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 🙂

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!

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!

provision

!!!!!MORE!!!!!!

Our culture tells us that “more” isn’t enough.  We need more money, more time, more status, more popularity, more followers, more friends, more activities, more education, more clothes, more muscles, more fitness, more image, more contacts, more influence, . . . . . . . I’ve been thinking about “more” in light of what the Bible says about the demands of our culture for more & increased provisions.

In the Bible, God is revealed as God our Provider / Provision in Genesis 22, when Abraham discovers the “ram in the thicket” as he’s about to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Our culture thoroughly affirms the truth that God is our Provider and we revel in experiencing God’s provisions (in an already abundant country).  But Abraham’s journey to experience God as his Provider was on the path of sacrifice.  The whole journey that ended up with Abraham experiencing God’s provisions was the preparation and journey of obedience & sacrifice.  Maybe what we really need is more sacrifice 🙂

selah

frying pan

Out of the frying pan and into the fire:  I was reading about how David was trying to stay away from King Saul in 1 Samuel because Saul was trying to kill David.  It’s really interesting to me that God sent David a prophet in 1 Sam 22 & told David to leave the stronghold where he was staying & go back to Judah, where he was more vulnerable to Saul’s attempts to kill him – out of the frying pan and into the fire.

No one likes to be uncomfortable or in difficult situations.  If you’re like me, we often look for the paths of least resistance & opposition, along with the areas of greatest safety and comfort.  But clearly, this wasn’t how God was directing David in 1 Sam 22.  It seems to me that we often trust God the least when we are the most comfortable ,)

don’t settle

We have a joke in our family about my cooking – when the smoke alarm goes off in our house, it’s a good sign that we’re going to have a great meal and the more smoke alarms that go off, the better the meal.  It’s become kind of humorous among all of us and we’ve become somewhat accustomed to a dinner time smoke alarm – which can be a little scary.  Alarms are meant to alert us that something is amiss and should be immediately checked upon.  When we get dull to alarms, things can become severely dangerous and God forbid that we should sleep through such alarms!

I wonder if there could be some alarms in our lives that alert us to spiritual lethargy, passivity and languor.  I wonder if we don’t sometimes become so comfortable, settled, cozy and tucked into our daily routines that our spiritual lives become dull, shallow and even moribund.   Perhaps God is making a clarion call to our hearts to shake off the allure of comfort that can unknowingly poison us with a sleeping sickness that deadens our senses to God’s alarms

The enemy of great is good, the adversary of excellent is average and the foe of extraordinary is moderate.  Let’s love God with great sincerity, excellent pursuit and extraordinary passion.

turkey update

Happy post Thanksgiving! I hope your day went well, with lots of peace, joy and enjoyable food 🙂  A few days ago, I posted about how I don’t really care for cooking turkey because of the litany of failed attempts my family has endured over many years.  Well, I’m happy to report that yesterday’s turkey was totally tasty!  It wasn’t burned, not too dry, not undercooked nor any of the other ways that I’ve ruined turkeys over many years – yahoo!!!

So here’s some encouragement.  Think of something that you’ve been trying to get good at for a long time, then consider a few things:

  • perhaps the lessons you’ve learned from the failures just helped you to understand better what doesn’t work
  • be thankful that you don’t have to make the same list of mistakes – you can make new ones
  • perhaps you next attempt will be the one that brings you success
  • if you next attempt doesn’t succeed consider that you’re one step further from failure & closer to success 🙂

 

cooking turkey

With Thanksgiving  popping up in less than 48 hours, I am facing my age-old nemesis, the turkey.  I think that I’ve figured out almost every way to ruin a turkey (undercooking, overcooking, offering a burnt sacrifice, along with many other accidents).  So I’m totally keen to throw in a lasagna & call it good 🙂

But alas, I will do the traditional turkey & there’s a good chance that I’ll get it right this year – hope springs eternal.  And this is exactly my point:  hope springs eternal.  Just because I’ve had a litany of turkey traumas doesn’t mean that this year is going to be another “challenge.”  After a 1,000 failed attempts with his light bulb invention, Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Happy Turkey Day! 🙂

Tiny but Mighty

I read this morning about how Samuel was working on picking the next king for Israel after Saul & was being introduced to Jesse’s sons, from the oldest to the youngest. When Samuel first met Jesse’s oldest son, Samuel thought he was a shew-in, but God quickly corrected Samuel & told him not to make decisions based on external appearances – God looks at the heart & isn’t influenced by what’s on the outside (tall, handsome, suave, etc). After meeting supposedly all of Jesse’s sons, Samuel didn’t pick any of them. Finally, Jesse mentioned that his last son, the smallest & maybe the least likely or eligible, was out herding sheep. Once they brought in David, Samuel knew he was to be the next king. David was the least likely & seemingly most ineligible – tiny but mighty. In my mind, tiny by mighty, was often a theme in David’s life (Goliath, fighting the Philistines, running from Saul, overcoming Absalom’s treachery & more). Tiny can most certainly be mighty 🙂

tasty

My son told me that he ate half of a rolly polly yesterday – I think this was during recess, but I didn’t ask for too many details.  For most of us Americans, this sounds pretty gross, but it’s my own fault because I introduced him to eating beetles and grasshoppers when we were in Cambodia last year.  Clearly, he’s overcome the standard Amercian resistance to eating insects & now he has a wider range of protein options ,)

So perhaps we can learn from my son’s expanding dietary pallette and pray that God would instill in us a taste & hunger for spiritual things more than natural things.  Just something to consider on this lovely Fall day 🙂

Obstacle Course

When I was growing up, I thought obstacle courses were really cool & if the truth be known, I still think they’re cool. I like how they make you use different ways to overcome obstacles – whether it’s climbing a wall, crawling though a pipe, hoping into small platforms, etc, I like all of that stuff (and the TV shows that do the spoofs on obstacle courses are nothing less than hilarious, but I’ll save that for another day). But here’s something to consider: everyday we face various obstacles (big, little, emotional, relational, financial, wisdom, etc). We can perceive these things are obstacles & hardships or we can see them for what they really are: helpful exercises to enable us to be closer & more intimate a God. So let’s celebrate the various obstacle courses in our lives because we are letting them work into our hearts a deeper relationship & trust in God! 🙂

let’s get comfortable

Being comfortable conjures up different things for different people.  For some people, being comfortable can be the experience of sitting by a fireplace in a cozy blanket & reading a book.  For other people, being comfortable is best described as being at a really fun and vibrant party.  For me, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be comfortable and I’ve learned some interesting things to pass along to you:

  • being comfortable can sometimes be an impediment to a deeper relationship with God – discomfort usually makes me do something different
  • I never want my comfort zones to exclude God – indeed, life with God is a more accurate expression of who I really am
  • I’ve learned that I can be extremely comfortable in a variety of external situations because of an internal contentment that comes from some very sweet & rich communion with God
  • when I’m uncomfortable, I tend to lean into God better

 

cause & effect

When I look at Jesus’ life, He left LOTS of results:  healings, redemption, restoration, forgiveness, resurrection and BOATLOADS more!!!  It seems to me that wherever Jesus went, He left a trail of astounding, outrageous and highly desirable results.  Because of these results, He was quite popular.  Get around Jesus and:

  • your blindness will be removed;
  • your brokenness will be repaired;
  • your deafness will be healed;
  • your death will be resurrected along with SO MUCH MORE!

Like the people in Jesus’ day, I think we all want these things in our lives.  But also like the people in Jesus’ day, I’m not so sure that we always want the Cause of these results.  In actual truth, Jesus had very few followers compared to the amazing number of fans who liked Him for His results.  When we become legitimate followers of Jesus, we are continually changing and making adjustments so that Jesus can have more maneuvering space in our lives – increasing His presence / Cause and His effects 🙂

Don’t settle for the special effects when you can have the Original Cause 🙂

 

 

 

 

Some thoughts about fasting

A few years ago, I did a fair amount of fasting & was totally enthralled with the amazing spiritual experiences I had from fasting. I have to say that some of these experiences were nothing short of indescribable & I quickly became a fasting advocate.
Here are some quick benefits from spiritual fasting: I hear & sense God more fully, there’s an intimacy with God that’s deeply satisfying & I wrestle out some questions & challenges.
So here’s a few quick practical points for spiritual fasting:
*spiritual fasting isn’t the same as dieting so it should include some extra praying & time spent w God
*fasting can happen in lots of configurations: Daniel fast (no meats & sweets – Dan 9-10), a meal a day, fasting social media, etc
*drink lots of water & be patient
*consider keeping a journal during your fast & pay extra attention to what God is saying & to God’s presence
Happy fasting!

Things that help me to trust God

Sometimes it seems like I get in impossible situations. Some situations seem virtually hopeless & like they’re a total dead end. In these times, I feel like one of God’s main goals is to help me learn to trust God more & better. So here are some things that help me to trust God & maybe they can help you (feel free to add stuff that has helped you as well):
*keeping my focus on God works better than focusing on the impossibility (Ps 25:15)
*reading Bible stories about how God has overcome impossible situations (David & Goliath, Paul in the storm – Acts 27-28 & others)
*encouraging others in their efforts to trust God
*recounting God’s faithfulness to me over the years
*remembering God’s character – genuine love trumps all

Convenient :)

I’m a huge fan of convenience & things that make my life less complicated & more efficient, especially in this busy holiday season. But if I’m not careful, convenience can be a deceptive sinkhole – if something is inconvenient I don’t do it or it falls down to a low place on my priority list. While this may seem logical & effective the “convenience” approach to life can potentially sabotage my intimacy with God, simply because God isn’t always convenient. In fact, I find that God is sometimes very inconvenient – requesting my time, attention & presence at inconvenient times. With all that being said, perhaps the convenience test is more about my priorities & less about my achievements – just something to think about 🙂
Happy Monday!!

prayer & results

 I’ve been thinking about prayer lately & the wide spectrum of what prayer means to us.  In my mind, prayer has LOTS of applications.  Prayer is about:

  • being persistent
  • exploring God’s promises
  • confessing struggles, failures & shortcomings
  • walking in and through Genuine Love
  • expressing frustrations, uncertainties, misunderstandings
  • being vulnerable & honest
  • listening
  • asking God to help others (intercession)
  • being present with God (some call this “keeping company”)
  • learning Who God is and about God’s will, preferences & priorities
  • giving voice to our gratitude for what God does & Who God is
  • presenting requests to God
  • candid conversation
  • a quick HELP!!!!

Let’s be careful to allow prayer to have a WIDE array of expression & relevance throughout our lives 🙂

A small victory with balance

It seems that I can be kind of intense & while this can be really great, such intensity can also be hurtful. But yesterday was a small victory for balance. I had a semi-full day w some spkg responsibilities in the morning & I’m doing a short-term modified eating scheme. I’m also trying to get back into a more consistent workout routine. In the past, I would’ve worked out killer hard & then survive the evening with a partly obliterated body & virtually worthless to my family.
Yesterday was different – when i worked out, I didn’t beat myself to shreds. I was helpful & constructive with my family & I was even able to pray with a good friend. Hooray for balance!!

do a little bit

At the beginning of Feb, I slipped on the snow as I was walking home from my neighbor’s house & I banged up my ankle really bad.  I don’t consider myself to be very wimpy but I knew that I had hurt myself pretty bad – like having to crawl instead of walking bad.  After xrays, the Dr said it was just a bad sprain & that it would take time to heal.  When she said “time”, my mind translated this to mean a few days or maybe 2 weeks, because that’s a LONG time!  Now that we’re almost 2 MONTHS later, I’m still having some challenges.

But here’s the good news & this is where I want to encourage you:  even though I didn’t go very far nor fast, I ran outside yesterday & my ankle did pretty well.  Afterwards, I was talking w a friend & we encouraged each other that a little bit is better than nothing.  This idea about “a little bit” has huge value in LOTS of areas of our lives:

  • a little bit of forgiveness is moving in the right direction
  • a little bit of patience can be more constructive than impatience
  • a little bit of exercise can help to set us up to do a little more
  • a little bit of genuine love has immeasurable power to transform

When we start with nothing, a little bit can help us to get moving in the right direction 🙂