Have you been through difficult seasons when your thoughts turn dark? Lately, it seems like this has been my lot. It’s certainly not as bad as Job in the Bible, but it’s not a smoothy groovy season for me at this time. A few of the challenges that have popped up lately include: a car meltdown, lost my credit card, my husband had a stroke, one of my kids had a crisis at school, some friend challenges and discouraging news from work.
As I’ve been navigating these difficulties, the Holy Spirit spoke to me this morning about how my thoughts were getting dark. It’s like I’ve started to see things in a warped way and I find myself thinking negatively and with grim expectations. This is one of the reasons I so deeply love the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus also calls the Spirit of Truth. In my prayer time today, the Holy Spirit reminded me about Phil 4:8 where Paul tells us to dwell on / think about what is: true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good repute, excellent and worthy of praise.
So with the help of the Holy Spirit, I’m re-directing my thoughts away from the dark stuff & onto things that are THRPLGR: true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good repute! Anyone care to join me???
Presently, I’m waiting for a tow truck as my car has overheated & there’s a leak in the cooling system. I like learning about car engine stuff, but not in emergency mode. Nevertheless, there’s no fire & the Holy Spirit is helping me with the practical stuff 🙂
Seems to me that the Holy Spirit is always my roadside assistance. But better than calling for help, the Holy Spirit is my ever present help & is more than capable of keeping the wheels on the bus, fireproofing my journey & keeping me company throughout the journey! The Holy Spirit is better than roadside assistance!
I’m in Pittsburgh & the older gentleman driving me to the airport has blue eyes like my dad. He’s also kind like my dad was so this drive brings back fond memories. When I think about my dad, I often reflect on the Holy Spirit & how the Helper works in my life. In Romans 8, I learn that the Holy Spirit helps me know God as my Heavenly Father. In John 14, I understand that the Holy Spirit is my Heavenly Help throughout each day. I also understand, from John 14, that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, leading me into truth & away from deception.
My earthly dad was a big proponent of the Holy Spirit so it’s nice to have this gentle reminder as a whisper as I ride in the car with this nice older gentleman wth blue eyes.
Sometimes I think these terms get mixed up in our lives & we don’t realize it. Insulation is to keep out unwanted things, like cold weather or extreme heat. We can also insulate ourselves from painful experiences or uncomfortable feelings. But without being careful, insulation can become isolation when we chose to withdraw & not engage.
I could easily justify insulating myself from seeing & hearing someone’s pain or struggles that I find repugnant. But when I do this, I isolate myself & restrict the Holy Spirit from moving through me, to touch & heal the world around me. Let’s be careful not to insulate ourselves with our wealth & ability to chose our focus from the suffering around us. Thankfully, Jesus didn’t insulate Himself when He lives among us.
We recently had some work done on our kitchen that included replacing the countertops with granite. While the granite is very beautiful, it’s SUPER heavy. Imagine the shock when it started to become unglued & fall off the support wall! Thankfully, no one was hurt but it brought to light some interesting thoughts. The glue wasn’t strong enough to keep the granite attached, so we not only re-glued the granite but now we’re also installing corbels (a fancy architectural term for bracket).
For me, I see this granite adventure kind of like the Holy Spirit working in my daily living. Not only do I need the Holy Spirit to keep me glued together, but I need all of the Holy Spirit support that’s possible to keep me in a functional mindset & to prevent me from falling apart. My flesh is like gravity – pulls me to the lowest level possible. The Holy Spirit keeps me upright, living in truth & holds me together 🙂
In Romans 12, Paul tells us not to be conformed to the world but rather transformed by renewing our minds. I really like this verse because I’m not very good at conforming, or so I think. I want to think that I march to the heartbeat of the Holy Spirit & that my decisions are grounded in the love of God. But the key to these goals is living from a transformed mind. Indeed, our thoughts are the battlefield for what comes out of our mouths & the decisions we make with our time, money & energy.
Being conformed to the world around us isn’t nearly as important as being transformed by Holy Spirit’s presence within us!
Some questions to consider over this holiday weekend:
In what ways have you possibly cloned to the world around you?
In what ways do your thoughts need to be transformed?
How can we better allow God’s love to influence our decisions, conversations & mindset?
Sometimes my thoughts are poisonous. For example, I’m currently writing a book & from time to time I think that what I’m writing is a garbled mess & worthless. There are times when I get in a group of people & I get frozen with insecurity. Occasionally, fear creeps around my thoughts leaving little whispers of doubt.
All of these things are poison. If I let these thoughts run lose in my mind, I turn into a shriveled little person, ineffective & irrelevant.
I would speculate that you might have your own versions of poisonous thoughts so let’s help each other out & agree to pass on the poison. How can we do this? Here are a few suggestions:
Take captive every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God – refuse to let these poisonous thoughts run amuck in your mind
Replace the poison with probiotic verses – Gods word is alive & effective so let’s allow it to firmly root & flourish in our thoughts!
Take a walk – sometimes it helps to clear the cobwebs when we get some physical exercise.
No matter what, let’s actively choose to pass on the poison!
Lice, fleas, chiggers, parasites, viruses & mosquitos are a few examples of little bugs that can range from annoying to lethal. I know about many of these pests from first hand experience & I don’t recommend engaging with these critters in any way except in all efforts to kill them. When I think about these little bugs, it baffles me how something so small & even unseen can fell thousands of people, creating deadly epidemics that can elude our highest technologies & savy immunization strategies.
Sin can be similar to these little bugs. A little sin can poison an entire lifetime, to say nothing of the contagious quality of sin. With the help of the Holy Spirit, ever vigilant to convict the world of sin, may we never tolerate the sins that can so easily beset us. Let’s not allow sin in any form to reside in nor influence our hearts, emotions, thoughts or conversations. No little bugs!
Lice, fleas, chiggers, parasites, viruses & mosquitos are a few examples of little bugs that can range from annoying to lethal. I know about many of these pests from first hand experience & I don’t recommend engaging with these critters in any way except in all efforts to kill them. When I think about these little bugs, it baffles me how something so small & even unseen can fell thousands of people, creating deadly epidemics that can elude the our highest technologies & savy immunization strategies.
Sin can be similar to these little bugs. A little sin can poison an entire lifetime, to say nothing of the contagious quality of sin. With the help of the Holy Spirit, ever vigilant to convict the world of sin, may we never tolerate the sins that can so easily beset us. Let’s not allow sin in any form to reside nor influence our hearts, emotions, thoughts or conversations. No little bugs!
Yesterday, I had the awesome privilege of visiting the National Art Museum in Washington, D.C. – such an amazing place! My dad loved art, so I grew up visiting art museums & galleries, hence my appreciation for art. The thing about art museums is that everything is on public display except for the back hallways, security systems & inner workings of the building. These areas are not available for public access, nor should they be. They are kept for the employees, for keeping the art safe & for maintaining a reasonable environment for the art to be enjoyed by the general public.
Seems to me that an art museum is kind of how our walk with the Holy Spirit should be. Our public life should be regulated by the Holy Spirit in our private world. We should allow the Holy Spirit total access into the hallways of our thoughts. We should allow the Holy Spirit to protect us from the harmful efforts of the devil & we should let the Holy Spirit display the life & love of Jesus through us to the world around us. Let’s be certain to give the Holy Spirit total access throughout our lives so that we display the life of Jesus in all of His glory!
My daughter was meeting some new people & she was coaching me about my social etiquette, endeavoring to be helpful 🙂
At the end of her coaching efforts, she concluded with, “Mom, don’t wear your porcupine suit – smile!” While some people might be put off by her input, I was grateful. She wasn’t being disrespectful or belittling. She was sincerely trying to help me & I figure help is generally a good thing. And on that note, it’s also really good to be helpful!
In John 14:16, Jesus says that He will ask the Father to send us the Helper, aka Holy Spirit. Seems to me that Help is kind of like the Holy Spirit’s nickname – so receiving & giving help can be like cooperating with the Holy Spirit in our daily living. Let’s endeavor to both give & receive help, as we stay in synch with the Holy Spirit throughout this day!
My husband is really good at planning all kinds of stuff. Currently, he’s planning our family vacation, a roadtrip from Denver to Washington DC to sightsee and explore our nation’s capital. I deeply appreciate his skill in planning and there have been innumerable occasions where his planning abilities have bailed me out, thank ya Jesus!
On the other side of planning is non-planning, or maybe the euphemism is spontaneity. This can be a fun way to do life, but risky to be sure. Whether you’re a planner or non-planner type person, let’s be sure that we are endeavoring to follow the Holy Spirit, full stop. Sometimes in our planning we can get so locked into the plan, that we shut out any guidance or direction from the Holy Spirit along the way. On the other side, the lack of planning can leave us in a place where we can’t follow the Holy Spirit, due to a lack of resources, time, energy or ability.
For the people who are planners, be careful to allow the flexibility in your plans to make adjustments should the Holy Spirit lead in a different direction. For the people who are non-planners, be careful to keep yourself with the resources where you can follow the Holy Spirit.
Nobody likes bad news, including me. I don’t want to hear things that disrupt my bliss & when I’m super honest, I don’t want to face stuff that’s uncomfortable or disturbing. It’s ok to watch an occasional YouTube video that’s not good or to see a FB post that’s distressing, but I get to choose when, how & in what quantities I see / hear stuff that I don’t like. Just because I choose to ignore something bad doesn’t mean it’s not there – indeed I think bad stuff gets all the worse when we pretend it’s not there.
Sometimes, however, we need a wake up call – the proverbial 2X4 to the head. Yesterday I had one of these experiences here in Cambodia w Saving Moses. I saw something that wasn’t merely deflating but it was borderline demoralizing. As I woke up this morning, I still had a pit in my stomach from what I experienced yesterday & maybe that’s good. I think it’s good, from time to time, to have a wake up call about our lives. Otherwise, it can be too easy to live in distractions or denials about what’s happening not only around us but also what’s happening inside us. Sometimes it takes some bad news to shake us up, stir us to action & compel us to compassion. Let bad news be a catalyst!
Talk is cheap & words are a dime a dozen. I was thinking of this in relation to various sermons I’ve preached & blogs I’ve written. It’s not as difficult to speak as it is to live out the words we speak. We all have moments when we feel strong & full of faith. We also have moments when we feel frail, fearful & less than full of faith. It’s in these less than powerful moments when our substance gets tested & we come face to face with our humanity. Maybe this is one of the reasons I so deeply love the words of John the Baptist, “Jesus must increase & I must decrease”.
I want Jesus to live big through me & I want the Holy Spirit to empower not only my words but more importantly my actions, attitudes & behaviors. Let’s be sure to allow the Holy Spirit to give us strength, courage & love for Jesus to live big throughout each day!
This summer, it seems like people are traveling more than usual – by airplane, car, train, bike, etc. While I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert traveler, I’ve had enough mistakes & mishaps to give advice from what a person shouldn’t do 🙂
Consider a few helpful tips:
Know where you’re going, or at least get the general direction clear – this relates to setting goals & achieving things as well
Patience & flexibility – enjoy the journey rather than bite your nails, you could likely have some fun experiences & meet some awesome peeps
Rest – Jesus napped on the boats when He traveled, so it seems wise to grab some winks along the way
Pay attention – listen & watch for the Holy Spirit because traveling can be an incredible opportunity to get closer to Heavenly Help
When I was growing up, I was a junkie for all books that told you how to do stuff. I loved the books that would teach you how to cook various things, how to fix stuff & I even bought the VW repair & partsmanuals for my VW rabbit & golf. I still like things that teaches me how to do various stuff – YouTube videos, diy websites, books, etc.
The longer I live however, the more I learn that I don’t know how to do stuff. I don’t know how to navigate the teen years with my kids, I struggle to get the wife thing right, I’m challenged in my job to be a better leader, I wrestle with various friendship challenges & above all, I desperately want to do well in my daily walk with God. Alas, manuals, self-help books, websites, blogs, videos etc can only help with this stuff in limited amounts. I still come to the place, more than I like, when I don’t know how to do these things well or with agility.
From a broad perspective, it’s good that I don’t know how to do this stuff as well as I want. It’s good because I’m forced to rely on the Holy Spirit to teach & guide me & that my friends is the best thing we could have in our entire existence. We don’t know how because we have the ultimate teacher living with us everyday & available to teach us how 🙂
Yesterday was a red letter breakthrough day in lots of ways! I received some AWESOME news for Saving Moses, made some noteworthy headway on the concussions stuff I’ve been dealing with & made some great progress with a work project that’s really encouraging! As I went to bed last night, I was thanking God for all of these amazing things & I began to think about why I was so fulfilled. The common denominator that ran through all of these breakthroughs wasn’t just receiving good news, which can be touch & go in any given day. The common denominator that really captured my attention was the contrast between a breakthrough day & a “keeping on” day.
Seems to me that most of my days are “keeping on” days. These are days that you work on something to make progress, even if it’s just infinitesimal. It’s the kind of day that seems to be relatively ordinary because it’s full of pick & shovel type work. These “keeping on” days are the days when I didn’t get the results I wanted from a neurologist visit but I decided not to give up & quit. These “keeping on” days are when I got tired of hearing another “no” for Saving Moses but I decided to smile rather than be morose. These “keeping on” days remind me of my physical therapy days when my shoulder was recovering & I persevered with doing my pt exercises even though it was late on the evening & I was more than a little tired. These “keeping on” days are the essential foundation for the breakthrough days that we so dearly love. Let’s celebrate the “keeping on” days just as much as the days when we experience a culminating breakthrough!
I can’t think of a person who wants to fail or be unsuccessful, but I think we need to be careful about how we define success. If success is our bank account, then we might be letting money be an idol. If success is our achievements, then we might be in danger of becoming self-absorbed. If success is how we look, then we run the risk of worshipping the image idol.
There are lots of ways to frame or define success, but if we use the Bible to define success then let’s consider Jer 9:23-24. These verses say that success isn’t based on our wealth, our strength or our intelligence. Instead, success is based on the life pursuit of knowing God.
May everything we do spring from this definition of success: that we live to know God better day after day, with the help of the Holy Spirit!
It is very disturbing to read the unfolding news about the mass shooting yesterday in Orlando. A muslim security guard, armed with a semi-automatic machine gun, entered a gay bar in Orlando and began shooting. He was confronted by an off-duty police officer and manuevered into the bathroom where he maintained a stand-off for three hours while the Orlando police and emergency services worked to protect and rescue victims from the carnage and violence. Of course this story is continuing to unfold in the news and I have no doubt more information will come to light over time.
In the political world, various leaders are advocating better gun control laws, some leaders are rallying support for the LGBT community and many leaders are blaming the immigration struggles with which the US is wrestling.
As a follower of Jesus, it is my sincere prayer that my community rallies around the words of Jesus more than the world of hate. There are some people who would try to explain that because this was an attack on a gay bar, God is expressing His judgement and wrath on the homosexual community. There are other folk who would seek to ostracize muslims because of this violent atrocity.
Seems to me that when Jesus was hanging on the cross, He didn’t ask the Father to get revenge on these wicked, violent and undeserving sinners. He asked the Father to forgive the people who violently beat, condemned and hung Him on a cross – the most innocent and pure human to ever grace the human race. May our words and actions be overflowing with the grace and love that have been so richly lavished on us. Let us freely give what we have so abundantly received. We need the Holy Spirit to work into our thoughts and actions the redeeming life of Christ.
We have all had our share of setbacks & mishaps, no matter if you’re the best or worst planner in the world. When something bad happens that you didn’t expect, it’s not the time to have a melt down. In fact, in the face of adveristy & setbacks, it’s often the best time to test your grit & resilience.
For example, this morning I read about how Jesus delivered two men from demonic possession & instead of their town being excited about such wonderful news, the town turned out to demand that Jesus leave their vicinity. While the town’s rejection could have been framed as a debilitating setback, Jesus chose to move on to the next town. The town’s rejection didn’t affect His identity.
Don’t let setbacks, rejections, shortfalls or the unexpected poison your soul. Get up & keep going because Gal 6:9 says that we’ll receive a reward if we don’t quit or give up! Don’t forget that Heavenly Help can be extremely helpful with strengthening your soul!