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

Stay Informed

We live in a world that is inundated with information. It’s super easy to find out all kinds of information, so sometimes we can drown in such an abundance. But there’s some information that needs to stay in our thoughts everyday! These things include:

  • You are loved by God, deeply & wholly
  • You can’t increase nor decrease God’s love for you
  • The more you love sincerely, the more fully love can be experienced.
  • Genuine love & fear are incompatible

Genuine Jesus!

I’ve been watching a trend across our nation pertaining to churches & marketing. There’s no shortage of articles or content being generated about the decline in church attendance across the generations as well as a significant concern related to the seeming increase of moral depravity. Consequently, we have loads of marketing strategies to reach a younger demographic, become more appealing in our doctrine with more trendy & hip music, along with clothing adjustments & scheduling conveniences. I think all of these things are great, with one MAJOR interjection (or interruption):

JESUS

In my brief years on this planet, I’ve come to see that genuine Jesus is nothing but altogether irresistible, full stop. Indeed, the original marketing plan that God has laid out for us is in John 12:32, where Jesus says, “If I be lifted up, I’ll will draw all men unto Me.”
In our efforts to attract people to Jesus, let’s never make it ever about anything more than genuine Jesus!

When the Sizzle Fizzles

I like the sizzle. This means that stuff that’s fun, exciting, zingy & zesty catch my attention. I would suspect that possibly on occasion, you’ve also been attracted to stuff that sizzles. But it’s often true that sizzle stuff doesn’t always endure.
Then what??
Regardless of the presence of absence of sizzle, what’s important is to stay the course & endure! Sizzles fizzle, but endurance wins the prize. I say this based on Mathew 25:23 where Jesus says, “Well done, My good & faithful servant.” Let’s remain faithful & steady regardless of the presence or absence of any sizzle!

Image or Substance

I’m waiting at an airport coffee kiosk to collect my coffee, surrounded by beautiful pictures of mouth watering tea, coffee, hot chocolate, espresso shakes, etc. We all know that they make these pictures so that we’ll buy the drinks, supposing that they’ll taste as good as they look. In my experience, this isn’t true. It seems like we’ve been trained to swallow image like cotton candy and still yearn for tangible substance.

I think the same idea holds true for stuff with Jesus. Let’s be careful that we don’t merely sell the sizzle of Jesus – His benefits, powers, etc but neglect to personify His substance in our daily living. Jesus is way better than images, illusions or elusive cotton candy. His extravagant love, is far more satisfying than words or pictures could describe!

Looking for Good!!

In my efforts to always grow & Improve, sometimes I can get discouraged. This happens when I continue to focus on weaknesses & mistakes at the expense of looking at progress.
The truth is that we are all growing. Sometimes we see massive progress & sometimes the progress is microscopic. But let’s celebrate progress, regardless of the size!
You’ve come a long way, so be encouraged!! And remind yourself that the good work that God has started, He will continue & complete – Philippians 1:6 🙂

Do You Want Resurrection?

Here’s the truth: I’m selfish, impatient, insensitive, unforgiving, unkind, irreverent, apathetic & heaps more ugly things. While I don’t want to behave in these ways, nonetheless, the bad that I don’t want to do is what I often wind up doing. And the good that I want to do, I don’t often do. I want to live in resurrection & not my deplorable humanity. So what’s the answer?
The answer to living in resurrection is to be crucified with Christ – Galatians 2:20. Indeed, there were two men crucified with Christ. One man mocked Jesus with the rest of the bystanders & one man recognized Jesus for who He is, the sinless Son of God.
So on this Good Friday, I chose to join Jesus on the cross, crucifying my flesh so that Jesus resurrected life can flow through my daily living. When I live the crucified life, then I’m unselfish, patient, sensitive, forgiving, kind, reverent & ultimately, genuine love is my default nature! Anyone care to join me in the crucified life so Jesus’ resurrection can live through us?

Can Gory Be Glory?

In many ways, gory seems to be the antonym of glory and I don’t commonly associate these words together besides the rhyming sound they make.  But there’s a stark and startling place where these words converge into one place and that would be Jesus when He was crucified.

If you saw the movie by Mel Gibson, “The Passion of the Christ”, it showed with disturbing clarity the gory nature of Jesus’ death on the cross.  I’ll never forget how deeply moved I was to the core of my soul when I saw this movie the first time.  As I watched, I found myself repeatedly thinking, “please stop, that’s enough!”  And at the end of the movie, I was entirely unraveled because I couldn’t escape the reality that Jesus endured this excrutiating experience entirely on the pure motivation of genuine love, full stop.

Jesus was glorified in the gory mess of human suffering, sin and sacrifice.  And this continues to give me the assurance that Jesus can redeem human gore and transform it into divine glory, a truth that we would be wise to ponder throughout this weekend 🙂

Hot Topic: Inauguration Day

Our nation is extremely divided along many lines:  economically, politically, socially, in morals and loads more.  And tomorrow’s Inauguration is a reflection of these divisions.  I’ve been thinking and praying about this for quite some time, asking God for perspective, wisdom and compassion.  In my prayers, I was reminded of the bloody transition in 2 Samuel from the house of Saul to David.  This transition took many years and was not just a little tulmutuous.  Then I also remembered reading Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.  I was deeply moved by his words & would strongly encourage you to read this

very powerful, insightful and sobering speech.

Let’s be sure to pray these points every day:

  • pray that our nation would experience an outpouring of genuine Jesus!
  • pray for our new President, based on 1 Timothy 2:2
  • pray for yourself to know Jesus’ love for you & to let that flow from you without flaws or distortions

Be sure to share this with your friends by email, FB, etc 🙂

Still Present

Another Christmas has concluded & we will soon close the chapter on 2016. Sometimes it’s difficult to say goodbye & sometimes we say with great enthusiasm, “Good riddance!”
No matter what your perspective is on the goodbyes for this year & season, let’s keep in mind that Jesus is always with us, so we never have to say goodbye to Jesus! But maybe we should say goodbye to a few things for 2017:

  • Would Jesus have you say goodbye to some habits that encumber your walk with Him?
  • Would Jesus have us say goodbye to the not so deep walk we had with Him in 2016 to grow deeper & closer with Him in 2017?
  • Would Jesus have us say goodbye to some disorderly priorities that perpetuate unhealthy mindsets & dysfunctional behaviors?

Let’s remember that Jesus is God’s greatest present to us & that He’s always present with us! With the Holy Spirit’s help, let’s determine to be present with Jesus in 2017 more than we were this year!