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
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!
Have you ever been frustrated when you can’t get reception for your cell phone? Yesterday, my family & I were driving through Yellowstone WY for our family vacation & there was zero cell reception for probably more than 6hours. For a little bit, it was frustrating but the longer I went without cell phone usage, the more I liked it. Maybe these observations could be helpful to you when you think about connecting with God:
Not getting what we want isn’t always a bad thing
Distractions like phones, tend to interrupt our attention to being present in each moment
With the Holy Spirit, we have perpetual reception because the Holy Spirit is always with us!
Having a break from continual communication is probably more healthy than we often realize
Less than two weeks ago, I was inching through Dhaka Bangladesh, one of the world’s most densely populated cities, with around 25million. Now, we’re driving through Wyoming, the least populated state in the US. Just below are two videos to show the contrasts:
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!
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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
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!
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!
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 🙂
I wonder if God doesn’t want us to stretch more: to stretch our faith, to stretch our compassion, to stretch our endurance & maybe stretch in some other areas. Today, I had to stretch past my natural limits in lots of ways.
Since I’m here in Cambodia, I need to stretch my time so that I can be fully spent when I leave. I did this well today because God helped me. This day was overflowing with accomplishments & productivity! I also felt my compassion stretch today, such that I didn’t pull away from broken people & I felt God’s love pour through me. I was also stretched today in the area of wisdom, as I had some challenging conversations that exceeded my natural abilities. Stretching helps us to stay nimble & flexible, maybe helping us obey & follow God better!
Let’s allow God to stretch us!
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 🙂
I’m presently in Cambodia with a magnificent team expressing Jesus’ love
To the babies & toddlers of prostitutes. This is a really powerful experience for everyone & me in particular. For starters, getting to love on babies is thoroughly glorious. Their bright eyes, curiosity, trust & acceptance are unparalleled in our adult relationships. There’s a simplicity & purity with babies that we seem to lose as adults. This experience is also powerful for me in getting to watch my team come together as individuals & join in cohesion, complementing each other rather than competitive division & exclusivity. Finally, this year is unique for me from the previous years. Last year when I was here, I was recovering from a concussion & that was extremely difficult, blech. The year before that, I was doing physical therapy to recover from shoulder surgery.
Going through hardships helps us appreciate the non-hardship times! Walking with God is truly the adventure of a lifetime!
I’m extremely excited for the next week or so & I want to stay connected with you!! I’m excited because we have our largest ever team trip with Saving Moses in Cambodia, working with our five nightcare centers, loving on babies & experiencing the MARVELOUS people of Cambodia!! I’ll be posting pictures, telling stories & bringing you along with me, hoping you will feel God’s lavish love for you through seeing & reading about these experiences!
And on top of all that excitement, I’m also popping into Bangledesh for a few days to continue working to set up nightcare there!! I’m giddy excited for God’s love to pour through me in these days & I’m praying that you’ll also sense God’s love for you, as you keep up with my blog 🙂
Feel free to subscribe to my blog so it will be easy to keep up! Thanks & let’s have a really fun adventure together for the next week or so!!
Jesus told a parable about a rich dude who made an elaborate feast, with abundant food. The dude went to extravagant lengths to prepare, complete with invitations, massive amounts of food & loads of servants to facilitate this magnificent party. When the servants went out to let the invitees know that the party was ready for them to attend, none of the invited peeps showed up. This was very rude because the dude hosting the party had killed several animals to abundantly provide food for his party. Now, he’s stuck with all these provisions & no one to eat them. Rather than letting everything go to waste, the party host sent out his servants to invite anyone & everyone to come to his party.
Here are some important take aways for us from this parable:
God has made an extravagant feast for everyone – there’s more than enough!
As God’s servants, let’s keep inviting people to experience God’s lavish love for them
There’s room at the table for you, your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, . . . .
“Come & Dine!”, the Master calls!
There are times & situations when I don’t know what to do. There are also obstacles that seem to be unmovable. I can see where I want to be & what needs to be done, but I don’t always know how to get there or how to do what needs to be done.
These kinds of struggles can be experienced in our jobs, personal disciplines, education, relationships, finances, health, etc. So what to do?
Here are some things I’ve found to be helpful:
Pray more, worry less: ask for God’s intervention / interruption to do what seems to be impossible
God’s direction: what would God have you say or do in these struggles?
Active decisions: make intentional decisions to trust God, to speak faith filled words & to choose the high road.