Doing Tough Stuff

There are lots of things that can be difficult: being consistent with exercise, missions trips, hostile or dicey conversations, regulating ones eating habits & lots more.  I don’t like to do tough stuff, nor did Jesus.  I say this because of His words in Gethsemane, “If possible, please take this cup from Me.”
So how do we go about doing tough stuff? Here are a few suggestions & I’d be keen to get your ideas in the comments as well!

  • Keep the end goal in mind: what is your desired outcome?
  • Be wholly present in the difficulty because often these struggles need our whole attention, energy & talents
  • Pray: divine help is always an upgrade!
  • Surrender to God’s will even when it conflicts with your desires 🙂

Not Finished

As much as I don’t want to admit this, I’m concerned that I have a disturbing pattern in my life:  leaving things half done :/

While I don’t leave everything half done, there are definitely things that I don’t finish, such as:  not completing my bookshelf project, starting innumerable books but not finishing them, doing half of the ironing, writing part of a story, etc.  Of course this could be very discouraging if I let myself quagmire in this awareness, but I have a fail-safe solution:  God doesn’t quit!

In Philippians 1:6 it says, “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”  Be encouraged that you’re a masterpiece in the making & the Holy Spirit is continuing to shape & grow you, never quitting, getting discouraged or giving up on you!  God’s not finished!

 

God Makes a Way

Hard circumstances, unknown terrain, impossible journeys – these are all things in which God specializes.  As you read this, maybe you’re in a financial crisis & Christmas looks impossible;  maybe you’ve received a medical report that’s disturbing;  maybe you have some toxic relational challenges that seem to be never ending;  maybe you’re discouraged or depressed;  maybe you have some work or school difficulties that are bigger than your abilities, time or energy.

Be encouraged today, that God can make a way when there seems to be no way.  Remind yourself of how God delivered the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt:

  • providing a leader, Moses, who was educated & committed to their freedom
  • supernatural signs & wonders (10 Plagues) to break the slavery bondage
  • Passover to establish the relationship between God & the nation of Israel
  • plundering the Egyptians when the Israelites walked out of Egypt
  • split the Red Sea & drowning the enemies who were intent on dragging the Israelites back into slavery

God did lots more when He liberated the Israelites, so be encouraged that you’re not in a situation that exceeds God’s ability to transform nor redeem!  Feel free to share this with your friends to encouage them as well!

Flu Vaccine

Tis The season for the flu vaccine – not like I’m on board for more needling. And this is because I stay super current with my vaccinations due to my international work with Saving Moses – yellow fever, typhus, hepatitis, malaria, etc.
Let’s think in terms, however, of truth being our vaccination against deception. It’s the truth on the inside that will protect us from the lies & distortion on the outside. This is true except for a giant intrusion: when we allow deception to creep in our thoughts, emotions & attention. And without following the Holy Spirit into truth, we will have the deadly affects of deception rampant in our lives. Let’s stay vaccinated with the Spirit of Truth, so we don’t fall victim to the enemy, who is the father of lies!

Don’t Lose Your Mind

When I walk in my house, there’s a key ring where I always hang my car keys. I do this so that I can find them easily & not waste time looking for them, nor getting frustrated. Keeping things in their place helps me not lose things.
The same thing applies to my mind. If I keep my mind set in the right place, I don’t “lose” it. There are definitely times when my mind gets lost in various quagmires – emotional rabbit trails, planning stuff that’s not productive, relationship struggles, anxieties, dwelling on past failures, etc.
If we want to keep our mind in a good place, not lost or meandering, then let’s remember to always “set” our minds and n the Spirit, so that we have life & peace – Romans 8:6 🙂

Divine Provisions

“My God will supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory,” – Philippians 4:19.  I’ve prayed this verse far more times than I could ever count, asking God to provide time, wisdom, strength, money, direction, anointing, etc.  Usually, when I’ve prayed this verse, I have some specific things that I want from God, to match up to the needs that I’m experiencing at that time.  What never ceases to amaze me, however, is how God meets my needs and answers my requests – often in ways that I didn’t consider.  Here are some examples that might encourage you about the creative ways that God is our Provider:

  • money:  I’ve had God divinely supply money, provide an unexpected resource, or decrease a bill / expense.
  • time:  there are innumerable times when I’m overbooked & trying to figure out how to get everything done, when an appointment I’ve booked will cancel or get rescheduled
  • energy:  somehow when I run out of energy, the Holy Spirit finds ways to help me with strength on the inside to go the extra mile and to push through the tired or drained.

Let’s be sure that we let the Holy Spirit be our provision, however the Holy Spirit would chose to provide 🙂

Not My Strength

Stuff I’m good at, I prefer to do.  Stuff I’m bad at, not so much.  But life requires us to do stuff that’s both difficult & easy.  When you find stuff that you’re good at, generally you like to keep doing it & it can be very fulfilling.  In contrast, doing stuff you’re not good at can be draining & frustrating.

I say this having just filled out some rather meticulous paperwork that I hope I did right.  Suffice it to say that paperwork isn’t so much in my wheelhouse.  So the less I do, the better it is for everyone 🙂

But here’s the real deal:  my weaknesses provide platform for the Holy Spirit to help & be strong through me.  The tricky part for me is to acknowledge that I need Help – not just professional help, but even better, Divine Help!  Be sure to grab a copy of my latest book to see how you can walk with Divine Help!

In Step with the Spirit

Do It Scared

There are lots of things that intimidate me such as: traveling to unstable places, mingling in a crowd of strangers, having difficult conversations & being around people whom I perceive as superior to me. While it’s good to acknowledge these places where I feel intimidated, it’s better to work through them rather than avoid them. In the past, the way I’d handle this intimidating stuff is to avoid these kinds of situations & distract myself with things I like better.
But growing means that I make active decisions to face the intimidating stuff & choose to grow. Sometimes, this means that even though I may be scared, I still push through the fear & intimidation – do it scared.
Feel free to join me on this adventure – not allowing your growth to be limited by your fears 🙂

Skin in the Game

It’s easy to be a spectator, watching from the sideline, making comments & suggestions. It’s an entirely different experience to participate rather than spectate. This principle rings true in all kinds of contexts:

  • attending church in contrast to being an active participant,
  • watching people struggle with problems in contrast to helping people with prayer & presence,
  • only reading the Bible rather than applying what the Bible says.

Let’s never forget that God put skin in the game for humanity by letting Jesus become God in the flesh. So let’s be sure that we continue to imitate Jesus in our daily living by being active conduits for God’s presence wherever we go & in whatever we do!

Now

If the truth be told, I need deadlines because I’m too proficient with procrastination. So while I don’t like the feelings associated with the word, “now” I value the associated urgency that helps me to get stuff done. There’s also a challenge to the word “now”, when there’s an anticipation of an upcoming event or deadline. These thoughts are related to the timing of stuff – in the future or immediacy of the present.
When we walk with the Holy Spirit, let’s stay flexible in our thoughts about timelines, what needs to be accomplished today & stuff that’s upcoming. Remember that the Holy Spirit is present in every “now.”

Let’s Practice

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

When Plans Don’t Work

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.”

Take a minute to order a copy of my newest book that can help you to stay

In Step with the Holy Spirit!

Living in the Old or New?

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!

Watching or Playing?

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!
To help you walk in this reality, feel free to grab a copy of my latest book for some helpful ideas and practical insights!

In Step with the Spirit!

Not What You Think

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!

Try Something New

“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!

Chose to Celebrate

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 🙂

Get After It!!

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 🙂

Timely Provision

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 🙂

It’s Not Working!!!

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 🙂