way it was intended to be.  Thus, community (as is worship) is merely the invitation to enter into the joy and gladness and delight of the life of God himself.  What an invitation!

R. Thomas Ashbrook asks: “What might it mean to live fully and freely in the life of the Trinity, knowing and loving God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as they know and love each other?”  I think part of what it might mean is that we begin to live like that with each other as well.  That joining in the Dance of the Trinity means that we dance with each other that way as well.  It is merely a reflection of who he is, and who we are in him.  God cannot help but bestow his blessing because his very life is flowing in and through and among us.  Which is good and pleasant indeed.


Friday, August 10, 2018

alive

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)

The bottom line to this life of faith is that Jesus is always about making us alive.  It’s just who he is.  He breathed us into being at the beginning, he raised us from the dead at the cross, and he breathes new life into us each day by his Spirit.  Everywhere Jesus goes he brings life.  Everything he touches comes alive in his hands.  Everyone he calls forth from the tomb—even the tomb of doubt, or despair, or depression—is raised up from the dead.  If you don’t believe it, just look at the gospels.

Therefore, if we are in relationship with Jesus—if he is living in us and working through us—the question is not if but where.  Where and how.  Where and how is he making us alive?  Today.  What is being raised up, or renewed, or resurrected within us these days?  Where is there new life blooming?  Because where we are most alive, Jesus is at work within us.

Lord Jesus, help us to pay attention to the places we are most alive.  For where we are most alive, you are at work within us.

Friday, August 3, 2018

parenting

no matter how much
i might like to try
i do not get
to write this story

all i can do
is try not to hinder
the becoming
but make good space
and wait expectantly
for its beautiful unfolding

Monday, July 30, 2018

goals are the enemy of rest

So I found something out on my latest vacation.  It is something I can’t believe I didn’t recognize years ago, especially after coming back from vacation after vacation more tired than I was before I left.  What I found out is this: Goals are the enemy of rest.  I know, I know, it sounds so countercultural, or certainly counter-intuitive.  But think about it.  When was the last time you really rested?  And what were the dynamics that made it possible?  And what are the things that have been obstacles to rest in the past?
    
My typical pattern is that I go on vacation with a plan, a list of things I’m hoping to accomplish.  That should tell me something right there.  Don’t get me wrong, they are good things, really good things.  They are things that I enjoy and things that have the potential to bring me rest.  But somehow when they become a list, they take on a life of their own.  All of the sudden I am trying to rest—I’m working at rest.  Thus, the rest is gone right out of it.  Now I’ve just got a bunch of goals, a bunch of things to do.  And when the things on my list don’t get done, or somehow my goals are blocked, I get frustrated.  By the way, that’s what happens when our goals get blocked—we get frustrated.  If you are ever frustrated and don’t know why, just ask yourself what goal you have (spoken or unspoken, acknowledged or hidden) that is being blocked.   
     
Take the last few days, for instance.  We had the opportunity to spend a few days at the beach.  Immediately I thought, “Oh great, a chance to get a little sun, read a little, exercise a little, and be still and quiet.”  All good things, yet when those good things subtly become my goals, I’m setting myself up for failure.  All of the sudden I am working at accomplishing my goals, rather than truly resting.  I don’t know, maybe folks that are wired differently from me don’t have this struggle.  But I sure do. 
     
All of the sudden, getting a little sun becomes work; something I’ve got to do.  And the rest of it drains right out.  Then it rains and I find myself frustrated.  Or that quiet reading under the umbrella by the beach that I had envisioned in my mind is interrupted by the bazillion people that are now crowded around on every side, talking loudly enough for folks five umbrellas down to be able to hear them, and blaring their music from their wireless speakers.  Strike two.  And that run on the beach I had envisioned is interrupted by the pulled soleus that has been nagging me for the past few months, and now decides to flare up again.  Strike three.  Awesome!  (Not awesome in the sense that “this is wonderful,” but awesome in the sense of “of course, this always happens to me.”  Funny how the same word can have two completely different meanings depending on the tone they are uttered in)
     
So somehow I have to figure out how to take the work out of rest.  Somehow I have got to learn how to be intentional about making the space and time for rest to happen without turning it into a goal.  Because goals really are the enemy of rest.  Somehow I have got to start holding things loosely, taking things as they come, and enjoying whatever the present moment has to offer.  Which is not easy for me, being the anxiety-ridden person that I am.  But if I ever hope to have any deep sense of rest, it will only come when I learn to stop doing and start being.  Just being alive and present.  Breathing and breathing out.  Living and savoring time and space, rather than always filling it.  Just enjoying, as one of the saints of old once said, the sacrament of the present moment.  It’s going to take some practice, but hopefully one day I’ll get there.  Hopefully one day I will actually go on vacation with no list.  A man can dream, right?

Friday, July 20, 2018

kiss

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!  For your love is better than wine. (Song of Songs 1:2)


"You have seen the way we must follow, the order of procedure.  First we cast ourselves at his feet, we 'kneel before the Lord, our maker,' deploring the evil we have done.  Then we reach out for the hand that will lift us up, that will steady our trembling knees.  And finally, when we shall have obtained these favors through many prayers and tears, we humbly dare to raise our eyes to his mouth, so divinely beautiful, not merely to gaze upon, but--I say with fear and trembling--to receive his kiss; for Christ the Lord is a Spirit before our face.  And we who are joined to him in a holy kiss become, at his good pleasure, one spirit with him." (On the Song of Songs by Bernard of Clairvaux)