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



Sunday, March 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!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

the how of unity

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.  It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robes.  It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.  For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. (Psalm 133:1-3)

I love the description of what life is like when God’s people live together in unity.  It is so rich and beautiful and inviting.  It is so vibrant and healthy and life-giving.  Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a community like that?  The problem is that the psalm never tells us how to do that.  And the how seems to be the elusive part, especially in this broken and chaotic world.  How do we live together in such a way that it causes God to bestow his blessing, even life forevermore?

Maybe it has something to do with who we are to be to each other.  Maybe it has something to do with consistently showing up with each other—listening, being truly present, paying attention, really seeing and hearing each other.  And maybe it has something to do with creating a place and a space of belonging and acceptance, a safe space where each of us can come out of hiding and be real and vulnerable with one another, without the fear of being judged or fixed or attacked or criticized.  Maybe it involves a commitment to speak love into each other’s deepest fears.  Maybe true community is to be a place that creates in each of us a desire to become more. 

But I think that living in community also involves a refusal to act out of the old self and its practices (Col. 3:9).  It involves a refusal to attack and criticize and judge.  It involves a refusal to protect and rationalize and defend.  It involves a refusal to blame and disparage and belittle.  It involves a refusal to hide and to cover and to posture.  It involves a refusal to create a narrative for (or about) someone else.  It means that we give each other the benefit of the doubt and refuse to assign motives or intent to someone else.  It involves a willingness and a commitment to take off our old self and its practices, while refusing to try and rip the old self off of others.  

True community is a place and a space where we are all invited into the beauty and the life and the abundance of the new.  It is a place where we become—and help others become—our best (truest) selves.  Now that really is good and pleasant!

Show us how, O God, to live together in unity.  Otherwise we will only be able to read about the benefits of doing so, without ever experiencing its reality.  Help us, O Lord.  Have mercy on us.  Amen.

Friday, March 22, 2019

old and new


“You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Colossians 3:9-10, NIV) 

If we truly want to live life in Jesus, we must be willing to take off the old before we can put on the new.  It’s not rocket science.  It’s kind of how clothing is supposed to work.  You can’t put something new on, until you are willing to take the old off.  If you do not, you will just end up with layers upon layers upon layers of old buried beneath the “new.” I wonder if this isn’t the cause of so many of our problems in our spiritual lives.

But it even goes a little further than that.  We are not only supposed to take off the old self, we are also supposed to take off its practices—all of the ways and the patterns associated with how the old self continues to reveal itself in our lives.  All of the patterns and practices of control and manipulation and self-protection.  All of the ways our anxieties and insecurities and fear take shape in our lives and in our relationships.  All of the ways our needy souls grasp for attention and affirmation and significance and belonging.  We are to take off everything that tends to make us the worst (false) version of ourselves.  All of that must be taken off, lest it get covered over and hidden underneath the shiny covering that we tend to show to the world.

I think Eugene Peterson said it well when he wrote: “You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.” (The Message)

Lord Jesus, thank you that you long to make me new.  Help me to have the courage and the strength to take off the old, in order to make that possible.  Amen.


Thursday, March 21, 2019

wait for the Lord

I wait for the Lord, my souls 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. (Psalm 130:5-7, NIV)

I’m beginning to wonder if I have any idea what it really means to wait for the Lord.  Oh sure, I can start out just fine, but after a while I start to get antsy and impatient, as if everything depended on me rather than him.  Then I start to take hold of things and start to initiate things, trying to form or shape or manufacture them into what I think they should be.  Sorry, but that is definitely not waiting for the Lord!

Waiting for the Lord means just that—waiting.  It means that God is the initiator and I am the responder—even in prayer.  My job is to wait for him to move and to stir, and then to ask him what it looks like to join that moving and stirring, rather than trying to control or manipulate it.  After all, it is his work, not mine.  Heaven forbid that in my zeal to do something—anything—I would actually get in the way of what he was trying to do.  Which I’m sure I have done more often that I’d care to admit.

Waiting is not like that at all.  Waiting for the Lord means that I must pay careful attention to what is going on around me and within me, so that I can recognize his voice and his movement when it arises.  My job is not to make it happen, my job is to notice when it is happening, and then to join into that happening in whatever way he directs me to. 

Can you imagine what our lives would look like if we didn’t do anything until he told us to?  Can you imagine what a different world that would be?  Could you imagine all of the wasted motion and energy that might be saved and harnessed and used for the building of his kingdom rather than our own?

O Lord, help us to learn what it means to truly wait for you, and then help us to do it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

many seeds

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:23-24)

In God’s economy death is not the end, it merely makes room for new life. And ultimately God is always about bringing new life—it’s simply who he is.  Unfortunately, in those seasons of dying it is often hard to recognize the seeds of new life that are being sewn.  Sometimes we can only see and come to appreciate them in retrospect.

What is God trying to put to death in you these days, in order to make room for new life?  What is the kernel that must fall to the ground and die, in order that it might produce many seeds?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

must

Must.  Jesus used that word a lot.  “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected.  He must be killed and after three days rise again.  If anyone would come after me he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:31, 34)

Yet in spite of how many times Jesus used the word must, we still try to take it out of the conversation, or at the very least try to soften it and water it down.  We have never been real big on musts.  In fact, we like to turn must into may whenever possible; taking away its necessity and replacing it with more of an optional quality.  But there is no option in must.  There is no space left for preference or discretion.  With must we are given no latitude or leeway.  Must means must.  It doesn’t offer any wiggle room.

We want to be the ones to determine our musts and not have someone determine them for us, which is the essence of sin itself.  We prefer to call the shots.  We, like Simon Peter, prefer to determine what and how and when things should happen.  Yet when we do that we receive the same rebuke: “Get behind me Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of man.” (Mark 8:33)

O Lord Jesus, have mercy on us.  It seems like we are always getting in the way of what you are trying to do.  Forgive us when we produce gray areas where no gray exists.  Forgive us when we try to soften or water down the things you tell us we must do in order to truly follow you.  Give us the grace and the strength and the courage to embrace them instead.  Help us, Lord Jesus, to let you determine the musts in our lives.  You are much better at it than we are.


Monday, March 18, 2019

living and dying

“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:19-20)

During this season of Lent it is always good to remind ourselves that because of Jesus we are not called to die just for the sake of dying, but to die for the sake of living.  It is the death of the false, in order to live more and more fully in the truth.  It is the death of self, in order that Jesus might live more fully in and through us.  It is the death of the old and the tired and the broken and the worn out, in order to live anew in the beauty and vibrancy and fullness of the power of the Spirit.  Therefore, it is a death we should welcome and embrace, rather than avoid at all costs, because it is a death that brings life.

Lord Jesus, how are you asking me to die today, in order that you might live more fully in and through me?  Give me the strength and the courage and the grace to do just that.  Amen.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

arabia

But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. (Galatians 1:15-17)

So after Paul had his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he went immediately into Arabia.  What’s up with that?  You would think that he would hit the streets, telling anyone and everyone about the incredible encounter he’d just had with the Living Christ.  But that’s not what he did at all.  Instead, he went immediately into Arabia.  An interesting move to say the least.  After all, what was in Arabia?  The answer—absolutely nothing.  That was the whole point.  He went into the desert, the wilderness, which is exactly what the name Arabia really means.  He went into a place where it was just him and God.  He went into a place where the encounter he’d just had with Jesus could continue to grow and to blossom into all that it was intended to be.  He went into the silence and solitude of the desert to reflect and to prepare and to pray and to listen and to prepare.

You see, the first movement of the spiritual life must always be toward Jesus.  And Arabia is where that takes place.  Arabia is not merely a physical space—although that is definitely part of it—it is a space where we come face to face with Jesus over time.  It is the place where he can get his hands on us and strip us bare of all that is not him in order to make us into all that he desires us to be.  The solitude of Arabia is where we are transformed, equipped, and empowered to be all that God intended us to be and in order to do all that God called us to do.  The doing can’t properly or powerfully take place without the being.  Yes, Paul would go on and preach to the Gentiles, but not before he met Jesus in the extended solitude of Arabia.

The problem is that most of us, unlike Paul, are simply not willing to go there.  But going into Arabia is not a luxury, it is a necessity.  If we ever desire to have ministries that are fruitful and authentic and empowered, we must first spend time in Arabia.  Otherwise, the fullness of what God desires to do in and then through us will never happen.  For if we refuse to go there, our lives and our ministries will always be far less that what God desires them to be.  So let us follow Paul’s example and let the first movement of our lives always be toward Jesus—into Arabia.  It will make all the difference in the world.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

wilderness


Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:1)

Why on earth would the Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness, and why does he lead each of us there still?  I don’t know the full answer to either of those questions, but I have a suspicion that part of it has to do with us learning to hear and to trust and to be led by the voice of God, rather than the voice of the enemy.

In our noisy, chaotic, everyday lives it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the voice of the one who would lead us astray and the voice of Love.  But in the wilderness all of the trappings and distractions are stripped away and we are finally able to see things—and hear things—for what they really are.  What seemed so subtle in the frenzy and commotion, becomes stark in the stillness and silence of the wilderness.  Thus, we are much more able to see and hear the difference between the one who came to steal and kill and destroy, and the One who calls us his beloved.

So maybe the wilderness is not such a bad place after all.  Maybe it is not a place to be avoided at all costs.  Maybe it is not a place of scarcity, but a place of abundance.  Maybe it is actually a place where God leads us in order to speak tenderly to us.  Maybe it is a place of transformation.  And maybe, just maybe, by recognizing the difference between the voice of the enemy and the voice of our God in the wilderness, we will, one day, be able to recognize it in our everyday lives.  A man can dream, right?

Lord Jesus, help me to continually know the difference between the voice of the one who seeks to steal and kill and destroy, and the One who calls me his beloved.  May your voice be the one I pay attention to.  May your voice be the one that guides and controls my life.  Let me hear your voice, Lord Jesus, that I may live according to your word.  Amen.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

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 March 6 (Ash Wednesday).

belonging

“For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” (Psalm 133)  

We all have a deep need to belong.  It is how we were made.  It is woven into our DNA.  It is part of what it means to be made in the image of the Triune God.  When we truly belong, we experience life the way it was intended to be.  And when, for some reason, we feel like we do not belong, it makes us the worst version of ourselves—needy, clingy, demanding, insecure, fearful, etc. 

But before we can ever truly belong to one another, we must first belong to God.  If our need to belong is not first met in him, then we will angrily move toward one another, demanding from each other what we were never intended to fully give.  But if we are able, by God’s grace, to find our sense of belonging first in him, then we can experience the beauty and the blessing of community spoken of in Psalm 133; the kind of community in which God bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

Then we can finally move beyond ourselves and consider how to help make others feel like they belong as well.  Then we can start to consider how we can invite them to belong more deeply to Jesus.  And how we can invite them to more deeply belong to one another.  Then we can dream about how we can create spaces of belonging, both within us and among us, so that people are draw to our community like moths to a flame.  For only then will our life together be like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard—fragrant, rich, healing soothing.  For only then will our community be like the dew of Hermon falling on Mount Zion.  For only then will our community be something worth belonging to.


Lord God, thank you that, ultimately, I belong to you.  And because I belong to you, I can freely belong to others.  Help me, O Lord, to be a part of your desire to bring others into the full knowledge of that belonging—first to you and then to each other.  In the name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

at just the right time

At just the right time. (Romans 5:6)  What a loaded phrase.  And one I struggle with pretty regularly.  You see, my definition of the right time and God’s definition of the right time are often very different from each other.  And when they are, how do I respond?  Do I demand and control and manipulate?  Do I sulk and whine and complain?  Or do I worry and fret and agonize?  Am I be filled with fear and doubt or am I filled with faith and trust? 

As hard as it is for me to admit at times, God is the only one who always does things at just the right time.  When will I ever learn?  When will I finally get on board with his plans, rather than trying to push my own?

We cannot dictate the timing of how or when God will act, we can only be sure that he will.  And if we can let go of trying to manipulate and control that, life will be much more enjoyable in the meantime.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that your timing is always "just the right time."  Help me to trust that today and every day.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Lent 2019

Lent starts tomorrow, don't let it sneak up on you.  Start considering now how God is inviting you to live over these next days and weeks.  He wants to do something powerful and profound in your heart and life, if you will make time and space for it to happen.

Consider now what God might be asking you to let go of.  And consider also what God might be inviting you to take hold of.  How will these next days and weeks make you more aware of your sin and brokenness in a way that makes you more aware of the heights and depths and breadth of his incredible love?

Monday, February 18, 2019

lie down

the Lord is my shepherd
i shall not want  
he makes me lie down 
in green pastures 
~psalm 23:1-2

i
n the midst of the frenzy of activity
he makes me lie down
in the midst of my anxiety and insecurity 
he makes me lie down
in the midst of my earning and proving 
he makes me lie down
in the midst of me trying to do it by myself 
he makes me lie down
in the midst of the pressure and performing
he makes me lie down
in the midst of trying to figure it all out
he makes me lie down
in the midst of trying to please and impress everyone 
he makes me lie down

O Lord 
make me lie down 
body and soul 
this day
amen

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

find rest

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.” 

I don’t know about you, but finding rest comes hard for me.  Maybe it is the constant need I feel to try and prove myself.  Or maybe it is the deep sense of anxiety that consumes my heart and soul on a regular basis.  Or maybe it is a combination of a lot of things.  Whatever the reason, the presence of an abiding rest and peace within me is a bit of an elusive creature: hard to find and, once found, hard to keep.

Maybe it was that way for King David as well.  In fact, maybe that’s the reason he wrote this prayer in the first place.  Maybe it was through repeating these very words—over and over and over again—that he hoped, someday, to arrive at the rest and the peace his heart and soul were most deeply longing for. 
  
And maybe it could be the same for me.  Maybe if I plant these words deep in the soil of my soul, they will, one day, grow into something beautiful and substantial.  Maybe they can help me to really believe that God is both strong and loving.  And maybe that belief can lead me to the place of genuine trust in him.  And maybe, just maybe, that trust will one day allow my heart and soul to find their rest in him.  A man can dream, right?

O Lord, help this prayer take root deep within me, that it might become more and more the reality of my life.  Amen.  

Thursday, February 7, 2019

empty nets

“But Master, we have worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.” (Luke 5:5)  

What a haunting phrase.  I mean, it is such an easy trap to fall into, right?  After all, isn’t it a part of our DNA to do it on our own?  To take matters into our own hands, and make it happen—whatever it may be.  We got this, right?  Wrong!  In the end all we have to show for our efforts is a bunch of empty nets and a worn out body and soul.  Ever been there?  I sure have.  And I’m sure I will be there again in the not too distant future.  When will I ever learn?  My own efforts—however heroic they may be—apart from Jesus, will always net me absolutely nothing.  And maybe that very realization is the beginning of learning what it means to trust Jesus in a whole new way.  It certainly was for Simon Peter and his fishing buddies.

Lord Jesus, how come I usually only trust you as a last resort; when my own plans and efforts have not produced the results I’d hoped they would?  Help me to learn how to trust you first, rather than after I have worked hard all night and caught nothing.  Amen.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

abound

“And this is my prayer: that your love would abound more and more.” (Philippians 1:9)

What a great prayer!  Paul is praying that we would be so full of Jesus, and his love, that there would be no room for anything else.  Just imagine if you were so full of the love of Jesus that it simply flowed from your heart and life at all times—every thought, every act, every word.  Imagine how different life would be.  Instead of being full of myself and my worries and my insecurities, I would be full of peace and patience and kindness and gentleness and self-control—and love.  Lord Jesus, please make it be so!  Let your love abound in me, today and every day.

Lord Jesus, fill me so full of you, so full of your love, that there is no room for anything else—no anxiety or insecurity, no comparison or competition, no impatience or frustration, no shame or condemnation.  Fill me to overflowing, Lord Jesus, with your life and your Spirit.  Let your love abound in me.  Then I will be more like you.  Amen.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

the thief

“The thief comes to kill and steal and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

The thief.  What a perfect description of who our enemy is and how he goes about his business.  He comes when we are not looking, when we are not paying attention, when we least expect it, and he kills and steals and destroys.  Notice it doesn’t say he kills or steals or destroys.  It says he kills and steals and destroys—all of the above.

He kills our dreams and our hopes and our faith by convincing us to believe his lies.  He steals our joy and our delight and our trust by making us believe things about ourselves and about our God that are simply not true.  He destroys our peace and our love and our gratitude by getting us consumed with ourselves and our circumstances—filling us with anxiety and insecurity and frustration.  And most of the time we don’t even realize that he is the one behind all of these things.  It’s simply masterful.

So when Jesus draws our attention to the thief, and to his ways, it causes us to stop and say, “Hey, wait a minute.  What’s going on here?  Why on earth am I allowing this “thief” to come and go as he pleases?  Why do I continue to allow him to wreak havoc in my life?”  For if we were to realize that it is indeed the thief that is behind all of this carnage, we would not continue to allow him to operate unhindered.

Maybe that’s why Jesus calls himself both the gate (John 10:9) and the good shepherd (John 10:11) in this passage, because he knows we are in desperate need of both.  We need Jesus to keep the thief out and keep him from coming and going as he pleases.  And we need Jesus to continually speak to our hearts and remind us of the truth of who we are in him.  We need his protection and we need his affection.  We are his sheep.  And his sheep must recognize his voice and run away from the voice of the “stranger.”  The voice of Jesus, our good shepherd, calls us by name and leads us out, into the truth.  The truth that sets us free.

So today I must say yes to the voice of the good shepherd and I must say “no, not today” to the voice of the one who comes to kill and steal and destroy.  That is the only way I will be able to experience the life and the abundance that Jesus promises.

Lord Jesus, thank you that you do not steal and kill and destroy, but that you give abundant life.  Empower me now, O Lord, to stand against the thief who is constantly trying to rob and deceive me, and help me to listen to your voice of truth, which alone can set me free.  Amen.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

being and doing

I have a dear friend who likes to say, "Being is more important than doing, and doing is really important."  I like that a lot.  It takes into account that there are so many necessary things in need of being done, while, at the same time, remembering that the only way to do them well is to do them from a full heart and soul--to do them from a place of overflow and abundance, rather than a place of desperation and scarcity.

It is the tension we live in when we are confronted with the words of Jesus to Martha and her sister Mary in Luke 10:41-42: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her."  Or, in other words, "Don't get so busy doing things for Jesus that you forget to spend time with Jesus."  It is the being with that gives the doing for its power and fruitfulness.

 So let us consider, this day, how and when and where we will be with Jesus in a way that empowers and enables us to do things for Jesus.  Let us not allow the "many things" to distract us from the "one thing."

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.