Discourage or Encourage?

It’s interesting that the root for the words, “discourage” and “encourage” is the word courage, which traces to the Latin root for “heart.”  So when we are discouraged, this literally means, “away from the heart”.  And encourage, by contrast, means “into the heart”.  But the common ingredient for both of the words, encourage & discourage, has to do with the heart.

So let’s think about this:  what happens in my heart is only known between God and me.  People can observe the external results of that internal status, but the state of my heart and what happens there is known most clearly by God.  Maybe this is why Solomon said, in Proverbs 4:23, that we should guard our hearts, since this is where the wellspring of life starts.  With this verse in mind, let’s be certain that we are keeping our hearts wide open to God’s presence because this is how we can live in a state of encouragement rather than being discouraged by experiences, conversations and various other challenges that can arise.  Choose to live with God’s presence in your heart, encouraged and deeply loved!

A Helpful Inventory

Take a quick minute to remember a few of the ways God has shown up in your life, met various needs & resolved things that seemed impossible. I’ve been looking over the last several years today & seeing God’s hand throughout the years in so many magnificent & unexpected ways! As I look back, not only do I see God’s faithful provisions, but I’m astounded at the perfect timing of His work, weaving random experiences into a gorgeous tapestry of grace & genuine love.
Whenever you get discouraged or begin to question God’s input in your life, take a few minutes to look at what God has done in your past. Most assuredly this will encourage your heart that God is very present & engaged in your life!

Inseparable

In Romans 8:28-29, there’s a list of things that God says won’t separate us from His love for us, stuff like death / life, angels / demons, etc. It’s a very impressive list & comforting to know that none of these things would interrupt nor interfere with God’s love for us!!
The question then rises, if God’s love for us doesn’t have any gaps, then is it possible that we might let some things separate us from God’s love? Is it possible that we allow things to separate us from god’s Love, stuff like fear, pride, unbelief, busy-ness, worries, relationships, sickness, past memories, unforgiveness. Over this weekend, I’d challenge you to take some moments to inventory your life, with the Holy Spirit’s help, to see what you might be allowing in your life that could cause some obstacles for you to experience & deeply know the Father’s love for you 🙂

Love Finds a Way

Genuine love seeps through the edges. It finds a way to be expressed, when it’s difficult & even unwelcome. I say this, having read Jesus’ Prodigal Son parable this morning. Despite the behavior of the riotous & righteous sons, the father’s actions were the same with each one – going out to reconcile & connect. Both sons had different reactions, but genuine love finds a way to express itself in ways that would be meaningful & transformational to the recipient.
So, will you let God love you today? Will you be available to experience God’s Love however God would choose to express this genuine love?
We are all prodigals in various ways, but genuine love seeps through the cracks & soaks into the hard spots because that’s what love does!

Making the Weak Spots Strong

I have lots of weak spots & some of them include: chips & salsa, easily distracted, distrustful, mingling with strangers & obstinance to name a few. But if I’m going to get better in my weak spots, then I need divine Help, supernatural assistance.
In theory, I’m all in with the Holy Spirit being my divine Help. In the day to day execution, this can get a little tricky for me to navigate because I’m used to doing things my own way, which further reinforces my weak spots. So I’m asking the Holy Spirit to help me to be more yielded & surrendered to His supernatural assistance. This is how the weak spots get transformed to strong points. Feel free to join me on this transformation adventure, asking the Holy Spirit to come into the weak spots & bring resurrection life!

Sharpen the Saw

Shimmering trees, speckled sunlight, icy roads and chilly air invite me to think and reflect deeply about God’s love in diverse display.  In Colorado today, cars are slipping off the icy roads and people are bundled in coats, scarves and boots, with their preferred warm beverage cupped tenderly in their hands. It’s these kinds of days that God gives to me and we sharpen the saw.

This means that when the outside is cold and uninviting, it’s nice to stay inside and look for the cozy nooks and spaces to pause, listen and let God plumb my soul for greater connection and togetherness.  And this is what I’m designed for:  being close and snuggly with God.  This is where I’m most settled and content, where I mature and deepen my roots, sharpen the saw.

Maybe this is what Job speaks about in Job 20:20,  “Because he knew no quiet within him, He does not retain anything he desires.”  These are the kinds of days when God grows the quiet in my soul and it’s deeply satisfying and richly rewarding 🙂

 

Doing the Easy

I like easy in all things: recipes, travel, exercise, conversations, studying, etc. In contrast, stuff that’s hard isn’t as appealing to me. So when Elisha told Naaman, the leper, to dip in the Jordan river to be cleansed from his leprosy, it was an easy solution to a long term painful disease. But Naaman was upset that Elisha didn’t do something different, maybe more difficult, complicated or rigorous. Ultimately, Naaman obeyed Elisha’s directive & was healed from leprosy.
Obeying God is often a matter of doing one easy step, realizing that coaching the mental game can be more challenging than the actual obedience.
When the dust settles, take the easy step of simple obedience to God, regardless of the mental games & gyrations.

That’s Weird!!

“And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth and his eyes on his eyes and his hands on his hands, and he stretched himself on him; and the flesh of the child became warm.  35 Then he returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up and stretched himself on him; and the lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes.”  2 Kings 4:34-35

When I read these verses about Elisha raising this boy from the dead, what Elisha did sounds really strange to me, but I certainly celebrate the outcome!  Weird actions in contrast to resurrection outcomes cause me to pause & reflect.  Far too often, I’m quick to dismiss or reject stuff that makes me squeamish just to concentrate on the cool outcomes that I like.  Do you ever find yourself making the same kind of decision?

Regardless of your answer, I’m entirely certain that the mother of the boy who was raised from the dead didn’t mind the method Elisha used to resurrect her son.  Sometimes God’s methods can make us squeamish, but let’s never belittle nor dismiss God’s motives (genuine love) nor the outcomes, for the sake of being more comfortable & less squeamish 🙂

Impulsive or Intentional

I’m really good at impulsive & sometimes that isn’t always a prudent thing. So learning to be intentional is very helpful. It seems to me that Moses was impulsive when he killed the Egyptian slave master, but he learned to be intentional. I say this because of his dialogue with God at the burning bush.
The upside of being impulsive is that we can be willing to take risks. The upside of being intentional is evaluating the risks & using wisdom to navigate the possible hotspots. I think the best way to be intentional is to walk with the Holy Spirit rather than letting our flesh make dumb decisions for us 🙂

Solutions for Congestion

Congestion isn’t appealing.  We don’t like to be congested from a cough or the flu and when traffic is congested, it’s not a pleasant experience to navigate.  Congested means too much and it happens when there are too many cars or when our immune system is trying to fight against a virus or bacteria.  So what are some possible solutions for congestion?

Here are some interesting ideas for your consideration:

  • drink more water:  when we are congested with sin, the washing of the water of the Word (Eph 5:26) can help to flush out the sinful toxins that are harmful to our walk with Jesus.
  • rest:  often times our lives get congested because we don’t maximize the rest times that God gives to us (Matt 11:28).  If you’re in congested traffic, consider using the time to thank God for various things throughout the day.
  • patience:  congestion can make us anxious and stressed out, which only makes the congestion worse.  Consider what Jesus says in Luke 21:19, “In patience, possess your souls.”  Seasons change and things come to pass but not stay.

May the healing and redemptive power of Jesus help us get past the congested times and maladies in our lives!

 

Are You Content?

“I want double of your spirit on me.” These were the words they Elisha spoke to Elijah when asked what he wanted. Elijah, who was Elisha’s mentor, was about to be taken to heaven & Elisha’s answer reveals a discontent, longing for more.
Getting more seems to be a theme that’s universal to the human experience, but let’s be careful about what is more. Obviously, we can overdose on entertainment, food, achievements, exercise, materialism & heaps more.
But let’s always want more of Jesus!
Today, with Saving Moses, we celebrate the opening of nightcare in Bangledesh, but I want more because I feel the immense love of Jesus overflowing my human limits to express more genuine love. I’m not

Toxic Desires

Recently, I went snowboarding with the men in my family and had a wonderful time, minus the crowded lift lines.  The sun was out, snow was pretty good, it wasn’t too cold and I stayed warm throughout the day (except for getting some snow down my pants).  The toxic desire part, however, happens for me when I want to keep the same speed as my teenage sons.  They have been skiing for more than ten years and they’re very proficient and fast.  The problem is that I also like to go really fast and watching them jet ahead of me, is like throwing down the gauntlet with an irresistable challenge.  But alas, from innumerable injuries that need no details here, I’ve concluded that snowboarding as fast as my teenage sons isn’t good for my health, regardless of what I want.

So let’s remember that not all of our desires come from God (Ps 37:4) and let’s stay mindful not to allow the toxic desires to override common sense and obedience to God’s Word 🙂

Goodbye Before Hello

We’re rapidly coming to the end of this year & I’m sure this year has had some ups & downs for you – hopefully more ups than downs. Something I’d strongly encourage you to consider is saying goodbye to some things that are not helpful. There’s no sense in bringing unnecessary & unhelpful luggage into 2018. So this weekend is the prime opportunity to say goodbye & begin a fresh start. Here are some ideas for goodbyes:

  • hurts by forgiving,
  • unhealthy routines (replace w something constructive),
  • spending money / time in non-constructive ways,
  • negative mindsets / perspectives.

The only way that I can see me making these changes is by letting the Holy Spirit help me. Maybe that’s also true for you!! Feel free to pick up my newest book on the Holy Spirit to help you make a fresh start in 2018!

Meeting Strangers

My dad was always good with strangers, regardless of how they looked or their social abilities. Maybe it helped that he was comfortable in his skin & had his own drumbeat, so I never saw him get jittery around anyone. On the other hand, I  don’t think I inherited my dad’s amiability.
I’m trying to get better with that because I’ve felt the Holy Spirit challenging me with this. It’s an interesting journey, when I’m more friendly with strangers. Not only do I learn new things, but I’m beginning to appreciate the unique perspective everyone has about life. I’m also enjoying that being friendly can open the door to pray for people, either on my own or with the person. Maybe there’s not as much stranger danger as I had once believed 🙂

In Between the Holidays

Have you ever been in the middle of something & felt like you’re kind of in limbo?  Sometimes, I feel like this between Christmas and New Years.  There’s a nice exhale after all the frenzied Christmas flurry but I can also feel the New Year coming into focus, even though I’m not quite ready for that yet.

Limbo land is kind of a weird place.  It’s the middle area between starting & finishing, so it can be a short little jaunt, like a quick trip to the grocery store, or the entirety of life between birth & death.  When I think about this middle space, I’m reminded of lots of Bible folk who found themselves in this experience:

  • David in his flight from Saul lived for many years in this middle space, where God cultivated strength, committment & maturity in him.
  • Moses lived in limbo land between his flight from Pharoah and the burning bush, where it looks like some of his youthful hubris was deflated over the course of 40 years, making him ready for the burning bush experience that launched his destiny to liberate the Israelites from slavery and so much more!
  • Peter had some limbo time between when he betrayed Jesus and was reconciled to Him after Jesus’ resurrection;  perhaps those days helped Peter see his utter dependence on Jesus in sharp contrast to his frail flesh, being reconciled through the loving interaction with Jesus in the Q&A session about Peter’s love for Jesus

Let’s be sure to keep a laser focus on Jesus in between the holidays 🙂

Wrapping Presence

It’s defintely true that I can struggle with the right spelling of words from time to time.  But in this situation, the title for my blog isn’t a misspelling.  Instead, it’s an intentional play on words to catch your attention & maybe challenge you to some ongoing generosity with Jesus.

How so?  What Jesus likes more than your words, money, service, clothing, church attendance, etc. is your self.  When we give all of ourselves to Jesus, it seems to me that this gives Jesus the greatest pleasure!  So here are some wrapping ideas for your presence with Jesus:

  • time:  we can give Jesus time in all kinds of ways – as we drive, in those unexpected moments of pause with a cancelled appointment and in the morning / night to be present
  • words:  it’s always good to give thanks to Jesus (for daily things, miracles, unexpected blessings, rich conversations, etc ), as well as some worship for who Jesus is
  • attention:  let’s ask the Holy Spirit to increase our awareness of Jesus’ presence, since He said He’d never leave nor forsake us.  I ask, throughout the day, for help with my focus and attention to sense Jesus

Be sure to wrap your presence with time, words and attention, to give your self wholly to Jesus!

Late Wrappers

Wrapping Christmas presents isn’t in my top 5 thrilling adventures. So I’m a late wrapper. In addition to being a late wrapper, I’m also not a very good wrapper. I have the “get ‘er Done” mindset. But lest we miss the whole point, keep in mind that we’re endeavoring to express genuine love & generosity, regardless of the wrapping or when we wrap our presents
I’d propose that our Heavenly Father wants to let us a know a few things this Christmas to reinforce His genuine love & generosity to us:

  • Wrapping: Jesus, the Fathers ultimate gift to us, came wrapped in human garb, as a newborn
  • Timing: Paul says that in the fullness of time, Jesus became flesh to live among us. God’s timing is perfect!
  • Spectacular: despite being wrapped in human garb, Jesus’ arrival was announced with splendor, grandiose display & jubilant celebration.

It’s ok if you’re a late wrapper, a crummy wrapper or if you’re a timely & spectacular wrapper! No matter what, let’s keep genuine love & generosity our primary goal!

Provision By the Minute

Ravens, brooks & widows. These were three ways God provided for the needs that Elijah had. After reading about these resources this morning, it struck me about how creatively God works to meet & resolve the needs in our lives.
Let’s be wise stewards with the resources that we have while appreciating that God has some very creative & interesting ways to meet the needs that exceed our current provisions. And above all, let’s continue to remain grateful because God is always faithful!

Drop the DIM :)

There’s lots of fun information, websites & youtube videos on how to do stuff.  Indeed, one of my children considered themselves to be an expert with turkey brining having watched a few instructional videos on youtube.  Alas, this child’s turkey brining efforts were less than expert on their first effort, even though this child was highly convinced about their proficiency.  They made it abundantly clear that my help wasn’t needed nor appreciated – until the disaster was in full execution mode.

This is also what I sense the Holy Spirit telling me.  Rather than trying to Do It Myself (DIM), it would be a brighter decision to ask for Divine Help.  This means I’m deciding to be open for the Holy Spirit to be my Help, Guide, Truth, Wisdom, Strength, Comfort, . . . .

Be sure to grab some copies of:

In Step with the Spirit

for Christmas gifts & a great resource to live the DIWH lifestyle (Do It With Help)!