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!

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!

Speed of LIFE!!!

A fourteen hour day can feel kind of overwhelming & sometimes we have long days, overflowing with demands & activities.  Modern living pressures us to stuff our days to the gills so that the more we get done, the better we feel and the more significant we are.  Consequently, the idea of a Sabbath flies in the face of the modern lifestyle.

Nevertheless, God instituted a day of rest in each week as one of the 10 Commandments, so it’s on the same level of importance as not murdering, loving God, etc.  And I’m writing this blog, maybe to myself more than anyone else because I’m on a gerbil wheel with overflowing days and more work than time.  When we keep time and fellowship with God as our top priority, then the speed of life won’t result in a trainwreck 🙂

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 🙂

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 

Jet Lag Jig

A jig is a dance and implies energetic stepping & this feels like the opposite of jet lag.  If you’ve ever heard a song played at half speed with the words sounding long & drawn out, incomprehensible, and the music total nonsense, this is how jet lag feels.  It’s no bueno.

Thankfully, time in God’s hands is a good thing.  It helps me to remember that God has organized time and events in my life such that even when I have jet lag & eventhing seems slow, God is in control.  So whether we want things to speed up or slow down, God’s timing in our lives is perfect, regardless of how we feel or the circumstances of our lives 🙂

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 🙂

Look For Stragglers

Truth be known, I’m a straggler, as I’m often looking at stuff or enjoying an in-depth conversation. I used to be concerned about being a leader & Stein ahead of everyone. 

And then I discovered the glories of being around stragglers – those people who might move at a different cadence, individuals who see life’s pace from a different perspective & others who are injured is n their body or soul who aren’t as nimble, agile or speedy. 

I think Jesus digs stragglers as well. I say this bc of a few people with whom Jesus connected deeply:  the Samaritan woman at the well, the demoniac who wandered the tombs & His reply to the woman caught in adultery. Let’s have compassion for stragglers & others who are different than ourselves 🙂

Try Something New

It’s easy to get in a rut & mindlessly do the same thing. And it seems to me like we crave routine at the expense of adventure & novelty!

So here’s a fun challenge: try something new!!  I say this as I’m catching a bus to the airport to join our team flying to Cambodia for nightcare w Saving Moses!  Here are some ideas for trying new things:

  • Go on a missions trip,
  • join a new club, small group or workout class,
  • eat some food from a different culture,
  • stretch into Holy Spirit for more involvement in your life,
  • give yourself to more worship,
  • read a book of the Bible that isn’t to your normal preference. 

If you’re feeling dull & lifeless, give yourself some fresh experiences & endeavor to walk w Holy Spirit today!!

Upset the Apple Cart

Whenever I travel to Africa, I’m reminded about the benefits of stability for the sake of progress. At the same time, let’s be careful not to get so comfortable with stability & equilibrium such that we stop growing. 

Jesus often upset the Apple cart / status quo. He literally overturned the money changers tables in the temple. He defied the religious leaders of His day. He loved with an extravagance that was unnerving to many observers. 

Here are some ideas to consider that you could consider personally with Apple cart upsetting:

  • Pursue Spiritual Gifts to be integrated into your daily living.
  • Love when its inconvenient.
  • Consider being generous with words / finances that isn’t within your normal scheme. 

You Do You

This is a common phrase that I hear  when someone wants to acknowledge a difference & not be excessively hostile. In general, I like the premise of this phrase, but it unravels quickly when the other person oversteps their personhood & begins trampling on you. 

For example, even though Joseph had expressed clear limits to Potiphar’s wife, she exceeded his boundary & tried to force him to have sex with her. This turned out bad for Joseph, even though he did the right thing. While we may try to be respectful & do the right thing, not everyone follows those same convictions. And if things go south for you, like they did for Joseph, you can rest assured that God works everything to our good, as we keep loving God & stay true to His purposes. Just some food for thought for your wonderful weekend 🙂

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!

Stormy Seasons

Life seems to have seasons that are stormy, despite our best efforts for stability, serenity & certainty.  Stormy seasons can include:  getting laid off from a job, a marital crisis, a literal tornado, health accident or diagnosis and LOADS more.  If we’ve invited Jesus into our lives as storm prevention insurance, there’s a good chance that we’ll be disappointed.  I say this because Jesus never promises us that walking with Him will prevent all storms.  Indeed, walking with Jesus can make for some stormy times in life, both in our interior and exterior.

The exterior stormy seasons happen for lots of reasons, but thankfully Jesus gives us peace on the inside that can be greater than the external storm.  Sometimes we have seasons in our lives where our guts feel stormy:  when we’re unsettled, hurt, disappointed with God, wrestling with temptation, feeling discouraged, depleted or depressed, etc.

I’m thankful that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and that there is no storm, internal or external, that Jesus cannot calm.  Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, no matter the season of life in which we find ourselves!

Easy or Hard?

I like the “easy button” and easy for me includes: washing dishes, ironing, international travel, languages, grocery shopping, simple cooking and reading my Bible.  In contrast, I don’t like to do stuff that’s hard, which includes:  getting in shape, seeing suffering babies, recovering from jet lag and being gracious rather than snarky.

No doubt, you have your own lists of things that are easy and hard.  But just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done or we shouldn’t try to do it.  I say this because of my morning Bible reading in Philippians 2:7, where Paul says about Jesus, “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”  This verse speaks to Jesus entering the human race, from start to finish, and experiencing human existence.  From my perspective, I would think that might have been difficult for Jesus to do – but He did it nonetheless.

If God asks you to do hard stuff, ask for divine Help and try!  Whethere something is hard or easy, let’s pre-decide to remain obedient and faithful to God!

Unable But Yielded

I’ve never had a day Ike today, feeling overwhelmed & inadequate to everything around me. I visited one of our malnutrition clinics here in Angola & when we landed this morning, there were 98 babies who were being looked after for malnutrition. That’s a HEAP OF BABIES & I’ve never experienced malnutrition in such high numbers. So walking around the buildings this morning, I seeing babies at various severities of malnutrition, this was definitely challenging. And I don’t find myself numb from the sheer numbers of babies. I’m able to recognize the distended bellies, stringy arms, knobby knees, glassy eyes, xylophone ribs, lightened hair . . . . I know the symptoms & it’s difficult to see each baby struggling to survive, along w each mom, abundantly stretched with worry & care from looking after their baby whom they deeply love. 

By the time we left this afternoon, the clinic had 125 babies & everyone was trying to figure out where to let everyone settle for some space & hopeful rest / recovery. 

When I’m past my breaking point, it helps me remember that whatever we do to the least, we do to Jesus. So let’s love well, no matter where we are nor what’s happening around us. 

Keep Trying

I’m in Germany & slowly making my way to Angola for some work with Saving Moses & our malnutrition clinics there. Our layover in Germany afforded some time to get out of the airport & catch a train to a nearby city. Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying attention to the train stops, so we went too far & included some extra sightseeing. I felt like an idiot because I’m not an amateur traveler & this isn’t my first train ride in Germany. 

But we kept trying & alas, had a lovely afternoon outside of the airport, with delicious food, glorious sun & some nice walking. 

Just because we make a mistake doesn’t mean that we quit trying. Mistakes can be frustrating but also informative & sometimes God has some unique opportunities to redeem our mistakes, if we keep a healthy attitude & humble heart 🙂

Avoiding Tough

I’m flying to Angola today, where we have 6 malnutrition clinics to save babies & toddlers. I haven’t been in Angola for 3years because of various technicalities. And Saving Moses has these malnutrition clinics in Angola, because of such a high infant mortality rate.  Angola is the country where I first experienced the realities of emaciated babies with xylophone ribcages, hallow eyes & labored breathing. I have yet to experience anything in my life that compares with holding a baby who is feather light with fleeting breathes from being malnourished. So this is a tough trip. 

I like to avoid tough & embrace comfort, reject inconvenient but welcome smoothy groovy. 

But genuine love steps into things that are tough, heartbreaking & impossible, even though I drag my feet. Choose genuine love with me 🙂

Miraculous Coincidence ,)

Over the last several months, I’ve experienced some amazing coincidences: meeting people who have common ministry goals, reconnecting w people from my distant past, stumbling into situations where I thrive, receiving unexpected financial support & loads more. With such “coincidences” I can choose to see them as happen chance & accidental or I can see them as divine encounters and appointments. 

I choose to see such miraculous coincidences as divine direction & answers to my prayers for God to direct my steps. Indeed, I pray almost everyday that God would direct my steps & that I won’t follow the enemy’s whispers, suggestions or influences. 

So I’m celebrating today, that God is directing my steps!  I’d invite you to join me in that daily prayer for God to direct your steps as well for divine appointments & direction in your daily living!

What Gets You Amp’ed?

In church life, it’s pretty common for people to have great ideas but not much elbow grease to do the great ideas. I wish I had a nickel for every time some has said, “Hey! Y’all should do . . . [insert great idea]”
In the early days of the church, there was a problem related to the food distribution & the apostles’ answer was to tell the congregation to find men who had a good reputation & filled with the Holy Spirit to take over the food distribution.
Rather than take over the problem, the apostles used the challenge as a way to increase the ministry. They continued to pray & preach while adding on a hugely helpful component of humanitarian ministry.
Maybe the things that get you frustrated, angry or upset could possibly be the places where God would have you roll up your sleeves & invest some elbow grease 🙂
It’s something to think about today!