Hot Topic: Successful Outcomes!!

” . . . . and the Lord brought about a great victory.” 2Samuel 23:12
I read this morning about some dude, Shammah, defending a field of lentils. Initially, a lentil field doesn’t sound like something to get really upset about, let alone turn into a major military engagement. But alas, Shammah picked the lentil field & that was his “line in the sand.” This verse also says that Shammah took his stand in the field, defended it & struck down the Philistines. After Shammah’s three actions, taking his stand, defending the field & striking the Philistines, God gave him a great victory.
It seems like we often want to know that God will give us a great victory before we make the commitment to a lentil field or put out the effort to fight for something.
Sometimes I think that God waits for us to be fully engaged & committed before giving us a great victory.
Might there be a few areas in your life to which you could increase your commitment so that God would provide a great victory? This is something worth considering today!

Hot Topic: Inauguration Day

Our nation is extremely divided along many lines:  economically, politically, socially, in morals and loads more.  And tomorrow’s Inauguration is a reflection of these divisions.  I’ve been thinking and praying about this for quite some time, asking God for perspective, wisdom and compassion.  In my prayers, I was reminded of the bloody transition in 2 Samuel from the house of Saul to David.  This transition took many years and was not just a little tulmutuous.  Then I also remembered reading Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.  I was deeply moved by his words & would strongly encourage you to read this

very powerful, insightful and sobering speech.

Let’s be sure to pray these points every day:

  • pray that our nation would experience an outpouring of genuine Jesus!
  • pray for our new President, based on 1 Timothy 2:2
  • pray for yourself to know Jesus’ love for you & to let that flow from you without flaws or distortions

Be sure to share this with your friends by email, FB, etc 🙂

Hot Topic: Sometimes No

I really like to tell my kids, “Yes!” I like to tell them yes to eating salad, working out, studying, reading good books & hanging out with constructive friends. All of these get a hearty “yes and AMEN!” from me. But alas, they don’t always ask me for these kinds of things.

Sometimes they ask me:

  • to eat cake when it would be better to have some beets.
  • to sleep in when they need to go to school.
  • to hang out with a shady person when it would be better to do their homework.

Sometimes we ask God for stuff that’s not good for us & we often don’t like God’s answer. We can even deny that God is answering our prayers when we don’t like the answer. But alas, God answers prayer even when we don’t like the answer! Let’s trust that when God says no, it’s in our best interest & there’s a better plan or answer than what we’ve been requesting!

Hot Topic: Pivot Gratitude

 

Happy Thanksgiving! In the US, we celebrate being thankful today, enumerating our blessings & acknowledging the abundance that we have. But alas, sometimes the mindset that looks for abundance can get disappointed. Indeed, on this day, we often turn a blind eye to the deficiencies we have, choosing to ignore lack or gloss over the absence of things we want.

Let’s pivot this thinking. Today, I’m not only thankful for what I have, but I’m also thankful for what I don’t have.

I’m grateful that God doesn’t give me everything I want because this would be very destructive to my soul. I’m grateful for struggles & hardships because I don’t develop patience & persistence without such struggles (James 1:2-4). And let’s not forget Paul who was thankful for the thorn in his flesh in 2Cor 12:9ff because this thorn cultivated reliance on Jesus like nothing else in his life.
Let’s not only be thankful for abundance but let’s be grateful for some difficulties as well. And of course, let’s always be mindful to encourage & love the people around us! We can’t always understand their decisions but we can always chose to be loving & encouraging!
Be super clear that I’m thankful for you! Feel free to pass this along to friends & family today! It could be really helpful to lots of peeps!

Hot Topic: Election Day

Seems like today will be a significant day for the political scenario in the US. It feels like our nation has been through a divisive meat grinder & it will be nice to have some reprieve from the political adds on tv, at a minimum. While you & I are likely tired of the disrespectful tone this election has evoked throughout our nation, may we never grow weary of praying for our leaders, no matter who wins this presidential election. Here are three verses you might consider praying everyday for our leaders, regardless if they’re male or female:

  • 1 Timothy 2:1-2, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”
  • Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord;  He turns it wherever He wishes.”
  • 1 Samuel 10:6, “Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man.”

These are three great verses to pray everyday for our leaders! Please consider sending this blog to three people who will consider praying these verses for our leaders!

Hot Topic: Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton

Last night, I had a friend who tried to give me an earful about one of these presidential candidates. This person asked me for my opinion & I said, “I am choosing not to express my thoughts on either of these candidates because I’ve watched so many friendships burn up from the conflicts ignited by this political inferno. The only thing I’ll say about this topic is that our nation needs prayer like we’ve never needed it before.”

My friend tried to keep talking about the various candidates & I didn’t take the bait, nor will I.
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you have an opinion about the upcoming election & who should be our president. But let’s keep three things at the front of our conversations on this topic:
1 – Are your friendships worth torching because you might disagree about politics?
2 – What happens to your friendships when the election is over?
3 – God is on the throne in heaven no matter who wins or loses in this election

Finally, let’s agree to pray more than worry or fight 🙂

Hot Topic:  Gravity Prayers

I like to pray because in my mind, praying is simply conversing with God. Prayer is a dialogue between God & me, not just a monologue shopping list. From time to time, however, I sense God challenging me to make known my requests & not just stay in the listening mode. Over time, I’m learning to take very seriously what these requests can be for the simple reason that God answers our prayers. 
Consider these weighty requests:

  • Patience – when we ask God to help us be more patient, often the resulting journey to that destination can be tumultuous
  • Trust – help me trust You more / better; the places in our lives that need this work can get very uncomfortable from the Holy Spirit answering this request
  • Love – I’ve asked God to help me love better & despite some hotspots, the results are worth the risks

It’s not bad to make weighty prayers, but let’s be prepared to make the changes such prayers require. 

Hot Topic: Be An Olympian!

I seriously love watching amatuer athletes obliterate records and defy conventional thinking.  In this year’s Olympics, I’ve dropped my teeth on more than one occassion:

  • watching Ledeky become la pescada with her 800m swim that left me speechless
  • seeing Simone Biles defy gravity, celebrating her epic tenacity & talent
  • observing the winning exchange between Nikki Hamblin & Abbey D’Agostino in the 500m qualifying race

The Olympics this year have been very incredible in many different ways.  As I’ve thought about some of stand-out moments & athletes, I asked myself the questions, “In what way would I want to be an Olympian & not just in an athletic context?  How could I be an olympian person in a spiritual context?”  As I thought about these questions, I remembered the story of Perpetua, a third century martyr, who died as she said, “stand fast in the faith and love one another.”  I applaud the athletic achievements that have marked the Olympics this year, but may our love for Jesus and others be every bit as olympian, with the help of the Holy Spirit!

hot topic: Orlando Massacre

It is very disturbing to read the unfolding news about the mass shooting yesterday in Orlando.  A muslim security guard, armed with a semi-automatic machine gun, entered a gay bar in Orlando and began shooting.  He was confronted by an off-duty police officer and manuevered into the bathroom where he maintained a stand-off for three hours while the Orlando police and emergency services worked to protect and rescue victims from the carnage and violence.  Of course this story is continuing to unfold in the news and I have no doubt more information will come to light over time.

In the political world, various leaders are advocating better gun control laws, some leaders are rallying support for the LGBT community and many leaders are blaming the immigration struggles with which the US is wrestling.

As a follower of Jesus, it is my sincere prayer that my community rallies around the words of Jesus more than the world of hate.  There are some people who would try to explain that because this was an attack on a gay bar, God is expressing His judgement and wrath on the homosexual community.  There are other folk who would seek to ostracize muslims because of this violent atrocity.

Seems to me that when Jesus was hanging on the cross, He didn’t ask the Father to get revenge on these wicked, violent and undeserving sinners.  He asked the Father to forgive the people who violently beat, condemned and hung Him on a cross – the most innocent and pure human to ever grace the human race.   May our words and actions be overflowing with the grace and love that have been so richly lavished on us.  Let us freely give what we have so abundantly received.  We need the Holy Spirit to work into our thoughts and actions the redeeming life of Christ.

Hot Topic: Muhammed Ali

“I am the greatest!”  I heard Muhammed Ali say this when I was a little girl & I was really put off by his words.  I remember thinking, “Why would a person be so obviously prideful?  Did he really say that?”  Then I watched him on TV and sure enough, he said it all the time with total conviction.  Someone explained to me at that time that he was using his words to intimidate his opponents and a winning mindset creates winning outcomes.  Once I understood the reasons Muhammed Ali said, “I am the greatest” then it made sense why he would make such a bold claim.

But as a little girl, even though I could understand the reasoning for such audacity, I always thought to myself, “No one but Jesus is the greatest.”

  • Being an amazing boxer doesn’t make a person the greatest.
  • Being crazy intelligent doesn’t make a person the greatest.
  • Being hyper rich doesn’t make a person the greatest.
  • Being drop dead gorgeous doesn’t make a person the greatest.

According to Jesus, the greatest person is the servant of all.  Let’s align our lives with Jesus’ teachings and not fall for flesh fallacies.

hot topic: help my unbelief

I love this quote from a dad who was asking Jesus to heal his son.  Jesus says to the dad that all things are possible to him who believes.  The dad’s reply sounds like something I’d say, “I do believe; help my unbelief!”

For me, believing is often easier said than done.  I can talk all day about believing God, trusting in God, having faith, etc, but when the rubber hits the road, sometimes I struggle with the believing thing.  Of course I want to believe, so the desire is solid.  But the actual believing is often where I fall short.  When I think about why I struggle with believing, it’s mostly because of either past experiences or my brain goes into skeptical mode.  So I deeply appreciate this dad’s honest words with Jesus, “Help my unbelief”.  Like me, he’s saying that he wants to believe, but it’s a hurdle and he needs help to overcome this hurdle.

Here are some pointers for overcoming unbelief:

  • be truthful:  hiding or cloaking unbelief is counterproductive, but bringing our weaknesses to Jesus is where strength starts
  • ask for Help!  Since the Holy Spirit is our Helper, seems like a good idea to give the Helper access to the places of unbelief with which we struggle.
  • Jude 20 says that we build up our faith when we pray in the Spirit #selah
  • let’s remember that faith works by love, so the absence of love could be the catalyst for our unbelief #selah

Let’s decide that there is no unbelief in our lives that cannot be transformed into a place of strong faith!

Hot Topic: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, et al.

Clearly, this year’s presidential race has generated heaps of attention, angst, journalism opportunities and raised eyebrows.  The tumultuous run-offs between Ted Cruz versus Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders have encouraged me to pray more than I ever have for this year’s election.

Regardless of your political persuasions, let’s be sure that we keep our prayer level higher than our worry level.  Let’s remember that God is in control more than any man or woman.  Let’s be certain that we do three things that mark us as followers of Jesus, based on John 13:35:

  • love God
  • love people
  • love ourselves

Loving well is letting the Holy Spirit pour God’s love into our hearts, moment by moment & day by day 🙂

Hot Topic: Prince Dies

The ultra famous rocker “Prince” died today at the age of 57, of causes yet unknown.  If you ever listened to pop radio in the 1980s, there’s a good chance you heard at least a few of his songs – “1999”, “When Doves Cry” & “Let’s Go Crazy”, to name a few.  Prince was a very private and creative person.  His religious leanings were probably in the Jehovah Witness persuasion & he didn’t really comply with anything institutional nor common.  At one point, he changed his name to a symbol & that’s probably where I lost the plot with him.

While you can find plenty of things in his life that didn’t agree with you, he was nevertheless an innovative creator of a rare breed.  Some of that creativity was bizarre but some of it was sheer genius.

While many of the people who read this blog may not be familiar with Prince, his premature death drives home the point that life is short.  Let’s be certain to live with divine intentionality and pray for the people not only in our daily living but also for the people have platform and influence in today’s culture.

 

Hot Topic: Get HELP!!

I was making my coffee this morning & didn’t pay attention well, so I accidentally burned my hand – HELP!!!! That’s about what I said, at maximum volume. My son jumped into action & grabbed some ice that immediately helped soothe the burn. Thankfully, he helped me & didn’t make me feel stupid for making my thoughtless mistake. 
Seems to me that this is often what the Holy Spirit does – readily aides our cry for help, comforts & heals what hurts without making us feel stupid or shamed in the process. 

Be sure to get your copy of Heavenly Help – we both need more Help than we realize 🙂  

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!

Hot Topic: I’m Listening

“Mom!” When my kids call for me, I often reply, “I’m listening.” When I say this, rather than “yes”, it seems to give them a micro pause & I find that the quality of our chat improves. I think that when I say, “I’m listening”, there’s a sense that I’m giving them a better quality of attention than a perfunctory “yea”. And getting to have some quality interaction with my kids is always platinum for me. 
I was thinking about this as I read Genesis 22 this morning where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Three times in this chapter Abraham says, “Here I am” – once to God, once to Isaac & the last time to the angel getting his attention for divine provision. In my thinking, when Abraham said “Here I am”, he was saying my version, “I’m listening”. 

Seems to me from Gen 22 that the quality of our listening just might have an affect the abundance of God’s provision in our lives. This is important not only for us as individuals, but also for the succeeding generation. Selah

Hot Topic: Get HELP!!

Changing a tire, smoke alarms, sermon advice, editing with writing, parenting struggles, matching clothes, staying patient, . . . . these things barely scratch the surface of areas where I need help.  Admitting that I need help is a very big struggle for me.  So when Jesus said in John 14, that He would send His followers another Helper, I always thought, “That’s nice.  I hope some folk benefit from that help.”  I never really thought I needed “help” until I began digging into Jesus’ words to His disciples at the Last Supper in John 14-16.

Having studied and prayed about Jesus’ words in these chapters, I have become unraveled and undone, full stop.  So I wrote a book about this & you should buy it, now (pre-order) before it becomes back-ordered.  Actually, order at least 5 books because it’s awesome for small group discussions, book clubs and giving away as gifts 🙂

Here’s some helpful resources to look at:  Heavenly Help

Hot Topic: Donald Trump Loses in Iowa

I woke up this morning to learn that Donald Trump lost to Ted Cruz in the Iowa republican caucuses. Seems like a lot of people think this is important for selecting a Republican candidate for the Presidential election in November. I also read about how China is cracking down on Christianity  again.  And of course, there’s the continuing crisis in the Middle East with refugees, ISIS, Syria and more.

All the while these big events are happening throughout the world, here in Denver we have a snow day, so my kids are enjoying sledding and the boon of some extra free time.  Personally, I like the shoveling exercise & the opportunity to reflect upon both big and small events.

Whatever is happening for you today, let’s remain committed to pray for the community in which we live, the city / town where we work & our nation.  Let’s not be afraid of the future and let’s keep our focus and confidence in our all-knowing and all-powerful God, who loves us far more than we could grasp with our finite minds.

Our heavenly Father demonstrated the immensity of His love for us by sending His only Son in the flesh to live out the human experience, expressing genuine love throughout His life.

Remember that Jesus is God’s selfie ,)

Hot Topic:  Snow-zilla, Super Bowl & Zika

We live in interesting times with the recent monster snow storm on the East Coast & with the Denver Broncos going to the Super Bowl (I live in Denver so for us Colorado folks, that’s a big deal). Obviously, these things are newsworthy. 
But here’s something to watch & pray about that’s really important: medical professionals have began to spread an alert about a new disease, Zika. This disease affects the brain development of infants & is a very big concern. In my work with Saving Moses, we are always alert to the most urgent needs of babies & toddlers where the care is least available. Let’s be sure to pray for this important challenge, for God’s intervention & wisdom for these innocent babies!

hot topic: lost my credit card :/

Yesterday, my daughter & I were going through a drive through hamburger place to grab a quick lunch and when I looked for my credit card to pay, it was missing!  My heart dropped down to my toes – then I quickly started to look for my credit card & with relief found it in my car.

We can all think of various things we’ve lost in the past & what a horrible feeling it leaves in our thoughts.  So when I recently read Jesus’ 3 parables about lost stuff in Luke 15 (sheep, coin & son), I was very moved by some important things for us to consider:

  • the shepherd, woman & father didn’t quit looking until what was lost had been found:  our heavenly Father never quits & gives up trying to find & reconcile us
  • there was a massive celebration when the lost item / person was found & reconciled:  there was no shame or scolding given to that which was lost, but rather a jubuliant celebration over the recovery & reconciliation
  • being lost can be expressed in lots of different contexts:  the father sought to reconcile not only the renegade son, but also the self-righteous son who remained aloof & detached from his family;  being right doesn’t mean we don’t need to be reconciled 🙂