We can go through seasons in our lives when there’s an abundance of lemons. By this, I mean that sometimes life serves up lots of bitter stuff, such as: a bad medical diagnosis, poor results on a test in school, an unexpected bill when the money isn’t there, emotional struggles, extra responsibilities in an overcrowded life, relationship catastrophes, etc.
So how do we make lemonade from the bitter experiences that can happen in life? Here are a few suggestions:
Prayer: take whatever is bitter & bring it to Jesus for divine input
Choose to trust: after prayer, make the consistent decisions to trust Jesus to bring good from bad, order from chaos, blessing from curse
Gratitude: even though we don’t like hardships, struggles & lemons, James 1:2-4 says that such difficulties can work into a blessing & become lemonade. So maybe gratitude is some sugar to sweeten the lemons
Here’s to letting God turn lemons into lemonade in our lives!
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!
Philippians 3:8 (The Message):“everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung.”
There are lots of things that we think are important: schedules, money, education, family, jobs, achievement, sports, entertainment, travel, etc.
No doubt that these things are important, along w stuff I haven’t listed. But let’s be very clear about what is most important in our lives based on Phil 3:8. Paul said in these verses that nothing in is life was more important than knowing Jesus – not his education, his heritage nor his upbringing. Paul considered everything as literal “crap” compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus.Let’s be like Paul & make knowing Jesus the most important focus & goal that steers our daily living!
How can I get this done? Where will I get the time for that? How should I use this money or talent that I have? Have you asked God these questions? Often, such questions are anchored in the requirement to trust God
And sometimes trusting God can be both challenging & frustrating! I’m in Cambodia for a super quick trip. This morning I was trying to figure out all of the moving parts for today, since my flight leaves tonight. I couldn’t make everything I needed to accomplish today, fit into a schedule. So I decided to trust God when I left the hotel this morning & I’m pleasantly surprised at how well God has put together this day!!
Trusting God can be a daily & even an hourly discipline, based on Proverbs 22:19. And this trust is an essential ingredient to a closer walk with God!
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!
I just finished a few days in Dubai & it’s very impressive what has been accomplished there in a few decades. Before 1970, the area was a small fishing village & the people there worked hard to squeak out a living in place with abundant heat, sun & sand but not much else. A leader in the area, Sheikh Zayed, had vision for the future that would use the discovery of oil to position this region for abundance, modern developments & opportunity. Today, the United Arab Emirates is highly developed & very impressive.
When we consider what is around us & what the future could be, let’s do some important things:
Hello from Dubai!What an interesting city & diverse population!Our guide told us that about 85% of this city is not local & only 15% are native born. So I’ve been here less than 12hours & I’ve met folk from Bangladesh, Greece, India, Afghanistan, Egypt & lots of other places!With such diversity, it’s helpful to be friendly, smile & be a learner. It seems to me that when I’m open to learn, that often helps me to love & in particular learning from people who are very different from me.
Some thoughts for loving well:
See people & not objects, projects norfunctions
Serve & smile
Flexible let’s me adapt to enjoy & thereby love better
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!
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
I discovered a power bar that I really like, for the simple reason that I can read & understand the ingredients. There are no complicated words, chemical compounds, multi-syllable mysteries nor contrived nutritional concotions. These power bars are really straightforward: egg whites, almonds, dates and peanut butter (or something to that affect). It’s nice to recognize the ingredients on a package instead of trying to decipher words & find the commas ,)
In the same way, we would be wise to consider what’s inside of each of us: what we think about and allow into our hearts affects what we do & say. When we ruminate on being selfish, allowing judgment & unforgiveness to reside in our thoughts / heart, when we let bitterness & resentment to run amuck in our emotions, let’s be abundantly clear that such hurtful ingredients will taint our external behaviors / interactions. Maybe this is why it’s so important that we do what Paul says in Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
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!
There’s lots of stuff in the Bible about wisdom, even a whole book, Proverbs, that’s devoted to the topic. It’s also mentioned in the NT a fair amount, like in James 1, where it says that we should ask for wisdom. So given the frequency of this topic, perhaps it would be helpful to think about what it is, along with what it is not.
In the “wisdom is not” column, here are some things to remember. Wisdom is not:
merely information; facts, formulas, information and details
advanced degrees, memorization or books read
In the other column that defines wisdom, based on the Bible, here’s what we can say. Wisdom is:
grounded in “fearing God”; this means that having a healthy and robust respect for God in our lives is the pathway to facilitating wisdom
discerning the times and seasons in our lives
appreciating what is appropriate and helpful in various situations and events
recognizing when to speak and when to listen
Lets always be ready to get more wisdom & let wisdom be active in our daily living!
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 🙂
My phone is broken so it’s difficult to type the letters “c” & “r”.So whenever I text or post something with these letters, it can be a spelling disaster & I look like I’m illiterate. And it’s abundantly frustrating!!I’ve done the updates & tried to troubleshoot & fix this but to no avail. I think something is broken inside my phone.
And when stuff is broken inside, it’s obvious on the outside. This also holds true for our human existence. When people act whacky, let’s be aware that this often reflects something broken on the inside. Compassion, truth, genuine love & grace are helpful salve to heal & redeem what’s broken inside others as well as ourselves 🙂
When you’re driving and you look over your shoulder to check your blind spot, has your car ever veered to the side? When I took driver’s ed, the instructor taught us that we need to be careful about keeping the car centered at the same time we would check our blind spot. “Your car will often follow where you look.”
I’ve followed this advice mulitple times and reflected on the times when I let myself get distracted from a goal or destination with the subsequent collision or loss of direction. So it always helps me to remember Hebrews 12:2 where it says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author & perfector of our faith!” Jesus is our goal, so let’s keep focusing on Him throughout each day!
Welcome to Monday, the start of a work week for some of us, or the start of a school week for those who are students. Wherever you find yourself on this day, there are things in front of you and me that we need to do. Maybe you need to work on a school assignment, write a paper or study for a test. Maybe you need to write some emails, craft a proposal, flip a hamburger, wash a toilet, load the dishwasher, drive to a soccer practice, grade some papers, manage a project, crunch some numbers, etc. No matter what, all of us have stuff we need to do today – do the work.
And this is part of God’s design for each of us. You and I are uniquely designed to participate in and accomplish things. How we do such work is the real issue, even more than what we do. So here are some helpful ideas about how we do our work:
work as unto the Lord and not to man – Colossians 3:23
keep a grateful heart – 1Thessalonians 5:18
stayed focused and eliminate distractions – Proverbs 4:25
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 🙂
I’m writing this post, sitting outside of my hair salon with foils in my hair, looking semi-chic 🙂
And of course, I get some odd looks, people thinking I’m the reincarnated character from “My Favorite Martian”. But alas, it’s just the normal hair dye appointment, where the grey gets covered over & I maintain the look that says I’m at least 10 years than my birthdate would confirm.
And whatever we may look like on the outside isn’t as important as the decisions we make on the inside. Our internal thoughts, emotions, values, decisions and perspective are loads more important than the external image. It’s in my thinking processes where I:
make decisions to be generous,
decide to act from various insecurities,
consider how another may be affected by my words / actions
choose to be afraid or choose to be constructive
So no matter how we look on the outside, let’s be certain we make internal decisions to be generous & loving people. What’s on the inside is what will often regulate what happens on the outside 🙂
My husband and I are celebrating 25 years of marriage this week & that’s a noteworthy achievement! It’s noteworthy for lots of reasons such as:
lots of seasons and changes to navigate: doing hefty careers, an intense baby season, growing in our careers, raising teenagers & a few medical challenges along the road
distinct personalities: we are very different in our personalities, so this requires us to give each other lots of grace, space & affirmation to be unique but complementary rather than combative
prickly insecurities: just because we’re married doesn’t mean our individual insecurities don’t get triggered from time to time; so it’s helpful to recognize such weak spots & decide to nestle into genuine love 🙂
I’m definitely a better person from being married to Reece & there’s no doubt that God has helped us to grow in our relationship over the last 25 years! Let’s remember that being a person who is growing in character, love and strength is a decision we make one day at a time! And be certain to celebrate the milestones along the journey!
In the last few weeks, I’ve learned of various people who have committed suicide and it’s heart wrenching. A few of these individuals have been pastors, which hits even closer to home considering that I’m a pastor’s kid, I’m married to a pastor and I am a pastor. These events have also made me reflect on various people over the years who have committed suicide.
As much as I want to be articulate in this post, I feel so deeply about this subject that I can’t seem to get my words or thoughts into some semblance of order or cohesive progression. So maybe I’ll just free flow with this post and pray that it’s helpful to you, somehow.
More than anything, I hope that you will be gentle, tender and kind with others and yourself, regardless of any external veneer. When we are in a car and see a handicapped license plate, sticker or a “baby on board” sign, we will often give that person a little extra consideration, grace and space because we know there’s a vulnerable / fragile person inside that vehicle.
May we also have the same mindset with the people in our lives, appreciating that each person with whom we interact, has their own internal struggles regardless of what the exterior looks like or how they behave. Let’s be purposeful to: