Important Parts

Who knew that a metatarsal was so important?!?!!!  For that matter, who even knows what a metatarsal is???

And this is exactly my point. If you’ve ever broken your toe, you’ll know that a metatarsal (toe bone) is super important & helpful for ambulatory ease ,)

Translation: if you want to walk without pain, don’t break your toe!

The same principle holds true in the Body of Christ. Every person is important & plays a vital role, regardless of how visible or invisible they may be. So let’s not compare ourselves to one another because we each play a unique & essential role. Some of us are spleens, eardrums, corneas, colons & clavicles. If you’re a neuron, you’re every bit as vital as a duodenum, albeit entirely different. 

Let’s never belittle nor minimize our place or the role others play throughout the Body of Christ!  You’re essential!!

Not My Flavor

 I recently watched the NBA championship series between the Cavaliers & Warriors. Both teams have very different styles & it’s easy to find strong proponents for each style. There are heaps of folk who rightfully admire LeBron James, for the Cavs & heaps of folk who like the point spread among several players for the Warriors. 

Personally, I tend to admire the teamwork style of play over more of the superstar style.  With that said, I’ve been thinking about my distaste for styles that are different than my preference. And I’ve come to this conclusion: God has made each of us in unique & wonderful ways. Some individuals are wired up for massive individual achievements & some are wired up for the team approach. Being hostile & acrimonious against styles we don’t like can show not just a bias but also the refusal to grow & respect others who are different than ourselves. 

With this line of thinking, I would suggest that Paul is a phenomenal NT example of a massively high achiever, who valued Help along his various journeys. Maybe Barnabas would be an example of a team player, looking to include as many teammates as he possibly could throughout his life. Both men had unique gifts, contributions & value to add to God’s kingdom. Let’s be careful to respect others who have different giftings rather than belittle & deride them for not being like us 🙂

Useful Obstacles

I don’t like things that slow me down – cars, lines, crowds, etc.  So when things get in my way, I instinctually lock into the persist & overcome mindset.  For example, when a car in front of me drives slowly, I look for ways to get around the car. Sometimes, this backfires because my speeding up can position me to get a traffic ticket, which is worse than having to drive slower. 

With this thinking, we would be wise to not entirely dismiss things that are obstacles. We see this principle in the Bible in relation to Joseph getting thrown into a pit & prison. Clearly, these challenges weren’t pleasant & I’d wager that Joseph was looking for a shortcut or way to circumvent these obstacles. In hindsight, however, the obstacles & hindrances were very useful to his end destination. And there’s a good chance that the same could be true for us. The obstacles in our lives become instruments in God’s hands 🙂

Helpful Tips for Learning

My three teenage kids have learning curves with lots of stuff, as do I.  And part of what means to be human is learning. I think that it’s good to always be learning because this helps us to continually grow. So here are some helpful ideas for daily learning:

  • No shame – don’t belittle yourself or others for what is not known or the lack of proficiency.
  • Celebrate progress – don’t let “perfect” sabotage progress.
  • Learning differences – everyone learns in unique ways.
  • Committed to learn – may there never be a day when we don’t learn
  • Be gentle – we learn better with grace rather than harsh 🙂

Happy Friday to you!

Everywhere A Lesson

Learning can be loads of fun, massively painful or somewhere in the middle. And thankfully, we don’t have to sit in a classroom to learn 🙂

Here are some recent examples of lessons I’m learning in life:

  • Insecurity Insurance: the softball team we played last night needed to feel superior and confident. I decided to be joyful that I could help them feel superior rather than sulk at getting trounced
  • Divine Provisions:  God supplies our needs and even teaches us to be content when there’s deficiency – Phil 4:11-12
  • Training for Success: learning the Romeo & Juliet monologue with my kid is a lesson in diligence & not just memory work
  • Trusting God:  this is a daily and even hourly decision based on Prov 22:19

What could be some everyday lessons Holy Spirit could be showing you?

Overcoming Obstacles

“Here ya go!”  As I was standing on the sidewalk on cold winter day, my friend flung me a seriously AWESOME winter cap that she had made me.  I caught the cap with utter shock, checked it out & beamed from ear to ear.  She had knit me this thoroughly magnificnet blue & white cap that has been my favorite for years.  She later explained that she had to figure out a creative way to get the cap into my hands because of my difficulty to receive gifts.

Each of us have quirky hangups that can create obstacles for connecting in healthy ways with others.  Maybe you have a sense of superiority over others & feel the need to help them improve – that’s an obstacle for connecting.  Perhaps you see yourself as a victim from a past trauma or abuse, so it’s difficult for you to trust, another obstacle.  I could endlessly list all kinds of obstacles we may have for connecting with others, but let’s be thankful that God has already overcome all of our obstacles and quirks because of genuine love.  While there may be hindrances and obstacles along our horizontal journey, our vertical relationship with God is never in peril nor compromised – for the simple reason that God never stops loving us.  His lovingkindness is everlasting!

Easy or Hard?

I like the “easy button” and easy for me includes: washing dishes, ironing, international travel, languages, grocery shopping, simple cooking and reading my Bible.  In contrast, I don’t like to do stuff that’s hard, which includes:  getting in shape, seeing suffering babies, recovering from jet lag and being gracious rather than snarky.

No doubt, you have your own lists of things that are easy and hard.  But just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done or we shouldn’t try to do it.  I say this because of my morning Bible reading in Philippians 2:7, where Paul says about Jesus, “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”  This verse speaks to Jesus entering the human race, from start to finish, and experiencing human existence.  From my perspective, I would think that might have been difficult for Jesus to do – but He did it nonetheless.

If God asks you to do hard stuff, ask for divine Help and try!  Whethere something is hard or easy, let’s pre-decide to remain obedient and faithful to God!

Keep Trying

I’m in Germany & slowly making my way to Angola for some work with Saving Moses & our malnutrition clinics there. Our layover in Germany afforded some time to get out of the airport & catch a train to a nearby city. Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying attention to the train stops, so we went too far & included some extra sightseeing. I felt like an idiot because I’m not an amateur traveler & this isn’t my first train ride in Germany. 

But we kept trying & alas, had a lovely afternoon outside of the airport, with delicious food, glorious sun & some nice walking. 

Just because we make a mistake doesn’t mean that we quit trying. Mistakes can be frustrating but also informative & sometimes God has some unique opportunities to redeem our mistakes, if we keep a healthy attitude & humble heart 🙂

That’s Awkward

Last night, I got to play on the softball team w my church & it was LOTS of fun!!  However, I felt not just a little awkward because I was the pitcher & I’ve never pitched before. So it was a vertical learning curve for me & some parts were just flat out ugly. 

And sometimes following God doesn’t feel smooth or suave.  Indeed, a lot of times when I follow God, I feel uncomfortable & awkward. But I’d prefer to follow God & feel awkward rather than not follow God & feel suave. And maybe that’s the whole point:  following God isn’t about our feelings but rather about obedience, full stop. Following God will likely make your flesh feel awkward & uncomfortable, but follow God nonetheless. I’d rather follow God & have my flesh be uncomfortable rather than not follow God & have my flesh be comfortable 🙂

Let’s Be Guilty

Recently, I acquired a traffic ticket for not having a license plate on my front bumper. As much as I’d like to argue the stupidity of such a fine, an administrative detail to fund the tax base from trivial oversights, I’m guilty. So I paid the fine. 

Hopefully, you & I are guilty of more important things such as:

  • Sincere compliments,
  • inexplainable generosity,
  • gentle & constructive truth,
  • extravagant forgiveness,
  • supernatural patience &
  • divine wisdom

Take a quick moment now to text someone a sincere complement so that we’re both guilty of living out genuine love. 

And I now have a license plate on my front bumper 🙂

I Want a Wetsuit

Because I live in Colorado, swimming in lakes & reservoirs can be an arctic experience. I’m not a polar bear & an igloo is not my residential preference.  Nonetheless, last Summer I tried two open water swims & despite being a relatively proficient swimmer, I thought I was going to freeze & drown, until I tried a wetsuit. Then everything changed. 

The wetsuit insulated my skin & internal organs from the chilly water, it made me more buoyant & I could actually swim without hyperventilating     

Maybe walking w Holy Spirit is kind of like wearing a daily wetsuit that helps us navigate daily living without getting frozen in impossibilities or drowning in fear. Indeed, walking with Holy Spirit everyday helps us to do what is impossible in our natural abilities. Walking with Holy Spirit is comforting & encouraging. And walking with Holy Spirit keeps us moving forward w God’s divine purpose & design in our individual lives!

Let’s wear Holy Spirit like our favorite snuggly hoodie 🙂

The Humility Quotient

It’s a well known proverb that pride goes before a fall & i could be the poster child for this proverb. At my home church on Sunday, I did a face plant trying to lithely “pop” up on the stage. I caught my toe on the edge of the stage & the thunderous KABOOM was my pride exploding, along w smashing my thigh & scrapping up my elbow. I want to think that I’m agile, athletic, coordinated & spry, along with 20 years younger. So maybe I’m kind of athletic & sometimes agile. 

This fall has helped me come back to reality – I’m not a gymnast, I’m not 30years old & I’m not so spry. 

Lovingly, Holy Spirit helps us understand grace, humility & truth, along with a healthy dose of comic relief, when we don’t take ourselves too seriously. 

Recalculating

I hate this word & I’m learning to appreciate it at the same time. When I hear the word, “recalculating” it’s usually when my phone is giving me driving directions & I’ve missed a turn or I’m lost. More honestly, it means that I wasn’t listening or paying attention to the instructions, which happens more than I want to admit. 

This makes me wonder how often Holy Spirit recalculates our journey together.  And some questions begin to circulate in my thoughts:  Are we walking toward the same goal?  Do I want what Holy Spirit wants? Am I walking in step with Holy Spirit?  Am I listening to the directions throughout any given day?  

Not only do I want Holy Spirit to recalculate my journey so that I stay in step together, but I need Holy Spirit to recalibrate my attention so there’s less recalculating 🙂

Anyone agree with me? 

In the Middle

Death is the pre-requisite for resurrection & today is that middle ground. Death happened on Good Friday & resurrection happens tomorrow. But the disciples didn’t know that Jesus would raise tomorrow, no matter how much He told them. And they knew He was dead with lots of uncertainty on the horizon. This is often how the middle feels – uncertain & tenuous.
I don’t think there’s anyone who is reading this now who isn’t in some middle place in life. We can find ourselves in the middle of: schooling, fighting a disease, a financial crisis, a relationship challenge, a difficult decision & heaps more.
So what do we do in the middle? Here are some suggestions that could be helpful:
1 – community: the disciples held together when they found themselves in the middle & waiting for what was next
2 – faith focus: let’s keep our attention on God who works all things together for our good, as we stay in love with Him
3 – purposeful farming: be sure to plant healthy seeds like patience, gratitude, diligence & others since we will reap what we sow 🙂

Faith & Security

A lot of times, we think of being obedient to God on the pre-condition of guaranteed outcomes. We link our obedience to required outcomes we want from God. And unfortunately, too many times we withhold or change our obedience when we don’t see the outcomes we want. But conditional obedience leaves us immature, shallow & unfruitful. For example, if Paul had obeyed Jesus proportionate to his safety, comfort & health, then likely the early church would have severely faltered & been significantly less effective.
Let’s base our obedience to God on His unchanging, faithful & loving character. Faith in God facilitates internal security for external obedience 🙂

What Is Sacrifice?

I’m making my way back home from speaking at a pastor’s conference in Bangledesh. This has been a “quick trip”, considering that getting to Bangledesh can be a 30hour journey with a 12 hour time change – so no travel to Bangledesh is a in reality a “quick trip.” When I was deciding about this trip, I was weighing the cost of the trip, not only financially, but the cost of time, impact to my family & Spring Break time together – sacrifices.
With all these considerations, I felt in my heart that I needed to join this conference – a very unique opportunity to meet Christian leaders in a Muslim country & hopefully encourage & minister to them. And in light of our new nightcare in Bangledesh, I felt that this opportunity would also be strategic & a great way to begin some important relationships for the future.
Before I left for this trip, most of what I felt was a mix of hope, anticipation & sacrifice. Now that I’m returning home, I recognize the sacrifice to be sure. But getting to team up with Holy Spirit to minister to such incredible leaders has left me astounded. Additionally, I experienced some progress on some questions in my heart. And I sense a significant green light from God about Saving Moses growing in our nightcare work throughout this region of the world. Yes this trip was a sacrifice & I’m physically very tired. I’m also very awestruck with God’s generosity that counteracts the sacrifices that we make. I’m very thankful.

What Are You Learning?

Theoretically, I like to learn. In practicality, sometimes it’s difficult for me to learn. In full disclosure, I struggle to learn to trust God & I have a difficult time learning patience & being steadfast, along with many other things.
But it’s interesting that Jesus’ disciples were called “learners”. So when I follow Jesus, my mindset needs to be that of a learner & to live in a continuous state of learning. I want to encourage you to keep a learning mindset, so that our following Jesus keeps getting better & closer everyday! With the help of Holy Spirit, we learn to be better parents, mates, students, employees & humans. So what are you learning?

What Gets You Amp’ed?

In church life, it’s pretty common for people to have great ideas but not much elbow grease to do the great ideas. I wish I had a nickel for every time some has said, “Hey! Y’all should do . . . [insert great idea]”
In the early days of the church, there was a problem related to the food distribution & the apostles’ answer was to tell the congregation to find men who had a good reputation & filled with the Holy Spirit to take over the food distribution.
Rather than take over the problem, the apostles used the challenge as a way to increase the ministry. They continued to pray & preach while adding on a hugely helpful component of humanitarian ministry.
Maybe the things that get you frustrated, angry or upset could possibly be the places where God would have you roll up your sleeves & invest some elbow grease 🙂
It’s something to think about today!

Keep Getting Better!

I make a pretty good roast chicken, but this hasn’t always been true. Indeed, for countless years, my roast chickens were “dry & tasteless”, to quote one of my offspring. I tried lots of different things to make it taste better: stuffing the cavity w herbs, water in the pot w a lid & lots of other stuff. Alas, I almost quit trying, but I didn’t. Instead, I decided to try getting better even just by little steps.
I’m the type of person who wants to see big steps of progress & when I only see millimeters, I can get discouraged. So I want this blog to encourage you on little bits of better if you’re discouraged w the absence of giant leaps of progress. And remember that a little better can apply to heaps of areas in your life: exercise, discipline, Bible reading, relationships, school grades, etc.  Gal 6:9 🙂
And my giant leap progress for doing an awesome roast chicken happened when I cut out the backbone, seasoned both sides w salt / pepper & broiled it on the bottom rack 🙂
I no longer make dry & tasteless roast chicken 🙂

What Do You Think?

I’m learning that what I think is often more important than various experiences or events. If my thoughts are dark, if I’m feeling insecure, inadequate, uncertain or frumpy, then I tend to behave & interact from a darker place. On the contrast, when I’m hopeful, optimistic, bright, steady & confident, then my interactions are more positive & constructive, with a higher quality of internal resilience.
So maybe this is why Paul tells us in Phil 4:7-8, to let Jesus’ peace guard our hearts & mind, as well as instructing us about keeping our thoughts centered on gratitude, stuff that’s right, honorable, etc.
it’s important to think about our thoughts & appreciate that how we interact & engage is an interior decision more than an external response 🙂

#selah