Right motives but wrong target: when Saul was going to Damascus to arrest the followers of Jesus, he was endeavoring to promote adherence to God’s ways, but he missed the point that Jesus is God. I think Saul / Paul had good intentions, but he was misdirected. Thankfully, God interrupted his plans & gave him some pause to make some major adjustments to his belief system.
I wonder for us today, if we don’t sometimes need to have some adjustments to our goals. Similar to Saul / Paul, I think we can have very noble motives and intentions (adherence to God’s ways), but how we accomplish such noble motives can be tricky. Ultimately, when we are followers of Jesus, we need to make genuine love our motive & outcome because of what Jesus says in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Are there any areas in your life that need to be changed so that genuine love is your endgame?
A fourteen hour day can feel kind of overwhelming & sometimes we have long days, overflowing with demands & activities. Modern living pressures us to stuff our days to the gills so that the more we get done, the better we feel and the more significant we are. Consequently, the idea of a Sabbath flies in the face of the modern lifestyle.
Nevertheless, God instituted a day of rest in each week as one of the 10 Commandments, so it’s on the same level of importance as not murdering, loving God, etc. And I’m writing this blog, maybe to myself more than anyone else because I’m on a gerbil wheel with overflowing days and more work than time. When we keep time and fellowship with God as our top priority, then the speed of life won’t result in a trainwreck 🙂
I’ve never met a person who enjoys failing & most of us avoid stuff that has a high risk for failing. But there are LOADS of people in the Bible who failed, took risks and some had tremendous successes – usually after they had overcome some significant failure hurdles. Some examples would include:
Jacob’s son, Joseph: failed with his brothers, but became 2nd in command to Pharoah in Egypt & rescued his family from famine
Jacob: tricked his brother & father, but went on to become “Israel” and the founder of the Twelve Tribes
Saul / Paul: gave hearty approval at Stephen’s martyrdom & became the largest contributing author to the New Testament in addition to founding the majority of early churches on two continents
When you fail, keep in mind some helpful perspectives:
failing is a verb, but failure is a noun: one can change but the other is more permanent
the greatest lessons often come from failing more than succeeding
failing can the essential fertilizer for redemption
no failure is beyond God’s power & love to transform into beauty, resurrection, abundance and divine success!
For a few weeks now my phone has been messing up with stuff that I write – it’s been incredibly frustrating!! I’ve done all the updates reboots etc with no improvement. This is why there are no commas in this post – arg! And my spell check is doing really funky stuff! When we are accustomed to using a tool in our daily living & that tool gets unreliable things change.
Thankfully God is faithful & unchanging. God isn’t merely a tool in our lives to get stuff done nor is God only a sugar daddy for providing for our lives. Let’s be sure that we don’t only see God as a function or tool but rather the essential intimacy in our daily living!
“We interrupt this program for this important message . . . . “
All of these examples remind us of things that arrest our attention to focus & tell us to focus on something different, even if just for a few minutes. In general, I don’t need any help to interrupt my focus because I can be easily distracted. Consequently, I do as much as I can to eliminate distractions and interruptions. While this strategy can be helpful in being productive, it is also possible that God might be trying to get my attention and I’m dismissing the “divine interruption” because I perceive it as a distraction.
In the Bible, there are some great examples of God interrupting a person’s daily living to grab their attention & invite them to make a course correction. Such examples include: Moses & the burning bush, Samuel as a little boy with Eli, Gideon hiding in the winepress with the angelic visit, the Samaritan woman at the well with Jesus & Saul on the road to Damascus.
We would be wise to pause at what could be a distraction or interruption and reflect for a few moments to listen and watch for God to speak with us. Sometimes God interrupts our daily living to help us make some important decisions & course corrections 🙂
Do you ever struggle with distractions or competing priorities? There are loads of things in our world that demand our attention, from the pop-ups that happen on our Facebook feed to the random text message advertising some random product. So how do we deal with these distractions? And what about competing priorities? Here are some helpful thoughts that you could pass along to your friends / family as well 🙂
“Did you put on deodorant today???” Sometimes a family member will ask me this poignant question & it arrests my attention. I stop to think, “Why are they asking me this?” And then instinctively I take a whiff to check & quickly inventory my morning routine. Body odor in America can be highly offensive, regardless of the reasons that might “justify” the aroma 🙂
And our body odor is a reflection of our daily hygiene habits, what we put into our bodies, what activities we do and the environments where we spend time. I think all of these are relevant to thinking about spreading the fragrance of Jesus wherever we go, as Paul talks about in 2Cor 2:15. So here are some things to think about, that can help us make Jesus smell good to those around us:
daily hygiene: this can be a helpful parallel to our daily quiet time with Jesus (Bible & prayer time help to ground our thoughts, emotions and perspective)
inputs: in Col 3:16 Paul tells us to let God’s Word dwell richly in our hearts; garbage in = garbage out; glory in = glory out 🙂
activities: when I practice genuine love and not just talk about it, then it becomes more natural and helps me remember that love is my endgame because of John 13:35
environment: being around genuine love (letting God love us), helps us to spread the fragrance & value of genuine love throughout any given day
Being around Jesus’ love helps us spread His fragrance 🙂
It’s interesting to watch people when someone famous is around, be that a movie star, an accomplished athlete, a Christian leader, a youtube star, political leader, pop singer, etc. And we all have people who we look up to & capture our attention / applause. But let’s take a minute to consider how we behave and talk around famous people. And even more importantly, maybe we should consider how we act and talk when no one famous is around, keeping in mind that Jesus is ever present.
And let’s be sure that no one captures our attention or applause more than Jesus, who loves and knows us better than anyone in our life!
No one gets a pass on receiving bad news. And recently, I heard some stuff that was discouraging – the opposite of what I’d been asking from God & I was unhappy with opposite outcome of my prayers. I think it’s pointless to hide my emotions from God or pretend that everything is ok when it’s not. At the same time, the world doesn’t stop just because we get some bad news. So here are a few suggestions that could be helpful:
Tell God how you feel & what you’re thinking. Reading Psalms & Job give some really insightful thoughts & expression to emotions that are raw & real.
Perspective adjustments: sometimes it’s helpful to look at a broader picture than just the bad news
Consider the cause: is it possible that the bad news is a consequence of something you did? If so, maybe it would be helpful to make some course corrections / different decisions.
Choose to trust God: It always encourages me to remember that God uses all things for the the good to those who love Him & stay aligned with God’s purposes
Feel free to pass this along to any friends / family who might be struggling with getting some bad news
I find that life has seasons of serenity and contrasting times of turbulence. The danger of serene seasons is that we can become stagnant or let our values get highjacked by comfort and convenience. In relation to turbulent times, here are a few ideas that you, or a friend, might find helpful:
take a walk – I find that walking and talking with God helps me unload anxiety and gain some helpful perspective
pay attention to your choices – it’s not uncommon for us to seek comfort in turbulent times & sometimes what “comforts” us can actually be detrimental
get some help – this can be a variety of things such as exercise, making a praise & worship playlist, having lunch with a friend, reading a good book, etc
anchor in the Bible – it always helps me to find a few key Bible verses to keep in the forefront of my thoughts. Here are some helpful suggestions:
Ps 55:22, “Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you.”
James 1:2-3, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
Matt 6:33, “Seek first God’s kingdom & everything will be added to you.”
Luke 1:37, “With God, nothing is impossible”
Philippians 4:11, “. . . , for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”
Dislocated shoulder, Cambodian spider bite, concussion & maybe a hairline fracture: these are some of the injuries my doctor has diagnosed over the recent years. So whenever I book an appointment, I grimace as I anticipate their amused facial reactions. And I’d prefer to skip the whole experience & be on my merry way, injury free. But life has a way of serving up some hurtful maladies.
Thankfully, we have a Divine Physician who specializes in healing & repairing bodies, emotions, memories, injuries, hurts, etc. Let’s be careful that we don’t allow our tendency to be independent to sabotage Jesus’ healing work. Compensatory behaviors can interfere with divine healing, just sayin’
Stay-cation is this week’s plan & this far its going pretty well. We solicited input from our kids for various activities to do this week, hence the picture below 🙂
So I wonder what it would be like if we let God direct our activities. This morning I read in Matthew 11:28 that Jesus will give us rest for our weary & heavy laden souls. So when we “stay” in Jesus, maybe the abiding helps us to rest & we can live in “stay-cation” mode, letting God direct our steps.
I recently received an advertising email from a national pizza franchise encouraging me to buy an XL pepperoni pizza & the picture was irresistible! So I placed my order & went to collect my XL pepperoni pizza only to be disappointed. It wasn’t XL & it looked just like the frozen pizza, I buy in bulk from Walmart. Nor was the taste anything spectacular. So I was disappointed because the marketing didn’t remotely match the experience.
This also happens with Jesus’ followers. It’s not uncommon for people to be disappointed with the experience when it doesn’t match the marketing. Sometimes we call this hypocrisy and it can often happen when we look at the advertising more than the real thing. When we look at fellow believers or even “super-star” Christians, we’re setting ourselves up to be disappointed. So the core lesson here is that we keep our eyes on Jesus more than any human because Jesus isn’t just a marketing ploy. Jesus is genuine love & slakes our thirsty souls with living water 🙂
A few months ago, I was in Angola with Saving Moses & I forgot my toothpaste, so I bought some Angolan toothpaste & it’s not my favorite. I can appreciate that you might think I should know better than to forget toothpaste, but that’s a conversation for another blog ,)
A few helpful thoughts about tooth brushing:
Halitosis / AKA: bad breath – when some people open their mouths, bad things happen. Nothing sweet comes out in words or smell. So let’s put good things in our heart, so that sweet comes out of our mouth, based on Proverbs 10:11
Furry Teeth: brushing off the plague and residual food helps our smiles be warm rather than unnerving or distracting. And Proverbs 12:14 speaks to the importance of mouth maintenance
Bacteria removal: bad things happen when bacteria builds but & removing it daily from our teeth preserves our ability to continue using our teeth. Proverbs 12:19 helps us appreciate the importance of keeping truth in our mouths 🙂
Preventing enamel & tooth decay: hurtful & destructive words set into motion negative things in our lives, so let’s be mindful of James 3:1-12 to keep our lives overflowing with love & life!!
Feel free to send this to your friends & share it on FB as a helpful reminder about keeping a sweet mouth with life-giving words!
“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 🙂
A jig is a dance and implies energetic stepping & this feels like the opposite of jet lag. If you’ve ever heard a song played at half speed with the words sounding long & drawn out, incomprehensible, and the music total nonsense, this is how jet lag feels. It’s no bueno.
Thankfully, time in God’s hands is a good thing. It helps me to remember that God has organized time and events in my life such that even when I have jet lag & eventhing seems slow, God is in control. So whether we want things to speed up or slow down, God’s timing in our lives is perfect, regardless of how we feel or the circumstances of our lives 🙂
“Wakey Wakey,” said my body at 4am this morning. When I looked at the clock, my brain said, “Sleepy! Sleepy!”And that’s the challenge with jet lag: you wake up at crazy hours & you want to sleep when it’s time to be awake. I’m just back from Cambodia, so it takes a little time to reset ones clock & let the body catch up to the proper time zone. Getting upset won’t help the reset.
Sometimes, we also need to reset our focus & priorities to what is best aligned with genuine love. Instead of managing to the culture around us or pursuing creature comforts, let’s upset the mundane & conventional to go after what’s exceptional & revolutionary.And we can start today by doing the quote from Mother Teresa, “Do little things with great love”
I’m in Cambodia & have met women here in the sex industry & their eyes are vacant. On the surface, our initial reaction could be one of shame, disinterest, judgment, revulsion or not even seeing her. When a persons eyes seem empty or vacant, it can be easy to overlook them. But we need to see past the surface & we need to look beyond our initial reactions to see a human for whom Jesus died & deeply loves.
No one, including you & me, wants to be ignored, overlooked, shamed, judged nor rejected. With genuine love there is never a scarcity, so this helps us to see beyond the surface. In contrast, there’s always a shortage with transactional love.
Let’s let Holy Spirit Help is to see beyond the surface!
This is part of the skyline for Phnom Penh & it has grown immensely over the last few years!I’m here because God put a vision in my heart to open nightcare centers in Cambodia. Nightcare is my work w Saving Moses where we look after the babies & toddlers of sex workers while they work.At our centers, each baby : toddler receives a warm welcome, bath, clean clothes, dinner, some basic education & a safe place to sleep through the night, all in the atmosphere of genuine love. Without nightcare they would be at severe risk to experience horrific trauma.
We’ve been working here for many years & I LOVE what we do, so much that I want MORE!!
Dream big with God. Let Holy Spirit show you vistas & impossibilities that quicken your pulse. Then take a step in that direction!Of course there are hardships & setbacks, but don’t let these hinder you before you even take a step!GO BIG!!!
“That’s DISGUSTING!!!”Lots of people have this reaction when they begin to hear about the daily living of a sex worker in third world countries. I’m in Cambodia this week with our annual Saving Moses team trip & our nightcare work here (feel free to come w me next year).I love to watch God change various perspectives about people & various hardships / experiences these women go through to say nothing about their babies & toddlers.On a more immediate context, maybe you know people who are making bad decisions, going down an awful trajectory or compromising in unthinkable ways.
Do we choose to revile or reconcile?
Regardless of the decisions people make, we can shame & revile them or walk alongside & reconcile them. Jesus is a great example of reconciling rather than reviling 🙂