In Between the Holidays

Have you ever been in the middle of something & felt like you’re kind of in limbo?  Sometimes, I feel like this between Christmas and New Years.  There’s a nice exhale after all the frenzied Christmas flurry but I can also feel the New Year coming into focus, even though I’m not quite ready for that yet.

Limbo land is kind of a weird place.  It’s the middle area between starting & finishing, so it can be a short little jaunt, like a quick trip to the grocery store, or the entirety of life between birth & death.  When I think about this middle space, I’m reminded of lots of Bible folk who found themselves in this experience:

  • David in his flight from Saul lived for many years in this middle space, where God cultivated strength, committment & maturity in him.
  • Moses lived in limbo land between his flight from Pharoah and the burning bush, where it looks like some of his youthful hubris was deflated over the course of 40 years, making him ready for the burning bush experience that launched his destiny to liberate the Israelites from slavery and so much more!
  • Peter had some limbo time between when he betrayed Jesus and was reconciled to Him after Jesus’ resurrection;  perhaps those days helped Peter see his utter dependence on Jesus in sharp contrast to his frail flesh, being reconciled through the loving interaction with Jesus in the Q&A session about Peter’s love for Jesus

Let’s be sure to keep a laser focus on Jesus in between the holidays 🙂

Wrapping Presence

It’s defintely true that I can struggle with the right spelling of words from time to time.  But in this situation, the title for my blog isn’t a misspelling.  Instead, it’s an intentional play on words to catch your attention & maybe challenge you to some ongoing generosity with Jesus.

How so?  What Jesus likes more than your words, money, service, clothing, church attendance, etc. is your self.  When we give all of ourselves to Jesus, it seems to me that this gives Jesus the greatest pleasure!  So here are some wrapping ideas for your presence with Jesus:

  • time:  we can give Jesus time in all kinds of ways – as we drive, in those unexpected moments of pause with a cancelled appointment and in the morning / night to be present
  • words:  it’s always good to give thanks to Jesus (for daily things, miracles, unexpected blessings, rich conversations, etc ), as well as some worship for who Jesus is
  • attention:  let’s ask the Holy Spirit to increase our awareness of Jesus’ presence, since He said He’d never leave nor forsake us.  I ask, throughout the day, for help with my focus and attention to sense Jesus

Be sure to wrap your presence with time, words and attention, to give your self wholly to Jesus!

Was Jesus Cranky?

““I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
In Luke 5:32, Jesus told the religious leaders these words in reply to their complaint about Him eating & drinking with shady characters. And throughout all of Luke 5, the people who get a sharp tongue from Jesus are the religious leaders.
As I’ve thought about this, maybe Jesus was loving this group of people by being cranky & confrontational because they were deceived. Perhaps Jesus wanted to heal the deception in their lives so they could have an intimate relationship w Him & they needed the non-gentle approach. Let’s remember that genuine love celebrates truth 🙂

Christmas Shopping

Do you have people for whom it’s very difficult to buy gifts? What do you get the person who has everything? Or even more importantly, what do we give Jesus in this Christmas season?
Here are a few ideas:
Presents – the Wise Men brought Jesus gold, frankincense & myrrh, gifts befitting a King, from the resources they had. Let’s be generous with our resources!
Fame – the shepherds, upon finding Jesus lying in a manger, went out & spread the news about His birth & heavens announcement to them via the angles. Let’s be committed to promoting Jesus more than anything or anyone else!
Presence – never diminish the truth that Jesus enjoys your company, so don’t overlook the pauses & moments throughout this season to give your attention & your self to Jesus 🙂

How to Lose Jesus

We all lose things: car keys, sock mates, computer files, credit cards, water bottles, etc. So how does a parent lose a child? That’s exactly what happened to Joseph & Mary when Jesus was 12 y/o, st the annual festival they attended in Jerusalem. His parents thought that Jesus was with the caravan returning to their village, so they didn’t look for Him nor worry about Him until a day had passed. When they began looking for Him, He wasn’t with everyone, so Joseph & Mary made their way back to Jerusalem to find Jesus.
Similar to Jesus’ parents, we can sometimes lose Jesus in the festivities & hubbub of the Christmas celebrations. So let’s be committed to keep a continual lookout for Jesus throughout each day of this Christmas season, watching for opportunities to be kind, loving generous & Christlike. Indeed, some of the best ways to experience Jesus is to spread His love in our daily living!

Jesus Take the Wheel :)

A few years ago, there were some cute movies, Finding Nemo & Finding Dory.  Each movie was about the long search to find a missing son & a beloved friend.  When I think about finding Jesus, I’m encouraged that Jesus is accessible throughout every day!  Check out this video:

Jesus Take the Wheel

The Pope in Bangledesh

I’m waiting, maybe with some patience, in the airport here in Bangledesh because the Pope is just landing at the airport. Consequently, the airport is shut down & everything has come to a halt. Clearly, he’s a significant dignitary so everything is on pause at the airport until he clears out. This has thrown off everyone’s schedules, interrupted plans & is making a major headache for traffic.
So this makes me think about how i facilitate Jesus’ presence in my life. While i want my life to be convenient, smooth & hassle free, Jesus as my Sovereign, gets to interrupt & change my plans. What would be even more wise on my part, would be to proactively ask Jesus to direct my steps & maybe i can avoid some frustrations with plan changes. Or i can also aim to keep a flexible attitude & be patient in the various hassles & disruptions i can face in any given day 🙂

Fleeing at Midnight

I’m in Bangledesh & interviewing families who have recently fled from Burma, literally running for their lives, many of whom are pregnant, with newborns & babies in tow. The things I’m hearing & seeing here are deeply moving. I’ve met moms who have lost their babies, whose babies are malnourished & who are trying to nurse newborn twins. This is all very powerful for me to hear & see, meeting mom’s & babies who have survived atrocities & uncertainties of catastrophic proportions.
And i  can’t help but think about Mary, Jesus’ mom, who fled in the middle of the night with Joseph, with baby Jesus in her arms. Joseph had a warning dream about Herod killing all the babies in Bethlehem, so with tremendous urgency, he escaped Herod’s murderous intent. So Mary understood the plight of the moms I’m meeting.
May we also find genuine love to be our first reaction when we hear of refugees & moms who are doing everything possible to keep their babies alive & safe.

Fruit, Gifts or Fruitcake?

I’m trying my hand at making fruitcake, since were on the cusp of the holiday season. Most people don’t like fruit cake, but my husband says that’s because they haven’t had “good fruitcake”. So we’ll see how this goes.

In the meantime, take a quick minute to watch this short clip about fruits & gifts – maybe something helpful for the holidays 🙂

Redemption in Disguise

“I am Joseph, your brother.” I’ve been reading the story of Joseph in the last part of Genesis & I’m always astounded by the events that led up to these words. There are so many ways this story could’ve taken a bad turn.

  • Joseph could’ve let bitterness settle into his heart & he could’ve cruelly repaid his brothers for their malevolence.
  • Joseph’s dad could’ve died before learning that his son was alive & highly successful.
  • Joseph’s brothers could’ve continued to be the jerks they were with him when they sold him into slavery.

But none of these things happened & when Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers, he was fully committed to keeping his family alive & healthy, redeeming his family in a time of famine & desolation.
Let’s follow Joseph’s example in our daily living & relationships – committed to being agents of redemption, even when others may not recognize the redemption.

What Do You Think?

I seriously want your feedback!!  Every Christmas season, I do a blog series about looking for Jesus & I post goofy pictures of baby Jesus in various settings, to reinforce the reminder to look for Jesus in the busy-ness of the Holidays.

So where would you like to see Jesus in the upcoming Holidays?  Please give me your suggestions in the comments below, on FB, twitter, etc.  Last year, I took Jesus to the ICU at a local hospital, He drove with me in my car (Jesus take the wheel), I perched Him on a park bench & did lots of other creative things.  So what would you suggest for me to do this year, in the theme of looking for Jesus?

Thanks LOADS for your input / help!!

The Opposites

Conventional thinking tells us that if we:

  • work harder, we’ll go farther;
  • study more, we’ll be smarter;
  • promote ourselves, we’ll gain notoriety;
  • exercise & eat right, we’ll feel better.

To a degree, these are all true. But the ultimate fulfillment to going father, being smarter (more wise), visibility & feel good about ourselves isn’t sustained in conventional nor fleshly thinking.
Jesus tells us that the way to being fulfilled is through being committed to kingdom opposites:

  • The last will be first;
  • the way ahead is through humility & service;
  • exercise & discipline are corollaries to soul health;
  • seeking God’s kingdom first sets everything in proper alignment to live a of fulfillment & reward!

Did God Say?

This question is massively significant for us everyday. I say that because it was the starter question the serpent asked Eve in the Garden of Eden & it was the beginning of original sin.
So do we know what God’s Word says? Eve kind of knew, but she’s wasn’t totally clear & confident with her reply to this question & I think that’s when the enemy gets a toehold with us.
Sometimes we kind of know God’s Word, but if we’re super honest, it would be very helpful to know God’s Word better 🙂
Here are some questions to consider:
Do you ever struggle to know what God says?
Do you ever struggle to believe what God says?
Do you ever struggle to do what God says?

I think it’s really important to ask ourselves this question, “Did God say . . . ?” and apply it to our thoughts, emotions, actions, conversations. When we make God’s Word an essential priority, this will help us stay away from the enemy’s deceptions, whispers & questions!

The Masterpiece!

Have you seen or heard something that was deeply moving or thoroughly enthralling? Over the last 2weeks, my family & did a western US whirlwind road trip vacation where I experienced forests that were entirely enchanting, beaches of supreme serenity, waterfalls with endless energy & rock formations that defy human explanation. In some ways, this road trip was a day to day encounter with masterpieces of divine creation that still swim in my thoughts & mesmerize my imagination.
But here’s the greatest masterpiece of all: YOU! You have been fashioned, shaped & sculpted in the image of God & there’s no one who looks, thinks or talks like you! Because you’re God’s masterpiece & you have the breath of the Almighty in your lungs, please never settle for being a clone or repeat. One of the glorious things about a masterpiece is that it’s one of a kind & any reproduction pales when compared to the original. Be all that God has made you to be with the help of the Holy Spirit!

No Pretending

“The well is deep & you have nothing to draw with.” Little did the Samaritan woman know that her observation about the deep well would foreshadow the deep conversation she would have with Jesus in John 4. Initially, their discussion was about getting Jesus a drink of water, but in no time, Jesus went for the jugular when He told her to bring along her husband & then He read her mail about the litany of failed marriages she had. Clearly, with Jesus there was no pretending.
And I think this value rings true for us today as well. When it comes to talking wth Jesus, there’s no sense in posturing or pretending. It’s better to come to Jesus in full disclosure & entire access. This is an essential ingredient to live in the continual state of healing & redemption that Jesus has for us!! The Samaritan woman went back to her town & declared to them, “Come & see a man who told me everything I ever did!” And thus began the Jesus revolution that turned her town upside down!

Planning to Succeed!

I had an interesting chat with one of my children this morning about the importance of planning. In our conversation, they told me that they didn’t want to make a plan for the summer to achieve a particular goal. I replied, as I’ve learned from my husband, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” As much as this quote rankles me, it’s nonetheless true, across a variety of platforms, including prayer!
Watch this quick video for an idea to help you with prayer!

 

Loving Cranky People

Do you have people in your life who seem like porcupines? There are people who go through difficult seasons & experiences,causing them to be prickly & cranky. Generally, when people are cranky we want to stay away from them because they’re unpleasant & we want to shield ourselves from possible jabs or hateful darts.
In contrast, it seems to me that Jesus ran to the porcupine people with genuine love & they often softened from His sincere interest & engagement in their lives. Love seems to be more difficult when we focus on the pain, cranky & porcupine actions rather than the person. Let’s decide to love well, full stop.

Out of the Box

Jesus had dinner with the not so upstanding crowd & not everyone was thinking that was such a good thing. Indeed, Jesus was not just a little out of the box. This morning I read in Matthew 9:10-11 that Jesus dined with shady characters & the righteous crowd was pretty ticked off about his choices for social interactions.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting some very amazing women & their children in the largest brothel in Bangledesh. While some people may think that I should spend my time in better neighborhoods, when I follow & love Jesus well, I often find myself in these kinds of neighborhoods & loving people for who they are, regardless of what they do for a living.
It’s not so bad to be out of the box 🙂

A Little Extra!

I’ve been around lots of high achievers throughout my life & these great people have inspired me in various ways. I’ve met individuals who’ve overcome educational deficiencies, social disparities, financial impossibilities & physical disabilities. Regardless of these obstacles, these individuals have accomplished seeming impossibilities. Here are a few common things I’ve observed from these individuals:

  • Faith – not so much in themselves but moreso in God’s presence & power working through them
  • Persistence – it’s hard to find “quit” in high achievers
  • A little more – even if it’s s smidgen, iota, millimeter or micro-speck more, high achievers give that extra push.

Whatever the challenges that lay in your path, be sure to see them as opportunities for God to grow you to be bigger than