When You Get Bad News

No one gets a pass on receiving bad news.  And recently, I heard some stuff that was discouraging – the opposite of what I’d been asking from God & I was unhappy with opposite outcome of my prayers.  I think it’s pointless to hide my emotions from God or pretend that everything is ok when it’s not.  At the same time, the world doesn’t stop just because we get some bad news.  So here are a few suggestions that could be helpful:

  • Tell God how you feel & what you’re thinking.  Reading Psalms & Job give some really  insightful thoughts & expression to emotions that are raw & real.
  • Perspective adjustments:  sometimes it’s helpful to look at a broader picture than just the bad news
  • Consider the cause:  is it possible that the bad news is a consequence of something you did?  If so, maybe it would be helpful to make some course corrections / different decisions.
  • Choose to trust God:  It always encourages me to remember that God uses all things for the the good to those who love Him & stay aligned with God’s purposes

Feel free to pass this along to any friends / family who might be struggling with getting some bad news

Navigating Turbulent Times

I find that life has seasons of serenity and contrasting times of turbulence.  The danger of serene seasons is that we can become stagnant or let our values get highjacked by comfort and convenience.  In relation to turbulent times, here are a few ideas that you, or a friend, might find helpful:

  • take a walk – I find that walking and talking with God helps me unload anxiety and gain some helpful perspective
  • pay attention to your choices – it’s not uncommon for us to seek comfort in turbulent times & sometimes what “comforts” us can actually be detrimental
  • get some help – this can be a variety of things such as exercise, making a praise & worship playlist, having lunch with a friend, reading a good book, etc
  • anchor in the Bible – it always helps me to find a few key Bible verses to keep in the forefront of my thoughts.  Here are some helpful suggestions:

Ps 55:22, “Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you.”

James 1:2-3, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

Matt 6:33, “Seek first God’s kingdom & everything will be added to you.”

Luke 1:37, “With God, nothing is impossible”

Philippians 4:11, “. . . , for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”

 

Crazy Maladies

Dislocated shoulder, Cambodian spider bite, concussion & maybe a hairline fracture:  these are some of the injuries my doctor has diagnosed over the recent years.  So whenever I book an appointment, I grimace as I anticipate their amused facial reactions.  And I’d prefer to skip the whole experience & be on my merry way, injury free.  But life has a way of serving up some hurtful maladies.

Thankfully, we have a Divine Physician who specializes in healing & repairing bodies, emotions, memories, injuries, hurts, etc.  Let’s be careful that we don’t allow our tendency to be independent to sabotage Jesus’ healing work.  Compensatory behaviors can interfere with divine healing, just sayin’

🙂

The Rest Plan

Stay-cation is this week’s plan & this far its going pretty well. We solicited input from our kids for various activities to do this week, hence the picture below 🙂

So I wonder what it would be like if we let God direct our activities. This morning I read in Matthew 11:28 that Jesus will give us rest for our weary & heavy laden souls. So when we “stay” in Jesus, maybe the abiding helps us to rest & we can live in “stay-cation” mode, letting God direct our steps. 

Marketing Mishap!

I recently received an advertising email from a national pizza franchise encouraging me to buy an XL pepperoni pizza & the picture was irresistible!  So I placed my order & went to collect my XL pepperoni pizza only to be disappointed.  It wasn’t XL & it looked just like the frozen pizza, I buy in bulk from Walmart.  Nor was the taste  anything spectacular.  So I was disappointed because the marketing didn’t remotely match the experience.

This also happens with Jesus’ followers.  It’s not uncommon for people to be disappointed with the experience when it doesn’t match the marketing.  Sometimes we call this hypocrisy and it can often happen when we look at the advertising more than the real thing.  When we look at fellow believers or even “super-star” Christians, we’re setting ourselves up to be disappointed.  So the core lesson here is that we keep our eyes on Jesus more than any human because Jesus isn’t just a marketing ploy.  Jesus is genuine love & slakes our thirsty souls with living water 🙂

Brush Your Teeth :)

A few months ago, I was in Angola with Saving Moses & I forgot my toothpaste, so I bought some Angolan toothpaste & it’s not my favorite.  I can appreciate that you might think I should know better than to forget toothpaste, but that’s a conversation for another blog ,)

A few helpful thoughts about tooth brushing:

  • Halitosis / AKA:  bad breath – when some people open their mouths, bad things happen.  Nothing sweet comes out in words or smell.  So let’s put good things in our heart, so that sweet comes out of our mouth, based on Proverbs 10:11
  • Furry Teeth:  brushing off the plague and residual food helps our smiles be warm rather than unnerving or distracting.  And Proverbs 12:14 speaks to the importance of mouth maintenance
  • Bacteria removal:  bad things happen when bacteria builds but & removing it daily from our teeth preserves our ability to continue using our teeth.   Proverbs 12:19 helps us appreciate the importance of keeping truth in our mouths 🙂
  • Preventing enamel & tooth decay:  hurtful & destructive words set into motion negative things in our lives, so let’s be mindful of James 3:1-12 to keep our lives overflowing with love & life!!

Feel free to send this to your friends & share it on FB as a helpful reminder about keeping a sweet mouth with life-giving words!

Being Uncomfortable

“That’s awkward!”  I’ve said this in various contexts: social, athletic, ministry, cultural & lots more. If you’re like me, we tend to avoid what’s awkward & uncomfortable, but sometimes this is detrimental. 

When I look at Jesus’ disciples, they seemed to follow Jesus into lots of uncomfortable, inconvenient & awkward scenarios, such as sinking boats, conversations with demon possessed people, massive throw downs with religious leaders & not just a few baffling teaching moments / parables. 

Here’s some truth that could be helpful:  uncomfortable is often when we grow the most. And maybe we need to grow & mature more than we need comfort & convenience 🙂

Selah 

Jet Lag Jig

A jig is a dance and implies energetic stepping & this feels like the opposite of jet lag.  If you’ve ever heard a song played at half speed with the words sounding long & drawn out, incomprehensible, and the music total nonsense, this is how jet lag feels.  It’s no bueno.

Thankfully, time in God’s hands is a good thing.  It helps me to remember that God has organized time and events in my life such that even when I have jet lag & eventhing seems slow, God is in control.  So whether we want things to speed up or slow down, God’s timing in our lives is perfect, regardless of how we feel or the circumstances of our lives 🙂

Reset and Upset

“Wakey Wakey,” said my body at 4am this morning. When I looked at the clock, my brain said, “Sleepy! Sleepy!”  And that’s the challenge with jet lag: you wake up at crazy hours & you want to sleep when it’s time to be awake. I’m just back from Cambodia, so it takes a little time to reset ones clock & let the body catch up to the proper time zone. Getting upset won’t help the reset. 

Sometimes, we also need to reset our focus & priorities to what is best aligned with genuine love. Instead of managing to the culture around us or pursuing creature comforts, let’s upset the mundane & conventional to go after what’s exceptional & revolutionary.  And we can start today by doing the quote from Mother Teresa, “Do little things with great love”

Beyond the Surface

“Her eyes were empty” 

I’m in Cambodia & have met women here in the sex industry & their eyes are vacant. On the surface, our initial reaction could be one of shame, disinterest, judgment, revulsion or not even seeing her. When a persons eyes seem empty or vacant, it can be easy to overlook them. But we need to see past the surface & we need to look beyond our initial reactions to see a human for whom Jesus died & deeply loves. 

No one, including you & me, wants to be ignored, overlooked, shamed, judged nor rejected. With genuine love there is never a scarcity, so this helps us to see beyond the surface. In contrast, there’s always a shortage with transactional love. 

Let’s let Holy Spirit Help is to see beyond the surface!

Go BIG!!!

This is part of the skyline for Phnom Penh & it has grown immensely over the last few years!  I’m here because God put a vision in my heart to open nightcare centers in Cambodia. Nightcare is my work w Saving Moses where we look after the babies & toddlers of sex workers while they work.  At our centers, each baby : toddler receives a warm welcome, bath, clean clothes, dinner, some basic education & a safe place to sleep through the night, all in the atmosphere of genuine love. Without nightcare they would be at severe risk to experience horrific trauma. 

We’ve been working here for many years & I LOVE what we do, so much that I want MORE!!  

Dream big with God. Let Holy Spirit show you vistas & impossibilities that quicken your pulse. Then take a step in that direction!  Of course there are hardships & setbacks, but don’t let these hinder you before you even take a step!  GO BIG!!!

Reconcile Rather Than Revile

“That’s DISGUSTING!!!”  Lots of people have this reaction when they begin to hear about the daily living of a sex worker in third world countries. I’m in Cambodia this week with our annual Saving Moses team trip & our nightcare work here (feel free to come w me next year).  I love to watch God change various perspectives about people & various hardships / experiences these women go through to say nothing about their babies & toddlers.  On a more immediate context, maybe you know people who are making bad decisions, going down an awful trajectory or compromising in unthinkable ways. 

Do we choose to revile or reconcile?  

Regardless of the decisions people make, we can shame & revile them or walk alongside & reconcile them. Jesus is a great example of reconciling rather than reviling 🙂

Convenient, Comfort & Cushy

I wonder how many wonderful experiences & people we miss because we make these 3 C’s our endgame. Presently, I’m riding in a Tuk Tuk in Cambodia & I can decide which filter in my thinking will be my perspective. I can choose the 3C’s & everything will be hot, noisy, smelly, loud, annoying & repulsive. Or I can choose the Adventure filter & my ride will be informative, interactive w the people around me at stoplights, breezy & bright.
So let’s consider how we think & the possible filters that we use to affect our perspective. And above all, let’s love lavishly & authentically since this is how we are loved by our Heavenly Father 🙂

Try Something New

It’s easy to get in a rut & mindlessly do the same thing. And it seems to me like we crave routine at the expense of adventure & novelty!

So here’s a fun challenge: try something new!!  I say this as I’m catching a bus to the airport to join our team flying to Cambodia for nightcare w Saving Moses!  Here are some ideas for trying new things:

  • Go on a missions trip,
  • join a new club, small group or workout class,
  • eat some food from a different culture,
  • stretch into Holy Spirit for more involvement in your life,
  • give yourself to more worship,
  • read a book of the Bible that isn’t to your normal preference. 

If you’re feeling dull & lifeless, give yourself some fresh experiences & endeavor to walk w Holy Spirit today!!

More Doubt than Faith

“Who ME???”  I think Gideon said this several times in Judges 6-9, in the Old Testament.  I like Gideon alot because he’s relatable.  His dialogue with God and various people around him reveal that he wasn’t a faith giant – anything but!!!  Replying to God’s directives, Gideon put out fleeces, questioned God’s participation with Israel, snuck around at night to obey God & eavesdropped at the enemy’s tent to hear of Gideon’s impending victory.

Gideon wasn’t the poster child for supernatural faith and courage in the face of impossibility.  But he is the posterchild for all of us who have doubts, fears, frailties and deficiencies.  No matter how your faith feels at this moment, robust of ragged, God can do the impossible!  More importantly, God isn’t repelled by your questions, doubts nor fears.  Be encouraged in your heart, no matter how much fear or faith you may feel at any given moment.  We can remain encouraged because God loves us and that love is never dependent on our faith, fear nor frailty!

Who’s Taller? My sonWho’s Taller? My son can’t wait until he can officially say he’s taller than me. I get some kind of conversation from him on this almost daily. And I know it’s coming, it’s only a matter of time. Do you have things that you’re looking forward to? Maybe a vacation, a good book to read, lunch with a friend, something to check off on your bucket list, . . . . I think it’s good to have stuff to look forward to based on Jesus’ behavior. In Hebrews 12:2, it says that Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. No matter what you’re going through in this season, there’s better stuff coming!

“Like being taller than my mom!”

What Stresses You?

Each person has unique things that cause stress.  Some folk get stressed with job interviews while others get stressed with traveling to new places.  Mostly, I don’t get stressed about much, except when I’m meeting heaps of new people.  I appreciate that this shouldn’t be something stressful for me, but shouldn’t doesn’t change reality.

No matter what causes you to be stressed, here are some helpful pointers:

  • peace on the inside can help to mitigate external pressure:  Jesus is our Prince of Peace, so it helps me to remember that His leadership in my heart brings peace
  • perspective:  things change, time passes and you grow;  rarely is stress a permanent state of being
  • past inventory:  count up some things from the past that have been stressful and consider how God has helped you to overcome & resolve those challenges.  God is the same today 🙂

3 Tips for Awkward

Life can throw lots of awkward & unexpected things at us. Sometimes, we get a random phone call / text that is prickly. Or someone sends us a text that’s cryptic / unclear & easy to misunderstand. Or a co-worker / fellow student says something insensitive or stupid. It’s easy on these occasions to be reactive & do or say something we later regret. 

So here are a few tips for awkward:

  1. Pause – I usually wish I could retract my quick retorts.
  2. Pray – a quiet &  quick “HELP!!!!” is always a good instinct.
  3. Preview – think about what you say, before you say it, to preview the possible responses / outcomes. 

Happy navigating!

Ugly or Beauty?

I’m presently riding through what seems to be a desert in Arizona, disappointed that there’s no In-n-Out burger stand anywhere on the horizon. It looks barren & desolate with little tufts of gray foliage scraggling it’s way on the endless sand, to the end of the horizon. 

For some folk, this vista is austere beauty in perfection. For others, the seeming absence of life & vacancy is nothing but unattractive. 

And I’m grateful that God has made not only this austere beauty along with rainforests & snowcapped mountains. Equally true is that God has made you beautiful & you’re highly desirable to Him, regardless of how your look, your talents or inadequacies, etc. You are never ugly nor repulsive to God!!

Not My Flavor

 I recently watched the NBA championship series between the Cavaliers & Warriors. Both teams have very different styles & it’s easy to find strong proponents for each style. There are heaps of folk who rightfully admire LeBron James, for the Cavs & heaps of folk who like the point spread among several players for the Warriors. 

Personally, I tend to admire the teamwork style of play over more of the superstar style.  With that said, I’ve been thinking about my distaste for styles that are different than my preference. And I’ve come to this conclusion: God has made each of us in unique & wonderful ways. Some individuals are wired up for massive individual achievements & some are wired up for the team approach. Being hostile & acrimonious against styles we don’t like can show not just a bias but also the refusal to grow & respect others who are different than ourselves. 

With this line of thinking, I would suggest that Paul is a phenomenal NT example of a massively high achiever, who valued Help along his various journeys. Maybe Barnabas would be an example of a team player, looking to include as many teammates as he possibly could throughout his life. Both men had unique gifts, contributions & value to add to God’s kingdom. Let’s be careful to respect others who have different giftings rather than belittle & deride them for not being like us 🙂