Proximity Alert

It’s getting colder & the days are getting shorter as we begin to move towards Winter.  In the southern hemisphere, they’re approaching Summer and it’s getting warmer there & the days are longer.  So it depends on your location on our planet, in approximation to the sun, whether you’re getting warmer or colder, more or less light. By default, heat & light also have a direct impact on how much life there is.  Where there is less light & more cold, life is less abundant.

Let’s make the same parallel for Jesus, God’s Son.  When we revolve our lives closely around the Son, we have more light, greater warmth & consequentially, more life.  We can also consider that perhaps there are some areas in our lives that need to be around Jesus more – particularly if we recognize the absence of light, warmth & life.  Jesus says that He’s come to give us life & life more abundantly – so let’s stay close to Jesus in every area of our lives!

911

For many Americans, today is a memorable day because of the events from 2001.  I suspect that many of us remember where we were & what we were doing when the two planes flew into the World Trade Center in NYC. There are probably several other monumental events in your life that various triggers that evoke various memories & feelings.

While it’s important to keep these national events memorialized, let’s never trivialize the eternal work that Jesus does in our lives.  His work includes not only our eternal salvation, but also the daily experience we can have with God’s genuine love not only to us, but also through us.  Let’s be certain to remember God’s continuing work in our lives, so that God can express genuine love through us to the people around us!  The world is living in a continual state of 911, making emergency calls that only God’s genuine love can answer & resolve!

Give Hope

“Everyone is going to make it!”  In Acts 27, these were Paul’s words to his fellow travelers who were on a ship, when everyone had lost hope that they would survive.  And these travelers had very good reasons to have lost hope:  an horrific storm that lasted more than two weeks, no sun or stars (so there was no navigation ability), sailors who were trying to abandon the ship, endless ups and downs, rain, wind and instability on a ship, and no sight or inkling of land for numerous days, to say nothing of not eating for two weeks because of raw nerves and fear.

In our daily living, we get to choose how we will respond to the ups and downs of life.  The people around us can be despondent and lose hope, but let’s be the one who stands confident in God’s goodness and love, offering hope and future, just like Paul in the middle of a brutal storm.  Let’s actively choose to trust in God’s love and goodness, while offering hope as a life preserver to anyone around us who may be discouraged by the storms of life!

Brush Your Teeth :)

A few months ago, I was in Angola with Saving Moses & I forgot my toothpaste, so I bought some Angolan toothpaste & it’s not my favorite.  I can appreciate that you might think I should know better than to forget toothpaste, but that’s a conversation for another blog ,)

A few helpful thoughts about tooth brushing:

  • Halitosis / AKA:  bad breath – when some people open their mouths, bad things happen.  Nothing sweet comes out in words or smell.  So let’s put good things in our heart, so that sweet comes out of our mouth, based on Proverbs 10:11
  • Furry Teeth:  brushing off the plague and residual food helps our smiles be warm rather than unnerving or distracting.  And Proverbs 12:14 speaks to the importance of mouth maintenance
  • Bacteria removal:  bad things happen when bacteria builds but & removing it daily from our teeth preserves our ability to continue using our teeth.   Proverbs 12:19 helps us appreciate the importance of keeping truth in our mouths 🙂
  • Preventing enamel & tooth decay:  hurtful & destructive words set into motion negative things in our lives, so let’s be mindful of James 3:1-12 to keep our lives overflowing with love & life!!

Feel free to send this to your friends & share it on FB as a helpful reminder about keeping a sweet mouth with life-giving words!

What Is Success?

It’s interesting to scroll through various social media platforms & look at the abundant advice about how to be successful. When I read through some of this advice, I always walk away asking, “What is success?”  

Is success:

  • living a comfortable life, without conflict or drama? 
  • having heaps of money, recognition, achievements or a glam image? 
  • living a balanced life, all things regulated & controlled for maximum mediocrity?

What is success?  In Jeremiah 9:23-24 it says,  “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;  24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.”

So maybe the most simple definition of biblical success is knowing & loving God, as well as loving our neighbor & ourselves.  Have an awesome Memorial Day weekend living successfully!

Good for the Soul

This morning I tried a new breakfast: quinoa, almonds, blueberries & maple syrup. It was ok for my first attempt & I know it’s better for me than bacon & a cheese omelette  so you m endeavoring to make healthy decisions. 

The same can be said for decisions we make about our souls. Here are a few decisions that are good for the soul:

  • Forgiveness:  keeps the grudge venom neutralized
  • Encouragement:  keeps us with positive thoughts about people
  • Gratitude: keeps us looking for good
  • Trust: keeps us actively declining worry & leaning on God

Keep making healthy choice for your body & soul!

No Crickets

When I’m in a malnutrition clinic here in Angola, I’m delighted to hear crying babies drown out any cricket noises. A crying baby in a malnutrition clinic means they have enough strength to cry. A quiet & lethargic baby in a malnutrition clinic can be very disturbing to me. It’s even worse when a quiet baby in these clinics looks into my eyes & I don’t see anything beyond a glassy stare.  

I’ve just spent the day at one of our 6 malnutrition clinics here in Angola & it’s uniquely unraveling to watch a baby struggle to survive.  Add in a stretched thin mom, worried for her baby’s life, and this can become very unsettling. So how do I process not just one mom & baby in this scenario but not less than ten?  

It helps to pray, for sure & it helps me to spend time & give genuine love. I know that God lives to spend time with you & enjoys your company!

The End of Death

Happy Spring Break! Although it snowed last night in Denver, I know that Spring is soon to overtake Winter so I’m celebrating the conclusion of Winter! Winter seems to be when life hibernates & sometimes ceases. But Spring reminds me that life is always present, even when it seems dormant or unseen.
Spring is also the season for Easter when we celebrate resurrection – life springing from what’s dead. When I think about it, Holy Spirit is an essential for life. Indeed, Romans 8:11 tells us that Holy Spirit was responsible for Jesus’ resurrection & let’s not forget that man became alive when God breathed His Spirit into human shaped clay on Genesis 2. Furthermore, Pentecost happened in the Spring, so let’s be certain to welcome Holy Spirit into our hearts, decisions, outlook, desires & any place on our lives that is dead. With Holy Spirit, resurrection is on the horizon!

Sunny Side Up!

My dad always ordered his eggs over easy & I remember hearing waitresses say to him, “Sunny Side Up!” As a kid, I didn’t understand what they meant, but later learned that this phrase was kind of a synonym for over easy. Now whenever I hear, “sunny side”, everything inside me smiles & I feel warm all over. Maybe this is because I remember my dad sharing his breakfast with me or maybe because the sunny side feels friendly, inviting & open!
I’ve been thinking about this sunny side thing lately because of some plants I’m attempting to keep alive. Even yesterday, I moved a tomatoe plant out of the shade & into the sun – to keep it on the sunny side 🙂
This is pretty cheesy, but we also have to keep ourselves on the “Sonny” side in our thoughts, conversations & decisions for each day. Following Jesus, God’s Son, means that we actively chose to stay on the “Sonny side” of life, sharing encouragement, hope & genuine love with the dark world around us. Indeed, let’s stay bright by letting God’s Son shine through us!

The Lethal Hangnail

“The devil would kill ya with a hangnail if he could!” My dad had lots of fun quotes like this. From my childhood, I remember people laughing at this quote & I smiled like I understood, but I didn’t get it. Now that I have some life tread under my belt, I get it.

The enemy of your soul is out to rattle your cage, poison your thinking & sideline you with anything possible, even a hangnail.
Don’t let him – full stop.
Some helpful pointers:

  • Keep your eyes in Jesus.
  • Don’t quit.
  • Keep loving wholly.
  • Pray intensely.
  • Feed yourself the Bible everyday.
  • Chose faith & reject doubt.

Never forget that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world!

Get RUDE!!

I don’t like rude people & I’d like to keep a wide berth from insensitive folk. But Jesus was rude & rude on more than one occasion. I think the pinnacle of Jesus’ rude behavior was when He cleaned out the temple on Holy Week. He overturned tables, made a whip & offended lots of important people with His house cleaning activities. More than a few people thought Jesus was rude & they didn’t appreciate His challenging words & behaviors.
I think that there are times when we get offended with Jesus as well. More to the point, our flesh objects to His gruff & confrontational behavior. And maybe that’s the point – either our flesh rules us or Jesus is our Lord, but we can’t have it both ways.
In this Holy Week, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to clean out the trash that our flesh accumulates in our souls so that Jesus’ resurrection life can wholly transform us. Indeed, the works of the flesh have to die to the resurrection life of Jesus!

Resurrection Continued

The day after Easter is always an interesting experience. It’s tempting to go back to “normal”, the regular routines & business as usual. 
But this Easter is different for me. 
It’s different for lots of reasons:

  • Jesus many unexpected appearances, reminding me to stay attentive & expectant to experience Jesus throughout any given day
  • Peter’s denial & Thomas’ doubt – exceptional grace to both men (Luke 24:34 & John 20:24-28)
  • The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead – more Heavenly Help!! Rom 8:11
  • Getting ready for Pentecost – grab a copy of Heavenly Help to prepare for this supernatural experience!

What areas in your life need resurrection?

Fun Thoughts About Spring

Spring is a wonderful season! Ive noticed some little buds on the trees & flowers poking through the cold earth. Spring is like a celebration of life in contrast to the dormancy of Winter. A few things to thing about today:

  • Spring Forward: time to get moving! Shake off the Winter hibernation & LETS GO! Gal 6:9
  • Spring Cleaning: be sure that you take some time to clean out the cobwebs & in particular celebrate Resurrection. Perhaps it’s time to get rid of some dead weight – Heb 12:1
  • Spring Break: I love that there’s this thing called Spring Break. It helps me to remember that in all of the Spring flurry of activities, it’s still important to rest! Matt 11:28

New Chapters

Most often, life feels like it happens in the middle of a chapter with some slow plot development, an occasional conflict & some mundane pick & shovel daily living. Then there are seasons when God turns the page & begins a new chapter. When the chapter turns, we can be sad to say goodbye to the preceding season & excited to embrace something new. 
No matter where you’re at in life’s journey, the best part is knowing that the Holy Spirit is always with us, in the ups & downs, twists, mundane & majestic. So let’s keep our focus on the Helper regardless of the season in which we find ourselves. This fellowship makes any journey vibrant, bearable & fruitful 🙂

Managing to Love Well

I was recently on a family vacation & there were a few tense conversations with family members – nothing major, but some scrappy & small conflicts. I was thinking about these conversations this morning in my prayer time & was letting God know that I was frustrated. Fundamentally, I want to love well, but struggle with how to role out genuine love in my daily living. I felt like God spoke this into my heart, “Give Me permission to love through you rather than trying to love from you.”
This has been extremely helpful because I know that my own love is far too limited, but God’s love through me can be infinite. 

So let’s agree to let God love through us & let the fun begin! Remain tied into God’s love ,)

  

A Zombie or Lazarus?

The story of Lazarus has a lot to do with resurrection. Lazarus was a really sick dude  (infirm as opposed to cool) who had an inside track with Jesus. Despite being a person whom Jesus loved, Lazarus died largely because Jesus procrastinated, if that’s ever really possible in a divine context. So when Jesus finally showed up, Lazarus was already dead for 4days & his body was very ripe – ripe for resurrection rather than decay. 

Long story short, Jesus called Lazarus back to life & told them to remove the grave clothes that bound Lazarus’ hands & feet & covered his face. 
I believe that Jesus has resurrection for each of us, but sometimes we let our hands, feet & face stay bound in the clothing of death. Let Jesus set free: 
*your hands free to do His work
*your feet with walk in His steps 
*your face so you can reflect Jesus’ life in our decaying world, desperate for resurrection
Let’s be alive in this day with Jesus’ presence wherever we go & in whatever we do!

un-grinch Christmas

Most of us are familiar with the story of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.  The grinch was an evil villain and the antithesis of Christmas – no one wants to be a grinch, particularly at Christmas, bleck!  But there is a very ugly, mean, destructive and abhorrent grinch doing it’s level best to ruin Christmas for no one less than helpless & vulnerable babies.  This grinch is what the disease ebola is doing in three countries in West Africa (Guine, Liberia & Sierra Leone).  What makes this grinch so wholly abhorrent is how it has stolen the lives of moms & dads in these nations, stranding their babies often with no care, support, protection or food.

Saving Moses is conducting a campaign throughout December to raise anti-grinch funds to provide food, nurture, medical care & protection to these abandoned babies.  Please consider joining our anti-grinch campaign & give these babies genuine love, a chance to survive another day & thrive into the future.  Thanks so much for your prayers & consideration!

hot topic: laughter

Life can be very serious & ever so often, we all need a good laugh.  So today’s hot topic is an attempt to provide some comic relief.  Here are just a few brief & funny traveling stories:

  • wrong week:  last year, I was scheduled to go to Dallas & had a 7am flight (which means that I leave my house no later than 5am).  When I got to the airport, I was having trouble getting the kiosk to print my boarding pass.  When I went to the airline person to help me, she ran my confirmation number through the computer & helped me to see that I was a week early – my flight was booked for the following week;  I chalked it up in the “practice” column.  Consider my husband’s surprise when I walked in the house less than an hour after I left, ready to take the kids to school that morning ,)
  • buddhist monks:  one time I was in the waiting lounge in the Calcutta airport & there were around 6-12 monks who were all seated together.  My friend dared me to jump in the middle of them so he could take a picture of me with them.  I took the dare & the monks scattered faster than cockroaches running away from light.  I learned that they had all taken a vow not to touch a woman & I almost caused them to break this vow with my silliness
  • chief safety officer:  I flew on a commercial plane once (oversees) when the pilot came out of the cockpit on an active runway to close the front door of our airplane – he seemed pretty casual about the whole thing

speak, think, feed

I’m not a big fan of onions – when I chop them, they make my eyes water and sometimes they can have a really sharp odor & flavor.  But they can serve as an interesting metaphor with some helpful thoughts.  If you think about it, onions have many layers – you can keep peeling & peeling, ulimately finding that an onion may have up to 20 layers!

The layers of an onion are a little like our lives, with the first layer being what we say.  The things that we say are very important & since I’ve had children, I’m more convinced of this than ever.  Our words can give life, encouragment and be uplifting or they can be negative, discouraging and death oriented.  So our words are important, but our words are often a reflection of what we think, which is another layer of the onion, so to speak.

Second layer – Have you ever thought about what you think about – a thought inventory?  Many of our thoughts are about getting stuff done and general maintainence thinking (cooking, grocery lists, auto repair, etc).  But we also think about many other things – conversations, what we think people think about us, priorities, time management, how we feel, reactions to various people & interactions, etc.  What we let ourselves think about is very important because our thoughts affect our actions, words, decisions, etc.

But here’s the center of the onion:  what we feed our hearts is what affects our thinking & ultimately our words & actions.  So let me encourage you to take a few minutes to consider the things that you feed your thoughts, emotions & heart.  What are the inputs that you allow in your life?  Do these inputs give life?  Are they uplifting?  Are they truthful?  Do they have genuine love?  Our words are shaped by our thoughts which are shaped by the inputs we allow – so let’s chose these inputs with discernment, discretion, wisdom & love 🙂