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 🙂

What’s Helpful

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 🙂

The Tired Toaster

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.”

Hmmmmmm.

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!

Let’s Pray

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!

Old and New

Happy 2019! Starting a new day, a new month and a new year is a nice way to think of a fresh start. In some respects, a new year is a little bit like a do-over, taking some of the mishaps, failures, lessons, progress and successes of 2018 and making improvements on these for 2019.

Where you’ve had failures & disasters in 2018, be careful not to allow shame, embarassment, defeat, fear or insecurity define your perspective on these things in 2019. Sometimes it’s helpful to think of failures, defeats, disasters and mishaps in terms of practice and progress. In this way, let’s make new mistakes in 2019 and not the same ones from 2018.

Where you’ve had success, improvement, maturation & progress, let’s take such momentum into 2019 and keep going! There’s a good chance that God would like to build on these things from 2018 and expand those victories!

It’s a new day, new month and new year – all aligned with God’s work because He makes all things new (Isaiah 43:18), including you and me!

Not Yesterday

The past is a really interesting thing to consider. Like me, you likely have some very fond memories as well as some experiences that you’d rather forget. And today is a new day, with new mercies, new experiences, new people, new minutes, new activities, new adventures, . . . . lots of new for new days!

And may we never forget that God’s mercies are new every morning because the faithfulness of God is infinite. Let’s allow each day to be new & have a fresh start. Yesterday is over & today is a new day 🙂

Failure or Practice?

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 🙂


What Smells?

How often have you smelled a perfume or cologne & it reminds you of someone you know?  Or maybe you played sports & when you smell a certain soap it brings back those memories from showering off the workout / practice sweat. 

In the same way, we can leave a lingering smell / residue in our interactions with people. To this end, think about the people who leave a “bad taste in your mouth” & how you might try avoiding them. On the other side, think about those people with whom you interact & you find yourself smiling, cozy on the inside & wanting more interaction. 

I would propose that genuine love is what all of us want & the exchanges that have genuine love leave a healthy & desirable residue. With Jesus’ help, let’s aim to leave a sweet smell from our people interactions!

Who Is Aaron???

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!

Show Up

Some things are difficult & we want to find excuses or reasons to avoid such difficulties. We might want to sidestep a challenging conversation or greeting a prickly person. We might prefer to ignore the scale in the bathroom since it may tell us something unpleasant. And there’s always the “busy” excuse that’s convenient for all kinds of stuff we’d prefer to avoid. 

Despite our best efforts, however, whatever we try to avoid, ignore, deflect, etc it’s still there & will likely remain present until we step into the issue. Here are a few ideas that might help us to show up:

  • Pray: let God know you don’t want to show up & ask for divine Help
  • Deep breath:  this can often help to clear the cobwebs in our thinking & give us some energy to take a step
  • Anticipate good: it’s possible that whatever we might be avoiding has some unexpected good stuff
  • Love truth: sometimes we avoid truth bc it might be painful or unpleasant. But ultimately, deception is more destructive than truth!

Messing Up

I’ve definitely had my share of flops, failures and screwups!  When I was younger, I’d get massively embarrassed & it would take me awhile to recover.  Now that I’m “older”, it’s easier to laugh at myself & put mistakes in the “practice” column ,)

I’m in the middle of a youtube series about people in the Bible who messed up.  Feel free to watch this really short video about a Bible character & I’m inviting you to subscribe to my youtube channel as well!  Happy viewing!

Broken Stuff

My phone is broken so it’s difficult to type the letters “c” & “r”.  So whenever I text or post something with these letters, it can be a spelling disaster & I look like I’m illiterate. And it’s abundantly frustrating!!  I’ve done the updates & tried to troubleshoot & fix this but to no avail. I think something is broken inside my phone. 

And when stuff is broken inside, it’s obvious on the outside. This also holds true for our human existence. When people act whacky, let’s be aware that this often reflects something broken on the inside. Compassion, truth, genuine love & grace are helpful salve to heal & redeem what’s broken inside others as well as ourselves 🙂

Suicide and Depression

In the last few weeks, I’ve learned of various people who have committed suicide and it’s heart wrenching.  A few of these individuals have been pastors, which hits even closer to home considering that I’m a pastor’s kid, I’m married to a pastor and I am a pastor.  These events have also made me reflect on various people over the years who have committed suicide.

As much as I want to be articulate in this post, I feel so deeply about this subject that I can’t seem to get my words or thoughts into some semblance of order or cohesive progression.  So maybe I’ll just free flow with this post and pray that it’s helpful to you, somehow.

More than anything, I hope that you will be gentle, tender and kind with others and yourself, regardless of any external veneer.  When we are in a car and see a handicapped license plate, sticker or a “baby on board” sign, we will often give that person a little extra consideration, grace and space because we know there’s a vulnerable / fragile person inside that vehicle.

May we also have the same mindset with the people in our lives, appreciating that each person with whom we interact, has their own internal struggles regardless of what the exterior looks like or how they behave.  Let’s be purposeful to:

  • be comforting rather than critical
  • choose mercy over judgment
  • be hopeful more than hostile
  • express patience more than petulance

Do You Need Abundance?

Sometimes we find ourselves running on empty.  This can happen not just with finances, but sometimes we run out of energy, or we don’t have enough time, maybe our relationships feel shallow or perhaps you have more problems than solutions.

Feel free to watch & share this short video to see how Jesus provides for us!

When You Get Bad News

No one gets a pass on receiving bad news.  And recently, I heard some stuff that was discouraging – the opposite of what I’d been asking from God & I was unhappy with opposite outcome of my prayers.  I think it’s pointless to hide my emotions from God or pretend that everything is ok when it’s not.  At the same time, the world doesn’t stop just because we get some bad news.  So here are a few suggestions that could be helpful:

  • Tell God how you feel & what you’re thinking.  Reading Psalms & Job give some really  insightful thoughts & expression to emotions that are raw & real.
  • Perspective adjustments:  sometimes it’s helpful to look at a broader picture than just the bad news
  • Consider the cause:  is it possible that the bad news is a consequence of something you did?  If so, maybe it would be helpful to make some course corrections / different decisions.
  • Choose to trust God:  It always encourages me to remember that God uses all things for the the good to those who love Him & stay aligned with God’s purposes

Feel free to pass this along to any friends / family who might be struggling with getting some bad news

Navigating Turbulent Times

I find that life has seasons of serenity and contrasting times of turbulence.  The danger of serene seasons is that we can become stagnant or let our values get highjacked by comfort and convenience.  In relation to turbulent times, here are a few ideas that you, or a friend, might find helpful:

  • take a walk – I find that walking and talking with God helps me unload anxiety and gain some helpful perspective
  • pay attention to your choices – it’s not uncommon for us to seek comfort in turbulent times & sometimes what “comforts” us can actually be detrimental
  • get some help – this can be a variety of things such as exercise, making a praise & worship playlist, having lunch with a friend, reading a good book, etc
  • anchor in the Bible – it always helps me to find a few key Bible verses to keep in the forefront of my thoughts.  Here are some helpful suggestions:

Ps 55:22, “Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you.”

James 1:2-3, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

Matt 6:33, “Seek first God’s kingdom & everything will be added to you.”

Luke 1:37, “With God, nothing is impossible”

Philippians 4:11, “. . . , for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”

 

The Flexible Factor

I’m sitting in a room with extremely brilliant people & everyone has various areas of expertise. And in this meeting, regardless of what we’re individually good at, we are all working to contribute past just our expertise. The contributions we are making in this meeting require us to be flexible – to go out of our comfort zone & expertise rather than just staying in our niche. 

I think this is also how we walk with Holy Spirit in our daily living. Generally, when we are experts in a specific area, we can forget to ask for Help or Divine input. But when we keep a flexible mindset, I think we stay more available for input from Holy Spirit, which we need everyday!

What Stresses You?

Each person has unique things that cause stress.  Some folk get stressed with job interviews while others get stressed with traveling to new places.  Mostly, I don’t get stressed about much, except when I’m meeting heaps of new people.  I appreciate that this shouldn’t be something stressful for me, but shouldn’t doesn’t change reality.

No matter what causes you to be stressed, here are some helpful pointers:

  • peace on the inside can help to mitigate external pressure:  Jesus is our Prince of Peace, so it helps me to remember that His leadership in my heart brings peace
  • perspective:  things change, time passes and you grow;  rarely is stress a permanent state of being
  • past inventory:  count up some things from the past that have been stressful and consider how God has helped you to overcome & resolve those challenges.  God is the same today 🙂

Important Parts

Who knew that a metatarsal was so important?!?!!!  For that matter, who even knows what a metatarsal is???

And this is exactly my point. If you’ve ever broken your toe, you’ll know that a metatarsal (toe bone) is super important & helpful for ambulatory ease ,)

Translation: if you want to walk without pain, don’t break your toe!

The same principle holds true in the Body of Christ. Every person is important & plays a vital role, regardless of how visible or invisible they may be. So let’s not compare ourselves to one another because we each play a unique & essential role. Some of us are spleens, eardrums, corneas, colons & clavicles. If you’re a neuron, you’re every bit as vital as a duodenum, albeit entirely different. 

Let’s never belittle nor minimize our place or the role others play throughout the Body of Christ!  You’re essential!!