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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 ...

Monday, March 28, 2022


“Wait (qāvâ) for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)

 We cannot force or manipulate or contrive our way into transformation, it is only something that can be done to us.  In other words, we cannot work for it, we must wait for it—which drives us crazy.

In the words of a wise saint: “Waiting is the missing link in the transformation process.”  No wonder so few of us experience real and lasting change; we hate to wait.  We are terrible at it.  We want to be in control of the process, but we aren’t.  All we can really do is make time and space for transformation to occur, the rest is up to the Spirit of God, who likes to do things in his own time and in his own way.

Maybe that’s why we need to be strong and take heart in the waiting, lest we get impatient and try to take matters into our own hands.  Because no matter how hard we try, we can’t make ourselves be born, only God can do that.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022



“Bop, ‘mon.” 

They are words uttered fairly often around my house these days, and words I dearly love.  They come from my almost two-year-old grandson, Cannon, as he reaches out to take my hand in his and lead me to some unknown destination.  It doesn’t matter where we are going, and it doesn’t matter what we are going to do once we get there.  It doesn’t even matter that my granddad name is supposed to be “Pop.”  I like “Bop” all the better, because it is coming out of his precious mouth.

The destination usually involves blocks, or trains, or the piano, or all of the above, but the destination is not important, it is the invitation that captures my heart.  It is simply the invitation to ‘Mon (come on) and be with me.  So I ‘mon, and I take his hand, and I let him lead me.  And whenever we get where we are going, I enjoy his presence and breathe in his fragrance and listen to his words and watch his fingers and run my hands through his hair and I kiss his cheeks.  It is the best!  May I never be too busy or too self-consumed or too distracted or too preoccupied to accept.

It is the same invitation I’m sensing from God these days: “Jim, ‘mon.  Come and be with me.  Take my hand and let me lead you to an unknown, but incredibly beautiful destination.  I want to be with you and I want you to be with me.  I want you to savor and enjoy and delight in this life we have together.  I want you to breathe in my fragrance and watch my hands and listen to my words of delight and affection.  You do not know the destination, but the destination isn’t really important.  It’s the being with me that matters.  So ‘Mon.” 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

die and become

dragon skins and fig leaves
myers-briggs profiles
and enneagram numbers
they are all just the same thing

cherished illusions
survival strategies
manufactured selves
protective coverings

subtle creations
of our own deepest
wounds and fears 
and needs


that is until the shell 
is cracked open
and we let go 
of the pretense
leaving the husk behind

it takes great courage to let go
because it feels like our death
which in some ways it really is
but to continue to live falsely
is a worse fate even still

for only when we let go
and die to all that is false
will we be truly free
to become all that God
dreamt us to be

Friday, March 11, 2022


“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.” (Psalm 130:5)

Until we learn how to “wait for the Lord,” there can never really be any real hope of genuine transformation, because we will constantly be trying to do it ourselves. We cannot manufacture or manipulate the process of holiness.  We must learn how to stop trying to make things happen and learn how to let things happen.  Until we stop trying to force or manipulate or control the process, we are destined for a life of frustration, futility, and failure.  Only God can transform, and only when we learn what it means to “wait for the Lord” can transformation become a real possibility for us.

Forgive me, O Lord, when I fail to wait for you; when I try to make things happen rather than letting them happen; when I try to force and control and manipulate things—or speed them up—rather than allowing them to unfold at your speed.  Help me to learn what it means to truly wait for you.  Amen.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

our father

“Our Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9)

The guiding image for prayer, Jesus tells us, is that of God as “Our Father.”  It is an image of strong, tender, and unfailing love.  Thus, our Father-God has a special affection for the sound of our voice; it brings him deep joy and gladness.  He longs for us to be near to him so he can breathe in our scent, delight over our features, run his hands through our hair, and press his lips to our cheeks.  It seems like that alone would be enough reason for us to want to pray.

O God, more than anything else you want us to know you as our Father.  Not a distant, disinterested, stern, or angry father, but the Father we always dreamt about in our wildest imaginations.  A Father that loving and strong, tender and true, present and attentive.  That is the kind of Father you are, and we are so grateful to be your children.


Friday, March 4, 2022

from i to I

“I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Any self that we create, contrive, or manufacture can only be a false one, because our truest self—the one made in the image of God—cannot be achieved, but only bestowed.  The problem is with all of the false selves that have so covered over the true self that we no longer have any idea what is real and what is make-believe.  We have lived with the mask for so long that it has become who we are.  Thus, what feels most true about us is likely only a survival strategy that has served us well to gain the applause, security, recognition, or safety we so desperately desire.

There is a Self, however, that was dreamt into being before the foundations of the world.  One that is who we truly are but has been so scattered and shattered and smothered and covered by sin and fear and doubt and insecurity that it is no longer recognizable, or even accessible.  A Self that is dead because of sin, until it is raised to new life again by the One who breathed it into being.  And then painstakingly restored to its creation intent through the long, slow work of the Holy Spirit within us, who peels away all of the false layers and cherished illusions that have accumulated through the years.  This is the work of sanctification—becoming who and what we were intended to be.  This is the work of spiritual formation—God restoring us to the good and beautiful works of art (masterpieces) he created long ago. 

     For it is only in Christ that we become all he intended us to be.  It is only when we are willing to die to all that is false, that room is made for the new and the true to be born.  All of the i’s of my own doing must be confronted and released, so that God can reveal to me the I that I really am.  My I becomes Christ; “It is no longer i who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

“As far as the Law is concerned I may consider that I died on the cross with Christ.  And my present life is not that of the old ‘I’, but the living Christ within me.” (JBP)

“My old self has been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (NLT)

“I have been crucified with Christ.  My ego is no longer central.  It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God.  Christ lives in me.” (MSG)

Tuesday, March 1, 2022


“Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she had been freed from her suffering.” (Mark 5:29)

We want things immediately, don’t we?  We want them as quickly and as easily—and as painlessly—as possible.  Unfortunately, the very best things in life, particularly in the spiritual life, rarely work that way; they take time.  They are often a part of a long, hard process that is necessary for our becoming.  Thus, while immediately might seem preferable, it is seldom best.

So when we run across the word “immediately” in a passage like Mark 5, it can create a bit of a false narrative if we are not careful.  A narrative in which we begin to believe that all healing must happen immediately, which fails to recognize that this particular healing had been twelve years in the making.  The bleeding woman, it seems, had to make a twelve-year journey “to the end of herself” before she was desperate enough to reach out for the healing touch of Jesus.  Something of great value was going on during those twelve years of exasperation and frustration.  God was up to something much deeper and much bigger and much more beautiful than she could imagine.  A short-cut would have circumvented that possibility altogether.

And so it is with each of us.  All too often we want our “healing” to happen immediately, as well.  We want to avoid the long and the hard.  The only problem is that when we desire what is easiest over what is best, we open ourselves up to the possibility that we might miss a much deeper work that God is trying to do.

Forgive us, Lord Jesus, when we demand that you act according to our timetable.  Forgive us when we accuse you of not caring, or of being absent, because you have failed to act immediately.  Help us, O Lord, to know that you are always about doing a deeper work.  You are more interested in our becoming than you are in our being comfortable.  Thank you for that.  Amen.