I’m in Israel & just visited the house of Simon the Tanner where Peter had a vision & learned that God is including the Gentiles for redemption (Acts 9-10). It’s mind blowing to visit such an historical site & consider the ramifications of Peters experience but even more so God’s character, which is timeless.
When I get to visit these kinds of historical sites, it refreshes my gratitude that God is loving, inclusive, patient & forgiving. And no matter where you are today, what is happening in your life & regardless of your feelings / emotions, God is never changing & God’s character is genuine love, full stop.
The week between Christmas & New Year’s feels like a “not ready” week, maybe because of all the festivities, bustle & frenzy leading up to Christmas, . . . . . And then we pause 🙂
And for such a pause, I’m abundantly grateful. I don’t have to get ready for anything – no dinner guests, no events, no sermons, no parties, no gift wrapping or last minute presents to buy. In this week, it’s ok to be “not ready.” So I appreciate the opportunity to lounge in pjs, take time for reflection, watch birds and squirrels eat berries off the tree outside my window, get my vacuum into the shop for a much needed tune-up, sleep in a little bit and be entirely comfortable with being “not ready.”
Maybe this idea goes back to the concept of Sabbath, when we pause from our work and take a day of rest. I sincerely believe that such a pause is an essential ingredient for growing in our intimacy with God 🙂
“That’s not what I said.” A lot of times when I listen to someone talk, I have to realize that I don’t always hear what’s being said. And I don’t hear what’s actually being said because of my own perspectives / filters that obscure what is said. Consider that the religious leaders in Jesus’ day couldn’t hear His words because of their own filters. They were concerned about their position & power more than hearing Jesus’ truth & genuine love.
With this reality, we would be wise to consider what may be our filters. Here are some examples for your consideration:
Fear: failing & bad experiences can skew our ability to hear stuff clearly
Scarcity: lack skews our ability to hear clearly
Shame / Embarrassment: when something has terribly wrong in our lives we can easily feel shame
Jesus tells us to be careful what we hear & we would be wise to consider what filters we might have that could be muddling what we hear!
I’m in Bangledesh with Saving Moses. I love to watch the people here & reflect on their daily living. I see shopkeepers, garment factory workers, kids walking to school, brick makers, farmers, etc. There are lots of differences here in the daily living with what is familiar to us in America.
As humans, however, there’s lots of commonality that we’d be wise to acknowledge. No matter the differences, let’s remember some helpful things:
Respect: being respectful of differences helps us learn & know people
Compassion: the road each person travels has unique struggles
Learning: new experiences can facilitate some incredible insights
At the core of these three things is an internal perspective that we can cultivate. When we lack these things, then it’s helpful to take an internal inventory to consider why something is missing. Selah 🙂
There’s lots of stuff in the Bible about wisdom, even a whole book, Proverbs, that’s devoted to the topic. It’s also mentioned in the NT a fair amount, like in James 1, where it says that we should ask for wisdom. So given the frequency of this topic, perhaps it would be helpful to think about what it is, along with what it is not.
In the “wisdom is not” column, here are some things to remember. Wisdom is not:
merely information; facts, formulas, information and details
advanced degrees, memorization or books read
In the other column that defines wisdom, based on the Bible, here’s what we can say. Wisdom is:
grounded in “fearing God”; this means that having a healthy and robust respect for God in our lives is the pathway to facilitating wisdom
discerning the times and seasons in our lives
appreciating what is appropriate and helpful in various situations and events
recognizing when to speak and when to listen
Lets always be ready to get more wisdom & let wisdom be active in our daily living!
My phone is broken so it’s difficult to type the letters “c” & “r”.So whenever I text or post something with these letters, it can be a spelling disaster & I look like I’m illiterate. And it’s abundantly frustrating!!I’ve done the updates & tried to troubleshoot & fix this but to no avail. I think something is broken inside my phone.
And when stuff is broken inside, it’s obvious on the outside. This also holds true for our human existence. When people act whacky, let’s be aware that this often reflects something broken on the inside. Compassion, truth, genuine love & grace are helpful salve to heal & redeem what’s broken inside others as well as ourselves 🙂
In the last few weeks, I’ve learned of various people who have committed suicide and it’s heart wrenching. A few of these individuals have been pastors, which hits even closer to home considering that I’m a pastor’s kid, I’m married to a pastor and I am a pastor. These events have also made me reflect on various people over the years who have committed suicide.
As much as I want to be articulate in this post, I feel so deeply about this subject that I can’t seem to get my words or thoughts into some semblance of order or cohesive progression. So maybe I’ll just free flow with this post and pray that it’s helpful to you, somehow.
More than anything, I hope that you will be gentle, tender and kind with others and yourself, regardless of any external veneer. When we are in a car and see a handicapped license plate, sticker or a “baby on board” sign, we will often give that person a little extra consideration, grace and space because we know there’s a vulnerable / fragile person inside that vehicle.
May we also have the same mindset with the people in our lives, appreciating that each person with whom we interact, has their own internal struggles regardless of what the exterior looks like or how they behave. Let’s be purposeful to:
When I was growing up, my dad would take me to garage sales, art galleries, museums, estate sales, hospital visits, nursing homes, etc with an occassional stop at Arby’s for a jamocha shake & potatoe cakes – yum!! So during my childhood, I was around lots of people who were very different than me. It helped me a lot that my dad was very personable & never knew a stranger because I was realtively quiet & reflective.
As an adult, I also have the privilege of getting to meet lots of people from all walks of life. I meet poor folk & prosperous folk, educated & uneducated people, polite & rude folk, insightful & obtuse . . . . Some people are alot like me & we see life from a similar perspective. In contrast, I’m also around alot of people who are very different from me & I love this!! What is wonderful about each person that I meet, is that they are deeply valuable, highly esteemed and massively loved by our Heavenly Father. Let’s be intentional that we cultivate connections with people are different from us & make the committment to express genuine love regardless of our commonalities or differences!
I was getting fuel this morning & there was an employee standing by to help or answer questions a customer might have. Since most of us could put fuel in our cars with our eyes closed, this employee didn’t have much to do other than circulate & be friendly. So we engaged in trivial chit chat: where are you from, nice weather we’re having, etc. We had a lovely chat & I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him better so the next time I get fuel there, he won’t just be the “gas dude.” Additionally, we prayed together for our health with working out and making better eating decisions.
All of this happened while I was pumping fuel & a few minutes longer. The extra few minutes we give, can be an invaluable expression of love, since everyone is so “busy”. Let’s be lavish with our love by giving an extra few minutes to listen, affirm, engage and acknowledge people & not just functions 🙂
We had dinner last night with a lovely couple & the husband said something profound that is continuing to echo in my thoughts today: We are not all called to talk, in terms of public speaking, but we are all called to listen.
There are times, no doubt, when we need to speak up & be advocates for love and justice. Additionally, some of us have the gift of gab & our personality lends itself to be a “talker.” But let us never minimize the importance of listening – not only with our ears or intellect (so that we can interject a witty comment or some helpful wisdom), but also with our heart, so that we can be attentive with compassion, tender affection and gentle endurance.
In Mark 4:9, Jesus says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
“We interrupt this program for this important message . . . . “
All of these examples remind us of things that arrest our attention to focus & tell us to focus on something different, even if just for a few minutes. In general, I don’t need any help to interrupt my focus because I can be easily distracted. Consequently, I do as much as I can to eliminate distractions and interruptions. While this strategy can be helpful in being productive, it is also possible that God might be trying to get my attention and I’m dismissing the “divine interruption” because I perceive it as a distraction.
In the Bible, there are some great examples of God interrupting a person’s daily living to grab their attention & invite them to make a course correction. Such examples include: Moses & the burning bush, Samuel as a little boy with Eli, Gideon hiding in the winepress with the angelic visit, the Samaritan woman at the well with Jesus & Saul on the road to Damascus.
We would be wise to pause at what could be a distraction or interruption and reflect for a few moments to listen and watch for God to speak with us. Sometimes God interrupts our daily living to help us make some important decisions & course corrections 🙂
I’m making my way back to Denver from Angola Africa, where I’ve been for a week working with our baby malnutrition initiative with Saving Moses. I think this is my 6th trip to Angola & it never fails to bring me to my knees, almost literally.
On this trip, I’ve never seen, held or experienced so many malnourished babies possibly combined in my whole life – over the course of close to 5days. And I’m coming home with all of these experiences swirling in my heart, thoughts & emotions. Clearly, this will be a journey for processing, literally. And at the same time, I’m compelled to do more.
It seems to me like we all want to do more. But I wonder if we want to do more of the right stuff?Sometimes maybe we should think about what it means to “do more” prayerfully considering if our more is being directed by God.
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:
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 🙂
In various sports, there’s the concept of short game versus the long game. For example, the short game in basketball could be the shots close to the basket in contrast to the longer distance, 3 point shots. Additionally, a coach has to keep in mind the immediate events (short game) happening, while being aware of having the resources necessary for the end of the game (long game).
I think the same holds true for our walk with God – both the short and long games. The long game could be our life in eternity with God & the short game could be our time here on earth. The short game could be the immediate gratification of desires and the long game could be the death of our flesh so that we have spiritual results. I think that both the short & long games are important. The best way to navigate the balance between these is to stay
I’m sitting in an English class of one of my kids & learning about gerunds, infinitives & participles. Maybe I’ll learn about these sentence parts this time around, possibly. It’s fun to watch a teacher who is excited not only about their content but also about their students!
In a similar way, I think that God gets excited about teaching us!! It seems to me that God takes us through various classes to help us grow & do better. Such classes include patience, endurance, truth with love & discretion to name a few. As much as I want to think that I’ll graduate & never need these classes, that will likely only happen in heaven. So today, I’m learning & growing one decision at a time, leaning into the Holy Spirit for supernatural help!
In Romans 8:28-29, there’s a list of things that God says won’t separate us from His love for us, stuff like death / life, angels / demons, etc. It’s a very impressive list & comforting to know that none of these things would interrupt nor interfere with God’s love for us!!
The question then rises, if God’s love for us doesn’t have any gaps, then is it possible that we might let some things separate us from God’s love? Is it possible that we allow things to separate us from god’s Love, stuff like fear, pride, unbelief, busy-ness, worries, relationships, sickness, past memories, unforgiveness. Over this weekend, I’d challenge you to take some moments to inventory your life, with the Holy Spirit’s help, to see what you might be allowing in your life that could cause some obstacles for you to experience & deeply know the Father’s love for you 🙂
Shimmering trees, speckled sunlight, icy roads and chilly air invite me to think and reflect deeply about God’s love in diverse display. In Colorado today, cars are slipping off the icy roads and people are bundled in coats, scarves and boots, with their preferred warm beverage cupped tenderly in their hands. It’s these kinds of days that God gives to me and we sharpen the saw.
This means that when the outside is cold and uninviting, it’s nice to stay inside and look for the cozy nooks and spaces to pause, listen and let God plumb my soul for greater connection and togetherness. And this is what I’m designed for: being close and snuggly with God. This is where I’m most settled and content, where I mature and deepen my roots, sharpen the saw.
Maybe this is what Job speaks about in Job 20:20, “Because he knew no quiet within him, He does not retain anything he desires.” These are the kinds of days when God grows the quiet in my soul and it’s deeply satisfying and richly rewarding 🙂
““I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
In Luke 5:32, Jesus told the religious leaders these words in reply to their complaint about Him eating & drinking with shady characters. And throughout all of Luke 5, the people who get a sharp tongue from Jesus are the religious leaders.
As I’ve thought about this, maybe Jesus was loving this group of people by being cranky & confrontational because they were deceived. Perhaps Jesus wanted to heal the deception in their lives so they could have an intimate relationship w Him & they needed the non-gentle approach. Let’s remember that genuine love celebrates truth 🙂