Easy or Hard?

I like the “easy button” and easy for me includes: washing dishes, ironing, international travel, languages, grocery shopping, simple cooking and reading my Bible.  In contrast, I don’t like to do stuff that’s hard, which includes:  getting in shape, seeing suffering babies, recovering from jet lag and being gracious rather than snarky.

No doubt, you have your own lists of things that are easy and hard.  But just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done or we shouldn’t try to do it.  I say this because of my morning Bible reading in Philippians 2:7, where Paul says about Jesus, “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”  This verse speaks to Jesus entering the human race, from start to finish, and experiencing human existence.  From my perspective, I would think that might have been difficult for Jesus to do – but He did it nonetheless.

If God asks you to do hard stuff, ask for divine Help and try!  Whethere something is hard or easy, let’s pre-decide to remain obedient and faithful to God!

That’s Awkward

Last night, I got to play on the softball team w my church & it was LOTS of fun!!  However, I felt not just a little awkward because I was the pitcher & I’ve never pitched before. So it was a vertical learning curve for me & some parts were just flat out ugly. 

And sometimes following God doesn’t feel smooth or suave.  Indeed, a lot of times when I follow God, I feel uncomfortable & awkward. But I’d prefer to follow God & feel awkward rather than not follow God & feel suave. And maybe that’s the whole point:  following God isn’t about our feelings but rather about obedience, full stop. Following God will likely make your flesh feel awkward & uncomfortable, but follow God nonetheless. I’d rather follow God & have my flesh be uncomfortable rather than not follow God & have my flesh be comfortable 🙂

Mind the Mouth

“Oooooos!”  I wish I had a dollar for every time I said something I wish I could’ve retracted. And then on the other side, there are also many times I wish I would’ve said something but didn’t. Too much talking or too little talking, each have their own shortfalls. So having discretion & wisdom with our words is massively helpful & constructive!  

Here are a few ideas that could be helpful with minding the mouth:

  • Affirmation – being encouraging is very helpful! 
  • Graceful truth – important investments that help us grow! 
  • Saying good – words that speak life rather than death express genuine love!

I Want a Wetsuit

Because I live in Colorado, swimming in lakes & reservoirs can be an arctic experience. I’m not a polar bear & an igloo is not my residential preference.  Nonetheless, last Summer I tried two open water swims & despite being a relatively proficient swimmer, I thought I was going to freeze & drown, until I tried a wetsuit. Then everything changed. 

The wetsuit insulated my skin & internal organs from the chilly water, it made me more buoyant & I could actually swim without hyperventilating     

Maybe walking w Holy Spirit is kind of like wearing a daily wetsuit that helps us navigate daily living without getting frozen in impossibilities or drowning in fear. Indeed, walking with Holy Spirit everyday helps us to do what is impossible in our natural abilities. Walking with Holy Spirit is comforting & encouraging. And walking with Holy Spirit keeps us moving forward w God’s divine purpose & design in our individual lives!

Let’s wear Holy Spirit like our favorite snuggly hoodie 🙂

Loving Well

I received a text message from a friend this morning with a totally fantastic prayer & this has made me smile almost continuously!  I’m smiling because her prayer was very personal to me & deeply encouraging. As I’ve thought about this, it’s brought to mind that her text prayer to me is an expression of genuine love, which makes me think of lots of different ways we can express genuine love today!!  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Encouraging words – meaningful compliments & heartfelt affirmations are great ways to communicate love! 
  • Post some kind words in a friends FB wall. 
  • Run an errand that could free up some time for a friend / family member.
  • Send a nice card in the mail to someone who wouldn’t expect it.
  • Be friendly & engaging with the check out person at the grocery store.
  • Do something meaningful for your mate or a family member that lets them know you love them, unique to their preferences (not just what you would like). 

Let’s love well today!!

Is There Peace?

Once Jesus rose from the dead, I think the disciples maybe had less anxiety for a few reasons. And maybe we could pick up a few pointers that could be helpful, since anxiety could be a challenge for a few of us.

  • Jesus raising from the dead changed the game because death didn’t get the final say – and nothing is impossible in our lives!
  • Jesus is in the future – this helps me to relax knowing that Jesus is timeless
  • Jesus is about the individual & not only the masses – the Prince of Peace was intentional to seek out individual encounters to resolve questions, doubts & reconciliation.

What Gets You Amp’ed?

In church life, it’s pretty common for people to have great ideas but not much elbow grease to do the great ideas. I wish I had a nickel for every time some has said, “Hey! Y’all should do . . . [insert great idea]”
In the early days of the church, there was a problem related to the food distribution & the apostles’ answer was to tell the congregation to find men who had a good reputation & filled with the Holy Spirit to take over the food distribution.
Rather than take over the problem, the apostles used the challenge as a way to increase the ministry. They continued to pray & preach while adding on a hugely helpful component of humanitarian ministry.
Maybe the things that get you frustrated, angry or upset could possibly be the places where God would have you roll up your sleeves & invest some elbow grease 🙂
It’s something to think about today!

Soul Keeper

Sometimes I want to take care of my soul & not have any help with that. I want to take care of my own thoughts, emotions, desires, decisions, etc. So I struggle to let down my guard & let others gain more than just superficial access.
But today, I read Psalm 121 & it’s all about the Lord being my keeper. As I think about the Lord being my keeper, this means that I give the Lord access to my soul – emotions, thoughts, desires, values & perspective. So I’m challenged to let the Lord keep my soul, which He can do far better than me!!  Let’s be sure to let the Lord be the keeper of our soul!

Helping Our Friends

Lately, I’ve been experiencing a wonderful epiphany: letting my friends help me! I just had a friend text me about some ideas to help me with some sleep challenges. Then, I’ve had another friend help me with writing stuff & another friend has given me super helpful input with communicating! While you might think this is normal, for me it’s been a new experience because of my hyper independence. And then I read an interesting verse in Psalm 118:7a, “The Lord is for me among those who help me; . . . . “
So let’s be the friend who helps others! A few ways to help would include: encouraging words, gentle truth, practical wisdom & maybe even some errands! And on the other side, let’s be sure that we let our friends help us & that we express gratitude to & for our friends!!

Doing Hard Stuff

Presently, I’m at a giant convention & im here to meet people, make some business connections & network. Truth be known, this stuff is hard for me, even though I know that I need to do this. It’s been really helpful to already know a few people here & im grateful for that!
But hard stuff is just simply hard. And this is where I lean into the Holy Spirit to help me – help me to not get overwhelmed, not miss being gracious, not disappear from interacting. I know that I can’t do this without divine Help. And whatever is hard for you, is maybe God’s invitation to lean into the Holy Spirit for supernatural help, Who is always present & eager to join you!

Doing More

In our culture, more seems to always be something to pursue & an optimum priority. But I’m not sure that more is always better. When I think of more work, more exercise, more results, more time, more friends, more traveling, more of everything, I suddenly want to take a nap 🙂
There are definitely things that always need more: wisdom, discernment, worshipping God, prayer & awareness of God’s presence in our lives.

So let’s keep the essentials in the “more” category & let’s make sure that what could be good & helpful is supportive to those core essentials.
Let’s keep the main thing, the main thing!

What’s Your Game?

In various sports, there’s the concept of short game versus the long game.  For example, the short game in basketball could be the shots close to the basket in contrast to the longer distance, 3 point shots.  Additionally, a coach has to keep in mind the immediate events (short game) happening, while being aware of having the resources necessary for the end of the game (long game).

I think the same holds true for our walk with God – both the short and long games.  The long game could be our life in eternity with God & the short game could be our time here on earth.  The short game could be the immediate gratification of desires and the long game could be the death of our flesh so that we have spiritual results.  I think that both the short & long games are important.  The best way to navigate the balance between these is to stay

In Step with the Holy Spirit!

Room at the Table

Whenever we have company for dinner, everyone has a chair & place at the table. No one sits on any ones lap & we even save a place for someone when they’re running late. Everyone has a place.
And the same is true for us with God’s banqueting table. Everyone has a place at the table & is invited to pull up their chair & feast, no matter what they look like, no matter their past failures, regardless of their flaws or deficiencies, Jesus says “Come & dine!”
So when you feel left out, inadequate or insecure, recognize the enemy’s voice & stick with Jesus who welcomes you with eager & open arms!

Weightlifting

I used to despise weight training, particularly in high school when it was gross to be in a weight room with bulked out guys who were dripping sweat and grunting all the time.  That was super disgusting to me & so it wasn’t until my forties when I even considered the possibility of doing weights again.  On this go around, I began to enjoy weight training because I had a friend who trained with me & we had some expert coaching.  Then I got really excited about the idea because my clothes started to fit better!  I also learned some helpful principles:

  • Form is important:  the wrong form can result in harmful injuries and weights that are too heavy are counterproductive.  This reminds me to cast my burdens on Jesus because He’s strong enough to carry the heavy weights in my life
  • Strength grows with consistency:  when I’m consistent with weights, my strength improves.  And with Jesus, being steady in my daily quiet times helps to strengthen my interior life
  • Weakness can be changed to strength:  at the end of doing a rep, my muscles are often tired & that’s when it’s the weight most difficult but also beneficial.  Leaning into Jesus in our weakness is where we can have the most strength!

Discourage or Encourage?

It’s interesting that the root for the words, “discourage” and “encourage” is the word courage, which traces to the Latin root for “heart.”  So when we are discouraged, this literally means, “away from the heart”.  And encourage, by contrast, means “into the heart”.  But the common ingredient for both of the words, encourage & discourage, has to do with the heart.

So let’s think about this:  what happens in my heart is only known between God and me.  People can observe the external results of that internal status, but the state of my heart and what happens there is known most clearly by God.  Maybe this is why Solomon said, in Proverbs 4:23, that we should guard our hearts, since this is where the wellspring of life starts.  With this verse in mind, let’s be certain that we are keeping our hearts wide open to God’s presence because this is how we can live in a state of encouragement rather than being discouraged by experiences, conversations and various other challenges that can arise.  Choose to live with God’s presence in your heart, encouraged and deeply loved!

Love Finds a Way

Genuine love seeps through the edges. It finds a way to be expressed, when it’s difficult & even unwelcome. I say this, having read Jesus’ Prodigal Son parable this morning. Despite the behavior of the riotous & righteous sons, the father’s actions were the same with each one – going out to reconcile & connect. Both sons had different reactions, but genuine love finds a way to express itself in ways that would be meaningful & transformational to the recipient.
So, will you let God love you today? Will you be available to experience God’s Love however God would choose to express this genuine love?
We are all prodigals in various ways, but genuine love seeps through the cracks & soaks into the hard spots because that’s what love does!

Doing the Easy

I like easy in all things: recipes, travel, exercise, conversations, studying, etc. In contrast, stuff that’s hard isn’t as appealing to me. So when Elisha told Naaman, the leper, to dip in the Jordan river to be cleansed from his leprosy, it was an easy solution to a long term painful disease. But Naaman was upset that Elisha didn’t do something different, maybe more difficult, complicated or rigorous. Ultimately, Naaman obeyed Elisha’s directive & was healed from leprosy.
Obeying God is often a matter of doing one easy step, realizing that coaching the mental game can be more challenging than the actual obedience.
When the dust settles, take the easy step of simple obedience to God, regardless of the mental games & gyrations.

Impulsive or Intentional

I’m really good at impulsive & sometimes that isn’t always a prudent thing. So learning to be intentional is very helpful. It seems to me that Moses was impulsive when he killed the Egyptian slave master, but he learned to be intentional. I say this because of his dialogue with God at the burning bush.
The upside of being impulsive is that we can be willing to take risks. The upside of being intentional is evaluating the risks & using wisdom to navigate the possible hotspots. I think the best way to be intentional is to walk with the Holy Spirit rather than letting our flesh make dumb decisions for us 🙂

Goodbye Before Hello

We’re rapidly coming to the end of this year & I’m sure this year has had some ups & downs for you – hopefully more ups than downs. Something I’d strongly encourage you to consider is saying goodbye to some things that are not helpful. There’s no sense in bringing unnecessary & unhelpful luggage into 2018. So this weekend is the prime opportunity to say goodbye & begin a fresh start. Here are some ideas for goodbyes:

  • hurts by forgiving,
  • unhealthy routines (replace w something constructive),
  • spending money / time in non-constructive ways,
  • negative mindsets / perspectives.

The only way that I can see me making these changes is by letting the Holy Spirit help me. Maybe that’s also true for you!! Feel free to pick up my newest book on the Holy Spirit to help you make a fresh start in 2018!

Late Wrappers

Wrapping Christmas presents isn’t in my top 5 thrilling adventures. So I’m a late wrapper. In addition to being a late wrapper, I’m also not a very good wrapper. I have the “get ‘er Done” mindset. But lest we miss the whole point, keep in mind that we’re endeavoring to express genuine love & generosity, regardless of the wrapping or when we wrap our presents
I’d propose that our Heavenly Father wants to let us a know a few things this Christmas to reinforce His genuine love & generosity to us:

  • Wrapping: Jesus, the Fathers ultimate gift to us, came wrapped in human garb, as a newborn
  • Timing: Paul says that in the fullness of time, Jesus became flesh to live among us. God’s timing is perfect!
  • Spectacular: despite being wrapped in human garb, Jesus’ arrival was announced with splendor, grandiose display & jubilant celebration.

It’s ok if you’re a late wrapper, a crummy wrapper or if you’re a timely & spectacular wrapper! No matter what, let’s keep genuine love & generosity our primary goal!