Doing Tough Stuff

There are lots of things that can be difficult: being consistent with exercise, missions trips, hostile or dicey conversations, regulating ones eating habits & lots more.  I don’t like to do tough stuff, nor did Jesus.  I say this because of His words in Gethsemane, “If possible, please take this cup from Me.”
So how do we go about doing tough stuff? Here are a few suggestions & I’d be keen to get your ideas in the comments as well!

  • Keep the end goal in mind: what is your desired outcome?
  • Be wholly present in the difficulty because often these struggles need our whole attention, energy & talents
  • Pray: divine help is always an upgrade!
  • Surrender to God’s will even when it conflicts with your desires 🙂

Path to Pentecost: Jesus?

Before there were planes, trains & automobiles, people used camels, donkeys & the sandal express to resolve their transportation needs.  So once upon a time there were a couple of guys walking from one town to another and a random stranger joined their pedestrian ambulation.  There ensued a heated conversation about the current events of that time: something about a very magnetic man getting brutally murdered by the key religious leaders of the region & supposedy this murdered but magnetic guy had risen from the dead, according to the rumor on the street.  The stranger seemed unaware of these current events, but somehow started a religious conversation that caused a holy heart burn in these fellow travellers.  Long story short, these guys came to understand after Jesus disappeared that He was talking with them along their journey, even though they didn’t recognize Him.  Luke 24

Just because we know about Jesus doesn’t mean that we always recognize Him in the events or journey of our daily living.  I think that part of our Path to Pentecost is letting the Holy Spirit help us recognize Jesus better in our day to day existence.

Being Honest

“How come all these awful things have happened?”  Ever ask God this kind of a question?  I think probably everyone alive has asked God some variation of this question & the Bible shows people asking God the same stuff. 

I’m reading about Gideon & I seriously appreciate his honesty with the angel at the beginning of their conversation: If God is with us, how come all this stuff has happened to us? This was in reply the the angel’s salutation, “The Lord is with you, valiant warrior” 
Gideon’s initial behavior & words didn’t really confirm that he was a valiant warrior & if we are honest, there are lots of times when our behavior & words don’t express that we are valiant.  Nevertheless, God knows our substance & potential so God speaks to our true self rather than the smokescreen insecurities we wear. Not only does God call us by our true identity but God also helps us know who He is, as Gideon acknowledges when he experiences God as the Lord our peace in Judges 6:23-24. 

So let’s make it a premium value to be honest with God so that we can honestly know God 🙂

hot topic: Ferguson Protests

Most of us are aware of the decision of the Grand Jury yesterday with the case related to Michael Brown’s death, along with the resulting rioting, demonstrations and violence.  I’ve been thinking and praying about this for quite awhile & I’m extremely concerned about what is happening in St Louis.

  1. I’m concerned because there has obviously been a problem that’s been growing there for quite awhile and Michael Brown’s death and the resulting Grand Jury decision is possibly  the match that has ignited such a violent outburst of anger and frustration.
  2. I’m concerned because our nation has had a tumultuous journey in resovling ethnic conflicts.
  3. And I’m concerned to my core because the idea that violence can solve injustices has never proven to be a constructive road for progress and resolution.

mlk-2 When you look at history in the last century, some of our best leaders who were catalysts for constructive change in very unjust situations include:  Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.  As we commit to pray for Ferguson and the construtive resolution to this area, let’s consider the wise words of Martin Luther King Jr:  “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate;  only love can do that.”

May Jesus help us to bring peace where there is strife, love for hate, restoration for destruction and reconcilation for isolation.

 

another courageous conversation: concern

 I know I worte yesterday about Joseph having a courageous conversation related to his boss’s wife trying to hit on him, but Joseph had other courageous conversations as well.  Another example of his courageous conversation is his discussion with some servants of Pharoah who had been thrown in prison w Joseph – the cupbearer & baker.  In this conversation with these men, Joseph interpreted their dreams.  One would live & be restored to his position under Pharoah & the other would die. 

Now, here’s why I think Joseph’s conversation with these men was courageous – he was concerned.  The reason I think Joseph’s concern was courageous is because the opposite of concern, apathy & selfishness, are the coward’s reply to the needs of others.  When these men told Joseph their dreams, there wasn’t much that Joseph could do to help them, but he could use his God-given talents with interpreting dreams to express his concern. 

In a similar way, there are probably some people in our lives with whom we need to have a courageous conversation to express our concern & care – maybe concern about their choices, relationship w God, etc. 

Apathy is for cowards, but concern is for the courageous

courageous conversations

 Wow!  This is certainly a theme in my life right now!  A courageous conversation is a discussion that requires courage – it can require courage for a variety of reasons.  As such, let’s look at Joseph (in Genesis 37-42) to look at 1 of his courageous conversations:

Maybe Joseph’s first courageous conversation required bravery because of his convictions.  Consider his dialogue with Potipher’s wife, who wanted to make out w Joseph.  When you read what Joseph said in Gen 39:8-9, you can see that he needed courage to say what he said:   “But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge.  There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?'”

Convictions require courage & when we are asked to do something that violates our convictions, we must draw on God’s strength & wisdom to share with diplomacy & bravery that we will not violate those convictions.  Let’s be brave & gracious in our conversations, with God’s wisdom, strength & love 🙂

help me with some people skills

When I was growing up, my parents would always encourage me to develop my people skills – I still need to work on this area.  I remember them saying that while I could learn lots of book knowledge, I would USE people skills every day and they’re right.  People skills are really important – so here are a few things that I’m learning & I would LOVE for you to add your insights on what you feel are important people skills to develop 🙂

Here are some ideas to get our conversation  started:

  • respect – regardless of your frame of mind or preconceived ideas, each person with whom we interact needs respect, even if they’re behaving in disrespectful ways.  I’ve never regretted being respectful, but I’ve always regretted being disrespectful
  • serving others – when I get my mind to look for ways to help or serve others, rather than expecting to be served, I’m almost always deeply content & satisfied in ways that far eclipse the times when I am served
  • humility – the attitude of “all that & a bag of chips” has never really worked for me;  it almost always sabotages any kind of constructive interaction
  • encouragement – I’ve found that people flourish & blossom with encouragement & genuine praise more than put downs & degradation.
  • silence is golden – its very important to screen your thoughts before they’re expressed from your lips.  When I say less, it seems that people think more of me – what a shock ,)

So what are some people skills you have or would like to have?  Whadya think???