My dad always ordered his eggs over easy & I remember hearing waitresses say to him, “Sunny Side Up!” As a kid, I didn’t understand what they meant, but later learned that this phrase was kind of a synonym for over easy. Now whenever I hear, “sunny side”, everything inside me smiles & I feel warm all over. Maybe this is because I remember my dad sharing his breakfast with me or maybe because the sunny side feels friendly, inviting & open!
I’ve been thinking about this sunny side thing lately because of some plants I’m attempting to keep alive. Even yesterday, I moved a tomatoe plant out of the shade & into the sun – to keep it on the sunny side 🙂
This is pretty cheesy, but we also have to keep ourselves on the “Sonny” side in our thoughts, conversations & decisions for each day. Following Jesus, God’s Son, means that we actively chose to stay on the “Sonny side” of life, sharing encouragement, hope & genuine love with the dark world around us. Indeed, let’s stay bright by letting God’s Son shine through us!
Being rebellious usually gets the thumbs down reaction from the Christian crowd. We tend to find those verses that talk about being respectful, obedient & compliant & there are heaps of Bible verses to support this mindset.
However, being a person who finds herself sometimes at odds with many societal norms, let me highlight some ways that Jesus went the opposite of the culture & society of His day.
Unexpected: Jesus didn’t cater to what people expected from Him. Consider in His first miracle that He told His mom to “chill out” (my slang for “Woman, My time is not yet come”)
Forgiveness: when all the religious leaders of His day wanted Jesus to condemn the woman caught in adultery, Jesus forgave her & the intolerance / judgment evaporated
Genuine Love: one of my favorite quotes from Jesus: “He who has been forgiven much, loves much; but he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
Miracles: Jesus defied conventional thinking by frequently doing miracles: multiplying food, cleansing lepers, restoring promiscuous women, healing the unclean & driving out demonic forces, just to name a few.
If we are followers of Jesus, then we must go the opposite of our flesh, religious intolerance, demonic influences & cultural trends. Most of all, let’s personify genuine love because of the Holy Spirit working in our mindsets, conversations & actions!
I’ve been enjoying the Spring weather & trying to take a daily walk to improve my physical & mental health. It’s nice to enjoy some sunshine, fresh air and feet on the ground. While my body is definitely grounded during these daily walks, my mind tends to wander to various topics: kids, work, schedules, prayers, writing, etc. Some of my thoughts can be healthy & constructive, but some of my thoughts not so much.
I was reminded today about setting my mind above and not below from Colossians 3:2 & Philippians 4:7-8. I think our thoughts can be kind of like fish:
bottom feeders who scavenge off the dirt and refuse at the lowest levels
horizontal eaters who forage through their daily living, focus set throughout this horizontal world
flying fish who sail above the average existence and get to see things from a vertical rather than horizontal perspective
Let’s keep our minds fixed above & not dwelling on the average or below average existence!
There’s a chick in the Bible whom I admire greatly, Abigail. I like her because she’s wise, resourceful, humble & honest. She married an idiot, Nabal, whose name means fool & he personified his name to the maximum. I think that maybe Abigail was in Nabal’s life as God’s invitation for him to change, but Nabal refused this invitation & paid for it by living a short & fruitless life. In contrast, because Abigail made different decisions, she wound up becoming one of King Davids wives & lived a fulfilling life.
The pivot point for Abigail came from one of Nabal’s notoriously stupid decisions. Abigail compensated for Nabal, interceded with David for Nabal’s life & this positioned her for a huge upgrade.
Usually, I want to run as far away from stupid as I possibly can, hoping it’s no contagious. But Abigail made wise decisions by being respectful, humble & generous.
Just because there are stupid people in our lives doesn’t mean that we need to be stupid with them! Let’s be sure that we counteract the stupid around us with respect & wisdom!
Yesterday, I was sitting in the Angola consulate to finish my visa application & this is always a jittery experience. It’s stressful in lots of ways because it’s a really complicated process & even when I’ve done everything right, there has been an occasion when my application was denied.
So I can get stressed out as I wait or I can chose to trust God. These words, “trust God” are easier said than done. But when there’s nothing more that I can do, then I need to actively chose, even moment by moment, to trust God.
Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to coach our mental game & help us get better at trusting God 🙂
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 🙂
At some point, all of us have played Follow the Leader or Simon Says, most likely when we were kids. The first few times, it took me some practice to get the hang of it, but rather quickly, I wanted to be the leader so I could make others do what I said. That felt really powerful ,)
I remember one of my teachers telling me, “Sarah, if you’re going to be a good leader, you have to learn to follow well.” Of course, this wasn’t the advice I was eager to hear, even though it felt right in my heart and I still hear these words bounce around in my heart & thoughts to this day.
I’ve been thinking of these words about following as they relate to Jesus following the Holy Spirit in Luke 4:1-2. These verses describe how Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit around in the wilderness for 40 days as He fasted & He was tempted by the devil. When I’ve thought of these verses, they don’t feel particularly alluring nor enticing. I’d prefer to not wander around in a desolate wilderness and fast for 40 days, nor be tested by the devil. Yet that’s exactly what happened as Jesus followed the Holy Spirit. Later in Luke 4, we read about Jesus being anointed by the Holy Spirit, speaking gracious & powerful words and we see Jesus start to walk in the fullness of His earthly ministry. But all of that came after His committment to follow the Holy Spirit.
When we follow our flesh, it can briefly make us feel good. But following the Holy Spirit has far better & longer lasting results than any flesh adventure we could choose. Let’s be committed every day to following the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes life feels steep & deep. When I snowboard sometimes I feel like this – the run is too steep & the snow is too deep so I get intimidated & I want to change my mind. But more often than not, I’m already committed & I have to make the best way I can. And truth be known, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This is also true for me with God. I want my relationship to be supremely deep & steep:
Deep in that I want to know God’s presence in depths & contexts that exceed any human relationship
Steep in the sense of vertical awareness – God’s presence spanning any level of my thinking & attention.
Who’s with me in the adventure of having a deep & steep relationship with God? Let’s commit such that there’s no turning back!!!
There are lots of things in our lives that we should affirm. It’s super great to be positive and optimistic. It’s also really helpful to say, “yes” to job promotions, good grades at school, kind offers from friends and unexpected blessings from random sources.
There are, nevertheless, several things that need to always require a “NO” reply. Here are a few ideas:
doubt: pre-decide that doubt always gets a “no” answer and faith always gets a “yes” answer
unforgiveness: meditating about hurtful words and actions done by others should get a consistent “no”
mean actions & words: give yourself “no” permission to react hatefully or with snarky words to someone else’s mean behaviors or libel
insecurity: sometimes a simple mental “no” is enough to jolt us out of that destructive thinking pattern laced with the poison of insecurity
destructive behaviors: let’s be certain that we’re consistently saying “no” to addictive patterns, an undisciplined lifestyle, debilitating relationships, poor eating habits and unproductive usage of time, to name a few suggestions
What else should we be saying “no” to in our lives? I’d love to read your thoughts & wisdom 🙂