The Right No

We learn to say “no” at an early age often pigeonholed as the “terrible two’s”. While learning to say “no” is an important stage in our development, I think what’s even more important is the proper wisdom & discernment to use this word.

For example, saying an internal “no” to replying with a snarky comment to a rude flight attendant is good wisdom. Or saying no to the couch as an alternative to getting some daily exercise is also sound wisdom.
On the flip side, let’s make sure that our instinctive answer to anything the Holy Spirit ask of us is resoundingly YES!!

Going Opposite

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!

What Are You Thinking?

“A penny for your thoughts?”

This is a question people often ask when someone seems deep in thought or reflective.  It’s a good question to ask when you’re getting to know someone or when a person seems unusually quiet.  But it’s also a good question to ask ourselves from time to time, forcing us to take a thought inventory.

Taking an inventory of our thoughts is important because it lets us see places in our thinking where we can make some helpful adjustments.   Indeed, consider some of the things Paul says about our thoughts:

  • 2 Cor 10:5, “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”
  • Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think on these things.”
  • Rom 8:6, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace”

Let’s be attentive to our thoughts because they influence our lives in very powerful but subtle ways!

periscope vision

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!

Change the Harvest

Last week I had a blinding flash of the obvious: we reap what we sow.

The brilliant part of this wisdom is that we often reap in fields that are different from where we sow. But no matter where we reap, the principle remains the same – we reap what we sow.
So what do you want? If you want something different than your current results perhaps it’s time to consider the seeds that you’re sowing. If you’re planting gossip, strife, belittling, condescension & insecurity, don’t be surprised when those show up in your life.
On the other hand, planting encouragement, stability, patience & other good seeds produce a harvest after its kind, across a wide array of fields!
Let’s be sure we are planting the seeds that we want to harvest!

Reinforce the Good

“I killed a lion & a bear, so this uncircumcised Philistine will be like them!” These were the words David to answer Saul’s uncertainty about David killing Goliath. While I appreciate that it’s very dangerous to live in a state of denial, it’s also essential to keep our focus on faith & not fear or doubt. We absolutely have challenges & struggles that have varying degrees of intensity & stress.

Let’s be careful, however, that we continue to reinforce the good things so we don’t get overwhelmed by giants, problems & pressure.
Here are some ideas that could help to reinforce the good:

  • Keep some encouraging Bible verses handy to review
  • Pay attention to negative stuff that could be tainting your thoughts (tv, social media, music, etc)
  • Encourage your friends & let them encourage you
  • Pray instead of complain

Feel free to share this with your friends / family!

Stay Focused

What you focus on is where you go. I learned this with great intensity when I took a lesson for downhill mountain bike riding. In a particularly harrowing part of the trail, our instructor kept yelling, “LOOK PAST THE CURVE!!!” A few of my classmates didn’t listen to the instructor & they hardcore crashed, flipping over the handlebars. What the instructor was yelling didn’t make sense to me, but I decided to do what he said, nonetheless. When I followed the instructions, my bike followed my focus.
Lots of times, it’s easy to focus on emergencies, crises, worries, etc. When we obsess with struggles & uncertainties, it’s easy to crash in the curve because our focus gets off of Jesus. Let’s be sure that we keep our focus & thoughts on Jesus, the author & perfectos of our faith – Hebrews 12:2!

Love to Understand

“What’s wrong with her?” I was recently walking through the largest brothel in Bangledesh & noticed a lady sitting on a bench & she was crying. I immediately sat next to her & put my arm around her, feeling her sadness pouring out of her. Some people with me asked her in the Bengali language what was wrong & there was a brief dialogue where she said why she was crying in seemingly few words. I continued to hold this young lady, absorbing her pain & she began to cry heaps more.

She was crying because she was homesick for her parents who live in a different district & she had been working in this brothel for more than a year.

I could continue explaining more & more details of her life to help you, my reader, understand why she was crying.
But let’s be careful that we don’t qualify our love on understanding first. Indeed, I sincerely don’t think we begin to understand until we decide first to love.

If you truly want to begin understanding someone, decide that you will love them & you’ll find that you begin to understand them more & more!

Jesus & Bacon

Because Jesus was a Jew when He lived on earth, I firmly believe that bacon wasn’t in His eating repertoire. However, bacon seems to be more than a little popular for the 21st century palate. Our appetites & eating habits have dramatically changed, some for the good & some not so much.

Which brings me to the question related to our appetites. What tastes good & what do you like to eat? Some of the things we like to eat aren’t good for our bodies just as much as some of the desires that we have aren’t good for our souls.

Let’s be sure to cultivate not only healthy appetites for our bodies but let’s also feed our souls sturdy, life-giving sustenance found through daily Bible & prayer time! Since we’re on the cusp of turning the calendar, let’s not wait for a New Year’s resolution to foster these appetites. Start now & you’ll likely keep a better routine going into the New Year than depending on a date change to facilitate a change in routines.

Some helpful tips could include:

  • set your alarm & get up rather than snooze it endlessly;
  • find a friend that can encourage & partner with some accountability;
  • keep track of the positives from staying disciplined;
  • frequently ask God for help to stay the course

Let’s cultivate healthy appetites!

Highminded & A Warm Heart

I woke up this morning to -7degree temperature. Thankfully our heater works well but my body definitely felt the chill, which compelled me to keep my heart warm. Sometimes it’s easy in the hustle & bustle of this season to get cold hearted, detached & insensitive. Regardless of the external temperature or the demands that we have, let’s endeavor to remain warm hearted.
As for our brains, part of my Bible reading this morning was in Colossians 3:2 where Paul tells us to set our minds above. To me, this means that i keep my thoughts out of the low things & stuff that’s fleshy.
I want to actively chose to set my mind in things above & keep my heart warm regardless of what’s happening around me. Who’s on board with that plan??

I Forgot

Sometimes we think that forgetting something is bad, but sometimes being forgetful is good.  It’s bad to forget the grocery list when I go shopping and it’s bad to forget my driver’s license when I try to catch a flight to another city.  But it’s good to forget a rude comment that someone said to you or forget a hurtful thing that happened in the past.  Indeed, sometimes it’s a divine gift to forget some things or to remember things in a selective way.

I can chose to remember the positive things from experiences and conversations, while letting the negative stuff fade into the background.  Or I can chose to keep rehearsing the negative stuff from past conversations or experiences and let them overshadow the good stuff.

Seems like Paul had some good wisdom when he said in Philippians 3:13, “Forgetting what lies behind, I press forward for what lies ahead, . . . “

Compensating for Stupid

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!

Concussion Free Guarantee

img_0584

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 🙂

What’s Your Profile??

Most of us have profiles we’ve created like with facebook or various accounts that we use & these profiles help communicate our personality & interests. Take a quick minute to read the link here to my friends thoughts about your profile 🙂

Cheeky Thoughts

I recently saw a FB post from a Christian about ditching needy, negative & ugly people. The post said something about eliminating these kinds of people from our lives & I was deeply unnerved, since the person posting this says they follow Jesus.

At any given moment, I can be needy, negative & ugly, so I guess I make the cut list for that person.
Thankfully, I’m not on Jesus’ cut list. Indeed, as followers of genuine Jesus, we would be wise to let His words shape our values, behaviors & words:

  1. Matt 5:39-44, “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41 “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

and the Cubs won the World Series last night, FYI 🙂

Getting Better

I was recently ministering at a seriously great women’s retreat & one of the ladies confronted me after one of my messages. She challenged me about a story I told about Gladys, a church lady from my childhood. In my story, I treated Gladys with disrespect & made her an example for mocking & scorn. The chick who confronted me was totally on the money – she was gentle, firm & biblical. At first, I tried to deflect her attempts to correct me, but I knew she was right.

That afternoon, I took some time to write & pray, asking God to forgive me & help me to love better.
Regardless of how a person behaves, genuine love doesn’t qualify the recipient. Just because it’s easy for me to love some rough people doesn’t give me a pass to be unloving with cranky peeps 🙂

Try It!!

One of the things from my parents that I deeply cherish, is the “try it!” attitude. So when I was growing up, I tried heaps of stuff: lacrosse, blue corn tortillas, clarinet, softball, Perry Mason tv mysteries, eating crawdads, swimming in canals, classical music, basketball, viola & loads more! Of course I wasn’t proficient in most of these things but my parents were always super encouraging, even when I miserably flopped. So to this day, I’m a “try it” kind of person & I love this mindset!
Indeed, I’d rather try & fail, then not try & succeed at not trying. Peter was like this with Jesus when he walked on the water. He tried it & had some failure, but it seems to me that he was the first human water walker just because he tried!

bright thinking!

Have you been through difficult seasons when your thoughts turn dark?  Lately, it seems like this has been my lot.  It’s certainly not as bad as Job in the Bible, but it’s not a smoothy groovy season for me at this time.  A few of the challenges that have popped up lately include:  a car meltdown, lost my credit card, my husband had a stroke, one of my kids had a crisis at school, some friend challenges and discouraging news from work.

As I’ve been navigating these difficulties, the Holy Spirit spoke to me this morning about how my thoughts were getting dark.  It’s like I’ve started to see things in a warped way and I find myself thinking negatively and with grim expectations.  This is one of the reasons I so deeply love the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus also calls the Spirit of Truth.  In my prayer time today, the Holy Spirit reminded me about Phil 4:8 where Paul tells us to dwell on / think about what is:  true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good repute, excellent and worthy of praise.

So with the help of the Holy Spirit, I’m re-directing my thoughts away from the dark stuff & onto things that are THRPLGR:  true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good repute!  Anyone care to join me???

Say Yes!!

“I need to think about that.” This is my classic answer to the majority of the things my kids ask from me. If I impulsively say yes or no, I’m likely going to get into some hot water rather quickly.

But with Jesus, I always want to say “yes!” When we say yes to Jesus, it can be saying yes to

  • being kind to a stranger,
  • loving our kids when they get under our skin,
  • being generous with our finances,
  • helping a prostitute look after her baby or toddler,
  • praying for someone who’s sick
  • and lots of other things!

Let’s decide before Jesus asks that we’ll say “Yes!”

What Are You Saying??

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!