What Are You Thinking?

“A penny for your thoughts?”

This is a question people often ask when someone seems deep in thought or reflective.  It’s a good question to ask when you’re getting to know someone or when a person seems unusually quiet.  But it’s also a good question to ask ourselves from time to time, forcing us to take a thought inventory.

Taking an inventory of our thoughts is important because it lets us see places in our thinking where we can make some helpful adjustments.   Indeed, consider some of the things Paul says about our thoughts:

  • 2 Cor 10:5, “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”
  • Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think on these things.”
  • Rom 8:6, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace”

Let’s be attentive to our thoughts because they influence our lives in very powerful but subtle ways!

Are You Gluten Intolerant?

Many people are removing gluten from their eating for allergy & health reasons so it’s increasingly common to hear from people that they’ve eliminated bread from their diet.
There’s one bread, however, that we would be wise to increase for our daily consumption – the Bread of Life, who is Jesus!


Lately, I’ve been trying my hand at baking bread with mixed results. But there are four basic steps to letting Jesus, the Bread of life, participate in our daily living:

  1. Assemble ingredients – be sure to always have time in the Bible & prayer everyday
  2. Mix ingredients – keeping prayer & the Bible in isolated compartments will never be as effective as letting them mix throughout our days, activities, relationships, conversations & responsibilities
  3. Proof – time for the rise is essential for bread to have a palatable texture & taste; let’s be careful not to get impatient during the process or proofing
  4. Bake – heat is necessary for the bread to be portable, practical & edible; Jesus helps us through all of life’s hotspots!

Eat good bread, the Bread of Life!

Speaking With Wisdom

Almost all of us have said things we wish we hadn’t. A few weeks back, I was passing through our church lobby & greeting various attendees & I shot off my mouth. I felt totally stupid & wish I could stuff those words back in my mouth. But of course, I can’t.
Here’s some wisdom my friend told me that I’ve employed & found to be immensely helpful. When speaking, consider these questions:

  1. Should this be said?
  2. Am I the person to say this?
  3. Is this the right time to say this?

Feel free to share this with your fiends & friends ,)

While You Wait

All of us have prayers that we are waiting for God to answer. Such prayers can be related to job, school application, health diagnosis, relationship challenges, kid stuff, finances, etc. It seems to me that waiting can be a problem for us, so here are a few ideas for your consideration, while you wait:

  • Take this opportunity to let your trust in God grow – Prov 22:19
  • Increase your prayer focus – Phil 4:6
  • Do little things to make progress – Gal 6:9

Let’s stay encouraged that God is answering our prayers!

periscope vision

I’ve been enjoying the Spring weather & trying to take a daily walk to improve my physical & mental health.  It’s nice to enjoy some sunshine, fresh air and feet on the ground.  While my body is definitely grounded during these daily walks, my mind tends to wander to various topics:  kids, work, schedules, prayers, writing, etc.  Some of my thoughts can be healthy & constructive, but some of my thoughts not so much.

I was reminded today about setting my mind above and not below from Colossians 3:2 & Philippians 4:7-8.  I think our thoughts can be kind of like fish:

  • bottom feeders who scavenge off the dirt and refuse at the lowest levels
  • horizontal eaters who forage through their daily living, focus set throughout this horizontal world
  • flying fish who sail above the average existence and get to see things from a vertical rather than horizontal perspective

Let’s keep our minds fixed above & not dwelling on the average or below average existence!

I Want MORE!!!!

Friday, I had a glorious day of snowboarding!! The sun was out, snow was good, runs were empty & there was no wind. Needless to say, I could’ve ridden for endless hours & enjoyed a unique bliss that’s not easily acquired. But alas, I stopped when I could’ve gone for heaps more.
I think it’s very human to want more – more dessert, more sleep, more success, more adrenaline, more chocolate, more vacation, etc. But alas, there’s such a thing as overdose & it’s not just for drugs. We would be wise to quit while we still want more. This principle is a healthy guideline across the entirety of our lives with one exception: Jesus.
We are designed to crave our Creator & our lives will remain unsatisfied until we appreciate that ultimately, we’re only fulfilled through a rich, vibrant & continuous relationship with Jesus!

Oblivious

It’s probably not good to be oblivious, but it happens. For example, last year I had a snowboarding accident & sustained a concussion. This was no bueno & for a season, I was clueless to lots of stuff around me & also in my own emotions & thinking processes. This was a really difficult experience for me & id prefer not to repeat it, ever.

But here are some ways that we might be oblivious that need consideration.  We can be oblivious to:

  • what’s happening around us (with people, situations, events, etc),
  • what’s happening inside of ourselves (thoughts, emotions, mind sets, etc)
  • the Holy Spirit

Being oblivious in these areas can create some extremely difficult problems, conversations, hardships & experiences.
We would be wise to ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to pay attention, increase our awareness & give us wisdom so we don’t go through life in mindless oblivion 🙂

Run & Rest – together :)

Following the Holy Spirit means that we allow the Holy Spirit to set the direction & pace regardless of the terrain. So I’m learning that the course navigation isn’t up to me, nor are the seeming detours when I think we are aiming for a particular destination.
Additionally, for pace, there are times when the Holy Spirit seems to move slower than molasses in Winter. At other times, it feels like I’m on the Aerosmith rollercoaster at Universal Studios, going from 0-60mph in 4seconds. Exhilarating!!!
And then there’s the terrain part of following the Holy Spirit – bumpy, hilly, rocky, smooth, dusty, pristine, raucous & serene.
To be sure, following the Holy Spirit is a lifelong journey in which we get to know the Holy Spirit better & better one step at a time!

Help All the Time

Recently, a friend was telling me about a new project assigned to her & she was not just a little intimidated! She kept telling me that she didn’t feel adequate nor capable to do this project. As I listened, I felt really bad for my friend because she didn’t seem to think that she could ask God to help her.

While I’m concerned for my friend, I’m also encouraged with myself for this default reaction to ask for Help. The fact that I would instinctively ask the Holy Spirit to help me is really positive progress for me, a former independence junkie, hopefully.
As I write this, I’m asking for the Holy Spirit to help me almost minute by minute today, as this particular day is unusually jammed with responsibilities, important events & a plethora of diverse needs. Feel free to ask for divine Help throughout your day as well, no matter what’s happening or not!

Change the Harvest

Last week I had a blinding flash of the obvious: we reap what we sow.

The brilliant part of this wisdom is that we often reap in fields that are different from where we sow. But no matter where we reap, the principle remains the same – we reap what we sow.
So what do you want? If you want something different than your current results perhaps it’s time to consider the seeds that you’re sowing. If you’re planting gossip, strife, belittling, condescension & insecurity, don’t be surprised when those show up in your life.
On the other hand, planting encouragement, stability, patience & other good seeds produce a harvest after its kind, across a wide array of fields!
Let’s be sure we are planting the seeds that we want to harvest!

Crazy Ideas

I have heaps of crazy ideas & what’s really interesting is that I’m not afraid to try out lots of these ideas. Sometimes it works out well & sometimes it’s a disaster. Over the course of time, I’ve grown accustomed to the raised eyebrows & quizzical looks that people give me, but there are few friends who give me the thumbs up & seem to enjoy these grand adventures.

Sometimes, I think the Holy Spirit has some crazy ideas as well. I’ve had the Holy Spirit direct my steps to do some really incredible things, like starting nightcare with Saving Moses, teaching German in China & learning some fun languages! Let’s be careful that we don’t automatically dismiss something crazy & miss an opportunity to follow the Holy Spirit on a fun adventure!!

Lots of Oooooops!!

This morning seems to be fraught with “oooooops!” and not just a few. Some of these mishaps are relatively minor, but when they stack up, things can get “challenging.” I’m hoping that the entirety of this day isn’t a string of consecutive mishaps. But even if this day goes from “oooops to oooops”, rather than “glory to glory”, I’m deciding to go with trusting God more than dwelling in the frustration.

When I write this, it sounds good, but the individual decisions to walk out this mindset is where the rubber hits the road. And this is where the step by step reliance on the Holy Spirit moves into execution mode more than speculation & ethereal platitudes.
I’ll keep you posted on how it goes, but feel free to join me in making these decisions to trust God throughout your day today!

tuning your day

I really like listening to symphonies and experiencing the music from excellent orchestras.  I think I acquired this appreciation from various field trips to the orchestra when I was in elementary school and maybe from a few of those heinous piano lessons in my childhood, maybe.  I get extremely excited when I start to hear an orchestra tune for the performance – like a giddy anticipation of the ensuing excitement that is about to unfold.  Here’s a brief link to an orchestra tuning & I’d encourage you to focus on the one instrument to which all the others are attempting to match.

I bring up this example today because many of us have pieces & parts to our lives that can feel disjointed & unconnected.  Let me encourage you today, to tune your attention to the Holy Spirit to give cohesion, direction and order to what can seem random & chaotic in your life.  Sometimes we need to remove some clutter that creates cacophony & disorder.  Sometimes, we may need to slow down to hear the Holy Spirit better.  And sometimes we may need to have some internal fine-tuning so that our lives express the love of God poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit – Romans 5:5 🙂

New Beginnings

We sold our church building & we’re moving to a new building nearby. We’ve been in our old building for almost 30 years, so there are plenty of memories from those years. I’m excited for our new building & starting a new chapter!

Thinking about this new chapter, I’m reminded of Joshua leading the Israelites to possess the Promised Land. When God leads us to start a new chapter, let’s be like Joshua:

  • We can do it!! In Numbers 13-14, Joshua & Caleb were the can-do spies but the other 10 spies were despondent & faith-less
  • Keep going!! Joshua had some setbacks before conquering the Promised Land. There was disobedience & duplicity among he Israelites, but Joshua didn’t quit
  • Look to God!! In Joshua 10, God made time stop so that Joshua could finish a battle & defeat his enemy. God helps us possess His promises to us!

The Best

I like getting better, growing & improving. When I was growing up, we had a trampoline & for a season, I was thoroughly committed to getting really good on the trampoline, with various tricks & flips. The principle remains true for me to this day, with always trying to get better. But alas, the Holy Spirit spoke with me to pause on my improvement plan because of this principle: God’s ways & thoughts can’t be improved.
So we would be wise to chase God’s plans, ways & thoughts because they are the BEST!!! Isaiah 55:8-9 🙂

Liking Time

It seems to me that most of us don’t like time, maybe because we don’t seem to have enough of it, or we resent the pressure it applies. When I was a kid, I didn’t like time because it seems like an eternity – now it often seems scarce.

Perhaps for these reasons & loads more, God told us to keep a Sabbath, the day of rest & refrain from work. I think that if we don’t structure our energies, resources & time to conform to God’s imperatives, we harm & even break ourselves from misusing & abusing God’s provisions.
Today, I have a pause & I find myself being not just relaxed but maybe more importantly refreshed in this space & time to exhale. Furthermore, the pause let’s me give some undistracted focus to being with God & there’s nothing my soul craves more than this intimacy with my Creator.
Let’s be grateful for time, by using it according to God’s instructions.

Seasoning

One of my children was doing some cooking & attempting to make omelettes. This child enjoys garlic, so they put 1/4 cup of chopped garlic in the omelette & proceeded to eat it. For almost a week after this adventure, this person continued to reek of garlic, despite showers, baths & long hours in a swimming pool. It was a good lesson on the principle of moderation.
Using moderation is good in lots of applications. Here are some specific areas for daily living

  • Correction & Confrontation: when we need to have a sharp conversation, we would be wise to blend some sincere & gentle words into the discussion
  • Work & Rest: our personalities tend toward one extreme or the other, so we would be wise to build in some balance with our schedules & planning
    Proverbs 25:27a

Unexpected

“Please keep talking.” I popped into Walmart last week for a quick errand after dropping off my son for school & the register chick said this to me. I sheepishly looked at her because I was wearing my hoodie & sweats, not the hair & makeup routine for tv. I could tell she recognized my voice & was trying to match the visual image to my voice. With chagrin I said, “You probably know me from tv with my mom, Marilyn Hickey.”

I love what she said, “I knew your voice immediately but I didn’t expect to see you in my register lane.”
I’ve thought about this for several days because I think this lesson applies to us recognizing Jesus’ voice regardless of our location or expectations. We expect to hear Jesus when we read our Bible or go to church. But let’s also listen for Jesus throughout this day 🙂

In The Moment

I’m not a planner. Indeed, spontaneity is fun for me & I enjoy being agile for various adventures, mostly. But I’ve come to appreciate that planning can often make things better & so I’ve learned to value the process.
With that said, I’m learning that God is both the Perfect Planner & Playful Partner. I can see the strategic hand of God when I look back at various seasons & experiences. But let’s also be willing to follow God moment by moment in nimble obedience & undisputed trust!

Broken Again

This is a picture of our jerry-rigged dishwasher this morning. I have to prop the door closed so it will keep running & I still have to check it occasionally to make sure it’s still working.
Sometimes life is like my dishwasher. I like it when everything works smoothly, but we know that this isn’t always the case. Joseph working in pharaoh’ house seemed to be in a good place, but I’m sure that when his brothers showed up, things felt broken again. Just when we think things are moving along smoothly, something can break or even seemingly regress. This can be discouraging so let me hopefully give some help here:
1 – keep going: setbacks happen, but keep going, even if it’s a slower pace
2 – fix it: sometimes a solution is permanent but don’t be surprised if you have to circle back & work on the problem again
3 – celebrate: even with what seems small, celebrate! Any progress is helpful!
Feel free to pass this on to your friends who are struggling w broken stuff 🙂