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A Practical Guide
to Everyday Spirituality
Laurie Beth Jones
This book is dedicated
to my grandmother Frances Jones Saunders,
who taught me about poise,
to my grandfather Joseph Saunders,
who taught me about
My mother Irene Jones
to seek a life filled with
and my father
Robert Jones taught me that I was worthy
I want to especially remember
my grandmother Irene Potters,
who made sure that I had
a constant supply
of blue jeans
while growing up.
Jesus in Blue Jeans completes the trilogy which was begun with Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership in 1995, and continued with the second book, The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life, in 1996. The title of this third book reflects my personal journey as well, going from a full-time, “workaholic” businesswoman intent on profits and high productivity, to someone forced to take a time-out and evaluate her Path, to a person who is perhaps happiest in her blue jeans on her ranch in Texas.
In some ways this book also reflects the evolution of a generation. Those who were taught in the 1980s to acquire as much as possible with OPM (Other People’s Money) were suddenly forced in the early 1990s to take a time-out, as the houses of cards we created with OPM collapsed into DYAM (Debts: Yours and Mine). As the new millennium hurtles toward us, many of us have either been forced through downsizing (or have given ourselves permission through “rightsizing”) to spend more time in our blue jeans and less time in the office. One of the great gifts of technology has been the flexibility to choose where we want to be while we conduct our businesses, interact with our families and communities, and utilize our gifts. We just need to know more about who we want to be while we are doing this, and that is a question technology can never answer. For this endeavor, I turn once again to Jesus, a person who knew how to combine the heavenly with the earthly, and maintain his balance.
In Jesus, CEO, I reminded leaders that if they treated their staff, followers, and associates the way that Jesus treated his, productivity and morale would soar. In The Path I presented a series of simple yet in-depth exercises that would help lead readers to their divinely inspired mission statement. Both books became national bestsellers, and spurred individual and corporate study groups worldwide.
Since traveling the country teaching principles from both books, people have come forward and asked, “Could you write a book that would just help me with my everyday life? What more could you write about Jesus that will help me just get through the day?”
As I pondered strengths in Jesus that helped him live so triumphantly, I found that there were four qualities that we, too, can emulate: Poise, Perspective, Passion, and Power.
In each titled section I present chapters detailing how he lived out these qualities. At the end of each chapter I have a prayer called Power Connections, because to me that is what prayer really is—a powerful connection with the Source of our being.
Trying to divide Christ’s teachings into sections is like trying to put your arms around the sunlight. To the heart that needs no lines or boundaries, these section headings will merge into one. (To Rick, my editor, however, this arrangement looks like a highly organized package.) The most important thing for readers to recognize is that Jesus had an everyday life, just like you and I, and we, too, can learn the principles that guided his steps.
When I remember my first encounter with Jesus, it seemed that his eyes were like diamonds held up to the sun—casting light in a thousand directions. I pray that the words in this book will somehow do the same.
Many years ago I dreamed that I was standing in a meadow. Suddenly I saw a man approaching me. As he got nearer I gasped to realize that it was Jesus in Blue Jeans. When he saw the expression on my face he said, “Why are you surprised? I came to them wearing robes because they wore robes. I come to you in blue jeans because you wear blue jeans.”
I fell in love with him at that moment. There is something so familiar—and so powerful—about a man in jeans.
In your patience possess ye your souls.
Luke 21:19 (King James Version)
poise: (poiz), n., v.,—n. i. a state of balance or equilibrium, as from equality or equal distribution of weight. 2. a dignified, self-confident manner or bearing; composure; self-possession 3. steadiness, stability. 4. the way of being poised, held, or carried 5. the state or position of hovering—v.t. 6. to adjust, hold, or carry in equilibrium; balance evenly
—Random House Webster’s College Dictionary
Poise is a red-winged blackbird balancing ever so lightly on a reed by the river. The bird rests on this perch effortlessly, ready to take flight at a moment’s notice, scanning the sky for its next destination—ever mindful of its wings.
By contrast many of us seem to picture ourselves hanging on to a frail branch extending over a dark canyon, our fingernails deeply embedded in the bark as we glance fearfully down at the rocks below—almost certain we will fall to our doom unless someone or something comes to rescue us.
“I’ve only got one nerve left, and you’re standing on it!” seems to be the motto of our generation. A truck cuts us off in a lane of traffic and we let loose a string of obscenities, and the next thing we hear is a bullet crashing through our window and we turn to find that the child in the car seat behind us is dead. True story. We lose our balance in a retail store—or in a relationship at home or work—and the next thing you know fists or lawsuits or bullets are flying, each side determined to prove the other wrong.
In this country lawyers outnumber counselors ten to one. Prisons are going up faster than day-care centers. Divorce courts require metal detectors before former lovers can even face each other. Churches in the South are being burned to the ground and too many churches all over the world are burning people to the bone with their harsh, divisive words. All because we have lost our poise, and our sense of balance—the balance Jesus came to teach us. He came to teach us how to stand tall, and bend our knees, and when to do both. He came to teach us how to bear insults without returning them in kind. He came to teach us how to live with one another and ourselves.
Jesus came to teach us poise—to make us ever mindful of our wings and God’s clear open sky.
He Groomed Himself Properly
One day when I was ten years old, I came home from school to discover that Harriet, my pet duck, had drowned. Not only had she drowned, but she had done so in the backyard pond I had so lovingly prepared for her. My parents were as saddened and baffled by her death as I, so they summoned our vet to the scene. “Was it a homicide or a suicide?” we asked, looking at the victim. “Neither,” he replied, lifting up her small waterlogged body. “This duck did not groom herself properly. You see, ducks have to coat themselves with a special waterproofing oil that is produced beneath their wings. For some reason, she didn’t, so when she started swimming, her feathers took on water, and she sank like a stone.”
Just as ducks depend upon a unique oil that allows them to be “in” yet not “of” the water, we, too, need to cover ourselves with a grooming oil in order to be “in” yet not “of” the world. We need to daily cover ourselves with prayer, praise, and poised reminders of who we are both to—and in—God.
Jesus groomed himself properly. I think he did so by immersing himself in scriptures—especially those that speak of God’s love and high holy calling. “My soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with the garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.”—Isaiah 61:10
Paul admonished us to “put on the whole armor of God.” We need to cover ourselves with a protective coating that will serve us as we venture out into the a world that is filled with negative forces. Many of us who wouldn’t dream of going to the beach without sunblock will go days, weeks, and months without prayer.
Author Diane Loomans has a wonderful opening exercise in her book Full Esteem Ahead, which she co-wrote with her daughter Julia. While brushing her daughter’s hair one hundred strokes, she whispers to her with each stroke how wonderful and original and unique and humorous and powerful and creative she is. Although oftentimes the girl will drift asleep during the process, it is clear from looking at her face that she has heard every word. By grooming her daughter properly with absolute love, Diane has seen to it that the girl is not likely to drown in a pool of depression or self-doubt when she hits a negative world.
When I was about to embark on my first book tour promoting Jesus, CEO, I asked a number of people to pray for me. The day before I left dear friends of mine brought over some holy water from Jerusalem. They anointed my forehead with it, saying, “May you think the thoughts of God.” They then anointed my lips and said, “May you speak the words of God.” They made the sign of the cross over my heart and prayed, “May you feel the love of God.” When I opened my eyes I felt “groomed.” Their prayers and blessings had covered me with oil.
The following is one of my favorite passages of “grooming oil”:
Yahweh created me when his purpose first unfolded,
before the oldest of his works.
From everlasting I was firmly set,
from the beginning, before earth came into being.
The deep was not, when I was born,
there were no springs to gush with water.
Before the mountains were settled,
before the hills, I came to birth;
before he made the earth, the countryside,
or the first grains of the world’s dust.
When he fixed the heavens firm, I was there.
When he drew a ring on the surface of the deep,
when he thickened the clouds above,
when he fixed fast the springs of the deep,
when he assigned the sea its boundaries,
when he laid down the foundations of the earth,
I was by his side, a master craftsman,
delighting him day after day,
ever at play in his presence,
at play everywhere in his world,
delighting to be with the sons of men.
THE NEW JERUSALEM BIBLE
By repeating this and other scriptures to himself, Jesus was covering himself with the holy anointing oil of God’s strength and love.
He groomed himself properly.
What protective coating do you apply to your mind, your heart, your soul, every day?
What scriptures are your anointing oil?
Who else are you “waterproofing” with words? Which words are you using?
What other scriptures might Jesus have used to groom himself?
Dear Lord, guide me with the renewal of my heart and mind in You. Help me remember to take Your words of love and power and protection and blessing, and groom my mind and heart with them, so that I may think the thoughts of Christ, feel the love of Christ, and speak the words of Christ, in my every action. Help me cover myself with the oil of Your love so that I, too, can be “at play everywhere in your world, delighting to be with the children of God.” Remind me to draw from under my wings that oil of Your love which will keep me afloat in this world, and in the world to come.
I,——————, groom myself properly.
He Did Not Whine—He Hummed
During a trip to speak at a convention in Hawaii, I found myself a passenger in a car with Alan and Honey Becker, my friends and sponsors for the event. On this particular day the traffic was unbearable. Workers were rebuilding a section of the highway, and cars were moving only three feet every ten minutes. It was also very hot, and you could see that tempers were beginning to flare in the drivers who were caught, like us, in the traffic jam. I felt my head begin to pound and began thinking of getting out of the car to walk up ahead and “exhort” the slow highway workers. We turned off the air conditioner and rolled down the windows to keep the car from overheating. Suddenly I noticed that Alan had begun to hum. He was humming while I was fuming. When I asked him what he was doing, he explained, “I was trying to see if the engine in that truck beside us is idling in the key of C or the key of D.” Surprised by this unusual approach to unbearable traffic sounds, soon each of us in the car was humming—trying to match the traffic noise. It actually became fun!
I believe that Jesus hummed and did so often—as, for example, when he walked through the fields of lilies. I believe Jesus may also have even been humming on his way to visit Lazarus’ tomb, even though the waiting women were frantic at his tardiness. He was humming because he knew what he was going to do, and he had serene confidence in the face of the difficult task that awaited him. “Father, I thank you for hearing my prayer, just like you always do.”—John 11:41. Because Jesus knew who he was, he could hum. He may have been humming before he turned the water into wine, or as he broke the loaves of bread that fed the five thousand, or even as he faced a furious Pontius Pilate.
In Herbert Benson’s book, The Relaxation Response, the Harvard-trained physician documents that the act of focusing the mind on a single sound or image brings about a physiological change that is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response. Studies show that heart rate, respiration, and brain waves actually slow down, muscles relax, and stress-related hormones diminish.
Athletes are trained to hum prior to and during events so that they will not leave room for negative thoughts or fear. Joan of Arc is said to have hummed in prison, and it drove her captors crazy. Who of us can ever forget the news reports of little Jessica, trapped in a deep well in Texas, humming to herself while her parents wept and the rescue team struggled furiously to free her? Humming made her desperate situation more tolerable and brought her comfort.
Humming is also a sign of creativity. Recently a producer overheard one of the workers at a major studio in New York humming. Low on funds, and time, he asked if she wrote music. When she said she did, he hired her to come up with his movie’s theme song. Her humming led to a career burst of new possibilities.
Some synonyms for “hum” in Rodale’s Synonym Finder are throb, buzz, purr, zoom, sing, croon, whisper, move, stir, bustle, move briskly, scintillate, vibrate, pulse, pulsate, quiver.
Don’t you think we need more of that kind of energy in the world? Bees hum while they work, and few insects in the animal kingdom produce such sweet results. Some of the fastest birds in the world are, after all, hummingbirds.
I propose that we encourage more humming in our homes, classes, religious institutions, and the workplace. Humming gets us into a mental zone of both creating and receiving ideas. I personally find that I cannot write unless I first begin to hum.
When we find ourselves in difficult situations, perhaps we shouldn’t whine, but hum, like Jesus did.
“The water I give becomes a perpetual spring within you, welling up into eternal life.”—John 4:14
How often do you hum?
How can humming help your blood pressure?
Why and when could humming be an effective strategy
- for success?
- for stress reduction?
- for driving your tormentors crazy?
Dear Lord, help me match my tone to Your confidence in a situation. Help me first hear Your tone, and then hum along wherever I am.
I, ——————, hum.
He Sought Common Ground
In coming to earth Jesus was seeking common ground with us. By walking in handmade leather sandals and scraping his knuckles while lining up a plank in his father’s carpentry shop and feeling the slight tingle of wine at the wedding feasts, he was seeking common ground with us. Had he appeared draped in armor and displaying a halo the size of the rings of Saturn, he would, perhaps, have impressed more people. But then their conversion would have been based on awe and fear, rather than on the relationship he wanted, which was love. He did not come to earth hurling thunderbolts (though his disciples urged him to do so). He did not point out the numerous flaws, sins, and inadequacies of those around him (though they were obvious to many). He sought common ground with people so that he could reach them, and teach them, and love them, where they were. He even learned their language in a desire to communicate clearly and effectively. He used the words they used. He sang the songs they sang. He dressed like they dressed. He wore blue jeans.
In the Simon Wiesenthal Museum in Los Angeles there is a display in which visitors are asked to identify three ways that certain human figures sketched on a board are different. This exercise is easy: Race and sex automatically answer two of the three. Then viewers are asked to identify sixteen things these figures have in common. This exercise takes more time, and most people quickly tire of it and walk away. It does not take a genius to see what makes individuals different, but it does require wisdom and patience to determine what different people have in common.
Even the apostle Paul, a man probably not known for his natural charm, stated that he endeavored to find common ground with an audience before preaching to them. In Philippians 2:1, he exhorts his listeners to “remember the Spirit that we have in common. Be united to your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind.” In John 17:11, Jesus himself prays over and over again “that the people may be one, like you and I are one.” He also clearly said that the way others would recognize that we were his disciples would be by the love we have for one another, not by the relative merits of our strengths versus their weaknesses. “He who looks down on his neighbor sins,” advises Proverbs 14:21. When any person or group looks down on others, casting moral judgments, they are making themselves “wrong.”
Diplomatic negotiations proceed much faster when every participant has an understanding of the common needs, values, and ideas of the other parties involved. “Judge your fellow guests’ needs by your own. Be thoughtful in every way.”—Ecclesiasticus 31:15 (New Jerusalem Bible). Jesus in blue jeans would not be looking for obvious differences among people but would search for the common ground—in conversation, in thought, in interests, in goals, and in values. Guideposts magazine recently shared an article about a middle-class woman who, by reason of bankruptcy, found herself suddenly living in a ghetto neighborhood. Frightened at first, she soon wondered how God could use her to make a connection with people whose everyday lives were plagued by drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and drive-by shootings. She began by inviting the local women (some of them admitted prostitutes) for coffee every morning. Wary at first, one by one they began to gather. She found that what all these women had in common was an intense desire for a better life for their children. It was on this foundation that she actually built a church without walls. She sought, and found common ground with them, and several families’ lives were changed. This would not have happened without her focusing on what could be shared, rather than why she was scared.
Differences will always make themselves apparent. It is up to us to search for and recognize the silent, pervasive, and important things we have in common. Only then can heart-to-heart communication occur. It is said that former President Jimmy Carter was able to negotiate the bloodless surrender of the dictator in Haiti because he appealed to his sense of honor and love for his country—qualities Carter was able to discover in a man others saw only as egotistical and self-serving. In many verses of the New Testament the apostles exhort the new believers to remember:
“In this life one’s nationality or race or education is unimportant. Such things mean nothing… let love guide your life.”
“Be tactful with those who are not [like you] and be sure you make the best use of your time with them. Talk to them agreeably and with a flavor of wit, and try to fit your answers to the needs of each one… [because]… In Christ’s image there is no room for distinction between Greek or Jew… There is only Christ. He is everything and he is in everything. The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts… The eye cannot say to the hand, I do not need you… For we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body, and we were all given the one Spirit to drink…”
—COLOSSIANS 3:11, 14, GALATIANS 3:28,
1 CORINTHIANS 12:4–26
He sought common ground.
List sixteen things you and your current adversary have in common.
How could you use that as a foundation for peacemaking?
Pick a person or a group you are afraid of. Write down all the things you have in common.
Dear Lord, please help me see what I have in common with those I consider my adversaries, or those whom I fear. Help me remember that Your sun shines on us all, that each of us are recipients of Your Grace, and each of us have important places in Your Ultimate Design. Help me see You in them, and help me be You to them.
Amen, and Amen.
I,——————, seek common ground.
He Did Not Take Things Personally
Jesus did not take the insults and accusations of the scribes and the Pharisees personally. He saw their words as emanating from impure hearts, so he didn’t agonize over the mud they slung. He knew their bitterness was rooted in their own misery and not caused by him. He concentrated on his mission, despite their insults. His refusal to take their attacks personally extended even unto death. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
In his poem “The Wood-Pile” Robert Frost describes his experience of walking through a forest. “A small bird flew before me. He was careful / To put a tree between us when he lighted,/… He thought that I was after him for a feather—/ The white one in his tail; like the one who takes / Everything said as personal to himself.” Frost finds the self-centeredness of the bird amusing, as if in the entire forest there is only one thing worth seeing or having—that bird’s tail feather. Yet haven’t we all encountered people like that, people who seem to think that every comment or action exists for the sole purpose of doing them harm?
A friend of mine had a boss who used to spend hours every day monitoring everyone’s phone calls. Newly appointed to his position, he was sure that the team was now out to get him and would use every opportunity to make him look bad. Granted, the team did not care for him much, but the truth was, their phone calls did not concern him at all—or contained only the slightest references to him, as one might wave off a fly at a picnic. I remember once being offended because a man sitting next to me on a plane seemed unresponsive to my jokes. Only when we were exiting did I realize that he was deaf.
Maturity is realizing that we are not the center of the world… or the office… or the team. Maturity is realizing that not every word spoken or action taken centers around—or is directed toward—us.
- On Sale
- Jul 19, 2011
- Page Count
- 336 pages
- Hachette Books