Tourist or Pilgrim?

I’m in Jerusalem with my family, friends & church family seeing loads of biblical stuff that is nothing short of epic!  For example, we’ve seen the synagogue where Jesus taught in Capernaum, Gethsemane, David’s palace, the Temple Mount & heaps more.  I feel like a kid in a candy store to the 10th power!!  

And as I walk around all these sites, reflecting on the associated Bible verses, I’m deeply moved. If I’m only a tourist, then this is a journey of visual information, interesting to my mind but not so much for my heart. As a pilgrim, however, I participate in this journey realizing that my heart could change along the way & I could be different from having taken this journey.  A tourist could have less risk but a pilgrim could have more reward.

So I pose to you the question: will you be a tourist or a pilgrim on this day?  We get to make this decision everyday 🙂

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Timing Is Everything

“My time is not here yet, but your time is always opportune.” This is what Jesus said to his brothers in John 7:6, replying to their advice about His visibility and their marketing wisdom. And there’s lots of value in thinking about the right timing, alignment, relationships, resources, etc.

It seems to me that in our modern world, we don’t have much appetite for patience, refinement processes, aging, maturation and stuff like that. We want the results, but not the time that goes into having the results. And yet I see such massive value in the actual process, time spent, maturation journey. There is timeless wisdom and value in looking at life for the long view and not only the short-term gains. Indeed, since God is the author of time, we would be wise to trust in God’s timing and processes, but most of all that God deeply loves us!

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Finding Jesus

In that today is Christmas Eve, or maybe Christmas when you read this, we might be thinking about Jesus’ birth 🙂

And in the story of Jesus coming to live among us, there are some interesting things we can consider for our daily living.

*Unexpected Coincidence: the shepherds in the field were doing a normal night of shepherding when there was a supernatural interruption. Let’s be mindful that a supernatural interruption can sometimes be dismissed as an unexpected coincidence, causing us to miss something God wants us to know or experience

*Inconvenient Journey: the wiseman took the Star as a signal to go on a journey to seek out something unknown but important. Let’s be mindful that what could be inconvenient and unfamiliar has the potential to lead us to know Jesus more deeply and in a richer experience.

*Unconventional Relationship: Joseph decided to keep Mary as his fiancé even though she was pregnant out of wedlock. Let’s be mindful that being merciful, gracious and generous can position us to bring Jesus to people in meaningful and life-giving experiences.

Let’s keep finding Jesus and helping others experience genuine love through finding Jesus!

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Where Are You Looking?

When you’re driving and you look over your shoulder to check your blind spot, has your car ever veered to the side?  When I took driver’s ed, the instructor taught us that we need to be careful about keeping the car centered at the same time we would check our blind spot.  “Your car will often follow where you look.”

I’ve followed this advice mulitple times and reflected on the times when I let myself get distracted from a goal or destination with the subsequent collision or loss of direction.  So it always helps me to remember Hebrews 12:2 where it says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author & perfector of our faith!”  Jesus is our goal, so let’s keep focusing on Him throughout each day!

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Wrong Place, Maybe

When I go to the grocery store, I expect to find groceries & when I go to my health club, I expect to find weight machines & workout stuff.  So people come to church & expect to find Jesus, but here’s an interesting exception for you to consider:

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Finding Impossible

“I don’t see how that’s going to work.” This is a common sentence I hear in lots of different contexts that include stuff with Saving Moses, family challenges, ministry obstacles & even some personal goals.
It seems to me that people often want to know how something is going to work before they ever try to do it. It’s almost like we want the clear path to success before we’ll even set foot on the path. In my life, I’m learning that as I walk toward success or whatever seems to be impossible that my journey ultimately reaches the destination or goal of doing the impossible & succeeding. At the core of me, I know that walking with the Holy Spirit is how the impossible gets done & more often than not, walking with the Holy Spirit is nothing less than an adventure with the impossible. So LETS GO!!!

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Lovin’ the Road Trip!!

This summer, my family took a road trip to the west coast in a minivan. It’s was a lovely experience & I learned a lot about teenagers as we were together almost nonstop for 12 consecutive days 🙂
So traveling with people helps you get to know them in deeper ways than the occasional lunch or coffee. Here’s a link to my new series, road tripping with Jesus 🙂

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Healing in the Heart

Some people think that duct tape is the solution to everything broken. Other folk prefer super glue, windex, scotch tape or maybe twine. But a heart that is hurt or broken isn’t comforted nor healed by such “helpful hints from Heloise” so to speak.
The first step to being whole hearted & having a healthy heart is to consider if & what could be broken or dysfunctional. I don’t see how we can do that without letting the Holy Spirit talk to us about various challenges, struggles & behaviors. These conversations with the Holy Spirit aren’t easy, but it’s step one to living a whole hearted life.
Another helpful step after starting these conversations is to let the Holy Spirit have access to the bruises, painful memories & the compensatory actions that stem from the brokenness & dysfunction. Let the Holy Spirit have ongoing access so that you can complete healing & live a whole hearted life!
Consider that the Holy Spirit is our best friend on the journey of whole hearted living 🙂

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Timely Provision

Abraham’s servant was commissioned to find a wife for Isaac, Abraham’s son. There were some very significant criteria for this wife, like she had to move away from her home & family to marry Isaac. From the servants conversation with Abraham & his prayer to God, it seems to me that the servant felt some heavy pressure to find the wife & bring her to Isaac.
In my opinion, the whole wife acquisition challenge was a giant walk of faith. And this happens one step at a time. The servant made this journey by getting together lots of helpful resources & leaving his home. Then he took awhile to get to his destination. Upon arrival, he prayed & asked for God’s input to find the right wife & God totally confirmed the servant’s prayer. The end story is that the servant returned with Rebekah, a beautiful wife & divine provision for Isaac.
When we have needs in our lives, let’s take the faith walk with God, one step at a time 🙂

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The Greener Grass

There’s a common saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” And in our moments of honesty, we can often recognize the error of this thinking. This mindset happens when we look at another person & wish we had their life.

  • “I wish I was smart like they are”
  • “I wish I had their coordination or athleticism”
  • “They have their life totally scooped – I wish I could be like them”
  • “I wish I could be that kind of a leadyer, wife / husband, parent, worshipper, etc”

Here’s the truth: we are each uniquely designed with the suitable talents, gifts, opportunities, etc for the divine plan for which God made us. The grass for our path is appropriately green, distributed & manicured for the journey that God has designed for us. So my take-away point is this: keep you eyes on God & decide to trust God more than what you see, experience or feel

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Celebrate the Victories!

Did you make some resolutions for 2017? How’re doing on keeping them? It takes some definite commitment to hold onto these resolutions & seem them become reality. Indeed, sometimes we can fall short on our resolutions. But here’s something that can be helpful: celebrate the incremental victories to keep up some momentum & continue making progress!

Consider what David said to Saul in relation to killing Goliath: I killed a bear & I killed a lion, so this giant will be like those vanquished foes! David strung together seemingly smaller victories to encourage himself about conquering Goliath!
Let’s remember to applaud the steps & not just the destination, lest we get discouraged on the journey & quit.

Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know who’s made some resolutions for this year to encourage & applaud each victory, no matter how small it may seem!

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Still Motion

It seems of late that I’m always going somewhere – AZ, CA, NC, PA etc & it feels like I’m in perpetual motion. This is good because I get to share about the daily & supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit. On the other side, I find myself desiring that peace from being still & knowing that God is. With all of the traveling & stresses of work, home, schedules, family etc, we would be wise to learn about carrying peace on the inside.  In Job 20:20 it says, “Because he knew no quiet within him, he does not retain anything he desires.”
Here are some ideas about carrying some quiet in our heads wherever we go:

  • remember to give your anxieties to God
    turn to God as a habit & not just in overwhelm mode
  • let those unexpected cancelled events give you some pause space – don’t fill your schedule to the gills
  • life has seasons, ebb & flow & we would be wise to go with the flow
  • it helps me, on occasion, to sit in my car for a few minutes, with no phone or music & just be still

Carry some quiet in your heart wherever you go!

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Path to Pentecost: Jesus?

Before there were planes, trains & automobiles, people used camels, donkeys & the sandal express to resolve their transportation needs.  So once upon a time there were a couple of guys walking from one town to another and a random stranger joined their pedestrian ambulation.  There ensued a heated conversation about the current events of that time: something about a very magnetic man getting brutally murdered by the key religious leaders of the region & supposedy this murdered but magnetic guy had risen from the dead, according to the rumor on the street.  The stranger seemed unaware of these current events, but somehow started a religious conversation that caused a holy heart burn in these fellow travellers.  Long story short, these guys came to understand after Jesus disappeared that He was talking with them along their journey, even though they didn’t recognize Him.  Luke 24

Just because we know about Jesus doesn’t mean that we always recognize Him in the events or journey of our daily living.  I think that part of our Path to Pentecost is letting the Holy Spirit help us recognize Jesus better in our day to day existence.

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Let’s Take a Walk

  
Sometimes I find myself in situations that are far beyond my skill set & often I get jittery, intimidated & overwhelmed. It’s precisely in these moments that I find the most fulfilling & richest relationship with the Holy Spirit. This is my experience because when I take a pause to catch my breath & reflect, I sense the Holy Spirit by my side, helping & telling me that it’s going to be ok. 
Furthermore, it feels to me like the Holy Spirit invites me to take a walk together, something I love & relish. I like to take walks because there often seems to be boatloads of challenges that get worked out in my conversation with the Holy Spirit on these walks. I also appreciate that the Helper invites me on these strolls for a few helpful pointers:

  • more often than not, I have no clue where walking with the Holy Spirit will lead me & truth be known, I’m an adventure junkie – usually I love to go to new destinations & experiences, particularly when the Holy Spirit is leading the journey;
  • I don’t have to know the destination to enjoy the company – I’m learning this lesson across a wide swath of experiences & adventures; 
  • Walking with the Holy Spirit is an adventure not only in the various experiences along the journey but also in the pace of the whole walk – sometimes at lightning speed & sometimes at a pace that is slower than molasses in winter, stationary at best & seemingly regressive sometimes;

Let’s walk together with the Holy Spirit, Gal 5:16 & 25, for not only the pace & direction but for the outcomes & most importantly for the company & fellowship!  Take a walk & see what fun ensues 🙂

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let’s be honest

I had an interesting conversation with a friend last week about how she felt like some Christians didn’t accept her because of some of her questions, doubts and frustrations.  She explained how that in the past she’d expressed some doubts or struggles in her faith in a small group and some of the members of the group were unkind, dismissive and disdainful.

Seems to me that if we are going to sincerely love each other, as Jesus instructs, that we need to walk the journey together more than criticize, critique or exclude.  Jesus knew that Peter would struggle in his faith, deny and abandon Jesus, but that didn’t detour Jesus from staying Peter’s friend.  In fact, Jesus closed the loop on any questions about His love for Peter in John 21 with His questions about Peter’s love for Him.

Jesus love us, full stop.  I pray that I wholly let Jesus love others well & authentically through me 🙂

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Long Roads

  

Today is hopefully my final orthopedic surgeon appointment where he tells me that I have the green light to do any activity I want 🙂

This has been a very long journey, starting back at the very beginning of January when I dislocated my shoulder during some snowboarding. When I think of all of the things related to my shoulder that have transpired since the original injury, it has indeed been a very long journey that’s including multiple international trips, surgery, weeks of sleeping on the couch, hours of physical therapy with my steady & divinely supportive husband walking patiently with me through all of this journey. 

Sometimes we experience pain & trauma in our lives & we want a quick fix or miraculous healing – instant transformation would be supremely awesome! But alas, it seems to me that Holy Spirit more often walks us through some long roads with incremental progress: bits, pieces, parts & steps. Perhaps the Holy Spirit chooses the long road for our healing to have the maximum quality of intimacy with us. Just something to consider on your journey this day 🙂

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The Importance of Pacing

Today I had a blast!!  I got to work out & play some basketball for the first time since having shoulder surgery 8weeks ago. Truth be known, it was pretty pathetic but I was excited nonetheless!  I TOTALLY love getting to shoot some ball, I like having good carido endurance & I’m super eager to get back to some swimming. All of this with the ring in my ears of the word, “pacing”. 

I tend to want to do things fast, furious & full on – but this technique also comes with a greater potential for injury & that’s no bueno. 
There’s a lot to be said for pacing & going through the various processes in life. I’m reminded that God didn’t make the world in one day, but rather made the process & timing so that creation would be wholly functional & healthy for us. 
If you’re the impatient type of person like me, letting cool our jets & celebrate the journey & process 🙂
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More Provision?

I’ve been thinking lately about Abraham & how God told him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, in Genesis 22 – what an absolutely horrible thing to ask from Abraham! And yet Abraham obeyed God, set out early in the morning, complete with supplies, servants & his son (I would have conveniently forgotten something, like my son, oops!). Abraham’s journey to the place where he was to sacrifice Isaac was a 3day journey & I am quite positive that every step he took closer to the place of sacrifice became increasingly dreadful in anticipation of such an overwhelming sacrifice. When we read this chapter, we learn that God is our Provider, with the ram in the bush provision / substitute for Isaac.
Nevertheless, the longer & more that Abraham was obedient to do what God had required, the more he became aware that he needed God.

The greater our obedience to God, the more we become aware of our need for God, full stop.

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Guided Steps

Do you have some decisions to make or concerns about the future that are a struggle? If you or someone you know has this challenge, then these next few words, with Jesus’ help, will be valuable

This morning, I read about how Abraham’s servant set off on a journey to find a wife for Isaac, Abraham’s son. This servant was tasked by Abraham with clear & precise instructions to find a wife for Isaac & the servant was rightfully jittery with such heavy duty responsibility. Nevertheless, the servant moved forward & found exactly God’s provision for Isaac’s wife.

Here are a few helpful points:
*take one step at a time – sometimes the big picture can get overwhelming, so decide to take one nibble at a time
*test the waters – Abraham’s servant asked Rebekah for a drink of water to open the possibility of discussing her future; he didn’t jump in the deep end with his initial words
*trust God – Abraham’s servant relied on Gods loving kindness to Abraham to find Isaac’s wife; God has a good track record & God is faithful!
*follow through – keep taking one step at a time until the final completion; don’t quit before the end 🙂

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drinking from a fire hydrant

Have you ever had seasons in your life where you feel very overwhelmed?  Sometimes we go through times where it seems like everything is broken & sometimes we go through seasons that just have lots of demands.  Last week, I had one of those weeks – it was the kids last week of school, I had a couple of sermons to prepare, some work deadlines and a few other spinning plates.  I felt like I was drinking from a fire hydrant on full open :/

gushing-hydrant-2

Thankfully, this week has a little more breathing room.  Regardless of the demands & pressures on our lives, it always helps me to remember that God is in charge & that I don’t have to be an “expert” on water pressure, time management, resource allocation, solution provision, energy distribution, etc.  While I may have a few talents & skills, God is an expert at everything – most of all, God is an expert at loving us & helping us in our daily living, with or without fire hydrants ,)

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A Slow Trip

When I travel, I try to take the shortest routes hoping to spend the least amount of time traveling. For example, when I go to Angola with Saving Moses, I try to figure out a way to skip stopping in Europe so that my travel can be more efficient & more direct.
In contrast, I was reading in Luke 24 about how Jesus’ disciples were on the road to Emmaus & were unknowingly having a very engaging chat w Jesus. Once they arrived at their destination, they were enjoying Jesus’ company so much that they compelled Him to stay w them & share a meal. During the meal, Luke tells us that their eyes were opened & they recognized Jesus! As I thought about this, maybe they should have slowed down their travel / journey to enjoy Jesus’ presence along the way.
Slow down, Jesus is walking with you each day 🙂

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when the journey is difficult

I’ve been thinking about Abraham lately & how God tested him in Genesis 22 and instructed him to sacrifice his only son, the son of promise, Isaac.  Thankfully, we can read the end of the chapter & celebrate with Abraham that God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in place of Isaac – God sees our needs and has provision waiting for those needs.  But I’ve been thinking about the 3 day journey that Abraham took with Isaac to get to the place where he was supposed to sacrifice his son.  If I were in Abraham’s sandals, those 3 days would have been the absolute & most abhorrent days of my life – knowing what I was assigned by God to do.   The revelation at the end of the journey was nothing less than heavenly (Abraham experienced God in an extremely powerful way) but the journey was nothing less than hell.

Sometimes the journey in our life can be an almost living hell, but let me encourage you that God is walking with you for every step and there’s a great possibility that through this journey, you will come to know God in such a heavenly way that the hell of the journey will pale in comparison to the heaven of the revelation 🙂

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burn out

Sometimes in my life I feel like there’s too much journey and not enough Jesus.  I know that life is a journey and that we are encouraged to not grow weary in well doing.  I know that hardships and difficulties create strength, endurance and persistence.  I know that we’re supposed to encourage and strengthen ourselves in the Lord (like David did at Ziklag in 1 Sam).  But if I’m super honest, I also can feel like Elijah in 1 Kings 19, when the angel said that the journey was too much for him – too much journey and not enough Jesus.

But in this phrase, “too much journey and not enough Jesus”, there’s also the answer:  more of Jesus.  It seems to me that our journey in life doesn’t stop – it’s continual.  The quantity of Jesus in my life, however, can fluctuate (understanding that He never leaves us but that my engagement with Him can increase / decrease on any given day).  So let’s be sure that we never take a break from Jesus regardless of what’s happening on our journey in life 🙂

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An encouraging challenge

Sometimes I can get discouraged when I look at problems that seem to have no answers & sometimes I can get overwhelmed by some challenges that seem insurmountable. Ever feel the same? During my prayer time this morning, I was reminded about how God had a sheep waiting for Abraham when he was about to sacrifice Isaac. This story reminds me that God has solutions, provisions & wisdom waiting for me when various needs can become urgent. In the meantime, rather than fretting, getting stressed out & uptight about various problems, I can change my thinking to being grateful & appreciative that God has already provided answers & resources. When I’m thankful, I’m a better traveling companion with God during the journey of life rather than being stressed out 🙂

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thinking about my dad

When a person whom we love dies, its kind of a surreal journey & that has certainly been true for me with my dad’s death almost 2 months ago.  I’m writing, on occasion, about my thoughts and feelings about his death not to be morbid or to seek for sympathy or attention.  Instead, my intent is to help others who may be going through some grief or loss. With that being said, the first few weeks after my dad died were a bit of a whirlwind – lots of activities, people expressing concern, kindness and an overall sense of busy-ness.  The last month, however, has seemed to settle down in relation to activities related to my dad’s passing.  For me, this has been a more difficult time than when he first died.  I find myself frequently remembering cool things about my dad:

  • when I was 5 years old, he would let me ride on his shoulders when we would go to Israel so that I could see and hear what the tour guides were talking about – helping me experience the Bible in a first hand way
  • he would make his coffee uber strong & playfully threaten to splatter weak coffee all over the wall – a sentiment with which I find myself in more & more agreement ,)
  • stopping for ice cream at Baskin Robbins 31 flavors on the way home from church on Sunday nights & he always ordered (and shared with me) jamocha almond fudge 🙂
  • when I was in junior high, he would come to my basketball games, even though he had absolutely no athletic inclination.  Now more than ever, I totally appreciate what this means – watching jr high girls’ basketball can be a genuine labor of love ,)

So if you’re on a journey that includes grief or loss, I pray that you would continue to celebrate the good memories and characteristics of whoever has passed on and I pray that we can both turn to Jesus to carry our griefs and sorrows.  After all that’s said and done, Jesus loves us and is walking along this journey with us.

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