Futile Pursuits

“You must not turn aside for then you would go after futile things which cannot profit or deliver because they are futile.” 1 Samuel 12:21

Samuel spoke these words to the Israelites after Saul was confirmed as their first king & I can’t help but think that these words apply to my life. Do I pursue futile things? I want to answer, “no”, but if I’m truthful, I pursue futile things. For example, when I’m painfully honest, I pursue popularity & applause from people, getting frustrated when I don’t get enough. I pursue an adrenaline rush when I consider adding kite boarding to my hobby list. I pursue futile things when I get sidetracked with making image more important than genuine love. I pursue futile things when I let my intellectual appetites undermine my spiritual development. These dont have to be exclusive, but I know myself well enough to know that my intellect can lead me on endless rabbit trails away from walking with the Holy Spirit.
What might be some futile things in your life that would distract you from growing in your walk with Jesus?

Attention Deficit Disorder

While we often think of ADD being diagnosed in childhood or related to schoolwork, I’d suggest that all of us wrestle to varying degrees with keeping our attention & focus. We even have fidget toys to help our mind stay focused! Do you ever struggle with being able to focus? It seems like there are always interruptions, distractions & time stealers, to say nothing of the mental & emotional tendencies that can be challenging.

I’ve been really meditating and on the whole attention & distraction conundrum for a few weeks now. While it’s essential that we pay attention to what’s happening around us, our work, school, to-do lists, etc. I think we also have to consider what we think about & what our emotions focus on – internal focus & not just the outside.

If Elijah had been only focused on the external, he would have missed the still small voice. When Peter became scared (emotions), from looking at the wind, he began to sink in the water that he had just been walking on.

Be careful with your attention because it’s an essential ingredient for your destination!

Chasing a Laser

I’m currently watching my friend’s daughter use a laser pointer for entertainment, with their cat chasing the laser. She shines the laser on the floor & the cat pounces on the red dot, only to find that the dot has leaped beyond his grasp to another spot on the floor. Looks like it could provide some amusement for at least several minutes. 
Seems like the devil gets us in this game as well. He dangles something shiny in front of us, we pounce & find that the shiny bait evaporates to reappear somewhere else. We think that being pretty is the same thing as being significant. We think that being smart makes us valuable. We think that achievements or promotions make us important. 

While our looks, intelligence & achievements are important, let’s remember that our value & significance is because Jesus loves us, full stop ūüôā

Deeper Than the Surface

I’m noticing today that my intimacy with God hasn’t been as deep in the last few weeks & of course I want this to change. So I’m thinking back about what’s been going on in my life that could be contributing to this malaise. I certainly acknowledge that there’s the normal ebb & flow that happens in any relationship. In my walk with God, however, I want to pay attention really well so I don’t settle for shallow when I can have deep, intimate & flourishing. The recent things in my life that I’m observing include some of the ongoing challenges with the concussion recovery – sleep challenges, energy & focus struggles. I’ve also noticed that there have been some insecurity flare ups that have definitely sidetracked me some. There’s also the challenges of schedule changes with my kids being out of school. 
None of these things can break my relationship with God, but they can certainly distract my focus & reliance so that I don’t live in the deeps with God. So I’m leaning into God & asking for more Heavenly Help. I’m also endeavoring to listen & pay attention better. I’m also keen to be less independent & more reliant on the Holy Spirit. Anyone want to join me? 

Jesus at Work

  
Happy December to you!! This month can overflow with festivities, activities, pressures & responsibilities on the back drop of celebrating Jesus’ birth. So I like to have some fun with the premise of looking for Jesus, everywhere. 
With this premise in mind, I’ll be blogging about looking for & finding Jesus throughout this holiday season. Some blogs will be playful & kind of dorky, but the challenge I put before you & me is to keep looking for Jesus, a central priority, in this busy & demanding season. Love the reason, Jesus, and manage the season ūüôā

a million little pieces

Ever had a day when your mind is more easily distracted than usual? ¬†Today, I find myself flitting from one thing to another, getting distracted, remembering to go do a quick task, then getting sidetracked with just little distractions and . . . . . ¬† So I have a million little things I need to finish & all of which are only partially complete, hence the title to this blog, a million little pieces. ¬†Unfortunately, I don’t have unlimited time to accommodate this kind of craziness, so I need to crank down on my focus and stick to one task & finish it before I move to something else – like finishing this blog before I try to figure out why the music isn’t playing on my phone, or checking emails, FB, etc.

All of this helps me appreciate all the more when Jesus applauded Mary for the Main Thing, the main thing in Luke 10:42 ūüôā

Focus grasshopper, there’s lots to get done!

Rustle Bustle

Seems like we all juggle lots of things: kids schedules with sports, practices, dr appointments, work responsibilities, relationship stuff, . . . the hustle, bustle & rustle of everyday living.
In all of these things, let’s be mindful to nurture in our hearts our relationship with Jesus. Lots of things want your attention so we must daily chose to fellowship with Jesus beyond the quickie “help!!!” requests. While these are important & good, our hearts are designed for deep fellowship with Jesus so lets yield to our design & align our values, focus & time to nurture the deeps with Jesus!

Rustle Bustle

Seems like we all juggle lots of things: kids schedules with sports, practices, dr appointments, work responsibilities, relationship stuff, . . . the hustle, bustle & rustle of everyday living.
In all of these things, let‚Äôs be mindful to nurture in our hearts our relationship with Jesus. Lots of things want your attention so we must daily chose to fellowship with Jesus beyond the quickie ‚Äúhelp!!!‚ÄĚ requests. While these are important & good, our hearts are designed for deep fellowship with Jesus so lets yield to our design & align our values, focus & time to nurture the deeps with Jesus!

praying & distractions

Have you ever struggled to pray because of various distractions? ¬†This morning happened to be one of those times for me & that can be really frustrating because if you’re like me, you really want to pray! ¬†So perhaps I can give you a few ideas that could be helpful:

  • tell God that you’re having a hard time praying because of the various distractions. ¬†I say something like this, “God, I really want to pray right now, but I’m having a hard time because I find myself to be distracted with all kinds of things, some things important & some things not so much.”
  • sometimes I will write down what those distractions are – maybe making a to-do list, or briefly writing out the various things about which I’m concerned
  • take a pause and listen / wait – often after I do the first 2 things above, it gets easier for me to pray, listen and to be more present with God than the various distractions
  • don’t get way frustrated with yourself – commit to have some prayer time in your life everyday so that on those few days that seem to filled with distractions, you can be certain that there will also be some totally amazing times with God that will be nothing short of glorious – all realtionships can have some ups & downs
  • sometimes it helps me to review a verse or passage from the Bible that has seemed to really capture my attention & thoughts – in these times, I give myself to exploring this verse or passage with God & I find these times to be particularly rich with God’s presence

focus is really important

Several years ago, I took a lesson in mountain biking and I learned REALLY quickly that where you focus is where you go. ¬†I watched this happen with 2 of my mtn biking classmates who had major crashes because their focus became gridlocked on a hairpin turn. ¬†When I came to the same hairpin turn, my instructor kept yelling at me to look past the curve. ¬†My brain started to argue, but I decided to obey my instructor & I turned my head to see where the trail was going after the curve – when I turned my head to look at the trail after the curve, my bike naturally followed my focus and I never crashed in the hairpin curve. ¬†This lesson about focus has helped me in all kinds of ways because it’s a continual reminder that I need to keep my eyes / focus on Jesus and not to get gridlocked on difficulties, impossibilities, etc – look past the curve. ¬†Further to this point, I’ve been thinking about a really great verse in Ps 25:15, “My eyes are continually on You and you will pluck my feet from the net.”

With this in mind, here are a few things that help me to keep my eyes / focus on Jesus:

  • good praise & worship tunes,
  • being thankful
  • memorizing verses
  • prayer

Do you have things that help you to keep your focus on Jesus? ¬†Please share! ¬†ūüôā

here’s some yucky honesty

I find that there are times when I keep myself conveniently occupied and busy in ministry work – serving, connecting with people, preparing messages, studying, etc.¬† From the outside point of view, these all seem to be good, constructive, kingdom building activities and they most certainly can be!¬† If I’m going to be brutally honest, however, sometimes these external¬†activities can be a distraction for me to conveniently neglect the uncomfortable internal¬†work that I can feel God pressing me on to be a stronger, deeper and more committed follower of Jesus.¬† With that being said, I don’t think we need to neglect the outside work of ministry to grow internally – but if we don’t follow the Holy Spirit, sometimes the outside work can be a convenient distraction from the inside work that can be uncomfortable that¬†God wants to do in our hearts.¬† Perhaps God wants our external interactions and living¬†to be a consequence of our rich interior fellowship with God (interior designing for exterior living)

¬†ūüôā

hearing God speak in a LOUD world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our lives tend to be really full with activities, relationship, things we have to do, twitter, facebook, concerns, etc. ¬†If you’re like me, sometimes I have a hard time hearing God in the midst of the noise of life. Indeed, sometimes His voice seems so small that it is a stark contrast to the loudness of everything else. ¬†Here’s something that you might find useful in listening to God:

H – help! ¬†Ask God to help¬†you to hear His voice (it’s interesting to note that Jesus called the Holy Spirit our Helper)

E – eliminate distractions. ¬†Is there some¬†“noise” you could eliminate? Switch off some unnecessary noise & perhaps this “off” could be an “on” switch for hearing God better

A – available. ¬†Make some time on a consistent basis (I’d suggest daily) to be available to God – for Him to speak with you on whatever topic He choses, or even just to be in His presence, if He choses to be quiet.

R Рrevere.  It is often true that whatever we honor & revere tends to grow in our lives & the reverse is also true.  I find that I express my honor & reverence in lots of different ways, but very often by how I spend time.  Time can be a very honest reflection of what is important in our lives, especially our discretionary time

Have fun listening & watching for God ūüėÄ

some thoughts on being still & quiet

¬†I made a comment this morning on my fb page about how it helps to hear God when we are still & quiet. ¬†I wanted to follow up on this comment because I think that for many of us, it’s difficult to be still & quiet. ¬†We live in a really busy, loud, active & demanding world. ¬†Between our smart phones, the internet, twitter, conventional media, family schedules & demands, etc, it can be seemingly impossible to find quiet & still. ¬†Furthermore, when we do get a moment to catch our breath, our mind is usually racing trying to organize schedules, figure out what we need to do next, hum a favorite tune, etc. ¬†Still & quiet seem like elusive & ethereal ideals for people that have lived in a different era or even a different planet.

But for me, still & quiet is essential and it takes some intentionality. ¬†For me, I’ve found it super helpful to get up early before everyone else to acquire some stillness before the demands of the day hit the fan. ¬†Furthermore, I am also intentional about when & how much music & external stuff I listen to, focus being the operative word.

When I’m still & quiet, with God’s help, I focus my attention toward God with the intent of giving the Trinity my undivided attention (without distraction, interruption or competition). ¬†I need to wholly be with my Creator & yes, this requires discipline, some failures & some successes. ¬†But the rewards of greater intimacy & fellowship with God are indescribably worth the efforts & discipline – indeed, living water, breath of life & more.