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



Friday, May 31, 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!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

progress

“Be diligent in these matters; give yourselves wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.” (1 Timothy 4:15)

How do you define progress in your spiritual life?  And more importantly, how do you think Jesus would define it?  Think about that for a moment.  In fact, make a list of both and see how similar—and how different—they are.

Were the words poor in spirit or meek or merciful on your list?  How about hungry and thirsty or pure in heart or persecuted?  How about least or last or selfless or humble?  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control make your list?  The fact of the matter is that Jesus’ definition of progress in the spiritual life is often much different from our own, so it is probably a good idea for us to try and get on the same page.  That way we can actually look at our lives and determine whether we are, in fact, becoming more like Jesus or not.

The older I get, the more I am coming to believe that when I think about myself less, I am actually just beginning to make some progress.  When I care less about what other people think and care more about what God thinks.  When I begin to let go of what I know and begin to embrace the fact that I really don’t know much of anything.  When I am more content with being unseen and unnoticed—because I am fully seen and fully noticed by Jesus—rather than always trying to be the center of attention.  When I finally start to listen more than I speak.  When being loving becomes more important than being right.  When I stop climbing up and allow Jesus to lead me down.  When I stop wondering so much about who I am, and become more concerned with whose I am.

Those are the types of things I’m trying to pay attention to these days.  What about you?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

blessed are the meek

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) 

We live in a day and age, it seems, where the things this world values the most are in direct opposition to the life Jesus describes as blessed.  That would be especially true when it comes to being meek.

The word meek is a hard one to define.  In essence, it means to be gentle or kind.  It is generally associated with a spirit of kindness, humility, and submission.  The word Jesus used in Matthew 5:5 is prays, which means gentleness of spirit or mildness of disposition.  Thus, meekness is the opposite of self-assertiveness or self-interest.  The meek are those who are not occupied with self at all, but totally reliant on God.  Meek people don’t stomp around, but tread lightly.  They don’t feel the need to continually air their opinions, but listen carefully.  They do not see people as threats or competition, but look tenderly.  They do not fight and grab and push their way to the front, but they touch with reverence.  Meek people know that true growth requires nurture, not force.  In our rough and tumble world, meekness can be a vivid, tangible reminder of the presence of God among us.  The meek do not posture nor promote, they do not campaign nor draw attention to themselves, but they offer their contributions to the world in quiet tenderness.  Therefore, the meek are able to inherit the earth because they are not trying to control, conquer, manipulate, or impress it.  They are blessed because they are a blessing.

Lord Jesus, if we ever hope to be anything like you, we must learn to be meek.  Unfortunately, that is so much against our nature that we can never hope to do it on our own.  You must grow it in us.  Have mercy on us, Lord Jesus!  Make us more and more like you each day.  Amen.

Monday, May 13, 2019

occupied

Occupied: to be filled up (space, time, etc.).  I find that I am often occupied.  And at times even preoccupied.  The problem is that I am not usually occupied with the right things; or at least not the things that lead to life and freedom.  I am all too often occupied with my own worries and insecurities and fears—which makes me a really bad version of myself.  And at times I am occupied with my own opinions and plans and agendas—which leaves me oblivious to anything other than my little corner of this great big world.  But the bigger problem is that when I am occupied, I have no room.  I have no room for God and I have no room for anyone else.  I am far too full of myself.

I think that’s where Psalm 23 comes in.  It comes in and tries to reorient me.  It tries to shift my focus from being occupied with self—which wears me down and burns me out—to being occupied with God—who longs to renew my soul and make my cup overflow.  Which can sound self-centered in and of itself unless we realize how the spiritual life is designed to work.  It is the overflow of the life of God within me that is supposed to pour out on those around me.  True ministry is always designed to happen as a result of this overflow.

Psalm 23 is God’s attempt to say, “How I long for your attention and your affection.  And the things that occupy you only distract you from what is most important—me.  So stop.  Just stop.  Let go of all of the things that fill your space, and make time and space for me.  Here is what I want you to do today: lay down, be still, be mine.  Everything else will take care of itself."

Lord God, I am still so full, it seems, of everything but you.  Help me to let go of all that occupies my heart and soul, and help me to take hold of—or be taken hold of—by you alone.  Make me lie down in green pastures and lead me beside still waters, that my soul may be restored to its creation intent.  Amen.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

blessed

“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ~Matthew 5:3

Jesus certainly turns everything upside down, doesn’t he?  The poor and the mourners and the meek and the hungry and the merciful and the peacemakers and the persecuted are the ones who are blessed?  Most of us would normally think the opposite was true.

If he is right, however, that the ones on the bottom are the ones who are really blessed, then why do I keep trying to get to the top?  If it is true that the nobodies are the ones who are living in line with his will and his desire, then why do I keep desperately trying to be somebody?  If it is, in fact, accurate that the poor are the ones who are better off, then why do I keep trying to get rich?  If being hidden and unnoticed and lowly and small is the path to true blessing, then why do I keep trying to be visible and noticed and well thought of and important?

Blessed is the man who is not constantly consumed with himself, but is consumed with the things of God.  Apparently Jesus needs to turn me upside down as well.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

ask, seek, and knock

It sounds pretty simple, right?  Jesus tells his disciples, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10)  So all we have to do is knock and knock and knock, until eventually Jesus gets so tired of the knocking that he opens the door and gives us what we want?  I don’t think so.  What if we are knocking on a door that was never supposed to be—or never intended to be—opened?  What then?

I think that’s where the ask and the seek parts come in.  There is a sequence here that we must pay attention to.  These verses are not carte blanche to ask for whatever we want, knowing that if we are persistent enough in our asking, God will eventually break down and give it to us.  I mean, what if we come to him asking for a snake or a scorpion?  What then?

Perhaps ask does not mean asking for whatever we want, but asking him what he wants.  And perhaps seek does not mean seeking our own will and preference, but seeking God’s will and God’s preference.  For after we ask God what he wants and seek his will and his way in whatever we might be praying about, then we can knock and knock and knock, and rest assured that when the timing is right he will open the door.

For at times it is just as likely that God’s answer to our deepest prayers might come in the form of a closed door, as it does an opened one.  And far be it from us to keep knocking and knocking on a closed door, and not receiving the guidance and direction it has to offer.  That is why ask and seek must come first.  And that is why Jesus used all three of these words as he was teaching the disciples how to pray.