Pass on the Poison

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!

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 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!

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!

All Access


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!

Don’t Be a Porcupine

My daughter was meeting some new people & she was coaching me about my social etiquette, endeavoring to be helpful ūüôā
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!

Planning and Non-Planners

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.

 

Bad News


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!

Easier Said Than Done

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!

Travel Advice


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 ūüôā
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

Enjoy some travel this summer!

Don’t Know How

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 ūüôā

Breakthroughs

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! 

Keep on, keeping on!!  Gal 6:9

What Is Success?

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!

hot topic: Orlando Massacre

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.

keep on keeping on

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!

 

Don’t Surrender

“Bow down to me & I’ll give you all that you see.” This was the final temptation the devil tried against Jesus at the beginning of His ministry. I’ve been thinking about the 3 ways the devil tried to tempt Jesus – against His flesh, worship & power / authority. 
It seems to me that the devil uses the same schemes on us. He tries to tempt us with flesh stuff. He tries to sabotage our worship of God using alluring idols (money, image, pride, intellect, etc). And the devil endeavors to undermine the authority God has given us, telling us that we are frail, powerless, disabled & incapacitated. I think the devil’s number one tool is deception. This is reason alone to snuggle into the Holy Spirit, our Spirit of Truth, so we don’t fall prey to the devils’ efforts & schemes. 

Be sure to read my book, Heavenly Help, so you can stay in synch with the Holy Spirit & out of synch with the devil, the enemy of your soul!

follow the leader

At some point, all of us have played Follow the Leader or Simon Says, most likely when we were kids.  The first few times, it took me some practice to get the hang of it, but rather quickly, I wanted to be the leader so I could make others do what I said.  That felt really powerful ,)

I remember one of my teachers telling me, “Sarah, if you’re going to be a good leader, you have to learn to follow well.” ¬†Of course, this wasn’t the advice I was eager to hear, even though it felt right in my heart and I still hear these words bounce around in my heart & thoughts to this day.

I’ve been thinking of these words about following as they relate to Jesus following the Holy Spirit in Luke 4:1-2. ¬†These verses describe how Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit around in the wilderness for 40 days as He fasted & He was tempted by the devil. ¬†When I’ve thought of these verses, they don’t feel particularly alluring nor enticing. ¬†I’d prefer to not wander around in a desolate wilderness and fast for 40 days, nor be tested by the devil. ¬†Yet that’s exactly what happened as Jesus followed the Holy Spirit. ¬†Later in Luke 4, we read about Jesus being anointed by the Holy Spirit, speaking gracious & powerful words and we see Jesus start to walk in the fullness of His earthly ministry. ¬†But all of that came after His committment to follow the Holy Spirit.

When we follow our flesh, it can briefly make us feel good. ¬†But following the Holy Spirit has far better & longer lasting results than any flesh adventure we could choose. ¬†Let’s be committed every day to following the Holy Spirit.

hot topic: help my unbelief

I love this quote from a dad who was asking Jesus to heal his son. ¬†Jesus says to the dad that all things are possible to him who believes. ¬†The dad’s reply sounds like something I’d say, “I do believe; help my unbelief!”

For me, believing is often easier said than done. ¬†I can talk all day about believing God, trusting in God, having faith, etc, but when the rubber hits the road, sometimes I struggle with the believing thing. ¬†Of course I want to believe, so the desire is solid. ¬†But the actual believing is often¬†where I fall short. ¬†When I think about why I struggle with believing, it’s mostly because of either past experiences or my brain goes into skeptical mode. ¬†So I deeply appreciate this dad’s honest words with Jesus, “Help my unbelief”. ¬†Like me, he’s saying that he wants to believe, but it’s a hurdle and he needs help to overcome this hurdle.

Here are some pointers for overcoming unbelief:

  • be truthful: ¬†hiding or cloaking unbelief is counterproductive, but bringing our weaknesses to Jesus is where strength starts
  • ask for Help! ¬†Since the Holy Spirit is our Helper, seems like a good idea to give the Helper access to the places of unbelief with which we struggle.
  • Jude 20 says that we build up our faith when we pray in the Spirit #selah
  • let’s remember that faith works by love, so the absence of love could be the catalyst for our unbelief #selah

Let’s decide that there is no unbelief in our lives that cannot be transformed into a place of strong faith!

Not Waiting

Next time I decide to write a blog about waiting, I’ll certainly take a few minutes to reconsider. ¬†Yesterday morning, I wrote this lovely blog about the benefits of waiting. ¬†Little did I know that I’d be waiting for three hours for a delayed flight. ¬†Yesterday, I was forced to live in the “benefits” about which I wrote – easier said than done.

Sometimes we have “go seasons” where the waiting is over. ¬†These seasons can also be tricky to navigate for various reasons:

  • we’ve adjusted to “waiting” so “going” kind of upsets the applecart,
  • going can mean shifting into something unknown & for some folk that’s scary,
  • going requires more energy than waiting

Let’s be careful that we don’t use the idea of waiting as an excuse for procrastinating. ¬†Let’s be careful that we don’t let fear keep us stalled in a waiting mode. ¬†Let’s be careful that we don’t use waiting as a justification for being disobedient to something God has told us to do.

There are waiting seasons & there are going seasons.  The key thing is to stay in step with the Holy Spirit in every moment!

Out of Step


Do you ever feel like you’re out of synch with the people around you? This is an uncomfortable feeling, but it’s also possible that the people around you need you to be out of synch. 

I say this because of reading about Paul in a massive storm in Acts 27. When everyone had virtually given up hope of surviving the storm, Paul offered everyone hope. When everyone hadn’t eaten for like 14 days, Paul broke bread & told them to eat. When everyone couldn’t see past the immediate circumstances, Paul told them they’d survive & make it safely to land. 

Maybe we should think about staying out of step rather than conforming to everyone around us. In my thinking, the best way to do this is to stay in step with the Holy Spirit, Gal 5:14 ūüôā

This is a really good to share with a friend ūüôā

Less ‘cussing

In the last several weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the ups & downs of concussion recovery. This is a different adventure than recovering from other physical injuries I’ve had. A concussion is an injury to the brain, so it takes awhile to get the neurons back online & return to one’s normal routines & responsibilities. I’m definitely making progress, but typical to my personality, I’d like to be moving along more quickly. In the meantime, these are some rich benefits I’m experiencing in this journey:

  • relying on the Holy Spirit has helped me with my independence struggle
  • this weakness has facilitated greater fellowship with the Holy Spirit in a real time context & not just hindsight
  • I’m less prideful & more compassionate ūüôā

Less “concussing” but still learning ūüôā