This is a picture of my new snowboard & the old one that I was using when I got the concussion. The old one still has the bindings on it l, waiting for me to canabalize it for my new lovely. My new snowboard & of course a new helmet are thoroughly fabulous & I’m eager to rip some runs with my new gear that has a concussion free guarantee. But alas, no such thing exists because everyone knows that the gear isn’t as essential as the user. If the user is reckless, then no gear can make the user invincible.
This point rings true across many mediums. We often want to blame a tool or inanimate object for our dysfunctions. We blame guns for killing people & not the people using the guns. We blame alcohol rather than the addict abusing the alcohol. We blame food for an eating disorder rather than face the broken person in the mirror. We try to earn more money or gain more success, erroneously thinking such acquisitions will assuage our insatiable appetite for significance & genuine love.
Let’s take a pause & consider: when we let the Holy Spirit lead us into truth, then we can live free from deception & destruction.
How I ride my snowboard is the defining factor more than the gear I use. And how I chose to ride speaks to who I am. Let’s be mindful to let the Holy Spirit change us on the inside so we stop being externally abusive 🙂
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!
Sometimes I’m smart, but more times I’m a dingbat. I forget stuff, don’t pay attention well, I’m insensitive & definitely say dumb stuff from time to time. But I deeply appreciate God’s grace.
Indeed, God’s face redeems my dingbat & makes it into something good & helpful! When I try to camouflage my dingbat actions, it usually backfires & makes things worse. So i figures that I have a divine treasure in this earthen vessel (2Cor 4;7), being conformed to the image of Jesus through God’s grace & the redeeming help of the Holy Spirit!
In Romans 12, Paul tells us not to be conformed to the world but rather transformed by renewing our minds. I really like this verse because I’m not very good at conforming, or so I think. I want to think that I march to the heartbeat of the Holy Spirit & that my decisions are grounded in the love of God. But the key to these goals is living from a transformed mind. Indeed, our thoughts are the battlefield for what comes out of our mouths & the decisions we make with our time, money & energy.
Being conformed to the world around us isn’t nearly as important as being transformed by Holy Spirit’s presence within us!
Some questions to consider over this holiday weekend:
In what ways have you possibly cloned to the world around you?
In what ways do your thoughts need to be transformed?
How can we better allow God’s love to influence our decisions, conversations & mindset?
I like to improve in whatever I do. So when I was learning to snowboard, I took lessons to get better. When I was cooking skewers, I wanted my veggies to be as tasty as the meat, so I learned to marinate the veggies & not just the meat. I think life should be an ongoing improvement process & that can be fun!
And sometimes not.
Sometimes the process for improving includes correction & that’s a tricky path to navigate. It can be difficult for lots of reasons, but how we receive correction is an essential ingredient for growing & improvement. Here are a few helpful ideas about receiving correction
Choose to see the input as an investment rather than a put down
Don’t deflect correction – process it & get the best out of it
Change – correction without change is wasted energy
“Where is Jo-Jo?” I’d circled through the stark malnutrition clinic in Angola with Saving Moses, looking for the struggling little baby that I’d met just before we took a break for lunch. I remembered seeing Jo-Jo’s mom: she was extremely tired and her nerves were obviously frayed. But I was hopeful for Jo-Jo, since she was in our clinic now and could receive some medical care and a steady supply of the malnutrition formula that has kept literally thousands of babies from dying.
I talked with my friends about Jo-Jo over lunch and I was eager return to the clinic and encourage her mom that we would do our level best to help her frail daughter to survive and even thrive. I walked through our clinic again, slower this time, looking for little Jo-Jo in her bright red shirt. I couldn’t find her so I asked our translator to check in with the nurse to see where Jo-Jo was. “Her mom took her and left,” was the nurse’s reply. “We have to find her! She doesn’t stand a chance of surviving without our help! Where’s her file, find her address, call the phone number, let’s go to her house, let DO SOMETHING!!!” I was really upset and I could tell the nurse was also very disturbed. We looked at Jo-Jo’s chart, found a phone number and only the name of the neighborhood where she lived, since Angola doesn’t use an address system like we do in the US. There was no chance of finding her in the neighborhood listed, it was HUGE. When we called the number listed on the chart, there was no answer. So how could we keep trying to find Jo-Jo? Could we send someone to her neighborhood in the very remote chance we’d find her?
We did this and we kept calling the phone number, but we never found Jo-Jo and given the extremely frail state of her little body, I would suppose that she died. This has really bothered me for a very long time because Jo-Jo’s mom seemed to have given up all hope for her daughter to live. What kind of hell does a mom go through to get to the point of giving up hope for her baby to live? Could I have been more sensitive to the mom’s exhausted state? What would I do differently in this situation for the future?
Some things are deeply disturbing and this is probably a good thing because such experiences can interrupt our comfortable living and provoke us to bring genuine love and life to the world in which we live. Let’s keep looking for ways to let God love the world through us.
Do you know someone in a transition time or find yourself in a season of change? Maybe you’re experiencing a transition in your job, your kids might be going back to school so, you might be starting school yourself or you could be experiencing a variety of other changes. Seems to me that life is more about change than not changing – the goal is to navigate change to be good & not harmful. Here are some ideas that could help:
Focus: keep your eyes on Jesus full stop; change can be overwhelming when we don’t keep our heart set on knowing Jesus more no matter what we might be going through
Flexible: sometimes changes force us to reshuffle our priorities & adapt to new situations & ways. Being rigid doesn’t help facilitate the adapting we might have to do
Fun: keep some levity around you; a healthy sense of humor can help change be less traumatic
My dad always said, “Every change with Jesus is a change for the better.” Sometimes in the middle of change its difficult to feel like it’s positive, but let’s trust that Jesus is the author & perfecter of our faith, helping us in every change!
Have you ever made a plan only to find it go array? I have a friend who set a long term goal, worked diligently toward that goal for many years & now it seems like their efforts have completely unraveled & failed. Of course this can be super discouraging & when this kind of thing happens, we find ourselves on shaky footing & uncertain where to go or what to do.
So what should we do when our plans go array? Here are a few suggestions:
Step back & re-evaluate: sometimes a perspective adjustment can help us see a broader point of view & thereby improve our decisions
Seek God: if a crisis makes us seek God more than the crisis is good; if we don’t seek God more in a crisis, then the crisis can get infinitely worse
Who am I? A crisis often forces us to look at ourselves with greater clarity & objectivity. In this pause, the Holy Spirit can work on our character & shape us to be more Christ-like
Keep going & growing: don’t let detoured plans poison your thinking into quitting. Get up, brush yourself off, learn & keep going.
Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know that could be going through a course correction season 🙂
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 🙂
“I am the greatest!” I heard Muhammed Ali say this when I was a little girl & I was really put off by his words. I remember thinking, “Why would a person be so obviously prideful? Did he really say that?” Then I watched him on TV and sure enough, he said it all the time with total conviction. Someone explained to me at that time that he was using his words to intimidate his opponents and a winning mindset creates winning outcomes. Once I understood the reasons Muhammed Ali said, “I am the greatest” then it made sense why he would make such a bold claim.
But as a little girl, even though I could understand the reasoning for such audacity, I always thought to myself, “No one but Jesus is the greatest.”
Being an amazing boxer doesn’t make a person the greatest.
Being crazy intelligent doesn’t make a person the greatest.
Being hyper rich doesn’t make a person the greatest.
Being drop dead gorgeous doesn’t make a person the greatest.
According to Jesus, the greatest person is the servant of all. Let’s align our lives with Jesus’ teachings and not fall for flesh fallacies.
Several weeks ago, I sustained a concussion from a snowboarding accident. I’m learning that a concussion is an entirely different recovery process than the dislocated shoulder problem from last year’s snowboarding fun. In the grand scheme of things, the shoulder thing seemed to get fixed faster than this concussion stuff. When you think about it, that makes sense because a concussion is an injury to the brain & most of us use our brains a lot, even when we don’t realize it. This is all to say that I’m a quick fix kind of person & I don’t relish a slow nor tedious recovery process. I think most of us can often think in quick fix terms: We want a quick resolution to our finances, an overnight solution to an addiction we might struggle with, or a fast answer to the summer swim suit challenge.
While I totally know that Jesus can do the quick fix miracle, there’s immeasurable value in settling into a mindset of following Jesus as a lifestyle. Jesus wants us to be disciples & not merely converts or consumers. Seems to me that being a follower of Jesus is a steady diet of daily surrender more than an erratic transaction for consumer purposes. Maybe we start out with Jesus in a quick fix relationship, but let’s commit to growing deeper & in love with Jesus more & more 🙂
I love this quote from a dad who was asking Jesus to heal his son. Jesus says to the dad that all things are possible to him who believes. The dad’s reply sounds like something I’d say, “I do believe; help my unbelief!”
For me, believing is often easier said than done. I can talk all day about believing God, trusting in God, having faith, etc, but when the rubber hits the road, sometimes I struggle with the believing thing. Of course I want to believe, so the desire is solid. But the actual believing is often where I fall short. When I think about why I struggle with believing, it’s mostly because of either past experiences or my brain goes into skeptical mode. So I deeply appreciate this dad’s honest words with Jesus, “Help my unbelief”. Like me, he’s saying that he wants to believe, but it’s a hurdle and he needs help to overcome this hurdle.
Here are some pointers for overcoming unbelief:
be truthful: hiding or cloaking unbelief is counterproductive, but bringing our weaknesses to Jesus is where strength starts
ask for Help! Since the Holy Spirit is our Helper, seems like a good idea to give the Helper access to the places of unbelief with which we struggle.
Jude 20 says that we build up our faith when we pray in the Spirit #selah
let’s remember that faith works by love, so the absence of love could be the catalyst for our unbelief #selah
Let’s decide that there is no unbelief in our lives that cannot be transformed into a place of strong faith!
Do you need some big changes in your life? Do you know anyone who needs some big changes? This quick blog could be super helpful!
Sometimes, it’s the “small” things that create big changes. For example, I read this morning in Acts 13 about how there was a prayer meeting where the Holy Spirit prompted the participants to lay hands on 2 guys & send them out. The 2 guys were Paul & Barnabas & this prayer meeting was the beginning of their missions ministry. Out of this prayer meeting, thousands of people were reached for Jesus, two continents heard the Gospel & numerous churches were planted. I’d say that from this prayer meeting, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit monumental changes were launched.
Never belittle the power of prayer nor the leading of the Holy Spirit to affect big changes in your life!
To help you know the Holy Spirit better, grab a copy of my book Heavenly Help!
Most often, life feels like it happens in the middle of a chapter with some slow plot development, an occasional conflict & some mundane pick & shovel daily living. Then there are seasons when God turns the page & begins a new chapter. When the chapter turns, we can be sad to say goodbye to the preceding season & excited to embrace something new.
No matter where you’re at in life’s journey, the best part is knowing that the Holy Spirit is always with us, in the ups & downs, twists, mundane & majestic. So let’s keep our focus on the Helper regardless of the season in which we find ourselves. This fellowship makes any journey vibrant, bearable & fruitful 🙂
I read this morning about how Jesus helped a man who was demon possessed. Because of the demons who tormented him, this man:
lived isolated among the tombs
couldn’t be chained or contained
He was clearly deranged & without hope.
After meeting Jesus & receiving His freedom from the demons, the man was dramatically changed – so much that when the townspeople came out to see what was happening, they found the former tormented lunatic:
interacting with Jesus & His disciples
seated & serene
It never ceases to astound me that the townspeople ran off Jesus because they were afraid of His power to change everything. They seemed to have become more comfortable with demons than Jesus who brought freedom from all things demonic.
Let’s fully welcome Jesus into every area of our lives to restore order, serenity, salvation & the ability to engage & connect with others in healthy ways!
Sometimes people treat “alone” like a disease that needs a vaccination or a dysfunction that requires a remedy. We tend to fill our minds with music, social media, events, appointments, text messages, books, entertainment and anything we can conveniently grasp to immunize us from this “scary” state of being alone and quiet. It’s a conundrum to me that we’ll tolerate zombies, vampires, ghosts & spooky Halloween stuff with a lite comic wink but what shivers our spine & tweaks our nerves is solitude & the thought of being alone.
Yet being alone is an important ingredient for being human. Consider some of the incredible outcomes Jesus experienced from being alone:
Jesus’ testing in Matthew 4 was initiated by the Holy Spirit leading Him into the wilderness – He came out of that experience with anointing & power.
Jesus went up on a mountain by Himself to pray through the night – when He came down, He chose His 12 disciples who perpetuated Jesus’ ministry.
Gethsemane was an alone time for Jesus – He surrendered His will so that we could live in reconciliation with God
I get that we aren’t Jesus, but maybe some of the things we most desperately need come from what we most ardently avoid 🙂
This past weekend, my husband & I attended a marriage retreat. Truthfully, I loath these kinds of things. I don’t like having relationship stuff discussed in such a public forum, it makes me uncomfortable & twitchy. But we all do things that we know to be good for us, even when we don’t like it (eating kale, jogging, going to bed on time, etc).
Relationships can be challenging & being married can be outright arduous. Here are some takeaways I gained from this weekend, relevant not only to marriages but to relationships in general:
winning an argument often means that relationship loses
forgiveness is essential & trust is earned
love is doing what’s in the best interests of the other person even when it’s difficult for me
being safe in a relationship requires communication & attention
One of my kids is very steady & generally unflappable. They don’t freak out easily & I love that they are so level. The other side is that they can also be stubborn & resistant to change. I’ll totally give you that not all change is good. But being hostile to change can prevent a person from growing, learning & maturation.
Let’s be people who get the good stuff out of being faithful & steady. But let’s also be people who can learn, adapt & grow! Seems to me that we become moribund & zombie-ish when we refuse to learn & change. If we are perpetually changing, however, we risk the danger of not being committed, the lack of roots & absence of fruit 🙂
“Get rid of the people who drag you down & who don’t inspire you!” I’ve seen & heard statements like this over the last few months from people who follow Jesus and it makes me twitchy & it’s disturbing. Fundamentally, this is not how Jesus lived on earth. This mindset is indicative of the pervasive consumer mindset that lurks in our culture & is an enemy to genuine love. Here’s the honest truth about both you & me: we won’t always be inspiring & there will be seasons in our lives when we need help. I can appreciate that we need not let a person suck the life out of us & this isn’t healthy for anyone. But the vending machine mentality toward people & relationships is inherently dysfunctional, sabotaging genuine connections with people.
Let’s not be around people only for what we can get out of them.
Here’s the tweak for this destructive twitch: let’s determine to be inspiring to people rather than seeking to be inspired – inspiring others to receive Jesus’ love & lavish His love on others 🙂
“I messed up & I’m sorry.” It used to be really difficult for me to say these words. They would stick in my throat & it felt like I was choking when I tried to say them. I probably struggled saying them because I was embarrassed, sometimes it was pride & often I was insecure. I’m probably still insecure, prideful & embarrassed from time to time but I can say, “I’m sorry” lots easier than I did in the past.
And here’s the new adventure: saying “I’m sorry” is an important step in the process of change. Indeed, saying these words can be empty & insincere if I’m not willing to change & grow. So now, I celebrate the achievement of being able to say “I’m sorry” with ease while undertaking the challenge of matching my actions to my words – grace to grow & change 🙂