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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 worki...

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



a question for the new year

“He was in the world, and thought the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:10-12)  

It all starts with recognizing.  So much of the spiritual life revolves around what we recognize and what we don’t.  We cannot receive someone (or something), if we do not first recognize that they are there.  And the receiving is vital to the believing and the becoming.

So maybe the question we should ask, as we come to the end of one year and the beginning of the next, is “What, O Lord, do you want us to recognize?”  How do we need to recognize what God has been up to over the year gone by, and how do we need to recognize what he wants to do in the year ahead?  How has God been at work within and around us?  What people or things or events brought us to life?  And what disrupted or disturbed us?  What dysfunctional patterns and habits need to be broken, and what godly habits and practices need to be cultivated?

For how can we ever hope to take God up on his constant invitation to a deeper, fuller, richer life, if we don’t stop and recognize, both the life we are currently living, and the life he longs to live in and through us?  So, let’s take some time over the next days and weeks to do just that.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

grace and truth

grace and truth
are not contrary
but complimentary
not opposites
but two parts of
a beautiful whole
 
they must be held
together in union
to have their full
power and efficacy
 
grace without truth
is only pretense
a cheap nicety
civility at the expense
of substance and depth
 
while truth without grace
is merely brutality
disguised as goodness
a dangerous weapon
in the hands of a child
 
one without the other
is incomplete
both are essential
in order to live
the way we were
intended to

Sunday, December 27, 2020

submission

If I’m totally honest, I have to admit that all too often I set the agenda and expect God to act accordingly.  But that’s not how life with Jesus works, just ask Joseph and Mary. (Luke 2:41-50) He is the one who plans the itinerary, not me.  I am called to follow him, not vice versa.  It’s funny how often I get that backwards.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

simeon and anna

Of all the people in the temple that day, only two noticed.  What was it about Simeon and Anna that made them different?  Was it their age and wisdom?  Was it their experience, the fact that they had both seen a lot of life come and go?  Surely there were others in the temple that day who were the same age.  Or was it simply the fact that they were both watching and waiting?  They were both longing to see the consolation and redemption of God’s people.  They were not so wrapped up in their own needs and concerns that they failed to notice what was right before their eyes.  They were paying attention, while the rest of the world was not.  Somehow they were able to see the Savior wrapped in swaddling clothes.

O Lord, help us to be like Simeon and Anna.  Help us to live our lives with our eyes peeled for your arrival, within and among us.  Help us to not get so caught up in our own issues and agendas that we miss your coming, this day and every day.  For you are ever and always the God who comes.  Come, Lord Jesus!

Friday, December 25, 2020

light

the light shines
in the darkness
and the darkness
has not overcome it

has not
cannot
will not

do not be surprised
however
when darkness
puts up
a hell of a fight

just remember
that light wins

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

joy to the world

let every heart
prepare him room 

easier said than done

slow down
declutter
let go
make space
take time
prepare a place
pay attention
open the door
welcome him in
receive your king

joy to the world



“Let every heart prepare him room.”  The preparing of our hearts to receive our King is no easy matter; it is something that will take both thought and effort on our part.  It will not just happen on its own; we will need both intention and discretion.  There are things we will need to let go of and things we will need to hold on to.  It will mean having to say “no” to some people and things, in order to say “yes” to the One who comes and makes his dwelling among us.  It will take some decluttering and some rearranging.  It will take some sitting still and some being silent.  It will take the making of space and the taking of time.  It will take open hands and longing hearts.  After all, what good is the bringing of joy into our world, if the world is not paying attention?


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

out with the old

My Dear Child,

Why do you hold on so tightly to those old and familiar ways of being that stifle and limit and hinder my life within you?  Why do you refuse to let go of those old patterns and habits, in order that you might finally experience the newness and the life and the freedom I so desperately want for you?  You can’t have your cake and eat it too.  You can’t keep holding on to the old and expect to be able to receive the new.  Receiving requires open hands.  Thus, letting go is a prerequisite.

I know the old is warm and comfortable, but it has such a low ceiling.  Every attempt at life and growth and freedom will lead to you hitting your head on that which you are unwilling to part with.  I want so much more for you than that.  What are you so afraid of?  Just trust me.


Love,
Abba

Monday, December 21, 2020

a new thing

“See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 42:19) 

We live in a day and age when we are between the first and the second advents.  Meaning, we live at a time when God has come, God is continually coming, and God will come again.  The reason that’s significant is because we do not just sit idly by and wait for some distant day when God will finally arrive and make all things right and whole once again, we keep our eyes peeled and our hearts attentive to what God is doing here and now, both within us and among us.  Jesus told us himself that, “My Father is always at his work.” (John 5:17)  Thus, God is always coming into our lives and our world in new and beautiful ways, if only we have eyes to see it.  There is already a new thing that he is doing, our job is to perceive it, embrace it, and enter in to it.  This very day, God is saying, “I am here.  I am at work.  I am doing something new and beautiful within and among you.  Join me!”  God has come, God is coming, God will come—it’s the beauty of Advent.  

Sunday, December 20, 2020

new things

When God talks about “making all things new,” (Rev. 21:5) he is not necessarily talking about new in time (neos), although that may be true as well, but new in quality (kainos).  That’s why he says, “I am making all things new,” rather than, “I am making all new things.”  It is a subtle, but significant difference.  And one that we would do well to pay attention to. 

For if we take “the old is gone and the new (kainos) has come” (2 Cor. 5:17) in the quantitative (neos) sense, we will have the wrong idea about what is really happening.  We will be looking outside ourselves, rather than looking within.  We will be expecting something to come out of the blue, rather than something to grow deep in the soil of our soul.  

But if we take this newness in the qualitative (kainos) sense, we are much more likely to be able to see what God is really up to, and embrace it.  God is making us qualitatively different; not from the outside in, but from the inside out.  That's how the life of the Spirit works.  And I, for one, am so grateful.  There is something really beautiful about a God who cares about the quality of my life.  A God who is constantly forming new things in me that are more beautiful than I could ever imagine or dream about.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

zechariah's prayer

luke 1:67-79

my son

my dear one
how long i have waited
for the day of your arrival

and even now
on the very day 
of your birth
i must already
begin to learn
how to let you go

for you do not belong to me
but to the one who formed
and made you
the one who
dreamt you into being
the one for whom
you must
even now
begin to prepare the way

so my job
as your dad
is not to hold onto you
but to let you go
and to allow you to become
all that he made you to be

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

what's it going to take

luke 1:18-19

what’s it going to take
for you to fully believe
that what I say about you
is really true

i sent angels
i performed miracles
i spoke through prophets
i even sent my son

what more can i do


O Lord, forgive me when I allow life’s circumstances to make me doubt the goodness of your heart.  Forgive me when I let the voices around me and within me determine my value and my worth, rather than your unfailing love.  O Lord, what’s it going to take for me to really believe that what you say is really true?  Lord, have mercy.  Amen.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

she said yes

“I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)  

So God came to a teenage girl and asked her to do what was unimaginable.  And low and behold, she said, “Yes!”  From that moment on, everything about her life was totally out of her control.  She placed herself completely in God’s hands.  And in the days and years that followed, that pattern would continually repeat itself; Mary’s big yes to God, would be followed by a million other yeses.  Each and every day she would be asked to surrender and to trust.

That’s the way life with God works.  He comes to us, asks for our yes, and then the rest of our lives is simply a matter of trust and surrender.  We do not get to dictate or control what our yes means.  We do not get to determine the terms and conditions of our yes.  Yes simply means yes.  We are his servants, not he ours.

So listen carefully.  God is asking for a yes from you and me as well.  What will our answer be?

O Lord, give me the strength and the grace and the courage to say yes to you today, whatever you may be asking.  Amen.

Friday, December 11, 2020

emmanuel

most often you come
in ways few would notice
not high and holy
but meek and lowly

a stable
a manger
a star
a teenage girl

small and quiet
hidden and lowly
humble and obscure

as if you wanted
to slip into your world
unnoticed

except by those
paying careful
attention

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

made perfect

heb. 2:10

what was it
about suffering
that made you perfect
for they seem
such odd bedfellows
yet in you the two
became one

was there something
in the lowering
and the emptying
and the taking on
of our flesh
that was necessary
for your becoming
or was it merely
the truest expression
of who you really are

was it something
about the sharing
of our humanity
that made you perfect
a desired union that
only shared suffering
could accomplish

whatever the case
if you were made
perfect through suffering
how could we expect it
to be any different
for each of  us

help us to accept
your invitation
to allow suffering
to do its work
in our hearts
and souls as well

Friday, December 4, 2020

return

mark 13:32-37

when i return
what condition
will my house be in

will you be
running around
picking clothes
up off the floor

quickly trying
to do the dishes
or fix the broken
shutters

frantically stuffing things
into closets
and underneath
the beds

or will you be ready
for my return
because all along
you lived as if 
today were the day

Thursday, December 3, 2020

bridegroom

     matt. 25:6


will you be ready
when i come to you
today

for i am always
coming

will you have oil
for you lamp

will you be awake
and alert

will you come
out to meet me

or will you be
so consumed
by your own
issues and agendas
that you miss me
completely

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

light

you come
into our darkness
and we are finally
able to see

you illumine
and you uncover
you reveal
and you expose

by you we see
all that is beautiful
and all that is terrible

and we are invited
to become like you