Measuring Spirituality

In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees, scribes & religious leaders considered themselves to be very spiritual. They ate the right stuff, kept religious holidays & the weekly Shabbat, meticulously observed social protocols, wore proper clothing, prayed with public observation & lots more. From a casual bystander, these leaders paid rigorous attention to religious details, procedures, pious particulars. By the  measures of these religious leaders, they were very spiritual.

Jesus didn’t agree nor did they agree with Him. Jesus was a friend of sinners, drunkards & tax collectors. He didn’t keep to religious protocols nor comply with fastidious piety.

If we measure our spirituality by Jesus’ standards, we’ll be loving, generous, compassionate, encouraging, forgiving & welcoming.  Let’s be careful about what we use to measure our spirituality!

Doing Difficult Projects

I need to do some heavy duty Spring cleaning, like cleaning out the kitchen drawers & window washing.   There are some other big projects I need to work on like finishing my Saving Moses book, having some difficult conversations, wrestling with some internal challenges and lots more.  Because these projects are hard for me, I tend to put them off, try to ignore them, justify not doing them because I’m busy, hope they’ll evaporate or do other stuff to avoid these difficult projects.

But alas, these difficult projects don’t disappear.  So now what?

Here are some things that are helping me to work on various difficulties:

  • prayerfully look the project square in the eye, so it can be less intimidating
  • consider a step to move forward with making some progress with this project
  • be gentle but firm with yourself to keep going forward
  • celebrate progress and not just perfection or completion
  • nestle into God’s unchanging and ever faithful love for you – this helps you to live from a more healthy mindset 🙂

Recognizing Jesus

On the heals of Easter, it’s tempting to move on to what’s next.  Stuff such as Spring cleaning, Mother’s Day, graduation prep, etc can require our attention so much that Easter could quickly be forgotten.  But let’s keep in mind that after Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to folk unexpectedly.  And maybe it was difficult to recognize Jesus because there was lots of emotional intensity that made recognition more difficult.  Here are a few emotions that maybe cause us to struggle to recognize Jesus:

  • fear:  the disciples huddled together in fear after Jesus’ death.  Jesus appeared to them despite their fear
  • grief:  maybe it was difficult for Mary Magdalene to recognize Jesus in the Garden after His resurrection because grief was so overwhelming.  Jesus appeared to her, nonetheless
  • uncertainty:  on the road to Emmaus, some of Jesus followers were trying to figure out what had just happened after His crucifixion and “disappearance.”  Jesus walked with them on their journey and helped them understand what just happened
  • doubt:  Thomas was missing when Jesus made His first appearance to the disciples after His resurrection.  Jesus came back to untangle Thomas’ doubt.

Let’s keep looking for Jesus because we can find and experience Him everyday because He’s alive!

What’s Concerning?

I read this morning, in Jesus’ Sermon in the Mount in Matthew, about eating, drinking, clothing & time. Jesus raises some questions we often think about:

What will I eat?  What will I wear? What will I drink? What’s going to happen tomorrow?  

These questions seem to be timeless human concerns, regardless of your quantity of income or deficiencies.  So it’s interesting that Jesus says not to worry about these issues (food, clothing & time). Instead, He tells us to spend a life in pursuit of Gods kingdom & these concerns will get resolved. 

So let’s sharpen our focus on letting Jesus be the supreme authority / Lord in our life. Let’s live in intentional surrender to Jesus’ lordship & trust that He can look after the food, clothing & time concerns that might arise today 🙂

Project, Function or Person?

I came home yesterday from some travel over the weekend and had some rough interaction with one of my kids. I had reviewed some of their grades and had some email exchanges with a teacher which weren’t pleasant. So when I got home, I was prickly with my kid. And this child pushed back on my prickly with a sizable dose of snarky such that our exchanges weren’t constructive. Short story: I was really ticked off.

Thankfully, I’ve had a mental reset this morning. I see where I was treating my child as a project and function, expecting them to change, be productive and fix their grades. Instead, it would be better had I come home and started from a place of genuine love in my heart rather than treating them like an object or project. Let’s be committed to seeing people instead of outcomes, projects or functions. We can do this because this is how our Heavenly Father sees us, from a heart of genuine love, connection and deep affection 🙂

I Disagree!!

I have three wonderful teenage children, very intelligent & sometimes opinionated. And it’s not uncommon to have some very interesting & heated discussions at dinner time about all kinds of topics including politics, musical taste, movie preferences, Hollywood, current events, government policies, theological questions, historical events, recipes & a plethora of random topics. In addition to our wonderful kids, my husband & I have our own perspectives & opinions.  So our dinner conversations can be both diverse & intense. 

As I think about these conversations, it’s important to consider not only what is being said, but also the tone & context for these interactions. If we are going to maintain close relationships, disagreements are inevitable. Here are some helpful thoughts related to disagreements:

  • Seek to understand more than being understood
  • A sincere apology is helpful when there’s misunderstanding 
  • If you’re trying to “win” an argument, appreciate that someone will lose & maybe that’s not a good goal
  • Respect is essential for constructive disagreement 
  • We can disagree without being disagreeable 🙂

Getting Direction

Getting Direction

What is the right decision?  What choice should I make? Which direction should I take?

All of us are faced with these kinds of questions for lots of things, from minor choices to major life decisions. So how should we navigate?

Throughout human history, mankind has used the stars & celestial bodies to navigate & guide their earthly journey. This is true for sailors, nomads in the desert, pioneers in prairie fields & loads more.  Additionally, each of us have internal desires & goals.  Nevertheless, let’s make our ultimate decisions based on the fundamental goal of knowing God better throughout each season & phase of our lives. Let’s make our decisions from facing God & orienteering for optimum intimacy & connection with God. Selah 🙂

Feel free to share this with your friends & social media groups 🙂

Real or Right?

I asked someone a question recently & when they replied, I asked, “Is that the real answer or the right answer?”  When I asked this question, it began to circulate in my mind & I wondered how many times I give the right answer but maybe not always the real answer. I know what I’m supposed to say, so I give the right words. And I do this because I know that the “real words” could be challenging not only to hear, but also to speak.  It’s very wonderful when both the real & right words are the same!

I’m grateful to realize that God can help us grow & change such that our real words can also be the right words more & more!  

Just a little friendly food for thought on this nice Monday 🙂

Timeless

I’m in Israel & just visited the house of Simon the Tanner where Peter had a vision & learned that God is including the Gentiles for redemption (Acts 9-10). It’s mind blowing to visit such an historical site & consider the ramifications of Peters experience but even more so God’s character, which is timeless.  

When I get to visit these kinds of historical sites, it refreshes my gratitude that God is loving, inclusive, patient & forgiving. And no matter where you are today, what is happening in your life & regardless of your feelings / emotions, God is never changing & God’s character is genuine love, full stop. 

House of Simon the Tanner

Why Obey God?

This is a timeless question that maybe every human has asked, at some point in their life. And I suspect that Job, in the Bible, asked this question or some version of it, during the massively difficult season in his life. So do we obey God because there will be good outcomes? Do we obey God to avoid negative experiences? Do we obey God because life will go more smoothly? Do we obey God because it makes us feel good?

Why obey God?

During my life, I have obeyed God for the reasons I just listed and more. Sometimes, my obedience has facilitated good outcomes. And sometimes, I’ve obeyed God and stuff hasn’t turned out like I wanted. So I’m coming to the conclusion that I choose to obey God because I love God and more importantly, I’m loved by God. When I keep genuine love as a core motivation, my soul stays more tender and healthy 🙂

Changing Conditions

Changing Conditions

Choppy or smooth? Icy or powder? Chunky or groomed?  These are all descriptions of the snow conditions when a person skis or snowboards. 

When I was first learning to snowboard, I struggled to navigate changing conditions. I was really good on groomed runs but ice caused me some significant problems. 

I’ve been snowboarding now for almost 15 years & I can navigate various conditions usually without injuries, although I have definite preferences. 

I think the same can hold true for us as we mature in our walk with Jesus. Early on, maybe we didn’t have the agility to navigate disappointment or unanswered prayers. As we mature in our walk w Jesus, it’s helpful to keep love as our top priority regardless of the changing conditions. I find that the more I stay in love w Jesus, regardless of what’s happening around me, the easier it can be to navigate changing conditions 🙂

Being Sick

Over the last few weeks, various members of my family have come down with some congestion, a sore throat, runny nose, etc. And in full disclosure, it likely all started with me back in November, when I’d finished an intense travel season and my body was tired and run down. So it’s highly probable that my family caught the crud from me.

I think this idea of being contagious rings true in lots of ways. For example, I’ve noticed that hurt people often hurt people. To this end, hurt can be contagious particularly when there’s an absence of forgiveness. On the positive side, let’s stay committed to genuine love because there’s a good chance that genuine love is also contagious. Indeed, I think we are the most healthy when we receive and express genuine love 🙂

Does Uncertainty Bother You?

There are some things that won’t change, like gravity, sunrise / sunset, increasing taxes & sand in the Sahara. But when things seem uncertain or there’s instability around us, we want something stable, solid, predictable and reliable.

Maybe it would be helpful to keep our trust in “certain” things, stuff that doesn’t change. For example, regardless of how we feel, the circumstances around us, surprises or mishaps, God’s love for you doesn’t change. In addition, regardless of who is in your life or who is missing, God is ever present and never abandons you. And let’s never forget that God is working out things for your benefit, as you stay in love with God & true to God’s purpose in your life, based on Romans 8:28 🙂

Let’s not allow ourselves to get unsettled or rattled by various uncertainties in life because God is very certain, faithful and loving toward us!

Finding Jesus

In that today is Christmas Eve, or maybe Christmas when you read this, we might be thinking about Jesus’ birth 🙂

And in the story of Jesus coming to live among us, there are some interesting things we can consider for our daily living.

*Unexpected Coincidence: the shepherds in the field were doing a normal night of shepherding when there was a supernatural interruption. Let’s be mindful that a supernatural interruption can sometimes be dismissed as an unexpected coincidence, causing us to miss something God wants us to know or experience

*Inconvenient Journey: the wiseman took the Star as a signal to go on a journey to seek out something unknown but important. Let’s be mindful that what could be inconvenient and unfamiliar has the potential to lead us to know Jesus more deeply and in a richer experience.

*Unconventional Relationship: Joseph decided to keep Mary as his fiancé even though she was pregnant out of wedlock. Let’s be mindful that being merciful, gracious and generous can position us to bring Jesus to people in meaningful and life-giving experiences.

Let’s keep finding Jesus and helping others experience genuine love through finding Jesus!

Enjoying People

Over the last week, it’s been fun to be around LOADS of sexworkers in Bangledesh, nice church folk in America, random & fascinating travel peeps & best of all, my family. And I enjoyed each exchange & interaction. 

Were some people cranky?  Yes

Were some people strange? Yes

Were some people brilliant? Definitely 

Were some people hurting? Absolutely 

Were some people broken? Everyone 

And I’m so grateful that God is teaching & helping me to both enjoy & love people, full stop. Sometimes I do this better than others, to be sure. And it’s immensely helpful just to relax, smile & enjoy people no matter what!

Deeply Rewarding

It’s 5:30pm here in Bangledesh & I’m listening to happy little voices singing & chattering in the room behind me. So everything in me is smiling & deeply fulfilled. 

Last year, I came to Bangledesh four times & we worked really hard to open nightcare for the largest brothel in this country. Tonight, I’m sitting in our nightcare center & enjoying the sights & sounds of our firsts nightcare in this country. Nightcare is one of the things Saving Moses does, where we look after the babies & toddlers of sexworkers while they work. Without our center, 80% of these kids would be on the bed with their mom as she works. 

And this is the nature of nightcare – it’s deeply rewarding & painfully tragic, a roller coaster of rich satisfaction & abysmal horror. 

And tonight I’m celebrating progress & the power of genuine love. 

A Different World

Hello from Dhaka Bangledesh! Clearly, Dhaka is a very different place than my home city, Denver. 

Also, I’m continually astounded by the things I hear & see here in relation to the babies & toddlers of sex workers.  And I’m all the more astounded when I learn about the difficulties that floating sex workers have in particular when they work & looking after their babies & toddlers. 

A floating sex worker in Bangledesh does not have a permanent brothel & has many dangers they navigate daily. Such dangers include having their baby / toddler stolen & sold in a market for a minimum of $50 – an atrocity that unravels even the most hardened sex worker. 

While there are some organizations that help the moms, there is no assistance for their babies / toddlers. And that’s why Saving Moses is here today & we are making some headway to open nightcare for the babies & toddlers of these floating sex workers.  We are very serious about Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 to look after the least of these & I see the least of these, being the babies & toddlers of floating sex workers. 

Election Hangover

In America this week, we had a national & local election, so all media outlets were fully engaged with debates, advertisements, etc. There are plenty of folk who prefer less campaigning & not just a few of us are weary of the deceptions & hostile conflict that politics has become. As a follower off Jesus & His teachings, there are a few takeaways to maintain regardless of your political affiliations / preferences. 

  • Be compassionate – Jesus was helpful, kind, forgiving, healing & generous to marginalized people
  • Be prayerful – Jesus taught His disciples to pray, a constructive habit we would be wise to cultivate
  • Be loving – Jesus said that His followers would be recognized by their love for each other.

Hot Topic: Elections, Candidates & Politics

In America, we are in the full season of politics, elections, candidates, ballots, etc.  Two years ago, this space was toxic, combative & divisive on a good day.  I’m grateful that this political season isn’t quite as venomous as the one two years ago and we would be wise to pause and reflect.

Regardless of your political affiliations or bend, I’d like to propose a few questions for your consideration:

  • Have you educated yourself on the issues, candidates, platforms, etc?
  • Are your thoughts and emotions based around genuine love? Is there fear, greed, power, insecurity lurking in your soul that could influence your voting?
  • If someone votes or thinks different than you, can you maintain a respectful conversation?
  • Have you prayed for this election, the candidates, ballots, our nation, etc?

Regardless of how the elections turn out, let’s be committed to express genuine as followers of Jesus!  I say this because of His words in John 13:35, “They will know you follow Me by your love for one another.”

Have an AWESOME weekend!

In Your Skin

You are magnificent when you are you!!  When you try to blend, conform or be someone else, not so much.  I say this because I’ve brought my daughter for a college visit & I remember my insecurities in college & being uncomfortable in my skin.  I’ve always been a little quirky & when I’m settled with myself, that’s fun.  When I’m unsettled with myself, the quirky and fun side of me gets quiet and even disappears.

All of us have insecurities and internal struggles.  At the same time, let’s rest in the truth that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, in the image of our Heavenly Father.  We are valuable, important and have divine purposes and plans.  Indeed, in Ephesians 2:10, it says that God has already laid out good works for us to walk in and no one can do these good works, except you because they are divinely appointed for you, living in your skin and being wonderful YOU!!!