Recognizing Jesus

On the heals of Easter, it’s tempting to move on to what’s next.  Stuff such as Spring cleaning, Mother’s Day, graduation prep, etc can require our attention so much that Easter could quickly be forgotten.  But let’s keep in mind that after Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to folk unexpectedly.  And maybe it was difficult to recognize Jesus because there was lots of emotional intensity that made recognition more difficult.  Here are a few emotions that maybe cause us to struggle to recognize Jesus:

  • fear:  the disciples huddled together in fear after Jesus’ death.  Jesus appeared to them despite their fear
  • grief:  maybe it was difficult for Mary Magdalene to recognize Jesus in the Garden after His resurrection because grief was so overwhelming.  Jesus appeared to her, nonetheless
  • uncertainty:  on the road to Emmaus, some of Jesus followers were trying to figure out what had just happened after His crucifixion and “disappearance.”  Jesus walked with them on their journey and helped them understand what just happened
  • doubt:  Thomas was missing when Jesus made His first appearance to the disciples after His resurrection.  Jesus came back to untangle Thomas’ doubt.

Let’s keep looking for Jesus because we can find and experience Him everyday because He’s alive!

YIKES!!!!

Have you ever been in the middle of something important & realized you’re not as prepared as you thought??  This happened to me last night, as I was speaking at the Wednesday night service at our church. Once I got up on the stage & opened my notes, I realized that I had the wrong notes. Attempting to think on my feet, I checked my phone for my notes because I’d sent them earlier in the day, only to discover that I’d sent the wrong notes!  And all of these realizations were happening real-time in front of both our church & livestream audience!  ARRRRRRGH!!!

In these moments when we are caught off guard or entirely unprepared, what can we do??

Upon realizing what I’d done, I took a few seconds to talk with Holy Spirit to ask for HELP!!!!  I decided to settle into my Bible, lean into Holy Spirit & endeavor to follow Holy Spirit real time. After the sermon, as I was driving home, I was abundantly grateful to Holy Spirit for making the sermon impactful, clear & helpful to the audience!  I’m learning to trust & flow with Holy Spirit, regardless of my circumstances or feelings.  Would you like to join me on this adventure for your life?  Feel free to check out my books on Holy Spirit (Heavenly Help & In Step), to grow in this adventure 🙂

Peace in a Storm

Here in Israel today, we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee & heard about Jesus walking on the water & Peter joining Him. This was in the middle of a storm & in the middle of night, so there was lots of fear & anxiety. On another occasion, Jesus was sleeping in a boat somewhere in the Sea of Galilee also during a storm. In both scenarios, Jesus had affirmed the trip before the storm started. 

My point is that when we follow Jesus, we can’t assume that our lives will be storm free. Indeed, sometimes we will follow Jesus into a storm. And to get through the storm, we must keep following g Jesus. While we follow Jesus, it’s helpful to remember that He’s the Prince of Peace & His peace will overcome any storm 🙂

Timing Is Everything

“My time is not here yet, but your time is always opportune.” This is what Jesus said to his brothers in John 7:6, replying to their advice about His visibility and their marketing wisdom. And there’s lots of value in thinking about the right timing, alignment, relationships, resources, etc.

It seems to me that in our modern world, we don’t have much appetite for patience, refinement processes, aging, maturation and stuff like that. We want the results, but not the time that goes into having the results. And yet I see such massive value in the actual process, time spent, maturation journey. There is timeless wisdom and value in looking at life for the long view and not only the short-term gains. Indeed, since God is the author of time, we would be wise to trust in God’s timing and processes, but most of all that God deeply loves us!

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 Attitude Factor

It’s easy for me to get a bad attitude when I’m tired, when I have jet lag, when a day is overflowing with bad stuff, etc. And I find that attitudes are important catalysts for how we experience life. In the Bible, we can see various people who wrestled with their attitudes & the outcomes. For example, David had good reasons to have a bad attitude with the Saul season & he endeavored to coach his attitude by keeping his focus on God – a really helpful principle!

Let’s also remember: a bad attitude ruins everything good & a good  attitude ruins everything bad 🙂

Daily Living

I’m in Bangledesh with Saving Moses. I love to watch the people here & reflect on their daily living. I see shopkeepers, garment factory workers, kids walking to school, brick makers, farmers, etc. There are lots of differences here in the daily living with what is familiar to us in America. 

As humans, however, there’s lots of commonality that we’d be wise to acknowledge. No matter the differences, let’s remember some helpful things:

  • Respect: being respectful of differences helps us learn & know people
  • Compassion: the road each person travels has unique struggles
  • Learning: new experiences can facilitate some incredible insights

At the core of these three things is an internal perspective that we can cultivate. When we lack these things, then it’s helpful to take an internal inventory to consider why something is missing. Selah 🙂

Election Hangover

In America this week, we had a national & local election, so all media outlets were fully engaged with debates, advertisements, etc. There are plenty of folk who prefer less campaigning & not just a few of us are weary of the deceptions & hostile conflict that politics has become. As a follower off Jesus & His teachings, there are a few takeaways to maintain regardless of your political affiliations / preferences. 

  • Be compassionate – Jesus was helpful, kind, forgiving, healing & generous to marginalized people
  • Be prayerful – Jesus taught His disciples to pray, a constructive habit we would be wise to cultivate
  • Be loving – Jesus said that His followers would be recognized by their love for each other.

Show Up

Some things are difficult & we want to find excuses or reasons to avoid such difficulties. We might want to sidestep a challenging conversation or greeting a prickly person. We might prefer to ignore the scale in the bathroom since it may tell us something unpleasant. And there’s always the “busy” excuse that’s convenient for all kinds of stuff we’d prefer to avoid. 

Despite our best efforts, however, whatever we try to avoid, ignore, deflect, etc it’s still there & will likely remain present until we step into the issue. Here are a few ideas that might help us to show up:

  • Pray: let God know you don’t want to show up & ask for divine Help
  • Deep breath:  this can often help to clear the cobwebs in our thinking & give us some energy to take a step
  • Anticipate good: it’s possible that whatever we might be avoiding has some unexpected good stuff
  • Love truth: sometimes we avoid truth bc it might be painful or unpleasant. But ultimately, deception is more destructive than truth!

Imagine THAT!!!

Some days I imagine that I’m an incredible basketball player. I can see myself stealing the ball, being really agile & shooting the lights out on 3 pointers. But alas, I know full well that such a fantasy could only be realized in heaven.
On this side of heaven, I also like to imagine what it would be like to have babies & toddlers out of harms way at nighttime while their moms work in 3rd world countries, as sex workers. This imagination has led to our expression of genuine love with nightcare. I imagined nightcare around 7 years ago & started exploring this possibility. I found that no one had ever heard off this idea but everyone with whom I talked thought it was a MAGNIFICENT idea!! Seven years later, Saving Moses has 6 nightcare centers with over 100 babies & toddlers out of harms way while their moms work. And we are continuing to expand.
Let’s imagine good things in the world around us & then start taking steps to make our imagination into a reality!!!
Imagine THAT!!!!!

Sent from my iPhone

Proximity Alert

It’s getting colder & the days are getting shorter as we begin to move towards Winter.  In the southern hemisphere, they’re approaching Summer and it’s getting warmer there & the days are longer.  So it depends on your location on our planet, in approximation to the sun, whether you’re getting warmer or colder, more or less light. By default, heat & light also have a direct impact on how much life there is.  Where there is less light & more cold, life is less abundant.

Let’s make the same parallel for Jesus, God’s Son.  When we revolve our lives closely around the Son, we have more light, greater warmth & consequentially, more life.  We can also consider that perhaps there are some areas in our lives that need to be around Jesus more – particularly if we recognize the absence of light, warmth & life.  Jesus says that He’s come to give us life & life more abundantly – so let’s stay close to Jesus in every area of our lives!

Changing Times

Presently, I’m in Cambodia & yesterday I was in Dubai.  Tomorrow, I fly back to Denver so I’m changing lots of time zones.  I’m hopeful that I’m not a babbling idiot as I interact with various folk, since my sleep is a little bit whacky.  It’s understandable because Dubai is 10 hours ahead of Denver, Cambodia is 13 hours ahead of Denver & Friday I’ll be back in Denver – so I’m going around the world in 7days.  This means lots of geography changes & navigating time zones.

And times are changing around the world.  In the US, the generational shifts are obvious & sometimes difficult for adjusting. Furthermore, time seems to change as we age – maybe it speeds up?  Here are some ideas that might be helpful for changing times:

  • be present today:  yesterday is over & tomorrow isn’t here; so now is a wonderful place to reside
  • trust that our times are in God’s hands, based on Ps 31:15
  • time is irreplacable so let’s be intentional about how & where we invest our time
  • let genuine love be our top priority regardless of how the times & people are changing!

Messing Up

I’ve definitely had my share of flops, failures and screwups!  When I was younger, I’d get massively embarrassed & it would take me awhile to recover.  Now that I’m “older”, it’s easier to laugh at myself & put mistakes in the “practice” column ,)

I’m in the middle of a youtube series about people in the Bible who messed up.  Feel free to watch this really short video about a Bible character & I’m inviting you to subscribe to my youtube channel as well!  Happy viewing!

Doing Difficult

What is difficult for you to do?  Do you struggle with self control on various things like eating, sleeping, Netflix or something like that?  Is it difficult for you to engage with people or do time alone?  All of us have things that are difficult to do. And sometimes we just flat out don’t do what’s difficult even though we know we should. 

Here’s some help, possibly, to do difficult:

  • Start w what’s most difficult & finish with what’s easiest. This can help you keep going
  • Coach the mental game – recognize that your thoughts play a role in doing what’s difficult
  • Pray for Heavenly Help – Holy Spirit helps us do difficult things
  • Celebrate progress & not just completion 🙂

Here’s to doing difficult stuff!

Bring Out the Best!

I was in a parking lot today and watched the drivers from two cars get in a honking battle.  They concluded their exchanges with middle fingers, yelling and mean looks.  I would suspect that perhaps these drivers have different sides to their personalities, such that they don’t go through their lives everyday with expletives, middle fingers and combative behaviors.

Just because someone is hostile or cranky with us doesn’t mean that we have to repay the same acrimony.  Indeed, such moments are opportunities to do a quick heart check on ourselves and choose better.  Furthermore, we can go the extra mile & look for constructive ways to bring out the best in people.  Here are some suggestions for your consideration:

  • encouragement, gratitude and polite words make a comfortable runway for others to be gracious
  • a soft answer turns away wrath – Prov 15;1
  • forgiveness is a decision to reflect God’s DNA in us, since we are liberally forgiven even more than we realize
  • what a person “deserves” is best left in God’s hands, since we are commanded by Jesus not to judge in Matt 7:1

Let’s endeavor to bring out the best throughout our daily exchanges!

What’s Enough?

I go through seasons in my life where everything seems manageable.  This means that I have a balance with my workload, time, responsibilities, family stuff, travel, etc.  And then I go through seasons that seem very unbalanced:  too much work, not enough time, overwhelming responsibilities, unresolved family challenges and maybe a host of other hotspots.  So in these seasons, it’s easy for me to feel like I’m drowning and I can’t manage everything – there’s not enough of me to adequately match everything that’s being demanded or required.

In these seasons, it helps me to focus on what’s immediately in front of me and taking one day at a time.  Indeed, I don’t have the resources, wisdom, energy or wherewithall to get very far into the future and it can overwhelm  me when I try.  Maybe this is why God did the manna thing for Israel, giving adequate supply of bread for each day.  This forced the Israelites to trust God on a daily basis and this is a helpful mindset that we can also choose for today.  Let’s thank God for giving us daily provisions, adequate for each day 🙂

Shock Value

There are many things that can be shocking, such as a precipitous drop in the stock market, unexpected news from a relative and sometimes, God does stuff that’s shocking.  It seems to me that most of us don’t like stuff that’s shocking, such that we stay away from this kind of thing or we insulate ourselves, to minimize the exposure.

And yet, sometimes, things that are shocking can help us to get out of a rut.  For example, I think Jesus was very shocking to the religious establishment in His day.  Indeed, He challenged not only their assumptions and traditions, but also their practices and daily interactions:

  • He ate with sinners.
  • He associated with tax collectors.
  • He kept company with the irresuptable.

All of these actions of Jesus were very shocking to various upstanding citizens.  And yet what is more importance than the shock value, is the reality that Jesus did all of these “crazy things”, from the premise and core motivation of genuine love.  Sometimes, genuine love is the essence of shock value 🙂

Have a happy weekend!

Those Yucky People

“Why is He eating & drinking with sinners and tax collectors?”  This is what the scribes of the Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples in Mark 2:16, when Jesus got all cozy with these less than upright scum.  The tax collectors and sinners were considered “yucky people” by the religious leaders and zealots of Jesus’ day.  So no wonder they questioned Jesus’ decision to not only associate, but also get cozy with such reprobates.

And I’m so thankful for His reply in Mark 2:17, “It’s not the healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick;  I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Thankfully, Jesus has never required us to get everything clean and pristine in our lives before He would hang out with us.  Not only does He accept us as we are, but He makes us better because of His genuine love for us.  In the same way, let’s be certain that no one in our lives gets the “yucky” treatment, being ostracized, belittled or shamed.  Indeed, Jesus loves us and wants to love through us!

Do You Need Abundance?

Sometimes we find ourselves running on empty.  This can happen not just with finances, but sometimes we run out of energy, or we don’t have enough time, maybe our relationships feel shallow or perhaps you have more problems than solutions.

Feel free to watch & share this short video to see how Jesus provides for us!

Being Wasteful

My dad grew up in the Depression, so i was raised with a firm appreciation for not wasting anything.  To this end, he composted kitchen scraps, saved leftover paint remnants in addition to finding bargains at garage sales, etc.  In Matthew 26:8, Jesus’ disciples had the same mindset when they asked Him about a chick wasting expensive oil, since she poured it on Jesus’ head, as an expression of worship.

And worshipping Jesus is never wasteful, regardless of what people may say.

Indeed, let’s be extravagant in how we worship Jesus!  The chick in Matthew 26 was extravagant in worshipping Jesus, using expensive oil.  And in our modern culture, we can be extravagant in worshipping Jesus by:

  • spending time with Jesus, giving Him our attention
  • being generous with our finances in church, with ministries and to the poor
  • choosing to wholeheartedly participate in the worship time at our churches whether we like the songs or not
  • expressing gratitude and worship to God before we go to bed each night