Nothing seems to repel us like suffering. Indeed, if we had our way, we’d entirely skip the whole crucifixion thing & leap straight to resurrection.
Maybe that’s why Peter, James & John slept in Gethsemane when Jesus told them to watch & pray, while He travailed in prayer with sweat like drops of blood. I would likely chose to sleep as well rather than watch my Invincible Hero suffer & appear frail & unraveled.
But here’s the best kept secret: there’s tremendous intimacy potential in sharing with suffering. While we follow & admire strength, nothing connects us with someone more than seeing & even sharing in weakness & pain. Some of my best friends have been through the most abysmal experiences with me – we’ve shared in suffering & the bond between us from those experiences has been immensely strengthened.
In Holy Week, today is Maunday Thursday. This is the day when Jesus shared the last supper with His disciples, washed their feet & travailed in Gethsemane. Jesus understands suffering & wants to connect deeply with us, not only in resurrection life, but also in struggles & suffering – the fellowship of suffering: Philippians 3:10-11
Do you have mindless habits? All of us have things that we do without giving much thought to them, such as brushing our teeth, driving home, morning routines, etc. It can be really helpful to have these kind of routines, but sometimes they’re counterproductive.
For example, in Luke 10, Martha & Mary had Jesus come to their house for dinner. Based on Martha’s behavior in other stories in the Gospels, it seems like she fell into the routine of cooking, serving & being busy with getting stuff done. All of these things aren’t inherently wicked, but if we allow our routines to sabotage our fellowship with Jesus, then they become more of a hindrance than a help.
Let’s always remember that Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 to seek His kingdom first & we’ll have what we need! Let’s be sure our routines reinforce our intimacy with Jesus rather than distract us in mindless disconnect 🙂
I love my family, full stop. Sometimes it’s easier to love than others, but my love for each member of my family is embedded deep in my heart. Regardless of my deep feelings & commitment of love, it’s important that I express this love to each individual & that requires me to pay attention really well. Expressing the love that’s in our hearts is an essential ingredient for remaining connected but how I express this love has to be meaningful to the person receiving my loving expression. So for example, one of my family members really like to hold hands, hug & cuddle. So for this person, I need to remember that love in their perspective is most meaningful by touch. I have another family member who likes to have time & a listening ear, not holding hands as much. So with this member, I endeavor to keep some dates on the calendar to have some one-to-one time.
The premise for loving well is grounded in the 5 love languages: touch, gifts, service, time & affirmation. Let’s learn what is a meaningful expression of love to the people we love so that we can love them in ways that nurture our connection with them! Let’s remember to love well!
This past weekend, my husband & I attended a marriage retreat. Truthfully, I loath these kinds of things. I don’t like having relationship stuff discussed in such a public forum, it makes me uncomfortable & twitchy. But we all do things that we know to be good for us, even when we don’t like it (eating kale, jogging, going to bed on time, etc).
Relationships can be challenging & being married can be outright arduous. Here are some takeaways I gained from this weekend, relevant not only to marriages but to relationships in general:
winning an argument often means that relationship loses
forgiveness is essential & trust is earned
love is doing what’s in the best interests of the other person even when it’s difficult for me
being safe in a relationship requires communication & attention
Hey friends! I just published a book that I think is honestly the best thing I’ve ever written! My new book is called Jesus Chicks and it’s really brief but extremely insightful. In my new book, I take one chapter per chick to talk about the women with whom Jesus interacted – Martha, Mary, His mom, the Canaanite woman, etc. What I love about this book is my discoveries about how relational Jesus is with us, as I show with His interactions with each of these ladies.
I’d strongly encourage you to get a few copies to share with your friends and even book clubs / Bible study groups since there are also discussion & consideration questions at the end of each chapter. You can also get it as an ebook as well! 🙂
We do alot of our shopping at Walmart because it’s cheap, close and convenient. The quality, however, can sometimes be a little questionable. For example, when I buy socks for my boys, I’ve learned that if I buy them from Walmart, I’ll usually have to buy 2-3 times the number of socks (holes, rips, etc) as if I buy a higher quality & little costlier brand from a different store. Consumer grade socks for my boys from Walmart usually have a pretty short lifespan in the world of boy socks 🙂
Unfortuanately, I think we sometimes treat Christianity with the same level of function. We want cheap, close and convenient: Jesus in the manger, candle light service in less than an hour, the cross, tomb, July 4th and the next thing. With this kind of thinking, it’s not a surprise that someone could easily be disillusioned, misled and / disappointed with the consumer grade version of Christianity, if such a thing really exists.
So here are some thoughts to consider:
does your faith facilitate more function from or attachment with Jesus?
is your faith in Jesus based on consumption, sacrifice and / or transformation?
is Jesus an accessory or a necessity in your life?
maybe consumer grade Christianity is only a Satan contrived deception to the authentic, daily and life-changing relationship with Jesus that will most certainly include sacrifice, fertilizer and resurrection 🙂
Out of the frying pan and into the fire: I was reading about how David was trying to stay away from King Saul in 1 Samuel because Saul was trying to kill David. It’s really interesting to me that God sent David a prophet in 1 Sam 22 & told David to leave the stronghold where he was staying & go back to Judah, where he was more vulnerable to Saul’s attempts to kill him – out of the frying pan and into the fire.
No one likes to be uncomfortable or in difficult situations. If you’re like me, we often look for the paths of least resistance & opposition, along with the areas of greatest safety and comfort. But clearly, this wasn’t how God was directing David in 1 Sam 22. It seems to me that we often trust God the least when we are the most comfortable ,)
We get to work with a really cool team of people & Tues mornings we make some time, as a team, to connect with God. This morning, we did an exercise around the definition of love in 1 Cor 13: love is & love is not. One of the things that is continuing to linger with me after this exercise is that love isn’t arrogant. I’ve been thinking about this idea & here are a few things for your consideration:
love connects but arrogance repels
arrogance is an exalted but erroneous perception of self
Being comfortable conjures up different things for different people. For some people, being comfortable can be the experience of sitting by a fireplace in a cozy blanket & reading a book. For other people, being comfortable is best described as being at a really fun and vibrant party. For me, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be comfortable and I’ve learned some interesting things to pass along to you:
being comfortable can sometimes be an impediment to a deeper relationship with God – discomfort usually makes me do something different
I never want my comfort zones to exclude God – indeed, life with God is a more accurate expression of who I really am
I’ve learned that I can be extremely comfortable in a variety of external situations because of an internal contentment that comes from some very sweet & rich communion with God
when I’m uncomfortable, I tend to lean into God better
I read this morning about how Jesus multiplied the fish & loaves for several thousand people & how they were in total awe of Jesus’ power. The very next day, the crowd tracked Jesus down & had an interesting discussion with Him about the multiplied fish & bread miracle. After reading about this (John 6), it seems to me that the crowd was coming after Jesus to keep doing the free food thing – who wouldn’t want free food?!?
But here’s the real challenge for those of us who follow Jesus: let’s stay connected to Jesus not merely for what He does, but moreso for WHO He is, keeping our intimacy with Jesus healthy, vibrant & transformational 🙂
Reece & I have been married for more than 18 years. We have 3 elementary age kids, busy schedules & lots of demands. Translation: it could be easy to lose our passion & interest in each other just to try & keep up with the demands of life.
I think I the same is true with God. If we aren’t careful, our relationship w God can get programmed, stale & detached. Here are a few ideas that could help you stay passionately in love with God:
*don’t let disappointment or bitterness be stronger than genuine love
*be a proficient forgiver
*stay in awe – God is always up to something divine ,)
*pour out your heart to God & receive in exchange everything God is
*watch for God in the mundane – you’ll be pleasantly surprised!!
*Remember that God is Three & knowing the Three will always blow your mind 🙂
*be willing to let God’s will be supreme over your will
Trust can be a tricky tightrope, particularly when you feel like your trust has been betrayed or when the circumstances all seem contrary to what you believe. So here are a couple of thoughts about trusting in ourselves, other people & God.
In short, I’m not too keen to put lots of trust in people or even in myself, since we are humans with flaws, weaknesses, failures, etc. On the flip side, trusting in God has lots better results, even when it seems difficult. But in all honesty, I’ve also been disappointed in God sometimes when I have a short term mindset. However, when I think about God’s intense & immense love for me, along w Rom 8:28-29 (all things work together for good . . . .), my trust & confidence in God increase. And best of all, the more & better that I trust God then the deeper our relationship grows. Indeed, trust is an essential ingredient for intimacy 🙂
I always want my fellowship with Jesus to be getting deeper & more vibrant. Some days my fellowship with Him seems to be deeper & more vibrant than others. But I’m reminded about my relationships in my husband. We most certainly have a good marriage, but there are lots of days where we just live together doing the daily routines and maintainence of family life. We talk about the daily schedule for our family, our responsibilities, etc. Just because every day in our marriage doesn’t have indescribable bliss and euphoria doesn’t mean that we’re not close or that we don’t have a good marriage. Quite the contrary.
I think this is also true w our relationship with Jesus. I think that some of the greatest fellowship & intimacy can come through including Him throughout the entirety of each day. Jesus loves to be an integral part of our daily living – hence, daily fellowship 🙂
Perspective has alot to do with our decisions & attitudes. Here’s an example: one of my kids just told me that they’re bored. When I suggested that we could skip the Christmas break & head back to school, they were suddenly “un-bored”. Lots of things are a matter of perspective. Along this line, I’ve been thinking lately about what it means to think about things from God’s point of view, based on Biblical insights:
How does God see the things with which I struggle in my life?
What is God’s perspective on the way I treat my mate?
What does God think / feel about how I interact with my kids?
What does God think about how I behave on my job?
What things / values are important to God?
How does God “feel” about the way I use my time, money & energies?
If you want to get to know someone really well, you have to do your best to understand things from their point of view. This takes time, intentionality, honor & humility. Getting to know someone else’s perspective tells them that they are important to you, that their values are significant & that they matter in your life. Getting to know God’s point of view is a noble adventure, worthy of our focus & energies 🙂
I like what Paul says in Philip 3:10 about knowing Christ, the power of His resurrection, fellowship of His suffering, . . . .
I’ve been thinking about this alot & here’s something to consider: i can find myself following strong people; people who have vision, strength of personality & character & those who are strong within themselves. I’ve been around LOTS of strong people – some politicians, Christian leaders, social leaders, etc & they’re very interesting people.
However, when it comes to connecting on a personal level, i find myself drawn to people who are flawed, who share their struggles & vulnerabilities. I think this is because i can easily relate to someone else’s frailties & failures in some ways better than a person’s strength. There’s a distinct fellowship & intimacy that can be experienced in hardship, weakness. Truth be known, i think most of us find it difficult to share our weaknesses. Our society applaudes strength, power, victory & not weakness, vulnerability & failure. Nevertheless, we’re invited to share in the fellowship of the sufferings of Jesus – bringing an intimacy w Him that is both distinct & beautiful.
Since we’ve just celebrated Easter, i’ve been thinking of the purpose of Jesus’ incarnation, death & resurrection. I believe that God’s ultimate purpose in sending Jesus to earth was to redeem humanity to Himself – so we can connect to Him (with His help, direction, etc) in a deep, meaningful & purposeful relationship. Ultimately, that we can have an intimate relationship with the Triune God. Now please don’t spin out on the word, “intimate”. Unfortunately, our society has tainted this word & it can potentially have some overtones that can be a little tricky to manuever around. For me, intimate means very close, but not always having a sexual connotation. When I’m talking about an intimate relationship w God, obviously I’m not including the sexual overtones that our society can associate w this word.
Given the objective of having an intimate relationship w God, i think its important for us to consider what could be enemies to that intimacy. As such, over the next few days or so, I’m planning to blog on what I’ve found to be various enemies to intimacy. I’d totally love / welcome your input not only w comments, but I’d also be happy to receive your insights on the various enemies you may have experienced to intimacy. I’m really excited to dialogue w you to see what God wants to share w us!! 🙂
Everyday, we get the chance to practice forgiveness in both quantity (lots of “small things”) & quantity (some really hefty, weighty & serious interactions). Here’s the black & white truth: all relationships remain shallow without forgiveness. The deeper the relationship, often times, the greater the need for forgiveness. Forgiveness, for me, is most important because I want my relationship with God to be deep, genuine & transformational. I find that when I’m bent out of shape with someone, it affects my walk w God. Consequently, if I’m going to nurture, guard & be part of growing my walk with Him, I need to continually practice forgiving, even if the person doesn’t apologize for their actions or is unaware of how they hurt you. Forgiveness isn’t based on what the other person does or doesn’t do – it comes from your heart & most of all from receiving forgiveness from your heavenly Father so you can let it flow through you.
Something helpful I’ve found in the forgiveness adventure is to forgive quickly – the longer I wait the harder it becomes to forgive. What helps you to be forgiving???