Genuine Jesus!

I’ve been watching a trend across our nation pertaining to churches & marketing. There’s no shortage of articles or content being generated about the decline in church attendance across the generations as well as a significant concern related to the seeming increase of moral depravity. Consequently, we have loads of marketing strategies to reach a younger demographic, become more appealing in our doctrine with more trendy & hip music, along with clothing adjustments & scheduling conveniences. I think all of these things are great, with one MAJOR interjection (or interruption):

JESUS

In my brief years on this planet, I’ve come to see that genuine Jesus is nothing but altogether irresistible, full stop. Indeed, the original marketing plan that God has laid out for us is in John 12:32, where Jesus says, “If I be lifted up, I’ll will draw all men unto Me.”
In our efforts to attract people to Jesus, let’s never make it ever about anything more than genuine Jesus!

Pushing Buttons

Have you seen the cars that are started by pushing a button rather than using a key in the ignition? It seems like the “button pushing” concept is growing more common & it’s a nice upgrade for simplifying life, but for one massive exception:
Personal Buttons
Each of us have various buttons that cause us to react in various ways – some good & some, not so much. Rather than thinking in terms of people pushing your buttons & causing you to react, maybe it would be more helpful to think about the buttons that we have & why.
Instead of getting upset about people pushing your buttons, I think it’s more productive to think about what those buttons are & why we have them. This journey starts with accepting the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth & then agreeing to let the Holy Spirit lead us in truth. Without that decision, we’ll stay in perpetual bondage to the button pushing slavery & victim to the internal triggers that remain hidden but manipulated by the enemy of our soul.
Think about your personal buttons & ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth about these buttons to you!

Holy Spirit Language

I know it’s weird to admit this but I really like to learn languages. If I didn’t have my family, I think it would be a BLAST to get dropped in a place that spoke no English for like 6weeks so that I could acquire whatever the language is that’s spoken in that place. Some languages that I’d like to get under my belt include: Mandarin, Khmer, Bengali, Swahili & I’m sure there’s several more I’d quickly add to my list.
But my first priority is to learn the language of the Holy Spirit. I appreciate that the underpinnings for this language are rooted in genuine love, so all the subtleties & communication nuances have the flavor & lingering residues of genuine love. I think the Holy Spirit’s language is also infused with intimacy & connection, endeavoring to facilitate & integrate genuine love in every conversation. Finally, I think the Holy Spirit’s language is one of transformation – seeing things that aren’t visible, calling things that aren’t as though they are & exchanging broken & dysfunctional for healthy & redeemed.
Anyone want to learn the Holy Spirit’s language with me?

Solving Problems :)

HELP!!!! I have three children & from time to time, I get these texts, calls & messages. Most of the time, they need me to drive them somewhere, buy them something or listen for venting purposes. One of the things I’m learning is to think about solutions that are internal rather than external.

It seems to me that it’s a common perception that our needs & struggles are externally resolved when the real solution lies on the inside with how we see & think about things.
Here are some things to consider:

  • Do I not like my neighbor because they look successful or because I’m insecure?
  • Is that co-worker really that obnoxious or are my internal judgements looking for reasons to justify my cold disdain?
  • Does that person get under your skin because they touch the internal hotspots that need divine attention & healing?

Before we think in terms of external solutions, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to adjust our internal assumptions.

Blowing Life!!

“Don’t blow me OFF!” These were my words to a family member today before we all departed for our busy days. Sometimes, this family member blows me off & it rankles me. So as I was showering, the Holy Spirit reminded me of John 20:22, after Jesus rose from the dead, He blew ON His disciples & said, “Receive the Holy Spirit!” Furthermore, in Genesis 2:7, God formed Adam from the dirt & blew IN his nostrils & man became a living being.
Let’s be careful that we don’t blow off the Holy Spirit, but rather that we allow the Holy Spirit to be infused into all of today, our thoughts, emotions, decisions & focus!
We can blow off the Holy Spirit, let the Holy Spirit breath on us or into our lives through his day! Let’s go for maximum infusion!!

Object, Project or Person?

How we treat people reflects what we think about them on the inside.  So if we treat the barista like an extension of the espresso machine, then we’re thinking of them in terms of an object rather than a living human.  This happens alot when we get in transactional modes of interaction & neglect to see the person with whom we’re interacting.

When we try to change someone:  correcting their attitudes, challenging their political opinions, getting them closer to Jesus, making them “better”;  let’s be careful that we’re not treating them like a “project“.  The exceptions to this concern can be the parent, teacher or mentor roles, all of which are most affective when we perceive the recipient of our input as a human & not merely a project.

I think what made Jesus so entirely irresistable by the masses of humanity, when He walked on the earth, is that He interacted with everyone with authenticity, genuine love and sincere interest.  He engaged with each individual as a person, not as a project nor object.  This is what happens when we interact with others from the place of genuine love rather than manipulation, achievement or domination.  Let’s allow our lives to remain in genuine love so that our interactions with others resound with redemption & reconciliation!

 

Do You Suffer?

Nothing seems to repel us like suffering. Indeed, if we had our way, we’d entirely skip the whole crucifixion thing & leap straight to resurrection.

Maybe that’s why Peter, James & John slept in Gethsemane when Jesus told them to watch & pray, while He travailed in prayer with sweat like drops of blood. I would likely chose to sleep as well rather than watch my Invincible Hero suffer & appear frail & unraveled.
But here’s the best kept secret: there’s tremendous intimacy potential in sharing with suffering. While we follow & admire strength, nothing connects us with someone more than seeing & even sharing in weakness & pain. Some of my best friends have been through the most abysmal experiences with me – we’ve shared in suffering & the bond between us from those experiences has been immensely strengthened.
In Holy Week, today is Maunday Thursday. This is the day when Jesus shared the last supper with His disciples, washed their feet & travailed in Gethsemane. Jesus understands suffering & wants to connect deeply with us, not only in resurrection life, but also in struggles & suffering – the fellowship of suffering: Philippians 3:10-11

Get RUDE!!

I don’t like rude people & I’d like to keep a wide berth from insensitive folk. But Jesus was rude & rude on more than one occasion. I think the pinnacle of Jesus’ rude behavior was when He cleaned out the temple on Holy Week. He overturned tables, made a whip & offended lots of important people with His house cleaning activities. More than a few people thought Jesus was rude & they didn’t appreciate His challenging words & behaviors.
I think that there are times when we get offended with Jesus as well. More to the point, our flesh objects to His gruff & confrontational behavior. And maybe that’s the point – either our flesh rules us or Jesus is our Lord, but we can’t have it both ways.
In this Holy Week, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to clean out the trash that our flesh accumulates in our souls so that Jesus’ resurrection life can wholly transform us. Indeed, the works of the flesh have to die to the resurrection life of Jesus!

Enjoying Contrasts

I have a child who enjoys classical music & rap. For me, these contrasts don’t match up too well, but to each his own.

I also made an interesting blueberry pie a few days ago where the recipe called for goat cheese & chopped almonds / more contrasts. The pie was like a party in my mouth because of the complementing contrasts: tangy goat cheese & sweet blueberries as well as crunchy almonds & soft blueberries. These contrasts were super pleasant although not something I’d usually consider.

That’s the interesting thing with contrasts: we don’t normally put contrasts together because they often seem to compete rather than blend & complement. But alas, this is how much of following Jesus seems to play out.
For example:

  • Jesus applauded Peter for acknowledging Him as the Son of God but He rebuked Peter for shooting off his mouth;
  • Jesus demonstrates genuine love in the face of abhorrent & brutal humanity;
  • we are to each celebrate our unique gifts & talents while blending them into the Body of Christ for mutual benefit

Navigating contrasts for spiritual growth requires us to pay attention to the Holy Spirit & remain steady in our commitment to genuinely love 🙂

When I’m Overwhelmed

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, stretched too thin & as Bilbo said, “Too much bread & not enough butter.” Its true that I often do this to myself, attempting to squeeze in too much, yet again. But there are also times when I’m running to catch up to the busy lives of three teenagers & a thoroughly magnificent husband, to say nothing of my own workload. Today is one of those days. From the time I woke up, it’s like I can’t keep up with everything I need to do.

Do you ever feel this way? So what to do?
Here’s some real time lessons:

  • Do what’s immediately in front of you
  • Keep a running list of stuff you need to do – this can help you to stop worrying about something falling through the cracks
  • Solicit help – I just asked someone to give me grace on a deadline & they graciously agreed
  • Be careful with your attitude – when we’re in hyper busy mode it’s easy to get snappy & curt, only making everything worse
  • Pray – nothing is more helpful than requesting divine input & intervention

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!

Broken Again

This is a picture of our jerry-rigged dishwasher this morning. I have to prop the door closed so it will keep running & I still have to check it occasionally to make sure it’s still working.
Sometimes life is like my dishwasher. I like it when everything works smoothly, but we know that this isn’t always the case. Joseph working in pharaoh’ house seemed to be in a good place, but I’m sure that when his brothers showed up, things felt broken again. Just when we think things are moving along smoothly, something can break or even seemingly regress. This can be discouraging so let me hopefully give some help here:
1 – keep going: setbacks happen, but keep going, even if it’s a slower pace
2 – fix it: sometimes a solution is permanent but don’t be surprised if you have to circle back & work on the problem again
3 – celebrate: even with what seems small, celebrate! Any progress is helpful!
Feel free to pass this on to your friends who are struggling w broken stuff 🙂

Porcupine Suit

Have you have a few hours, days, weeks, etc when you would like to rent a porcupine suit? These are the times when you feel particularly bristly & not very friendly. As a follower of Jesus, it seems to me that I shouldn’t be like this. But alas, I can be cranky & cantankerous. In these times, I’d like to rent a porcupine suit & I should probably hibernate from social interaction so I don’t stab anyone with my bristly demeanor.

In these times, I need to let the Holy Spirit soothe the needles & console the grumpy. I may have some very good reasons to be cranky, but I must never resist help from the Holy Spirit to be better than my feelings, full stop.

Changing Plans

I changed my plans for today at the last minute. I was going to go snowboarding, but decided that there are more pressing needs at home than my snowboarding interests.
In 1Samuel 13, Saul changed his plans as well. He & Samuel made a plan to make a sacrifice together but he got scared & offered the sacrifice without Samuel. This was a major downfall for Saul & Samuel explained shortly after Saul’s fearful decision, that God had sought out a different leader for Israel, a man after His heart (1San 13:14).
Saul changed the plan he had made with Samuel because he was afraid of his enemy, the Philistines, & saw the Israelite’ support of his leadership rapidly eroding.
While I’m a massive advocate of flexible planning, I’m growing to appreciate the importance of keeping God’s goals as unchanging piers to anchor my soul, regardless of my environs, feelings or selfish preferences.
God’s goals always related to genuine love & connecting humanity to God’s heart in deep intimacy. Let’s be sure that we keep God’s plans more central to our choices rather than our selfish interests, including my snowboarding plans 🙂

Do You Have Enough?

Commercials on tv & the web make it seem like we never have enough. From these marketing efforts, it seems like we don’t have enough status, popularity, image, health, time, etc. I think we often believe these distortions, even subconsciously, or such marketers would try different tactics. But their sales efforts don’t really satisfy that “enough” chasm in our souls.

So what makes us full? What satisfies? What truly fulfills us?

I don’t think anyone or anything will ultimately satisfy us because of how we are created by God. Indeed, it’s been my experience that I’m the most fulfilled & richly satisfied when I’m attentive to the Holy Spirit. And being aware that the Holy Spirit is always with me let’s me live in a healthy equanimity that nothing human can provide. The Holy Spirit is enough for me.

Way Better!!

My husband & I use different routes for driving our kids to their various activities. Normally, I think my way is better: faster, less traffic, etc. Today, I see that I’m wrong. The route he uses is far superior to my way & I could’ve learned this much sooner had I not been so obstinate.

This seems to ring true between the Holy Spirit & me as well. How many times have I stayed glued to my methods & plans only to learn the hard way that the Holy Spirit always has better ways than me. Let’s live in the reality of Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
God’s ways are always the upgrade!!

Heavenly Help Gives Us Jesus!

Jesus birth was a direct result of Heavenly Help. We know this because of Luke 1:35 where Gabriel tells Mary that the Holy Spirit will come upon her. This was his answer to Mary’s question about how she could get pregnant when she’s never known a man.
In this season, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but let’s not forget that the Holy Spirit was directly responsible for Jesus’ physical existence. With this consideration, how can we let the Holy Spirit help us experience, see & find Jesus today? Let’s remember from John 15:26 that anytime we recognize Jesus it’s because the Holy Spirit is bearing witness to us about Jesus. So let’s think about the ways that we can get closer to the Holy Spirit to help us recognize Jesus more readily! Don’t forget to grab a few copies of Heavenly Help to give away for Christmas presents!

What Seduces You?

Nothing.

That’s a stupid question.
But actually, it’s a very important question because what seduces us can give us insight into weak spots & things that can possibly cause us to go off the rails.
For me, I’m a bit of an odd duck. What seduces me isn’t chocolate, wealth, image, clothes, etc. I’m more enamored with intellectual stuff, March Madness & the NCAA college basketball tournament, along with adventure & exhilaration.
Let’s be sure that we keep the stuff that interests us in proper alignment to our love for Jesus. If I let my interests in college basketball, intellectual pursuits or thrill seeking get more intense than my passion & love for Jesus, then I’ve become a victim to idolatry.
We don’t intentionally set out to be idolaters but that’s the problem with seduction. It’s subtle & creeps up on you often before you recognize it.
This is one of the reasons I so deeply love the Holy Spirit who keeps me away from deception & distortion while staying passionately in love with Jesus! Let’s pay attention to the things that seduce us!

My Chauffeur

My daughter has her driver’s permit, so we are starting the “learning to drive” adventure. The first time I rode with her, I knew that my real-time prayer life would be dramatically increasing. Of course I’m praying immediately for her skills to improve but I’m also praying for peace in my heart and for the people driving on the road with us 🙂
Recently, I began to think about this adventure in a different way. Rather than being frazzled by this season, I’m choosing to see that she’s a chauffeur in training. Ok, maybe not my chauffeur, but if I appreciate that Jesus never leaves her, then she can be His chauffeur & that perspective helps me a lot!
Taking that a little further, Jesus is always with us as well, no matter what’s happening or not! If we are Jesus’ chauffeur, this means that He gets to tell us where we’re going & we would be wise to solicit His input on how to get to His destinations!
Have an awesome weekend!

Internal Balance

At the end of the last ski season, I had a really bad fall, sustained a concussion & have had subsequent balance problems. I’m doing some ongoing therapy so it’s getting better, but this makes me think about injuries in new ways. 
I think that we can get hurt in various ways, like from a bad experience in a church, a hurtful conversation with our mate or friend, a bad interaction with a teacher & lots more. From these injuries, our internal balance can get misaligned & we may have some unhealthy ways to compensate for that imbalance. 

An external imbalance often indicates an internal injury. 

This is another reason we so desperately need the Holy Spirit, our Heavenly Help, to bring healing into our souls so we can keep a healthy balance in our lives. Be sure to read my book Heavenly Help to have a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit!