“Go to the land that I will show you.” This is what God said to Abram after his dad died at the end of Genesis 11. This was kind of like a fresh beginning for Abram, in Genesis 12. I find it interesting that God didn’t give Abram a boatload of information: where to go, when to leave, length of the journey to note the needed provisions, etc.
For many of us, we like to have lots of details in place & resolved before we get moving. For example, when I travel, I have my travel size liquids in the quart size ziplock, I check into my flight 24hours in advance so I can get my seat preference & I start thinking about how I’ll get myself to the airport to catch my flight. I don’t usually follow the “go & show” strategy.
But this is exactly what God said to Abram & he did it. Let’s be careful not to qualify our obedience to God based on having everything ironed out before we make a step. Be sure to pick up my new book In Step to help you walk with the Holy Spirit!
Being part of an elite group can be very attractive. The sense of belonging, being special & set apart appeals to our emotions & sense of significance. Sometimes there can seem to be some good reasons for being exclusive: excellence, comraderie, influence, achieving high goals, etc).
A problem, however, with being exclusive is that it becomes easy to allow the status of the group to influence the way we see ourselves. Sometimes we can think that being part of an exclusive group makes us elite or a cut above “other people.”
Another problem with being exclusive (religious, social, economic, fashion, athletic, etc) is that we can often remove ourselves from connecting with others who are not as elite, don’t achieve as highly, don’t dress in the same fashion, don’t had the same income bracket, aren’t as athletic, or don’t have a similar mental prowess.
The biggest problem with being exclusive is that such a mindset runs entirely contrary to how Jesus taught us to live. In John 13:14-15, Jesus models for us a servant mindset, ready to wash feet & lay down His life for others for the simple & revolutionary goal to express genuine love. Let’s always keep our sites on the end goal to love with a genuine heart & sincere expression!
This morning I read about Noah leaving he ark after the flood & it struck me today that Noah didn’t leave the ark until God told him to. This was interesting to me because there were lots of indicators that it was safe to leave the ark. It had been stationary for quite awhile, a dove brought back an olive branch & when Noah released a dove after the olive branch, the dove didn’t return. Noah went into the ark with God’s direction & he didn’t leave the ark until God gave some clear direction.
Let’s be mindful that we don’t allow external circumstances to be the final deciding factor with our decisions.
Be sure to check out this link for my new book: In Step book
We frequently think of the mental game in athletic terms – mental toughness, endurance, winning and the likes. If you watch a highly successful athlete before their game / competition, they’re often 100% dialed into the event before them. Sometimes, an athlete will even mentally go through the routine, for physically practicing what they will do for the event.
There’s a lot to be said for this mindset in our daily living. But the essential requirement for coaching our mental game is to have the right Coach. Bad coaching equals bad execution & outcomes. So who is your mental coach?
Let’s actively decide & allow the Holy Spirit to be our mental coach, setting our minds on the Holy Spirit & not stuff that would poison, distract or compromise our outcomes!
This weekend, I learned about some swimming races near my house at the local reservoir. I learned about these “Aquaman” races from a nice lady after I attempted to do an open water swim at a pond near the mountains here in Denver. My swimming was very disappointing to me & when I got out of the pond, I didn’t feel friendly whatsoever. Nevertheless, I started chatting with the lady nearby & she was very kind & informative. We had a lovely conversation & she helped me know of some open water swimming options that sound really fun!
I say this to encourage you about those moments when you’re struggling or discouraged. Remember that God can encourage & strengthen you in a variety of ways that are often unexpected. Be careful if you’re discouraged not to turn inward so much that you don’t allow God to help or strengthen you with creative ideas & unexpected encouragement!
I’m presently riding with my teenage son who is clocking in driving time so that he can be eligible to get his driver’s license. It’s an interesting experience to watch his confidence or lack of confidence, wax or wane, depending on who’s in the car, his experience, the quantity of traffic & his mind frame. And this confidence thing seems to ring true for all of us.
So here are some things to help with the confidence factor:
Being confident in our abilities is never as safe as being confident in God’s wisdom & power.
Don’t allow fear & past failures contaminate your confidence
Think in terms of what could go right rather than what could go wrong
There’s a common mindset that says bigger, more & better should be the continual pursuit. I say this now because I’m in a camera shop waiting to get some technical help & noticing the spectrum of cameras available in each brand. There are the simple point & shoot kind all the way to the ones that can tie your shoes & microwave popcorn. Ok, not really but kind of.
I wonder if the enemy of our souls doesn’t send us down this rabbit trail to distract us from learning the secret of being content in any & every situation. In the same line of thinking, is Jesus enough for us or do our decisions, time & money say something different?
I’m not buying a better camera today, nor do I want to swallow the deception that more & better need to control my life 🙂
I love this picture because it shows me what it looks like when a baby is entirely settled, sleeping & trusting. We caught this moment last month when I was in Cambodia at one of our nightcare centers, with my Saving Moses work. This little treasure was fussy to start, but became increasingly relaxed in my arms until he fell asleep. And I’m. It sure that there’s not much more soothing to my soul than holding a sleeping baby.
In contrast, without our nightcare centers, these sweet little treasure wouldn’t have a safe nor serene place to sleep. He would likely be exposed to many inappropriately adult situations & his night would probably be a staccato of noise, interruptions, instability & maybe danger.
Let’s take this picture to heart, celebrating God’s genuine love that gives all of us rest & peace in our souls 🙂
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!
Today, my family & I walked through the St Francis cathedral in Santa Fe NM. This church was established in 1610 & it was extremely beautiful with a southwest motif. For me, I could linger in the likes of these places for the stillness, quiet & serenity. It’s a contrast to the last 2weeks road trip with my family in a minivan for more than 5,000 that my husband has driven. While this vacation has been very diverse & scenic, sometimes a person needs some stillness in the soul for the feet to find some solid ground.
Be sure this weekend to carve in some quiet & still. For me, I find this helpful so that I can walk with the Holy Spirit better 🙂
“You must not turn aside for then you would go after futile things which cannot profit or deliver because they are futile.” 1 Samuel 12:21
Samuel spoke these words to the Israelites after Saul was confirmed as their first king & I can’t help but think that these words apply to my life. Do I pursue futile things? I want to answer, “no”, but if I’m truthful, I pursue futile things. For example, when I’m painfully honest, I pursue popularity & applause from people, getting frustrated when I don’t get enough. I pursue an adrenaline rush when I consider adding kite boarding to my hobby list. I pursue futile things when I get sidetracked with making image more important than genuine love. I pursue futile things when I let my intellectual appetites undermine my spiritual development. These dont have to be exclusive, but I know myself well enough to know that my intellect can lead me on endless rabbit trails away from walking with the Holy Spirit.
What might be some futile things in your life that would distract you from growing in your walk with Jesus?
For two years in a row, we’ve taken road trips for our vacations, each two weeks long. On our first trip, we went to Washington DC & our second trip is to the West Coast, ala Oregon & California. My husband, the penultimate saint, has done the bulk of the driving for both trips, so maybe I provide some comic relief & moral support. But think about it in terms of family bonding, since there’s no wifi nor DVD player in the car. Mostly, we’re doing pretty well & our three teenagers can say they’ve driven across America.
For me, I think that life is a long road trip, a journey with God with unexpected twists, ups, downs, sometimes tiring & sometimes joyful.
So here are a few thoughts about my road trip with God & maybe they’ll have some tread in your life:
Focusing in the car is important , but don’t neglect to look out the windows bc God has a big world around us!
Listen & don’t just watch – listen in the car but also listen in your heart as God has some amazing whispers & company to keep with you!
Traveling companions are helpful because you see & experience things in different ways than just by yourself.
Keep going. Life has struggles, dark times, hot seasons, smelly moments & glorious discoveries.
“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!
Ever ridden in a crowded car, train or plane & felt squashed? I’ve had plenty of experiences where there’s been virtually no personal space & that can be very unnerving. For two weeks, my family & I are driving to the West Coast & back home to Denver. Consequently, breathing room can be a challenge – think three teenagers in a mini-van with two parents, luggage, cooler for food & no wifi 🙂
This morning, I got up early to have some quiet & solitude, personal time with God. Consequently, I feel more human & less prickly, which is good for everyone. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, regularly spending personal time with God is good for the spirit, emotions, thought life, relationships & mindset. Time with God breathes life into our existence!
I know that there are seasons when I’m more lovable. And I’m like-able when I’m not sullen, morose, discouraged or cranky. But I’m not a robot & I go through the ups & downs of life. Sometimes I go through experiences & seasons that are extremely difficult. Sometimes, I make bad decisions, letting my flesh rule my choices & priorities & that’s no bueno.
Here’s the hope: In my paraphrase, Romans 5:8 says that in my least lovable condition, Jesus demonstrated His most extravagant love for me by giving His life in my place. I’ve read this verse loads of times, but what always stops my heart is that the verb “demonstrate” is in the present tense in Greek, which means a continuous activity. So God is continually demonstrating Their love to me, since They are Triune & that’s heaps of continuous love!!! I never grow weary of remembering that God loves me because God is love & not because I’m lovable or I deserve or earned that love 🙂
Yesterday, the transmission in our rental van broke causing us to adjust our plans for an entire day of our family vacation. My husband was a major champion working with the rental company to get a replacement van & this was no small task. In the meantime, the kids took some time to relax, do a bit of school reading & we caught a movie at the local theatre. For me, I had the immense pleasure of catching up with a friend from high school. We talking deeply about the Bible & God’s work in our lives.
If we give our lives to Jesus, then it’s essential to hold loosely to our plans & goals, so that we can have some adventures that are led by the Holy Spirit & not just our human agendas & strategies. God’s surprises far exceed our best plans!
This is a picture from an incredible waterfall in Yellowstone, as well as a strolling bison 🙂
Have you ever been frustrated when you can’t get reception for your cell phone? Yesterday, my family & I were driving through Yellowstone WY for our family vacation & there was zero cell reception for probably more than 6hours. For a little bit, it was frustrating but the longer I went without cell phone usage, the more I liked it. Maybe these observations could be helpful to you when you think about connecting with God:
Not getting what we want isn’t always a bad thing
Distractions like phones, tend to interrupt our attention to being present in each moment
With the Holy Spirit, we have perpetual reception because the Holy Spirit is always with us!
Having a break from continual communication is probably more healthy than we often realize
Less than two weeks ago, I was inching through Dhaka Bangladesh, one of the world’s most densely populated cities, with around 25million. Now, we’re driving through Wyoming, the least populated state in the US. Just below are two videos to show the contrasts:
Traveling around the world, I get to see lots of distinct preferences. For example, in Bangladesh they tend to enjoy spicy food & sometimes it’s REALLY spicy! In Brazil, they prefer community over individuality & the German language prefers precision over approximation.
But there’s one universal constant: everyone craves genuine love & I suspect this is by Divine design.
So if the universal constant throughout humanity is the desire for genuine love, it begs the question about how we can express genuine love.
When I think about expressing genuine love, I almost immediately feel inadequate & incapable. But if I think about expressing genuine love just a little more, then I’m not as discouraged. Here are some possibilities for consideration:
Affirmation & encouragement: recognize & vocalize something good to total strangers with sincerity
Gratitude: expressing thank you is a polite essential for genuine love
I see you: not the exterior trappings of wealth, success, begging, poverty, dirt or broken
Listen: hearing someone, being interested & asking questions is a way to be present & express concern, attention & genuine love
Borrow love: there are always people who we find challenging to love. So think in terms of borrowing love from someone you know & letting that shape your mindset for the tricky people.
Ask for more love – let’s never believe that we have enough genuine love. We exist, in part, for God to love not only us but also through us!