I recently enjoyed watching the NCAA college basketball championship game & the most common question was, “Who are you cheering for? Which team do you want to win?”
In essence, which side are you on? As we walked into the arena, we were inundated with Michigan fans so I wasn’t too keen to shout out, “GO ‘NOVA!!!!” But I had definitely picked a side & cheered accordingly.
The same holds true for all of us in the narrative between what the enemy says in contrast to Holy Spirit’s narrative.
The enemy accuses, condemns, shames, deceives & is always trying hurt, kill & destroy us.
On the other side, Holy Spirit advocates, convicts, comforts, leads us into truth, makes us alive, confirms our true identity & continuously pours love into our soul.
So pick your side & actively select the narrative to which you’ll listen & entertain / converse with, keeping in mind the respective outcomes that go with each side 🙂
Once Jesus rose from the dead, I think the disciples maybe had less anxiety for a few reasons. And maybe we could pick up a few pointers that could be helpful, since anxiety could be a challenge for a few of us.
Jesus raising from the dead changed the game because death didn’t get the final say – and nothing is impossible in our lives!
Jesus is in the future – this helps me to relax knowing that Jesus is timeless
Jesus is about the individual & not only the masses – the Prince of Peace was intentional to seek out individual encounters to resolve questions, doubts & reconciliation.
Death is the pre-requisite for resurrection & today is that middle ground. Death happened on Good Friday & resurrection happens tomorrow. But the disciples didn’t know that Jesus would raise tomorrow, no matter how much He told them. And they knew He was dead with lots of uncertainty on the horizon. This is often how the middle feels – uncertain & tenuous.
I don’t think there’s anyone who is reading this now who isn’t in some middle place in life. We can find ourselves in the middle of: schooling, fighting a disease, a financial crisis, a relationship challenge, a difficult decision & heaps more.
So what do we do in the middle? Here are some suggestions that could be helpful:
1 – community: the disciples held together when they found themselves in the middle & waiting for what was next
2 – faith focus: let’s keep our attention on God who works all things together for our good, as we stay in love with Him
3 – purposeful farming: be sure to plant healthy seeds like patience, gratitude, diligence & others since we will reap what we sow 🙂
A lot of times, we think of being obedient to God on the pre-condition of guaranteed outcomes. We link our obedience to required outcomes we want from God. And unfortunately, too many times we withhold or change our obedience when we don’t see the outcomes we want. But conditional obedience leaves us immature, shallow & unfruitful. For example, if Paul had obeyed Jesus proportionate to his safety, comfort & health, then likely the early church would have severely faltered & been significantly less effective.
Let’s base our obedience to God on His unchanging, faithful & loving character. Faith in God facilitates internal security for external obedience 🙂
“It’s not supposed to be like that!!” I’ve been reading in Acts about Peter going to Cornelius, a Gentile, ministering to his household & the outpouring of Holy Spirit on these Gentiles. The Jewish believers initially had a difficult time accepting this new reality with the Gentiles. Nonetheless, despite what the Jews expected, God didn’t stay in their confined expectations.
And I would encourage you & me to remember that God defies impossible. And it’s not uncommon for God to do what we don’t expect, answering prayers in often surprising & fun ways. Let’s also keep in mind that God doesn’t often conform to our limits & boxes. We would be wise to follow God’s leadership rather than trying to define or limit God 🙂
I’m making my way back home from speaking at a pastor’s conference in Bangledesh. This has been a “quick trip”, considering that getting to Bangledesh can be a 30hour journey with a 12 hour time change – so no travel to Bangledesh is a in reality a “quick trip.” When I was deciding about this trip, I was weighing the cost of the trip, not only financially, but the cost of time, impact to my family & Spring Break time together – sacrifices.
With all these considerations, I felt in my heart that I needed to join this conference – a very unique opportunity to meet Christian leaders in a Muslim country & hopefully encourage & minister to them. And in light of our new nightcare in Bangledesh, I felt that this opportunity would also be strategic & a great way to begin some important relationships for the future.
Before I left for this trip, most of what I felt was a mix of hope, anticipation & sacrifice. Now that I’m returning home, I recognize the sacrifice to be sure. But getting to team up with Holy Spirit to minister to such incredible leaders has left me astounded. Additionally, I experienced some progress on some questions in my heart. And I sense a significant green light from God about Saving Moses growing in our nightcare work throughout this region of the world. Yes this trip was a sacrifice & I’m physically very tired. I’m also very awestruck with God’s generosity that counteracts the sacrifices that we make. I’m very thankful.
Theoretically, I like to learn. In practicality, sometimes it’s difficult for me to learn. In full disclosure, I struggle to learn to trust God & I have a difficult time learning patience & being steadfast, along with many other things.
But it’s interesting that Jesus’ disciples were called “learners”. So when I follow Jesus, my mindset needs to be that of a learner & to live in a continuous state of learning. I want to encourage you to keep a learning mindset, so that our following Jesus keeps getting better & closer everyday! With the help of Holy Spirit, we learn to be better parents, mates, students, employees & humans. So what are you learning?
In church life, it’s pretty common for people to have great ideas but not much elbow grease to do the great ideas. I wish I had a nickel for every time some has said, “Hey! Y’all should do . . . [insert great idea]”
In the early days of the church, there was a problem related to the food distribution & the apostles’ answer was to tell the congregation to find men who had a good reputation & filled with the Holy Spirit to take over the food distribution.
Rather than take over the problem, the apostles used the challenge as a way to increase the ministry. They continued to pray & preach while adding on a hugely helpful component of humanitarian ministry.
Maybe the things that get you frustrated, angry or upset could possibly be the places where God would have you roll up your sleeves & invest some elbow grease 🙂
It’s something to think about today!
Happy Spring Break! Although it snowed last night in Denver, I know that Spring is soon to overtake Winter so I’m celebrating the conclusion of Winter! Winter seems to be when life hibernates & sometimes ceases. But Spring reminds me that life is always present, even when it seems dormant or unseen.
Spring is also the season for Easter when we celebrate resurrection – life springing from what’s dead. When I think about it, Holy Spirit is an essential for life. Indeed, Romans 8:11 tells us that Holy Spirit was responsible for Jesus’ resurrection & let’s not forget that man became alive when God breathed His Spirit into human shaped clay on Genesis 2. Furthermore, Pentecost happened in the Spring, so let’s be certain to welcome Holy Spirit into our hearts, decisions, outlook, desires & any place on our lives that is dead. With Holy Spirit, resurrection is on the horizon!
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 🙂
I’m learning that what I think is often more important than various experiences or events. If my thoughts are dark, if I’m feeling insecure, inadequate, uncertain or frumpy, then I tend to behave & interact from a darker place. On the contrast, when I’m hopeful, optimistic, bright, steady & confident, then my interactions are more positive & constructive, with a higher quality of internal resilience.
So maybe this is why Paul tells us in Phil 4:7-8, to let Jesus’ peace guard our hearts & mind, as well as instructing us about keeping our thoughts centered on gratitude, stuff that’s right, honorable, etc.
it’s important to think about our thoughts & appreciate that how we interact & engage is an interior decision more than an external response 🙂
For some people, risk is like running through an amusement park in wild expectation of the thrills on the horizon. For other people, risk is like running the gauntlet of would be gladiators, awaiting impending torture and possible death. No matter how you see risk, walking in faith is risky because it’s the decision to do what’s unknown, uncomfortable and uncertain. But the other side of faith can be worth the risk:
knowing Jesus better,
stronger confidence in God,
experiences with God that don’t happen without faith
I can appreciate that risk is scary, but I invite you to join me on the faith journey that can be risky rather than the fear journey that can be constrictive. And of course, let’s ask for wisdom along the journey so that our faith / risk isn’t foolish 🙂
“I don’t see how that’s going to work.” This is a common sentence I hear in lots of different contexts that include stuff with Saving Moses, family challenges, ministry obstacles & even some personal goals.
It seems to me that people often want to know how something is going to work before they ever try to do it. It’s almost like we want the clear path to success before we’ll even set foot on the path. In my life, I’m learning that as I walk toward success or whatever seems to be impossible that my journey ultimately reaches the destination or goal of doing the impossible & succeeding. At the core of me, I know that walking with the Holy Spirit is how the impossible gets done & more often than not, walking with the Holy Spirit is nothing less than an adventure with the impossible. So LETS GO!!!
Sometimes I want to take care of my soul & not have any help with that. I want to take care of my own thoughts, emotions, desires, decisions, etc. So I struggle to let down my guard & let others gain more than just superficial access.
But today, I read Psalm 121 & it’s all about the Lord being my keeper. As I think about the Lord being my keeper, this means that I give the Lord access to my soul – emotions, thoughts, desires, values & perspective. So I’m challenged to let the Lord keep my soul, which He can do far better than me!! Let’s be sure to let the Lord be the keeper of our soul!
Lately, I’ve been experiencing a wonderful epiphany: letting my friends help me! I just had a friend text me about some ideas to help me with some sleep challenges. Then, I’ve had another friend help me with writing stuff & another friend has given me super helpful input with communicating! While you might think this is normal, for me it’s been a new experience because of my hyper independence. And then I read an interesting verse in Psalm 118:7a, “The Lord is for me among those who help me; . . . . “
So let’s be the friend who helps others! A few ways to help would include: encouraging words, gentle truth, practical wisdom & maybe even some errands! And on the other side, let’s be sure that we let our friends help us & that we express gratitude to & for our friends!!
Traveling can be lots of fun – an adventure & opportunity to grow. New experiences, people & cultures can help us see things from different perspectives & learn new ways of doing things / communicating.
Here’s a quick video that could be helpful for blending Jesus with traveling 🙂
I want to choose better rather than bitter, but sometimes it’s not an easy choice. There are two occasions in the Bible that I specifically see the “bitter” problem:
when Peter betrayed Jesus & he went away, weeping bitterly;
when the water at Mara was bitter, the Israelites complained & Moses threw a log into the water making it sweet & drinkable.
So when I think about these “bitter events”, maybe they could’ve been better if the complaining & betrayal were eliminated.
I can see how that would be true for me when given the choice between bitter or better. When I complain less, I do better. And when I love Jesus even when it’s difficult, I’m better in my soul.
Something to think about for this wonderful Monday 🙂
When things seem uncertain or murky, this can be very disturbing. And if you’re like me, when I get unsettled, I can start to flounder and I find myself trying to find stability, certainty and comfort. My focus can get really jumpy and I struggle to be settled in my soul.
So it helps me to remember to keep my focus on Jesus. Indeed, there’s a great song by Darlene Zschech called, Jesus At the Center and listening to this helps me to keep Jesus as my central focus. We don’t have to know all the answers, be all-sufficient, have a perfect plan or fix everything. Jesus rightfully owns that space, so that we can keep our focus & worship centered on Him!
I like what Jehoshaphat says in 2Chron 20:12, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You!”
Let’s stay focused on Jesus instead of any worry, anxiety or uncertainty!
Presently, I’m at a giant convention & im here to meet people, make some business connections & network. Truth be known, this stuff is hard for me, even though I know that I need to do this. It’s been really helpful to already know a few people here & im grateful for that!
But hard stuff is just simply hard. And this is where I lean into the Holy Spirit to help me – help me to not get overwhelmed, not miss being gracious, not disappear from interacting. I know that I can’t do this without divine Help. And whatever is hard for you, is maybe God’s invitation to lean into the Holy Spirit for supernatural help, Who is always present & eager to join you!
In our culture, more seems to always be something to pursue & an optimum priority. But I’m not sure that more is always better. When I think of more work, more exercise, more results, more time, more friends, more traveling, more of everything, I suddenly want to take a nap 🙂
There are definitely things that always need more: wisdom, discernment, worshipping God, prayer & awareness of God’s presence in our lives.
So let’s keep the essentials in the “more” category & let’s make sure that what could be good & helpful is supportive to those core essentials.
Let’s keep the main thing, the main thing!