Do The Work :)

Welcome to Monday, the start of a work week for some of us, or the start of a school week for those who are students.  Wherever you find yourself on this day, there are things in front of you and me that we need to do.  Maybe you need to work on a school assignment, write a paper or study for a test.  Maybe you need to write some emails, craft a proposal, flip a hamburger, wash a toilet, load the dishwasher, drive to a soccer practice, grade some papers, manage a project, crunch some numbers, etc.  No matter what, all of us have stuff we need to do today – do the work.

And this is part of God’s design for each of us.  You and I are uniquely designed to participate in and accomplish things.  How we do such work is the real issue, even more than what we do.  So here are some helpful ideas about how we do our work:

  • work as unto the Lord and not to man – Colossians 3:23
  • keep a grateful heart – 1Thessalonians 5:18
  • stayed focused and eliminate distractions – Proverbs 4:25
  • maintain genuine love – 1Corinthians 16:14

Doing Difficult

As I parent my own teenagers, I am increasingly recognizing the boatloads of magnificent stuff my parents invested in me when I was growing up & I’m massively grateful!  Much of my appreciation for the Bible, beauty & creativity, as well as Holy Spirit can largely be attributed to my parents & their influence on me.  Additionally, my parents taught me heaps about doing what’s difficult, rather than shying away.

Do you have difficult things in your life?  Difficult things can include:  internal mindsets, challenging work situations, relationships, school classes, bad habits, etc.  Here are some verses that you could pray to help you do what’s difficult:

  • Phil 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengths me
  • 1John 4:4, Greater is He Who is in you than he that is in the world
  • 2Cor 2:14, God leads us into triumph
  • Rom 5:5, God’s love is poured into your heart through the Holy Spirit
  • James 1:5, Ask God for wisdom & He’ll give it to you liberally

Feel free to send this to anyone you know who could be struggling to do difficult things!

Easy or Hard?

I like the “easy button” and easy for me includes: washing dishes, ironing, international travel, languages, grocery shopping, simple cooking and reading my Bible.  In contrast, I don’t like to do stuff that’s hard, which includes:  getting in shape, seeing suffering babies, recovering from jet lag and being gracious rather than snarky.

No doubt, you have your own lists of things that are easy and hard.  But just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done or we shouldn’t try to do it.  I say this because of my morning Bible reading in Philippians 2:7, where Paul says about Jesus, “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”  This verse speaks to Jesus entering the human race, from start to finish, and experiencing human existence.  From my perspective, I would think that might have been difficult for Jesus to do – but He did it nonetheless.

If God asks you to do hard stuff, ask for divine Help and try!  Whethere something is hard or easy, let’s pre-decide to remain obedient and faithful to God!

Keep Getting Better!

I make a pretty good roast chicken, but this hasn’t always been true. Indeed, for countless years, my roast chickens were “dry & tasteless”, to quote one of my offspring. I tried lots of different things to make it taste better: stuffing the cavity w herbs, water in the pot w a lid & lots of other stuff. Alas, I almost quit trying, but I didn’t. Instead, I decided to try getting better even just by little steps.
I’m the type of person who wants to see big steps of progress & when I only see millimeters, I can get discouraged. So I want this blog to encourage you on little bits of better if you’re discouraged w the absence of giant leaps of progress. And remember that a little better can apply to heaps of areas in your life: exercise, discipline, Bible reading, relationships, school grades, etc.  Gal 6:9 🙂
And my giant leap progress for doing an awesome roast chicken happened when I cut out the backbone, seasoned both sides w salt / pepper & broiled it on the bottom rack 🙂
I no longer make dry & tasteless roast chicken 🙂

Ready for Christmas?

Now that Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror, Christmas is ready to take center stage. And with Christmas , come all the associated activities: decorating, parties, concerts, shopping, cookies, wrapping, etc. In the midst of the hub bub, let’s keep our hearts & focus attentive to Jesus. He’s a really quick video that could help you keep your focus on Jesus throughout this holiday season:

Too Much Gratitude

I don’t like cinnamon & this is only a recent development. Maybe I  don’t like cinnamon because at this time year, everything seems to have cinnamon: coffee, ice cream, apple cider, pies, smoothies, etc.
So it’s possible to overdose cinnamon, but I  don’t think it’s possible to overdo gratitude. Maybe we should think in terms of spreading thanksgiving throughout the year & not only a seasonal overdose. Feel free to leave a comment to express something or someone for which you’re grateful!

A Lavish Feast

Jesus told a parable about a rich dude who made an elaborate feast, with abundant food. The dude went to extravagant lengths to prepare, complete with invitations, massive amounts of food & loads of servants to facilitate this magnificent party. When the servants went out to let the invitees know that the party was ready for them to attend, none of the invited peeps showed up. This was very rude because the dude hosting the party had killed several animals to abundantly provide food for his party. Now, he’s stuck with all these provisions & no one to eat them. Rather than letting everything go to waste, the party host sent out his servants to invite anyone & everyone to come to his party.
Here are some important take aways for us from this parable:

  • God has made an extravagant feast for everyone – there’s more than enough!
  • As God’s servants, let’s keep inviting people to experience God’s lavish love for them
  • There’s room at the table for you, your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, . . . .
    “Come & Dine!”, the Master calls!

When the Sizzle Fizzles

I like the sizzle. This means that stuff that’s fun, exciting, zingy & zesty catch my attention. I would suspect that possibly on occasion, you’ve also been attracted to stuff that sizzles. But it’s often true that sizzle stuff doesn’t always endure.
Then what??
Regardless of the presence of absence of sizzle, what’s important is to stay the course & endure! Sizzles fizzle, but endurance wins the prize. I say this based on Mathew 25:23 where Jesus says, “Well done, My good & faithful servant.” Let’s remain faithful & steady regardless of the presence or absence of any sizzle!

Enjoying Contrasts

I have a child who enjoys classical music & rap. For me, these contrasts don’t match up too well, but to each his own.

I also made an interesting blueberry pie a few days ago where the recipe called for goat cheese & chopped almonds / more contrasts. The pie was like a party in my mouth because of the complementing contrasts: tangy goat cheese & sweet blueberries as well as crunchy almonds & soft blueberries. These contrasts were super pleasant although not something I’d usually consider.

That’s the interesting thing with contrasts: we don’t normally put contrasts together because they often seem to compete rather than blend & complement. But alas, this is how much of following Jesus seems to play out.
For example:

  • Jesus applauded Peter for acknowledging Him as the Son of God but He rebuked Peter for shooting off his mouth;
  • Jesus demonstrates genuine love in the face of abhorrent & brutal humanity;
  • we are to each celebrate our unique gifts & talents while blending them into the Body of Christ for mutual benefit

Navigating contrasts for spiritual growth requires us to pay attention to the Holy Spirit & remain steady in our commitment to genuinely love 🙂

Are You Gluten Intolerant?

Many people are removing gluten from their eating for allergy & health reasons so it’s increasingly common to hear from people that they’ve eliminated bread from their diet.
There’s one bread, however, that we would be wise to increase for our daily consumption – the Bread of Life, who is Jesus!


Lately, I’ve been trying my hand at baking bread with mixed results. But there are four basic steps to letting Jesus, the Bread of life, participate in our daily living:

  1. Assemble ingredients – be sure to always have time in the Bible & prayer everyday
  2. Mix ingredients – keeping prayer & the Bible in isolated compartments will never be as effective as letting them mix throughout our days, activities, relationships, conversations & responsibilities
  3. Proof – time for the rise is essential for bread to have a palatable texture & taste; let’s be careful not to get impatient during the process or proofing
  4. Bake – heat is necessary for the bread to be portable, practical & edible; Jesus helps us through all of life’s hotspots!

Eat good bread, the Bread of Life!

What Do You Repeat?

Do you have mindless habits? All of us have things that we do without giving much thought to them, such as brushing our teeth, driving home, morning routines, etc. It can be really helpful to have these kind of routines, but sometimes they’re counterproductive.

For example, in Luke 10, Martha & Mary had Jesus come to their house for dinner. Based on Martha’s behavior in other stories in the Gospels, it seems like she fell into the routine of cooking, serving & being busy with getting stuff done. All of these things aren’t inherently wicked, but if we allow our routines to sabotage our fellowship with Jesus, then they become more of a hindrance than a help.
Let’s always remember that Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 to seek His kingdom first & we’ll have what we need! Let’s be sure our routines reinforce our intimacy with Jesus rather than distract us in mindless disconnect 🙂

Highminded & A Warm Heart

I woke up this morning to -7degree temperature. Thankfully our heater works well but my body definitely felt the chill, which compelled me to keep my heart warm. Sometimes it’s easy in the hustle & bustle of this season to get cold hearted, detached & insensitive. Regardless of the external temperature or the demands that we have, let’s endeavor to remain warm hearted.
As for our brains, part of my Bible reading this morning was in Colossians 3:2 where Paul tells us to set our minds above. To me, this means that i keep my thoughts out of the low things & stuff that’s fleshy.
I want to actively chose to set my mind in things above & keep my heart warm regardless of what’s happening around me. Who’s on board with that plan??

What Seduces You?

Nothing.

That’s a stupid question.
But actually, it’s a very important question because what seduces us can give us insight into weak spots & things that can possibly cause us to go off the rails.
For me, I’m a bit of an odd duck. What seduces me isn’t chocolate, wealth, image, clothes, etc. I’m more enamored with intellectual stuff, March Madness & the NCAA college basketball tournament, along with adventure & exhilaration.
Let’s be sure that we keep the stuff that interests us in proper alignment to our love for Jesus. If I let my interests in college basketball, intellectual pursuits or thrill seeking get more intense than my passion & love for Jesus, then I’ve become a victim to idolatry.
We don’t intentionally set out to be idolaters but that’s the problem with seduction. It’s subtle & creeps up on you often before you recognize it.
This is one of the reasons I so deeply love the Holy Spirit who keeps me away from deception & distortion while staying passionately in love with Jesus! Let’s pay attention to the things that seduce us!

Hurray for Practice!

My family made the Thanksgiving meal yesterday & it was a smashing success! I’m not saying this to brag, but rather to acknowledge years of practice that have finally culminated in success – YAHOOOO!! In any given year in the past, I was practicing on how to cook a turkey that wasn’t dry or under-done. I was also practicing a few other dishes to make them not only edible but also tasty! And this year, I’m celebrating success!!!

We all want to be successful, but we don’t often celebrate the practice required to be successful – so let’s take a moment to applaud attempts & failures more than victories 🙂

Here are some things that help us to be successful:

Teamwork: yesterday, my whole family pitched in to make various parts of the meal & no one was unraveled by too much work!
Practice: keep trying!!
Testing: the guests that came to our meal were the testers. It helps immensely to have objective input on our journey to success

Hot Topic: Pivot Gratitude

 

Happy Thanksgiving! In the US, we celebrate being thankful today, enumerating our blessings & acknowledging the abundance that we have. But alas, sometimes the mindset that looks for abundance can get disappointed. Indeed, on this day, we often turn a blind eye to the deficiencies we have, choosing to ignore lack or gloss over the absence of things we want.

Let’s pivot this thinking. Today, I’m not only thankful for what I have, but I’m also thankful for what I don’t have.

I’m grateful that God doesn’t give me everything I want because this would be very destructive to my soul. I’m grateful for struggles & hardships because I don’t develop patience & persistence without such struggles (James 1:2-4). And let’s not forget Paul who was thankful for the thorn in his flesh in 2Cor 12:9ff because this thorn cultivated reliance on Jesus like nothing else in his life.
Let’s not only be thankful for abundance but let’s be grateful for some difficulties as well. And of course, let’s always be mindful to encourage & love the people around us! We can’t always understand their decisions but we can always chose to be loving & encouraging!
Be super clear that I’m thankful for you! Feel free to pass this along to friends & family today! It could be really helpful to lots of peeps!

Hungry Shopper

Weekly grocery shopping when I’m hungry is tricky, particularly when the store has samples. What happens is that regardless of my list, I can impulse buy & come home with some random stuff.

Sometimes, I think we do the same thing with stuff that’s not just food related. There are times when I can be struggling with some emotional stuff or various pressures & I’ll divert my attention with some sports thing or pick up an interesting book.
What usually works the best for me when I find myself struggling is to let my heart settle deeply into God’s love for me. Rather than being impulsive, let’s train our appetites to crave Jesus, the greatest fulfillment & solution in our lives 🙂

Enough?


I used to have an insatiable appetite for good coffee, not so much bad coffee. Thankfully, I’ve had an intervention so I’m not quite the junkie I once was. But this journey has started me to think about some things in new ways. It seems like the human experience suggests that we can never get enough – not enough money, not enough time, not enough recognition, not enough care or attention, not enough . . . .
I think our perspective on the idea of “enough” gets warped because we focus on the provision more than the Provider.

Somehow we’ve swallowed the poison that provision can replace Provider & we chase the illusion of enough.

When I was a coffee junkie, I could never get enough. I believe that the enemy of our soul would endeavor to perpetuate this illusion through the continuous acquisition but never sustaining pursuit of provision rather than Provider.

Indeed, let us seek first the kingdom of God & everything falls into divine order.

A Little Sugar


The proverbial sugarbowl

I like savory over sweet but in my family, certain members prefer sweet to savory. For example, if I set out a jar of dill pickles some of us could empty that jar lickety split. On the flip side, I could easily forget about some ice cream in the freezer for months while other members of my family wouldn’t let the ice cream survive until the morning. 
Regardless of your taste preferences, there are occasions when a little sugar is always nice:

  • When someone is having a bad day, being sweet can sometimes make the day better for them
  • When someone is angry, Proverbs says that a soft answer turns away wrath
  • Encouragement is a little bit of sugar & I have yet to meet a person who abhors encouragement
  • Soft, gentle, sweet & sincere words can be helpful in any relationship, but perhaps we can the most benefit from giving sweet words more than receiving them

Let’s add some sugar to our interactions today 🙂

A Little Sugar


The proverbial sugarbowl

I like savory over sweet but in my family, certain members prefer sweet to savory. For example, if I set out a jar of dill pickles some of us could empty that jar lickety split. On the flip side, I could easily forget about some ice cream in the freezer for months while other members of my family wouldn’t let the ice cream survive until the morning. 
Regardless of your taste preferences, there are occasions when a little sugar is always nice:

  • When someone is having a bad day, being sweet can sometimes make the day better for them
  • When someone is angry, Proverbs says that a soft answer turns away wrath
  • Encouragement is a little bit of sugar & I have yet to meet a person who abhors encouragement
  • Soft, gentle, sweet & sincere words can be helpful in any relationship, but perhaps we can the most benefit from giving sweet words more than receiving them

Let’s add some sugar to our interactions today 🙂

A Good & Practical Read

I’m a reader & I read a wide array of books on a plethora of topics.  So here’s a good one that’s uber practical for your body, soul & spirit:  30 Day Faith Detox.

I’m recommending this book because there’s not a single reader of this blog who doesn’t need some help in all three of these areas.  I’m also recommending this book because it’s practical, holistic, easy to read & implement.  So grab a copy today!