When I was growing up, our house had three doors. To ensure that the house was locked, we would check all three doors. The front door was easy because it was used the most. The back door was pretty easy because it was in the kitchen so there was lots of traffic in that area. The side door was most easily overlooked because we rarely used it & that area of the house didn’t get much traffic.
In a similar way, we need to guard our hearts & souls from the enemy who lurks & waits for opportunities to sneak into our lives through side doors or low traffic areas. The enemy looks for places to enter our lives where we least expect it or where we have the lowest guard / attention. This could be times when you’re very tired, areas where you think you’re strong / victorious, situations that are familiar or comfortable, etc. The enemy of your soul looks for places where your guard is weak, your attention is distracted or your pride is big. With these instances, the enemy will often come in on tiptoes, sneaky & quiet, to begin his insinuations, whispers & distortions.
Pay attention & keep the doors locked!! 1 Pet 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
This is a question people often ask when someone seems deep in thought or reflective. It’s a good question to ask when you’re getting to know someone or when a person seems unusually quiet. But it’s also a good question to ask ourselves from time to time, forcing us to take a thought inventory.
Taking an inventory of our thoughts is important because it lets us see places in our thinking where we can make some helpful adjustments. Indeed, consider some of the things Paul says about our thoughts:
2 Cor 10:5, “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”
Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think on these things.”
Rom 8:6, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace”
Let’s be attentive to our thoughts because they influence our lives in very powerful but subtle ways!
There’s a popular tv show out called “The Voice”. The general idea is related to finding vocally talented peeps & putting them on tv to compete for the top prize. There are loads of phenomenal individuals who have amazing voices, but there’s only one Voice that needs our steady attention & the is the voice of our Good Shepherd, from John 10.
When we think about all the voices in our lives (appetites, worries, relationships, things we need to do, etc), we can get overwhelmed with this barrage of input. But alas, there is one Voice who is worthy of our consistent attention. There is one Voice who invites us to experience genuine Love. There is one Voice who leads us along paths of peace & divine productivity & that is the Voice of our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
Let’s be sure that the volume is appropriately adjusted for the various voices in our lives so that Jesus’ Voice gets our best attention & obedience!
My husband and I have different perspectives about what it means to be “on time” for an appointment. He thinks that being “on time” for an appointment is sitting in a chair at the appointment 5minutes before that scheduled time. I think that being “on time” means that I’m in the parking lot of the building or near vacinity at the scheduled time. This discrepancy in opinions has created just a little tension in our 20+ years of marriage – ok, maybe more than just a little tension, say I with a wink.
Generally, I get myself to places I need to be mostly around the right time but this strategy doesn’t always work out so well for me, of course. There have been occassions when being late has caused me to miss important things, created unnecessary angst and I’ve burned a few meals because I haven’t paid attention to the time.
I’m thankful that God is always “on time.” While we might think that God is late or last minute, let’s be abundantly clear that God is in charge of time, so maybe “late” is only a human experience. Indeed, Martha & Mary thought that Jesus was too late to heal their brother Lazarus when he died. In one sense, Jesus was too late for healing, but in another sense Jesus was right on time for resurrection. Let’s be certain that we keep our plans adaptable to God’s schedule!
In the meantime, I’m endeavoring to work on that “on time” thing.
Yesterday, I was in a prayer meeting and this lady prayed, “Father, please help us not to get lost in the words of the enemy.” This prayer totally arrested my attention & echoed in my thoughts for the rest of the day.
How many times have I gotten lost in the accusing, degrading, deceptive & condemning words of the enemy? Even worse, how many times have I let the enemy influence a conversation with someone when I’ve been snarky, judgmental, sarcastic & condescending?
Talk about a wake up call!!!
Let’s be certain that our thoughts stay centered on Jesus & that we allow the Holy Spirit to pour God’s love into our hearts. Making these choices will help us not to get so lost in the words of the enemy of our soul!
I like to go fast – snowboarding, quick flights & speedy travel. In the last two weeks, however, our family has taken a “slower” vacation. We’ve driven from Denver, stopping to see relatives & friends, all the way to Washington DC. We are now driving back to Denver from DC. I’ve done the round trip flight from Denver to DC more times than I can count & it takes about 7hours total (including driving & airport security) to fly one way. In contrast, it will take us 2.5 days to drive from DC to Denver, with minimal stops.
Along this vacation, I’ve noticed some significant advantages to this slower travel stuff:
More time to think, pray & explore – rather than focusing on the travel, slowing down allows me the space to pray & process
Beauty in various forms – from flat farmlands to the Smokey Mountains & rolling forested hills of West Virginia, there’s beauty everywhere. Being on the ground let’s me experience this beauty & appreciate Gods immense creativity.
Deeper conversations – getting to chat with my relatives & friends face to face has been a great benefit to this slow down approach to travel.
There’s some good wisdom to the Simon & Garfunkel song, “Feeling Groovy”
Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.
I pray that you can slow down & enjoy your weekend with the Holy Spirit!
I’m a big advocate of listening. I think it’s essential that we listen to our kids, our mate, our friends, teachers, supervisors, pastors, political candidates, etc. Listening helps us learn, develops patience & is an essential ingredient for connecting with people. But alas, we cannot emphasize listening at the expense of doing.
This morning I read Jesus’ brief parable that contrasts a wise man with a foolish man, at the end of Matthew 8. In this contrast, Jesus explains that the wise man listens to God & acts upon what he hears. The foolish man, however, listens but doesn’t do anything. Let’s allow God’s Word to inform & shape our actions. Let’s be “doers” & not just listeners 🙂
Here’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.
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.
I pride myself in not being scared. I’m not scared to:
try new things,
go new places,
try different foods,
fail during a learning experience
stand alongside someone when they go through difficult seasons.
As I think about being scared, generally I think of myself as fearless, until I consider various situations that I avoid because I’m intimidated or afraid. I think that all of us wrestle with fear but in different ways. So let’s be honest about the unique fears that are difficult for us. If we aren’t honest about our fears, such fears will often control our decisions because we refuse to be honest & face them.
In general, I want to live a fearless life, but the one fear that I want to nurture & protect is the fear of the Lord. Proverbs 9:10 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom & I need all the wisdom I can get! So having a healthy respect for God is an essential ingredient for letting wisdom flourish in my life.
Furthermore, remember that perfect love casts out fear 🙂
Pay attention to your fears & keep the ones that cultivate wisdom but challenge / toss the ones which try to control & shrink you!
We have a joke in my family about my cooking: the more smoke alarms that go off, the better the meal. So a 3 alarm meal is likely to be super awesome!!
Alarms help us pay attention, particularly if something is bad. So maybe we should ask the Holy Spirit to be like an alarm in our thinking. For example, sometimes my mind & thoughts can get dark. I might find myself discouraged about something at work or maybe I received some bad news about one of my kids, or sometimes I might have a conflict with my husband. If I’m not careful, I can let some of those discouraging thoughts become all consuming & before I know it, I’m a victim to depression, discouragement & darkness. While I’m not saying that we should live in denial or dismiss bad news or negative thoughts. We absolutely need the Holy Spirit to alert & give us a wake up call when such thoughts go too far & begin controlling & even sabotaging our divine purpose & destiny. 2Cor 10:5 says,
Sometimes the alarm goes off on my car as well, so I have these “fun” reminders in my life to stay alert & perky 🙂
I would venture to say that all of us have more to us than what a quick intro would reveal. I have friends who are petite, gentle and gracious but you’d never know that they love to mash an opponent on the boards in the hockey rink. I have other friends who look like they are the most physically fit person you’d ever meet but they are slowly ebbing into oblivion because of their heart is filled with unforgiveness, pain, bitterness and revenge – tragic beyond words.
When I think about Jesus, I’m always discovering more than meets the eye. With Jesus, consider that when He was hanging on the cross, He appeared to be a poster child for loser & failure, but there’s so much more than what meets the eye. Consider that Jesus does these things in our lives:
touches our heart
guides our steps
stengthens our hands
invigorates the lifeless
illuminates our mind
stirs our soul
makes boldness out of timidity
fuels the future
empowers what was hopeless
Consider that with Jesus, there is always more than what meets the eye 🙂
One of my favorite people in the Bible is Jacob, Isaac’s son & Abraham’s grandson. I like Jacob for lots of reasons:
he’s very human: his mistakes, flaws, shortcomings aren’t hidden nor minimized
he’s God conscientious, even when it’s hindsight
he learns and grows: working for Laban was a long & vertical learning curve, moves to Egypt at the end of his life, etc
he’s wise in how he handles Esau when he returns from serving Laban – a very touchy situation
Jacob was certainly a schemer and manipulator, but he was also repaid for his deceptions (Laban & the Rachel / Leah fiasco; Jacob’s sons trick him about Joseph). But Jacob was also attentive to God – at Bethel he built an altar, he paid attention to the God-given dream about Laban’s flocks as well as the dream to move to Egypt. And possibly one of my absolute favorites of all times, Jacob wrestled with God’s angel after he left Laban & before he crossed into his homeland, acquiring a new name from that wrestling match. While Jacob certainly didn’t do it all right, he learned, grew, changed and honored God 🙂
I really like to study languages. Thus far, I’ve studied probably half a dozen & it always fascinates me when I get to explore a language and how a culture communicates through it’s language. It also fascinates me to consider that anywhere from 40%-80% of the way we communicate is non-verbal. Furthermore, I would suggest that the better you know someone, the fewer words you need to communicate with them.
With these ideas in mind, it’s been my experience that God communicates with me in lots of different ways:
Bible: ground zero, full stop
a soft whisper or witness in my heart that’s difficult for me to ignore (1Kings 19)
desires (Ps 37:4) – I ask God to guide me by giving me desires that affirm God’s plan, will and kingdom
conversations – there are many times that God will speak to me through someone in some kind of seemingly common discussion, but something very uncommon stands out to me in that chat (Emmaus Road – Luke)
very often, I don’t sense God speaking to me in words or verbally, but rather I sense God’s presence and I just enjoy keeping company with God
How do you sense and hear God? Please share with us! 🙂
Today, I was driving and having a God chat. We talked about some of my concerns and frustrations and I tried to not do all of the talking, but this is a tricky balance. Conversations that facilitate a deepening relationship go both ways – both parties listen and both talk, hopefully not at the same time. To get to know the other person in a relationship, we need to be present, attentive and available. In the same way, for the other person to get to know us, we need to be present, sincere and forthcoming.
We all have relationships where we play our cards really close to the vest – we don’t openly share about painful areas, hotspots or vulnerabilities. But if we are going to have a deepening relationship with God, then we need to put our cards on the table and equally listen, pay attention and value the feedback and input that God gives us, not only to solve problems but moreso for the purpose of connecting and attaching. God talk is a two-way street 🙂
Yesterday, we heard in the news that a person in Dallas was diagnosed with #ebola. The man who was diagnosed had flown from Libera in mid-September to the US and showed signs of being sick a week later. There’s plenty of news circulating about this development & this is a very important thing on which we should be aware. While I know that it’s important to be educated about this kind of stuff, let’s be mindful of some fundamental & important bullet points:
pray: let’s keep the Dallas patient in our prayers as well as the West Africa nations of Guinea, Liberia & Sierra Leone – super important to keep these nations in our prayers, along with the healthcare workers who are on the front lines in these nations
be smart: stay informed and current with what’s happening in our world so that we can know how to pray and make wise decisions
fear: let’s be mindful that we don’t let fear get a foothold in our thinking or decisions
love: pray that we can find some ways to help the babies & toddlers in Guinea, Sierra Leone & Liberia with Saving Moses!!