Reinforce the Good

“I killed a lion & a bear, so this uncircumcised Philistine will be like them!” These were the words David to answer Saul’s uncertainty about David killing Goliath. While I appreciate that it’s very dangerous to live in a state of denial, it’s also essential to keep our focus on faith & not fear or doubt. We absolutely have challenges & struggles that have varying degrees of intensity & stress.

Let’s be careful, however, that we continue to reinforce the good things so we don’t get overwhelmed by giants, problems & pressure.
Here are some ideas that could help to reinforce the good:

  • Keep some encouraging Bible verses handy to review
  • Pay attention to negative stuff that could be tainting your thoughts (tv, social media, music, etc)
  • Encourage your friends & let them encourage you
  • Pray instead of complain

Feel free to share this with your friends / family!

Porcupine Suit

Have you have a few hours, days, weeks, etc when you would like to rent a porcupine suit? These are the times when you feel particularly bristly & not very friendly. As a follower of Jesus, it seems to me that I shouldn’t be like this. But alas, I can be cranky & cantankerous. In these times, I’d like to rent a porcupine suit & I should probably hibernate from social interaction so I don’t stab anyone with my bristly demeanor.

In these times, I need to let the Holy Spirit soothe the needles & console the grumpy. I may have some very good reasons to be cranky, but I must never resist help from the Holy Spirit to be better than my feelings, full stop.

Changing Plans

I changed my plans for today at the last minute. I was going to go snowboarding, but decided that there are more pressing needs at home than my snowboarding interests.
In 1Samuel 13, Saul changed his plans as well. He & Samuel made a plan to make a sacrifice together but he got scared & offered the sacrifice without Samuel. This was a major downfall for Saul & Samuel explained shortly after Saul’s fearful decision, that God had sought out a different leader for Israel, a man after His heart (1San 13:14).
Saul changed the plan he had made with Samuel because he was afraid of his enemy, the Philistines, & saw the Israelite’ support of his leadership rapidly eroding.
While I’m a massive advocate of flexible planning, I’m growing to appreciate the importance of keeping God’s goals as unchanging piers to anchor my soul, regardless of my environs, feelings or selfish preferences.
God’s goals always related to genuine love & connecting humanity to God’s heart in deep intimacy. Let’s be sure that we keep God’s plans more central to our choices rather than our selfish interests, including my snowboarding plans ūüôā

Strength or Weakness?

In the past, I’ve taken lots of pride in being a highly independent person. ¬†As any wise person knows, pride goes before a fall, both literally & metaphorically. ¬†So when I’ve thought that being independent was a strength, I’m growing to appreciate that it can also be a weakness. ¬†I’m learning that independence becomes a weakness when I separate myself from people, when I don’t ask for help, when I don’t allow others to contribute in teamwork and improvements. ¬†Unfortunately, I’ve had to fall down, fail and face inadequacy to accept the reality that my independence isn’t a strength as much as it can be a weakness for me.

I’m being vulnerable with this lesson because there’s a good chance that you might have a few things that you consider to be strengths. ¬†It’s possible that these perceived strengths could be weaknesses for you, maybe. ¬†Consider some¬†examples:

  • Is external beauty a strength at the expense of cultivating interior beauty? ¬†Of course these don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but it’s a good question to consider in both ways of interior & exterior beauty.
  • Is dependence a strength when cultivating one’s internal fortitude is dismissed?
  • Is discipline a strength when it accentuates achievement at the expense of intimacy or people connection?
  • Is Bible knowledge or proper theology a strength without God’s love to soften our words, actions and attitudes?

Sometimes we can lean on our strengths so much that they can become weaknesses without realizing it! ¬†Let’s keep Paul’s words about boasting in weakness from 2 Corinthians 11:30 as a central theme in our daily living! ¬†“If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.”

Stay Focused

What you focus on is where you go. I learned this with great intensity when I took a lesson for downhill mountain bike riding. In a particularly harrowing part of the trail, our instructor kept yelling, “LOOK PAST THE CURVE!!!” A few of my classmates didn’t listen to the instructor & they hardcore crashed, flipping over the handlebars. What the instructor was yelling didn’t make sense to me, but I decided to do what he said, nonetheless. When I followed the instructions, my bike followed my focus.
Lots of times, it’s easy to focus on emergencies, crises, worries, etc. When we obsess with struggles & uncertainties, it’s easy to crash in the curve because our focus gets off of Jesus. Let’s be sure that we keep our focus & thoughts on Jesus, the author & perfectos of our faith – Hebrews 12:2!

Eating an Elephant

Do you ever struggle with big projects? Sometimes things can seem overwhelming when they’re massive in size & scope. It’s easy for me to get under the water when I have big projects that I have to complete, but it helps me to think about big projects in small bites. So I always say, “start with the toenails when you have to eat an elephant.”

David did this when he was facing Goliath. When Saul asked David about killing the giant, David replied, “I’ve killed a lion & a bear, so God will help me with this giant!”
Here are a few helpful thoughts to eat an elephant / accomplish big projects:

  1. Look at a small & do-able part of the big project & start there
  2. Pay attention to your thoughts so they don’t get overwhelmed with the size of what needs to be accomplished
  3. When you get into the project, come up to periscope depth from time to time to celebrate progress
  4. Remind yourself of your precious accomplishments to be encouraged!

Hot Topic: Successful Outcomes!!

” . . . . and the Lord brought about a great victory.” 2Samuel 23:12
I read this morning about some dude, Shammah, defending a field of lentils. Initially, a lentil field doesn’t sound like something to get really upset about, let alone turn into a major military engagement. But alas, Shammah picked the lentil field & that was his “line in the sand.” This verse also says that Shammah took his stand in the field, defended it & struck down the Philistines. After Shammah’s three actions, taking his stand, defending the field & striking the Philistines, God gave him a great victory.
It seems like we often want to know that God will give us a great victory before we make the commitment to a lentil field or put out the effort to fight for something.
Sometimes I think that God waits for us to be fully engaged & committed before giving us a great victory.
Might there be a few areas in your life to which you could increase your commitment so that God would provide a great victory? This is something worth considering today!

Same But Different

“You’re not going to North Korea are you?” I was driving my kids to school this morning & made a phone call to another ministry about some cool opportunities in North Korea. My kids immediately asked this question when I hung up & I assured them that I’m not going there this year. But it still sounds like an incredible opportunity to me!

Alas, not everyone thinks like I do & that’s altogether fantastic! Seems to me that God has uniquely created us for distinct purposes & designs. Some people are attracted to stable, predictable & familiar. Some folk have a little wanderlust in their souls. Some of us are pioneers & more than a little maverick-y. But each follower of Jesus has valid contributions to make to His kingdom!
Just because I’m different than you doesn’t make me superior or inferior any more than you are superior or inferior to me! Let’s remember that we are essential parts of one Body & we desperately need each other to fulfill our unique & divine purposes! I’m celebrating you today!!

Way Better!!

My husband & I use different routes for driving our kids to their various activities. Normally, I think my way is better: faster, less traffic, etc. Today, I see that I’m wrong. The route he uses is far superior to my way & I could’ve learned this much sooner had I not been so obstinate.

This seems to ring true between the Holy Spirit & me as well. How many times have I stayed glued to my methods & plans only to learn the hard way that the Holy Spirit always has better ways than me. Let’s live in the reality of Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,‚ÄĚ declares the Lord. 9 ‚ÄúFor as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
God’s ways are always the upgrade!!

When Control Is Good

“Control” is a loaded word. ¬†It can evoke a visceral reaction in various individuals, in negative or positive ways. ¬†And as Americans, we cherish our freedom sometimes to the point of demonizing any form of control. ¬†We don’t want people to infringe on our rights, we want to speak freely without consequences and we want to the freedom to make decisions often without the complementary¬†responsibilities.

If we are followers of Jesus, however, there’s an alarming verse that recently arrested my attention: 2Cor 5:14a, “For the love of Christ¬†controls us, . . . ” ¬†When I read this, I tried to find some wiggle room in the Greek for the word “control”. ¬†But alas, I had no luck. ¬†I’m supposed to be controlled by Jesus’ love.

So if we identify as a follower of Jesus, this means that His love:

  • influences my¬†conversations to make them edifying rather than snarky
  • priorities my resources to be less selfish & to consider others
  • applauds those random acts of kindness that run contrary to my fleshy instincts
  • filters my thoughts & emotions to remove unforgivness, judgment, condescension, etc

Let’s allow Jesus’ love to be the controlling & defining essential in our lives!

Find Some Fun!

Do you like otters? ¬†They seem to be a party wherever they go with lots of humor, energy and a playfull mindset! ¬†I’ve always enjoyed watching them, maybe because I bend toward a serious nature & the contrast is refreshing!

Otters remind me that there’s a playful side to wisdom, from Proverbs 8:30-31. ¬†In these verses, you can also replace the word¬†rejoice with the word¬†play since the word in Hebrew is used both ways:

Then I [Wisdom] was beside Him, as a master workman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,
Rejoicing in the world, His earth,
And having my delight in the sons of men.

Sometimes we would be wise to lighten up and be a little playful! ¬†Here’s a joke that could help:

What’s the one vegetable Noah refused to bring on the ark?

Leaks ūüôā

Broken Trust

Everyone has experienced the pain that comes from broken trust – it’s the pits. I’ve been reading about King David in 2Samuel & how he was betrayed by his son, Absalom. On top of Davids son breaking his trust, Davids main counselor, Ahithophel defected to Absalom to advise him – a double whammy.

So what to do with broken trust?
Some key takeaways would be:

  • Forgiveness – this is a non-negotiable
  • Destination – don’t get quagmired in the pain, look forward & keep going; David didn’t hang around to wallow in the betrayal
  • Friendships – just because someone betrays be careful that you don’t pull away from everyone; David’s friend Hushai was essential to helping David stay alive!

Rest On All Sides

Rest On All Sides

At the end of last week, I returned from a whirlwind trip to Bangladesh for Saving Moses. In our short time there, we accomplished loads of stuff because I think that a person should do everything to maximize their time. Upon returning home, I find myself more than a little spent. I feel puny, my sleep is messed up, my emotions are everywhere & I can’t seem to quiet my brain.
Thankfully, I was able to join our entirely glorious Sunday School class yesterday where we took a deep dive into 2Samuel 7 – a chapter about David wanting to build a temple for God. The first verse of the chapter says that David had “rest on every side.” One of the ladies in our class observed how wonderful this would be to have rest everywhere in our lives! In our discussion, we camped on this idea for awhile & it was amazing!! As I thought about this, I felt the Holy Spirit say to me that this rest was available to me not only on the outside, but on the inside as well – rest on every side.
So let’s allow the Holy Spirit to give us rest, maybe more than any place, on the inside with our emotions, thoughts, desires, etc

Stay Simple

I’m flying back to the US today from Bangladesh, so it feels like the day that never ends. When I get toward the end of these long journeys, I get really punchy & goofy. But I also try to keep things as simple as possible because my mental ability to do anything complicated gets close to non-existent. So “simple” is my operative word.

I think keeping stuff simple is generally a good rule of thumb. I remind myself that simple is loving God, loving people & loving myself. With all of our technology, communication abilities, etc, let’s never get so sophisticated & savvy as to forego the core basics that Jesus taught: love is the defining characteristic of anyone who follows Jesus!

Love to Understand

“What’s wrong with her?” I was recently walking through the largest brothel in Bangledesh & noticed a lady sitting on a bench & she was crying. I immediately sat next to her & put my arm around her, feeling her sadness pouring out of her. Some people with me asked her in the Bengali language what was wrong & there was a brief dialogue where she said why she was crying in seemingly few words. I continued to hold this young lady, absorbing her pain & she began to cry heaps more.

She was crying because she was homesick for her parents who live in a different district & she had been working in this brothel for more than a year.

I could continue explaining more & more details of her life to help you, my reader, understand why she was crying.
But let’s be careful that we don’t qualify our love on understanding first. Indeed, I sincerely don’t think we begin to understand until we decide first to love.

If you truly want to begin understanding someone, decide that you will love them & you’ll find that you begin to understand them more & more!

Not Safe

It’s 3:45am & I’m in Bangledesh. Just when I thought I was safe to take out my ear plugs, the prayer call thing started up again. Maybe tonight is a special occasion for some city-wide prayer meeting via the Goliath loudspeakers blaring outside my window.

It’s one thing to struggle with changing time zones & getting decent sleep with the blaring city-wide prayer call. It’s another thing to think about the babies & toddlers I met yesterday whose moms work in the largest brothel in Bangledesh. When I asked these moms about where they keep their babies when they work, 7/10 said that their babies & toddlers are on the bed with them as they work because these moms have no other option for their babies. And many of these are at risk from being abused by their moms clients.

So these babies & toddlers are NOT SAFE. Enter nightcare with Saving Moses. In nightcare, we provide a safe place for the babies & toddlers of sex workers to sleep while their moms work. We have been doing nightcare in Cambodia for almost 5 years & I’m super keen / eager to open nightcare here in Bangledesh.

The moms of these babies desperately want to keep their babies safe so they’d can keep a “fresh mind.” This was a quote from one of the moms I interviewed. It unraveled me.

Liability or Strength?

What are your strengths?  Do you ever feel like your strengths are also your greatest liabilities?

I have a friend who says that I fire & then aim, or I leap & then look. ¬†It’s true. ¬†I tend to jump in with both feet & then cry about what I’ve gotten myself into. ¬†I admire the people who are more methodical and take things a step at a time & I’ve sincerely tried to do this better. ¬†But alas, I’m still learning, still.

In my thinking, this “all in” mindset has been a significant liability for me & I’ve berated myself repeatedly about not learning from my mistakes. ¬†Except last night, I had a wonderful epiphany.

This “all in” strategy serves me really well in walking with God because I’m not half-hearted & I’m quick to turn up the heat if I feel like I’m being luke warm.

All of us are fearfully & wonderfully made! ¬†We have definite strengths & with God’s help, the downside of these strength can be continually worked on so that we grow! ¬† The enemy of our soul would have us minimize the gifts that God has given us, causing us to be less than the full person of God’s design!

Let’s be thankful that God made us with such careful & creative design, while remaining committed to the continual pruning and sculpting the Holy Spirit does with us every day! ¬†You are AWESOME!

#heavenlyhelpmoment

Redeeming Messups!

I’ve been reading about King David in 2 Samuel lately & this morning I was struck by the severity of his shortfall with Bathsheba. ¬†There are a boatload of things he did wrong in that scenario:

  • should’ve been out fighting with Joab, but he stayed home
  • secretly watched a naked woman bathing
  • continued his interest in her by inquiring her name
  • brought her to his palace
  • slept with her, knowing she was married
  • tricked Uriah, her husband
  • sent Uriah to be killed in battle

Bathsheba became pregnant after sleeping with David, their son was born sick and died after seven days.  This story is an epic tragedy full of death, pain, suffering, selfishness, deception and loads more!  It seems to me that nothing good could come out this whole mess, ever, never and in no way.

Enter Solomon.

Solomon was considered one of Israel’s greatest kings! ¬†He built the temple in Jerusalem, wrote two books of the Bible and was one of the wisest men who ever lived. ¬†Solomon was the son of Bathsheba and King David, after the baby died who was conceived from David’s sin.

Let’s remember that there’s no weakness or failure in our lives that God cannot redeem & make into something entirely glorious!

Hot Topic: Sometimes No

I really like to tell my kids, “Yes!” I like to tell them yes to eating salad, working out, studying, reading good books & hanging out with constructive friends. All of these get a hearty “yes and AMEN!” from me. But alas, they don’t always ask me for these kinds of things.

Sometimes they ask me:

  • to eat cake when it would be better to have some beets.
  • to sleep in when they need to go to school.
  • to hang out with a shady person when it would be better to do their homework.

Sometimes we ask God for stuff that’s not good for us & we often don’t like God’s answer. We can even deny that God is answering our prayers when we don’t like the answer. But alas, God answers prayer even when we don’t like the answer! Let’s trust that when God says no, it’s in our best interest & there’s a better plan or answer than what we’ve been requesting!

Try Something New!!

This is a picture of South Park in Colorado. My son & I are grabbing a day over Christmas break to get some skiing / snowboarding & today I decided to try a new route to get up to the mountains & man was it GORGEOUS!! The views on the drive were entirely enchanting, serene & ethereal – almost like driving in a picture!

I’m really glad that I tried this new route even though there were some icy patches & a few parts were a little touch & go.

Seems like this could be a good mindset for starting out 2017! Let’s be determined to try some new stuff, even if some parts might be a little tricky to navigate. I find that often the rewards of new things can be better than the risks! Let’s GO!!