Jesus Does Intensive Care

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My husband was hospitalized several weeks ago for a stroke. This very alarming experience was something I’d prefer to keep on my un-bucket list. Nonetheless, I was intensely challenged to keep my eyes on Jesus during this crisis. Thankfully, it wasn’t difficult to see Jesus.
It seems to me that Jesus is not just willing to help in a crisis but more so, eager. In that experience, i found that I wasn’t strong, wise nor independent enough to hold it all together. But Jesus is. Learning to be weak & vulnerable with Jesus is helping me to grow closer & see Jesus more readily than I have in the past.
Jesus does ICU 🙂

Jesus’ Watch: Small Groups :)

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One of my all time favorite platforms to recognize Jesus is in small groups, Bible studies & prayer groups. And it seems logical that this would be true based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:20 when He says, “Where two or three are gathered in My name, I am there in their midst.” Some of the things I love about these settings are:

  • Robust conversations about Jesus from various points of view. Different perspectives help me see & experience Jesus in fresh & new ways.
  • Prayer support in the group.
  • Recognizing Jesus words, presence, power, wisdom & loads more, like when Jesus walked along the Emmaus’ road & talked with His followers even though they didn’t recognize Him in those moments.
  • Seeing the Fruits of the Spirit in first person experience because there’s always some kind of conflict or rub whenever you bring people together 🙂

Let’s be sure to keep some fellowship with other followers of Jesus as part of our essentials routines!

Compensating for Stupid

There’s a chick in the Bible whom I admire greatly, Abigail. I like her because she’s wise, resourceful, humble & honest. She married an idiot, Nabal, whose name means fool & he personified his name to the maximum. I think that maybe Abigail was in Nabal’s life as God’s invitation for him to change, but Nabal refused this invitation & paid for it by living a short & fruitless life. In contrast, because Abigail made different decisions, she wound up becoming one of King Davids wives & lived a fulfilling life.
The pivot point for Abigail came from one of Nabal’s notoriously stupid decisions. Abigail compensated for Nabal, interceded with David for Nabal’s life & this positioned her for a huge upgrade.
Usually, I want to run as far away from stupid as I possibly can, hoping it’s no contagious. But Abigail made wise decisions by being respectful, humble & generous.
Just because there are stupid people in our lives doesn’t mean that we need to be stupid with them! Let’s be sure that we counteract the stupid around us with respect & wisdom!

Who’s Missing???

Every year, I make the Christmas season super fun by posting pictures & writing blogs about finding Jesus. I do this because I think it’s far too easy to lose track of why we celebrate Christmas with all of the festivities, hustle & bustle of the season. So I’m continuing my tradition this year & hopefully, these blogs will help you look for Jesus in places & times you’d not normally think of.
Let’s be sure to find Jesus everyday of this Christmas season no matter how busy we get or the responsibilities that we carry! Looking for Jesus in quotidian living!

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!

Jesus Comes in All Sizes :)

I saw a mini-Jesus today & it was a nice reminder that Jesus isn’t limited to any size. Sometimes in the Christmas season we see Jesus as a baby in a manger & we can think that He’s small. On Good Friday, we see Jesus hanging on a cross & dying. Let’s remember that Jesus rose from the dead & His presence fills the earth, regardless of His humble birth.

Here are some possible applications for us today:
There’s no situation in our lives that Jesus cannot resolve
There’s no lack that Jesus cannot fill
There’s no death that Jesus cannot resurrect

Jesus comes in all sizes, so let’s not allow our expectations to limit His engagement throughout our lives!

I have the wonderful honor of getting to be around fabulous people, like Pam who did my makeup & Christie who did my hair today. Both of these wonderful ladies & a boatload of other fantastic peeps (like Demetria, Garrett, Molly, Ivorie & more) are folk behind the scenes in tv / webland for CBN with the 700 Club. These people are magnificent in glorious ways: kind, patient, FUN & super smart!

Everyone has unique strengths & we are at our best when we are ourselves & do what we are good at. Here are some ideas that might help us as we endeavor to be our best:

  • Be sincere – fake & pretentious can be repulsive
  • Be kind – there’s more than enough cranky to go around
  • Be forgiving – taking offense is the low road
  • Be YOU! You are fearfully & wonderfully made!

Civil Discord

I appreciate that “civil” is the adjective used to describe discord. Unfortunately, it seems like the discord in the US, at the moment, is uncivil & hostile.

This challenges me to think about one of Jesus’ beatitudes where He says in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

If we are genuine followers of Jesus, then let’s endeavor to let our actions & words generate peace rather than hostile division. May we more firmly adhere to following Jesus than letting our flesh facilitate hostile discord 🙂

DMV

Ever have to wait at the DMV? It’s a lovely experience that equalizes humanity to those little number strips, as we all wait for our turn to go to the lady behind the window.  She knows everything & is all powerful. When I think about it, I want to be nice to her, bring her a peace offering & hope she’ll look favorably on my request. Maybe she’d like a donut with coffee, . . .
It’s possible that my DMV experience is a condensed practice for daily living with God  with one major difference: the lady behind the window is human. This means that she is flawed & disconnected from my human existence. Thankfully, God is more than human, integrated throughout our daily living & continuously loving. The DMV makes me appreciate that God is always available, no number required 🙂

Cheeky Thoughts

I recently saw a FB post from a Christian about ditching needy, negative & ugly people. The post said something about eliminating these kinds of people from our lives & I was deeply unnerved, since the person posting this says they follow Jesus.

At any given moment, I can be needy, negative & ugly, so I guess I make the cut list for that person.
Thankfully, I’m not on Jesus’ cut list. Indeed, as followers of genuine Jesus, we would be wise to let His words shape our values, behaviors & words:

  1. Matt 5:39-44, “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41 “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

and the Cubs won the World Series last night, FYI 🙂

Deadlines & Pressure

It’s possible that maybe you’ve procrastinated, maybe once or twice in your life. I’ve procrastinated more than once & the stress was no bueno, to say nothing of the low quality result. I’d like for my kids to learn the non-procrastination lesson without having to navigate the pressures & bad results. But I think that almost every human gets to work on this struggle at least once.

In order to avoid the procrastination train wreck, I’m growing to appreciate deadlines & even value the pressure that such deadlines impose on my daily routines & disciplines.
It’s wisdom to listen & apply the lessons others have painfully learned 🙂

Hungry Shopper

Weekly grocery shopping when I’m hungry is tricky, particularly when the store has samples. What happens is that regardless of my list, I can impulse buy & come home with some random stuff.

Sometimes, I think we do the same thing with stuff that’s not just food related. There are times when I can be struggling with some emotional stuff or various pressures & I’ll divert my attention with some sports thing or pick up an interesting book.
What usually works the best for me when I find myself struggling is to let my heart settle deeply into God’s love for me. Rather than being impulsive, let’s train our appetites to crave Jesus, the greatest fulfillment & solution in our lives 🙂

On Time

My husband and I have different perspectives about what it means to be “on time” for an appointment.  He thinks that being “on time” for an appointment is sitting in a chair at the appointment 5minutes before that scheduled time.  I think that being “on time” means that I’m in the parking lot of the building or near vacinity at the scheduled time.  This discrepancy in opinions has created just a little tension in our 20+ years of marriage – ok, maybe more than just a little tension, say I with a wink.

Generally, I get myself to places I need to be mostly around the right time but this strategy doesn’t always work out so well for me, of course.  There have been occassions when being late has caused me to miss important things, created unnecessary angst and I’ve burned a few meals because I haven’t paid attention to the time.

I’m thankful that God is always “on time.”  While we might think that God is late or last minute, let’s be abundantly clear that God is in charge of time, so maybe “late” is only a human experience.  Indeed, Martha & Mary thought that Jesus was too late to heal their brother Lazarus when he died.  In one sense, Jesus was too late for healing, but in another sense Jesus was right on time for resurrection.  Let’s be certain that we keep our plans adaptable to God’s schedule!

In the meantime, I’m endeavoring to work on that “on time” thing.

Try It!!

One of the things from my parents that I deeply cherish, is the “try it!” attitude. So when I was growing up, I tried heaps of stuff: lacrosse, blue corn tortillas, clarinet, softball, Perry Mason tv mysteries, eating crawdads, swimming in canals, classical music, basketball, viola & loads more! Of course I wasn’t proficient in most of these things but my parents were always super encouraging, even when I miserably flopped. So to this day, I’m a “try it” kind of person & I love this mindset!
Indeed, I’d rather try & fail, then not try & succeed at not trying. Peter was like this with Jesus when he walked on the water. He tried it & had some failure, but it seems to me that he was the first human water walker just because he tried!

Rude Receptionists

Yesterday, I had a few doctor appointments & receptionists were not friendly. One was condescending & the other was impatient. Thankfully, the doctors were pleasant. But the receptionists give the patients their first experience with the doctors office, so they are an important first impression. I was thinking of these experiences as they relate to how we represent Jesus. If we are followers of Jesus, it’s important to keep in mind that in our own ways, we are all receptionists for Jesus, so let’s stay friendly, humble & kind 🙂

Disagreeing with Jesus

I’m deeply in love with Jesus, full stop. There are times, however, that I’m not so whippy on some of the things Jesus says & does. This used to rankle me, until I started thinking about Peter. One day in my prayer time, the Holy Spirit walked me through the various times & ways that Peter disagreed with Jesus: 

  • At the very beginning when he told Jesus to leave him because he was a sinful man (Luke 5:8, after Jesus used Peter’s boat to preach a sermon to a crowd along the lakeshore). 
  • A little later, even though Peter walked on the water to Jesus in Matt 14:30-31, Jesus reprimanded Peter for his doubt from watching the winds & waves & sinking into the water. 
  • In Matt 16:22, Peter rebukes Jesus for talking about His upcoming death. This seems pretty audacious to me, considering that Peter had just declared that Jesus was the Christ / Messiah. 
  • Peter again argues with Jesus on the whole betrayal thing at the last supper in Matt 26:33-35. 
  • Peter disagrees with God with the heavenly vision in Acts 10:11-19 about eating unclean animals & preaching Jesus to the Gentiles. 

Seems to me that it doesn’t make Jesus bite His nails when we disagree with Him, but let’s be abundantly clear that no matter what our opinion may be, Jesus has the final say, full stop. So let’s keep loving Jesus, even when we disagree with Him, from time to time 🙂

Be Available

Jesus miraculously fed thousands of people on two occasions because of availability. On each occasion, everyone was in dire straights, but Jesus came through with a miracle of plentiful provision based on the simple principle of using what was available. Jesus used a meager few fish & loaves of bread, the provision that they had, along with His disciples as distribution agents. I would speculate that maybe one or two of the disciples thought it was crazy to be sent to feed thousands of people with such a paltry provision & yet because they were available, Jesus worked His miraculous provision through their available hands & feet. Jesus prayed for the provision & then told His disciples to go & give
Seems to me that the same principles apply to us today. Jesus merely asks us to be available & then to go & give. 

Watch this video of some magnificent peeps recently who did exactly what Jesus said & multiplied His love by being available:  

Spiritual Therapy

In the last year, I’ve “enjoyed” two kinds of robust, daily therapy. Last year I did a few months of physical therapy to recover from some shoulder surgery. This year, I get to try brain therapy, which is helping me recover from a concussion a few months back. All of this has made me think about the whole concept of therapy (a word that comes from a Greek word for “heal”).  
Some of the things I’ve learned about therapy are super relevant for our spiritual growth & not just physical / brain therapy. Consider the following:

  • Consistent – doing exercises everyday is essential to getting better / well (growing in our spiritual life happens best when we are most consistent & daily)
  • Small victories – don’t belittle nor shame incremental progress; recovery is often a journey & not just a sprint (sometimes spiritual growth isn’t blatant & obvious)
  • Accountability – my wonderful family has been super encouraging to help me stay the course & not quit (church family & small groups come to mind in relation to spiritual therapy)
  • Constant improvement – seems to me that we either grow or we regress and the idea of treading water isn’t helpful

Let’s keep growing & doing our exercises, physically, mentally & spiritually!  
Our spiritual exercises include daily prayer & Bible time, along w consistent community / fellowship 🙂

Setbacks

As much as I’d like to avoid or prevent setbacks, they happen. Sometimes we have setbacks with our kids, in relationships, health challenges, work or school stuff & many other areas. The setbacks can be big, medium or minor, but no setback is something we relish, usually. So what to do?
Here are some thoughts that can help:

  • Opposition can create resilience – there’s lots to be said in favor of persistence, determination & tenacity. 
  • Course correction – sometimes a setback can help us reevaluate our path & we sometimes see a shortcut or a more efficient route
  • Building faith – some setbacks put us in a place of utter dependence on God & that isn’t bad, even though this can make us feel uncomfortable. 
  • Nothing is impossible – God specializes in impossible so let’s always keep our confidence & focus on the Holy Spirit who can do supernatural & amazing things!

Don’t Know How

When I was growing up, I was a junkie for all books that told you how to do stuff. I loved the books that would teach you how to cook various things, how to fix stuff & I even bought the VW repair & partsmanuals for my VW rabbit & golf. I still like things that teaches me how to do various stuff – YouTube videos, diy websites, books, etc. 

The longer I live however, the more I learn that I don’t know how to do stuff. I don’t know how to navigate the teen years with my kids, I struggle to get the wife thing right, I’m challenged in my job to be a better leader, I wrestle with various friendship challenges & above all, I desperately want to do well in my daily walk with God. Alas, manuals, self-help books, websites, blogs, videos etc can only help with this stuff in limited amounts. I still come to the place, more than I like, when I don’t know how to do these things well or with agility. 

From a broad perspective, it’s good that I don’t know how to do this stuff as well as I want. It’s good because I’m forced to rely on the Holy Spirit to teach & guide me & that my friends is the best thing we could have in our entire existence. We don’t know how because we have the ultimate teacher living with us everyday & available to teach us how 🙂