I’m a big fan of routines and daily habits because I’m entirely convinced that success can often be the result of daily habits added together over extended time. I know this to be true from my dentist telling me to floss everyday, from making it a habit to write everyday and lots more!
At the same time, a routine can become mindless and mechanical muscle memory because of familiarity and practice. This is the monotony quagmire where we get caught in the habit without getting our desired results.
The defining difference between mechanical muscle memory (monotony) and culminated success is attention and presence. Just because we do something repetitiously doesn’t mean that we’re going to be successful with that activity. I would suggest that we endeavor to be wholly present and attentive with our daily habits so they can have maximum impact and success. To this end, let’s be careful to cultivate both intentional presence as well as daily habits!
I play on a softball team & we aren’t very good. But we have HEAPS of fun & one of the things I like the most about our team is that we include everyone, full stop. Additionally, we’re really encouraging & help each other with sharing equipment, being patient with the learning curve & applauding effort not just achievement. I think anyone could play on our team & likely have a great time.
Would that we could take this mindset into our daily living to be a encouraging, inclusive, supportive & helpful!Instead of being concerned about being excluded, maybe it would be better to work at being inclusive with gentle attention & care 🙂
We are all faced with making decisions everyday. In general, we can navigate the smaller decisions like clothing options, food choices, time usage, where we focus our attention, etc. But sometimes we can struggle with making bigger decisions. For example, making a decision about college, taking a job, marriage, buying a house and others can be really stressful.
I recently did a sermon about making decisions & this link might be helpful if you’d like to see the whole thing (the message starts around 1:03), including the wonderful joke at the beginning ,)
And here are some helpful hints from Jacob that could be useful to you when making decisions:
recognize that God stays with you, whatever you decide because God is omni-present
instead of waiting for a lightning bolt of revelation it can be more helpful to move in a direction and invite God to adjust the direction and tweak the pacing
appreciate that God can show up in a dark season and bring some necessary and life-infusing encouragement
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I’ve met poor people who are massively generous and I’ve met rich people who are super stingy. And I’ve met folk who are poor and stingy, as well as peeps who are wealthy and generous. So I would suggest that abundance isn’t based on the quantity of our money or size of our bank account.
Instead, let’s consider that abundance is more accurately a reflection of the state of our heart, or our perspective. And with God’s help, we can adjust our outlook to come from an abundant heart. Here could be some helpful actions to facilitate abundance in your life:
gratitude makes everything enough and even more! We can find things to be thankful for, regardless of the size or quality
be positive by watching for good things, beauty, helpful stuff around you and stuff inside you that’s wonderful
encouraging others with sincere compliments, generous and constructive words, along with affirming actions is a wonderful way to reflect internal abundance
What is the right decision? What choice should I make? Which direction should I take?
All of us are faced with these kinds of questions for lots of things, from minor choices to major life decisions. So how should we navigate?
Throughout human history, mankind has used the stars & celestial bodies to navigate & guide their earthly journey. This is true for sailors, nomads in the desert, pioneers in prairie fields & loads more. Additionally, each of us have internal desires & goals. Nevertheless, let’s make our ultimate decisions based on the fundamental goal of knowing God better throughout each season & phase of our lives. Let’s make our decisions from facing God & orienteering for optimum intimacy & connection with God. Selah 🙂
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“Caught in the very act!” These were the words of the Jewish leaders when they interrupted Jesus’ teaching with an adulterous woman. Ultimately, Jesus told the woman that He didn’t condemn her, to go her way & sin no more.
“We don’t have enough bread to feed this mass of people.” These were the words of Jesus’ disciples when He told them to feed the crowd. Ultimately, Jesus asked what they had, started with that & multiplied from there.
“Jesus wept.” This was Jesus’ response to seeing the intense grief and mourning from Lazarus’ death. Ultimately, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, after conversing with his sisters who were deep in the throes of loss.
The Jesus Way, which we would do well to follow, includes these things:
the absence of judgment and the abundance of forgiveness
bless the provision instead of cursing the lack
being present in grief and pain rather distracted or numb
Let’s do the Jesus Way in our daily living, which is ultimately the Way of Genuine Love!
It’s easy for me to get a bad attitude when I’m tired, when I have jet lag, when a day is overflowing with bad stuff, etc. And I find that attitudes are important catalysts for how we experience life. In the Bible, we can see various people who wrestled with their attitudes & the outcomes. For example, David had good reasons to have a bad attitude with the Saul season & he endeavored to coach his attitude by keeping his focus on God – a really helpful principle!
Let’s also remember: a bad attitude ruins everything good & a goodattitude ruins everything bad 🙂
Little tweaks can make big impacts & I see evidence of this in lots of ways. For example, I have a friend who regularly reminds me that gratitude makes everything enough. She uses everyday examples of how she’s thankful & the impact this attitude makes on her thinking, conversations & decisions. And she doesn’t just do this at Thanksgiving!
The same can also be true for a little tweak with treats we enjoy! During this holiday season, I’m doing a #hungerstrike campaign with Saving Moses, asking everyone to forego one treat / indulgence & send that money to Saving Moses to help us feed a malnourished baby. A candy bar in America, or a pumpkin spice latte, or the extra pair of shoes that we forego, could make the difference between life and death for a baby in our malnourishment clinics.
Let’s remember that abundance can be a direct result of gratitude!
Some things are difficult & we want to find excuses or reasons to avoid such difficulties. We might want to sidestep a challenging conversation or greeting a prickly person. We might prefer to ignore the scale in the bathroom since it may tell us something unpleasant. And there’s always the “busy” excuse that’s convenient for all kinds of stuff we’d prefer to avoid.
Despite our best efforts, however, whatever we try to avoid, ignore, deflect, etc it’s still there & will likely remain present until we step into the issue. Here are a few ideas that might help us to show up:
Pray: let God know you don’t want to show up & ask for divine Help
Deep breath: this can often help to clear the cobwebs in our thinking & give us some energy to take a step
Anticipate good: it’s possible that whatever we might be avoiding has some unexpected good stuff
Love truth: sometimes we avoid truth bc it might be painful or unpleasant. But ultimately, deception is more destructive than truth!
Being that today is Halloween, the last day of October, it’s a great day to celebrate genuine love! I say this because Halloween was always a scary holiday to me, with all the skeletons, tombstones, ghosts and macabre images. When I was a kid, this day often left me fearful. In contrast, 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear. So instead of accentuating fear, today I choose to celebrate genuine love!
Here are a few suggestions that might help you celebrate genuine love today:
Look for people to encourage throughout today – what they’re wearing, nice hair, friendly smile, beautiful eyes, witty wisdom & LOADS more
Let Jesus love you throughout today – reject the enemy’s lies that say you’re inadequate, have no hope, going to fail, or that you’re a mutant
I was in a parking lot today and watched the drivers from two cars get in a honking battle. They concluded their exchanges with middle fingers, yelling and mean looks. I would suspect that perhaps these drivers have different sides to their personalities, such that they don’t go through their lives everyday with expletives, middle fingers and combative behaviors.
Just because someone is hostile or cranky with us doesn’t mean that we have to repay the same acrimony. Indeed, such moments are opportunities to do a quick heart check on ourselves and choose better. Furthermore, we can go the extra mile & look for constructive ways to bring out the best in people. Here are some suggestions for your consideration:
encouragement, gratitude and polite words make a comfortable runway for others to be gracious
a soft answer turns away wrath – Prov 15;1
forgiveness is a decision to reflect God’s DNA in us, since we are liberally forgiven even more than we realize
what a person “deserves” is best left in God’s hands, since we are commanded by Jesus not to judge in Matt 7:1
Let’s endeavor to bring out the best throughout our daily exchanges!
I’m writing this post, sitting outside of my hair salon with foils in my hair, looking semi-chic 🙂
And of course, I get some odd looks, people thinking I’m the reincarnated character from “My Favorite Martian”. But alas, it’s just the normal hair dye appointment, where the grey gets covered over & I maintain the look that says I’m at least 10 years than my birthdate would confirm.
And whatever we may look like on the outside isn’t as important as the decisions we make on the inside. Our internal thoughts, emotions, values, decisions and perspective are loads more important than the external image. It’s in my thinking processes where I:
make decisions to be generous,
decide to act from various insecurities,
consider how another may be affected by my words / actions
choose to be afraid or choose to be constructive
So no matter how we look on the outside, let’s be certain we make internal decisions to be generous & loving people. What’s on the inside is what will often regulate what happens on the outside 🙂
There are times in my life where I am inadequate to meet the needs and demands of what’s happening around me. In these times, I know that I’m not smart enough, not strong enough, don’t have the energy to match the demands, nor do I have the endurance to match the race stretched in front of me. In these times, it’s tempting to get overwhelmed by the questions, the shortfalls, demands, inadequacies and scarcity I feel in my soul. Such deficiency is often a universal human condition and maybe that’s by Divine Design. Maybe God has always intended for us to never be enough, such that we must choose to reach outside of ourselves to find provisions beyond our finite resources.
Let’s be certain that we reach for God to participate in our lives every day and not just as a last resort! Indeed, God is more than enough for our overflowing deficiencies!
Do you ever struggle with distractions or competing priorities? There are loads of things in our world that demand our attention, from the pop-ups that happen on our Facebook feed to the random text message advertising some random product. So how do we deal with these distractions? And what about competing priorities? Here are some helpful thoughts that you could pass along to your friends / family as well 🙂
“We only have two fish & five loaves of bread. It’s not enough for such a big crowd!!” These were the disciples’ words to Jesus about feeding a crowd of more than 5,000 people. And the observation is valid when we think about the provision in contrast to the need.
I see this mindset in many perspectives in my life. My needs for energy, time, resources, friendships, favor, wisdom, etc often seem to dwarf whatever provision may be available at the time. And as I read today about Jesus multiplying the fish and bread, I was challenged by this whole stark contrast between provision and need. I can belittle and grieve what is lacking or I can give Jesus whatever provision I have, let Him bless it and live in the resulting abundance.
In Jesus’ hands, little provisions can become multiplied abundance!
This morning I tried a new breakfast: quinoa, almonds, blueberries & maple syrup. It was ok for my first attempt & I know it’s better for me than bacon & a cheese omeletteso you m endeavoring to make healthy decisions.
The same can be said for decisions we make about our souls. Here are a few decisions that are good for the soul:
Forgiveness:keeps the grudge venom neutralized
Encouragement:keeps us with positive thoughts about people
Gratitude: keeps us looking for good
Trust: keeps us actively declining worry & leaning on God
I recently enjoyed watching the NCAA college basketball championship game & the most common question was, “Who are you cheering for? Which team do you want to win?”
In essence, which side are you on? As we walked into the arena, we were inundated with Michigan fans so I wasn’t too keen to shout out, “GO ‘NOVA!!!!” But I had definitely picked a side & cheered accordingly.
The same holds true for all of us in the narrative between what the enemy says in contrast to Holy Spirit’s narrative.
The enemy accuses, condemns, shames, deceives & is always trying hurt, kill & destroy us.
On the other side, Holy Spirit advocates, convicts, comforts, leads us into truth, makes us alive, confirms our true identity & continuously pours love into our soul.
So pick your side & actively select the narrative to which you’ll listen & entertain / converse with, keeping in mind the respective outcomes that go with each side 🙂
I’m learning that what I think is often more important than various experiences or events. If my thoughts are dark, if I’m feeling insecure, inadequate, uncertain or frumpy, then I tend to behave & interact from a darker place. On the contrast, when I’m hopeful, optimistic, bright, steady & confident, then my interactions are more positive & constructive, with a higher quality of internal resilience.
So maybe this is why Paul tells us in Phil 4:7-8, to let Jesus’ peace guard our hearts & mind, as well as instructing us about keeping our thoughts centered on gratitude, stuff that’s right, honorable, etc.
it’s important to think about our thoughts & appreciate that how we interact & engage is an interior decision more than an external response 🙂
For some people, risk is like running through an amusement park in wild expectation of the thrills on the horizon. For other people, risk is like running the gauntlet of would be gladiators, awaiting impending torture and possible death. No matter how you see risk, walking in faith is risky because it’s the decision to do what’s unknown, uncomfortable and uncertain. But the other side of faith can be worth the risk:
knowing Jesus better,
stronger confidence in God,
experiences with God that don’t happen without faith
I can appreciate that risk is scary, but I invite you to join me on the faith journey that can be risky rather than the fear journey that can be constrictive. And of course, let’s ask for wisdom along the journey so that our faith / risk isn’t foolish 🙂
I want to choose better rather than bitter, but sometimes it’s not an easy choice. There are two occasions in the Bible that I specifically see the “bitter” problem:
when Peter betrayed Jesus & he went away, weeping bitterly;
when the water at Mara was bitter, the Israelites complained & Moses threw a log into the water making it sweet & drinkable.
So when I think about these “bitter events”, maybe they could’ve been better if the complaining & betrayal were eliminated.
I can see how that would be true for me when given the choice between bitter or better. When I complain less, I do better. And when I love Jesus even when it’s difficult, I’m better in my soul.
Something to think about for this wonderful Monday 🙂
I have the opportunity to grow and I’m not sure that I want this, maybe. There’s an annual convention on the calendar that’s around the corner and I’m considering going this year, even though it makes me sweaty just thinking about it.
In my mind, I’ve got ironclad rationale to justify not going, but maybe if I go I’ll grow,maybe if I stay, I’ll stagnant. I’m reminded about Saul and Jonathon in 1 Samuel 14. Saul stayed under a tree with 600 men, while Jonathon took his buddy and started a skirmish that turned into a major military victory.
Sometimes that growth that God asks from us can be unsettling and outright scary. But let’s chose to grow rather than stagnant 🙂
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!