The Best Multi-Tool

Have you seen those gadgets that look like big pocket knives, but they have various configurations of tools?  Depending on the size of the tool, these contraptions can have screwdrivers, miniature hammers, awls, scissors, files, corkscrews & stuff that is totally baffling to me.  Since I’m not into keeping tools easily accessible, I don’t carry around this kind of thing, although I admit it could be useful.

With this idea, let’s consider that genuine love is the multi-tool perfectly suited for our relationships, regardless of the depth, length or intensity of the relationship.  Here are some of the specific applications that we can use everyday with genuine love as our relationship multi-tool:

  • patience, endurance, stability, faithfulness – these come in handy when you’d rather jet or quit
  • forgiveness, always hoping, believing the best – these are useful for those sharp exchanges & misunderstandings that happen from time to time
  • kind, encouraging, celebrating truth – great tools to build up the other person without being fake
  • selfless, generous – super helpful when we need to go the extra mile
  • celebrating righteousness & being protective – keeping a relationship clean & clear from fleshly clutter is essential to maintaining healthy interactions

Be sure to keep genuine love as your top priority in your relationships!

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. 

What Do You Want?

“If I’m smart, I’ll be important.”  When I was growing up, I used to think this. Consequently, I thought that college degrees where the golden ticket to being valuable & respected. And then I met some college professors who were nothing short of thoroughly brilliant, but didn’t have much voice nor impact. 

Sometimes, I don’t think we stop to think about what we want & when we get our desires, we can be disappointed or unfulfilled. For this reason, we would be wise to pray that God would direct our desires & Help is to walk in truth. Such praying can help us to not pursue futile goals nor disappointing outcomes!

Not My Flavor

 I recently watched the NBA championship series between the Cavaliers & Warriors. Both teams have very different styles & it’s easy to find strong proponents for each style. There are heaps of folk who rightfully admire LeBron James, for the Cavs & heaps of folk who like the point spread among several players for the Warriors. 

Personally, I tend to admire the teamwork style of play over more of the superstar style.  With that said, I’ve been thinking about my distaste for styles that are different than my preference. And I’ve come to this conclusion: God has made each of us in unique & wonderful ways. Some individuals are wired up for massive individual achievements & some are wired up for the team approach. Being hostile & acrimonious against styles we don’t like can show not just a bias but also the refusal to grow & respect others who are different than ourselves. 

With this line of thinking, I would suggest that Paul is a phenomenal NT example of a massively high achiever, who valued Help along his various journeys. Maybe Barnabas would be an example of a team player, looking to include as many teammates as he possibly could throughout his life. Both men had unique gifts, contributions & value to add to God’s kingdom. Let’s be careful to respect others who have different giftings rather than belittle & deride them for not being like us 🙂

Traveling Tips

This week, I have a lot of traveling & I would suggest that these tips below can also be helpful throughout our journey in life:

  • Less is more:  I don’t need as much as I think & I don’t like carrying unnecessary things.
  • Security for safety:  human security is never as powerful as divine security.
  • Flexible keeps things fun:  hold lightly to your plans.
  • Wonderful people watching:  consider that God enjoys watching us because God is Love!

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!

Useful Obstacles

I don’t like things that slow me down – cars, lines, crowds, etc.  So when things get in my way, I instinctually lock into the persist & overcome mindset.  For example, when a car in front of me drives slowly, I look for ways to get around the car. Sometimes, this backfires because my speeding up can position me to get a traffic ticket, which is worse than having to drive slower. 

With this thinking, we would be wise to not entirely dismiss things that are obstacles. We see this principle in the Bible in relation to Joseph getting thrown into a pit & prison. Clearly, these challenges weren’t pleasant & I’d wager that Joseph was looking for a shortcut or way to circumvent these obstacles. In hindsight, however, the obstacles & hindrances were very useful to his end destination. And there’s a good chance that the same could be true for us. The obstacles in our lives become instruments in God’s hands 🙂

Helpful Tips for Learning

My three teenage kids have learning curves with lots of stuff, as do I.  And part of what means to be human is learning. I think that it’s good to always be learning because this helps us to continually grow. So here are some helpful ideas for daily learning:

  • No shame – don’t belittle yourself or others for what is not known or the lack of proficiency.
  • Celebrate progress – don’t let “perfect” sabotage progress.
  • Learning differences – everyone learns in unique ways.
  • Committed to learn – may there never be a day when we don’t learn
  • Be gentle – we learn better with grace rather than harsh 🙂

Happy Friday to you!

What Is Success?

It’s interesting to scroll through various social media platforms & look at the abundant advice about how to be successful. When I read through some of this advice, I always walk away asking, “What is success?”  

Is success:

  • living a comfortable life, without conflict or drama? 
  • having heaps of money, recognition, achievements or a glam image? 
  • living a balanced life, all things regulated & controlled for maximum mediocrity?

What is success?  In Jeremiah 9:23-24 it says,  “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;  24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.”

So maybe the most simple definition of biblical success is knowing & loving God, as well as loving our neighbor & ourselves.  Have an awesome Memorial Day weekend living successfully!

Good for the Soul

This morning I tried a new breakfast: quinoa, almonds, blueberries & maple syrup. It was ok for my first attempt & I know it’s better for me than bacon & a cheese omelette  so you m endeavoring to make healthy decisions. 

The same can be said for decisions we make about our souls. Here are a few decisions that are good for the soul:

  • Forgiveness:  keeps the grudge venom neutralized
  • Encouragement:  keeps us with positive thoughts about people
  • Gratitude: keeps us looking for good
  • Trust: keeps us actively declining worry & leaning on God

Keep making healthy choice for your body & soul!

Everywhere A Lesson

Learning can be loads of fun, massively painful or somewhere in the middle. And thankfully, we don’t have to sit in a classroom to learn 🙂

Here are some recent examples of lessons I’m learning in life:

  • Insecurity Insurance: the softball team we played last night needed to feel superior and confident. I decided to be joyful that I could help them feel superior rather than sulk at getting trounced
  • Divine Provisions:  God supplies our needs and even teaches us to be content when there’s deficiency – Phil 4:11-12
  • Training for Success: learning the Romeo & Juliet monologue with my kid is a lesson in diligence & not just memory work
  • Trusting God:  this is a daily and even hourly decision based on Prov 22:19

What could be some everyday lessons Holy Spirit could be showing you?

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!

Heroes & Villains

There’s running banter betweeen DC & Marvel fans about which brand of hero entertainment is better.  Each side seems to have it’s own strengths & shortfalls, each hero having a fatal flaw:  Superman has his kryptonite & Ironman has his arrogance (or whatever you deem to be his weakness).  And that’s the rub with the human race – we can have our moments of glory & splendor with dark quagmires nipping the heels of grandeur.

Enter Jesus who is the ultimate flawless superhero.  Jesus is all-powerful, all-knowing and present everywhere.  If Jesus has any weak spot, it would be His affection and devotion to you and me.  Jesus continues to go to inexplainable extremes to keep us reconciled to Himself, infused with genuine love.  Let’s be committed to worshipping the real hero of the human race:  Jesus Christ!

Overcoming Obstacles

“Here ya go!”  As I was standing on the sidewalk on cold winter day, my friend flung me a seriously AWESOME winter cap that she had made me.  I caught the cap with utter shock, checked it out & beamed from ear to ear.  She had knit me this thoroughly magnificnet blue & white cap that has been my favorite for years.  She later explained that she had to figure out a creative way to get the cap into my hands because of my difficulty to receive gifts.

Each of us have quirky hangups that can create obstacles for connecting in healthy ways with others.  Maybe you have a sense of superiority over others & feel the need to help them improve – that’s an obstacle for connecting.  Perhaps you see yourself as a victim from a past trauma or abuse, so it’s difficult for you to trust, another obstacle.  I could endlessly list all kinds of obstacles we may have for connecting with others, but let’s be thankful that God has already overcome all of our obstacles and quirks because of genuine love.  While there may be hindrances and obstacles along our horizontal journey, our vertical relationship with God is never in peril nor compromised – for the simple reason that God never stops loving us.  His lovingkindness is everlasting!

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!

Doing More

I’m making my way back to Denver from Angola Africa, where I’ve been for a week working with our baby malnutrition initiative with Saving Moses. I think this is my 6th trip to Angola & it never fails to bring me to my knees, almost literally. 

On this trip, I’ve never seen, held or experienced so many malnourished babies possibly combined in my whole life – over the course of close to 5days. And I’m coming home with all of these experiences swirling in my heart, thoughts & emotions. Clearly, this will be a journey for processing, literally. And at the same time, I’m compelled to do more. 

It seems to me like we all want to do more. But I wonder if we want to do more of the right stuff?  Sometimes maybe we should think about what it means to “do more” prayerfully considering if our more is being directed by God. 

No Crickets

When I’m in a malnutrition clinic here in Angola, I’m delighted to hear crying babies drown out any cricket noises. A crying baby in a malnutrition clinic means they have enough strength to cry. A quiet & lethargic baby in a malnutrition clinic can be very disturbing to me. It’s even worse when a quiet baby in these clinics looks into my eyes & I don’t see anything beyond a glassy stare.  

I’ve just spent the day at one of our 6 malnutrition clinics here in Angola & it’s uniquely unraveling to watch a baby struggle to survive.  Add in a stretched thin mom, worried for her baby’s life, and this can become very unsettling. So how do I process not just one mom & baby in this scenario but not less than ten?  

It helps to pray, for sure & it helps me to spend time & give genuine love. I know that God lives to spend time with you & enjoys your company!

Getting Better

Arriving & Improving: I prefer arriving over improving because to me the difference is destination versus journey. And yet here in Angola, with Saving Moses, I’m reminding myself that improvement is an essential ingredient for destination & change. 

I say this having driven by one of our malnutrition clinics today & observing the improvements to the lodging arrangements. In the past, this clinic had 3 large huts, poorly ventilated & lit, concrete floors & abundant flies. Today, the lodging has vastly improved – I’ll describe it here on my blog tomorrow. 

And still I see friendly moms with malnourished babies, waiting daily for their baby to improve & hopefully return home healthy & strong. Malnourished babies & toddlers meet your eyes with a dull stare or achy eyes. Their motions are lethargic & labored, so as to minimize the energy expense. Sometimes their bellies are swollen with edema & almost always their ribcages look like xylophone strips. And their heads are disproportionately large on their underdeveloped frames. 

So when I see babies in these conditions, it’s difficult to look at the building improvements because people always trump facilities. Nonetheless, I can choose to celebrate progress even if I have yet to see the full realization of helping Angola live in the state of declining infant mortality. 

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 🙂