Do You Need a New Beginning?

Do You Need a New Beginning?

January is often a month when we think of making a fresh start. Maybe we make New Years resolutions about exercise, weight, spending habits, reading goals, etc. 

take a quick minute to watch & share this short video to help you with new beginnings:  

Let’s Pray

With the beginning of a new year comes lots of opportunities, quandries, questions and things to be resolved or addressed. For me, these things look like managing kids with changing schedules, planning international trips, navigating limited resources, strategizing for growth, resolving some conflicts and working through some unexpected hiccups.

I could easily get screwed into the ceiling with stress, worry, frustration, fear & anxiety. But a more helpful option is to pray. There’s a really old song about taking to the Lord, our worries, problems, etc . . . ” . . . . ,take it to the Lord in prayer.” Let’s make prayer our first reaction rather than our last resort!

Weight Class

There are kinda of weight classes: losing weight, boxing, weight training, wrestling etc. So dealing with weight can be an interesting concept which is frequently a popular topic at the beginning of each year. Here are a few thoughts that could be helpful when you think about weight:

**Future Preparation:  sometimes today’s weights are training for tomorrow’s responsibilities. What might seem heavy could actually be helpful for weightier matters in the future

**Losing Weight: anxieties, fears, failures, insecurities & other stuff can be weights we shed so we can be less weighed down

**Time Lever:  sometimes waiting can be weighty but as we wait on the Lord, we can gain new strength!  Consider Isaiah 40:31, “Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”

The Abundance Factor

Little tweaks can make big impacts & I see evidence of this in lots of ways.  For example, I have a friend who regularly reminds me that gratitude makes everything enough.  She uses everyday examples of how she’s thankful & the impact this attitude makes on her thinking, conversations & decisions.  And she doesn’t just do this at Thanksgiving!

The same can also be true for a little tweak with treats we enjoy!  During this holiday season, I’m doing a #hungerstrike campaign with Saving Moses, asking everyone to forego one treat / indulgence & send that money to Saving Moses to help us feed a malnourished baby. A candy bar in America, or a pumpkin spice latte, or the extra pair of shoes that we forego, could make the difference between life and death for a baby in our malnourishment clinics.

Let’s remember that abundance can be a direct result of gratitude!

Thats Crap!!

Philippians 3:8 (The Message):  “everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung.”

There are lots of things that we think are important: schedules, money, education, family, jobs, achievement, sports, entertainment, travel, etc. 

No doubt that these things are important, along w stuff I haven’t listed. But let’s be very clear about what is most important in our lives based on Phil 3:8. Paul said in these verses that nothing in is life was more important than knowing Jesus – not his education, his heritage nor his upbringing. Paul considered everything as literal “crap” compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus.  Let’s be like Paul & make knowing Jesus the most important focus & goal that steers our daily living!

Being Uncomfortable

“That’s awkward!”  I’ve said this in various contexts: social, athletic, ministry, cultural & lots more. If you’re like me, we tend to avoid what’s awkward & uncomfortable, but sometimes this is detrimental. 

When I look at Jesus’ disciples, they seemed to follow Jesus into lots of uncomfortable, inconvenient & awkward scenarios, such as sinking boats, conversations with demon possessed people, massive throw downs with religious leaders & not just a few baffling teaching moments / parables. 

Here’s some truth that could be helpful:  uncomfortable is often when we grow the most. And maybe we need to grow & mature more than we need comfort & convenience 🙂

Selah 

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!

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 🙂