New Places

I like to go new places, so I’m currently enjoying our family vacation, driving from Denver to Washington DC & then back home next week. Presently, were visiting relatives in Missouri & Arkansas, so it’s an efficient road trip, seeing sights, exploring new places & enjoying some fun conversations with family. This idea about visiting new places is right in my wheelhouse: I like going places I’ve never visited before, full stop. 
I think this idea is also relevant to our walk with Jesus. Sometimes it can be easy to get in a rut or even become complacent in our spiritual journey. So maybe it’s worth some time to think about how to freshen up your relationship with Jesus. Here are some possible ideas:

  • Consider taking a few hours this weekend to take a hike with a journal & take some time to listen
  • Think about some possible ways to serve others – soup kitchen, homeless outreach, take a missions trip
  • Slowly read a pet of the Bible that you’re not very familiar with, keeping a pen & paper close for observations
  • Look into joining a Bible study or small group to talk about some of Jesus’ life

Let’s be careful that we keep growing in our walk with God!

Don’t Surrender

“Bow down to me & I’ll give you all that you see.” This was the final temptation the devil tried against Jesus at the beginning of His ministry. I’ve been thinking about the 3 ways the devil tried to tempt Jesus – against His flesh, worship & power / authority. 
It seems to me that the devil uses the same schemes on us. He tries to tempt us with flesh stuff. He tries to sabotage our worship of God using alluring idols (money, image, pride, intellect, etc). And the devil endeavors to undermine the authority God has given us, telling us that we are frail, powerless, disabled & incapacitated. I think the devil’s number one tool is deception. This is reason alone to snuggle into the Holy Spirit, our Spirit of Truth, so we don’t fall prey to the devils’ efforts & schemes. 

Be sure to read my book, Heavenly Help, so you can stay in synch with the Holy Spirit & out of synch with the devil, the enemy of your soul!

so much fun!!

I want to be sure to mention that today is the National Day of Prayer & I hope that we don’t stop with one day 🙂  Our nation needs sustained & daily prayer so let’s keep praying for our nation tomorrow, the next and work this habit into our daily routines 🙂

With that shameless plug to pray, here’s something really fun!  I recently had the great honor to be with Joni Lamb on her Table Talk program!  I had such a great time!

I rarely ever do this, but here’s a video link so you can join this helpful and engaging discussion!

table talk with Joni!

Quips & Blips

imagesHere’s a quote on friendship by the famous CS Lewis.  The quote is classic Lewis, insightful & inspiring.  But alas, there’s a downside to this warm & engaging quote above Lewis’ picture.  The quote doesn’t scratch the surface of who CS Lewis was, nor the immensity of his thoughts, wisdom, writing nor influence.  He was truly a giant among men.  So let’s be careful that we don’t think we know the man by looking at his picture & reading an inspiring quote.

In the same way, let’s consider that we can often treat God with the same shabby quip and blip method.  I’ve definitely been guilty of taking a quick verse and letting that suffice for my understanding of who God is.  To really know a person means to spend time with them in lots of scenarios and to listen and watch them with an open heart.  How much more true is this for the lifetime adventure of knowing and walking with God.  Let’s leave the quips and blips strategy for politics and shallow journalism.

Let’s allow Heavenly Help to teach us the lifestyle of Jeremiah 9:23-24.

 

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.

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 🙂

Hot Topic: I’m Listening

“Mom!” When my kids call for me, I often reply, “I’m listening.” When I say this, rather than “yes”, it seems to give them a micro pause & I find that the quality of our chat improves. I think that when I say, “I’m listening”, there’s a sense that I’m giving them a better quality of attention than a perfunctory “yea”. And getting to have some quality interaction with my kids is always platinum for me. 
I was thinking about this as I read Genesis 22 this morning where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Three times in this chapter Abraham says, “Here I am” – once to God, once to Isaac & the last time to the angel getting his attention for divine provision. In my thinking, when Abraham said “Here I am”, he was saying my version, “I’m listening”. 

Seems to me from Gen 22 that the quality of our listening just might have an affect the abundance of God’s provision in our lives. This is important not only for us as individuals, but also for the succeeding generation. Selah

Sometimes We Should Slow Down

I like to go fast. In our family, I’m the one who gets speeding tickets, I’m the one who snowboards fast & I tend to make going fast a high priority. While it’s fun to go fast, it also causes problems. For example, there are times when I try to speed through writing a blog & then make grammar & content mistakes :/
There are times when I find myself making speed a higher priority than quality or being present & engaging. That’s a recipe for train wrecks & dysfunctions. 

There are times when slowing down & being present have better benefits than going fast or accomplishing stuff. Like with Mary & Martha in Luke 10, Jesus let Martha know that it was better to listen & be still with Him rather than be busy around Him. 

So today, I’m telling myself to slow down & be still with Jesus 🙂

Turn Up the Volume

Three members of my family lean toward the loud side of volume & two of us not as much. Of course when I was a teenager, there were the normal moments of loud & intense but as I age, I find that often what I most relish is found not in noisy & frenzied. Instead, it’s entirely astounding what a person can experience walking alone at night in some rain or gentle snowfall. I also find that the moments of quiet that I give to God during any given day have great volume & application in my day to day living. 
In a season that has the potential to be full of high octane demands, full on loud & overflowing with busy, let’s pay attention to keeping some quiet & still in our daily living. Doing this can help us to hear the gentle, affirming & inviting words of Jesus, whispering into our hearts & throughout each day. Let’s turn up the volume on Jesus’ voice by turning down the volume on the demands of a potentially frenzied holiday season 🙂

Divine Direction

How does God direct us? What are some practical tips to help us follow God? I’ve been doing some digging into Paul’s life (in Acts & his epistles), listening, watching his life & thinking. Here are some helpful pointers to recognizing God’s direction in our lives:

  • The Bible: this has to be ground zero & final authority. Anything that disagrees with God’s Word isn’t God’s direction, full stop. 
  • Circumstances: in Acts 16:6ff Paul is experiencing many closed doors, despite his continuous effort;  
  • Divine Input: in Acts 16:9, he has a vision & sets off on a new trajectory with phenomenal results;
  • Desire: in Rom 15:23, Paul tells the Roman church that he’s wanted to minister to them for many years. Consider that when we ask God to give us desires that complement God’s purpose & will, this seriously happens 🙂

Let’s be sure to let God shape our desires & direct our steps & have an awesome weekend!

A Weekend in Singapore

 Seems to me that if we get away for a weekend, we tend to stay close to home. For me, I’ve spent this weekend in Singapore & it’s been an amazing trip in many different ways:

  • Sleep – yea, not so much
  • Food – so MUCH FUN!! I seriously love trying new stuff & no I don’t ask what it is 🙂
  • People – what an total honor getting to minister in this totally incredible country; I love how open & receptive the people are to jump into the Bible!!! I spoke 4times in about 2days so it was intense but FUN!

Singapore is one of the most melting pot & blending cultures that I’ve ever visited & I LOVE IT!!!!! A couple interesting facts:
Singapore received its independence from being a British colony 50 years ago in August. This country is an incredible example of blending diversity for completing strengths rather than competing division. During this visit, the Premiers of China & Taiwan came to Singapore to make an historic conversation between these nations that have been virtual enemies for many decades. 

Of course I totally love Asia & I find myself totally falling in love with the Singaporeans even more than I have in the past. Love this place & the people here!!

Tom & Jerry

My boys are on Fall Break & they’re watching a classic Tom & Jerry cartoon, where the cat gets killed in a thousand different ways & manages to come back for more. I remember watching these cartoons when I was little & I was perplexed how that cat could stay alive & then be so stupid to keep coming back for more. I guess I missed the point & sometimes I still do. 
There are other points that we can sometimes miss:

  • How is it that we sometimes miss the point that God loves us because God is love & not because of our pristine behavior
  • How is it that we miss the point that forgiveness is supposed to be a continuous action in both receiving & giving
  • How is it that we miss the point that life is more rich from being generous rather than from consuming & hoarding
  • How do I miss the point that Jesus is God’s selfie & Christmas affords me the yearly chance to celebrate such divine extravagance?

Maybe the volume is too loud with Tom & Jerry or the white noise in our lives to catch these seemingly finer points ,)

Introvert thinking about extroverts

Straightaway, let me be clear that stereotypes are inherently inaccurate by their very nature. But with that caveat, I’ve seen a fair amount of advice, blogs & comments about dealing with introverts, those prickly & possibly cranky or awkwardly quiet thinkers who sometimes lack diplomacy or communication skills. 
In contrast, however, I haven’t seen much about extroverts & here are some introvert observations about extroverts, who can be very wonderful:

  • They engage rather than evaporate
  • They communicate rather than go silent
  • Often friendly more than sulky
  • They push comfort zones
  • They usually meet people well
  • Have verbal skills that can be admirable
  • Often do adventures with ease & enthusiasm

Suffice it to say that we are each made with divine creativity, fearfully & wonderfully made for fellowship with God & expressing genuine love in our daily living 🙂

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 🙂

Ear Cleaning

  

Recently, one of my kids had some pain in their ear & I was concerned that it might be an ear infection. So we did the standard dr visit only to discover that this offspring didn’t have an ear infection but rather just needed a good ear cleaning. Truth be known, I was really grossed out when I watched this process along with the outcomes. But I do like that this child is now free from ear pain & double bonus: they hear me better!!!
Which makes me think that maybe if we kept our ears more clean to hear God, perhaps we could avoid some unnecessary pain. I think that we all have hearing obstructions from time to time when it comes to listening to God. So let’s allow the Holy Spirit to clean out our spiritual ears & turn up the volume on God’s voice in our lives 🙂

What might be some obstructions in your life that keep you from hearing God accurately & clearly?

What Did You Say???

 I’m perplexed!! 
“What does a cannibal call a phone book?” I asked my translator in Cambodia & he gave me a quizzical look. “I understand phone book, but what is a cannibal?” I quickly explained & followed with the punch line. “A menu!” I was hopeful that he would understand my all time favorite joke. There was a pause & then I could see that he understood, but instead of a fun grin, he looked at me with deep concern, like there was something severely wrong with me to think that such a thing would be even remotely funny. 

Rule #1 with using a translator: no jokes because they don’t translate. 

But here’s another interesting thing to consider, much of what is said to us gets processed through our mental filters. Whether we realize it or not, our thoughts tell us what we hear rather than us fully understanding what is actually said. For example, if you struggle with insecurity then many compliments you receive can often be ignored or dismissed because of that insecurity filter. 

All of this is to say that we should take a step back & ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what filters may exist in our thinking that could be obscuring what we hear 🙂

Selah 🙂

homesick

  
I have the absolutely AWESOME honor of getting to travel & have incredible experiences, for which I’m seriously GRATEFUL, to be certain. However, I also get homesick. At present, I’m in Cambodia with our Saving Moses team trip & seeing God do some phenomenal stuff – all of which I totally LOVE! But I’m still homesick. Truth be known, I’ve always been a homebody & being away from home makes that all the more intense. I like all of the fun new experiences, love the crazy food, enjoy fun cultures & meeting amazing people, absolute legends, who motivate me in expressing Jesus more & better. But I’m still homesick.
Sometimes our human living can make us homesick for our eternal home. But while we’re here, let’s shine light, spread genuine love, heal the hurting, repair the broken & live out redemption everyday through genuine love. And remember that heaven is our home 🙂
  

hot topic: same sex marriage

It’s been a week since the Supreme Court made their decision on the extremely controversial topic of same sex marriage.  The subsequent reaction to this ruling has been interesting to watch.  I’ve listened to conversations where people think the Supreme Court’s ruling is the most awesome evidence to show that America is progressive and modern.  I’ve also listened to conversations where people think that America will be swallowed up in hellfire and brimstone like Sodom and Gomorrah.  I like to listen and watch how people react with controversial topics like this because their reactions say alot about who they are and what they really believe.  I also like what Bishop TD Jakes had to say about this ruling – he’s a very wise man.

Whether you agree or disagree with the Supreme Court ruling from last week, one of the defining hallmarks of being a follower of Jesus is our love for one another, based on Jesus’ words in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The question I keep in the forefront of my mind is this:  Am I loving well?

The definition of loving well is 1 Cor 13:4-7, ” 4Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Happy Fourth of July weekend 🙂

 

STOP YELLING – maybe

I’ve learned that typing in all caps in social media is the same as yelling & I’m not attracted to yelling, full stop. Indeed, when I would practice piano & my dad would yell at me for something, I seemed to make more & more mistakes the more he yelled. 
The problem with yelling is that the listener can easily get distracted by the method & miss the message. With my dad, his emotions would get so intense that he’d yell but I can’t really remember what he said. 

  
With saying all of that, I shot this picture last night:  I was trying to concentrate on a really important writing assignment & I kept noticing that the sky was getting increasingly pink. Finally, I stopped my writing & man am I glad I did! As I took a pause to look at this unbelievable sunset, I heard our Triune God whisper, “Thanks for looking Sarah, We love you”. 

God’s message & methods are altogether riveting & I’m entirely addicted to the divine love experience, no yelling needed 🙂

Looking for Jesus

When Jesus rose from the dead, there were all kinds of speculations as to what happened to Him.  Indeed, the first person to see Him after His resurrection thought He was a common gardener.  When Jesus appeared to His disciples, initially they thought He was a scary ghost.  On the road to Emmaus, some of His followers thought He was a fellow traveler.  It seems to me that we often try to fit Jesus into our known paradigms rather than change our thinking to fit Who Jesus is.

When I think about Who Jesus is & what He did, I’m reminded that He defied the religious conventions of His day:

  • He purposely healed on the Sabbath in front of the religious leaders, creating havoc & chaos in their doctrinal dogma
  • He upended the daily temple traffic, displaying anger & hostility at the distorted expression worship had become
  • He challenged Nicodemus’ thinking about God’s kingdom and sprung on him the crazy idea about being born again
  • He condemned the religious to forgive the broken and defeated: the woman caught in adultery who was brought to Jesus by the religious leaders whom He forgave

Let’s be careful that our ideas of Jesus conform to the Gospels and not merely man’s religious dogma 🙂