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 🙂
On any given day, we will have ups & downs. This is the nature of life. And sometimes we need a little help with our perspective so that we don’t get stuck in a down quagmire. Here’s something that could be helpful:
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!
In Israel today, we visited Masada, where 900 Jews kept a 3year stand off against 25,000 Romans. At the end, the Romans built a massive ramp & stormed the top of the desert plateau only to find there were no Jews alive with all the supplies & resources destroyed by fire.
This is a very sobering site to visit, recognizing the resolve of these Jews to die free rather than live in slavery & abuse.
To this end, I’m challenged to make my life count & to live full on, not half empty. Here are some things that we could employ to help us live full:
Be grateful for the small & not just big things
Be compassionate without requiring reasons to understand
Be helpful in little ways every day to cultivate a helpful mindset
I’m in Israel today & we just visited the pagan temple of Pan, where they sacrificed holy goats, a very long time ago before Jesus was alive. The local people were very sincere & committed to their worship.
And I think that today we have our own versions of holy goat worship. Indeed, whatever we allow to consistently capture our attention & affection could be considered a holy goat.
Let’s be open for Holy Ghost to expose whatever may be “goats” in our lives where we should have the Lamb of God as our first & essential affection & worship!
We all have different ideas about perfect or ideal. Some of us would be perfectionists & we struggle to navigate sometimes in stuff that’s less than perfect. Some of us are kind of the middle of the road – we like ideal or perfect, but we can figure stuff out when life is imperfect. And for some of us, perfect is almost a joke & an elusive ideal.
I find myself frequently in less than ideal situations & sometimes I flounder but other times I can flourish in the imperfection. Here are something’s that I’ve found to be helpful for flourishing in less than ideal situations:
Focal point: keeping my eyes on Jesus helps me not get so ruffled
Choose trust: it helps me to actively choose to trust Jesus & His love for me
Identify lemons: what are the less than perfect challenges?
Make lemonade: it really helps me to ask Holy Spirit how to make improvements in situations & experiences that aren’t ideal or perfect. Lots of times, the feedback I hear from from Holy Spirit is to shift my point of view & opinion 🙂
As I travel, I see people who struggle with their luggage, finding the departure gate, language challenges, etc. And I know I could be helpful on lots of this stuff, usually. However, I’m learning from various experiences that often being helpful in human interactions, is defined better by the recipient rather than person giving the help. I say this because there have been many occasions where I stepped in to help, without asking the person if they wanted my assistance. In no uncertain terms, I’ve gotten the proverbial hand slap for not asking first.
So when we want to help someone, instead of jumping in without asking, we would be wise to do these two things first:
Ask the person if they would like help
Ask how they would like help
This kind of communication is useful not only with strangers but also with co-workers, family members, friends, acquaintances, etc 🙂
Just a little practical wisdom from the road that we can all use for improving our communication 🙂
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 🙂
I cleaned out our toaster over the weekend & noticed that the knobs are broken off, the base comes off of the body and there are a few exposed electrical wires. A day later, my husband suggested that I buy a new toaster. I explained that I cleaned it out over the weekend and it should be good to go, knobs being nothing more than convenient accessories. He smirked and said, “Sarah, the base is separating from the toaster & it could be a fire hazard.”
Like my worn out toaster, sometimes we can get worn down from life and grow comfortable being broken or dysfunctional. But genuine love will step into that quagmire and speak truth, redemption, hope, transformation and life. Let’s be available to speak gentle and loving words of truth and redemption. And let’s be open to receiving truth and life with genuine love!
It never ceases to amaze me how much we grow, as humans, in our first two years of existence. Not only do we gain weight and increase in height, but we also massively grow in our cognitive, emotional, relational and identity capacities. And we continue the growing experience when we go to school, learning lots of stuff related to communication, fine motor skills, organization, moral quandaries, computational proficiencies and the list goes on.
Just because we become adults, doesn’t mean that we should stop growing. May we never limit our capacities nor abilities to:
Doing important stuff can be intimidating & even overwhelming. And yet, I believe that we are on the planet to do important stuff.
For example, today I’m joining an amazing team to do strategic planning for Saving Moses. It’s an important activity because today’s outcomes affect babies & toddlers who would die or suffer abuse / neglect without our efforts. So we are doing important stuff!!
So when you do important stuff, here are some things that might be helpful:
Pray: it’s necessary to include God with important stuff
Plan: my husband helps me remember that proper prior planning prevents poor performance
Do: take a step & start even with something small to do / make progress
Teamwork: include people & be a good team player
Measure: it’s helpful to pause & take inventory of the progress & direction
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 🙂
In high school, I never watched wrestling so I’m entirely clueless on this sport, except that I have an offspring who’s doing this sport now 🙂
So I’m learning things that are important & useful for daily living.
Here’s some things I’m learning from watching wrestling:
Preparation is important: if you want to succeed, it’s helpful to more than show up
Mistakes foster learning: it takes lots of learning to win & mistakes can be helpful ingredients for learning
Be willing to change: a flexible strategy can facilitate winning
Let’s not forget that Jacob wrestled with an angel of God all through the night in Genesis 32. He acquired.permanent limp & he was changed in both name & character. Sometimes we need to wrestle to grow & gain!
With the beginning of a new year comes lots of opportunities, quandries, questions and things to be resolved or addressed. For me, these things look like managing kids with changing schedules, planning international trips, navigating limited resources, strategizing for growth, resolving some conflicts and working through some unexpected hiccups.
I could easily get screwed into the ceiling with stress, worry, frustration, fear & anxiety. But a more helpful option is to pray. There’s a really old song about taking to the Lord, our worries, problems, etc . . . ” . . . . ,take it to the Lord in prayer.” Let’s make prayer our first reaction rather than our last resort!
There are kinda of weight classes: losing weight, boxing, weight training, wrestling etc. So dealing with weight can be an interesting concept which is frequently a popular topic at the beginning of each year. Here are a few thoughts that could be helpful when you think about weight:
**Future Preparation: sometimes today’s weights are training for tomorrow’s responsibilities. What might seem heavy could actually be helpful for weightier matters in the future
**Losing Weight: anxieties, fears, failures, insecurities & other stuff can be weights we shed so we can be less weighed down
**Time Lever: sometimes waiting can be weighty but as we wait on the Lord, we can gain new strength! Consider Isaiah 40:31, “Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”
Are you good at makeup, organizing, decorating, math, cleaning, cooking, exercise, socializing, baking, talking, etc? I believe that God gives each of us unique talents and abilities, which we often take for granted because they seem “easy” to us.
On the other side, I’ll bet there are some things that you’re good at doing now, but probably not very good when you started doing these things. For example, when I first started ironing shirts, I was awful. But over time, I’ve become more proficient with practice and now I’m much better.
Instead of framing things from a failure and quitting perspective, let’s consider that most of the stuff we do is practice and we are on the journey of continual improvement. For me, this helps me stay away from shame, discouragement and even quitting. Let’s celebrate practice and stay away from failing 🙂
Over the last few months, I’ve been traveling a fair amount & almost every plane is packed to the gills, such that sardines might be an accurate metaphor. And we Americans have this major issue w personal space – don’t touch, don’t lean, don’t talk, etc. We all wear our headphones / earbuds, keep the arm rests down & send out nonverbal cues that say “unavailable.”
But today has been a nice exception to the standard porcupine posture. My seat mate engaged me in conversation & I learned some cool stuff! We didn’t solve any global crisis but the interaction reminds me to be hospitable & cordial.
Sometimes we have to be willing to go past our comfort & culture to having meaningful connections. It’s good to talk with people who don’t look nor act like we do!
It’s easy for me to get a bad attitude when I’m tired, when I have jet lag, when a day is overflowing with bad stuff, etc. And I find that attitudes are important catalysts for how we experience life. In the Bible, we can see various people who wrestled with their attitudes & the outcomes. For example, David had good reasons to have a bad attitude with the Saul season & he endeavored to coach his attitude by keeping his focus on God – a really helpful principle!
Let’s also remember: a bad attitude ruins everything good & a goodattitude ruins everything bad 🙂
Moses is a familiar character particularly in the Old Testament but Aaron isn’t as known. And the truth is that Aaron was a massively significant partner to Moses to help him be effective & fulfill Moses’ divine destiny. God even assigned Aaron to be Moses’ mouthpiece for interacting w Pharaoh with the 10 Plague stuff. And Aaron was the first high priest in Israelite history, along w being a military support to Moses during a battle against the Amalakites.
Sometimes I think we mistake significance with fame or visibility. And even though Aaron messed up w the Golden Calif thing at Sinai, God didn’t shun Aaron & delete his participation in helping form Israel into a nation.
Let’s be sure that we stay engaged in community & a contributing partner no matter our shortfalls or visibility!
I’ve been reading about Moses and the significance of his impact for the nation of Israel. I appreciate that Moses had a plethora of significant impacts and here are a few concise take-aways from Moses’ life that we can apply:
age doesn’t need to be a limiting factor – Moses began his greatest impact when he was 80years old
teamwork is essential for significance – Moses partnered with Aaron who was God’s provision for Moses’ shortfalls
keep trying – Moses’ first interaction with Pharaoh seemed to backfire & make things worse for the Israelites
listen to God – this is the most important take-away that we can apply everday
Maybe when everything is said & done, probably the most significant thing we can do is obey God, with moment by moment help from Holy Spirit!