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!

Love Well

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!

Don’t Lose Your Mind

When I walk in my house, there’s a key ring where I always hang my car keys. I do this so that I can find them easily & not waste time looking for them, nor getting frustrated. Keeping things in their place helps me not lose things.
The same thing applies to my mind. If I keep my mind set in the right place, I don’t “lose” it. There are definitely times when my mind gets lost in various quagmires – emotional rabbit trails, planning stuff that’s not productive, relationship struggles, anxieties, dwelling on past failures, etc.
If we want to keep our mind in a good place, not lost or meandering, then let’s remember to always “set” our minds and n the Spirit, so that we have life & peace – Romans 8:6 🙂

Redemption in Disguise

“I am Joseph, your brother.” I’ve been reading the story of Joseph in the last part of Genesis & I’m always astounded by the events that led up to these words. There are so many ways this story could’ve taken a bad turn.

  • Joseph could’ve let bitterness settle into his heart & he could’ve cruelly repaid his brothers for their malevolence.
  • Joseph’s dad could’ve died before learning that his son was alive & highly successful.
  • Joseph’s brothers could’ve continued to be the jerks they were with him when they sold him into slavery.

But none of these things happened & when Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers, he was fully committed to keeping his family alive & healthy, redeeming his family in a time of famine & desolation.
Let’s follow Joseph’s example in our daily living & relationships – committed to being agents of redemption, even when others may not recognize the redemption.

Do It Scared

There are lots of things that intimidate me such as: traveling to unstable places, mingling in a crowd of strangers, having difficult conversations & being around people whom I perceive as superior to me. While it’s good to acknowledge these places where I feel intimidated, it’s better to work through them rather than avoid them. In the past, the way I’d handle this intimidating stuff is to avoid these kinds of situations & distract myself with things I like better.
But growing means that I make active decisions to face the intimidating stuff & choose to grow. Sometimes, this means that even though I may be scared, I still push through the fear & intimidation – do it scared.
Feel free to join me on this adventure – not allowing your growth to be limited by your fears 🙂

Living in the Old or New?

Our church building is in the process of moving locations & it’s an interesting experience living in this “half-way between” place.  I feel like I’m in limbo a little bit because of the new place not being entirely settled & some of my stuff is still in the old place.  Furthermore, I have lots of memories associated with the old building & no memories or notable experiences yet with the new building.  We are also still having services in the old building, but the new building now houses all of our offices, so that’s where we do the day to day work during the weekdays.

This reminds me of what Paul says in 2Cor 5:17 about being in Christ & a new creature with the old things having passed away and new things have come.  There are times and experiences when I find myself living in my old, flesh nature, even though I know in my heart that I’m a new creation in Christ.  Let’s continue to move into and occupy our new nature that Jesus has purchased for us.  Here are a few possibly helpful ideas to consider:

  • don’t bring the old furnishings to the new creation:  stuff that’s broken & dysfunctional doesn’t need to continue in our new nature living.
  • celebrate and embrace:  be sure to celebrate & honor the past, but wholly & fully embrace the new creation / nature that Jesus has for you now!
  • keep moving into the new creation:  there were a few weeks when I procrastinated moving stuff out of the old building for various reasons.  From this lesson, I’m learning that it’s important to keep looking & moving toward the new creation that Jesus has made me to be.

Feel free to pass this along to your friends / family who are navigating this journey to be more & more like Jesus!

PS – here’s my latest youtube video that’s short, fun & encouraging!

Can’t or Won’t

I’ve come to realize that the stuff God asks me to do requires God’s help. Whenever I try to do God’s assignments without God’s help, I fall short. In this learning adventure, I’m also realizing that when I say, “I can’t”, it’s usually rooted in, “I won’t”. The difference between can’t & won’t relates to both ability & willingness.
So when God asks us to do something that we lack the ability to accomplish, let’s be careful not to be unwilling. The right answer to God is, “With Your help, I’m willing & I’ll try!” Let’s have a willing heart to walk in the Spirit!

Keep Growing, Keep Learning

I’m really excited about the recent release of my newest book on the Holy Spirit,

In Step With the Spirit!

I’ve had lots of really good feedback & people expressing how much this book is helping them to walk with he Spirit! This is massively encouraging & I LOVE IT!!
At the same time, I find myself going through some soul searching related to my walk with the Spirit.  Just because I write books about the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean that I’ve learned everything about this journey & I’m an expert. That’s a dangerous pitfall & I sense the Holy Spirit alerting me to this trap while beckoning me to nestle into the Spirit’s presence more & deepen my roots into our intimacy like never before. To this end, I’m wholly committed to walking in daily integration with he Holy Spirit, deeply rooted & abundantly fruitful! I hope you’ll agree to this adventure with the Holy Spirit in your life, taking your own steps with the Holy Spirit!

The Ugly Jogger

That would be me, hands down. When I take a jog outside, I suspect that animals scurry, the lithe alert melts down & it feels like my body is in perpetual revulsion mode. So why go through such suffering & cause others to writhe in agony?
Ok, over dramatic, but you get the point.
I jog on occasion for a few reasons:

  • I want to control my body rather than my body control me
  • Move it or lose it – I want to stay active for a long time & without action, this desire will turn into a painful delusion
  • Mental clarity – when my body is tired from physical exercise, oftentimes my mind becomes more alert & keen
  • Paul said that physical discipline is profitable, even if just a little bit – 1Tim 4:8

Sometimes what doesn’t feel or even look good, is still good for you 🙂

One Decision

What do you want? Are you interested in having a better education? Do you want to exercise more? Do you want a healthy marriage? Do you want a vibrant & growing relationship w God? What do you want?
Desires that we don’t achieve can become frustrating & discouraging. So it’s important to think about what we want, our end goal, in smaller steps like one decision at a time.
When we consider what we want & align that to our decisions, then we can make progress towards achieving our desires & goals. Les walk towards our goals & desires one decision at a time.

Coaching the Mental Game

We frequently think of the mental game in athletic terms – mental toughness, endurance, winning and the likes. If you watch a highly successful athlete before their game / competition, they’re often 100% dialed into the event before them. Sometimes, an athlete will even mentally go through the routine, for physically practicing what they will do for the event.
There’s a lot to be said for this mindset in our daily living. But the essential requirement for coaching our mental game is to have the right Coach. Bad coaching equals bad execution & outcomes. So who is your mental coach?
Let’s actively decide & allow the Holy Spirit to be our mental coach, setting our minds on the Holy Spirit & not stuff that would poison, distract or compromise our outcomes!

I Eat Crawdads

I grew up eating crawdads / crawfish & I really enjoyed them! There was a canal behind my house where my dad & used a big net to scoop up heaps of crawfish, cart them home & cook them up. Boy were they tasty!
But here’s the rub: crawdads are bottom feeders, so they eat the garbage at the bottom of lakes & canals, making them inherently unhealthy.
Sometimes what is tasty to our flesh is unhealthy to our spirit & we have to make wise choices about what we allow to come into our hearts & minds. Let’s be determined to set our minds above & not allow our minds to become bottom feeding trash consumers 🙂

Driven or Directed?

I desperately want to be led by the Holy Spirit, in every area of my life – my decisions, conversations, priorities, relationships, etc. If I’m honest, however, sometimes I’m more driven than directed.
For me, here are some key indicators that I’m being flesh driven rather than Spirit led:

  • my flesh tends to dictate my actions.
  • my perspective gets very self-absorbed.
  • I can be more results oriented than relationship attentive – achievements become more important than connecting with people.
  • Fear often dilutes any expression of genuine love from me.
  • I become more consumer minded rather than thinking how to be generous.

Let’s be careful that we stay in Step with the Spirit & not controlled by our flesh 🙂
Be sure to pre-order my newest book about how to stay In Step with the Holy Spirit!