One of the things my parents invested in me that I deeply appreciate is the importance of growing. My parents always affirmed my efforts to grow in a plethora of ways – intellectually, athletically, socially, spiritually, etc.
Consequently, I’m a firm advocate of personal growth & one of the ways that helps me grow is by reading. So here’s a list of books I’ve read lately that have helped me learn & grow:
*Warrior Ethos by Steven Pressfield
*Resilience by Eric Greitens
*RA Torrey’s book on the Holy Spirit
CS Lewis’ Space Trilogy
*Mans Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
*Purity of Heart by Kierkegaard
*Essentialism by McKeow
Consider, as well, pre-ordering my new book Heavenly Help – it’s a must read to help us grow closer to God 🙂
We have all had our share of setbacks & mishaps, no matter if you’re the best or worst planner in the world. When something bad happens that you didn’t expect, it’s not the time to have a melt down. In fact, in the face of adveristy & setbacks, it’s often the best time to test your grit & resilience.
For example, this morning I read about how Jesus delivered two men from demonic possession & instead of their town being excited about such wonderful news, the town turned out to demand that Jesus leave their vicinity. While the town’s rejection could have been framed as a debilitating setback, Jesus chose to move on to the next town. The town’s rejection didn’t affect His identity.
Don’t let setbacks, rejections, shortfalls or the unexpected poison your soul. Get up & keep going because Gal 6:9 says that we’ll receive a reward if we don’t quit or give up! Don’t forget that Heavenly Help can be extremely helpful with strengthening your soul!
Sometimes we get in situations & seasons that are not pleasant. Such challenges can include a bad report from a medical test, job changes, not being accepted at a university, waiting in a long & interminable line, etc. in these occasions, it helps me to do a few of these things & maybe these could help you as well:
Look for the good things happening around you
Chose to be friendly & grateful – being cranky is draining
Think about your favorite Bible story & imagine you’re in that story as one of the characters you like
Pray – asking for divine Help is always a premium upgrade 🙂
Changing a tire, smoke alarms, sermon advice, editing with writing, parenting struggles, matching clothes, staying patient, . . . . these things barely scratch the surface of areas where I need help. Admitting that I need help is a very big struggle for me. So when Jesus said in John 14, that He would send His followers another Helper, I always thought, “That’s nice. I hope some folk benefit from that help.” I never really thought I needed “help” until I began digging into Jesus’ words to His disciples at the Last Supper in John 14-16.
Having studied and prayed about Jesus’ words in these chapters, I have become unraveled and undone, full stop. So I wrote a book about this & you should buy it, now (pre-order) before it becomes back-ordered. Actually, order at least 5 books because it’s awesome for small group discussions, book clubs and giving away as gifts 🙂
This morning, one of my children who will remain nameless, was moving very, very, very slowly, despite my efforts to motivate them. This of course stressed me out & the slower they moved the more stressed I became. My mental conversation went something like this: they don’t have enough time to eat breakfast, they’re not wearing socks, where did I get the idea that having children would be an idyllic experience, why am I more amped about late than this child, why didn’t they set their alarm, it’s too early in the day to be this stressed out . . . .
There were lots more things that ran through my mind but you get the general gist.
Some of our stress is self-inflicted & we can learn, grow & hopefully avoid these in the future. Some of our stress, however, is from the outside & sometimes unavoidable. So what to do in these situations? Here are a few ideas that might help:
Pause & step back from the situation to assess: Could I be overreacting? Is my behavior making the situation worse? What is a possible root cause for this stress?
Close your eyes & take a deep breath: sometimes this can clear our mind enough to give us some healthy perspective
Walk through: remind yourself that this stress is likely limited in time & will have a conclusion if you keep going (avoidance usually makes it worse)
Pray: ask for divine help to navigate & have strength to overcome without being overcome
Consider that stress can be a useful instrument to help us grow into stronger people. This quote helps me think in a more constructive way about stress:
“The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” Hemingway
I can tend to be rather serious-minded & I also tend to run deep. While these traits can be really awesome, sometimes I can be too heavy. So from time to time, I purposely get some levity & laugh SUPER hard with some really crazy friends whom I love & treasure deeply!
In Proverbs 17:22, it says that a cheerful heart is good medicine, so let’s be sure to have some good medicine in our lives & keep a cheerful heart 🙂
I’m sitting here in Angola with some of the absolutely coolest people in the world, doing outrageous God work with Saving Moses! I’m surrounded by wisdom, passion, dedication, creativity, golden hearts & indescribable devotion to Jesus. My new friend, Kyle, is entirely rocking the video scene – he takes my breath away with his creativity, enthusiasm & intelligence. Across from me is Heidi, the Ops Director for Saving Moses & she is totally a God provision!! She’s everything I’m not: business minded, smart, focused & all things beautiful – I am so very honored to get to work with her! On my right is my good friend Joe, whom I’ve known for more than 20 years. He’s rock solid, one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met & has a heart of gold! I’m also thrilled to get to work with my friend Clint, whom I would Xerox & make 60 copies of him if I could. His heart is so clean, pure & devoted to bringing Jesus in totally tangible ways to people wherever he goes. Finally, my friend Steve is sitting on my left. Steve & I are soul buddies, have gone through thick & thin. We are compatriots, leading with our hearts & letting the brain tag along for the ride. We want the world to know the overwhelming & overflowing love of Jesus in each persons daily living.
Why God would let me be with such amazing people is evidence that God uses clay, messy & dirty, for divinely creative outcomes. This totally takes my breath away!! May each of us be on God’s team, living out kingdom values, loving well
If the truth be known, I’m not so good at waiting & I’m trying to get better at that whole foreign concept. I tend to jump in & ask questions later, often getting WAY OVER MY HEAD & then freaking out. I probably lead with my heart & let my brain come along for the ride from time to time. Clearly, this has gotten me into some hot water & mildly comical situations, more than I’d like to admit. But on the flip side, it’s also made for some really outrageous adventures & results, most of which I totally love 🙂
Thankfully, God has surrounded me with people who have their feet on the ground & keep me from floating away into some dreamy oblivion. But perhaps God has me in the lives of these very grounded people, as well, so they can go & do far beyond their natural thinking. Let’s value how God has made each of us & readily align our lives with faith, which is by definition belief in action 🙂
This week, Auschwitz is celebrating the 70 year anniversary of the Soviet liberation of this atrocious death camp from World War 2. When I was in my late teens, I visited Auschwitz and it has had a lasting & profound impact on me. It is still unsettling and deeply disturbing what I felt as I walked through the gas chambers, barracks, between the barbed wire and more. I saw reams of cloth made from human hair along with many other things I’d prefer not to describe nor ennumerate. I’ve also done some reading by various survivors and their thoughts have left deep impressions on me, most of which are very constructive and valuable.
A quote that I’ve read several times that gets into my marrow is by Viktor Frank in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” – his observations while surviving various concentration camps in which he lived. Here was his take on life while he was freezing one morning working in a labor gang:
“The truth – that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.””
I’m presently in Ethiopia & it’s a really wonderful privilege to be here!! My first time to visit Ethiopia was 6years ago & it was during that visit that God first out Saving Moses on my heart. During that time, I met twin newborn girls, sarah & Ruth, who had been abandoned on a field. I was absolutely overwhelmed by these newborn girls & it was from that experience that God launched Saving Moses.
Now 6years later, I’m back in Ethiopia & I’ve learned that Sarah & Ruth are doing very well & are now in 1st grade 🙂
My time in Ethiopia now is totally amazing! First of all, the people here are nothing but wonderful!! They’re extremely gracious, generous & kind. Furthermore, they have a rich & long history of Christianity here & so there’s a deep culture that honors both Judaism & Christianity. Consequently, it seems to me that whenever I come here, it’s always a really big spiritual highlight for me!! In the last few days, we’ve been able to visit a rural school, farm, join some wonderful church services, enjoy some FANSTASTIC coffee as well as explore Addis Ababa, the capitol of Ethiopia. I’m attaching a picture from the church service this morning – it was an incredible demonstration of worship to God! Ethiopia is absolutely wonderful!!
Lately, the US has several movies with religious overtones, like “God’s Not Dead”, “Noah”, “Son of God” & a few more. For those of us who follow Jesus, we get really excited for the general public to see some of things from the Bible with God participating in the human experience. For people who are not followers of Jesus, they can sometimes feel like Jesus’ followers can get dogmatic & judgmental. I find all of these ideas & paradigms interesting in light of what Jesus said about His followers in John 13:35 – people will know that you follow Me because of your love for one another. Seems to me that the defining characteristic of Jesus’ followers from Jesus’ teaching is love 🙂
There’s some good advice that says look before you leap & I used to make fun of that. Now I like that advice because my leaping & then looking has made for some scratchy challenges. But there are times when we can get paralyzed from looking – when we see a seemingly insurmountable challenge, when something looks impossible, when we don’t like what we see & much more. When Noah went in the ark, he’d been looking at that boat for a long time. Maybe he had some doubts or concerns, but he took the leap & saved humanity from being wiped out. Sometimes obeying God feels my like a flying leap 🙂
When Jesus started in His ministry, he would speak to big crowds & sometimes we get really impressed with big crowds (Ukrainian demonstrations, Super Bowl attendance, web users, TV audience, etc). One day, Jesus was speaking to another large crowd from a boat & there were a few fishermen repairing nets on the beach. The size of the crowd could be our focal point, but maybe Jesus was speaking to the crowd with the ultimate goal of connecting with Peter, a smelly, tired & seemingly trivial fisherman who just happened to be fixing his net – Peter who would leave his net & profession to follow Jesus. The crowd was big but possibly the real gold from Jesus’ preaching was His connection with Peter.
In my thinking, crowds were important to Jesus but what I love the most is how Jesus is always zeroed in on individual relationships with Him.
I was helping my son study for his chemistry test & we were learning about atomic weight, atomic numbers, etc. at one point, he told me that some of the stuff I was quizzing him on wasn’t important – which of course made my eyebrows raise.
Knowing what’s important & unimportant in life is really essential & here’s my guiding verse for this concern: Jer 9:23-24. Check it out!!
I think we all want to do things that are meaningful, significant & have impact. I don’t want to waste my life or time doing things that I feel are small & irrelevant. But I find myself doing dishes, getting groceries every week, driving kids to various appointments, doing car maintenance & many such things I could consider petty, small & irrelevant. But here’s an important distinction: how we do things is often more important than what we do.
Mother Teresa said that not all of us can do great things but we can all do small things with great love. How we do things is very important 🙂
I was talking with my friend this morning about charm school & I’m thinking that maybe we all could use some charm school help, but not in the conventional thinking. Perhaps we could all use some charm school help with:
*being more thoughtful with our words and actions, particularly with people who work in service industries (baristas, waiters, police, flight attendants, hair stylists, etc)
*being quick to forgive & slow to judge
*teamwork more than narcissism
*selfless more than selfish
The best teacher for this type of charm school is the Holy Spirit particularly when we endeavor to be cooperative students 🙂
Busy, hectic, demanding, red zone & frantic. Our lives go through seasons where these are the only accurate adjectives & we would like to stop the merry-go-round & have a pause. But I’m remembering that Jesus stayed in the middle of many situations that were frantic, stressful & demanding. Consider Lazarus being raised from the dead, the water into wine miracle & Jesus frequently being mobbed by crowds. Regardless of what’s happening or not happening in your life, Jesus is in the middle with you!
I live in Colorado & I just saw that there’s been another school shooting here at a high school in Denver. While I don’t really know very much about what is currently happening (because I’m writing this as the events are unfolding), these kinds of incidents can make us super anxious & jittery – especially for those of us who remember the columbine high school shooting.
Here are some helpful thoughts:
*praying is extremely important when we have crises happen
*be careful that your mind & worry don’t run away w you
*ask Jesus for peace
I read this yesterday & found it super helpful so I want to pass this along for your weekend thinking 🙂
This is from my pastor friend in CA, Joel Phillips – joelphillips
The Office’s Dwight Schrute enjoyed using the Amish technique of shunning people who were guilty of some kind of infraction. Although I laugh when I watch this clip, something about it reminds of how people in the church treat others who have messed-up or fallen.
We can wrap it with all sorts of holy sounding language, like “holding them accountable,” or “stepping them down,” if we’re honest it’s really just shunning. I once heard a leader use the verse, “godly sorrow produces repentance” to justify being flat-out mean to someone under him who had sinned.
Condemnation, guilt, shame, never produces righteous results. Instead, they push people even further from God. What’s weird is that there is a sick side to our souls that actually likes condemnation. We feel like we deserve it, and as the guilt and shame mount within us, we think that it’s all a part of the process of getting back on track, and reinstating our good standing with God.
That’s not the gospel!
I could quote tons of scriptures that point to the fact that those who are in Christ are fully and permanently justified and declared righteous, but the passage I want to go to is the familiar story of Peter walking on the water, falling, and being rescued by Jesus.
So much has been said, preached, written about this story, but one key part of it is hardly ever referenced. It’s the part when Peter got back in the boat. There was no browbeating. No heavy sighs. No, “You’re all wet!” Here’s all we’re told,
“And when [Jesus and Peter] got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’” (Matthew 14:32–33)
I wish the church was more like that. Somebody falls, Jesus saves them, they’re soaking wet from their mistakes, but they’re alive and the storm is over! And as they come on board with us we worship God for how He saved them. It reminds us of how he saved us, after all, we’ve all been wet at one time or another.
Greetings from beautiful Brazil! This is my first time to visit this amazing country & thus far, it’s really lovely. The people are super friendly & the sites are captivating. Today, we are doing some touring & we get to do an outreach to one of the slums in Rio de Janeiro – I’ll keep you posted & try to upload some pix as well.
Brazil was a Portuguese colony for over 300 years & in 1931, the massive statue, Christ the Redeemer, was made & it’s over 100 feet tall. Here’s a pic