The Opposites

Conventional thinking tells us that if we:

  • work harder, we’ll go farther;
  • study more, we’ll be smarter;
  • promote ourselves, we’ll gain notoriety;
  • exercise & eat right, we’ll feel better.

To a degree, these are all true. But the ultimate fulfillment to going father, being smarter (more wise), visibility & feel good about ourselves isn’t sustained in conventional nor fleshly thinking.
Jesus tells us that the way to being fulfilled is through being committed to kingdom opposites:

  • The last will be first;
  • the way ahead is through humility & service;
  • exercise & discipline are corollaries to soul health;
  • seeking God’s kingdom first sets everything in proper alignment to live a of fulfillment & reward!

Sniper Focus

I’m easily distracted & that can be very challenging. There are always external distractions like the phone alerts, watching people get upset about small stuff, podcasts for listening, multiple books I want to absorb, tasks undone, etc. Then there’s also the internal distractions – feelings that can be challenging, creative ideas that could be fun, stress from impending deadlines, etc.
Thankfully, I met a new friend this morning on my way to catch a plane. She was studying Philippians 4:7-8, which talks about keeping our thoughts focused on constructive & beneficial stuff. For me, this means that I stay intentional about not getting distracted. It also means that I keep my thoughts grounded in the Bible so I don’t mindlessly roam away from God. Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit gives us sniper focus so that we live a life that hits the mark & overflows with divine purpose.

The Greener Grass

There’s a common saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” And in our moments of honesty, we can often recognize the error of this thinking. This mindset happens when we look at another person & wish we had their life.

  • “I wish I was smart like they are”
  • “I wish I had their coordination or athleticism”
  • “They have their life totally scooped – I wish I could be like them”
  • “I wish I could be that kind of a leadyer, wife / husband, parent, worshipper, etc”

Here’s the truth: we are each uniquely designed with the suitable talents, gifts, opportunities, etc for the divine plan for which God made us. The grass for our path is appropriately green, distributed & manicured for the journey that God has designed for us. So my take-away point is this: keep you eyes on God & decide to trust God more than what you see, experience or feel

What’s Enough?

I’ve just returned from a 10day trip to Cambodia & Bangladesh – an amazing trip with some intense ups & downs. Now that I’m home, I find myself struggling to keep up. I can’t seem to find enough energy, get enough sleep or have enough time to navigate through each day proficiently.
I suspect that maybe you’ve had a season like this & nothing seems to be enough.
Here’s some ideas that could help:

  • Let the Holy Spirit direct you rather than drive yourself to frantic burnout
  • Be mindful of those moments of rest the Holy Spirit provides & be content in this provision, even if it’s just a few minutes
  • God’s grace is sufficient & His strength is abundant – ask for more!
  • Remember that this is likely a season & not a lifestyle.

Enough Is Enough

I’m not alone with feeling that I’m not enough. You & I both have our weak spots for feeling or thinking that we’re inadequate, be that smart enough, cool enough, pretty enough, social enough, rich enough, humble enough, strong enough, etc.
It’s very liberating to embrace the truth that we are NEVER enough, by ourselves. I’ve been in innumerable situations where it was more than obvious that I wasn’t adequate, not enough & in way over my head. In these occasions, it always helps me to remember that I have continuous access to more than abundant & adequate supply – the Holy Spirit, my Heavenly Help!
If you haven’t read my book, Heavenly Help, grab a copy so you can see how the Holy Spirit is more than enough in you for any situation you face!

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!

Miraculous Provision

What areas in your life are needy? It seems that often the quick answer is “money.” But if we pause for a second, our answer might be more along the line of more time, wisdom, discipline, strength, better relationships, genuine love, courage, patience, etc.
This morning I read how Jesus multiplied the fish & bread to meet the hunger needs of thousands of people. His disciples came to Him with the need – too many people & a paltry amount of provision. To this problem, Jesus asked them what they had. After identifying what was there, Jesus blessed the provision rather than cursed the need or lack.
Let’s be sure that we’re grateful for what we have, even if it seems like it’s not enough. Then let’s utilize what we have with thanksgiving & our eyes on Jesus to keep providing & multiplying!

Watch OUT!!!!!

Don’t text & drive. Why? When our attention is divided, the quality of our focus decreases & our ability to engage declines. Simple translation: you’ll get in a wreck 🙂
I would suggest that the same principle applies to spiritual values as well. Because we live in a tangible & natural world, it’s easy to get our focus / attention on natural & flesh stuff. But if we become entirely absorbed with natural stuff, we’ll have a spiritual wreck. To be sure, we need to have balance with our focus & attention. Let’s be sure to give our attention to spiritual growth & not only natural urgencies & inclinations.

Bad News

I hate bad news. I don’t like bad reports from the doctor, I don’t like getting bad report cards from my kids & I don’t like hearing discouraging stuff. But it happens, no matter how much we plug our ears, distract ourselves or attempt to deny what we hear. So what to do?

Here are some helpful suggestions for when you get bad news:

  • Face it – denial of bad news only makes it worse. Romans 4:19 says that Abraham faced the reality of his aged body, but didn’t weaken in his faith
  • Get wisdom – life improves with wisdom but deteriorates with the absence of wisdom. So ask God for wisdom on how to handle the bad news – James 1:5
  • Faith focus – bad news can become debilitating if we don’t keep our focus on God & His ability to do the impossible – Luke 1:37
  • Pray more – when I get bad news, it’s easy for me to worry. Let’s encourage each other to pray more than we worry – Ps 55:22

Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know who’s struggling with bad news!

Genuine Jesus!

I’ve been watching a trend across our nation pertaining to churches & marketing. There’s no shortage of articles or content being generated about the decline in church attendance across the generations as well as a significant concern related to the seeming increase of moral depravity. Consequently, we have loads of marketing strategies to reach a younger demographic, become more appealing in our doctrine with more trendy & hip music, along with clothing adjustments & scheduling conveniences. I think all of these things are great, with one MAJOR interjection (or interruption):

JESUS

In my brief years on this planet, I’ve come to see that genuine Jesus is nothing but altogether irresistible, full stop. Indeed, the original marketing plan that God has laid out for us is in John 12:32, where Jesus says, “If I be lifted up, I’ll will draw all men unto Me.”
In our efforts to attract people to Jesus, let’s never make it ever about anything more than genuine Jesus!

Attention!! Attention!!

https://youtu.be/t0XBCrhkvMw

Do you ever struggle to focus? I definitely struggle with my focus & I’m learning that it’s easier for me to focus on some things more than others. For example, I’m not very good at listening to stuff, but I’m better at reading. Some people like video content & find it easier to pay attention. So here’s some good news for the video peeps! I started my own YouTube channel & I’m uploading a series once a week. The series I’m working on is about prayer & it’s really excellent!! For the prayer series, each episode is short & very relevant!
Feel free to subscribe & pass on the link to your friends who are interested in prayer!

Watch & Pray

I appreciate watches that work & these do not. Using an unreliable watch is kind of like driving on a tire that needs air – pretty soon, stuff gets messed up! Schedules go awry, anxiety increases, appointments get missed & people get frustrated, not just a little. But all of these challenges can be avoided with a functional watch.
This goes to my point with prayer. Keeping our prayer life in tune, steady & practiced is essential for our internal stability. When my prayer life goes awry, it’s only a matter of time until life hits the fan.
Who’s up to watch & pray with me?

The Lethal Hangnail

“The devil would kill ya with a hangnail if he could!” My dad had lots of fun quotes like this. From my childhood, I remember people laughing at this quote & I smiled like I understood, but I didn’t get it. Now that I have some life tread under my belt, I get it.

The enemy of your soul is out to rattle your cage, poison your thinking & sideline you with anything possible, even a hangnail.
Don’t let him – full stop.
Some helpful pointers:

  • Keep your eyes in Jesus.
  • Don’t quit.
  • Keep loving wholly.
  • Pray intensely.
  • Feed yourself the Bible everyday.
  • Chose faith & reject doubt.

Never forget that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world!

What Are You Thinking?

“A penny for your thoughts?”

This is a question people often ask when someone seems deep in thought or reflective.  It’s a good question to ask when you’re getting to know someone or when a person seems unusually quiet.  But it’s also a good question to ask ourselves from time to time, forcing us to take a thought inventory.

Taking an inventory of our thoughts is important because it lets us see places in our thinking where we can make some helpful adjustments.   Indeed, consider some of the things Paul says about our thoughts:

  • 2 Cor 10:5, “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”
  • Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think on these things.”
  • Rom 8:6, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace”

Let’s be attentive to our thoughts because they influence our lives in very powerful but subtle ways!

The Best

I like getting better, growing & improving. When I was growing up, we had a trampoline & for a season, I was thoroughly committed to getting really good on the trampoline, with various tricks & flips. The principle remains true for me to this day, with always trying to get better. But alas, the Holy Spirit spoke with me to pause on my improvement plan because of this principle: God’s ways & thoughts can’t be improved.
So we would be wise to chase God’s plans, ways & thoughts because they are the BEST!!! Isaiah 55:8-9 🙂

Reinforce the Good

“I killed a lion & a bear, so this uncircumcised Philistine will be like them!” These were the words David to answer Saul’s uncertainty about David killing Goliath. While I appreciate that it’s very dangerous to live in a state of denial, it’s also essential to keep our focus on faith & not fear or doubt. We absolutely have challenges & struggles that have varying degrees of intensity & stress.

Let’s be careful, however, that we continue to reinforce the good things so we don’t get overwhelmed by giants, problems & pressure.
Here are some ideas that could help to reinforce the good:

  • Keep some encouraging Bible verses handy to review
  • Pay attention to negative stuff that could be tainting your thoughts (tv, social media, music, etc)
  • Encourage your friends & let them encourage you
  • Pray instead of complain

Feel free to share this with your friends / family!

Stay Focused

What you focus on is where you go. I learned this with great intensity when I took a lesson for downhill mountain bike riding. In a particularly harrowing part of the trail, our instructor kept yelling, “LOOK PAST THE CURVE!!!” A few of my classmates didn’t listen to the instructor & they hardcore crashed, flipping over the handlebars. What the instructor was yelling didn’t make sense to me, but I decided to do what he said, nonetheless. When I followed the instructions, my bike followed my focus.
Lots of times, it’s easy to focus on emergencies, crises, worries, etc. When we obsess with struggles & uncertainties, it’s easy to crash in the curve because our focus gets off of Jesus. Let’s be sure that we keep our focus & thoughts on Jesus, the author & perfectos of our faith – Hebrews 12:2!

Stay Simple

I’m flying back to the US today from Bangladesh, so it feels like the day that never ends. When I get toward the end of these long journeys, I get really punchy & goofy. But I also try to keep things as simple as possible because my mental ability to do anything complicated gets close to non-existent. So “simple” is my operative word.

I think keeping stuff simple is generally a good rule of thumb. I remind myself that simple is loving God, loving people & loving myself. With all of our technology, communication abilities, etc, let’s never get so sophisticated & savvy as to forego the core basics that Jesus taught: love is the defining characteristic of anyone who follows Jesus!

What Seduces You?

Nothing.

That’s a stupid question.
But actually, it’s a very important question because what seduces us can give us insight into weak spots & things that can possibly cause us to go off the rails.
For me, I’m a bit of an odd duck. What seduces me isn’t chocolate, wealth, image, clothes, etc. I’m more enamored with intellectual stuff, March Madness & the NCAA college basketball tournament, along with adventure & exhilaration.
Let’s be sure that we keep the stuff that interests us in proper alignment to our love for Jesus. If I let my interests in college basketball, intellectual pursuits or thrill seeking get more intense than my passion & love for Jesus, then I’ve become a victim to idolatry.
We don’t intentionally set out to be idolaters but that’s the problem with seduction. It’s subtle & creeps up on you often before you recognize it.
This is one of the reasons I so deeply love the Holy Spirit who keeps me away from deception & distortion while staying passionately in love with Jesus! Let’s pay attention to the things that seduce us!