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!

What Seduces You?

Nothing.

That’s a stupid question.
But actually, it’s a very important question because what seduces us can give us insight into weak spots & things that can possibly cause us to go off the rails.
For me, I’m a bit of an odd duck. What seduces me isn’t chocolate, wealth, image, clothes, etc. I’m more enamored with intellectual stuff, March Madness & the NCAA college basketball tournament, along with adventure & exhilaration.
Let’s be sure that we keep the stuff that interests us in proper alignment to our love for Jesus. If I let my interests in college basketball, intellectual pursuits or thrill seeking get more intense than my passion & love for Jesus, then I’ve become a victim to idolatry.
We don’t intentionally set out to be idolaters but that’s the problem with seduction. It’s subtle & creeps up on you often before you recognize it.
This is one of the reasons I so deeply love the Holy Spirit who keeps me away from deception & distortion while staying passionately in love with Jesus! Let’s pay attention to the things that seduce us!

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!

Changing Things

Changing Things

Normally, the day before Thanksgiving our family goes skiing since we live fairly close to some epic vertical. But alas, today we are electing for the flatland because there’s almost no snow & the few runs that are open don’t tempt us enough to take the plunge.
Seems to me that change can be challenging to navigate but we need to change for lots of reasons:

  • Change indicates that we’re alive & not moribund in static rigamortis
  • We don’t grow if we’re unwilling to change
  • Change affords new adventures, delights, joys & discoveries
  • Our souls stay supple when we are willing to change, letting God love through us more thoroughly

Cheers to change & happy Thanksgiving!

Thrills & Chills

Alas, I’m sitting on the floor of the DMV again so there are no thrills & chills here at the moment. My number is 101 & they just called number 75, so it’s going to be awhile but I’ll keep this blog pithy 🙂

I like quick projects & exciting experiences. But it seems to me that life is more about the long-term outcomes than the short thrills & shallow frills. Here are some good things to consider about thinking in more long-term outcomes:

  • Steady effort creates habits which reinforce endurance
  • Repetition is a necessary ingredient for excellence
  • Muscle memory – this happens when we do things repeatedly & it gives us the freedom to learn more things
  • Incremental progress often lasts longer than speedy results
  • Let patience have her perfect work that you may be mature & complete #nuffsaid

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!

The Voice

There’s a popular tv show out called “The Voice”. The general idea is related to finding vocally talented peeps & putting them on tv to compete for the top prize. There are loads of phenomenal individuals who have amazing voices, but there’s only one Voice that needs our steady attention & the is the voice of our Good Shepherd, from John 10.

When we think about all the voices in our lives (appetites, worries, relationships, things we need to do, etc), we can get overwhelmed with this barrage of input. But alas, there is one Voice who is worthy of our consistent attention. There is one Voice who invites us to experience genuine Love. There is one Voice who leads us along paths of peace & divine productivity & that is the Voice of our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
Let’s be sure that the volume is appropriately adjusted for the various voices in our lives so that Jesus’ Voice gets our best attention & obedience!

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!

What’s Important???

Tonight is the final game of the World Series – the annual culmination of the baseball season in the US. The Cleveland Indians & the Chicago Cubs haven’t competed in the World Series for more than 60 years each & the series has been a nail biter to be sure! If you can’t tell, I’m UBER excited about this game tonight, but alas I won’t be watching the majority of it because we have church tonight & I’m scheduled to preach.
I’m not writing this to get your sympathy but rather to talk about what’s important. If the truth is known, I’m a really big sports person & I love watching almost every sport. But in the grand scheme of important priorities, sports don’t really carry eternal significance. For that matter, I seriously wonder if many of the things that we stress over, goals that we work towards & stuff that we spend time on, I wonder if many of these things really have any bearing on eternity.
Let’s be careful that the things we deem as important & worthy of our attention / energy are really the important things with lasting impact!

Change the Filters

This weekend, we changed the furnace & vacuum filters. It’s good to change the filters from time to time & the vacuum filter was long overdue – no wonder the carpet has been messy!

Let’s think about this in relation as well to our mental filters. Sometimes we see things through filters that can be dirty, tainted, distorted & ineffective. Consequently, our perspective is messed up & we can make dysfunctional decisions & carry on with messed up conversations / mindsets
Let’s be sure that we follow the Holy Spirit in truth. Maybe it’s time to let the Holy Spirit challenge your mental filters so that life works better & isn’t quite so messy!

Let’s Keep the Plot

“Go back to sleep!” I can imagine Eli’s impatience with Samuel in the middle of the night when the little guy kept waking up Eli. “You called & I’m here!”

It’s easy to be critical of Eli, observing that he was the high priest & should’ve recognized the Lord calling Samuel much sooner than he did. But Eli didn’t & I think that sometimes we can all be a little bit like Eli.
I wholly believe that God continually beckons us to converse, observe & engage with the Trinity but we miss the plot, ignore the invitation & dismiss the coincidence.
Let’s train ourselves to be more sensitive & attentive to that still small voice & those ever so sweet & alluring invitations throughout this day!
“Speak Lord, Your servants listens!”

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.

Improving Some More

I’m sitting down to eat lunch as I write this & enjoying a tasty lunch. My lunch is comprised of Swiss cheese, triscuits & leftovers from last night’s delicious stew. As I’m eating this stew, I notice that it tastes better than it did last night, which is often the case with leftovers.
When I was growing up, I wasn’t much of a leftover fan until I had an epiphany. One day, I suddenly understood that when something is given a bit of time to culminate, it often turns out better than the initial product.
So when we want to grow & Improve, consider what it says in James 1:4, “Let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect & complete, lacking nothing.”
Never underestimate the important ingredient of time when it comes to the final product of growth & improvement 🙂

How to Improve

I have a child who is in the process of a vertical learning curve related to blame or responsibility. This is a nice way to say that blaming other people facilitates irresponsibility & this is no bueno.
These conversations challenge me to look at areas in my life where I might be blaming people & not taking responsibility for my actions, words & attitudes.
I’m seeing with stark clarity that the attempts to blame others limits my ability to grow & improve.
Are there places in your life where you seem quagmired? Is it possible that you might need to think about being proactive & taking responsibility for the things you can change?
Let’s be sure that we let the Holy Spirit speak truth into our hearts so that we don’t deceive ourselves, limiting how much we grow & improve.

Asking Questions

Questions express curiosity & questions are the starting point for learning. Indeed, were taught in basic English classes about the five main questions we should answer: who, what, where, when & why. As we age, however, I think that sometimes our curious edge wanes & gets stifled. Maybe we erroneously think we know more than we do so we stop asking questions. Maybe we received too many bad answers so we learned the dangerous lesson to stop asking questions. Maybe we haven’t received answers to some questions we deem important. Maybe we’ve been taught that questions are disrespectful or intrusive

Let’s be careful when we stop asking questions. Indeed, I think that part of why we exist is to learn about the intimate relationship that’s available to us with our Heavenly Father through Jesus. Let’s also remember that learning isn’t merely a cerebral activity, but when it comes to a deep abiding relationship with God, learning exceeds our mental limits & frailties. Let’s be lifelong learners as we grow daily in our intimacy with the Trinity!

Still Motion

It seems of late that I’m always going somewhere – AZ, CA, NC, PA etc & it feels like I’m in perpetual motion. This is good because I get to share about the daily & supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit. On the other side, I find myself desiring that peace from being still & knowing that God is. With all of the traveling & stresses of work, home, schedules, family etc, we would be wise to learn about carrying peace on the inside.  In Job 20:20 it says, “Because he knew no quiet within him, he does not retain anything he desires.”
Here are some ideas about carrying some quiet in our heads wherever we go:

  • remember to give your anxieties to God
    turn to God as a habit & not just in overwhelm mode
  • let those unexpected cancelled events give you some pause space – don’t fill your schedule to the gills
  • life has seasons, ebb & flow & we would be wise to go with the flow
  • it helps me, on occasion, to sit in my car for a few minutes, with no phone or music & just be still

Carry some quiet in your heart wherever you go!

Getting Better

I was recently ministering at a seriously great women’s retreat & one of the ladies confronted me after one of my messages. She challenged me about a story I told about Gladys, a church lady from my childhood. In my story, I treated Gladys with disrespect & made her an example for mocking & scorn. The chick who confronted me was totally on the money – she was gentle, firm & biblical. At first, I tried to deflect her attempts to correct me, but I knew she was right.

That afternoon, I took some time to write & pray, asking God to forgive me & help me to love better.
Regardless of how a person behaves, genuine love doesn’t qualify the recipient. Just because it’s easy for me to love some rough people doesn’t give me a pass to be unloving with cranky peeps 🙂

I Like to Practice!

Proficient is a consequence of practice & it seems to me that practice gives us the space to make mistakes, learn, improve & grow into proficiency. So these are the things that I am continually practicing:

  • Gratitude – I’m not sure that we can ever be fully proficient with being thankful, so let’s keep practicing
  • Forgiveness – it’s hard to forgive, particularly when a person who is very close to us causes us pain, but just because something is hard doesn’t mean we should quit trying; indeed, the person who gets the most benefit from is the forgiver more than the recipient
  • Learning – let’s be curious about beneficial things & not stuff that’s meaningless or hurtful
  • Patience – uggggh, this one can really get under my skin, which means I desperately need to practice it more so it’s not such a weak spot

So what would be good for you to start practicing more over this weekend?

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!