Jesus’ Toolbox

When I think about Jesus’ time in earth, He used some very interesting tools:

  • Hammer – there were several occasions where He drove home a point with the religious crowd to accentuate the contrast between their hyprocrisy & His reconciliation agenda
  • Saw – Jesus cut through lots of red tape, tradition & religiosity to express the Father’s genuine affection for humanity.
  • WD40 – there’s nothing like a little shot of grease or anointing to smooth things out & demonstrate the supernatural!
  • Conversation – in my opinion, I think this was Jesus’ most used tool. It is through His discussions, teaching, spontaneous q&a sessions & dialogues that He continues to train His followers even to this day!

Let’s remember that tools are resources, but Jesus is the answer, solution & provision!

Bad News

I hate bad news. I don’t like bad reports from the doctor, I don’t like getting bad report cards from my kids & I don’t like hearing discouraging stuff. But it happens, no matter how much we plug our ears, distract ourselves or attempt to deny what we hear. So what to do?

Here are some helpful suggestions for when you get bad news:

  • Face it – denial of bad news only makes it worse. Romans 4:19 says that Abraham faced the reality of his aged body, but didn’t weaken in his faith
  • Get wisdom – life improves with wisdom but deteriorates with the absence of wisdom. So ask God for wisdom on how to handle the bad news – James 1:5
  • Faith focus – bad news can become debilitating if we don’t keep our focus on God & His ability to do the impossible – Luke 1:37
  • Pray more – when I get bad news, it’s easy for me to worry. Let’s encourage each other to pray more than we worry – Ps 55:22

Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know who’s struggling with bad news!

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.

The Proper ID

“Do you have your ID?” It’s that sinking feeling you get before you begin to frantically recall where you left your driver’s license, or other such identification. This has happened to me more times than I care to remember & I’m hopeful that someday these panic moments will teach me to pay attention & prepare better.

I’m thankful that being a daughter of God doesn’t require a proper identification card. Instead, my behavior reflects my identity according to Romans 8:14. “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” Let’s be certain to consistently follow the Holy Spirit so our identity & character don’t leave room for any speculation.

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!

 

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 🙂

Truth Or Love??

Maybe I’m the only person to struggle with his, but I find it challenging to be truthful & sincerely loving at the same time. For me, this is a tricky balance because I find it easier to be loving & less truthful or more truthful but less loving.
In Proverbs 3:3, it says that we should keep both love & truth around our neck & written on the tablets of our heart. In this verse, we don’t get to pick one over the other, love over truth or truth over love. Instead, we are to blend them together as they connect our head to our body (as a necklace) & permanently inscribed on our hearts to inform our core values & define our actions, conversations & outlook.
With the Holy Spirit helping us, let’s blend love & truth throughout our daily living!

Going Opposite

Being rebellious usually gets the thumbs down reaction from the Christian crowd. We tend to find those verses that talk about being respectful, obedient & compliant & there are heaps of Bible verses to support this mindset.

However, being a person who finds herself sometimes at odds with many societal norms, let me highlight some ways that Jesus went the opposite of the culture & society of His day.

  • Unexpected: Jesus didn’t cater to what people expected from Him. Consider in His first miracle that He told His mom to “chill out” (my slang for “Woman, My time is not yet come”)
  • Forgiveness: when all the religious leaders of His day wanted Jesus to condemn the woman caught in adultery, Jesus forgave her & the intolerance / judgment evaporated
  • Genuine Love: one of my favorite quotes from Jesus: “He who has been forgiven much, loves much; but he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
  • Miracles: Jesus defied conventional thinking by frequently doing miracles: multiplying food, cleansing lepers, restoring promiscuous women, healing the unclean & driving out demonic forces, just to name a few.

If we are followers of Jesus, then we must go the opposite of our flesh, religious intolerance, demonic influences & cultural trends. Most of all, let’s personify genuine love because of the Holy Spirit working in our mindsets, conversations & actions!

Run & Rest – together :)

Following the Holy Spirit means that we allow the Holy Spirit to set the direction & pace regardless of the terrain. So I’m learning that the course navigation isn’t up to me, nor are the seeming detours when I think we are aiming for a particular destination.
Additionally, for pace, there are times when the Holy Spirit seems to move slower than molasses in Winter. At other times, it feels like I’m on the Aerosmith rollercoaster at Universal Studios, going from 0-60mph in 4seconds. Exhilarating!!!
And then there’s the terrain part of following the Holy Spirit – bumpy, hilly, rocky, smooth, dusty, pristine, raucous & serene.
To be sure, following the Holy Spirit is a lifelong journey in which we get to know the Holy Spirit better & better one step at a time!

Crazy Ideas

I have heaps of crazy ideas & what’s really interesting is that I’m not afraid to try out lots of these ideas. Sometimes it works out well & sometimes it’s a disaster. Over the course of time, I’ve grown accustomed to the raised eyebrows & quizzical looks that people give me, but there are few friends who give me the thumbs up & seem to enjoy these grand adventures.

Sometimes, I think the Holy Spirit has some crazy ideas as well. I’ve had the Holy Spirit direct my steps to do some really incredible things, like starting nightcare with Saving Moses, teaching German in China & learning some fun languages! Let’s be careful that we don’t automatically dismiss something crazy & miss an opportunity to follow the Holy Spirit on a fun adventure!!

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.

Stay Focused

What you focus on is where you go. I learned this with great intensity when I took a lesson for downhill mountain bike riding. In a particularly harrowing part of the trail, our instructor kept yelling, “LOOK PAST THE CURVE!!!” A few of my classmates didn’t listen to the instructor & they hardcore crashed, flipping over the handlebars. What the instructor was yelling didn’t make sense to me, but I decided to do what he said, nonetheless. When I followed the instructions, my bike followed my focus.
Lots of times, it’s easy to focus on emergencies, crises, worries, etc. When we obsess with struggles & uncertainties, it’s easy to crash in the curve because our focus gets off of Jesus. Let’s be sure that we keep our focus & thoughts on Jesus, the author & perfectos of our faith – Hebrews 12:2!

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!!