Yesterday, I listened to one of my kids rant about their school, the wicked teachers, awful students & deplorable work. I don’t mind listening and sometimes I’m good at listening, which is good because my kid needed a listening ear. After about 30-45min of this content, I felt it was time for some objectivity so we had an interesting chat. I applauded their willingness to acknowledge a few of their shortfalls, but I also pointed out that from this child’s perspective, the lion’s share of the problems belonged to everyone else. This kind of thinking was allowing my kid to frame themselves as the victim & that’s no bueno. Being a victim often leaves us powerless & inert, wallowing in self pity. Seems to me that this kind of thinking runs contrary to how God has designed us, back in the Garden of Eden with power & dominion.
At the minimum, we have authority & power over our attitude & the choices we make about our perspective. Let’s be careful about how we think because our thoughts affect our words, attitudes & actions!
Sometimes I think these terms get mixed up in our lives & we don’t realize it. Insulation is to keep out unwanted things, like cold weather or extreme heat. We can also insulate ourselves from painful experiences or uncomfortable feelings. But without being careful, insulation can become isolation when we chose to withdraw & not engage.
I could easily justify insulating myself from seeing & hearing someone’s pain or struggles that I find repugnant. But when I do this, I isolate myself & restrict the Holy Spirit from moving through me, to touch & heal the world around me. Let’s be careful not to insulate ourselves with our wealth & ability to chose our focus from the suffering around us. Thankfully, Jesus didn’t insulate Himself when He lives among us.
Sometimes my thoughts are poisonous. For example, I’m currently writing a book & from time to time I think that what I’m writing is a garbled mess & worthless. There are times when I get in a group of people & I get frozen with insecurity. Occasionally, fear creeps around my thoughts leaving little whispers of doubt.
All of these things are poison. If I let these thoughts run lose in my mind, I turn into a shriveled little person, ineffective & irrelevant.
I would speculate that you might have your own versions of poisonous thoughts so let’s help each other out & agree to pass on the poison. How can we do this? Here are a few suggestions:
Take captive every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God – refuse to let these poisonous thoughts run amuck in your mind
Replace the poison with probiotic verses – Gods word is alive & effective so let’s allow it to firmly root & flourish in our thoughts!
Take a walk – sometimes it helps to clear the cobwebs when we get some physical exercise.
No matter what, let’s actively choose to pass on the poison!
Sometimes when I get to the end of a week, I can get cranky because I’m worn out. For example, I had a chat this morning with a friend who was trying to express some struggles they’re trying to navigate. Unfortunately, I was impatient & insensitive so I took a pause & circled back to apologize & listen better. Sometimes the disappointing events from a week can seem to stockpile on Fridays & I can be cranky from this accumulation. And sometimes there seems to be more work than week, making Friday’s potentially frustrating.
But I’m choosing to exhale & be friendly. Thankfully, I get to choose my attitude because I’m not merely a porcupine byproduct of various challenges or frustrations. It also helps me to be thankful about specific things: having an enjoyable lunch with my husband, the beautiful weather, the nice birthday lunch with my friend yesterday & tasty family dinner last night.
So let’s be friendly on this Friday & thankful because today is truly a gift from God!
Lice, fleas, chiggers, parasites, viruses & mosquitos are a few examples of little bugs that can range from annoying to lethal. I know about many of these pests from first hand experience & I don’t recommend engaging with these critters in any way except in all efforts to kill them. When I think about these little bugs, it baffles me how something so small & even unseen can fell thousands of people, creating deadly epidemics that can elude our highest technologies & savy immunization strategies.
Sin can be similar to these little bugs. A little sin can poison an entire lifetime, to say nothing of the contagious quality of sin. With the help of the Holy Spirit, ever vigilant to convict the world of sin, may we never tolerate the sins that can so easily beset us. Let’s not allow sin in any form to reside in nor influence our hearts, emotions, thoughts or conversations. No little bugs!
Lice, fleas, chiggers, parasites, viruses & mosquitos are a few examples of little bugs that can range from annoying to lethal. I know about many of these pests from first hand experience & I don’t recommend engaging with these critters in any way except in all efforts to kill them. When I think about these little bugs, it baffles me how something so small & even unseen can fell thousands of people, creating deadly epidemics that can elude the our highest technologies & savy immunization strategies.
Sin can be similar to these little bugs. A little sin can poison an entire lifetime, to say nothing of the contagious quality of sin. With the help of the Holy Spirit, ever vigilant to convict the world of sin, may we never tolerate the sins that can so easily beset us. Let’s not allow sin in any form to reside nor influence our hearts, emotions, thoughts or conversations. No little bugs!
Our world can get complicated super fast – technically continues to evolve at warp speed, our schedules get increasingly dense & we are encouraged to be strategic in our thinking & planning. These things aren’t bad but they can add layers of complexity to our daily living. So for me, it’s a breath of fresh air to stop the proverbial roller coaster & refocus on my essential priorities.
It helps to take a deep breath, close one’s eyes, sit in the car for a few minutes & be still. Our brains can of course make this challenging but let’s keep our essentials as the bull’s eye for our living:
This picture is from a pretty shady neighborhood in Phnom Penh Cambodia. When you go into this apartment complex, it can be super creepy & intimidating. But it’s full of people & this is why it’s great because Jesus loves people!
Doing love well is an essential ingredient to following Jesus based on John 13:35. But it’s not easy, sometimes. It’s not easy to love a drug addict mom who neglects her kids to feed her addiction. It’s not easy to love when your body doesn’t feel well. It’s not easy to love someone who can be prickly & cantankerous. It’s not always easy to love.
But this is what Jesus says is the defining mark of those who follow Him – that we will be recognized by our love for one another. Let’s choose to love & let God love others through us, even when it’s not easy 🙂
Don’t be afraid to fail, but do be afraid to stop trying.
Sometimes, I think we don’t try to do things because we don’t want to fail or we’re afraid we won’t do well. I’ve come to conclusion that failure is an essential ingredient for training and ultimately for success. It’s seems to me that the road to success is littered with a fair amount of both failure and persistence.
I say this thinking about Joseph in the book of Genesis & his success in keeping nations from literally starving to death. When you consider his leadership work in Egypt during an epic famine, it’s more than just a little impressive. But consider that Joseph had lots of practice & failure along the journey to get him to a place where he could be so outrageously successful. I would suggest that he was training and practicing in leadership with his family during the dreams and many colored coat thing. Furthermore, he was training with his administrative & leadership skills in Potipher’s house & prison. And all of this was for the ultimate purpose of rescuing thousands & possibly millions from starving when he became second in command in Egypt under Pharaoh.
So when we fail, let’s replace any potential shame with applause, that we tried to do something new or different and we can only get better from here! The other side of failure could mean life for lots of people around you! Be sure to let the Holy Spirit continue to help you practice and get better 🙂
I was talking with a friend this weekend about being mature. He made a comment that settled into my mind for lots of thinking. He made the statement that being an “older Christian” was the same as being a “mature Christian”. This is where I paused to think. I started to think about what it means to be a mature Christian and I thought about this in light of knowing lots of folk who have been Christians for multiple decades. Does time equal maturity?
If time and age don’t equal mature, what does it mean to be a mature follower of Jesus? Here’s a short answer: a person who is more & more Christlike is an increasingly mature follower of Jesus. If you’d like to ruminate on some sturdy ruffage on this topic, consider taking some time to read & digest Hebrew 5:11-6:8 🙂
Let’s endeavor to be not only aged followers of Jesus, but more importantly mature believers, full of Christlike fruit in our daily living 🙂
Springtime always seems to ramp up the activity level. There’s fresh air outside that’s not too cold, the trees bloom with fragrant life, the hibernation of winter dissipates and of course there are all of the activities that go with school, Easter, graduations, weddings, showers, etc.
More often than not, Springtime wears me out with the hustle and bustle of demanding activities. So this Sping, I’m endeavoring to strike a better balance, integrating some rest into the mix. Here are some ideas that might help you with finding rest in a busy Spring:
be careful not to fall in the “value in achievement” trap – you’re valuable because God loves you, full stop
consider Spring cleaning your calendar / schedule and not just your house
be sure the way you use your time accurately reflects your priorities
don’t ditch church 🙂
Of course I’m always keen to recommend reading a good book as a form of relaxing & a great book to read in preparation for Pentecost in a few weeks is Heavenly Help
This morning I read how Joseph resisted the invitations of Potipher’s wife. Potipher was Joseph’s employer & Joseph didn’t want to dishonor his employer nor sin against God by giving into the wife’s seductions. In some respects, it might have been easy for Joseph to cave: Joseph was away from his family, he was a slave, maybe they could’ve kept their trist a secret & maybe there was some appeal to his flesh, on the most basic level. Nonetheless, Joseph kept his integrity & consistently rejected the wife’s efforts.
In my thinking, Joseph should have been rewarded for holding the high ground but instead, he was lied about & then thrown into prison. So now he’s not a slave but maybe worse, he’s a “convict”. God rewarded Joseph in prison & previously under Potipher by giving Joseph favor & leadership positions.
But the immediate imprisonment result wasn’t the optimum outcome for maintaining a high level of integrity.
Here are a few things to consider:
Do the right thing even if the immediate results seem to backfire
Keep pure motives to serve & be a blessing
Make sure your forgiveness stays fresh
I think all of this was practice for the real work of keeping a nation from being eradicated from a severe 7 years famine along with rescuing his entire family from starving to death 🙂
Is there such a thing as a good tired? Often when I’m tired, I get cranky, impatient & selfish. So what kind of tired might be the good kind?
Here are a few good “tireds” for me:
exercise tired: when I’ve swum hard, run long or lifted well, my body is spent & there’s a euphoria that feels very satisfying
mission tired: sometimes when I come home from a Saving Moses trip, there’s a sense of rich fulfillment, seeing redemption in realtime for today & into the future
people tired: when I minister, it feels good to spend myself & let the Holy Spirit work, touch & talk through me.
There’s also some bad “tireds” that I experience from time to time:
selfish tired: when I get self-absorbed, this can be very draining
abundance tired: there’s an interesting balance between being overfull versus starving; being overfull with activities, achievements, food, sleep, coffee, etc can make me very tired
stress tired: when I carry / hold lots of pressures, it drains me of energy
Seems to me that the good tired happens when I’m balanced & keeping my eyes on Jesus. The bad tired happens when I get my eyes off of Jesus & try to fill myself with other stuff. Jesus is always our best choice 🙂
Sometimes we get in situations & seasons that are not pleasant. Such challenges can include a bad report from a medical test, job changes, not being accepted at a university, waiting in a long & interminable line, etc. in these occasions, it helps me to do a few of these things & maybe these could help you as well:
Look for the good things happening around you
Chose to be friendly & grateful – being cranky is draining
Think about your favorite Bible story & imagine you’re in that story as one of the characters you like
Pray – asking for divine Help is always a premium upgrade 🙂
Noah waited in the ark 150 days during the flood cataclysm. When I read that recently, it caught my attention & I began to imagine what that was like for him, surrounded with his family & the animal hordes traveling with him in the ark. I would suspect there was heaps of panic initially, probably fear, anxiety, uncertainty & likely some worry to boot. Being “trapped” in the ark while the earth was deluged from above & below, water thundering on the ark with animals & humans pitching back & forth – this doesn’t sound very appealing. But the other option, drowning in the deluge, wasn’t such a whippy alternative. So the people in the ark could chose, initially between living or dying. Clearly, they chose to stay alive. From that decision, then they needed to manage their fear, uncertainty & anxiety, pausing 150 days in the ark.
Sometimes we find ourselves in “pause” mode & maybe see / hear disasters happening all around us. In these situations, I find my salvation alone in keeping my focus on Jesus & my mind set on the Holy Spirit – Rom 8:5. Listening to & watching the circumstances around us can be debilitating. Make the long term decision to keep your thoughts & focus on Jesus, no matter what 🙂
This morning I read in Luke about a blind guy who was yelling for Jesus. After the blind guy was persistent, Jesus stopped & asked him what he wanted. Of course Jesus knew that the guy was blind, but He waited for the man to express what he wanted.
This has started me thinking about what I want & this truth: if I get what I want from Jesus, I will need to change my behavior. This is often a bigger deal than what we realize. Being healed means that we must act differently. We can’t be healed & continue to behave in the same dysfunctional & broken routines.
Being healed means that we live more wholly & make choices that are healthy & life giving – and this takes courage. Not only do I want to be well, but I also want the courage to live well.
If you’ve kept up on the news, you’re probably aware of the ISIS attacks in Paris over the weekend, leaving almost 130 dead, along with massive numbers injured, a city badly shaken & many of us outraged. Truthfully, I find myself very conflicted with topic. Not only have there been attacks in Paris, but recently, a Russian plane crashed in Egypt from a terrorist attack & there’s also been an attack in Beirut leaving 43 dead & 239 injured. To make these atrocities even more barbaric, the ISIS propaganda machinery applauds these attacks and wants a bloodbath across the world, taking aim & great pleasure in particular against “Christian” nations.
My initial reaction to this crazy is to support equal if not escalated retribution & I can make a really reasonable case to neutralize this kind of crazy, with whatever means necessary. And revenge, according to Alfred Hitchcock, is sweet and not fattening. But revenge is not the path of following Jesus. Indeed, Jesus told us to turn the other cheek to our enemies, to repay evil with good and to bless when we receive cursing. Revenge is the level playing field, but as a follower of Jesus, we get to walk in a higher plane and make choices that are grounded in genuine love. Let’s pray for, bless and love well, with the help of the Holy Spirit 🙂
Easier said than done, to be sure!! But nonetheless, the decision to trust God more & worry less is both healthy & essential. All of us have uncertainties, impossibilities & varying degrees of stresses. What we do with this stuff is the important decision. It’s easy to let stress get under the skin & seep into the bloodstream, elevating our blood pressure & distorting our perceptions. When this happens, our decision making ability gets shady & we can make poor choices.
But let’s do that “taking captive” thing that Paul talks about in 2Cor 10:5. Let’s not allow worry to have a free run & unlimited access in our minds. When we start to worry & have troublesome thoughts, let’s pray first & ask the Holy Spirit to help us take those thoughts captive & not let them under our skin nor into our bloodstream! Dear friends, let’s worry less & trust God more 🙂
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Have you had a busy week? Did you get a lot done this week? Are you frustrated that you didn’t get as much done as you think you need to?
Take a deep breath with me for a moment.
There’s a balance that we struggle to maintain: the balance between human being & human doing. With this thinking, our culture makes that balance very tricky. Heaps of stuff all around us tell us to get busy, be productive, don’t be lazy, achievements equal importance & significance is through activity. While there’s some truth is these ideas, the operative word is SOME.
Let’s not forget that God’s first day with Adam was God’s day of rest, affirming the truth that we are foremost human beings, lovingly affirmed by our Creator.
Ever feel like life sometimes has 3 steps forward & then 1-2 steps back? Truthfully, Monday mornings often feel like the toucan two step with some possible backward progress.
Translation: I’m not a Monday morning fan.
But no matter what happens or doesn’t happen on difficult days, let’s keep in mind that God has given us the ability to chose our attitude, words & actions. I’m very happy to have this ability & I just need to be careful that I keep my attitudes, words & actions moving forward & positive rather than letting them slip into some Monday doldrums 🙂