Not the Plan


Have you ever made a plan only to find it go array? I have a friend who set a long term goal, worked diligently toward that goal for many years & now it seems like their efforts have completely unraveled & failed. Of course this can be super discouraging & when this kind of thing happens, we find ourselves on shaky footing & uncertain where to go or what to do. 
So what should we do when our plans go array? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Step back & re-evaluate: sometimes a perspective adjustment can help us see a broader point of view & thereby improve our decisions
  • Seek God: if a crisis makes us seek God more than the crisis is good; if we don’t seek God more in a crisis, then the crisis can get infinitely worse
  • Who am I? A crisis often forces us to look at ourselves with greater clarity & objectivity. In this pause, the Holy Spirit can work on our character & shape us to be more Christ-like
  • Keep going & growing: don’t let detoured plans poison your thinking into quitting. Get up, brush yourself off, learn & keep going. 

Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know that could be going through a course correction season 🙂

Keep It Simple

Our world can get complicated super fast – technically continues to evolve at warp speed, our schedules get increasingly dense & we are encouraged to be strategic in our thinking & planning. These things aren’t bad but they can add layers of complexity to our daily living. So for me, it’s a breath of fresh air to stop the proverbial roller coaster & refocus on my essential priorities. 
It helps to take a deep breath, close one’s eyes, sit in the car for a few minutes & be still. Our brains can of course make this challenging but let’s keep our essentials as the bull’s eye for our living:

  • Love God
  • Love people
  • Love ourselves 

Hot Topic: Political Frenzy

I was talking with a friend this morning about the political situation in our country & we both shared the same sentiment of grief. He & I are grieved at the vitriolic nature of the political discord that seems be only getting worse day by day.
It seems to me that much of the intensity of this discord is not only being incited by various candidates, but it seems like we the people are choosing to swallow this frenzy rather than step back, pause, reflect & pray.  No matter what your political persuasion is or how you choose to vote, let’s be certain to maintain a few core essentials:

  • Continual prayer
  • Respect for different positions
  • Civility in our tone & language with any political conversations

Let’s choose to actively pray for our country more than we debate about our politics 🙂

Political Frenzy

I was talking with a friend this morning about the political situation in our country & we both shared the same sentiment of grief. He & I are grieved at the vitriolic nature of the political discord that seems be only getting worse day by day.
It seems to me that much of the intensity of this discord is not only being incited by various candidates, but it seems like we the people are choosing to swallow this frenzy rather than step back, pause, reflect & pray.  No matter what your political persuasion is or how you choose to vote, let’s be certain to maintain a few core essentials:

  • Continual prayer
  • Respect for different positions
  • Civility in our tone & language with any political conversations

Let’s choose to actively pray for our country more than we debate about our politics 🙂

dysfunctional thinking

There was a chick in the Bible who I really admire & her name is Abigail.  I like her because she stood as a beacon of functional thinking contrary to lots of dysfunction swirling around her.  Nabal, her husband, was a foolish man & was treating David with dishonor & dysfunction.  David, for his part, was really amped up about how Nabal was treating him, so he decided to get revenge on Nabal.  Everyone around Abigail had dysfunctional thinking that was creating dysfunctional behavior that could ultimately lead to destructive outcomes.

But Abigail saves the day with her functional thinking and behavior:  She interrupts David’s plans & dissuades his anger.  She then returns to Nabal and waits until he gets un-drunk to honestly tell him what she’d done.  The outcome from all of these events is that Nabal died & Abigail married David, an upgrade from her former foolish husband.

Let’s be mindful that we don’t let dysfunctional thinking seep into our thoughts.  Let’s take captive every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ!  If we’ve made these bad choices (dysfunctional thinking & behavior), then let’s repent and ask the Holy Spirit to help us in our thoughts & actions to be more healthy & constructive!

Not Waiting

Next time I decide to write a blog about waiting, I’ll certainly take a few minutes to reconsider.  Yesterday morning, I wrote this lovely blog about the benefits of waiting.  Little did I know that I’d be waiting for three hours for a delayed flight.  Yesterday, I was forced to live in the “benefits” about which I wrote – easier said than done.

Sometimes we have “go seasons” where the waiting is over.  These seasons can also be tricky to navigate for various reasons:

  • we’ve adjusted to “waiting” so “going” kind of upsets the applecart,
  • going can mean shifting into something unknown & for some folk that’s scary,
  • going requires more energy than waiting

Let’s be careful that we don’t use the idea of waiting as an excuse for procrastinating.  Let’s be careful that we don’t let fear keep us stalled in a waiting mode.  Let’s be careful that we don’t use waiting as a justification for being disobedient to something God has told us to do.

There are waiting seasons & there are going seasons.  The key thing is to stay in step with the Holy Spirit in every moment!

Benefits of Waiting

I’m writing this in Indiana, as I’m waiting for a driver to take me to the airport. I was waiting earlier for an interview & when I get to the airport, I’ll wait some more to get on the airplane. Seems to me that we often spend time waiting for various things – stop lights, job interviews, school acceptance, for the right mate, direction from God & heaps more. 
Sometimes it’s easy to get impatient in the waiting times. So here are some benefits to help you while you wait:

  • Waiting gives us the space to catch our breath & collect our thoughts
  • Waiting can be the prep time we need for the next season of busyness, activities & responsibilities
  • In Isaiah, it says that when we wait upon the Lord, He renews our strength & we all need supernatural strength
  • The best thing about waiting is the chance to have some focused fellowship with the Holy Spirit, our Heavenly Help

Less ‘cussing

In the last several weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the ups & downs of concussion recovery. This is a different adventure than recovering from other physical injuries I’ve had. A concussion is an injury to the brain, so it takes awhile to get the neurons back online & return to one’s normal routines & responsibilities. I’m definitely making progress, but typical to my personality, I’d like to be moving along more quickly. In the meantime, these are some rich benefits I’m experiencing in this journey:

  • relying on the Holy Spirit has helped me with my independence struggle
  • this weakness has facilitated greater fellowship with the Holy Spirit in a real time context & not just hindsight
  • I’m less prideful & more compassionate 🙂

Less “concussing” but still learning 🙂

Pentecost is this Sunday! Waiting not so patiently

Waiting doesn’t seem to be one of my strong suits.  Frankly put, I’m often impetuous, sometimes impulsive and infrequently patient.  So the idea of chilling out and waiting for something is not appealing to me.  And yet, this is exactly what Jesus told His followers in Luke 24:49, “‘ . . . , stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.'”  Thankfully, the disciples followed Jesus’ directive and I’m grateful to read about the fruit of their patience and waiting in Acts 2 – the Day of Pentecost.

So in our fast-paced, microwave popcorn and warp speed living, let’s take a step back & consider some of the benefits of waiting for the Holy Spirit:

  • waiting in a community affords the opportunity to build relationships and grow in our fellowship with other believers
  • waiting enforces a healthy discipline on a personal level that defies instant gratification
  • waiting teaches us to let Jesus be the Lord of our time and how we resolve our desires
  • waiting to be clothed with power and the Holy Spirit is what our world desperately needs from us, as followers of Jesus

Take a minute to grab a copy of Heavenly Help and as you read it, let the Holy Spirit speak into your heart about Pentecost becoming more real in your life!

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.

 

I Didn’t Go

I admit that I still like The Go Go’s, a pop band from
the 80s. Listening to them is like eating cotton candy: sappy & lite. They sing, “Get Up & Go”, a catchy tune with mindless lyrics, something about not going slow – a peppy little song. 
Alas, I did not get up & go. 

Recently I was supposed to go to Angola for Saving Moses but because of some visa problems & health challenges, I find myself at home, unexpectedly. It’s tricky for me because I like to get up & go. I like to be on the move. So sitting down & staying isn’t always my first choice. But there are times & seasons when God knows that what we need most is to sit & stay, even when this cuts against the grain of our personality. 

So here are some benefits I’m realizing from this non-Go Go season:

  • I love the time with my family – listening, watching, cooking, cleaning with them & enjoying their company
  • More thinking: as if I needed more thinking, and yet this stillness affords me a depth that I don’t enjoy when I’m on the move
  • Quiet: not only am I appreciating the quiet on the outside, but I’m learning an internal quiet that is very soothing & wholesome
  • Heavenly Help: I’m learning a new closeness with the Holy Spirit that I’ve not experienced before 🙂

The verses God is speaking to me everyday in this season are Ps 131:1-2. Take a few moments to read these – likely God has some good for all of us even during a sit & stay season ,)

sitting with a friend

Job 2:13, “Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.”

These friends that sat with Job in silence for 7 days were the same friends who were not very gentle in their words to him for many chapters throughout this book.  Nonetheless, it gives me great pause to think that these guys travelled for several days to be with Job at the lowest point in his life.  When they saw how despondent he was, they sat with him for 7days without saying anything.

Their behavior really challenges me to consider if I’m this kind of a friend who could sit quietly with a friend in their greatest time of suffering.  This is the idea of keeping company with someone even when they aren’t very pleasant or enjoyable.  It begs the question, “Am I a ‘fair-weather’ friend, or am I reliable in the skinny / thin times?”  Consider Matt 26:38 & Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

It seems to me that we aren’t very comfortable sitting with someone when they’re suffering or struggling, but sometimes, keeping company with a friend in a hardship is a tangible expression of genuine love.

I like what Mother Teresa said, ““Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.””

Lessons in Resting

Springtime always seems to ramp up the activity level.  There’s fresh air outside that’s not too cold, the trees bloom with fragrant life, the hibernation of winter dissipates and of course there are all of the activities that go with school, Easter, graduations, weddings, showers, etc.

More often than not, Springtime wears me out with the hustle and bustle of demanding activities.  So this Sping, I’m endeavoring to strike a better balance, integrating some rest into the mix.  Here are some ideas that might help you with finding rest in a busy Spring:

  • be careful not to fall in the “value in achievement” trap – you’re valuable because God loves you, full stop
  • consider Spring cleaning your calendar / schedule and not just your house
  • be sure the way you use your time accurately reflects your priorities
  • don’t ditch church 🙂

Of course I’m always keen to recommend reading a good book as a form of relaxing & a great book to read in preparation for Pentecost in a few weeks is Heavenly Help

Gethsemane Before Easter

  
Take a moment to think of a dark time you have experienced. Maybe you went through a challenging time in your health or with a loved one. Maybe you went through a painful divorce or financial situation that seemed hopeless. All of us have had our share of dark times & we don’t like them. 
I totally appreciate that Jesus had dark experiences as well – the devil tempting Jesus during His 40day fast comes to mind. In this Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday, today is Maundy Thursday, the day of Jesus’ Last Supper & the evening when He went to Gethsemane. 

If you’re presently in a dark time, or you know someone who is struggling in a difficult situation, take heart! Here are some thoughts that’s could help:

  • Jesus went through dark seasons & is acquainted with our struggles – Jesus keeps company with us in the darkness
  • To every season there is a limit – this has come to pass & not stay
  • Intimacy often grows deeper in situations of duress & struggle, so maybe this is why Jesus wanted Peter, James & John to keep company with Him in Gethsemane – don’t be repelled by someone’s dark season (Matt 26:36-38)
  • Remember that Jesus is the Light of the world & brings illumination wherever He is invited!

Easter is coming – that means there’s resurrection around the corner! And Heavenly Help gives us strength & wisdom to keep going!

What Trumps Judgment?

 

I’ve been around the church world for most of my life, so I’ve met some very interesting people, seen unusual things and experienced a plethora of human and supernatural events.  Many people in the church world are nothing less than pure pleasure and altogether phenomenal.  Some people, not so much and that’s the rub.

It seems that we want Christians to be consistently kind, loving and prefect.  When we get to heaven, I’m sure our flaws and foibles will be smoothed out, along with our dysfunctions, shortfalls and sins.  In the meantime, how should we deal with being judgmental, hostility & intolerance, not only in the church, but also in the world where we live?

This morning, I read James 2:15 and the end of the verse was a sobering confrontation for me in how I deal with the judgmental stuff:  Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Of course I want all the mercy I can get, but I would be wise to be liberal with mercy because judgment has a way of coming back like an abrasive and hurtful boomerang 🙂

Some food for thought in the middle of our week 🙂

No Line

Yesterday, I did my weekly grocery shopping. I usually avoid the Sunday shopping gauntlet because of the lines & lengthened time it takes to accomplish this task. I was of course not surprised to find the check out lines totally overflowing, so I shiftedinto 

patient mode & decided to chill out for the wait. Being impatient only makes the line longer & the wait more unpleasant. If you’re like me, you probably do lots of stuff to avoid lines, but here could be some helpful thoughts on this topic:

  • A line is a place of demarcation & can represent a change of mind & behavior – the proverbial “line in the sand”
  • Waiting in a line is a good discipline for developing patience, something we all need
  • A line helps me appreciate incremental progress rather than monstrous leaps 

Heavenly Help is always good for line management ,)

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

waiting & wanting

Cormon,_Fernand_-_Cain_flying_before_Jehovah's_Curse  Have you ever waited to acquire something you wanted?  It seems to me that waiting & wanting go together like peas & carrots, almost complementary.  Things that I’ve waited for & wanted include:  a new coat, a camera lense, opening nightcare in India, surgery on my shoulder & lots of other stuff.

Recently, I read about sin waiting for & wanting Cain in Genesis 4, related to the tension between Abel & Cain about their respective sacrifices.  God confronted Cain in verse 7 and told him, “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”  Sin was waiting for & wanting Cain but God told him that he needed to master sin & not be mastered by sin.

I honestly think that sin also waits for & wants us as well.  Sin wants to control us, creating chaos & destruction in our lives if we cave in to it’s desires.  Cain surrendered to sin and lived a vagrant and tormented life.  Let’s learn from Cain’s downfall & master sin rather than let sin master us.  Indeed, Romans 8:6 says, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace”  Just because sin is waiting for & wanting you doesn’t mean that you have to be it’s victim.  Let the Holy Spirit strengthen you on the inside to overcome the seductions of sin!

Let’s Take a Walk

  
Sometimes I find myself in situations that are far beyond my skill set & often I get jittery, intimidated & overwhelmed. It’s precisely in these moments that I find the most fulfilling & richest relationship with the Holy Spirit. This is my experience because when I take a pause to catch my breath & reflect, I sense the Holy Spirit by my side, helping & telling me that it’s going to be ok. 
Furthermore, it feels to me like the Holy Spirit invites me to take a walk together, something I love & relish. I like to take walks because there often seems to be boatloads of challenges that get worked out in my conversation with the Holy Spirit on these walks. I also appreciate that the Helper invites me on these strolls for a few helpful pointers:

  • more often than not, I have no clue where walking with the Holy Spirit will lead me & truth be known, I’m an adventure junkie – usually I love to go to new destinations & experiences, particularly when the Holy Spirit is leading the journey;
  • I don’t have to know the destination to enjoy the company – I’m learning this lesson across a wide swath of experiences & adventures; 
  • Walking with the Holy Spirit is an adventure not only in the various experiences along the journey but also in the pace of the whole walk – sometimes at lightning speed & sometimes at a pace that is slower than molasses in winter, stationary at best & seemingly regressive sometimes;

Let’s walk together with the Holy Spirit, Gal 5:16 & 25, for not only the pace & direction but for the outcomes & most importantly for the company & fellowship!  Take a walk & see what fun ensues 🙂

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 🙂