When Plans Don’t Work

Planning isn’t one of my natural strengths, so the Holy Spirit has helped me grow in this area over the course of many years.  I’ve come to appreciate that if I want to accomplish big dreams, then it’s important to develop some plans and structures for these dreams to become reality.  So what happens when the plans don’t seem to work?  Then what?

In the Gospel of Mark, I’ve been reading about how Jesus healed people, often not according to the human contrived plans, i.e,  the Syrophoenician woman whom Jesus calls a dog, the 4 guys who break through a roof to get a paralytic in front of Jesus & the blind guy whom Jesus spits on for his healing.  It seems to me that Jesus almost never follows our human plans, so it begs the question:  why plan?

When you have plans to seem to go awry, maybe these ideas could be helpful:

  • plans help us think in constructive steps to achieve goals & dreams.  No planning = no progress
  • planning with prayer is a massively helpful combination
  • consider Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

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In Step with the Holy Spirit!

The Inside Scoop

I want to think that I’m genuine & forthright. I don’t want to think that I am either deceived or deceptive. But alas, in Jeremiah 17:9, it says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”
So it’s important to acknowledge that we can trick ourselves into thinking & believing things that aren’t true.
When we think & believe things that are untrue, even if just slightly, we put ourselves at high risk to live in distortion & dysfunction.
The best vaccination for deception is the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls the Spirit of truth. Let’s make it a platinum priority in our lives to be led into truth by the Holy Spirit – John 16:13

Solving Problems :)

HELP!!!! I have three children & from time to time, I get these texts, calls & messages. Most of the time, they need me to drive them somewhere, buy them something or listen for venting purposes. One of the things I’m learning is to think about solutions that are internal rather than external.

It seems to me that it’s a common perception that our needs & struggles are externally resolved when the real solution lies on the inside with how we see & think about things.
Here are some things to consider:

  • Do I not like my neighbor because they look successful or because I’m insecure?
  • Is that co-worker really that obnoxious or are my internal judgements looking for reasons to justify my cold disdain?
  • Does that person get under your skin because they touch the internal hotspots that need divine attention & healing?

Before we think in terms of external solutions, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to adjust our internal assumptions.

Change the Filters

This weekend, we changed the furnace & vacuum filters. It’s good to change the filters from time to time & the vacuum filter was long overdue – no wonder the carpet has been messy!

Let’s think about this in relation as well to our mental filters. Sometimes we see things through filters that can be dirty, tainted, distorted & ineffective. Consequently, our perspective is messed up & we can make dysfunctional decisions & carry on with messed up conversations / mindsets
Let’s be sure that we follow the Holy Spirit in truth. Maybe it’s time to let the Holy Spirit challenge your mental filters so that life works better & isn’t quite so messy!

Disagreeing with Jesus

I’m deeply in love with Jesus, full stop. There are times, however, that I’m not so whippy on some of the things Jesus says & does. This used to rankle me, until I started thinking about Peter. One day in my prayer time, the Holy Spirit walked me through the various times & ways that Peter disagreed with Jesus: 

  • At the very beginning when he told Jesus to leave him because he was a sinful man (Luke 5:8, after Jesus used Peter’s boat to preach a sermon to a crowd along the lakeshore). 
  • A little later, even though Peter walked on the water to Jesus in Matt 14:30-31, Jesus reprimanded Peter for his doubt from watching the winds & waves & sinking into the water. 
  • In Matt 16:22, Peter rebukes Jesus for talking about His upcoming death. This seems pretty audacious to me, considering that Peter had just declared that Jesus was the Christ / Messiah. 
  • Peter again argues with Jesus on the whole betrayal thing at the last supper in Matt 26:33-35. 
  • Peter disagrees with God with the heavenly vision in Acts 10:11-19 about eating unclean animals & preaching Jesus to the Gentiles. 

Seems to me that it doesn’t make Jesus bite His nails when we disagree with Him, but let’s be abundantly clear that no matter what our opinion may be, Jesus has the final say, full stop. So let’s keep loving Jesus, even when we disagree with Him, from time to time 🙂

Remote Control

  
When my husband & I watch tv together, it’s an interesting adventure. If he drives, it seems that we wind up watching nothing to a conclusion. If I drive, we see too many commercials. Thankfully, we both enjoy watching sports & this helps us find some middle ground that we both enjoy 🙂
But before there were remote controls for changing the volume & channels on TV, we used to physically get up & turn the knob to adjust the volume or watch something different – a more tactile & active exercise than the modern remote control evolution. 

Let’s be sure, however, that we give Jesus “remote control” in our lives. Indeed, let’s allow Jesus to work in our lives so that we watch & focus on the things that are most pleasing to Him. Let’s allow Jesus to drive ,)

Speeding & Tickets

America has this very civilized concept called speed limits & they’re very nice in theory. Speed limits are supposed to keep us driving at a safe speed & help us get to our destination in an orderly fashion. 
Me, not so much. It’s not that I’m rebellious, I just like to go fast & not only with driving. With my “go fast” mentality, here are a few things I’m learning lately from God

*Slowing down isn’t failure it’s the space you need to marinate: time is often a necessary ingredient for a thorough outcome & not just something that’s half-baked, or good enough

*pacing enables me to go farther, longer & finish rather than burning myself out with each beginning

*sometimes I speed to excuse a lack of discipline in my life or to compensate for not being proficient at something; some people use the same idea but for going slowly & maybe being obstinate 🙂

*I’m learning to trust God for the various seasons & paces in my life – growing & learning 

No, I didn’t get a speeding ticket today ,)

Comfy, Cozy & Upended

We all gravitate to what is comfortable to us, often at the expense of trusting & depending on God – pause & think about what that means in your life. 

For me, this means that I enjoy experiencing God in a sunrise, hearing the whispers of God’s voice in the Bible alluring me to come closer & losing my self in experiencing God on a snowboard or walking among prostitutes in a red light district in Asia. What isn’t comfortable for me is being intermingled with hyper extroverts, amped up on caffeine & red bull. It also stresses me out to have innumerable “weather conversations” without some deeper anchors & topics that get my feet in the dirt with substance & authenticity. 

Even though I like a conversation that’s earthy & grounded, often when I want to walk closer with Jesus, I have to leave the ground & boat, joining Jesus on the water – away from whats comfortable & cozy in my natural leaning. 
When we walk with Jesus, it’s not always where we are most comfy & cozy but rather upended & transformed. Let’s keep walking, even when it’s on the water, as long as it’s with Jesus 🙂

New Year’s Revolution

Since we’re a week into January, it seems fitting to bring up the new year’s resolution topic.  It’s really common to hear about the various resolutions people make, at the beginning of a new year:  get out of debt, lose weight, get in shape, etc.  Most of the common resolutions are noble and worthy goals, but they frequently evaporate with time, pressure, distractions and / or crises.

Maybe what we need instead of resolutions is a revolution.  Maybe we are too content with a incremental change rather than fundamental transformations.  Perhaps our problem is that we want window dressing but not a domestic overhaul.  It seems to me that we often settle for shallow, frothy and superficial changes when God is waiting to entirely renovate, redeem and transform us.  Perhaps we should put away the notion of resolutions and fully embrace God’s holy revolution 🙂

shake, rattle & roll!

Just when you think that everything is smoothy, groovy & you’re plugging along, some lunacy can hit the fan!  YOWZERS!!!!!  So what to do when there’s lots of shaking , stirring, changes, surprises, etc?  Here are a few ideas that you might find helpful (feel free to send the link of this blog to everyone you know that’s going through some chaos, challenges &/or changes):

  • keep your eyes on God no matter what changes may come down the pike – God is strong, wise & helpful!!
  • be practical:  drink lots of water, exercise, eat your fruits & veggies, don’t OD on coffee, try to stay in a healthy sleep groove
  • keep a few helpful Bible verses handy for dealing with any potential dark thoughts (Jer 33:3, Jer 29:11, Prov 3:5-6, Matt 6:33, Phil 4:13, Rom 8:28-29 and LOTS more!!)
  • pay attention that your words are gentle
  • pray: full stop

X-ray Vision

I’ve always thought it was cool how superman could see through stuff like walls, metal chests & more. He could see through things that had substance.
In a similar way, I’d like to see through the immediate to the ultimate. Sometimes I get fixated on the temporal: budgets, pressure, bad grades, trying to get in shape & more. I’ve found it immensely helpful to look beyond the immediate struggles & keep my eyes on Jesus my ultimate passion. Yes, there are deadlines, struggles, pressures, disappointments & more. But if we ask God to help us see through the immediate to the ultimate, then the immediate can receive the proper perspective adjustment & become less overwhelming 🙂

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The unexpected

There have been situations in my life where I e asked God to do something & what I asked for didn’t happen. Quite often in these situations, what has happened instead of my request tended to be better than what I had asked for.
What we plan & ask for doesn’t always work out but we must always know, trust & believe that God loves us & God’s ways are always better & higher than our ways 🙂

Different Ways

I’m learning some cool things with God lately & right up front please know that I’m all about knowing God & having an increasingly deeper & deeper relationship with God. With these things in mind, I’m really dialed into prayer & being with God as well as working on different ways & modes of being with God. So this morning I had some nice prayer time with God – good stillness & connecting. But for me it can be tricky to keep that “level” of fellowship in the contexts of the many demands that I have on any given day. So I was talking with God about this challenge & i felt God speak to me that our fellowship doesn’t have to decrease throughout the various activities of the day – it just changes. The morning stillness gets to be adjusted to a more conversational context – chatting about what’s happening & even maintaining a continuous stream of dialogue. Don’t let your relationship with God get boxed into suffocating expectations. God has lots of ways, methods & strategies for connecting with us & we get to say whole heartedly, “YES!!!!”