Monday, December 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



Friday, December 14, 2018

weakness

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more in my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:9)


So Jesus tells us that the best way to experience his power is through our weaknesses rather than our strengths. Hmmm.  Power through weakness. How counterintuitive is that? 

It seems like I spend most of my days doing the exact opposite.  I typically try to cover, or compensate for, or hide my weaknesses, so no one ever sees them.  But apparently, when I do this, I am limiting God's power to work in and through me in some mysterious way.  Because Jesus tells me that the way to power lies in weakness not in strength.

I don't know about you, but I expend a lot of effort and energy every day wrestling with my weaknesses, when it sounds like the way to life and power comes through embracing them.  Somehow embracing my weaknesses makes good space for God to work and to act.  And putting it all on God's shoulders rather than my own sounds so much easier, doesn't it?

I have experienced the beauty of this a time or two in my fifty-eight years.  There have been times when I finally got so tired and worn out from trying to do it on my own that I collapsed in a heap and allowed Jesus to come in and take over.  I wish it didn't have to come to that.  And maybe  as I grow older and wiser it won't have to.  Who knows?  A man can dream, right?

Thursday, December 6, 2018

mercy

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cries for mercy.  If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared.  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.  O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.  he will redeem Israel from all their sins. (Psalm 130:1-8, NIV)

Most often, the cry for mercy comes out of a deep sense of desperation and powerlessness.  It comes when we finally realize that we are unable to control and manage things on our own.  There are, of course, times when we have the illusion of control, and thus a lesser sense of our own inability to arrange life for ourselves, but it is just a mirage.  Before long the truth is revealed, chaos once again rears its head, and we are reminded of our deep need for mercy.  So we, like the psalmist, cry out to God, and wait for him to come and intervene.  It is incredibly humbling.

There is nothing quite like waiting in the life of the Spirit.  It accomplishes so many good things within us.  And one of the main things it accomplishes, is teaching us humility.  There is a lot of humility in waiting.  Waiting requires a deep acknowledgement that I am not in control, but am ultimately powerless and dependent upon God.  Therefore, Advent, the season of waiting, is the perfect opportunity to embrace this humility, and to exercise it.

Maybe crying out for mercy is a great place to start.

Monday, December 3, 2018

prepare

A voice of one calling : "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God." (Isaiah 40:3)

You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies...(Psalm 23:5)


The season of Advent is a season of preparation.  It is the time and the season where we prepare for Christmas--the arrival of the Christ into this dark and broken world.  This preparation is not just a one way street; there is a duality to it.  It is God preparing us for something and God preparing something for us.  Or in the words of Psalm 23, God is preparing a table for us, and God is preparing us for a table.  When the meal is ready, and we are ready for the meal, the feast can begin.  But until then, all we can really do is smell the goodness of what he's cooking up and wait for it with eager anticipation.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

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.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

ready

I don't know about you, but I am ready for Advent.  I am ready for a change.  I am ready for a season.  I am ready for something new.  Ordinary time, as great as it is, can get really long, especially towards the end.  Which makes it nice to have a theme to lean into.  Thank goodness for this time of year.

Advent starts tomorrow.  It is the season of watching and waiting and longing for the coming of the Christ into this dark and broken world.  It is the time of year where we embrace the here and now, long for what is not yet, and hope for what is to come.

In the here and now, we embrace the fact that God is always present (Ps. 139:7-12), always at work (John 5:17), even when we cannot yet see what that work may be.  He has not abandoned us.  He is with us in ways we cannot imagine or conceive.  And not only is he with us, but he is working in us.  He knows how fruitful the practice of waiting can be when it comes to the life of the Spirit.  Advent calls us to embrace this waiting.  It calls us to be fully present in the here and now as we wait, even if we cannot yet tell exactly what God is up to.

And not only does Advent call us to embrace the here and now, but it also calls us to long for the not yet.  This one is not hard.  Each of us has a deep desire for all things to be as they were created to be.  In the midst of the pain and brokenness around us, and within us, we are invited to long (even groan) for all things to be as they were intended.  Wholeness was the creation intent, and to wholeness will all things return.  Yet, in the meantime, in the not yet, all we can do is long for the day and the time when it will be a reality.

And finally, there is what is to come: the new heavens and the new earth.  The time of no more tears or sorrow or pain.  The time when God will be our God and we will be his people . . .fully.  It will happen.  It is not a question of if but a question of when.  And it is this hope that gives us the life and the energy, and the urgency, to live the way God wants us to live.  It helps us to be strong and courageous; to be faithful and never lose heart.

So bring it on.  I'm so ready.  I am ready to watch and wait and long and hope.  I am ready to embrace the here and now, to long for the not yet, and to hope for that which is to come. Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

be still

Finish this sentence: "Be still and know that I am God..."

If you are like me, it is likely that you responded, "Period."  After all, most of us don't know, or don't remember, that there is much more to that famous sentence than just the part we so readily quote off the top of our heads.  And ironically, the part we don't remember is actually key to accomplishing the part that we do remember.  Being still and knowing that he is God is not an easy task.  In fact, for many of us, stillness is something that feels darn near impossible.  Why is that?

That's where the second part of the sentence comes in: "I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalm 46:10)  What a great reminder from God: "Me being exalted is not up to you.  In fact, I will be exalted just fine without you.  And until you truly believe that, you will never be able to be still and silent before me.  The salvation of the world does not depend on you, but on me.  You are not as necessary in the grand scheme of things as you'd like to think you are.  That is not meant to diminish or demean you, but to set you free.  So be still and know that I am God.  That is not a suggestion or a recommendation, but a command.  I will be exalted among the nations; and I will be exalted on earth.  I will be exalted in your family and in your work and in your neighborhood and in your world, and even in your ministry, with or without you.  After all, it is not your life and your ministry, and even your world, in the first place, but mine.  So be still and know that I am God.  I've got this.  And if you do not fully believe that, if you do not fully believe the second part of the verse, then you will never be able to experience the first part.  And I want so much more for you than that."  

So let us pray the words of this ancient prayer.  For maybe if we are faithful to pray them over and over again, we will one day come to believe them.  And then maybe they will begin to take shape and take root in our hearts and our lives.