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

 

Sheep or Goat?

Who is:  hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, in jail or an immigrant?  I was reading in Matthew 25 this morning about Jesus’ parable distinguishing between sheep & goat behavior.  In this parable, the sheep are the people who see others around them who have various needs like clothing, food, shelter, belonging, care, attention and connection.  In contrast, the goats in Jesus’ parable had no time, attention or capacity for needy people.

And this parable never fails to arrest my attention, forcing me to inventory my intentions and actions for sheep and goat behvaiors.  I want to say with a genuine heart that I love Jesus, giving Him my worship & affection.  But the reality is that however I treat the needy people in my life (those who are hungry, naked, thirsty, sick, living in bondage, or disenfranchised), is how I treat Jesus since He said in Matthew 25;45, “Whatever you do for the least of these [the needy folk] is what you do for Me.”

This verse always challenges me to love well, when I’d rather justify my selfish perspective 🙂

Inadequate Meets Uber-Adequate!

There are times in my life where I am inadequate to meet the needs and demands of what’s happening around me.  In these times, I know that I’m not smart enough, not strong enough, don’t have the energy to match the demands, nor do I have the endurance to match the race stretched in front of me.  In these times, it’s tempting to get overwhelmed by the questions, the shortfalls, demands, inadequacies and scarcity I feel in my soul.  Such deficiency is often a universal human condition and maybe that’s by Divine Design.  Maybe God has always intended for us to never be enough, such that we must choose to reach outside of ourselves to find provisions beyond our finite resources.

Let’s be certain that we reach for God to participate in our lives every day and not just as a last resort!  Indeed, God is more than enough for our overflowing deficiencies!

Divine Interruptions

  • “We interrupt this program for this important message . . . . “
  • Amber Alert
  • Notification Settings

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 🙂

Selah

Using Deodrant

“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 🙂

Marketing Mishap!

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 🙂

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 

Reset and Upset

“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”

Go BIG!!!

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!!!

Reconcile Rather Than Revile

“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 🙂

Convenient, Comfort & Cushy

I wonder how many wonderful experiences & people we miss because we make these 3 C’s our endgame. Presently, I’m riding in a Tuk Tuk in Cambodia & I can decide which filter in my thinking will be my perspective. I can choose the 3C’s & everything will be hot, noisy, smelly, loud, annoying & repulsive. Or I can choose the Adventure filter & my ride will be informative, interactive w the people around me at stoplights, breezy & bright.
So let’s consider how we think & the possible filters that we use to affect our perspective. And above all, let’s love lavishly & authentically since this is how we are loved by our Heavenly Father 🙂

No Downside

It’s nice to have friends & acquaintances with various strengths. And there’s downsides to everyone, including you & me! Some of the downsides to being my friend is that I’m quirky & sometimes unreliable.  I can also be quiet & unconventional. 

But with Jesus, there’s no downside, except that our flesh doesn’t appreciate some of the divine input Jesus has for our lives. Ultimately, our flesh is a downside in any relationship & Jesus is always not just the upside, but even better, the upgrade for doing all of our relationships!  Let’s allow Jesus to be part of all of our lives!

The Flexible Factor

I’m sitting in a room with extremely brilliant people & everyone has various areas of expertise. And in this meeting, regardless of what we’re individually good at, we are all working to contribute past just our expertise. The contributions we are making in this meeting require us to be flexible – to go out of our comfort zone & expertise rather than just staying in our niche. 

I think this is also how we walk with Holy Spirit in our daily living. Generally, when we are experts in a specific area, we can forget to ask for Help or Divine input. But when we keep a flexible mindset, I think we stay more available for input from Holy Spirit, which we need everyday!

Not My Flavor

 I recently watched the NBA championship series between the Cavaliers & Warriors. Both teams have very different styles & it’s easy to find strong proponents for each style. There are heaps of folk who rightfully admire LeBron James, for the Cavs & heaps of folk who like the point spread among several players for the Warriors. 

Personally, I tend to admire the teamwork style of play over more of the superstar style.  With that said, I’ve been thinking about my distaste for styles that are different than my preference. And I’ve come to this conclusion: God has made each of us in unique & wonderful ways. Some individuals are wired up for massive individual achievements & some are wired up for the team approach. Being hostile & acrimonious against styles we don’t like can show not just a bias but also the refusal to grow & respect others who are different than ourselves. 

With this line of thinking, I would suggest that Paul is a phenomenal NT example of a massively high achiever, who valued Help along his various journeys. Maybe Barnabas would be an example of a team player, looking to include as many teammates as he possibly could throughout his life. Both men had unique gifts, contributions & value to add to God’s kingdom. Let’s be careful to respect others who have different giftings rather than belittle & deride them for not being like us 🙂

Traveling Tips

This week, I have a lot of traveling & I would suggest that these tips below can also be helpful throughout our journey in life:

  • Less is more:  I don’t need as much as I think & I don’t like carrying unnecessary things.
  • Security for safety:  human security is never as powerful as divine security.
  • Flexible keeps things fun:  hold lightly to your plans.
  • Wonderful people watching:  consider that God enjoys watching us because God is Love!

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!

Helpful Tips for Learning

My three teenage kids have learning curves with lots of stuff, as do I.  And part of what means to be human is learning. I think that it’s good to always be learning because this helps us to continually grow. So here are some helpful ideas for daily learning:

  • No shame – don’t belittle yourself or others for what is not known or the lack of proficiency.
  • Celebrate progress – don’t let “perfect” sabotage progress.
  • Learning differences – everyone learns in unique ways.
  • Committed to learn – may there never be a day when we don’t learn
  • Be gentle – we learn better with grace rather than harsh 🙂

Happy Friday to you!