“I am Joseph, your brother.” I’ve been reading the story of Joseph in the last part of Genesis & I’m always astounded by the events that led up to these words. There are so many ways this story could’ve taken a bad turn.
Joseph could’ve let bitterness settle into his heart & he could’ve cruelly repaid his brothers for their malevolence.
Joseph’s dad could’ve died before learning that his son was alive & highly successful.
Joseph’s brothers could’ve continued to be the jerks they were with him when they sold him into slavery.
But none of these things happened & when Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers, he was fully committed to keeping his family alive & healthy, redeeming his family in a time of famine & desolation.
Let’s follow Joseph’s example in our daily living & relationships – committed to being agents of redemption, even when others may not recognize the redemption.
Planning isn’t one of my natural strengths, so the Holy Spirit has helped me grow in this area over the course of many years. I’ve come to appreciate that if I want to accomplish big dreams, then it’s important to develop some plans and structures for these dreams to become reality. So what happens when the plans don’t seem to work? Then what?
In the Gospel of Mark, I’ve been reading about how Jesus healed people, often not according to the human contrived plans, i.e, the Syrophoenician woman whom Jesus calls a dog, the 4 guys who break through a roof to get a paralytic in front of Jesus & the blind guy whom Jesus spits on for his healing. It seems to me that Jesus almost never follows our human plans, so it begs the question: why plan?
When you have plans to seem to go awry, maybe these ideas could be helpful:
plans help us think in constructive steps to achieve goals & dreams. No planning = no progress
planning with prayer is a massively helpful combination
consider Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”
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I’ve been seeing some interesting stuff about fake news. It’s not surprising to me that there’s an increase in fake news since the regular news seems to have some questionable assumptions & untrustworthy conclusions.
What we want is true news – stuff that’s objective & accountable. We want to listen / see news that has been researched & proven to be reliable. We want news that’s proven to be balanced & accurate over long amounts of time.
But let’s never forget or ignore that Good News is ground zero. And here’s the Good News:
Jesus loves you
Jesus doesn’t change
Jesus is sovereign
Regardless of the fake-ness or truth of the news that’s reported, the Good News is reliable, immutable & eternal!
That would be me, hands down. When I take a jog outside, I suspect that animals scurry, the lithe alert melts down & it feels like my body is in perpetual revulsion mode. So why go through such suffering & cause others to writhe in agony?
Ok, over dramatic, but you get the point.
I jog on occasion for a few reasons:
I want to control my body rather than my body control me
Move it or lose it – I want to stay active for a long time & without action, this desire will turn into a painful delusion
Mental clarity – when my body is tired from physical exercise, oftentimes my mind becomes more alert & keen
Paul said that physical discipline is profitable, even if just a little bit – 1Tim 4:8
Sometimes what doesn’t feel or even look good, is still good for you 🙂
To a degree, these are all true. But the ultimate fulfillment to going father, being smarter (more wise), visibility & feel good about ourselves isn’t sustained in conventional nor fleshly thinking.
Jesus tells us that the way to being fulfilled is through being committed to kingdom opposites:
The last will be first;
the way ahead is through humility & service;
exercise & discipline are corollaries to soul health;
seeking God’s kingdom first sets everything in proper alignment to live a of fulfillment & reward!
I want to think that I’m genuine & forthright. I don’t want to think that I am either deceived or deceptive. But alas, in Jeremiah 17:9, it says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”
So it’s important to acknowledge that we can trick ourselves into thinking & believing things that aren’t true.
When we think & believe things that are untrue, even if just slightly, we put ourselves at high risk to live in distortion & dysfunction.
The best vaccination for deception is the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls the Spirit of truth. Let’s make it a platinum priority in our lives to be led into truth by the Holy Spirit – John 16:13
I’m easily distracted & that can be very challenging. There are always external distractions like the phone alerts, watching people get upset about small stuff, podcasts for listening, multiple books I want to absorb, tasks undone, etc. Then there’s also the internal distractions – feelings that can be challenging, creative ideas that could be fun, stress from impending deadlines, etc.
Thankfully, I met a new friend this morning on my way to catch a plane. She was studying Philippians 4:7-8, which talks about keeping our thoughts focused on constructive & beneficial stuff. For me, this means that I stay intentional about not getting distracted. It also means that I keep my thoughts grounded in the Bible so I don’t mindlessly roam away from God. Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit gives us sniper focus so that we live a life that hits the mark & overflows with divine purpose.
This morning I read about Noah leaving he ark after the flood & it struck me today that Noah didn’t leave the ark until God told him to. This was interesting to me because there were lots of indicators that it was safe to leave the ark. It had been stationary for quite awhile, a dove brought back an olive branch & when Noah released a dove after the olive branch, the dove didn’t return. Noah went into the ark with God’s direction & he didn’t leave the ark until God gave some clear direction.
Let’s be mindful that we don’t allow external circumstances to be the final deciding factor with our decisions.
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This weekend, I learned about some swimming races near my house at the local reservoir. I learned about these “Aquaman” races from a nice lady after I attempted to do an open water swim at a pond near the mountains here in Denver. My swimming was very disappointing to me & when I got out of the pond, I didn’t feel friendly whatsoever. Nevertheless, I started chatting with the lady nearby & she was very kind & informative. We had a lovely conversation & she helped me know of some open water swimming options that sound really fun!
I say this to encourage you about those moments when you’re struggling or discouraged. Remember that God can encourage & strengthen you in a variety of ways that are often unexpected. Be careful if you’re discouraged not to turn inward so much that you don’t allow God to help or strengthen you with creative ideas & unexpected encouragement!
Today, my family & I walked through the St Francis cathedral in Santa Fe NM. This church was established in 1610 & it was extremely beautiful with a southwest motif. For me, I could linger in the likes of these places for the stillness, quiet & serenity. It’s a contrast to the last 2weeks road trip with my family in a minivan for more than 5,000 that my husband has driven. While this vacation has been very diverse & scenic, sometimes a person needs some stillness in the soul for the feet to find some solid ground.
Be sure this weekend to carve in some quiet & still. For me, I find this helpful so that I can walk with the Holy Spirit better 🙂
For two years in a row, we’ve taken road trips for our vacations, each two weeks long. On our first trip, we went to Washington DC & our second trip is to the West Coast, ala Oregon & California. My husband, the penultimate saint, has done the bulk of the driving for both trips, so maybe I provide some comic relief & moral support. But think about it in terms of family bonding, since there’s no wifi nor DVD player in the car. Mostly, we’re doing pretty well & our three teenagers can say they’ve driven across America.
For me, I think that life is a long road trip, a journey with God with unexpected twists, ups, downs, sometimes tiring & sometimes joyful.
So here are a few thoughts about my road trip with God & maybe they’ll have some tread in your life:
Focusing in the car is important , but don’t neglect to look out the windows bc God has a big world around us!
Listen & don’t just watch – listen in the car but also listen in your heart as God has some amazing whispers & company to keep with you!
Traveling companions are helpful because you see & experience things in different ways than just by yourself.
Keep going. Life has struggles, dark times, hot seasons, smelly moments & glorious discoveries.
“The well is deep & you have nothing to draw with.” Little did the Samaritan woman know that her observation about the deep well would foreshadow the deep conversation she would have with Jesus in John 4. Initially, their discussion was about getting Jesus a drink of water, but in no time, Jesus went for the jugular when He told her to bring along her husband & then He read her mail about the litany of failed marriages she had. Clearly, with Jesus there was no pretending.
And I think this value rings true for us today as well. When it comes to talking wth Jesus, there’s no sense in posturing or pretending. It’s better to come to Jesus in full disclosure & entire access. This is an essential ingredient to live in the continual state of healing & redemption that Jesus has for us!! The Samaritan woman went back to her town & declared to them, “Come & see a man who told me everything I ever did!” And thus began the Jesus revolution that turned her town upside down!
Ever ridden in a crowded car, train or plane & felt squashed? I’ve had plenty of experiences where there’s been virtually no personal space & that can be very unnerving. For two weeks, my family & I are driving to the West Coast & back home to Denver. Consequently, breathing room can be a challenge – think three teenagers in a mini-van with two parents, luggage, cooler for food & no wifi 🙂
This morning, I got up early to have some quiet & solitude, personal time with God. Consequently, I feel more human & less prickly, which is good for everyone. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, regularly spending personal time with God is good for the spirit, emotions, thought life, relationships & mindset. Time with God breathes life into our existence!
I know that there are seasons when I’m more lovable. And I’m like-able when I’m not sullen, morose, discouraged or cranky. But I’m not a robot & I go through the ups & downs of life. Sometimes I go through experiences & seasons that are extremely difficult. Sometimes, I make bad decisions, letting my flesh rule my choices & priorities & that’s no bueno.
Here’s the hope: In my paraphrase, Romans 5:8 says that in my least lovable condition, Jesus demonstrated His most extravagant love for me by giving His life in my place. I’ve read this verse loads of times, but what always stops my heart is that the verb “demonstrate” is in the present tense in Greek, which means a continuous activity. So God is continually demonstrating Their love to me, since They are Triune & that’s heaps of continuous love!!! I never grow weary of remembering that God loves me because God is love & not because I’m lovable or I deserve or earned that love 🙂
Today’s Uber driver is from Darfur Sudan. He has 7 brothers, 2 sisters & both parents all back in Darfur. This is the place where they had a genocide almost 15years ago so I was fascinated to listen to my driver talk about his circuitous journey to the US. Whenever I uber it, the drivers are always from a distant country: Mali, Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam, etc. When I listen to each of these drivers, it’s astounding to hear their stories & think about how they’ve navigated various tragedies, twists & opportunities.
Everyone we meet has had their own journeys, culminating to the moment we meet them & get to hear about their lives. Sometimes when we hear their stories it helps us understand some of their behaviors & choices. Regardless of their backgrounds or experiences, let’s choose to love & be gracious. We don’t have to know people to be loving, kind or gracious 🙂
Today, I’m in Bangledesh & I like being here because of the wonderful people. They are super friendly & very hospitable. Unfortunately, this country is one of the poorest countries in the world. They have annual floods that routinely displace thousands of people, killing large pockets of the population in these horrendous floods. Additionally, the education system here is still developing, so the literacy rate is a challenge. Bangladesh has 160 million people & its 90% Muslim, 8% Hindu & 2% mixture. There’s generally a high level of respect for the various differences among the ethnicities, religions & social classes here.
Today, we’ll be going around the capital city, Dhaka, & I’m super keen to spend some time here! There are about 30million people in this urban area with lots of diversity in the spectrum of poverty to wealthy. As I’m in this city, I know I’ll see things that I don’t like, but I want to see with God’s of compassion, healing & welcome. Let’s be careful that we don’t turn away from things we don’t like, when God wants us to engage & express genuine love 🙂
Whenever I get my hair cut & colored, I usually walk away with more wisdom. Here are some observations from my recent experience:
Augmenting / Reduction: This was an interesting discussion about the perceived need to increase or decrease body parts to improve one’s beauty. Let’s remember that we’re fearfully & wonderfully made in our Creators image 🙂
Politics: On this topic, the best wisdom I’ve learned from my salons visits, is to listen more than I talk. Nuff said
Waxing: This is the removal of unwanted hair & it has to be done regularly or those unseemly hairs become problematic. This becomes a need for maintenance & which reminds me about keeping my spiritual life tuned up. Sin gets increasingly visible when I neglect my spiritual growth
Vampire Facials: I guess this is a new thing, but I’m not interested. The name itself repels me & maybe there’s something to be said for soap, water & a good scrub with a washcloth. This makes me grateful that while God does new stuff, I’m abundantly thankful that there’s no need to invent a new way to get close to Jesus. Indeed, the Father welcomes us with open arms, an eager heart & compassionate hands with tender words! No vampire facial needed 🙂
I’ve been reading about Peter in the gospel of Matthew. It seems like his interactions with Jesus go from correction to correction, with some accompanying “atta boy’s”.
For example, despite walking in the water to Jesus, he gets corrected by Jesus for his “little faith” when he gets afraid.
Then, when he identifies Jesus as God’s Son, on the heels of Jesus’ applause, he tries to change Jesus’ mind about going to the cross. Peter gets reprimanded for having his mind on the human rather than divine.
Finally, in Jesus’ transfiguration, Peter suggests making 3 tents to honor Jesus, Elijah & Moses. The voice from the cloud tells him to quit talking & listen to Jesus, Sarah paraphrase.
With great revelation comes the equal quantity / quality of correction. If we aren’t teachable, perhaps that’s why we don’t have great revelation or supernatural experiences. Something to consider over this Father’s Day weekend!
I watched this short video when I got home from Bangladesh this week, took a walk & had a really deep & profound experience with God.
I know it can be very strange to watch one’s self, but the Holy Spirit really spoke to me through this short video. Take a few minutes this Memorial Weekend to watch it & feel free to pass it along to your friends!
In Bangledesh today, I met a group of floating sexworkers, in contrast to the brothel sexworkers I visited yesterday. Sometimes I think it’s human nature to quantify or qualify bad, worse & worst. So we think that one kind or quantity of suffering is worse than another. I’m not sure that I think this entirely accurate. Suffering hurts, full stop.
Can we find it in our hearts to express compassion regardless of who is suffering or how much is being suffered?
I hugged each woman that I met this afternoon deeply & wholly, feeling that I wanted more love to pour through me for them. None of these experiences are easy to process but the worst thing for me that could happen would be to ignore my feelings & disregard the eyes with whom I met with deep affection & connection.