When You Fail

I’ve never met a person who enjoys failing & most of us avoid stuff that has a high risk for failing.  But there are LOADS of people in the Bible who failed, took risks and some had tremendous successes – usually after they had overcome some significant failure hurdles.  Some examples would include:

  • Jacob’s son, Joseph:  failed with his brothers, but became 2nd in command to Pharoah in Egypt & rescued his family from famine
  • Jacob:  tricked his brother & father, but went on to become “Israel” and the founder of the Twelve Tribes
  • Saul / Paul:  gave hearty approval at Stephen’s martyrdom & became the largest contributing author to the New Testament in addition to founding the majority of early churches on two continents

When you fail, keep in mind some helpful perspectives:

  • failing is a verb, but failure is a noun:  one can change but the other is more permanent
  • the greatest lessons often come from failing more than succeeding
  • failing can the essential fertilizer for redemption
  • no failure is beyond God’s power & love to transform into beauty, resurrection, abundance and divine success!

Are You Distracted?

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 🙂

 

More Than Enough

“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!

When God Doesn’t Make Sense

More than 50,000 soldiers dead all triggered by a concubine running away from her husband. I’m reading the last few chapters of Judges in the OT & these events leave me baffled & cold. They baffle me because even though Israel obeyed God’s directives, they still lost two battles and 40,000 soldiers died.

These events leave me cold because of the human ability to be barbaric: the concubines husband cut her up into 12 pieces and sent her body parts throughout the 12 Tribes of Israel. Clearly, this is a very dark time in Israel’s history.

And there are times / events in our lives when we don’t understand God. Why does an omnipotent God allow atrocities and deplorable behaviors? And how does
God’s loving character reconcile with His judgment? Making these questions get even more personal, why doesn’t God heal various ailments & terminal illness?

Or why does a cheater co-worker get the promotion & we get bypassed, again?

I’m grateful that God is abundantly able to handle our questions, doubts, fears, uncertainties & pain.

While we wrestle with these questions, or different ones, let’s stay in fellowship with God for the simple reason that He holds us together because of His infinite love for us!

Reconcile Rather Than Revile

“That’s DISGUSTING!!!”  Lots of people have this reaction when they begin to hear about the daily living of a sex worker in third world countries. I’m in Cambodia this week with our annual Saving Moses team trip & our nightcare work here (feel free to come w me next year).  I love to watch God change various perspectives about people & various hardships / experiences these women go through to say nothing about their babies & toddlers.  On a more immediate context, maybe you know people who are making bad decisions, going down an awful trajectory or compromising in unthinkable ways. 

Do we choose to revile or reconcile?  

Regardless of the decisions people make, we can shame & revile them or walk alongside & reconcile them. Jesus is a great example of reconciling rather than reviling 🙂

Good for the Soul

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 omelette  so 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

Keep making healthy choice for your body & soul!

Easy or Hard?

I like the “easy button” and easy for me includes: washing dishes, ironing, international travel, languages, grocery shopping, simple cooking and reading my Bible.  In contrast, I don’t like to do stuff that’s hard, which includes:  getting in shape, seeing suffering babies, recovering from jet lag and being gracious rather than snarky.

No doubt, you have your own lists of things that are easy and hard.  But just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done or we shouldn’t try to do it.  I say this because of my morning Bible reading in Philippians 2:7, where Paul says about Jesus, “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”  This verse speaks to Jesus entering the human race, from start to finish, and experiencing human existence.  From my perspective, I would think that might have been difficult for Jesus to do – but He did it nonetheless.

If God asks you to do hard stuff, ask for divine Help and try!  Whethere something is hard or easy, let’s pre-decide to remain obedient and faithful to God!

Lite & Fluffy

I recently had the opportunity to wear fake eye lashes & after a few hours, my eye lids were tired & droopy. Obviously, if I were to wear fake eyelashes on a regular basis, I’d need to find some eye lid muscle building exercises so they could hold up the extra eye lash weight. Or maybe I just could wear EXTRA HEAVY mascara to  get the eye lid muscles more toned. 

But alas, I don’t feel a calling nor interest in wearing fake eye lashes on a consistent basis, so I’m not concerned about my eye lid muscles ,)

Sometimes, I think we get concerned about things that are possibly not all that important in the grand scheme of things.  So as you think about your week, I’m encouraging you to ask God for divine input & priorities for what’s important, medium important & not important. Let’s prayerfully keep our priorities aligned with God’s essentials & not get lost in stuff that unimportant ,)

Mind the Mouth

“Oooooos!”  I wish I had a dollar for every time I said something I wish I could’ve retracted. And then on the other side, there are also many times I wish I would’ve said something but didn’t. Too much talking or too little talking, each have their own shortfalls. So having discretion & wisdom with our words is massively helpful & constructive!  

Here are a few ideas that could be helpful with minding the mouth:

  • Affirmation – being encouraging is very helpful! 
  • Graceful truth – important investments that help us grow! 
  • Saying good – words that speak life rather than death express genuine love!

Let’s Be Guilty

Recently, I acquired a traffic ticket for not having a license plate on my front bumper. As much as I’d like to argue the stupidity of such a fine, an administrative detail to fund the tax base from trivial oversights, I’m guilty. So I paid the fine. 

Hopefully, you & I are guilty of more important things such as:

  • Sincere compliments,
  • inexplainable generosity,
  • gentle & constructive truth,
  • extravagant forgiveness,
  • supernatural patience &
  • divine wisdom

Take a quick moment now to text someone a sincere complement so that we’re both guilty of living out genuine love. 

And I now have a license plate on my front bumper 🙂

Pick a Side

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 🙂

What Do You Think?

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 🙂

#selah

Taking Risks

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,
  • supernatural achievements,
  • 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 🙂

 

Bitter or Better?

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:

  1. when Peter betrayed Jesus & he went away, weeping bitterly;
  2. 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 🙂

Flounder or Focus

When things seem uncertain or murky, this can be very disturbing.  And if you’re like me, when I get unsettled, I can start to flounder and I find myself trying to find stability, certainty and comfort.  My focus can get really jumpy and I struggle to be settled in my soul.

So it helps me to remember to keep my focus on Jesus.  Indeed, there’s a great song by Darlene Zschech called, Jesus At the Center and listening to this helps me to keep Jesus as my central focus.  We don’t have to know all the answers, be all-sufficient, have a perfect plan or fix everything.  Jesus rightfully owns that space, so that we can keep our focus & worship centered on Him!

I like what Jehoshaphat says in 2Chron 20:12, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You!”

Let’s stay focused on Jesus instead of any worry, anxiety or uncertainty!

Growing or Stagnant?

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 🙂

Quick to Love

We are quick to love stuff that’s easy:  people who are nice to us, soft blankets, space heaters in Winter, chocolate, snowboarding, etc.  But when we see people who different, let’s pre-decide to be loving.  For example, you might prefer a more polished or professional appearance and thereby find the people with the same image easier to love.  Or maybe it’s the other way around.  Maybe you’re less polished and only match or when there’s a solar eclipse.  So maybe you find it easier to love people who have a more “eclectic” approach to their image or style.

And I’d say for all of us, it’s much easier to love people who are kind, respectful and gracious.  Those individuals who are sullen, grumpy, surly & even combative can be tricky to navigate.  So let’s not make Valentine’s Day a once a year holiday to celebrate love.  Let’s decide that everyday is our day to love, because we are loving people, regardless of who the recipient may be!

What’s Your Game?

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

In Step with the Holy Spirit!

Discourage or Encourage?

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!

Goodbye Before Hello

We’re rapidly coming to the end of this year & I’m sure this year has had some ups & downs for you – hopefully more ups than downs. Something I’d strongly encourage you to consider is saying goodbye to some things that are not helpful. There’s no sense in bringing unnecessary & unhelpful luggage into 2018. So this weekend is the prime opportunity to say goodbye & begin a fresh start. Here are some ideas for goodbyes:

  • hurts by forgiving,
  • unhealthy routines (replace w something constructive),
  • spending money / time in non-constructive ways,
  • negative mindsets / perspectives.

The only way that I can see me making these changes is by letting the Holy Spirit help me. Maybe that’s also true for you!! Feel free to pick up my newest book on the Holy Spirit to help you make a fresh start in 2018!