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 🙂

Taking Risks

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,
  • supernatural achievements,
  • 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 🙂

 

Finding Impossible

“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!!!

Helping Our Friends

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!!

Getting in Shape

When I think about getting in shape, it crosses my mind that pears and grapes are viable options in contrast to the idealized hour-glass shape. I also think that I can get in shape for swimming, but be out of shape for running. This holds true for snowboarding, weightlifting & a plethora of other physical exercises.

Indeed, let’s go beyond the physical and cardiovascular concepts and think about our mental and spiritual shape! Keeping fit in our minds and emotions requires exercise and usage since the old adage, “Use it or lose it!” holds true.

And let’s be certain that we don’t neglect our spiritual shape when we consider what it means to be healthy. I’ve met plenty of people who are physically and mentally healthy, but whose spiritual lives are anemic on a good day. And I’m learning that if I’ll keep my spiritual health as a top priority, it’s often easier to be physically and mentally healthy. To stay spiritually healthy, here are a few helpful suggestions:

  • Read your Bible daily
  • Purpose to have prayerful conversations with God throughout the day
  • Connect with spiritual communities (church, small groups, Bible study, etc)

Let’s stay in shape!

Un-Conditioning

Conditioning has lots of different usages such as: air conditioning, conditioning for health purposes and conditioning to acclimate to various climates or humidities, to name a few.  But I think we should also consider that we have been conditioned through the human experience to think of love in very transactional ways.  In our childhood, it’s likely that you received positive affirmation for good behavior & achievements and negative feedback for things you did that weren’t so whippy.  Maybe such inputs have shaped your perceptions of what love is & is not.  While cause and affect are definitely part of the human experience, I think we should sit and think about God’s “unconditional” love for us.

There’s a good possibility that we both struggle to receive and sit in unconditional love, given the conditioning we have lived in through human transactions.  Let’s take some time this weekend to reflect on God’s unconditional love for us, appreciating that this genuine love can never be increased or decreased by our behaviors 🙂

Toxic Desires

Recently, I went snowboarding with the men in my family and had a wonderful time, minus the crowded lift lines.  The sun was out, snow was pretty good, it wasn’t too cold and I stayed warm throughout the day (except for getting some snow down my pants).  The toxic desire part, however, happens for me when I want to keep the same speed as my teenage sons.  They have been skiing for more than ten years and they’re very proficient and fast.  The problem is that I also like to go really fast and watching them jet ahead of me, is like throwing down the gauntlet with an irresistable challenge.  But alas, from innumerable injuries that need no details here, I’ve concluded that snowboarding as fast as my teenage sons isn’t good for my health, regardless of what I want.

So let’s remember that not all of our desires come from God (Ps 37:4) and let’s stay mindful not to allow the toxic desires to override common sense and obedience to God’s Word 🙂

Good from Bad

I’m in Bangledesh at the moment, just beginning to explore the situation with the Rohingya, Muslim refugees who have very recently fled Burma to survive significant atrocities & even death. There are likely close to 700,000 Rohingya now in Bangledesh, living under plastic tarps & trying to make the best of a deplorable situation.
Admirable credit goes to the Bangledesh people for being gracious & generous with these displaced people. Everyone is trying to bring some good out of an horrific situation.
Here are some fundamental principles that are useful regardless of the atrocities:

  • Forgiveness isn’t optional – keep your heart poison free
  • Look for the positive
  • Keep your hearts tender to Jesus’ input.

These pictures show some beautiful people & the gorgeous countryside here.

 

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:

Appetite Driven Consumption

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, there’s a good chance that you & I will be eating some tasty food, along with second’s & possibly third’s. It’s also likely that you’ll skip some food that’s not in your favorite list. For me, I’ll take a pass on the cranberry relish but maybe double up on my mom’s chorizo stuffing 🙂
With the quantity of food that’s available tomorrow, let’s consider that our flesh appetites, left unchecked, can be highly destructive.  As we are being thankful in this season, let’s also remember to cultivate or appetite for spiritual food, like daily Bible & prayer time!

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!

Doing Tough Stuff

There are lots of things that can be difficult: being consistent with exercise, missions trips, hostile or dicey conversations, regulating ones eating habits & lots more.  I don’t like to do tough stuff, nor did Jesus.  I say this because of His words in Gethsemane, “If possible, please take this cup from Me.”
So how do we go about doing tough stuff? Here are a few suggestions & I’d be keen to get your ideas in the comments as well!

  • Keep the end goal in mind: what is your desired outcome?
  • Be wholly present in the difficulty because often these struggles need our whole attention, energy & talents
  • Pray: divine help is always an upgrade!
  • Surrender to God’s will even when it conflicts with your desires 🙂

Flu Vaccine

Tis The season for the flu vaccine – not like I’m on board for more needling. And this is because I stay super current with my vaccinations due to my international work with Saving Moses – yellow fever, typhus, hepatitis, malaria, etc.
Let’s think in terms, however, of truth being our vaccination against deception. It’s the truth on the inside that will protect us from the lies & distortion on the outside. This is true except for a giant intrusion: when we allow deception to creep in our thoughts, emotions & attention. And without following the Holy Spirit into truth, we will have the deadly affects of deception rampant in our lives. Let’s stay vaccinated with the Spirit of Truth, so we don’t fall victim to the enemy, who is the father of lies!

One Decision

What do you want? Are you interested in having a better education? Do you want to exercise more? Do you want a healthy marriage? Do you want a vibrant & growing relationship w God? What do you want?
Desires that we don’t achieve can become frustrating & discouraging. So it’s important to think about what we want, our end goal, in smaller steps like one decision at a time.
When we consider what we want & align that to our decisions, then we can make progress towards achieving our desires & goals. Les walk towards our goals & desires one decision at a time.

Riding the Bus

I’ve taken to riding the bus to the airport & I love it! I really appreciate that someone else does all the navigating through traffic, the seats are cushioned, the temperature is pleasant & I can do my work while I ride! When I would drive myself to the airport, I’d have to be alert, dodge traffic, find a very distant parking space, walk through the cold / heat & hopefully have enough time to get through security, etc.
it seems to me that walking with the Holy Spirit is sometimes like taking the bus to a destination. Although it requires us to trust the Holy Spirit, the journey is much more enjoyable, less stressful & we usually land a lot closer to the destination than if we navigate life all alone.
If you want to learn to walk with the Holy Spirit better, pick up my new book,

In Step

& you’ll have some new experiences in your daily living from walking with the Spirit!

The Aquaman

This weekend, I learned about some swimming races near my house at the local reservoir. I learned about these “Aquaman” races from a nice lady after I attempted to do an open water swim at a pond near the mountains here in Denver. My swimming was very disappointing to me & when I got out of the pond, I didn’t feel friendly whatsoever. Nevertheless, I started chatting with the lady nearby & she was very kind & informative. We had a lovely conversation & she helped me know of some open water swimming options that sound really fun!
I say this to encourage you about those moments when you’re struggling or discouraged. Remember that God can encourage & strengthen you in a variety of ways that are often unexpected. Be careful if you’re discouraged not to turn inward so much that you don’t allow God to help or strengthen you with creative ideas & unexpected encouragement!

No Pretending

“The well is deep & you have nothing to draw with.” Little did the Samaritan woman know that her observation about the deep well would foreshadow the deep conversation she would have with Jesus in John 4. Initially, their discussion was about getting Jesus a drink of water, but in no time, Jesus went for the jugular when He told her to bring along her husband & then He read her mail about the litany of failed marriages she had. Clearly, with Jesus there was no pretending.
And I think this value rings true for us today as well. When it comes to talking wth Jesus, there’s no sense in posturing or pretending. It’s better to come to Jesus in full disclosure & entire access. This is an essential ingredient to live in the continual state of healing & redemption that Jesus has for us!! The Samaritan woman went back to her town & declared to them, “Come & see a man who told me everything I ever did!” And thus began the Jesus revolution that turned her town upside down!

I Eat Crawdads

I grew up eating crawdads / crawfish & I really enjoyed them! There was a canal behind my house where my dad & used a big net to scoop up heaps of crawfish, cart them home & cook them up. Boy were they tasty!
But here’s the rub: crawdads are bottom feeders, so they eat the garbage at the bottom of lakes & canals, making them inherently unhealthy.
Sometimes what is tasty to our flesh is unhealthy to our spirit & we have to make wise choices about what we allow to come into our hearts & minds. Let’s be determined to set our minds above & not allow our minds to become bottom feeding trash consumers 🙂

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!