Out of the Box

Jesus had dinner with the not so upstanding crowd & not everyone was thinking that was such a good thing. Indeed, Jesus was not just a little out of the box. This morning I read in Matthew 9:10-11 that Jesus dined with shady characters & the righteous crowd was pretty ticked off about his choices for social interactions.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting some very amazing women & their children in the largest brothel in Bangledesh. While some people may think that I should spend my time in better neighborhoods, when I follow & love Jesus well, I often find myself in these kinds of neighborhoods & loving people for who they are, regardless of what they do for a living.
It’s not so bad to be out of the box 🙂

A Little Extra!

I’ve been around lots of high achievers throughout my life & these great people have inspired me in various ways. I’ve met individuals who’ve overcome educational deficiencies, social disparities, financial impossibilities & physical disabilities. Regardless of these obstacles, these individuals have accomplished seeming impossibilities. Here are a few common things I’ve observed from these individuals:

  • Faith – not so much in themselves but moreso in God’s presence & power working through them
  • Persistence – it’s hard to find “quit” in high achievers
  • A little more – even if it’s s smidgen, iota, millimeter or micro-speck more, high achievers give that extra push.

Whatever the challenges that lay in your path, be sure to see them as opportunities for God to grow you to be bigger than

When the Sizzle Fizzles

I like the sizzle. This means that stuff that’s fun, exciting, zingy & zesty catch my attention. I would suspect that possibly on occasion, you’ve also been attracted to stuff that sizzles. But it’s often true that sizzle stuff doesn’t always endure.
Then what??
Regardless of the presence of absence of sizzle, what’s important is to stay the course & endure! Sizzles fizzle, but endurance wins the prize. I say this based on Mathew 25:23 where Jesus says, “Well done, My good & faithful servant.” Let’s remain faithful & steady regardless of the presence or absence of any sizzle!

Image or Substance

I’m waiting at an airport coffee kiosk to collect my coffee, surrounded by beautiful pictures of mouth watering tea, coffee, hot chocolate, espresso shakes, etc. We all know that they make these pictures so that we’ll buy the drinks, supposing that they’ll taste as good as they look. In my experience, this isn’t true. It seems like we’ve been trained to swallow image like cotton candy and still yearn for tangible substance.

I think the same idea holds true for stuff with Jesus. Let’s be careful that we don’t merely sell the sizzle of Jesus – His benefits, powers, etc but neglect to personify His substance in our daily living. Jesus is way better than images, illusions or elusive cotton candy. His extravagant love, is far more satisfying than words or pictures could describe!

Healthy Choices

There’s loads of emphasis on making healthy choices, particularly with our eating, exercise & uses of time & money. I’m continually coaching my kids to Mae healthy choices & I’m abundantly clear that God coaches me along these lines as well.  Here are some specific areas for making healthy choices:

  • Advocate or Accuse: let’s be aware that accusing is what the devil does & advocating is what the Holy Spirit does. Which choice is your natural default?
  • Convict or Condemn: condemning is when there’s a dead end & no hope to change, grown or improve – everything the devil works to accomplish.  Conviction happens when the Holy Spirit speaks in our hearts about something that’s wrong, endeavoring to help us change.
  • Truth Or Lie: Jesus says in John 8:44 that the devil’s natural language is lying but a few chapters later, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth. If we tolerate white lies or incremental truths we need to consider if we are listening to the devil more than the Holy Spirit :!

Let’s make healthy choices!!

Sunny Side Up!

My dad always ordered his eggs over easy & I remember hearing waitresses say to him, “Sunny Side Up!” As a kid, I didn’t understand what they meant, but later learned that this phrase was kind of a synonym for over easy. Now whenever I hear, “sunny side”, everything inside me smiles & I feel warm all over. Maybe this is because I remember my dad sharing his breakfast with me or maybe because the sunny side feels friendly, inviting & open!
I’ve been thinking about this sunny side thing lately because of some plants I’m attempting to keep alive. Even yesterday, I moved a tomatoe plant out of the shade & into the sun – to keep it on the sunny side 🙂
This is pretty cheesy, but we also have to keep ourselves on the “Sonny” side in our thoughts, conversations & decisions for each day. Following Jesus, God’s Son, means that we actively chose to stay on the “Sonny side” of life, sharing encouragement, hope & genuine love with the dark world around us. Indeed, let’s stay bright by letting God’s Son shine through us!

Thrill Seeking!!

Things that are exhilarating to me include: snowboarding REALLY fast, exploring new countries, reading adventure books & endorphins after a good workout. On the flip side, I don’t get excited about repetitious dishwashing, being a taxi mom or the mundane working out that precedes an endorphin rush.

Sometimes our walk w God can mirror these contrasting experiences. There are definitely experiences with God that are far beyond exhilarating & spine chilling. However, let’s never minimize the day to day essentials that cultivate that deep, fulfilling & abiding intimacy with Jesus. Thrills & chills are fun, but nothing can sustain us like our walk with Jesus through daily time in the Bible & prayer!

Looking for Good!!

In my efforts to always grow & Improve, sometimes I can get discouraged. This happens when I continue to focus on weaknesses & mistakes at the expense of looking at progress.
The truth is that we are all growing. Sometimes we see massive progress & sometimes the progress is microscopic. But let’s celebrate progress, regardless of the size!
You’ve come a long way, so be encouraged!! And remind yourself that the good work that God has started, He will continue & complete – Philippians 1:6 🙂

Do You Want Resurrection?

Here’s the truth: I’m selfish, impatient, insensitive, unforgiving, unkind, irreverent, apathetic & heaps more ugly things. While I don’t want to behave in these ways, nonetheless, the bad that I don’t want to do is what I often wind up doing. And the good that I want to do, I don’t often do. I want to live in resurrection & not my deplorable humanity. So what’s the answer?
The answer to living in resurrection is to be crucified with Christ – Galatians 2:20. Indeed, there were two men crucified with Christ. One man mocked Jesus with the rest of the bystanders & one man recognized Jesus for who He is, the sinless Son of God.
So on this Good Friday, I chose to join Jesus on the cross, crucifying my flesh so that Jesus resurrected life can flow through my daily living. When I live the crucified life, then I’m unselfish, patient, sensitive, forgiving, kind, reverent & ultimately, genuine love is my default nature! Anyone care to join me in the crucified life so Jesus’ resurrection can live through us?

periscope vision

I’ve been enjoying the Spring weather & trying to take a daily walk to improve my physical & mental health.  It’s nice to enjoy some sunshine, fresh air and feet on the ground.  While my body is definitely grounded during these daily walks, my mind tends to wander to various topics:  kids, work, schedules, prayers, writing, etc.  Some of my thoughts can be healthy & constructive, but some of my thoughts not so much.

I was reminded today about setting my mind above and not below from Colossians 3:2 & Philippians 4:7-8.  I think our thoughts can be kind of like fish:

  • bottom feeders who scavenge off the dirt and refuse at the lowest levels
  • horizontal eaters who forage through their daily living, focus set throughout this horizontal world
  • flying fish who sail above the average existence and get to see things from a vertical rather than horizontal perspective

Let’s keep our minds fixed above & not dwelling on the average or below average existence!

I Want MORE!!!!

Friday, I had a glorious day of snowboarding!! The sun was out, snow was good, runs were empty & there was no wind. Needless to say, I could’ve ridden for endless hours & enjoyed a unique bliss that’s not easily acquired. But alas, I stopped when I could’ve gone for heaps more.
I think it’s very human to want more – more dessert, more sleep, more success, more adrenaline, more chocolate, more vacation, etc. But alas, there’s such a thing as overdose & it’s not just for drugs. We would be wise to quit while we still want more. This principle is a healthy guideline across the entirety of our lives with one exception: Jesus.
We are designed to crave our Creator & our lives will remain unsatisfied until we appreciate that ultimately, we’re only fulfilled through a rich, vibrant & continuous relationship with Jesus!

Crazy Ideas

I have heaps of crazy ideas & what’s really interesting is that I’m not afraid to try out lots of these ideas. Sometimes it works out well & sometimes it’s a disaster. Over the course of time, I’ve grown accustomed to the raised eyebrows & quizzical looks that people give me, but there are few friends who give me the thumbs up & seem to enjoy these grand adventures.

Sometimes, I think the Holy Spirit has some crazy ideas as well. I’ve had the Holy Spirit direct my steps to do some really incredible things, like starting nightcare with Saving Moses, teaching German in China & learning some fun languages! Let’s be careful that we don’t automatically dismiss something crazy & miss an opportunity to follow the Holy Spirit on a fun adventure!!

New Beginnings

We sold our church building & we’re moving to a new building nearby. We’ve been in our old building for almost 30 years, so there are plenty of memories from those years. I’m excited for our new building & starting a new chapter!

Thinking about this new chapter, I’m reminded of Joshua leading the Israelites to possess the Promised Land. When God leads us to start a new chapter, let’s be like Joshua:

  • We can do it!! In Numbers 13-14, Joshua & Caleb were the can-do spies but the other 10 spies were despondent & faith-less
  • Keep going!! Joshua had some setbacks before conquering the Promised Land. There was disobedience & duplicity among he Israelites, but Joshua didn’t quit
  • Look to God!! In Joshua 10, God made time stop so that Joshua could finish a battle & defeat his enemy. God helps us possess His promises to us!

Liking Time

It seems to me that most of us don’t like time, maybe because we don’t seem to have enough of it, or we resent the pressure it applies. When I was a kid, I didn’t like time because it seems like an eternity – now it often seems scarce.

Perhaps for these reasons & loads more, God told us to keep a Sabbath, the day of rest & refrain from work. I think that if we don’t structure our energies, resources & time to conform to God’s imperatives, we harm & even break ourselves from misusing & abusing God’s provisions.
Today, I have a pause & I find myself being not just relaxed but maybe more importantly refreshed in this space & time to exhale. Furthermore, the pause let’s me give some undistracted focus to being with God & there’s nothing my soul craves more than this intimacy with my Creator.
Let’s be grateful for time, by using it according to God’s instructions.

Changing Plans

I changed my plans for today at the last minute. I was going to go snowboarding, but decided that there are more pressing needs at home than my snowboarding interests.
In 1Samuel 13, Saul changed his plans as well. He & Samuel made a plan to make a sacrifice together but he got scared & offered the sacrifice without Samuel. This was a major downfall for Saul & Samuel explained shortly after Saul’s fearful decision, that God had sought out a different leader for Israel, a man after His heart (1San 13:14).
Saul changed the plan he had made with Samuel because he was afraid of his enemy, the Philistines, & saw the Israelite’ support of his leadership rapidly eroding.
While I’m a massive advocate of flexible planning, I’m growing to appreciate the importance of keeping God’s goals as unchanging piers to anchor my soul, regardless of my environs, feelings or selfish preferences.
God’s goals always related to genuine love & connecting humanity to God’s heart in deep intimacy. Let’s be sure that we keep God’s plans more central to our choices rather than our selfish interests, including my snowboarding plans 🙂

Stay Focused

What you focus on is where you go. I learned this with great intensity when I took a lesson for downhill mountain bike riding. In a particularly harrowing part of the trail, our instructor kept yelling, “LOOK PAST THE CURVE!!!” A few of my classmates didn’t listen to the instructor & they hardcore crashed, flipping over the handlebars. What the instructor was yelling didn’t make sense to me, but I decided to do what he said, nonetheless. When I followed the instructions, my bike followed my focus.
Lots of times, it’s easy to focus on emergencies, crises, worries, etc. When we obsess with struggles & uncertainties, it’s easy to crash in the curve because our focus gets off of Jesus. Let’s be sure that we keep our focus & thoughts on Jesus, the author & perfectos of our faith – Hebrews 12:2!

Can Gory Be Glory?

In many ways, gory seems to be the antonym of glory and I don’t commonly associate these words together besides the rhyming sound they make.  But there’s a stark and startling place where these words converge into one place and that would be Jesus when He was crucified.

If you saw the movie by Mel Gibson, “The Passion of the Christ”, it showed with disturbing clarity the gory nature of Jesus’ death on the cross.  I’ll never forget how deeply moved I was to the core of my soul when I saw this movie the first time.  As I watched, I found myself repeatedly thinking, “please stop, that’s enough!”  And at the end of the movie, I was entirely unraveled because I couldn’t escape the reality that Jesus endured this excrutiating experience entirely on the pure motivation of genuine love, full stop.

Jesus was glorified in the gory mess of human suffering, sin and sacrifice.  And this continues to give me the assurance that Jesus can redeem human gore and transform it into divine glory, a truth that we would be wise to ponder throughout this weekend 🙂

Do You Have Enough?

Commercials on tv & the web make it seem like we never have enough. From these marketing efforts, it seems like we don’t have enough status, popularity, image, health, time, etc. I think we often believe these distortions, even subconsciously, or such marketers would try different tactics. But their sales efforts don’t really satisfy that “enough” chasm in our souls.

So what makes us full? What satisfies? What truly fulfills us?

I don’t think anyone or anything will ultimately satisfy us because of how we are created by God. Indeed, it’s been my experience that I’m the most fulfilled & richly satisfied when I’m attentive to the Holy Spirit. And being aware that the Holy Spirit is always with me let’s me live in a healthy equanimity that nothing human can provide. The Holy Spirit is enough for me.

What Do You Repeat?

Do you have mindless habits? All of us have things that we do without giving much thought to them, such as brushing our teeth, driving home, morning routines, etc. It can be really helpful to have these kind of routines, but sometimes they’re counterproductive.

For example, in Luke 10, Martha & Mary had Jesus come to their house for dinner. Based on Martha’s behavior in other stories in the Gospels, it seems like she fell into the routine of cooking, serving & being busy with getting stuff done. All of these things aren’t inherently wicked, but if we allow our routines to sabotage our fellowship with Jesus, then they become more of a hindrance than a help.
Let’s always remember that Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 to seek His kingdom first & we’ll have what we need! Let’s be sure our routines reinforce our intimacy with Jesus rather than distract us in mindless disconnect 🙂

Rest On All Sides

Rest On All Sides

At the end of last week, I returned from a whirlwind trip to Bangladesh for Saving Moses. In our short time there, we accomplished loads of stuff because I think that a person should do everything to maximize their time. Upon returning home, I find myself more than a little spent. I feel puny, my sleep is messed up, my emotions are everywhere & I can’t seem to quiet my brain.
Thankfully, I was able to join our entirely glorious Sunday School class yesterday where we took a deep dive into 2Samuel 7 – a chapter about David wanting to build a temple for God. The first verse of the chapter says that David had “rest on every side.” One of the ladies in our class observed how wonderful this would be to have rest everywhere in our lives! In our discussion, we camped on this idea for awhile & it was amazing!! As I thought about this, I felt the Holy Spirit say to me that this rest was available to me not only on the outside, but on the inside as well – rest on every side.
So let’s allow the Holy Spirit to give us rest, maybe more than any place, on the inside with our emotions, thoughts, desires, etc