I’m writing this post, sitting outside of my hair salon with foils in my hair, looking semi-chic 🙂
And of course, I get some odd looks, people thinking I’m the reincarnated character from “My Favorite Martian”. But alas, it’s just the normal hair dye appointment, where the grey gets covered over & I maintain the look that says I’m at least 10 years than my birthdate would confirm.
And whatever we may look like on the outside isn’t as important as the decisions we make on the inside. Our internal thoughts, emotions, values, decisions and perspective are loads more important than the external image. It’s in my thinking processes where I:
make decisions to be generous,
decide to act from various insecurities,
consider how another may be affected by my words / actions
choose to be afraid or choose to be constructive
So no matter how we look on the outside, let’s be certain we make internal decisions to be generous & loving people. What’s on the inside is what will often regulate what happens on the outside 🙂
“We only have two fish & five loaves of bread. It’s not enough for such a big crowd!!” These were the disciples’ words to Jesus about feeding a crowd of more than 5,000 people. And the observation is valid when we think about the provision in contrast to the need.
I see this mindset in many perspectives in my life. My needs for energy, time, resources, friendships, favor, wisdom, etc often seem to dwarf whatever provision may be available at the time. And as I read today about Jesus multiplying the fish and bread, I was challenged by this whole stark contrast between provision and need. I can belittle and grieve what is lacking or I can give Jesus whatever provision I have, let Him bless it and live in the resulting abundance.
In Jesus’ hands, little provisions can become multiplied abundance!
More than 50,000 soldiers dead all triggered by a concubine running away from her husband. I’m reading the last few chapters of Judges in the OT & these events leave me baffled & cold. They baffle me because even though Israel obeyed God’s directives, they still lost two battles and 40,000 soldiers died.
These events leave me cold because of the human ability to be barbaric: the concubines husband cut her up into 12 pieces and sent her body parts throughout the 12 Tribes of Israel. Clearly, this is a very dark time in Israel’s history.
And there are times / events in our lives when we don’t understand God. Why does an omnipotent God allow atrocities and deplorable behaviors? And how does
God’s loving character reconcile with His judgment? Making these questions get even more personal, why doesn’t God heal various ailments & terminal illness?
Or why does a cheater co-worker get the promotion & we get bypassed, again?
I’m grateful that God is abundantly able to handle our questions, doubts, fears, uncertainties & pain.
While we wrestle with these questions, or different ones, let’s stay in fellowship with God for the simple reason that He holds us together because of His infinite love for us!
I wonder how many wonderful experiences & people we miss because we make these 3 C’s our endgame. Presently, I’m riding in a Tuk Tuk in Cambodia & I can decide which filter in my thinking will be my perspective. I can choose the 3C’s & everything will be hot, noisy, smelly, loud, annoying & repulsive. Or I can choose the Adventure filter & my ride will be informative, interactive w the people around me at stoplights, breezy & bright.
So let’s consider how we think & the possible filters that we use to affect our perspective. And above all, let’s love lavishly & authentically since this is how we are loved by our Heavenly Father 🙂
I’m making my way back home from speaking at a pastor’s conference in Bangledesh. This has been a “quick trip”, considering that getting to Bangledesh can be a 30hour journey with a 12 hour time change – so no travel to Bangledesh is a in reality a “quick trip.” When I was deciding about this trip, I was weighing the cost of the trip, not only financially, but the cost of time, impact to my family & Spring Break time together – sacrifices.
With all these considerations, I felt in my heart that I needed to join this conference – a very unique opportunity to meet Christian leaders in a Muslim country & hopefully encourage & minister to them. And in light of our new nightcare in Bangledesh, I felt that this opportunity would also be strategic & a great way to begin some important relationships for the future.
Before I left for this trip, most of what I felt was a mix of hope, anticipation & sacrifice. Now that I’m returning home, I recognize the sacrifice to be sure. But getting to team up with Holy Spirit to minister to such incredible leaders has left me astounded. Additionally, I experienced some progress on some questions in my heart. And I sense a significant green light from God about Saving Moses growing in our nightcare work throughout this region of the world. Yes this trip was a sacrifice & I’m physically very tired. I’m also very awestruck with God’s generosity that counteracts the sacrifices that we make. I’m very thankful.
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
It’s interesting that the root for the words, “discourage” and “encourage” is the word courage, which traces to the Latin root for “heart.” So when we are discouraged, this literally means, “away from the heart”. And encourage, by contrast, means “into the heart”. But the common ingredient for both of the words, encourage & discourage, has to do with the heart.
So let’s think about this: what happens in my heart is only known between God and me. People can observe the external results of that internal status, but the state of my heart and what happens there is known most clearly by God. Maybe this is why Solomon said, in Proverbs 4:23, that we should guard our hearts, since this is where the wellspring of life starts. With this verse in mind, let’s be certain that we are keeping our hearts wide open to God’s presence because this is how we can live in a state of encouragement rather than being discouraged by experiences, conversations and various other challenges that can arise. Choose to live with God’s presence in your heart, encouraged and deeply loved!
Hard circumstances, unknown terrain, impossible journeys – these are all things in which God specializes. As you read this, maybe you’re in a financial crisis & Christmas looks impossible; maybe you’ve received a medical report that’s disturbing; maybe you have some toxic relational challenges that seem to be never ending; maybe you’re discouraged or depressed; maybe you have some work or school difficulties that are bigger than your abilities, time or energy.
Be encouraged today, that God can make a way when there seems to be no way. Remind yourself of how God delivered the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt:
providing a leader, Moses, who was educated & committed to their freedom
supernatural signs & wonders (10 Plagues) to break the slavery bondage
Passover to establish the relationship between God & the nation of Israel
plundering the Egyptians when the Israelites walked out of Egypt
split the Red Sea & drowning the enemies who were intent on dragging the Israelites back into slavery
God did lots more when He liberated the Israelites, so be encouraged that you’re not in a situation that exceeds God’s ability to transform nor redeem! Feel free to share this with your friends to encouage them as well!
We spend our days in limited & concrete terms. We live by schedules, deadlines, physical boundaries & financial constraints to say nothing of the limits in our thoughts & emotions.
But I keep sensing the Holy Spirit challenging my thoughts & limits – most of all in my perspective. I am coming to see that lots of my thinking reflects stuff from my past that I’ve perceived through faulty & flawed filters. What I keep experiencing is open doors in ways that I never anticipated & they’re wonderfully surprising! Let’s keep these verses in the front of our thoughts & emotions:
1 Cor 2:9-10, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.”
“. . . . , those who previously saw him as a beggar.” John 9:8b
I read this verse today & it really stood out to me about the power of vision & how we see people. In John 9, Jesus heals a man who was born blind. Before his healing, this man sat outside the temple & begged, so everyone recognized him as, ” that beggar guy.” When he was no longer blind, the people struggled to see him as anyone but, “that beggar dude.”
This has started me to think about various people I see: Bob the homeless guy at Starbucks, Tina the blind chick, Marion the needy one, Jerry the deaf dude, . . . .
If we see people only in the quagmire of their pain, dysfunction & disability, then maybe we’re limiting God’s power to work through us.
Maybe it’s a better strategy to ask God to reveal that persons true identity & divine design so that we call out their potential & not merely their inabilities & weaknesses. I’m more than a little grateful that God calls things that are not as though they are!
There’s a common saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” And in our moments of honesty, we can often recognize the error of this thinking. This mindset happens when we look at another person & wish we had their life.
“I wish I was smart like they are”
“I wish I had their coordination or athleticism”
“They have their life totally scooped – I wish I could be like them”
“I wish I could be that kind of a leadyer, wife / husband, parent, worshipper, etc”
Here’s the truth: we are each uniquely designed with the suitable talents, gifts, opportunities, etc for the divine plan for which God made us. The grass for our path is appropriately green, distributed & manicured for the journey that God has designed for us. So my take-away point is this: keep you eyes on God & decide to trust God more than what you see, experience or feel
I’m presently riding with my teenage son who is clocking in driving time so that he can be eligible to get his driver’s license. It’s an interesting experience to watch his confidence or lack of confidence, wax or wane, depending on who’s in the car, his experience, the quantity of traffic & his mind frame. And this confidence thing seems to ring true for all of us.
So here are some things to help with the confidence factor:
Being confident in our abilities is never as safe as being confident in God’s wisdom & power.
Don’t allow fear & past failures contaminate your confidence
Think in terms of what could go right rather than what could go wrong
There’s a common mindset that says bigger, more & better should be the continual pursuit. I say this now because I’m in a camera shop waiting to get some technical help & noticing the spectrum of cameras available in each brand. There are the simple point & shoot kind all the way to the ones that can tie your shoes & microwave popcorn. Ok, not really but kind of.
I wonder if the enemy of our souls doesn’t send us down this rabbit trail to distract us from learning the secret of being content in any & every situation. In the same line of thinking, is Jesus enough for us or do our decisions, time & money say something different?
I’m not buying a better camera today, nor do I want to swallow the deception that more & better need to control my life 🙂
In our modern world, outage is common & I think even expected sometimes. It seems like we can get massively incensed at almost anything: driving infractions, mistakes on paychecks or bills, government shortfalls, moral failures in Christian leaders, etc
But here’s something to consider: if sin is the common human experience, why do we allow ourselves to be outraged when people sin or make mistakes? Wouldn’t we be more constructive to celebrate the moments when humans don’t behave sinfully? What about when a driver makes space for you instead of cutting you off? That’s noteworthy! What about when a government does something positive that exceeds your expectations? This might not be often, but that’s exactly why we should celebrate it! And when a Christian leader has a moral failure, let’s not be so much outraged as we should pray for them & have sincere compassion because we identify with our own shortfalls.
Let’s aim for less outrage & more celebration 🙂
Don’t text & drive. Why? When our attention is divided, the quality of our focus decreases & our ability to engage declines. Simple translation: you’ll get in a wreck 🙂
I would suggest that the same principle applies to spiritual values as well. Because we live in a tangible & natural world, it’s easy to get our focus / attention on natural & flesh stuff. But if we become entirely absorbed with natural stuff, we’ll have a spiritual wreck. To be sure, we need to have balance with our focus & attention. Let’s be sure to give our attention to spiritual growth & not only natural urgencies & inclinations.
Being the mom of three teenagers, we have some interesting conversations & experiences. In their lives, there a significant events that seem to be defining moments, like getting a driver’s license, taking their first solo missions trip (without me), getting their first job, etc. While these events are very monumental, it seems to me that the more important stuff happens in the preparation for these events. For example, my husband has been massively attentive to help them practice driving so they’re fully prepared when they take their drivers license test. And the work they do at home to clean, do laundry, etc prepares them to do good work on their first independent job, hopefully.
I say all of this to encourage both you & me that the defining moments are hopefully nothing more than the cumulative total of preparation & practice to ensure that these moments / experiences go off with great success. Don’t neglect the importance of daily routines & practice as these set us up to succeed for what can seem to be pinnacle experiences & events 🙂
Jesus had dinner with the not so upstanding crowd & not everyone was thinking that was such a good thing. Indeed, Jesus was not just a little out of the box. This morning I read in Matthew 9:10-11 that Jesus dined with shady characters & the righteous crowd was pretty ticked off about his choices for social interactions.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting some very amazing women & their children in the largest brothel in Bangledesh. While some people may think that I should spend my time in better neighborhoods, when I follow & love Jesus well, I often find myself in these kinds of neighborhoods & loving people for who they are, regardless of what they do for a living.
It’s not so bad to be out of the box 🙂
I tend to run in the red zone. This means that I try to squeeze the most out of my time, energy, money, talents & attention. Generally, I’ve thought this has been a good way to do life. If a person wants to achieve a lot, suck out the marrow of life & choke on the bone, maybe even burn out, then FULL CHARGE ON!!!
But I’m beginning to see the importance of margin, or breathing room. Margin gives us space to think, recover, listen & be with the Holy Spirit. If you think about it, Adam’s first day of existence was God’s day of rest. Perhaps it’s in the margins & rest where we can experience the deepest intimacy & fellowship with the Holy Spirit, just maybe 🙂
This is a picture I took while flying home yesterday & it doesn’t do justice to the splendor & majesty I saw from the plane. What interests me today as I look back over these pictures is that the clouds seemed to define the top of the picture even though I know that these clouds aren’t really any kind of a limit.
I think we often do the same thing in our daily living. We see stuff that seems to be limiting or constricting factors. But beyond our perception can be glory, adventure, beauty & mind blowing experiences. Let’s remember that the sky is the limit!!