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
Planning isn’t one of my natural strengths, so the Holy Spirit has helped me grow in this area over the course of many years. I’ve come to appreciate that if I want to accomplish big dreams, then it’s important to develop some plans and structures for these dreams to become reality. So what happens when the plans don’t seem to work? Then what?
In the Gospel of Mark, I’ve been reading about how Jesus healed people, often not according to the human contrived plans, i.e, the Syrophoenician woman whom Jesus calls a dog, the 4 guys who break through a roof to get a paralytic in front of Jesus & the blind guy whom Jesus spits on for his healing. It seems to me that Jesus almost never follows our human plans, so it begs the question: why plan?
When you have plans to seem to go awry, maybe these ideas could be helpful:
- plans help us think in constructive steps to achieve goals & dreams. No planning = no progress
- planning with prayer is a massively helpful combination
- consider Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”
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Our church building is in the process of moving locations & it’s an interesting experience living in this “half-way between” place. I feel like I’m in limbo a little bit because of the new place not being entirely settled & some of my stuff is still in the old place. Furthermore, I have lots of memories associated with the old building & no memories or notable experiences yet with the new building. We are also still having services in the old building, but the new building now houses all of our offices, so that’s where we do the day to day work during the weekdays.
This reminds me of what Paul says in 2Cor 5:17 about being in Christ & a new creature with the old things having passed away and new things have come. There are times and experiences when I find myself living in my old, flesh nature, even though I know in my heart that I’m a new creation in Christ. Let’s continue to move into and occupy our new nature that Jesus has purchased for us. Here are a few possibly helpful ideas to consider:
- don’t bring the old furnishings to the new creation: stuff that’s broken & dysfunctional doesn’t need to continue in our new nature living.
- celebrate and embrace: be sure to celebrate & honor the past, but wholly & fully embrace the new creation / nature that Jesus has for you now!
- keep moving into the new creation: there were a few weeks when I procrastinated moving stuff out of the old building for various reasons. From this lesson, I’m learning that it’s important to keep looking & moving toward the new creation that Jesus has made me to be.
Feel free to pass this along to your friends / family who are navigating this journey to be more & more like Jesus!
PS – here’s my latest youtube video that’s short, fun & encouraging!
Usually when I watch a sports program, if I let myself get engrossed, I think about what it would be like to play that sport. So when I watch soccer, I often walk away wishing I could play soccer and the same is true for lots of other sports (except football – I don’t want to play football).
Let’s also consider that the Holy Spirit probably has a similar mindset with your life. Rather than watching from the sidelines and being a spectator, I’m thoroughly convinced that the Holy Spirit wants to be a realtime participant in your life. And I can’t think of any good reason why we wouldn’t want the Holy Spirit’s participation in our daily living. Indeed, when we walk with the Holy Spirit, everything gets better, is more exciting and has a greater chance to experience supernatural power! So let’s be committed to letting the Holy Spirit be an active participant in our lives rather than a passive spectator!
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Sometimes I meet people & they’re not who I thought they were. We tend to see or hear people & then create these expectations or stereotypes that are often, almost always, inaccurate. So I’m hoping to learn not to frame people in constrictive expectations nor suffocating stereotypes.
In the same way, let’s be aware that we might also make this mistake with God. It’s been my experience that just when I thought I had God all figured out, something happens that totally obliterates my nice & tidy theology / mindset. Rather than living in a predictable & safe human controlled relationship w God, let go of the reins & let God do more & far beyond what you expect!
“A rut is a grave with the ends kicked out.”
I’ve heard this saying more than once & I like it. It’s helpful to try new things because we humans can gravitate to what’s familiar & comfortable, at the expense of adventures, obeying God & new joys!
There are lots of Bible examples of people who tried new things & I’m listing a few below. As you consider these examples, take a minute to think about what might have happened, if they hadn’t tried something new:
- Peter – tried fishing in the morning at Jesus command, despite an entire night of fruitless fishing
- Moses – checking out the burning hush was a novelty to be sure
- David- killing a giant was something new
Esther – initiating a conversation with the king was both new & highly risky
- Ananais – laying hands on & praying for blind Saul was something new for Ananais.
These people took risks & tried new things because they obeyed God, even when it was uncomfortable, illogical, inconvenient & uncertain. Let’s be willing to try new things, at God’s leading!
Do you have any bad things in your life? Of course that’s a stupid question. Everybody has bad stuff, little, big, occasionally & hopefully not continuous. As much as I want to avoid the bad stuff, it’s still there. So what to do?
Here are some ideas about what to do with bad stuff:
- Pray – let’s not assume that prayer with bad stuff is a given. Praying is a resource that strengthens us, can change the bad stuff & even change us
- Focal Point – what gains our attention usually gets magnified in our lives. So keeping Jesus scoped as our focal point helps us to keep perspective
- Outcome possibilities – in Paul’s epistles & various places in the NT, we frequently read that hardship & bad stuff is often the pathway to really great things like lasting glory, perseverance / endurance, maturity, fruitfulness, (2Cor 4:17, James 1:4, Gal 6:9, Rom 8:17-18)
Bad may come & even linger but it will pass. Let’s chose to celebrate the faithfulness, provision, strength & presence of Jesus, even when we’re in a bad stuff season 🙂
Over the last several weeks, I’ve been purposely working out to improve my fitness, mental clarity & stamina. It’s been nice this go around for lots of reasons & I’ve experienced some wonderful spiritual lessons:
- Beginning is harder than maintaining: starting a spiritual discipline (daily prayer, consistent church attendance, Bible reading, fasting, etc) requires more effort than maintaining the discipline
- Social fun: I’ve allowed people to be involved with my exercise & it’s been very enjoyable; the parallel holds true with spiritual growth as well – we need people in our lives on this spiritual maturity journey
- Too rigorous: last week, I got a migraine largely because I was too hard on my body; in a similar way, let’s be careful to have a balanced spiritual walk in our daily living
With these suggestions, I pray that you grow spiritually & that your inner man is strengthened with the presence of the Holy Spirit – Eph 3:16 🙂
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 🙂
And it’s MASSIVELY FRUSTRATING!!!!
When my car isn’t working, it’s frustrating but I can usually figure out a work around – uber, catching a ride wth a friend or rescheduling an appointment. But sometimes there’s no work around & whatever isn’t working can turn into a meltdown crisis.
I just experienced this with s Skype interview I was scheduled to do & im still in the residual frustration fumes being mad at skype, etc.
What should we do in these moments of intense frustration? The things I want to do (hit something, yell, kick a chair, not write my blog) these things aren’t beneficial. So here are some ideas that might be more constructive for you when you have a frustrating meltdown:
- Take a deep breath – this physical action helps settle my mental disarray
- Perspective alignment – pray & ask for the Holy Spirit to help you to have a divine alignment on your perspective
- Use a tourniquet – don’t allow the bleeding from the frustration to spill over into other areas of your life
- Think in terms of practice – the next time will be better 🙂
What do you want? Are you interested in having a better education? Do you want to exercise more? Do you want a healthy marriage? Do you want a vibrant & growing relationship w God? What do you want?
Desires that we don’t achieve can become frustrating & discouraging. So it’s important to think about what we want, our end goal, in smaller steps like one decision at a time.
When we consider what we want & align that to our decisions, then we can make progress towards achieving our desires & goals. Les walk towards our goals & desires one decision at a time.
I’m easily distracted & that can be very challenging. There are always external distractions like the phone alerts, watching people get upset about small stuff, podcasts for listening, multiple books I want to absorb, tasks undone, etc. Then there’s also the internal distractions – feelings that can be challenging, creative ideas that could be fun, stress from impending deadlines, etc.
Thankfully, I met a new friend this morning on my way to catch a plane. She was studying Philippians 4:7-8, which talks about keeping our thoughts focused on constructive & beneficial stuff. For me, this means that I stay intentional about not getting distracted. It also means that I keep my thoughts grounded in the Bible so I don’t mindlessly roam away from God. Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit gives us sniper focus so that we live a life that hits the mark & overflows with divine purpose.
“. . . . , those who previously saw him as a beggar.” John 9:8b
I read this verse today & it really stood out to me about the power of vision & how we see people. In John 9, Jesus heals a man who was born blind. Before his healing, this man sat outside the temple & begged, so everyone recognized him as, ” that beggar guy.” When he was no longer blind, the people struggled to see him as anyone but, “that beggar dude.”
This has started me to think about various people I see: Bob the homeless guy at Starbucks, Tina the blind chick, Marion the needy one, Jerry the deaf dude, . . . .
If we see people only in the quagmire of their pain, dysfunction & disability, then maybe we’re limiting God’s power to work through us.
Maybe it’s a better strategy to ask God to reveal that persons true identity & divine design so that we call out their potential & not merely their inabilities & weaknesses. I’m more than a little grateful that God calls things that are not as though they are!
There’s a common saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” And in our moments of honesty, we can often recognize the error of this thinking. This mindset happens when we look at another person & wish we had their life.
- “I wish I was smart like they are”
- “I wish I had their coordination or athleticism”
- “They have their life totally scooped – I wish I could be like them”
- “I wish I could be that kind of a leadyer, wife / husband, parent, worshipper, etc”
Here’s the truth: we are each uniquely designed with the suitable talents, gifts, opportunities, etc for the divine plan for which God made us. The grass for our path is appropriately green, distributed & manicured for the journey that God has designed for us. So my take-away point is this: keep you eyes on God & decide to trust God more than what you see, experience or feel
“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!
This weekend, I learned about some swimming races near my house at the local reservoir. I learned about these “Aquaman” races from a nice lady after I attempted to do an open water swim at a pond near the mountains here in Denver. My swimming was very disappointing to me & when I got out of the pond, I didn’t feel friendly whatsoever. Nevertheless, I started chatting with the lady nearby & she was very kind & informative. We had a lovely conversation & she helped me know of some open water swimming options that sound really fun!
I say this to encourage you about those moments when you’re struggling or discouraged. Remember that God can encourage & strengthen you in a variety of ways that are often unexpected. Be careful if you’re discouraged not to turn inward so much that you don’t allow God to help or strengthen you with creative ideas & unexpected encouragement!
I’m presently riding with my teenage son who is clocking in driving time so that he can be eligible to get his driver’s license. It’s an interesting experience to watch his confidence or lack of confidence, wax or wane, depending on who’s in the car, his experience, the quantity of traffic & his mind frame. And this confidence thing seems to ring true for all of us.
So here are some things to help with the confidence factor:
- Being confident in our abilities is never as safe as being confident in God’s wisdom & power.
- Don’t allow fear & past failures contaminate your confidence
- Think in terms of what could go right rather than what could go wrong
- Do it scared – Joyce Meyer
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 🙂
“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?
Ever ridden in a crowded car, train or plane & felt squashed? I’ve had plenty of experiences where there’s been virtually no personal space & that can be very unnerving. For two weeks, my family & I are driving to the West Coast & back home to Denver. Consequently, breathing room can be a challenge – think three teenagers in a mini-van with two parents, luggage, cooler for food & no wifi 🙂
This morning, I got up early to have some quiet & solitude, personal time with God. Consequently, I feel more human & less prickly, which is good for everyone. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, regularly spending personal time with God is good for the spirit, emotions, thought life, relationships & mindset. Time with God breathes life into our existence!