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Book of the Month: Schola Caritatis: Learning the Rhythms of God's Amazing Love

  Starting a new feature for the next several months called Book of the Month.  I will present one of my books and tell you a little of the ...

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

glorify your name

I don’t know about you, but I am amazed at how often I pray, “Father, save me from this hour,” rather than, “Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27-28) It shows me where my true allegiances lie.  I am much more committed to my own comfort and ease than I am to God being glorified in my life and world.  It’s really pretty sad.

Life with God is about absolute surrender and total abandonment.  My problem is that I want a little bit of surrender and partial abandonment, which is impossible.  Surrender doesn’t really happen if I am holding anything back.  And abandonment that is partial, is not really abandonment at all. 

Jesus is trying to move me form a “less of me, more of him” mentality, to a “none of me, all of him” mindset.  That’s why he said, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground AND DIES,” (John 12:24) rather than, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and becomes less.”  The death of self is a necessity in glorifying God.  Jesus did it, and calls us to do the same.  We must die to self, in order to live in God.  There is no half way.

O Lord, forgive me when I care more about my own comfort than I do about your glory.  Give me the strength and the grace and the courage to pray, with Jesus, “Father, glorify your name!”  Amen.

Monday, March 29, 2021

abundance or scarcity

When we have been captured by the abundance of Divine Love, we have no choice but to offer abundance in return.  What else can we do?  We have been so overcome and overwhelmed that the only possible response is overflow.  It is the way we were made.  If we live out of abundance, we will offer abundance.  If we live out of scarcity, all we can offer is scarcity. 

Mary is a prime example. (John 12:1-8) She is so overwhelmed and overcome by the love of Jesus that her heart overflows with a grand and extravagant gesture of uninhibited love in return.  That’s the way love works.  “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Thus, she takes the treasured contents of her alabaster jar and pours it all out on the feet of Jesus.

Judas, on the other hand, is operating out of the scarcity of self.  Therefore, all he has to offer is criticism.  He does not understand the heart that has been seized by the power of the Great Affection.  Thus, his heart is a mass of fear, anxiety, and insecurity.  That’s what pours out.  His life has become nothing more than a desperate grasping for what he cannot ultimately reach.  It’s is quite a contrast: abundance or scarcity.

What about you?  Where do you see yourself in this story?  Which person best describes your life these days?  Are you living out of the abundance of God’s unfailing love, or out of the scarcity of your own limited resources?  And if you are not sure, just take a look at what’s overflowing from your life; that will give you a pretty good indication. 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

go be you

In this life, from time to time,
you will be tempted to think:
What in the hell is wrong with me?
Why can’t I be everything that others
expect and demand me to be?

The answer is easy:
It’s because you’re not supposed to be.
You see, you are my masterpiece;
I made you beautifully and uniquely.
There has never been,
and there will never be,
another you.

I imagined you into being;
I dreamt you into existence.
Before anything else was made
you were an idea in my mind.
An idea that brought
a smile to my lips
and joy to my heart.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made,
so do not allow the circumstances of this life,
or the voices of this world,
to cause you to question yourself.
Never doubt your value and worth,
for you are priceless to me.
And someday others will see that.

You just go be you.

palm sunday 2021

 Lord Jesus, it's Palm Sunday.  And once again you invite us to follow you to the cross and beyond.  It will require much of us, but not as much as it required of you.  Give us the strength and the grace and the courage to lay down what needs to die in us, so that it might make room for the new life to come.  And, in the words of a wise saint, "Forgive us for the shallowness of our faith and the timidity of our following: forgive us for the ready excuses we make for going our own way and claiming it as yours.  Amen.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

as it is in heaven

“On earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)  What an absolutely beautiful, albeit often overlooked, phrase.  And what a beautiful prayer; one that I am going to start praying for the people in my life and world today. 

What a beautiful vision for what life and ministry could, and should, look like.  Everything becoming all it was intended to be: true shalom, wholeness, flourishing. 

And we are invited to be participants, as well as agents, in that process.  Living whole lives and bringing that wholeness, health, and peace into our world.  Rolling back the effects of the fall and ushering in a way of being that is closer to what God had in mind. 

Thus, “On earth as it is in heaven,” becomes for us a model for life, a model for prayer, and a model for ministry.  Thanks be to God!

Thursday, March 25, 2021


There is a big difference between letting go of the things we hold onto and being released from the things that hold onto us.  Both are a necessary part of the spiritual journey, but the dynamics of each is quite different.  Both involve the idea of release—on the one hand releasing, and on the other, being released from.  But one places the ball firmly in our court—by the grace of God—and the other involves something that is completely out of our hands.  For example, you can let go of something that has a hold on you, but that still doesn’t let you go.  It still doesn’t offer you true freedom; that takes a power outside of yourself.  To some degree you control letting go, but you have little to no control over being let go of.  That takes an act of God.

That’s where redemption comes in.  In its purest form, redemption means to be bought back out of the bonds of slavery.  It means to be released, to be set free.  Thus, redemption is a work of God, not something we can do for ourselves, which puts us in a place of powerlessness, helplessness, dependence, and vulnerability.  A place where God does some of his very best work.  Redemption has nothing to do with how strong and capable we are.  It has nothing to do with how hard we try.  It depends totally on the strength of our God.  What if most of our problems in the spiritual journey come from trying to do for ourselves what only God can do for us?  

For instance, Psalm 103 doesn’t say, “I pulled myself up out of the pit," or "I figured out how to climb out of the pit,” but, “He redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion.” (Psalm 103:4) Thanks be to God, who does something for us that we cannot do ourselves—he redeems us!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you alone can redeem us.  Forgive us when we keep trying to redeem ourselves.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

coming soon

 Here's a little sample from a new book I've been working on called Fall in Love with Me: Love Letters from Jesus.  Hoping it will be out in the next month or so.


“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.  Then he said to him, “Follow me.” ~John 21:18-19



My Beloved,

At times I am going to ask hard things of you, just as my Father asked hard things of me.  Don’t be surprised.  The test of your love will be in whether or not you are willing to be led to places you would rather not go.  Ultimately, Beloved, life with me is about stretching out your hands in trust and surrender.  It is a life of submission and abandonment to my will and my direction, rather than clinging to your own.  It is a life of following me wherever I lead, even if those places look hard, scary, and undesirable.  You must always remember, Beloved, that this life is not about you, but about me.  As you grow and mature, you will understand that more and more.

My deepest desire is that you reach the point where you love me so much that you are able to say, “Lord Jesus, I am willing to go wherever you want me to go and willing to do whatever you want me to do.  I’ll do anything for you.”  That’s what it looks like when you truly fall in love with me.





Write a letter to Jesus, telling him all that is in your heart.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Thursday, March 18, 2021

do you want to get well

john 5:6

when the love of God
and our brokenness collide
beauty is born 
healing and redemption happen
restoration takes place

the love of God
has the power to
make us well
and whole and free
if we are willing
to let it

do you want to get well

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

lost and found

The fifteenth chapter of Luke could easily be entitled, Lost and Found.  Whether one hundred sheep or ten coins or two sons, in each case one is lost and is in need of finding.  And, as the dust settles on the chapter, we are left with one lost son standing before his father, but not the one we might imagine.  This lost son actually thinks he is found, which is the point of the whole chapter.  Jesus is talking with the Pharisees, making a point about who is lost and who is found.  And in this particular story the “lost” is found and the “found” is actually lost.  It is an interesting dynamic, to say the least. 

Which makes the moral of the story this: If you do not know you are lost, then you have no idea you are in need of being found.  Thus, a significant part of the spiritual journey involves a continual recognition of our lost-ness.  One of the biggest dangers for those of us who have once been found is to lose touch with the ways we are still lost—and they are many.  It is knowing our extreme need that makes us aware of the ridiculous magnificence of grace.  For even though we have been found, we all still get lost in our lives from time to time.  Thus, we are in need of being found over and over and over again.  It is a humbling place to be, but a really good place to be.  In fact, this place of dependence and need creates some of the most fertile soil for God to do his work in and through us.

The interesting part is that we are not told how this story ends.  I guess that’s because we have to write that part.  Will we go into the father’s house and join the celebration, or will we stay outside?  Will we be found, or will we remain lost?  The choice is up to us. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021


you have scattered your
favors to foreign gods
under every spreading tree...
return, faithless people,
for i am your husband.
(jer. 3:13-14)

o my bride
my church
i am your God
your husband
your lover 

i made you for myself
that i might give myself to you
and you might give yourself to me
in a sacred romance
of union and intimacy
beyond your wildest dreams

but you have turned away
you have given
the most intimate
parts of yourself
to other lovers

you have given your
attention and affection
to foreign gods
who cannot love you
the way i do

i see you
giving yourself to them
under every green tree
thinking they have something
to offer you
that i do not

scattering your favors
among them
as if they were worth nothing

o my love
my bride
what shall i do with you
you have broken my heart

how i long to be
the focus of all your love
the object of
your deepest affections

how i long for you
to return to our bed
that i might show
my love to you once again.

but i will not share you
with another
i will not compete
for your love

you must leave
your other lovers
and return to me

return to me
my love
my bride
for i am
your one true love
Seasons by Jim Branch

Monday, March 8, 2021

do you want to get well?

It was called the House of Mercy for a reason, for it was one of the most broken places in all the city.  There a great multitude of disabled people used to lie: the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  And one man, in particular, had been there for thirty-eight years.  That’s a long time!  John does not tell us his name, but does tell us that the man was an invalid (astheneia), literally meaning one without strength.  Luckily for him, Jesus always shows up in the broken places—both then and now.

Jesus saw (eidō) him sitting there on his mat.  Oh, how long had it been since this man had been truly seen?  How long has it been since you have been truly seen?  Yet, Jesus saw into him, as he does into you.  He didn’t just see the brokenness of his body, but, more importantly, he saw the brokenness of his heart and soul.  And when he saw him and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, Jesus asked the man a question: “Do you want to get well?”  Or, literally, “Do you want to be whole?”  Which, on the surface, seems like a ridiculous question, but, in reality, is anything but that.  It is actually quite profound.  Not only profound then, but also profound now.  For all of us, like the strength-less man, are, deep within, resistant to change.  We have grown oddly comfortable in our brokenness, our dysfunction, and our sin.  So when Jesus asks us that question, he is really asking us: “Do you really want to get well?  I mean, really?”  He doesn’t ask this to shame us, but to awaken us to a quality of life and wholeness and freedom that he desires for us; one that life on the mat can never achieve.

“I have no one to help me,” replied the broken man, “whenever the water is stirred up someone else gets into the pool ahead of me.”  A telling answer to a profound question.  Luckily, Jesus was there to help.  He was there to make the broken whole again, even if the broken are resistant to the responsibilities of a changed, whole life.

“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk,” Jesus told the man.  “If you really want to be well, I can make you well.  But it will mean that you have to get up from where you are, pick up your mat, and walk.  If I make you well, you can’t simply return to life on the mat again.  You can’t simply return to your old ways of being and seeing; everything must change.  Life with me requires movement.  I want you to be healed and whole and free.  And immediately the man was healed; he picked up his mat, left his old ways, patterns, and dysfunctions behind, and started a whole new life. 

The bottom line in the spiritual life is that something must die within us, in order to make room for something beautiful to be born.  What is that for you?  What needs to die within you?  How do you need to get up?  What mat do you need to pick up?  What life do you need to leave behind?  And what beautiful thing does God want to do within you as a result?  God wants to do a work of healing, wholeness, freedom, and beauty within you, the only question is: “Do you want to get well?”

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

life from death

“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 12:24) 

The main question 
that Lent tends to ask us 
is this: What needs to die 
in me during this season, 
in order for something 
beautiful to be born?