Outrage!!!

In our modern world, outage is common & I think even expected sometimes. It seems like we can get massively incensed at almost anything: driving infractions, mistakes on paychecks or bills, government shortfalls, moral failures in Christian leaders, etc
But here’s something to consider: if sin is the common human experience, why do we allow ourselves to be outraged when people sin or make mistakes? Wouldn’t we be more constructive to celebrate the moments when humans don’t behave sinfully? What about when a driver makes space for you instead of cutting you off? That’s noteworthy! What about when a government does something positive that exceeds your expectations? This might not be often, but that’s exactly why we should celebrate it! And when a Christian leader has a moral failure, let’s not be so much outraged as we should pray for them & have sincere compassion because we identify with our own shortfalls.
Let’s aim for less outrage & more celebration 🙂
Selah

Do You Like To Succeed?

I’ve been doing some new projects: trying my hand at making bread & working on getting my YouTube channel up & running! With my attempts, I’ve had lots of bumps along the road. For example, I forgot to turn on the mic & focus the lens for the video stuff & my bread stuff last week wasn’t tasty. But I keep trying & more importantly, I keep improving!
The principle of gradual improvement is a good thing to embrace because it helps us avoid the failure trap. This trap says that the failing as an action becomes failure, the noun. Just because you fail doesn’t make you a failure. Let’s be aware that failing is an integral part of the process for succeeding, when we stay in a state of continual learning. Succeeding is the consequence of learning from both failures & mistakes. So let’s celebrate the bumps along the road because they inch us closer & closer to success!!

Make Mistakes

Perfect is for heaven & practice is for earth. I’m the poster child for making mistakes, stubbing my toe & failing. I’m ok with that because I can hopefully encourage others to try, learn, grow & improve.

We get ourselves in a dangerous place when we quit or stop trying. Here are some things that could help you to keep trying:

  • Learn – what’s the last thing you learned, besides various facts? What skill are you learning?
  • Grow – sometimes it hurts to grow & this can be associated with growing pains. But growing means something is alive!
  • Step – a step is progress, even if it’s small 🙂

Redeeming Messups!

I’ve been reading about King David in 2 Samuel lately & this morning I was struck by the severity of his shortfall with Bathsheba.  There are a boatload of things he did wrong in that scenario:

  • should’ve been out fighting with Joab, but he stayed home
  • secretly watched a naked woman bathing
  • continued his interest in her by inquiring her name
  • brought her to his palace
  • slept with her, knowing she was married
  • tricked Uriah, her husband
  • sent Uriah to be killed in battle

Bathsheba became pregnant after sleeping with David, their son was born sick and died after seven days.  This story is an epic tragedy full of death, pain, suffering, selfishness, deception and loads more!  It seems to me that nothing good could come out this whole mess, ever, never and in no way.

Enter Solomon.

Solomon was considered one of Israel’s greatest kings!  He built the temple in Jerusalem, wrote two books of the Bible and was one of the wisest men who ever lived.  Solomon was the son of Bathsheba and King David, after the baby died who was conceived from David’s sin.

Let’s remember that there’s no weakness or failure in our lives that God cannot redeem & make into something entirely glorious!

What Is Success?

I can’t think of a person who wants to fail or be unsuccessful, but I think we need to be careful about how we define success. If success is our bank account, then we might be letting money be an idol. If success is our achievements, then we might be in danger of becoming self-absorbed. If success is how we look, then we run the risk of worshipping the image idol. 
There are lots of ways to frame or define success, but if we use the Bible to define success then let’s consider Jer 9:23-24. These verses say that success isn’t based on our wealth, our strength or our intelligence. Instead, success is based on the life pursuit of knowing God. 

May everything we do spring from this definition of success: that we live to know God better day after day, with the help of the Holy Spirit!

failure goes with training

Don’t be afraid to fail, but do be afraid to stop trying.

Sometimes, I think we don’t try to do things because we don’t want to fail or we’re afraid we won’t do well.  I’ve come to conclusion that failure is an essential ingredient for training and ultimately for success.  It’s seems to me that the road to success is littered with a fair amount of both failure and persistence.

I say this thinking about Joseph in the book of Genesis & his success in keeping nations from literally starving to death.  When you consider his leadership work in Egypt during an epic famine, it’s more than just a little impressive.  But consider that Joseph had lots of practice & failure along the journey to get him to a place where he could be so outrageously successful.  I would suggest that he was training and practicing in leadership with his family during the dreams and many colored coat thing.  Furthermore, he was training with his administrative & leadership skills in Potipher’s house & prison.  And all of this was for the ultimate purpose of rescuing thousands & possibly millions from starving when he became second in command in Egypt under Pharaoh.

So when we fail, let’s replace any potential shame with applause, that we tried to do something new or different and we can only get better from here!  The other side of failure could mean life for lots of people around you!  Be sure to let the Holy Spirit continue to help you practice and get better 🙂

The Path to Pentecost: Failure

Regardless of our best intentions, all of us fail.  The most encouraging example for me with failure is when I think about Jesus’ disciple, Peter.  I think he majorly failed when he betrayed Jesus & it seems to me that he was more than disappointed with himself with this failure (Luke 22:61-62).

In sharp contrast to Peter’s failure with betraying Jesus, a little more than six weeks after this downfall, Peter is the lead promoter to stand in front of thousands of people on the Day of Pentecost to be Jesus’ lead frontman.  This is quite the reversal in Peter’s life and this encourages us that

no failure that we’ve experienced can exceed Jesus’ power to redeem.

 So rather than hide or run from our failures, let’s sit at Jesus’ feet, be transparent and vulnerable, and yield to the Holy Spirit pouring love into our hearts (Rom 5:5), for redeeming each shortfall to lift up Jesus better than we could without that failure 🙂

Dont’ forget to grab your copy of Heavenly Help & be sure to write a review on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles & Goodreads!

Messing Up

I don’t like to mess up, full stop. I used to berate myself when I made mistakes, so I would often experience shame & guilt. Maybe you have some similar challenges or know someone who struggles with this as well. Here’s some hope:
Peter – I think Peter’s greatest shortfall was when he denied Jesus, not one time but three. In Luke 22:61-62 it says, “The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.” Thankfully, this isn’t the end of the story. In John 21, we read that Jesus went the extra mile to meet up with Peter after His resurrection. They had a very powerful conversation on the beach & Peter affirms three times that he loves Jesus. Jesus reconciles where we’ve messed up. 

Thomas – good ol’ Doubting Thomas (that’s an identity I’d prefer to skip); here’s the guy that brings doubt to the party when everyone is exuberantly proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection! John 20:25, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” And that’s exactly what happened. Jesus met Thomas at the point of his unbelief & helped him overcome this hurdle. 

Both Peter & Thomas were reconciled to Jesus despite their failures. Messing up isn’t the conclusion when we come to Jesus with the broken & dysfunctional in our lives. Reconciliation is one of the glorious results of redemption!

winning

FinishLine   I love to win & I hate to lose – in pretty much everything.  So I automatically like all of the Bible verses that talk about me winning, being victorious, more than a conqueror, etc.  On the opposite end, the Bible verses that talk about sacrifice, losing my life, crucifixion, pain, . . . . these aren’t nearly as appealing to me as the winning verses.  But life seems to have both the winning and losing experiences wrapped into each day:  driving, competing at work / school, controversial conversations, competing against myself, etc.

I think that it can feel much better to win than lose, but let me throw out a few perks that can happen from losing:

  • losing can reveal our character when we might be at our lowest
  • empathy seems to grow better when we lose rather than win
  • winning can be sometimes be an impediment to connecting with someone
  • losing can be a place where strength, endurance and roots can grow
  • sometimes humility grows better in the soil of losing more than winning

Please don’t take this blog to mean that losing is everything.  On the flipside, winning isn’t everything either.  Maybe “everything” boils down to genuine love 🙂

#selah

Help to Succeed

 I don’t like to fail. Actually, I LOATH failing so much that I sometimes refuse to try something altogether to avoid the failure experience & feeling, but that’s a different blog. Here are a few things that help me with success:

*eliminate distractions: as I type this, I’m in an airport with my husband with as river of people, noise & activities flowing by me. I’m focused because I’ve got my headphones in & I’m actively disciplining my attention to write something that will help both of us 🙂
*maintain routines in whatever area you want success: writing, exercise, cooking, friendships, Bible time, church, etc; routines are fertilizers for success 😉
*frame failures, weaknesses, flaws & shortfalls in the grid of practice lest you be tempted to quit altogether
*pray & play – asking for God’s help & add some balance with a little bit of “play”
*dont quit, ’nuff said on that ,)
What are some different pointers that have helped you with success?  Feel free to share your constructive thoughts 🙂
 

cheater lessons

Here’s the honest truth: without hair dye, I’m easily 60% grey.  To keep the grey at bay, I need to get my hair dyed at least every 6weeks or I start to look like a skunk with my roots growing out.  So my recent problem is that I haven’t been able to see my superhero hair stylist.  As such, I tried to buy some time with a box of cheater dye from Walmart, which apparently had expired because my hair is now various shades of purple, red, brown and even some pink, depending on your angle of observation.  All of these shades can be humorous to the observer, but not as funny to me 🙁

So here are my cheater lesson take aways:

  • there’s no substitute for professional help – this includes letting the Holy Spirit be our Professional Help 🙂
  • it’s healthy to admit mistakes and laugh at one’s self – valuable lessons in humility
  • I’m far more sympathetic with other’s mistakes when I can’t disguise or hide my own shortcomings & failures 🙂
  • cheating & shortcuts most often become expensive long cuts, so to speak 🙂

Time to Quit

When I was growing up, I had this really strong value about not quitting. Even when things might be discouraging, I didn’t quit. I didn’t quit taking piano lessons for 9years, despite burning through like 7 different teachers. When I started playing basketball, I didn’t quit even though I was thoroughly uncoordinated, slow, couldn’t jump & had no athletic ability (lots of heart but no natural gifting). I didn’t quit.
Now that I’m older, I’ve decided to start quitting stuff. Some things that we should all consider quitting include:
*achieving for the purpose of feeling significant & valuable – you’re inherently valuable because God loves you, full stop
*trying to please people – that’s a dead end
*trusting in human wisdom – consider reading 1Cor 2 for some interesting ideas related to wisdom

What else is worth quitting?

what looks like failure

I hate the word “fail” – it almost makes me have a visceral gagging reaction, borderline puking.  Thankfully, if I take a minute to pause, evaluate and collect myself, I don’t puke.  But if I’m not careful, I can easily throw things into the “failure” column and in a nanosecond find myself back to mental wrestling mat, almost down for the count.  As God & I were talking about this whole failure thing this morning, I was reminded about how Jesus looked hanging on the cross, beat to a bloody pulp and possibly personifying the ultimate failure.  He was betrayed by his friends, completely helpless, physcially obliterated and even yelling at God, “Why have You forsaken Me?!??”

Hanging on the cross, Jesus looked more like a failure than anything I’ve ever experienced & yet from God’s perspective, perhaps Jesus had never been more successful in His earthly existence, up to that point.  Let’s be careful that we don’t frame failure in the context of defeat, permanent or hopeless.  Jesus rose from the dead and living in our hearts, we have resurrection potential every day.

Be sure to pass this along to anyone you know who is struggling with seeming defeat or failure 🙂

do you want to be successful?

How’s that for a stupid question!?!!  I don’t start anything with the intent to fail & I most certainly do not like to fail, full stop.  But some of my thinking about success has been changing & I’m becoming more aware that many of my ideas about success have been more influenced by my American culture rather than the Bible.  My culture says that success is all about being bigger, better, more, power, stronger, wealthy, popular, image driven, new, hip, trendy & all things glitz & glam.  In the American culture, success isn’t about being broken, serving, homely, unpopular or tarnished, some of the things that Jesus personified & taught.  The more I think about success from a cultural versus a biblical perspective, I have to conclude that my culture and the Bible don’t always agree.  The important part of the disagreement is the side on which I chose to live.  If I have to chose between being successful based on the Bible or on my culture, I’m going to side with the biblical definition of success 🙂

How about you?

Doesn’t Meet Expectations

I was thinking about how Jesus often didn’t meet people’s expectations. Mostly, He was a frustration & aggravation to the religious leaders, an enigma to the political leaders & a catastrophic failure to His disciples as He hung on the cross. In some situations, Jesus far exceeded the expectations: He forgives & heals, He repairs & redeems, He confronts & consoles along with so much more!
I find this to be very comforting because there are times when all of us don’t meet the expectations of others. With Jesus’ help, we can disappoint in the right ways 🙂

When you make a bad decision

If you’re like me, from time to time, we make bad decisions. I don’t like it when I make a bad decision & I like the consequences even less. But what is worse than making a bad decision is not learning from such mistakes. So here’s a few things that might be helpful when dealing with bad decisions:
*mistakes & failures are an essential ingredient of success
*beating yourself up over mistakes adds zero value – own the mistake & mistake & move on
*blaming someone else tends to minimize our personal learning experience with the mistake or bad decision
*dont let the fear of a bad decision or mistakes paralyze you from trying
*consider all the people in the Bible who made mistakes & you’ll start feeling better quickly ,)

My lemon cake mistake ,)

I recently made a lemon cake for one of my kid’s birthdays & it didn’t turn out well. Of course, some of the failure was my fault because I didn’t totally follow the directions (the cake didn’t come out of the pan very well). Thankfully, the flavor was ok, but I was still not very happy with the overall outcome – a cake mistake.
When I was thinking about mistakes, I was reading this morning about how God has fearfully & wonderfully made us. When I thought about this, it began to sink into my thinking about how God doesn’t bake or make mistakes. When God does work, His work work is done perfectly, without failures or flaws. Now I’m not saying that we don’t make mistakes but I am saying that we must understand that God has made us & we are not mistakes or failures. Thankfully, God redeems our mistakes but God did not make a mistake when God made you 🙂

the difference between failing and be a failure

 I know that it’s July & most of us are enjoying the lovely Summer heat, but I’ve been thinking about snowboarding, my favorite winter sport 🙂

All of my family skis & I’m the only one who snowboards.  When they measure the success of a day skiing, they’ll often talk about the few number of times that they fell, or that they didn’t fall at all.  In contrast, when I was first learning to snowboard, I stopped counting how many times that I fell because I can’t count that high ,)  But all of those times falling were nothing more than stepping stones to help me to learn a sport that I now thoroughly enjoy.  I still fall from time to time when I snowboard & now when I fall, I make sure that it’s a REALLY GOOD FALL 😀

So my point is that failing doesn’t make us a failure unless we quit.  There are alot of things in which we can fail in life & these things are often the exact places where God would like to move the most in our lives with beauty, grace, poise and redemption.

I messed up :(

I hate it when I mess up & the bigger that I mess up, the more sick I get to my stomach. I hate it when I blow it & I’ve had my share of shortcomings & mistakes. I’ve been disrespectful to my husband (and repented), I’ve been insensitive w my words & hurt my friends, I’ve made selfish decisions & been called on the carpet for being selfish, and there are many more areas where I’ve messed up.
But here’s my encouragement for us: when Lot had messed up & was living in Sodom & having a conversations w God’s angels, they took him by the hand & let him away from destruction. There have been innumerable times when God has taken me by my hand & let me out of destruction. When this happens, I’m always humbled, grateful & my relationship w God always gets deeper & stronger. Be encouraged that when you mess up, God can take you by your hand & lead you out of destruction 🙂

dealing with discouragement

We all have things & times that are discouraging – a job that falls through, a relationship that goes sour, a poor grade at school, etc.  I don’t think that anyone is immune from having some discouraging moments in life.  But the key is what we do with those times & situations.  Here are some things that have been helpful to me with the discouragement topic:

  • just because I failed at something, that doesn’t make me a failure
  • keeping my eyes on God & His promises are more helpful than fixating on the discouragement (we can’t ignore problems, but we can’t let them own us either)
  • keep going – if I’m not careful, discouragement can get pretty heavy & bog me down, so I tell myself to take one step at a time, even if they’re baby steps
  • working out – physical exercise is a great way to burn off some discouragement
  • laugh – sometimes it helps me to be goofy, it lightens me up which is helpful because I tend to be pretty serious in my normal living
  • listen deeply – I find that God’s voice can really help speak light & truth to the discouragement that can try to reside in my thoughts

May you be strongly encouraged today that you are deeply loved & highly treasured!