Improving Some More

I’m sitting down to eat lunch as I write this & enjoying a tasty lunch. My lunch is comprised of Swiss cheese, triscuits & leftovers from last night’s delicious stew. As I’m eating this stew, I notice that it tastes better than it did last night, which is often the case with leftovers.
When I was growing up, I wasn’t much of a leftover fan until I had an epiphany. One day, I suddenly understood that when something is given a bit of time to culminate, it often turns out better than the initial product.
So when we want to grow & Improve, consider what it says in James 1:4, “Let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect & complete, lacking nothing.”
Never underestimate the important ingredient of time when it comes to the final product of growth & improvement ūüôā

follow the leader

At some point, all of us have played Follow the Leader or Simon Says, most likely when we were kids.  The first few times, it took me some practice to get the hang of it, but rather quickly, I wanted to be the leader so I could make others do what I said.  That felt really powerful ,)

I remember one of my teachers telling me, “Sarah, if you’re going to be a good leader, you have to learn to follow well.” ¬†Of course, this wasn’t the advice I was eager to hear, even though it felt right in my heart and I still hear these words bounce around in my heart & thoughts to this day.

I’ve been thinking of these words about following as they relate to Jesus following the Holy Spirit in Luke 4:1-2. ¬†These verses describe how Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit around in the wilderness for 40 days as He fasted & He was tempted by the devil. ¬†When I’ve thought of these verses, they don’t feel particularly alluring nor enticing. ¬†I’d prefer to not wander around in a desolate wilderness and fast for 40 days, nor be tested by the devil. ¬†Yet that’s exactly what happened as Jesus followed the Holy Spirit. ¬†Later in Luke 4, we read about Jesus being anointed by the Holy Spirit, speaking gracious & powerful words and we see Jesus start to walk in the fullness of His earthly ministry. ¬†But all of that came after His committment to follow the Holy Spirit.

When we follow our flesh, it can briefly make us feel good. ¬†But following the Holy Spirit has far better & longer lasting results than any flesh adventure we could choose. ¬†Let’s be committed every day to following the Holy Spirit.

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!

Big Changes

Do you need some big changes in your life? Do you know anyone who needs some big changes? This quick blog could be super helpful!
Sometimes, it’s the “small” things that create big changes. For example, I read this morning in Acts 13 about how there was a prayer meeting where the Holy Spirit prompted the participants to lay hands on 2 guys & send them out. The 2 guys were Paul & Barnabas & this prayer meeting was the beginning of their missions ministry. Out of this prayer meeting, thousands of people were reached for Jesus, two continents heard the Gospel & numerous churches were planted. I’d say that from this prayer meeting, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit monumental changes were launched. 

Never belittle the power of prayer nor the leading of the Holy Spirit to affect big changes in your life!

To help you know the Holy Spirit better, grab a copy of my book Heavenly Help!

hot topic: divine dad

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I totally love this picture. ¬†I love looking at everyone’s reactions and of course, I most love seeing this dad shoot his arm out to protect his son from the flying bat about to smash into his son’s head. ¬†Of course the photographer who captured this did an amazing job, but the real hero in the picture is the kid’s dad. ¬†As I read the back story on this picture, I learned that the kid had his head down & was texting his mom when the baseball player accidently lost his grip on the bat & let it fly out of his hands. ¬†While everyone else ducked away, the kid’s dad instinctually protected his son.

This picture makes me think about Good Friday, which is just around the corner. ¬†Good Friday is when God the Father sent His only begotten Son to take on the punishment and death that was due to each of us because of the sinful nature passed along to us from Adam’s disobedience to us from Eden. ¬†Jesus stepped into our place, received our punishment and redeemed us so we can live a resurrected life with Him. ¬†And this resurrected life happens in us because of the continuing work of the Holy Spirit, our Heavenly Help!

waiting & wanting

Cormon,_Fernand_-_Cain_flying_before_Jehovah's_Curse¬†¬†Have you ever waited to acquire something you wanted? ¬†It seems to me that waiting & wanting go together like peas & carrots, almost complementary. ¬†Things that I’ve waited for & wanted include: ¬†a new coat, a camera lense, opening nightcare in India, surgery on my shoulder & lots of other stuff.

Recently, I read about sin¬†waiting for &¬†wanting Cain in Genesis 4, related to the tension between Abel & Cain about their respective sacrifices. ¬†God confronted Cain in verse 7 and told him, “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.‚ÄĚ ¬†Sin was waiting for & wanting Cain but God told him that he needed to master sin & not be mastered by sin.

I honestly think that sin also waits for & wants us as well. ¬†Sin wants to control us, creating chaos & destruction in our lives if we cave in to it’s desires. ¬†Cain surrendered to sin and lived a vagrant and tormented life. ¬†Let’s learn from Cain’s downfall & master sin rather than let sin master us. ¬†Indeed, Romans 8:6 says, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” ¬†Just because sin is waiting for & wanting you doesn’t mean that you have to be it’s victim. ¬†Let the Holy Spirit strengthen you on the inside to overcome the seductions of sin!

Being Hungry

When I come home from an Int’l trip, I’m often hungry for a hamburger or a salad – familiar food that are in my home culture. This isn’t to say that I don’t like ethnic food. I TOTALLY love to try new foods in various cultures. Some of the foods I’ve tried were not that tasty when I first tried them, but the more I ate them, the more I liked these different foods. 
Sometimes I think spiritual food can be similar. I find that there are some spiritual foods that are tasty & appealing. For example, we like where the Bible says that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us in Phil 4:13. But some verses aren’t quite as appealing. For example, James 1:4 says that we should let endurance have its perfect work so that we can be perfect & complete, not lacking anything. 

Let’s be certain that we let the Holy Spirit cultivate our appetites so that we eat spiritual food that helps us grow & become mature followers of Jesus ūüôā

Jesus Take the Wheel

  
I’ve been saving this picture because it’s one of my favorites! Whenever I see this picture, I chuckle because it’s funny to me that Jesus would take over the steering wheel & start driving – which in reality would be the best case scenario for me & everyone in my life. 
It’s in my best interest for Jesus to have control of my life, full stop. 

What this looks like practically is:

  • Asking for God’s direction / input when I’m making decisions
  • Letting God control the pace of my life – not being driven to achieve & not stalling to be obedient
  • Being intentional throughout each day to walk in cadence with the Holy Spirit so I don’t give into fleshy challenges

Let’s make sure that we let Jesus take the wheel!

I Got the Power!

 
Currently in Denver we are having a blizzard & some people have lost power in their house. Thankfully, Jesus always has power available to us! 

There are always times & seasons in our lives where we are weak, frail, tired, frazzled & infirm. These times & areas aren’t really shocking because these things go with being human. When we integrate Jesus into our daily living, we integrate supernatural power, strength & help!  

Jesus gives us power to go through challenges & live in victory & not weakness or frailty!

alone

Sometimes people treat “alone” like a disease that needs a vaccination or a dysfunction that requires a remedy. ¬†We tend to fill our minds with music, social media, events, appointments, text messages, books, entertainment and anything we can conveniently grasp to immunize us from this “scary” state¬†of being alone and quiet. ¬†It’s a conundrum to me that we’ll tolerate zombies, vampires, ghosts & spooky Halloween stuff with a lite comic wink but what shivers our spine & tweaks our nerves is solitude & the thought of being alone.

Yet being alone is an important ingredient for being human.  Consider some of the incredible outcomes Jesus experienced from being alone:

  • Jesus’ testing in Matthew 4 was initiated by the Holy Spirit leading Him¬†into the wilderness – He came out of that experience with anointing & power.
  • Jesus went up on a mountain by Himself to pray through the night – when He came down, He chose His 12 disciples who perpetuated Jesus’ ministry.
  • Gethsemane was an alone time for Jesus – He surrendered His will so that we could live in reconciliation with God

I get that we aren’t Jesus, but maybe some of the things we most desperately need come from what we most ardently avoid ūüôā

Puke Bags

On my flight from Taiwan yesterday, my seat mate who didn’t speak any English, started puking after we landed in Los Angeles. She filled up her first bag, pronto & I quietly slipped her my bag, trying not to squirm out of my skin. Truth be known, I was super sympathetic because of an AWFUL experience I had earlier this year on a flight out of Africa. 
It seems to me that it’s much easier to be sympathetic when we’ve walked a similar road. I could’ve easily chosen to be repelled & revolted by this lady’s condition or I could choose to do my best to help her. 

What I thoroughly love about Jesus is that He chose to come into the human experience & walk among us, passing out puke bags & more importantly healing our broken condition. Let’s actively choose to be compassionate & helpful rather than revolted & repelled with the people around us ūüôā

Trust, Again

I recently did a blog about practicing our trust in God. As I’ve thought about this whole idea of practice, I’m also aware that there can be a few pitfalls along the practicing trust adventure. Here are a few things that you might find helpful with the practicing trust and pitfalls with adventures:

  • practice isn’t the place where we get perfect every time. Heaven is for perfect & earth is for practice
  • practice & mistakes go together like peanut butter & jelly, salt & pepper. Practice & mistakes are natural complements on the road to success 
  • practicing trust can have good bleed over in various areas of our lives: if we find it “easy” to trust God with our finances, then consider that the same trust can also be expanded to maybe your health, relationships, job or school 
  • trusting God is an essential component to growing in an intimate relationship with God

hot topic: get ready!

It seems like I spend a massive amount of energy, focus & time for Christmas: ¬†food, parties, gifts, cleaning, prep, wrapping, cooking, concerts, etc all squeezed into 2-3 weeks of seemingly frenzied activities. ¬†By the time Christmas is over, I’m ready to sing Handel Messiah’s “Hallelujah” chorus, kind of ūüôā

Having come through another Christmas season, on the other side, I find myself in recovery mode: ¬†less food, less activities, no wrapping, less cooking & lots of delightful cold, snow, quiet & still. ¬†But in my own way, I’m also in prep mode because I’m praying for 2015 and continuing to listen and be attentive with what God has for the upcoming year. ¬†We are on the cusp of turning the page on 2014 to begin a new chapter for 2015. ¬†Let’s not enter 2015 as a leftover, wrung out rag from 2014. ¬†Let’s seize the time, space and pause to not only nourish our souls but also to prepare us for the adventures that God has for us in 2015 ūüôā

Some prep ideas:

  • make a list of gratitudes from 2014 – reflecting on God’s amazing work & presence in your life over 2014
  • consider some places, situations, experiences that need some active forgiveness work (shortcomings, failures, idols, disobedience, etc)
  • take some time to maybe take a walk & listen to God – not only for what God has in store for 2015, but more importantly to be together
  • ask for the Holy Spirit to help you know the Helper better in 2015 than you have known in 2014 ūüôā

Happy New Year prep! ūüôā ūüôā ūüôā ūüôā ūüôā

the other side

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year when we celebrate lots of things & in lots of ways. ¬†We lavishly spend time, money, people interactions, parties, etc and revel in the celebrations of the season, opulence and abundance. ¬†Then there’s the day after, today, when we might be groggy, overstuffed and possibly fatigued. ¬†On this day, I find my heart longing to recover a sense of balance, desiring some still and quiet, centering into what’s really important, the One Thing that Jesus spoke about with Martha at her dinner party in Luke 10:42. ¬†Sometimes it helps us regain our core when we sit at Jesus’ feet like Mary, waiting, listening, watching and paying attention to Who is the most Essential in our lives, Jesus ūüôā

#selah

No Thank You to Fear

Fear isn’t cool. We can all probably remember at least a few times when fear was entirely horrifying. For me, I remember some walks home from school that were terrifying, waking up from a nightmare that virtually paralyzed me & the ever so common fear of not being liked. In our world today, people are afraid of Ebola, ISIS, losing their job, not getting married & lots more.
So let’s you & make a pact to say, “no thank you” to fear & then make the active choices to support that pact:
*be attentive to our decisions that we allow to be controlled by fear
*be aware of conversations that magnify fear – change the subject
*watch for places in our lives where we are cozy with fear
*actively choose love over fear because they are mutually exclusive (perfect love casts out fear)
*forward this to your friends to help grow an anti-fear mob!!

quiet prayers

Recently, I’ve had some experiences¬†that have been really tricky: ¬†conversation I didn’t agree with, uncomfortable situations that made me feel insecure, topics being discussed that are WAY outside of anything I know about, etc. ¬†As I’ve been in these situations, it’s been difficult for me to figure out what to do or say because there didn’t seem to be any easy or obvious solutions, answers or escape routes. ¬†In the past, I’ve found myself saying stupid stuff, or just withdrawing to a wall flower status & getting internally frustrated.

But I think I’ve found some help with these types of problems: ¬†quiet prayer. ¬†In the last few days as I’ve been in these challenges, I’ve stayed quiet, but quietly in my heart asked God for help and that’s exactly what’s happened. ¬†God has answered my quiet prayers in several different ways by giving me:

  • insight & wisdom into the situations & conversations
  • patience & strength not to say something stupid or that I’d later regret
  • discernment on how God was leading the discussion or situation
  • awareness that God has purposes for stuff that doesn’t always make me feel good

There’s a boatload of value in long & loud prayers, but also in short & quiet prayers: ¬†the full truth is that prayer is very good ūüôā

hot topic: Ebola in the US

Yesterday, we heard in the news that a person in Dallas was diagnosed with #ebola. ¬†The man who was diagnosed had flown from Libera in mid-September to the US and showed signs of being sick a week later. ¬†There’s plenty of news circulating about this development & this is a very important thing on which we should be aware. ¬†While I know that it’s important to be educated about this kind of stuff, let’s be mindful of some fundamental & important bullet points:

  • pray: ¬†let’s keep the Dallas patient in our prayers as well as the West Africa nations of Guinea, Liberia & Sierra Leone – super important to keep these nations in our prayers, along with the healthcare workers who are on the front lines in these nations
  • be smart: ¬†stay informed and current with what’s happening in our world so that we can know how to pray and make wise decisions
  • fear: ¬†let’s be mindful that we don’t let fear get a foothold in our thinking or decisions
  • love: ¬†pray that we can find some ways to help the babies & toddlers in Guinea, Sierra Leone & Liberia with Saving Moses!!

earthy

Living in America has the very subtle & sneaky attempt to be blinded by glitz, glam, image, shiny, trendy and veneer. ¬†Whether we realize it or not, our culture bombards us with airbrushed faces, glimmery white teeth, body images that are almost physically impossible and lots more. ¬†If we aren’t careful, we can be seduced by image and forget that substance, character and integrity are very important.

With this in mind, I find it very interesting that the person who heralded Jesus’ arrival was the antithesis of image conscious – John the Baptist was very earthy and for that matter, so is Jesus. ¬†The Son of God, robed in splendor, glory and the ultimate glitz put on our skin, lived among us and was often mistaken for a mere man. ¬†May the Holy Spirit help us to reveal Jesus through our daily and earthy living ūüôā

be fresh ,)

These are a few of my favorite things: ¬†peaches, pho, fresh coffee, clean sheets, snuggling with my kids, a good read, a heartfelt conversation, prayer, ¬†. . . . . And one generality that holds true for all of these things is “staying fresh”. ¬†For example, I recently bought like two boxes of peaches because I know that we are coming to the end of peach season & I ABSOLUTELY LOVE peaches. ¬†But the problem is that these peaches are getting “tired” – not as good as when they’re at the peak of freshness & season. ¬†Pho is another example of keeping stuff fresh – whenever I bring home leftover pho & it sits in the refrigerator, it gets gross.

I think this is also true in our relationship with Jesus.  A stale, old and tired walk with Jesus can get pretty ugly.  So here are a few ideas that could be helpful in keeping fresh with Jesus:

  • Bible reading: ¬†change your translation from time to time
  • spiritual conversations: ¬†talk with a friend about Jesus and what you like about Him
  • take a bath: ¬†sometimes we need to wash off some dirt & road wear;
  • fasting / prayer: ¬†periodically, it helps me to do something extra (fast a meal or a few days, take a lunch to pray, look for someone for whom to pray
  • time: ¬†it always takes my breath away when I consider that God considers my presence to be a present ,)

Rustle Bustle

Seems like we all juggle lots of things: kids schedules with sports, practices, dr appointments, work responsibilities, relationship stuff, . . . the hustle, bustle & rustle of everyday living.
In all of these things, let’s be mindful to nurture in our hearts our relationship with Jesus. Lots of things want your attention so we must daily chose to fellowship with Jesus beyond the quickie “help!!!” requests. While these are important & good, our hearts are designed for deep fellowship with Jesus so lets yield to our design & align our values, focus & time to nurture the deeps with Jesus!