Thanks For The Extra Grace

I have a pretty consistent morning routine that generally helps to frame each day with sturdy Bible applications & a prayerful mindset, usually. But this morning didn’t pan out that way. I didn’t get to have my normal quiet prayer & Bible time before my family stirs. So I ran out the door to start my day, not having the rich fellowship with God that often sustains me throughout the day. I don’t like it when that happens & I’m grateful that this is a rare occurrence.
And here’s the really magnificent thing today: I’m sensing the Holy Spirit very clearly throughout this day, despite not having my morning tuning & calibrating fellowship. Of course my absence of quiet & solitary fellowship with the Holy Spirit this morning won’t become a daily habit. Nevertheless, sensing the rich presence of the Holy Spirit throughout this day encourages me that the Holy Spirit enjoys my company & interaction, not withholding that intimacy when I fall short on my end.
Be very certain in your heart that you’re deeply valued, highly treasured & greatly celebrated by the Holy Spirit!

Lots of Oooooops!!

This morning seems to be fraught with “oooooops!” and not just a few. Some of these mishaps are relatively minor, but when they stack up, things can get “challenging.” I’m hoping that the entirety of this day isn’t a string of consecutive mishaps. But even if this day goes from “oooops to oooops”, rather than “glory to glory”, I’m deciding to go with trusting God more than dwelling in the frustration.

When I write this, it sounds good, but the individual decisions to walk out this mindset is where the rubber hits the road. And this is where the step by step reliance on the Holy Spirit moves into execution mode more than speculation & ethereal platitudes.
I’ll keep you posted on how it goes, but feel free to join me in making these decisions to trust God throughout your day today!

Seasoning

One of my children was doing some cooking & attempting to make omelettes. This child enjoys garlic, so they put 1/4 cup of chopped garlic in the omelette & proceeded to eat it. For almost a week after this adventure, this person continued to reek of garlic, despite showers, baths & long hours in a swimming pool. It was a good lesson on the principle of moderation.
Using moderation is good in lots of applications. Here are some specific areas for daily living

  • Correction & Confrontation: when we need to have a sharp conversation, we would be wise to blend some sincere & gentle words into the discussion
  • Work & Rest: our personalities tend toward one extreme or the other, so we would be wise to build in some balance with our schedules & planning
    Proverbs 25:27a

Grace for Dingbats

Sometimes I’m smart, but more times I’m a dingbat. I forget stuff, don’t pay attention well, I’m insensitive & definitely say dumb stuff from time to time. But I deeply appreciate God’s grace. 
Indeed, God’s face redeems my dingbat & makes it into something good & helpful! When I try to camouflage my dingbat actions, it usually backfires & makes things worse. So i figures that I have a divine treasure in this earthen vessel (2Cor 4;7), being conformed to the image of Jesus through God’s grace & the redeeming help of the Holy Spirit!

Resurrection Continued

The day after Easter is always an interesting experience. It’s tempting to go back to “normal”, the regular routines & business as usual. 
But this Easter is different for me. 
It’s different for lots of reasons:

  • Jesus many unexpected appearances, reminding me to stay attentive & expectant to experience Jesus throughout any given day
  • Peter’s denial & Thomas’ doubt – exceptional grace to both men (Luke 24:34 & John 20:24-28)
  • The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead – more Heavenly Help!! Rom 8:11
  • Getting ready for Pentecost – grab a copy of Heavenly Help to prepare for this supernatural experience!

What areas in your life need resurrection?

selective listening

Have you ever had one of those conversations where someone said something insensitive to you & you didn’t know if or how to respond?  This morning I was chatting with a lovely group of ladies & someone said something to me that was kind of zingy & I found myself suspended in that moment trying to figure out what to do.  Having given it some thought, here are some take aways I’m choosing that might help you as well:

  • benefit of the doubt:  I’m sure this person didn’t mean for her comment to be zingy & even if she did, I’m choosing to see her from a positive perspective
  • forgiving:  quick is better than nursing & rehearsing which only gives my emotions a fever
  • ignore:  rather than call this person out of their comment, I decided to dismiss the comment & adjust the conversation for a different trajectory (translation:  change the subject)
  • some people just have a zingy edge:  truth be known, we can always use some help with our diplomacy skills, so it’s best just to be fully graceful with the help of the Holy Spirit & know that we are all growing, learning and improving 🙂

Happy Labor Day weekend & feel free to share this post with your friends on FB & be sure to signup by email for this blog to keep some encouragement in your inbox 🙂

hot topic: Mars Hill Church closing

Recently, the controversial pastor Mark Driscoll resigned from being the lead pastor for Mars Hill Church in Seattle.  Yesterday, the church announced that it was disbanding and dissolving all of its satellite campuses, giving each location freedom to chart it’s own path for the future.  Being a pastor’s kid and having lived in church for most of my life, this announcement saddens me for various reasons:

  • as humans, we often fall into the trap of following people more than we follow Jesus
  • oftentimes the people we think are leading us closer to Christ are made of the same flawed flesh in which we live and breath
  • we struggle with how to keep each other accountable without being judgmental, intolerant or divisive
  • we are susceptible to many internal deceptions that stroke our flesh and poison our passion for Jesus
  • somewhere it talks about striking the shepherd and scattering the sheep

So here’s my point:  there are lots of hurt, confused and disillusioned people from all of this fallout with Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll, many of whom have followed Jesus because of Pastor Mark’s leadership and influence, as well as the communities that had formed around the satellite churches connected with Mars Hill.  In 1Cor 12, Paul talks about the how the body of Christ functions together, diverse parts and pieces working together in complementary more than competitive ways, promoting Jesus in all ways and opportunities.  In Galatians 6, Paul talks about how we should bear each other’s burdens, restoring, assisting and being part of Jesus’ redemptive work.

So as members of the body of Christ, let’s be devoted to pray for this situation and moreso for the people who may find themselves floundering from all of these changes.  Let’s pray:

  • that the enemy does not make progress with this opportunity for strife, dissension and conflict
  • for the body of Christ that has been a part of the Mars Hill fellowship – let’s pray for their hearts
  • that God redeems this hardship and struggle

 

hot topic: trick or treat

All of us want treats and blessings – take the good and leave the bad!  I read this morning about how Jacob dressed up in his brother’s clothes to pretend that he was Esau, attempting to trick his dad into believing that he was Esau.  With his mom’s help, Jacob’s efforts worked and he received his father’s blessings through being tricksy.

I used to wonder about why God would “reward” this kind of deceptive behavior – seems really unfair and inconsistent with God being just.  After some long reflection & consideration, I’ve come up with a few thoughts that might be helpful:

  • Jacob’s deception was really quite expensive:  he was ostracized from his family & came to live with an extremely manipulative & deceptive uncle for close to two decades;  it also appears that he never attained the closeness he once had with his family & particularly with his mom
  • by Jacob receiving his dad’s blessing, we clearly see that God blesses us not because we’re worthy, we’ve earned it or because of our “birth right”, but simply because God loves us inspite of ourselves rather than because of ourselves

God redeems our “tricks” and transforms them into “treats” 🙂

help, I’m drowning!

Greetings & happy Friday!

I read this yesterday & found it super helpful so I want to pass this along for your weekend thinking 🙂

This is from my pastor friend in CA, Joel Phillips – joelphillips

 

 

Shunned!

The Office’s Dwight Schrute enjoyed using the Amish technique of shunning people who were guilty of some kind of infraction.  Although I laugh when I watch this clip, something about it reminds of how people in the church treat others who have messed-up or fallen.

We can wrap it with all sorts of holy sounding language, like “holding them accountable,” or “stepping them down,” if we’re honest it’s really just shunning. I once heard a leader use the verse, “godly sorrow produces repentance” to justify being flat-out mean to someone under him who had sinned.

Condemnation, guilt, shame, never produces righteous results. Instead, they push people even further from God.  What’s weird is that there is a sick side to our souls that actually likes condemnation.  We feel like we deserve it, and as the guilt and shame mount within us, we think that it’s all a part of the process of getting back on track, and reinstating our good standing with God.

That’s not the gospel!

I could quote tons of scriptures that point to the fact that those who are in Christ are fully and permanently justified and declared righteous, but the passage I want to go to is the familiar story of Peter walking on the water, falling, and being rescued by Jesus.

So much has been said, preached, written about this story, but one key part of it is hardly ever referenced.  It’s the part when Peter got back in the boat.  There was no browbeating.  No heavy sighs.  No, “You’re all wet!” Here’s all we’re told,


“And when [Jesus and Peter] got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’” (Matthew 14:32–33)

 

I wish the church was more like that.  Somebody falls, Jesus saves them, they’re soaking wet from their mistakes, but they’re alive and the storm is over!  And as they come on board with us we worship God for how He saved them.  It reminds us of how he saved us, after all, we’ve all been wet at one time or another.

Going the extra mile

I find myself in some interesting positions from time to time in various relationships. Sometimes I can get frustrated & exasperated with different people because of some struggles with communication – and communication can be a really tricky topic. I have no doubt as well that I can also be frustrating & exasperating to people is well.
With that all being said, lets be mindful to go the extra mile in our relationships with patience, forgiveness, grace, gentleness & tender words & actions. I say this because I regularly find myself as the recipient of Gods abundant grace, gentleness & forgiveness – the extra mile 🙂

heavy grace

Sometimes I have these amazing “aha moments” when I see God doing really cool things and I also have times when these “aha moments” seem to have been vaporized by the crazy demands of a day or because of some really heavy duty disappointments.  Regardless of what is happening, how we feel or the various experiences in which we find ourselves, we swim in heavy grace.

Swimming in heavy grace:

  • embracing our lives,
  • giving us the air to breath:   what we haven’t earned
  • protecting us from drowning in the consequences that we deserve
  • amphibious living:  transforming our shortcomings to something more glorious
  • flooding into the crevices, corners and quagmires for redemption and hope

Dear sweet family, we swim in heavy grace 🙂

Changing & growing :)

I had an interesting conversation with someone yesterday that seemed to be really out of character for them. I found this interesting because I often believe that it’s impossible to change the spots on a leopard. The problem with this way of thinking is that I can get really rigid in my attitude toward various people & not allow them to change in my thinking.
This is a really big problem because this way of thinking entirely ignores the transforming power of Jesus’ redemption for us. People can & do change, so lets be full of gratitude that God isn’t only helping us to grow & change, but God is also working on other people with redemptive & transforming power. Lets give each other the gift of space & grace to grow & change 🙂

Full of Grace

I had an interesting conversation with a friend yesterday for whom I’ve been very concerned of late. It was interesting because they explained that they had been distant lately because of lots of different current stresses in their life. Then another friend told me that she was having a rough day earlier this week & almost broke down in tears on a particular day. Both of my friends are important to me & when they explained their struggles to me, I totally wanted to reach out & help not only after the struggle but also during their rough time. Just like me, these are very strong & independent friends & I wholly respect their strength. It’s interesting bc I think that God absolutely respects our free will & independence. But I also think that God wants to be involved in our struggles & not just watch from a distance. Lets be kind, gentle, full of grace & supportive with each other – thereby letting God love through us 🙂

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 🙂

ever feel impatient?

 Recently, I’ve been somewhat frustrated with one of my friends because they’ve made some very silly decisions that have had some fairly negative consequences.  I find myself being impatient with my friend & wanting them to change.  I’m trying to watch the words that I say to my friend, so that I don’t hurt their feelings due to my impatience.  So far, here’s my impatience insights:

  • if impatience is left unchecked, it can be very destructive
  • impatience isn’t only related to our words, but it also can affect our attitudes & actions, so that even if we don’t say anything, we must still remain vigilant against even its subtle expression
  • sometimes it helps to talk about how we feel, but its important to be responsible for our own feelings & not give someone else control of how we may feel or act
  • sometimes the best antidote to impatience is a slow, intentional & methodical application of patience
  • James 1:4 – let patience have her perfect work so that you may be mature & complete.  Give patience permission to work in your life 🙂

a beauty pageant w a murderous sub-plot

One of movies that always makes me laugh is Miss Congeniality – there are some parts that are obviously cheesy & sketchy, but the whole tom-girl, secret agent competing in a beauty pageant plot makes me laugh ALOT!!!!  And back in the Bible days, there was also a beauty pageant that had lots of drama, danger & suspense – the story of Esther.

Over the last few days I’ve been reading Esther & I’m always impressed with Mordecai, Esther’s surrogate parent.  I admire his integrity, honor, courage & character in the face of great anger, animosity & even violent intent from Hamaan, the evil villain.  But here’s what has caught my eye this time:  despite Hamaan’s best efforts, Mordecai was given honor even at the expense of Hamaan’s position.  There’s one point where Hamaan was conspiring to hang Mordecai & when he came to express his desire to the king, the king asked Hamaan’s opinion on how to best honor someone.  After giving the king all of the ways that Hamaan wanted to be honored, the king told Hamaan to go out & implement Hamaan’s ideas with Mordecai.  Hamaan wound up leading the horse that Mordecai rode on, crying out that Mordecai was an example of how the king honored those whom the king favored.

Don’t you know that Hamaan was more than humiliated by having to publicly honor Mordecai, whom he hated with murderous intent?!

So here’s my take away: maintain your integrity, grace & poise regardless of your enemies & God can take something very evil & dangerous & make it into a blessing in your life 🙂

courageous conversations

 Wow!  This is certainly a theme in my life right now!  A courageous conversation is a discussion that requires courage – it can require courage for a variety of reasons.  As such, let’s look at Joseph (in Genesis 37-42) to look at 1 of his courageous conversations:

Maybe Joseph’s first courageous conversation required bravery because of his convictions.  Consider his dialogue with Potipher’s wife, who wanted to make out w Joseph.  When you read what Joseph said in Gen 39:8-9, you can see that he needed courage to say what he said:   “But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge.  There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?'”

Convictions require courage & when we are asked to do something that violates our convictions, we must draw on God’s strength & wisdom to share with diplomacy & bravery that we will not violate those convictions.  Let’s be brave & gracious in our conversations, with God’s wisdom, strength & love 🙂

i love people


If you’re like me, you probably like people to varying degrees based on what’s happening in your life. But here are some reasons why I love people. I love people because:

  • I see God’s creative genius that is never-ending. People are a great reflection of God’s vivid imagination 🙂
  • I sense joys & pains in them that far exceed my own experiences
  • I feel God’s love through people, at various times, that is nothing short of breathtaking
  • I sense God loving people through me & this experience cuts me to the core – so humbling
  • I see strength, courage, valor & sacrifice – such grace & nobility
  • I see the same struggle in others that I experience with choices between shortcuts & long-term investments
  • Many times God works on me, using people, to grow patience, grace, humor, discipline, gentleness and other things
  • I’m continually amazed at people’s patience & grace toward me as I strive to grow & mature
We are all clay in God’s hand, for His sculpting & purposes, so let’s celebrate God’s touch of love in our lives individually & collectively 🙂

cavities, consequences & grace

I took my kids to the dentist today for the lovely Summer check-up.  Let me say up front, that I like our current dentist for my kids even though the last one was shady, but that’s a different story.  So today’s report from their check up wasn’t very whippy.  One of my kids (who will remain nameless) has more than 3 cavities – which gives evidence to them tuning out my daily reminders to brush their teeth  (maybe God has some similar thoughts when I blow Him off).
When the hygienist called me in to give me the report, I felt like I was being scolded for my kid’s negligence, just compounding my frustration level.   Grrrrrrr

So here are my take-aways from today’s dentist adventure:

  • even though I’m their mom, if they don’t cooperate with my instructions they will increase the probability of negative consequences, despite my best efforts
  • the point of grace isn’t to get away with something but rather to change our behaviors
  • even though I may be frustrated with my kids, this doesn’t give me license to be mean or insensitive to everyone around me
  • obedience is better than cavities ,)
All of this is on the heels of me leaving for Asia, to watch God work His wonders for @savingmoses in Cambodia – please don’t fight the urge to send up some prayers for us!  I’ll keep you posted with blogs, etc about what’s happening 🙂

my gracious family

  No seriously, you’ve gotta read this one 🙂  I recently had a cooking fiasco & I want to brag on my family.  Lately, I’ve been trying to get more fish into our diet as a means for low fat protein consumption.  The honest truth is that I can’t cook fish to save my life, but that doesn’t stop me from trying – hence the fiasco.  So here’s how it went down:  I went to the fish part of the store & was looking for the cheapest & freshest fish they had, which was flounder.  Flounder is a really weird looking fish – it’s skinny and flat with the eyes on the top of its body.  Because it’s so skinny, its hard for a fish monger to de-bone (which I discovered after their kind attempt to honor my de-boned request).  So I bring home these thin strips of fish & try to cook them – it was AWFUL!!!!  But here’s the beauty of this disaster, my family ate the fish with absolutely NO COMPLAINING!  No one said a word – we all suffered in silence 🙂  I will not be cooking flounder again, unless Jesus visits our home personally & has a nice chat with all of our family on this topic.

So here’s a thought for your consideration & application:  my family was EXTREMELY gracious with me, I think mostly because they love me.  Perhaps a really effective way to express love is to refrain from complaining or pointing out failures and weakspots when they are so glaringly obvious.  Being gracious is a really inexpensive way to be loving 🙂