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!

That’s Awkward

Last night, I got to play on the softball team w my church & it was LOTS of fun!!  However, I felt not just a little awkward because I was the pitcher & I’ve never pitched before. So it was a vertical learning curve for me & some parts were just flat out ugly. 

And sometimes following God doesn’t feel smooth or suave.  Indeed, a lot of times when I follow God, I feel uncomfortable & awkward. But I’d prefer to follow God & feel awkward rather than not follow God & feel suave. And maybe that’s the whole point:  following God isn’t about our feelings but rather about obedience, full stop. Following God will likely make your flesh feel awkward & uncomfortable, but follow God nonetheless. I’d rather follow God & have my flesh be uncomfortable rather than not follow God & have my flesh be comfortable 🙂

Recalculating

I hate this word & I’m learning to appreciate it at the same time. When I hear the word, “recalculating” it’s usually when my phone is giving me driving directions & I’ve missed a turn or I’m lost. More honestly, it means that I wasn’t listening or paying attention to the instructions, which happens more than I want to admit. 

This makes me wonder how often Holy Spirit recalculates our journey together.  And some questions begin to circulate in my thoughts:  Are we walking toward the same goal?  Do I want what Holy Spirit wants? Am I walking in step with Holy Spirit?  Am I listening to the directions throughout any given day?  

Not only do I want Holy Spirit to recalculate my journey so that I stay in step together, but I need Holy Spirit to recalibrate my attention so there’s less recalculating 🙂

Anyone agree with me? 

Looking for Jesus

When do we look for Jesus? And what do we expect to find, when we experience Him?  It seems to me that genuine Jesus is irresistible but religious Jesus isn’t nearly as riveting nor attractive. Here’s something short & interesting when you thinking about looking for Jesus:

Is There Peace?

Once Jesus rose from the dead, I think the disciples maybe had less anxiety for a few reasons. And maybe we could pick up a few pointers that could be helpful, since anxiety could be a challenge for a few of us.

  • Jesus raising from the dead changed the game because death didn’t get the final say – and nothing is impossible in our lives!
  • Jesus is in the future – this helps me to relax knowing that Jesus is timeless
  • Jesus is about the individual & not only the masses – the Prince of Peace was intentional to seek out individual encounters to resolve questions, doubts & reconciliation.

The Unexpected

“It’s not supposed to be like that!!” I’ve been reading in Acts about Peter going to Cornelius, a Gentile, ministering to his household & the outpouring of Holy Spirit on these Gentiles. The Jewish believers initially had a difficult time accepting this new reality with the Gentiles. Nonetheless, despite what the Jews expected, God didn’t stay in their confined expectations.
And I would encourage you & me to remember that God defies impossible. And it’s not uncommon for God to do what we don’t expect, answering prayers in often surprising & fun ways. Let’s also keep in mind that God doesn’t often conform to our limits & boxes. We would be wise to follow God’s leadership rather than trying to define or limit God 🙂

Successful Travels

Traveling can be lots of fun – an adventure & opportunity to grow. New experiences, people & cultures can help us see things from different perspectives & learn new ways of doing things / communicating.
Here’s a quick video that could be helpful for blending Jesus with traveling 🙂

Bitter or Better?

I want to choose better rather than bitter, but sometimes it’s not an easy choice. There are two occasions in the Bible that I specifically see the “bitter” problem:

  1. when Peter betrayed Jesus & he went away, weeping bitterly;
  2. when the water at Mara was bitter, the Israelites complained & Moses threw a log into the water making it sweet & drinkable.

So when I think about these “bitter events”, maybe they could’ve been better if the complaining & betrayal were eliminated.
I can see how that would be true for me when given the choice between bitter or better. When I complain less, I do better. And when I love Jesus even when it’s difficult, I’m better in my soul.
Something to think about for this wonderful Monday 🙂

Flounder or Focus

When things seem uncertain or murky, this can be very disturbing.  And if you’re like me, when I get unsettled, I can start to flounder and I find myself trying to find stability, certainty and comfort.  My focus can get really jumpy and I struggle to be settled in my soul.

So it helps me to remember to keep my focus on Jesus.  Indeed, there’s a great song by Darlene Zschech called, Jesus At the Center and listening to this helps me to keep Jesus as my central focus.  We don’t have to know all the answers, be all-sufficient, have a perfect plan or fix everything.  Jesus rightfully owns that space, so that we can keep our focus & worship centered on Him!

I like what Jehoshaphat says in 2Chron 20:12, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You!”

Let’s stay focused on Jesus instead of any worry, anxiety or uncertainty!

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 🙂