The Accidental Hypocrite

I’ve never met a person who willingly nor joyfully self-identified as a hypocrite.  Indeed, hypocrite is a label we give other people, as we are grateful to not be “that kind of person.”

But I can’t help but feel, sometimes, that I am an accidental hypocrite.  I see this in myself when I:

  • judge someone for being intolerant
  • am disdainful of someone who seems insincere
  • allow myself to be critical but reject constructive input

There are lots of ways that we can be a hypocrite, whether purposeful or accidental.  And I would propose that an effective antidote for hypocrisy is humility.  While hypocrisy can flourish in the comparison fertilizer, humility is the truth serum that helps us appreciate that we are each struggling in unique ways and it’s better to encourage than compare.  Just a little food for thought for your wonderful weekend 🙂

The Steady Quotient

There are lots of factors that are important in our lives, such as our IQ, Emotional Intelligence, time management, financial wisdom, etc.  Sometimes the stuff that’s not so measurable or obvious doesn’t get the same attention as the stuff I just listed.  I would propose that being steady is one of those less sexy or noticeable factors but massively important nonetheless.

I say this because of what steady can accomplish:

  • less cavities with steady brushing and flossing
  • better weight control with steady exercise
  • deeper intimacy with steady presence
  • more awareness of God with steady / daily quiet times
  • better cooking skills with steady practice

As I write this and think about the value of being steady, it makes me wonder how many things in my life would be improved if I were more steadfast in my attention and energies in various areas.  Our daily routines / habits can predict our future 🙂

The Faulty Dryer

As the season changes from Winter to Spring and dancing on the edge of Summer, I’m enjoying the moderate tempratures, chirping birds and some lovely porch time!  On the down side, I think our dryer is shrinking my clothes because surely I didn’t gain any weight over the Winter 🙂

When I blame my dryer for shrinking my clothes, it’s an easy way to ignore my possible weight gain and my need to exercise.  Indeed, it’s convenient to blame something external, when we don’t like what we might see inside of us.  To this end, finding scapegoats is the easy button to facilitate immaturity, deception, inconsistency and deflecting responsibility.

In full disclosure, there’s nothing wrong with my dryer.  When I admit the truth that I’ve gained weight and need to exercise, it’s a healthy step not only for my body, but for my emotions and thoughts.  Before we blame something external, let’s sit with what’s inside of us to make sure we’re dealing with reality and not distortion 🙂

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!

Waiting for Change

I would like to see some changes in my life with stuff like losing some weight, being more steady with exercise, having more patience with my kids, being less skittery about meeting new people, etc.  With some of these things, I need to take the proverbial bull by the horns & get after it.

But some changes take time & require me to wait. With some changes, I’ve learned that when I meddle & tinker with the stuff that needs to change, my efforts only make things worse.  And if you’re a “make it happen” person, then “wait” is the very close relative to other four letter cuss words.

Here are some benefits to waiting:

  • Slow change often lasts longer than quick changes;
  • the Bible says, “In patience, posses your soul”;
  • Sometimes our wisdom grows in the waiting time

Have a fantastic weekend!

Help for Making Decisions

We are all faced with making decisions everyday.  In general, we can navigate the smaller decisions like clothing options, food choices, time usage, where we focus our attention, etc.  But sometimes we can struggle with making bigger decisions.  For example, making a decision about college, taking a job, marriage, buying a house and others can be really stressful.

I recently did a sermon about making decisions & this link might be helpful if you’d like to see the whole thing (the message starts around 1:03), including the wonderful joke at the beginning ,)

And here are some helpful hints from Jacob that could be useful to you when making decisions:

  • recognize that God stays with you, whatever you decide because God is omni-present
  • instead of waiting for a lightning bolt of revelation it can be more helpful to move in a direction and invite God to adjust the direction and tweak the pacing
  • appreciate that God can show up in a dark season and bring some necessary and life-infusing encouragement

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Lessons from Softball :)

The snow was sifting slowly to the ground and my breath was forming mini-clouds to welcome the tiny flakes on their descent.  This is a friendly way to say that last night was very cold for playing softball.  To make it even more thrilling and chilling, we had a double header & our final game concluded just before 10pm.  I felt like a popsicle as my feet shuffled me to the car.  I learned some very good lessons from last night’s adventure:

  • have FUN!!  Despite the cold, snow and losing both games, it’s fun to get outside, banter, encourage and move my aging body for a little exercise!
  • look to serve:  our team joined a rec league, so it’s not highly competitive.  This makes it all the more enjoyable to serve the other team and look for ways to be helpful – carrying gear, collecting foul balls, sharing equipment, etc
  • be encouraging more than competitve:  this is a big one for me.  If I go down the competitive trail (which is more my natural instinct), it’s less enjoyable than when I stay in an encouragment groove.

God can teach us many wonderful lessons, using a variety of contexts and circumstances.  Let’s be willing and eager learners!

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 🙂

Wrestling with Forgiveness

Doing forgiveness is more difficult than talking about it.  Full stop.

And yet, it’s one of the only cause and affect activities Jesus talks about, based on Matt 6:14.  This is where Jesus says that if we forgive others, our Heavenly Father will forgive us.  And Lord knows that I needs heaps of forgiveness!  I suspect you might need alot of forgiveness as well 🙂

So what does it look like when we don’t forgive?  Here are a few things for your consideration.  When we don’t forgive, we:

  • nurse and rehearse the offense / wound in our thoughts & other people who will sympathize with our pain
  • look for opportunities to lash out or pay back the hurt
  • refuse to let the person “off the hook” or recognize and accept God’s grace for them

At the same time, when we forgive it doesn’t mean that we:

  • position ourself to get repeatedly hurt
  • excuse, dismiss or ignore the hurtful behavior
  • continually bring up the offense with the person who was hurtful

Even though forgiveness can be tricky, we need to be forgiving people and we need to keep our forgiveness fresh!

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!

Getting Help

This morning, my husband told me that I could go buy some stylish clothes since I haven’t bought any for awhile. He said “stylish” as the operative word, because my idea of clothes shopping is to get what’s comfortable at Costco & downplay the style concern.  My strategy doesn’t play out so well for public speaking, media work, leadership image, etc.  And in full disclosure, shopping for “stylish” clothes almost makes me physically sick.  Why I struggle with this is fodder for a future blog.

Nevertheless, my daughter happened to hear what my husband said & she’s the style guru in our house.  She immediately hopped on the bandwagon, “Mom!!  I can help you with that!!”  She proceeded to tell me about a “painless” way to order stylish clothes online, so I gave her the green light to give it a try.  She’s helping me with this adventure & only the Lord knows how much I need help with this!!

I’m really glad that we have Holy Spirit as our continuous Help, expressed in a variety of contexts and methods.  Let’s do our best to let Holy Spirit help us with various troublesome areas in our lives 🙂

Living in Abundance

I’ve met poor people who are massively generous and I’ve met rich people who are super stingy. And I’ve met folk who are poor and stingy, as well as peeps who are wealthy and generous. So I would suggest that abundance isn’t based on the quantity of our money or size of our bank account.

Instead, let’s consider that abundance is more accurately a reflection of the state of our heart, or our perspective. And with God’s help, we can adjust our outlook to come from an abundant heart. Here could be some helpful actions to facilitate abundance in your life:

  • gratitude makes everything enough and even more! We can find things to be thankful for, regardless of the size or quality
  • be positive by watching for good things, beauty, helpful stuff around you and stuff inside you that’s wonderful
  • encouraging others with sincere compliments, generous and constructive words, along with affirming actions is a wonderful way to reflect internal abundance

Let’s choose to live from abundance today!

Not Done

Time is an interesting ingredient. I say this because my kids took me to my bus stop today so I could catch the bus to the airport. It felt a bit surreal to get dropped off by my daughter at my bus stop. And there’s lots to be said for the taste improvement that can happen when meat gets some time to be marinated. The same is true for a cake baking in the oven – take it out too early & it’s more like thick soup. 

The common denominator for these experiences is time. Time is very interesting. We can often have very strong opinions about time when we don’t have enough, when it moves too fast, when we have uncertainty about the future or when it seems to age us in ways we don’t appreciate. 

With that said, I can appreciate that in God’s time, we are improved, we grow, learn, get wise and see things from different perspectives. I’m grateful that God isn’t done with me & uses time to make me better 🙂

Tuck Away

It’s nice to have a few minutes of unexpected pause, when you’re having a busy day. If you’re a Hugh achiever, these unexpected pauses can be wonderful opportunities to get more stuff done!  And of course, that makes us feel good & it’s wonderful to be highly productive!

But here’s another possibility to consider for an unexpected pause:  an invitation to tuck away with Jesus for a few minutes. In these moments, it can be very helpful, soothing & even healthy to take some minutes to engage with Jesus. Here could be some ideas for briefly engaging with Jesus in such pauses:

  • gratitude – express thanks for something real-time in that pause;
  • acknowledge: “Jesus, I know You’re here & im present with You;”
  • help!! consider that a pause could be a time to re-fuel with Jesus for what’s coming next 🙂

Connect or Obstruct

“Zip it!!!”  This is what everyone told blind Bartimaus when he was yelling, fussing & making a scene. He wanted to get Jesus’ attention so that maybe he could get a miracle from Jesus & see again, in Luke 18. 

I wonder what it was like to be in that crowd who was following Jesus & to be accosted by this desperate man. Their reply, “Zip it!!” tells me that the crowd didn’t have any interest in helping this desperate man. Indeed, they obstructed Bartimeus & attempted to discourage his efforts. 

Let’s be careful that we help people to connect:  find & experience Jesus, when someone seems to be annoying or a nuisance. 

YIKES!!!!

Have you ever been in the middle of something important & realized you’re not as prepared as you thought??  This happened to me last night, as I was speaking at the Wednesday night service at our church. Once I got up on the stage & opened my notes, I realized that I had the wrong notes. Attempting to think on my feet, I checked my phone for my notes because I’d sent them earlier in the day, only to discover that I’d sent the wrong notes!  And all of these realizations were happening real-time in front of both our church & livestream audience!  ARRRRRRGH!!!

In these moments when we are caught off guard or entirely unprepared, what can we do??

Upon realizing what I’d done, I took a few seconds to talk with Holy Spirit to ask for HELP!!!!  I decided to settle into my Bible, lean into Holy Spirit & endeavor to follow Holy Spirit real time. After the sermon, as I was driving home, I was abundantly grateful to Holy Spirit for making the sermon impactful, clear & helpful to the audience!  I’m learning to trust & flow with Holy Spirit, regardless of my circumstances or feelings.  Would you like to join me on this adventure for your life?  Feel free to check out my books on Holy Spirit (Heavenly Help & In Step), to grow in this adventure 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

Big Achievements!

In the Bible, Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in a short time, hung the doors / gates for these walls & provided essential leadership to a broken & despondent people (those left behind from the exile who had been injured, suffered massive trauma & displaced). Nehemiah has big achievements in his life & we would be wise to apply some lessons to our lives from his achievements. 

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Obstacles: nothing big is achieved without overcoming obstacles. And sometimes the biggest obstacles are in our thoughts & outlook
  • Opposition: people opposed Nehemiah & people will oppose you. What you do with such opposition is frequently more important than the opposition itself
  • Focus: Nehemiah didn’t let obstacles, opposition nor hardship distract him from achieving his goal to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Stay on target!

Have a happy & restful weekend!