Doing Tough Stuff

There are lots of things that can be difficult: being consistent with exercise, missions trips, hostile or dicey conversations, regulating ones eating habits & lots more.  I don’t like to do tough stuff, nor did Jesus.  I say this because of His words in Gethsemane, “If possible, please take this cup from Me.”
So how do we go about doing tough stuff? Here are a few suggestions & I’d be keen to get your ideas in the comments as well!

  • Keep the end goal in mind: what is your desired outcome?
  • Be wholly present in the difficulty because often these struggles need our whole attention, energy & talents
  • Pray: divine help is always an upgrade!
  • Surrender to God’s will even when it conflicts with your desires 🙂

Not Finished

As much as I don’t want to admit this, I’m concerned that I have a disturbing pattern in my life:  leaving things half done :/

While I don’t leave everything half done, there are definitely things that I don’t finish, such as:  not completing my bookshelf project, starting innumerable books but not finishing them, doing half of the ironing, writing part of a story, etc.  Of course this could be very discouraging if I let myself quagmire in this awareness, but I have a fail-safe solution:  God doesn’t quit!

In Philippians 1:6 it says, “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”  Be encouraged that you’re a masterpiece in the making & the Holy Spirit is continuing to shape & grow you, never quitting, getting discouraged or giving up on you!  God’s not finished!

 

God Makes a Way

Hard circumstances, unknown terrain, impossible journeys – these are all things in which God specializes.  As you read this, maybe you’re in a financial crisis & Christmas looks impossible;  maybe you’ve received a medical report that’s disturbing;  maybe you have some toxic relational challenges that seem to be never ending;  maybe you’re discouraged or depressed;  maybe you have some work or school difficulties that are bigger than your abilities, time or energy.

Be encouraged today, that God can make a way when there seems to be no way.  Remind yourself of how God delivered the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt:

  • providing a leader, Moses, who was educated & committed to their freedom
  • supernatural signs & wonders (10 Plagues) to break the slavery bondage
  • Passover to establish the relationship between God & the nation of Israel
  • plundering the Egyptians when the Israelites walked out of Egypt
  • split the Red Sea & drowning the enemies who were intent on dragging the Israelites back into slavery

God did lots more when He liberated the Israelites, so be encouraged that you’re not in a situation that exceeds God’s ability to transform nor redeem!  Feel free to share this with your friends to encouage them as well!

Brighten the Dimmer

Mood lighting seems to be popular – candles, track lighting, dimmer switches, etc. Supposedly, this kind of light can be soothing & soft. The main problem, however, is the vision obscurity that dim light can facilitate. And if we can’t see well, then we increase our chances to make mistakes & even hurt ourselves.
As a follower of Jesus, I want to be known as a child of the Light. This means that I want to live in light, not hidden, nor controlled by obscurity. I want to bring light & love wherever I go, expressing healing, freedom & redemption. Let’s turn the light up rather than dim the light.

Redemption in Disguise

“I am Joseph, your brother.” I’ve been reading the story of Joseph in the last part of Genesis & I’m always astounded by the events that led up to these words. There are so many ways this story could’ve taken a bad turn.

  • Joseph could’ve let bitterness settle into his heart & he could’ve cruelly repaid his brothers for their malevolence.
  • Joseph’s dad could’ve died before learning that his son was alive & highly successful.
  • Joseph’s brothers could’ve continued to be the jerks they were with him when they sold him into slavery.

But none of these things happened & when Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers, he was fully committed to keeping his family alive & healthy, redeeming his family in a time of famine & desolation.
Let’s follow Joseph’s example in our daily living & relationships – committed to being agents of redemption, even when others may not recognize the redemption.

Do It Scared

There are lots of things that intimidate me such as: traveling to unstable places, mingling in a crowd of strangers, having difficult conversations & being around people whom I perceive as superior to me. While it’s good to acknowledge these places where I feel intimidated, it’s better to work through them rather than avoid them. In the past, the way I’d handle this intimidating stuff is to avoid these kinds of situations & distract myself with things I like better.
But growing means that I make active decisions to face the intimidating stuff & choose to grow. Sometimes, this means that even though I may be scared, I still push through the fear & intimidation – do it scared.
Feel free to join me on this adventure – not allowing your growth to be limited by your fears 🙂

Let’s Practice

Since we are really close to Halloween, that means that Thanksgiving is fast approaching. So let’s get an early jump on being thankful. By starting to practice gratitude now, we’ll be certain to have maximum proficiency by the time Thanksgiving lands. Another benefit to practicing gratitude now is that we increase our chances of creating a lifestyle of thanksgiving rather than the seasonal experience. Finally, the Bible tells us to be thankful, not only for the obvious & good stuff, but also for things that are difficult. Let’s be sure to practice Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Timely Provision

Abraham’s servant was commissioned to find a wife for Isaac, Abraham’s son. There were some very significant criteria for this wife, like she had to move away from her home & family to marry Isaac. From the servants conversation with Abraham & his prayer to God, it seems to me that the servant felt some heavy pressure to find the wife & bring her to Isaac.
In my opinion, the whole wife acquisition challenge was a giant walk of faith. And this happens one step at a time. The servant made this journey by getting together lots of helpful resources & leaving his home. Then he took awhile to get to his destination. Upon arrival, he prayed & asked for God’s input to find the right wife & God totally confirmed the servant’s prayer. The end story is that the servant returned with Rebekah, a beautiful wife & divine provision for Isaac.
When we have needs in our lives, let’s take the faith walk with God, one step at a time 🙂

Go & Show

“Go to the land that I will show you.” This is what God said to Abram after his dad died at the end of Genesis 11. This was kind of like a fresh beginning for Abram, in Genesis 12. I find it interesting that God didn’t give Abram a boatload of information: where to go, when to leave, length of the journey to note the needed provisions, etc.
For many of us, we like to have lots of details in place & resolved before we get moving. For example, when I travel, I have my travel size liquids in the quart size ziplock, I check into my flight 24hours in advance so I can get my seat preference & I start thinking about how I’ll get myself to the airport to catch my flight. I don’t usually follow the “go & show” strategy.
But this is exactly what God said to Abram & he did it. Let’s be careful not to qualify our obedience to God based on having everything ironed out before we make a step. Be sure to pick up my new book In Step to help you walk with the Holy Spirit!

Eclips-ing

The moon eclipsing the sun today is a noteworthy event & hopefully you have some eclipse glasses so you don’t look directly at the sun during the eclipse. I read about a man who looked at the sun in the last eclipse & his vision was permanently damaged – no bueno.
Although it’s rare, the bright light of the sun can indeed be diminished & even eclipsed. But let us never forget that Jesus, the Light of the world, can never be diminished nor eclipsed. So let’s be certain that we don’t allow shadows, clouds, confusion or darkness into our souls, emotions, thoughts or outlook.
How can we keep Jesus as our light?

  • Pay attention to what you let into your thoughts & soul
  • Do you thoughts / emotions gravitate to darkness or light?
  • Remember that Gods Word is a lamp unto our feet & light unto our path – Ps 119:105

Peaceful Rest

I love this picture because it shows me what it looks like when a baby is entirely settled, sleeping & trusting. We caught this moment last month when I was in Cambodia at one of our nightcare centers, with my Saving Moses work. This little treasure was fussy to start, but became increasingly relaxed in my arms until he fell asleep. And I’m. It sure that there’s not much more soothing to my soul than holding a sleeping baby.
In contrast, without our nightcare centers, these sweet little treasure wouldn’t have a safe nor serene place to sleep. He would likely be exposed to many inappropriately adult situations & his night would probably be a staccato of noise, interruptions, instability & maybe danger.
Let’s take this picture to heart, celebrating God’s genuine love that gives all of us rest & peace in our souls 🙂

Futile Pursuits

“You must not turn aside for then you would go after futile things which cannot profit or deliver because they are futile.” 1 Samuel 12:21

Samuel spoke these words to the Israelites after Saul was confirmed as their first king & I can’t help but think that these words apply to my life. Do I pursue futile things? I want to answer, “no”, but if I’m truthful, I pursue futile things. For example, when I’m painfully honest, I pursue popularity & applause from people, getting frustrated when I don’t get enough. I pursue an adrenaline rush when I consider adding kite boarding to my hobby list. I pursue futile things when I get sidetracked with making image more important than genuine love. I pursue futile things when I let my intellectual appetites undermine my spiritual development. These dont have to be exclusive, but I know myself well enough to know that my intellect can lead me on endless rabbit trails away from walking with the Holy Spirit.
What might be some futile things in your life that would distract you from growing in your walk with Jesus?

A Little More

Traveling around the world, I get to see lots of distinct preferences. For example, in Bangladesh they tend to enjoy spicy food & sometimes it’s REALLY spicy! In Brazil, they prefer community over individuality & the German language prefers precision over approximation.
But there’s one universal constant: everyone craves genuine love & I suspect this is by Divine design.
So if the universal constant throughout humanity is the desire for genuine love, it begs the question about how we can express genuine love.
When I think about expressing genuine love, I almost immediately feel inadequate & incapable. But if I think about expressing genuine love just a little more, then I’m not as discouraged. Here are some possibilities for consideration:

  • Affirmation & encouragement: recognize & vocalize something good to total strangers with sincerity
  • Gratitude: expressing thank you is a polite essential for genuine love
  • I see you: not the exterior trappings of wealth, success, begging, poverty, dirt or broken
  • Listen: hearing someone, being interested & asking questions is a way to be present & express concern, attention & genuine love
  • Borrow love: there are always people who we find challenging to love. So think in terms of borrowing love from someone you know & letting that shape your mindset for the tricky people.
  • Ask for more love – let’s never believe that we have enough genuine love.  We exist, in part, for God to love not only us but also through us!

Uber Rides

Today’s Uber driver is from Darfur Sudan. He has 7 brothers, 2 sisters & both parents all back in Darfur. This is the place where they had a genocide almost 15years ago so I was fascinated to listen to my driver talk about his circuitous journey to the US. Whenever I uber it, the drivers are always from a distant country: Mali, Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam, etc. When I listen to each of these drivers, it’s astounding to hear their stories & think about how they’ve navigated various tragedies, twists & opportunities.
Everyone we meet has had their own journeys, culminating to the moment we meet them & get to hear about their lives. Sometimes when we hear their stories it helps us understand some of their behaviors & choices. Regardless of their backgrounds or experiences, let’s choose to love & be gracious. We don’t have to know people to be loving, kind or gracious 🙂

What’s Enough?

I’ve just returned from a 10day trip to Cambodia & Bangladesh – an amazing trip with some intense ups & downs. Now that I’m home, I find myself struggling to keep up. I can’t seem to find enough energy, get enough sleep or have enough time to navigate through each day proficiently.
I suspect that maybe you’ve had a season like this & nothing seems to be enough.
Here’s some ideas that could help:

  • Let the Holy Spirit direct you rather than drive yourself to frantic burnout
  • Be mindful of those moments of rest the Holy Spirit provides & be content in this provision, even if it’s just a few minutes
  • God’s grace is sufficient & His strength is abundant – ask for more!
  • Remember that this is likely a season & not a lifestyle.

True Confession

Presently, I’m making my way back home to Denver, from a very busy & productive trip to Cambodia & Bangladesh. This trip was productive for me in ways that I didn’t anticipate in terms of making some new friends & have some very rich fellowship with friends that I’ve had there for more than 10years. It was productive, as well, in loads of ways for Saving Moses & I’m still processing some of the developments, looking for God’s wisdom.
But here’s the true confession: when I start the journey home, I can be very unpleasant. By this point in any trip, I’m usually tired, spent & I want to sit on my back porch, yesterday. So if there are flight delays, airline people who aren’t helpful, or other small challenges, I can have a short fuse & it’s no bueno. So I’m sitting in the airport, having just heard the announcement that my flight is delayed almost 2 hours & there’s a chance I’ll miss my domestic flight to Denver. Despite how justified I feel to be hostile & obnoxious, I have a deeper anchor in my soul than my tired body & impatient feelings. The Holy Spirit is my helper & helps me to display the Fruit of the Spirit rather than the revulsion of the flesh. The first step to walk in these Fruits is to make the true confessions to the Holy Spirit & then ask for supernatural Help 🙂

Micro & Massive Miracles

I’m so very happy that God does all sizes of miracles! The massive miracles, like healing from cancer or supernaturally providing a job or the forgiveness of a debt or the reconciliation of a long broken relationship. These kinds of massive miracles along with others seem to catch our attention & easily welcome our gratitude.
Let’s be mindful, as well, that the micro miracles are also magnificent! Let’s celebrate those times when the Holy Spirit gives us the self control to not shoot off our mouth. Perhaps you had a small miracle when your schedule went better than you planned. Or maybe it was miraculous that you bumped into someone coincidentally & it turned out to be a divine appointment.
Let’s be committed to give God praise for the micro & massive miracles that happen throughout each day!

Driven or Directed?

I desperately want to be led by the Holy Spirit, in every area of my life – my decisions, conversations, priorities, relationships, etc. If I’m honest, however, sometimes I’m more driven than directed.
For me, here are some key indicators that I’m being flesh driven rather than Spirit led:

  • my flesh tends to dictate my actions.
  • my perspective gets very self-absorbed.
  • I can be more results oriented than relationship attentive – achievements become more important than connecting with people.
  • Fear often dilutes any expression of genuine love from me.
  • I become more consumer minded rather than thinking how to be generous.

Let’s be careful that we stay in Step with the Spirit & not controlled by our flesh 🙂
Be sure to pre-order my newest book about how to stay In Step with the Holy Spirit!

Things We Dont Like

Today, I’m in Bangledesh & I like being here because of the wonderful people. They are super friendly & very hospitable. Unfortunately, this country is one of the poorest countries in the world. They have annual floods that routinely displace thousands of people, killing large pockets of the population in these horrendous floods. Additionally, the education system here is still developing, so the literacy rate is a challenge. Bangladesh has 160 million people & its 90% Muslim, 8% Hindu & 2% mixture. There’s generally a high level of respect for the various differences among the ethnicities, religions & social classes here.
Today, we’ll be going around the capital city, Dhaka, & I’m super keen to spend some time here! There are about 30million people in this urban area with lots of diversity in the spectrum of poverty to wealthy. As I’m in this city, I know I’ll see things that I don’t like, but I want to see with God’s of compassion, healing & welcome. Let’s be careful that we don’t turn away from things we don’t like, when God wants us to engage & express genuine love 🙂

Technical Difficulties

Here in Cambodia, sometimes I get to experience technical difficulties. For example, sometimes the wifi here isn’t reliable, or maybe the traffic is more congested than I expected, or the plank over the sewage collapsed & things got messy. Throughout life, we all experience technical difficulties from time to time & this can be very frustrating.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit can manage our technical difficulties with supernatural agility. The Holy Spirit helps us with communication & with getting us to the places we need to be in His timing. Also, I’m abundantly grateful that the Holy Spirit can clean up & redeem the messes that happen in our lives. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to be our abiding expert for technical difficulties 🙂