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 🙂
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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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
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 🙂
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 🙂
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!!!
Being that today is Halloween, the last day of October, it’s a great day to celebrate genuine love! I say this because Halloween was always a scary holiday to me, with all the skeletons, tombstones, ghosts and macabre images. When I was a kid, this day often left me fearful. In contrast, 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear. So instead of accentuating fear, today I choose to celebrate genuine love!
Here are a few suggestions that might help you celebrate genuine love today:
Look for people to encourage throughout today – what they’re wearing, nice hair, friendly smile, beautiful eyes, witty wisdom & LOADS more
Let Jesus love you throughout today – reject the enemy’s lies that say you’re inadequate, have no hope, going to fail, or that you’re a mutant
It’s getting colder & the days are getting shorter as we begin to move towards Winter. In the southern hemisphere, they’re approaching Summer and it’s getting warmer there & the days are longer. So it depends on your location on our planet, in approximation to the sun, whether you’re getting warmer or colder, more or less light. By default, heat & light also have a direct impact on how much life there is. Where there is less light & more cold, life is less abundant.
Let’s make the same parallel for Jesus, God’s Son. When we revolve our lives closely around the Son, we have more light, greater warmth & consequentially, more life. We can also consider that perhaps there are some areas in our lives that need to be around Jesus more – particularly if we recognize the absence of light, warmth & life. Jesus says that He’s come to give us life & life more abundantly – so let’s stay close to Jesus in every area of our lives!
My phone is broken so it’s difficult to type the letters “c” & “r”.So whenever I text or post something with these letters, it can be a spelling disaster & I look like I’m illiterate. And it’s abundantly frustrating!!I’ve done the updates & tried to troubleshoot & fix this but to no avail. I think something is broken inside my phone.
And when stuff is broken inside, it’s obvious on the outside. This also holds true for our human existence. When people act whacky, let’s be aware that this often reflects something broken on the inside. Compassion, truth, genuine love & grace are helpful salve to heal & redeem what’s broken inside others as well as ourselves 🙂
Welcome to Monday, the start of a work week for some of us, or the start of a school week for those who are students. Wherever you find yourself on this day, there are things in front of you and me that we need to do. Maybe you need to work on a school assignment, write a paper or study for a test. Maybe you need to write some emails, craft a proposal, flip a hamburger, wash a toilet, load the dishwasher, drive to a soccer practice, grade some papers, manage a project, crunch some numbers, etc. No matter what, all of us have stuff we need to do today – do the work.
And this is part of God’s design for each of us. You and I are uniquely designed to participate in and accomplish things. How we do such work is the real issue, even more than what we do. So here are some helpful ideas about how we do our work:
work as unto the Lord and not to man – Colossians 3:23
keep a grateful heart – 1Thessalonians 5:18
stayed focused and eliminate distractions – Proverbs 4:25
There are many things that can be shocking, such as a precipitous drop in the stock market, unexpected news from a relative and sometimes, God does stuff that’s shocking. It seems to me that most of us don’t like stuff that’s shocking, such that we stay away from this kind of thing or we insulate ourselves, to minimize the exposure.
And yet, sometimes, things that are shocking can help us to get out of a rut. For example, I think Jesus was very shocking to the religious establishment in His day. Indeed, He challenged not only their assumptions and traditions, but also their practices and daily interactions:
He ate with sinners.
He associated with tax collectors.
He kept company with the irresuptable.
All of these actions of Jesus were very shocking to various upstanding citizens. And yet what is more importance than the shock value, is the reality that Jesus did all of these “crazy things”, from the premise and core motivation of genuine love. Sometimes, genuine love is the essence of shock value 🙂
In the last few weeks, I’ve learned of various people who have committed suicide and it’s heart wrenching. A few of these individuals have been pastors, which hits even closer to home considering that I’m a pastor’s kid, I’m married to a pastor and I am a pastor. These events have also made me reflect on various people over the years who have committed suicide.
As much as I want to be articulate in this post, I feel so deeply about this subject that I can’t seem to get my words or thoughts into some semblance of order or cohesive progression. So maybe I’ll just free flow with this post and pray that it’s helpful to you, somehow.
More than anything, I hope that you will be gentle, tender and kind with others and yourself, regardless of any external veneer. When we are in a car and see a handicapped license plate, sticker or a “baby on board” sign, we will often give that person a little extra consideration, grace and space because we know there’s a vulnerable / fragile person inside that vehicle.
May we also have the same mindset with the people in our lives, appreciating that each person with whom we interact, has their own internal struggles regardless of what the exterior looks like or how they behave. Let’s be purposeful to: