Happy Valentine’s Day! Maybe you like the chocolate that is often associated with this day, or the candy hearts with little messages on them, or perhaps the romance possibility is appealing for you today. On the flip side, for many people, Valentine’s Day can be a discouraging reminder of an unfulfilled or broken relationship.
Regardless of your feelings about this day, let’s choose together to celebrate genuine love!! And maybe today can be more about genuine love than about the romance, cards, candy, chocolate or flowers. Maybe we can choose to make today about expressing genuine love not only to people that we know & love, but also to the people we don’t know or maybe don’t love so much. I’m learning an interesting lesson with genuine love: the more I genuinely love, the more I feel genuinely loved 🙂
Feel free to send this to your friends and family today, as you celebrate genuine love!!
In various sports, there’s the concept of short game versus the long game. For example, the short game in basketball could be the shots close to the basket in contrast to the longer distance, 3 point shots. Additionally, a coach has to keep in mind the immediate events (short game) happening, while being aware of having the resources necessary for the end of the game (long game).
I think the same holds true for our walk with God – both the short and long games. The long game could be our life in eternity with God & the short game could be our time here on earth. The short game could be the immediate gratification of desires and the long game could be the death of our flesh so that we have spiritual results. I think that both the short & long games are important. The best way to navigate the balance between these is to stay
It’s interesting that the root for the words, “discourage” and “encourage” is the word courage, which traces to the Latin root for “heart.” So when we are discouraged, this literally means, “away from the heart”. And encourage, by contrast, means “into the heart”. But the common ingredient for both of the words, encourage & discourage, has to do with the heart.
So let’s think about this: what happens in my heart is only known between God and me. People can observe the external results of that internal status, but the state of my heart and what happens there is known most clearly by God. Maybe this is why Solomon said, in Proverbs 4:23, that we should guard our hearts, since this is where the wellspring of life starts. With this verse in mind, let’s be certain that we are keeping our hearts wide open to God’s presence because this is how we can live in a state of encouragement rather than being discouraged by experiences, conversations and various other challenges that can arise. Choose to live with God’s presence in your heart, encouraged and deeply loved!
I have lots of people in my life who are very different from me. I have friends who are professional, starched, button-down, pressed & who have life wrapped around their little finger mostly. I have other friends who are a little more like me, less polished & borderline bohemian.
But loving well is the bridge that connects me with people regardless of our differences. And here’s the truth that needs to reside in the marrow of our bones: people don’t have to be like us to be loved by us. Indeed, Jesus loved a wide spectrum of people, including cheats, hustlers, liars, whimps & wannabes. Loving people is an internal decision & this doesn’t need to be dependent on who they are, what they do or how they behave. Let’s be committed to loving well!
Edgy, sharp, cranky, churlish, frustrated. These adjectives can describe us at various times. Maybe you’re short on sleep. Maybe you’re stressed about money. Maybe you have a conflict with your spouse or friend. Maybe there’s a lot of pressure at work or school. Regardless of the reason, let’s be careful about our words & attitudes in these challenging times.
Here are some helpful ideas to keep our attitudes, actions & words seasoned with grace:
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you
Chose self control over reactionary behavior
Take a 30second pause & look for stuff to be grateful for
Remember that we often prefer the consequences of grace rather than the outcomes of expressing frustration or crankiness 🙂
When I walk in my house, there’s a key ring where I always hang my car keys. I do this so that I can find them easily & not waste time looking for them, nor getting frustrated. Keeping things in their place helps me not lose things.
The same thing applies to my mind. If I keep my mind set in the right place, I don’t “lose” it. There are definitely times when my mind gets lost in various quagmires – emotional rabbit trails, planning stuff that’s not productive, relationship struggles, anxieties, dwelling on past failures, etc.
If we want to keep our mind in a good place, not lost or meandering, then let’s remember to always “set” our minds and n the Spirit, so that we have life & peace – Romans 8:6 🙂
“I am Joseph, your brother.” I’ve been reading the story of Joseph in the last part of Genesis & I’m always astounded by the events that led up to these words. There are so many ways this story could’ve taken a bad turn.
Joseph could’ve let bitterness settle into his heart & he could’ve cruelly repaid his brothers for their malevolence.
Joseph’s dad could’ve died before learning that his son was alive & highly successful.
Joseph’s brothers could’ve continued to be the jerks they were with him when they sold him into slavery.
But none of these things happened & when Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers, he was fully committed to keeping his family alive & healthy, redeeming his family in a time of famine & desolation.
Let’s follow Joseph’s example in our daily living & relationships – committed to being agents of redemption, even when others may not recognize the redemption.
There are lots of things that intimidate me such as: traveling to unstable places, mingling in a crowd of strangers, having difficult conversations & being around people whom I perceive as superior to me. While it’s good to acknowledge these places where I feel intimidated, it’s better to work through them rather than avoid them. In the past, the way I’d handle this intimidating stuff is to avoid these kinds of situations & distract myself with things I like better.
But growing means that I make active decisions to face the intimidating stuff & choose to grow. Sometimes, this means that even though I may be scared, I still push through the fear & intimidation – do it scared.
Feel free to join me on this adventure – not allowing your growth to be limited by your fears 🙂
Our church building is in the process of moving locations & it’s an interesting experience living in this “half-way between” place. I feel like I’m in limbo a little bit because of the new place not being entirely settled & some of my stuff is still in the old place. Furthermore, I have lots of memories associated with the old building & no memories or notable experiences yet with the new building. We are also still having services in the old building, but the new building now houses all of our offices, so that’s where we do the day to day work during the weekdays.
This reminds me of what Paul says in 2Cor 5:17 about being in Christ & a new creature with the old things having passed away and new things have come. There are times and experiences when I find myself living in my old, flesh nature, even though I know in my heart that I’m a new creation in Christ. Let’s continue to move into and occupy our new nature that Jesus has purchased for us. Here are a few possibly helpful ideas to consider:
don’t bring the old furnishings to the new creation: stuff that’s broken & dysfunctional doesn’t need to continue in our new nature living.
celebrate and embrace: be sure to celebrate & honor the past, but wholly & fully embrace the new creation / nature that Jesus has for you now!
keep moving into the new creation: there were a few weeks when I procrastinated moving stuff out of the old building for various reasons. From this lesson, I’m learning that it’s important to keep looking & moving toward the new creation that Jesus has made me to be.
Feel free to pass this along to your friends / family who are navigating this journey to be more & more like Jesus!
PS – here’s my latest youtube video that’s short, fun & encouraging!
Do you ever say things & then you have to do them? This morning, I posted on FB something about being quick to forgive & slow to judge. Sure enough, I had an opportunity to practice those words not too long after I posted that. Blech.
I wonder if the Holy Spirit doesn’t tell us stuff that’s going to happen before hand, so that when it happens our attitudes and thoughts are ready to have the Fruit of the Spirit operational, rather than the works of the flesh. Let’s make it our goal to stay
What do you want? Are you interested in having a better education? Do you want to exercise more? Do you want a healthy marriage? Do you want a vibrant & growing relationship w God? What do you want?
Desires that we don’t achieve can become frustrating & discouraging. So it’s important to think about what we want, our end goal, in smaller steps like one decision at a time.
When we consider what we want & align that to our decisions, then we can make progress towards achieving our desires & goals. Les walk towards our goals & desires one decision at a time.
I’ve taken to riding the bus to the airport & I love it! I really appreciate that someone else does all the navigating through traffic, the seats are cushioned, the temperature is pleasant & I can do my work while I ride! When I would drive myself to the airport, I’d have to be alert, dodge traffic, find a very distant parking space, walk through the cold / heat & hopefully have enough time to get through security, etc.
it seems to me that walking with the Holy Spirit is sometimes like taking the bus to a destination. Although it requires us to trust the Holy Spirit, the journey is much more enjoyable, less stressful & we usually land a lot closer to the destination than if we navigate life all alone.
If you want to learn to walk with the Holy Spirit better, pick up my new book,
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
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!
I had an interesting chat with one of my children this morning about the importance of planning. In our conversation, they told me that they didn’t want to make a plan for the summer to achieve a particular goal. I replied, as I’ve learned from my husband, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” As much as this quote rankles me, it’s nonetheless true, across a variety of platforms, including prayer!
Watch this quick video for an idea to help you with prayer!
While we often think of ADD being diagnosed in childhood or related to schoolwork, I’d suggest that all of us wrestle to varying degrees with keeping our attention & focus. We even have fidget toys to help our mind stay focused! Do you ever struggle with being able to focus? It seems like there are always interruptions, distractions & time stealers, to say nothing of the mental & emotional tendencies that can be challenging.
I’ve been really meditating and on the whole attention & distraction conundrum for a few weeks now. While it’s essential that we pay attention to what’s happening around us, our work, school, to-do lists, etc. I think we also have to consider what we think about & what our emotions focus on – internal focus & not just the outside.
If Elijah had been only focused on the external, he would have missed the still small voice. When Peter became scared (emotions), from looking at the wind, he began to sink in the water that he had just been walking on.
Be careful with your attention because it’s an essential ingredient for your destination!
Last week, I jumped out of my car & ran up to a guy on the street & gave him a Bible verse. He didn’t speak English, so it was a little rough going. But the reason I did this was because the Holy Spirit led me in my morning prayer time to give this specific Bible verse to someone who was wearing a very distinct color of green. When I was driving down the street, I saw this guy wearing that specific color of green, so that’s why I stopped & did what could seem a little bit unusual 🙂
This question hit me between the eyes in my prayer time this morning because of what Paul says in Romans 8:14 – those who are led by the Spirit are the children of God. This verse says that if I’m God’s child, then I’m led by the Spirit. Of course I want this to be accurate & true, but when I think about being led by the Holy Spirit in my daily living, it’s not always true.
For example, there are certainly times when I put my schedule & convenience at a higher priority than following the Holy Spirit. I must also admit that there are plenty of times when I’m scared, or I feel intimidated or it feels uncomfortable to follow the Holy Spirit. I would suspect that you might also have some similar thoughts & feelings.
Let’s be careful that we make it a priority to be led by the Holy Spirit regardless of how we feel or what seems to be convenient!
Who is someone you’ve known personally who has inspired you? I can think of a slew of people and all of them have had unique flaws, regardless of how much they inspired me. For example, my former neighbor across the street always inspired me with her devotion to raising her children to love Jesus & how she continuously treats her husband with respect & dignity. With those noteworthy accolades, she had lots the the same flaws that I have. We can be disorganized, scatter-brained & sometimes irresponsible. Nonetheless, I chose to remember her excellent qualities & minimize her shortfalls.
I would suggest that this is a good strategy for lots of our relationships, so that we bring out the positive in people rather than maximizing their negatives.
On this Memorial Day, let’s be grateful that we get to live in the land of the free because of the brave!û
I tend to run in the red zone. This means that I try to squeeze the most out of my time, energy, money, talents & attention. Generally, I’ve thought this has been a good way to do life. If a person wants to achieve a lot, suck out the marrow of life & choke on the bone, maybe even burn out, then FULL CHARGE ON!!!
But I’m beginning to see the importance of margin, or breathing room. Margin gives us space to think, recover, listen & be with the Holy Spirit. If you think about it, Adam’s first day of existence was God’s day of rest. Perhaps it’s in the margins & rest where we can experience the deepest intimacy & fellowship with the Holy Spirit, just maybe 🙂
“The devil would kill ya with a hangnail if he could!” My dad had lots of fun quotes like this. From my childhood, I remember people laughing at this quote & I smiled like I understood, but I didn’t get it. Now that I have some life tread under my belt, I get it.
The enemy of your soul is out to rattle your cage, poison your thinking & sideline you with anything possible, even a hangnail.
Don’t let him – full stop.
Some helpful pointers:
Keep your eyes in Jesus.
Keep loving wholly.
Feed yourself the Bible everyday.
Chose faith & reject doubt.
Never forget that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world!