Thursday, December 31, 2020

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

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Journey to the Cross

If you are looking for a companion for Lent (for yourself, your family, your friends, your staff, etc.), my Lenten devotional guide Journey to the Cross is available on Amazon.  Spread the word.  This year, Lent begins on February 26 (Ash Wednesday).

Saturday, February 15, 2020

prove it

“If you are the Son of God. . . .” (Matthew 4:3, 6)  And there you have it.  The enemy tips his hand right from the start.  His chief strategy for attacking Jesus, as well as attacking us, is to go straight for our identity.  The greatest temptation Jesus faced in the wilderness was not hunger, or the loneliness, or even power, but the temptation to try and prove himself.  “If you are the Son of God, then prove it.”

That’s why God gave him those beautiful words after his baptism, to remind him of who he really was.  Before Jesus had performed one miracle, or healed one disease, he was told by God that he was Beloved.  It was not something he had to achieve, it was not something he had to prove, it was a truth he was given to live out of.  How incredibly kind of the Father it was to remind him of the truth, because in the wilderness Jesus would encounter all kinds of lies.  The core lie being: “You are really not the Son of God.”

Why should we expect that our greatest temptation in the spiritual life—and the biggest lie we tend to believe—would be any different?  I don’t know about you, but my doubts about the fact that I am worth be loved, and my desperate need to prove myself (and my value), infect everything I do.  And when I live out of that dark place I am not able to be the fearful and wonderful creation that God made me to be.  In fact, I become the very worst version of myself: possessive, controlling, competitive, demanding, defensive, aggressive, insecure.

That’s why I am so grateful that Jesus comes to each of us and says, “Do not give in to this desperate need to try and prove yourself.  You have nothing to prove!  Your identity and your value have already been determined long, long ago.  They have been bestowed upon you.  Nothing you can do can change that.  Live in that truth and in that freedom, because if you don’t it will keep you from being the loving, grateful, humble man I created you to be.”

Friday, February 14, 2020

you are loved

"Like a weaned child with it's mother is my soul within me." (Psalm 131:2) You are LOVED!


you press your finger
to my lips
to gently quiet
the voices
without and within

hush now, my child
be still and quiet
my little one
just sit with me a while
and let me hold you

Monday, February 10, 2020

become less

what if john and jesus were right
what if the point of this life 
was not to become more
but to become less

how profoundly different
this world would be
in the best possible way

right would give way to love
pride would succumb to humility
other would take precedence over self
and revelation would replace validation

affirmation and admiration
would be things of the past
and hiddenness and service
would be the treasure in the field

for trying to become more
always leads to far less
and becoming less
always makes us more

it is the dying of self
that leads to real life

Sunday, January 26, 2020

down is up

What a pivotal moment in the life of Simon Peter (Matthew 16:21-28).  He has just made his profession of Jesus as the Christ, and has been rewarded with a new name and a new identity.  From now on his true name is no longer Simon Bar-Jonah, but Peter—the rock.  On top of that, he has just been given the keys to the kingdom of heaven, to bind and to loose.  What a huge responsibility!  Can you imagine being given such power and authority?  That’s probably why Jesus then began to tell Peter exactly what that meant, and exactly what it was supposed to look like. Because what it was supposed to look like was very different from what Peter imagined.

In fact, life with Jesus often leads in the exact opposite direction of what we might expect.  Life with Jesus is about self-sacrifice rather than self-actualization.  In the kingdom of God, we find our lives by losing them.  Life with Jesus is about dependence rather than independence, about powerlessness rather than power, about stepping down rather than climbing up.  Life with Jesus is about descending rather than ascending.  In the kingdom of God, down is up, and Peter needed to learn that.

That’s why Jesus immediately began to tell Peter, and the other disciples, about his suffering and death.  Almost as if to say, “Peter, this way you are on—this life of following me—always leads downward.”

But Peter had something very different in mind.  Peter was about moving up, ruling in power, and sitting on a throne.  He was like, “No Jesus, we are not going down, we are going up.  That’s the plan I signed up for.”

To which Jesus responded, “Get behind me Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.  The “things of men” are all about trying to move up, but I am about moving down.  And if you want to follow me, that’s where this life will lead. For down is up in the kingdom of God.  Are you with me?”

Well, are you?

Lord Jesus, I get it backwards so often.  Forgive me.  Forgive me when I make this life about me rather than about you.  Forgive me when I pursue praise and acclaim and admiration more than I seek you.  Forgive me when I try to climb up rather than following you on the downward way.  Help me, Lord Jesus, to always have in mind the things of God rather than the things of men.  Amen. 

Monday, January 20, 2020

empty is full

Jesus emptied himself (Phil. 2:5-7), and calls on us to do the same.  The King of Kings stepped down out of the throne room of heaven and came to earth, becoming a mere man.  The Lord of Lords set aside divine privilege and took on the form of the lowliest servant.  The Immortal God took off his immortality and took on flesh and blood.  The Eternal One stepped into the limits of time and space and became a helpless baby.  It is an emptying that none of us can fully understand or appreciate, but one we are called to emulate.

But we must understand that this emptying is not merely for empty’s sake; it is an emptying that is intended to make room for a filling.  Jesus emptied himself of self—if it is even possible to say that—in order that God could exalt him to the highest place and give him the name that is above every name.

In the spiritual life, emptying is always meant to make room for a filling.  We empty ourselves of self, not just so we will be empty, but in order that we might be filled with the life and love of God.  Fullness is God’s ultimate desire for us—as it was for Jesus—but fullness can only be arrived at by way of empty.

So by all means let us have the same attitude that was also in Christ Jesus, and let us empty ourselves in order that we may be full of God.  So full, in fact, that we overflow—with his life and love—into the lives of all who cross our paths.  That’s what the kingdom is all about.