What Are You Saying??

Yesterday, I listened to one of my kids rant about their school, the wicked teachers, awful students & deplorable work. I don’t mind listening and sometimes I’m good at listening, which is good because my kid needed a listening ear. After about 30-45min of this content, I felt it was time for some objectivity so we had an interesting chat. I applauded their willingness to acknowledge a few of their shortfalls, but I also pointed out that from this child’s perspective, the lion’s share of the problems belonged to everyone else. This kind of thinking was allowing my kid to frame themselves as the victim & that’s no bueno. Being a victim often leaves us powerless & inert, wallowing in self pity. Seems to me that this kind of thinking runs contrary to how God has designed us, back in the Garden of Eden with power & dominion.

At the minimum, we have authority & power over our attitude & the choices we make about our perspective. Let’s be careful about how we think because our thoughts affect our words, attitudes & actions!

Can’t See Well

I’m learning in the concussion recovery process that sometimes I don’t see well. Indeed, on Monday I visited an eye dr who specializes in vision help for people with brain injuries. My appointment showed me some interesting problems with my vision that I wasn’t aware of – my peripheral vision is messed up, my depth perception is off & sometimes my visions gets blurry because my brain is tired. All of these difficulties have come from hitting my head really hard. 
Sometimes I think there’s a parallel truth that happens in our lives. If we go through a traumatic event, let’s be really careful that our perspective doesn’t get changed in negative & debilitating ways. Let’s be sure to keep our eyes on Jesus & our hearts tenderly in love with Him, being fully confident that He is working out everything to be a blessing & not a curse to us – Rom 8:28 🙂

Feel free to pass this along to any friends who might be in s difficult season!

What Is Success?

I can’t think of a person who wants to fail or be unsuccessful, but I think we need to be careful about how we define success. If success is our bank account, then we might be letting money be an idol. If success is our achievements, then we might be in danger of becoming self-absorbed. If success is how we look, then we run the risk of worshipping the image idol. 
There are lots of ways to frame or define success, but if we use the Bible to define success then let’s consider Jer 9:23-24. These verses say that success isn’t based on our wealth, our strength or our intelligence. Instead, success is based on the life pursuit of knowing God. 

May everything we do spring from this definition of success: that we live to know God better day after day, with the help of the Holy Spirit!

Hot Topic: Muhammed Ali

“I am the greatest!”  I heard Muhammed Ali say this when I was a little girl & I was really put off by his words.  I remember thinking, “Why would a person be so obviously prideful?  Did he really say that?”  Then I watched him on TV and sure enough, he said it all the time with total conviction.  Someone explained to me at that time that he was using his words to intimidate his opponents and a winning mindset creates winning outcomes.  Once I understood the reasons Muhammed Ali said, “I am the greatest” then it made sense why he would make such a bold claim.

But as a little girl, even though I could understand the reasoning for such audacity, I always thought to myself, “No one but Jesus is the greatest.”

  • Being an amazing boxer doesn’t make a person the greatest.
  • Being crazy intelligent doesn’t make a person the greatest.
  • Being hyper rich doesn’t make a person the greatest.
  • Being drop dead gorgeous doesn’t make a person the greatest.

According to Jesus, the greatest person is the servant of all.  Let’s align our lives with Jesus’ teachings and not fall for flesh fallacies.

Prison Was the Plan

Prison doesn’t sound appealing to me from any perspective. So thinking that God uses prison for good outcomes seems counterintuitive, full stop. Nonetheless, I read this morning about how Paul was put in prison & I remembered how Joseph was also imprisoned for some years. During the imprisonment season for both of these men, some really amazing things happened. Paul wrote heaps of letters, called epistles, to various churches which we can read today. During Paul’s imprisonment, he was also able to share about Jesus to some highly influential leaders, including Nero, the Emperor of the Roman Empire. With Joseph, he practiced his administration & leadership skills, as well as sharpening his dream interpretation abilities. 
Let’s be clear that God uses all kinds of scenarios for divine outcomes: imprisonment, hardship, deprivation and not just our physical comfort ,)

So let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us to be successful regardless of our situation & remember that Sunday is Pentecost!! 🙂

See Through

Sometimes it can be difficult to see past the nose in front of our face, because things can be super intense or stressful.  When we go through these seasons, it’s important to remember to “see through.” I’m thinking about this in relation to Joseph in Genesis when he went through all of the difficulties he experienced.  I have no reason to believe that Joseph looked past his difficulties to see something better or more glorious.  For example, when he was in prison, he asked Pharoah’s cupbearer to remember him in prison & help him to get out.  I think this directive from Joseph shows that he didn’t see anything beyond getting out of his immediate circumstance – a normal experience for each of us.

But today, let me encourage you to not only focus on your immediate situations, but to also see through the obstacles & difficulties in front of you to the great things God has in store for you!  Heavenly Help can be super helpful for seeing through various challenges & seeing them from God’s perspective!

Today is a Gift

I recently had a birthday & it was AWESOME!! I loved all the kind thoughts, quality time & fun gifts – all very wonderful!
But today is a different day & could have some interesting challenges. You & I have days of joy, stressful days & days with surprises, good & bad. 

Regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen on any given day, let’s keep the mindset that today is the day that the Lord has made, a divine gift with abundant opportunities to see / experience God’s presence in a myriad of ways. May your day be overflowing with awareness that God deeply loves & cares for you 24/7 🙂

Today is the day that God has made so let’s decide to rejoice & be grateful!

Baby Jesus

  
Jesus was born in kind of a shady way – an unmarried teenage chick, Mary, gets pregnant, supernaturally & gives birth to the Messiah. Maybe her parents were a little suspicious of the “supernatural” thing & maybe it’s good that Mary took a few months to chill w Elizabeth her cousin while they were both pregnant. Although Mary became pregnant because the Holy Spirit overshadowed her & Elizabeth became pregnant supernaturally, their babies were gifts from God, filled with the breath of the Almighty. 

Just because a baby is born in kind of shady circumstances doesn’t make them disposable nor less valuable than a baby born in more “normal circumstances”. 

I love my work with Saving Moses because it’s genuine love in tangible expression. It is a very practical way to walk humbly with God, do justice & love mercy. 

Please join me in this journey & get behind Saving Moses in your finances, prayers & energies. God has a great future for each of the babies we get to love 🙂

Watch This 🙂

Black Friday

It’s interesting that we call today Black Friday & the day that Jesus died Good Friday – arevealing choice of adjectives for these respective events. 

Today is when lots of people do some Christmas shopping & the retail industry attempts to lure us with discounts, sales, bargains, etc. For many people, today is indeed Black Friday, a day to denote financial difficulties. On a more introspective note, Black Friday can often be an indication of black thinking: darkness in the mind about how we see ourselves, our achievements & value, various relationships, external expectations, etc. 

Instead of thinking of today as Black Friday, let’s celebrate that Jesus is the Light of the world & He has come into human existence to remove the darkness from our lives 🙂

crowds

Yesterday, I mentioned a few thoughts about being alone so I thought it fitting to look at the other side today – crowded. Some people love crowds & revel in the energy, noise & pulsation of people collections – concerts, mosh pits, congregations, World Series & symphonies come to mind. 
If you struggle with crowds, here are some ideas from Jesus’ skin time:

  • Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw a crowd
  • Jesus saw & crowd & their need for leadership (sheep without a shepherd)
  • Jesus knew that a crowd was the conduit for His necessary crucifixion & ultimate resurrection. 

Let’s see crowds & more importantly people, from God’s perspective: individuals available for redemption & reconciliation 🙂

Power View

I had a friend who wrestled with anorexia & bulimia. It was an entirely awful thing to watch her in this struggle & I couldn’t grasp how she could think she was overweight when the scale said 72lbs & she was like 5’7″. Despite numerous indicators that she was not fat or overweight, she still kept this mindset & it ripped me up. As she struggled with this challenge, I did my level best to be a supportive friend but there was nothing I could do to change her perspective. 
The vision she had of herself was defective & didn’t match truth, so this vision was inherently destructive. If we aren’t careful, our perspective & vision can be smoked with deception & distortion by the devil. This is why it’s absolutely critical that we live in Romans 12:1-2. Don’t be conformed to the world but be transformed by renewing your mind. Let’s choose power vision rather defective vision 🙂

Better or Different?

  
My stellar husband cleaned our home office, which had turned into the dumping zone for hiding clutter when guests would come over. This space in our home is also where our kids practice their instruments & we keep the majority of the books I use from time to time. So be clear that entering this room was a hazardous adventure, using politically correct terminology ,)
My husbands way of organizing is to pull EVERYTHING out & then sort through stuff – this can be kind of messy. My way of organizing is to take small parts & deal with them where they are, putting them where they belong a little bit at a time. So over this past weekend, the tripping hazards were plenteous. 

Here’s my takeaway lesson: different isn’t always better or worse, it’s just different. When I think about the differences between Joshua & Moses in the Bible, neither was a better or more effective person, they just had different ways of doing things , largely because they had different divine assignments. Let’s be careful not to evaluate people based on our filter, call or methodology ,)

Different isn’t better or worse, necessarily. It’s often just different 🙂

It’s Important to be Successful

In contrast to success, I don’t think any of us purposefully set out to fail or enjoy defeat. Indeed, the word, “defeat” causes me to recoil & evokes a gagging reflex in me. Truth be known, I’d rather not try & avoid defeat than to try & feel defeated – operative word, “feel”. 

How we feel & what we think about success is really important to consider because our thinking & feeling affect what we do & even how we organize our priorities. Let me suggest to you that we humans tend to frame success in the terms of results but maybe God frames success in different terms. Perhaps obedience is more important to God than results. Is it possible that God defines success as obedience more than results?  

Just some food for thought 🙂

keep it perky

Truth be known, I’m not a Mon morning fan & when I taught high school, I used to think that hell would be made up of perpetual Monday mornings.  So on that happy note, let’s think about some really awesome things to keep our Monday perky & uplifting:

  • God’s love is continuous & reliable
  • Life is about exploring God’s love for us throughout each day
  • nothing we do or don’t do can make God love us less
  • we can trust God to work in our lives to bring about good things as we stay in love with God & true to God’s purposes for us
  • God is in control, full stop

🙂  Have an awesome Monday!

what looks like failure

I hate the word “fail” – it almost makes me have a visceral gagging reaction, borderline puking.  Thankfully, if I take a minute to pause, evaluate and collect myself, I don’t puke.  But if I’m not careful, I can easily throw things into the “failure” column and in a nanosecond find myself back to mental wrestling mat, almost down for the count.  As God & I were talking about this whole failure thing this morning, I was reminded about how Jesus looked hanging on the cross, beat to a bloody pulp and possibly personifying the ultimate failure.  He was betrayed by his friends, completely helpless, physcially obliterated and even yelling at God, “Why have You forsaken Me?!??”

Hanging on the cross, Jesus looked more like a failure than anything I’ve ever experienced & yet from God’s perspective, perhaps Jesus had never been more successful in His earthly existence, up to that point.  Let’s be careful that we don’t frame failure in the context of defeat, permanent or hopeless.  Jesus rose from the dead and living in our hearts, we have resurrection potential every day.

Be sure to pass this along to anyone you know who is struggling with seeming defeat or failure 🙂

do you want to be successful?

How’s that for a stupid question!?!!  I don’t start anything with the intent to fail & I most certainly do not like to fail, full stop.  But some of my thinking about success has been changing & I’m becoming more aware that many of my ideas about success have been more influenced by my American culture rather than the Bible.  My culture says that success is all about being bigger, better, more, power, stronger, wealthy, popular, image driven, new, hip, trendy & all things glitz & glam.  In the American culture, success isn’t about being broken, serving, homely, unpopular or tarnished, some of the things that Jesus personified & taught.  The more I think about success from a cultural versus a biblical perspective, I have to conclude that my culture and the Bible don’t always agree.  The important part of the disagreement is the side on which I chose to live.  If I have to chose between being successful based on the Bible or on my culture, I’m going to side with the biblical definition of success 🙂

How about you?

X-ray Vision

I’ve always thought it was cool how superman could see through stuff like walls, metal chests & more. He could see through things that had substance.
In a similar way, I’d like to see through the immediate to the ultimate. Sometimes I get fixated on the temporal: budgets, pressure, bad grades, trying to get in shape & more. I’ve found it immensely helpful to look beyond the immediate struggles & keep my eyes on Jesus my ultimate passion. Yes, there are deadlines, struggles, pressures, disappointments & more. But if we ask God to help us see through the immediate to the ultimate, then the immediate can receive the proper perspective adjustment & become less overwhelming 🙂

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Glitz & Glam

Packaging & image are important ingredients in the modern world. It seems to me that we frequently make lots of snap decisions about situations & people based on our “first impressions.” The tragedy of this mindset is that we can easily overlook people and things that have great substance & investment. Perhaps the religious leaders in Jesus’ day made this mistake & didn’t take the effort to know Jesus beyond the superficial assessment they made of His ministry (not including Nicodemus).
What’s in our hearts has more lasting value than transitory & superficial images.

happy belated Valentines Day :)

I purposely waited to make this post until after Valentines Day, because for some people, Valentines Day is a painful reminder that they’re single.  For other people, it’s a day to celebrate love & not just romance.  If you think about it, it’s better to be single than hooked up with a yucky person or someone who is evil but pretends to be good.

The choices that we make are very important and how we see our lives and the world around us are very much active choices that we make, whether we realize it or not.  And how we see our lives is a direct result of what we allow in our hearts.  So the grand conclusion of this meandering blog is that we must be careful what we allow into our hearts and thinking (Proverbs 4:23) because these inputs help to shape the way we see & interact with our world – mental hygiene my friends 🙂

the shortest distance

We’ve all heard the geometry postulate that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  With this premise, it’s logical to think about the things that we want & make a direct beeline toward these desires.  For example, if I want to serve a salad for dinner, I need lettuce, so I go to the grocery store to get the lettuce so I can make the salad.  Done.

It seems to me that having a close walk with God is an interesting adventure that doesn’t always seem to follow the same “straight line” thinking.  It seems to me that  being close to God is a daily journey that takes some unexpected twists and turns.  Growing close to God isn’t always a straight line journey – so let’s be open to how God leads us to be closer & closer to God day by day.