With the beginning of a new year comes lots of opportunities, quandries, questions and things to be resolved or addressed. For me, these things look like managing kids with changing schedules, planning international trips, navigating limited resources, strategizing for growth, resolving some conflicts and working through some unexpected hiccups.
I could easily get screwed into the ceiling with stress, worry, frustration, fear & anxiety. But a more helpful option is to pray. There’s a really old song about taking to the Lord, our worries, problems, etc . . . ” . . . . ,take it to the Lord in prayer.” Let’s make prayer our first reaction rather than our last resort!
In America this week, we had a national & local election, so all media outlets were fully engaged with debates, advertisements, etc. There are plenty of folk who prefer less campaigning & not just a few of us are weary of the deceptions & hostile conflict that politics has become. As a follower off Jesus & His teachings, there are a few takeaways to maintain regardless of your political affiliations / preferences.
Be compassionate – Jesus was helpful, kind, forgiving, healing & generous to marginalized people
Be prayerful – Jesus taught His disciples to pray, a constructive habit we would be wise to cultivate
Be loving – Jesus said that His followers would be recognized by their love for each other.
Some things are difficult & we want to find excuses or reasons to avoid such difficulties. We might want to sidestep a challenging conversation or greeting a prickly person. We might prefer to ignore the scale in the bathroom since it may tell us something unpleasant. And there’s always the “busy” excuse that’s convenient for all kinds of stuff we’d prefer to avoid.
Despite our best efforts, however, whatever we try to avoid, ignore, deflect, etc it’s still there & will likely remain present until we step into the issue. Here are a few ideas that might help us to show up:
Pray: let God know you don’t want to show up & ask for divine Help
Deep breath: this can often help to clear the cobwebs in our thinking & give us some energy to take a step
Anticipate good: it’s possible that whatever we might be avoiding has some unexpected good stuff
Love truth: sometimes we avoid truth bc it might be painful or unpleasant. But ultimately, deception is more destructive than truth!
In America, we are in the full season of politics, elections, candidates, ballots, etc. Two years ago, this space was toxic, combative & divisive on a good day. I’m grateful that this political season isn’t quite as venomous as the one two years ago and we would be wise to pause and reflect.
Regardless of your political affiliations or bend, I’d like to propose a few questions for your consideration:
Have you educated yourself on the issues, candidates, platforms, etc?
Are your thoughts and emotions based around genuine love? Is there fear, greed, power, insecurity lurking in your soul that could influence your voting?
If someone votes or thinks different than you, can you maintain a respectful conversation?
Have you prayed for this election, the candidates, ballots, our nation, etc?
Regardless of how the elections turn out, let’s be committed to express genuine as followers of Jesus! I say this because of His words in John 13:35, “They will know you follow Me by your love for one another.”
Presently, I’m in Cambodia & yesterday I was in Dubai. Tomorrow, I fly back to Denver so I’m changing lots of time zones. I’m hopeful that I’m not a babbling idiot as I interact with various folk, since my sleep is a little bit whacky. It’s understandable because Dubai is 10 hours ahead of Denver, Cambodia is 13 hours ahead of Denver & Friday I’ll be back in Denver – so I’m going around the world in 7days. This means lots of geography changes & navigating time zones.
And times are changing around the world. In the US, the generational shifts are obvious & sometimes difficult for adjusting. Furthermore, time seems to change as we age – maybe it speeds up? Here are some ideas that might be helpful for changing times:
be present today: yesterday is over & tomorrow isn’t here; so now is a wonderful place to reside
trust that our times are in God’s hands, based on Ps 31:15
time is irreplacable so let’s be intentional about how & where we invest our time
let genuine love be our top priority regardless of how the times & people are changing!
I was getting fuel this morning & there was an employee standing by to help or answer questions a customer might have. Since most of us could put fuel in our cars with our eyes closed, this employee didn’t have much to do other than circulate & be friendly. So we engaged in trivial chit chat: where are you from, nice weather we’re having, etc. We had a lovely chat & I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him better so the next time I get fuel there, he won’t just be the “gas dude.” Additionally, we prayed together for our health with working out and making better eating decisions.
All of this happened while I was pumping fuel & a few minutes longer. The extra few minutes we give, can be an invaluable expression of love, since everyone is so “busy”. Let’s be lavish with our love by giving an extra few minutes to listen, affirm, engage and acknowledge people & not just functions 🙂
No one gets a pass on receiving bad news. And recently, I heard some stuff that was discouraging – the opposite of what I’d been asking from God & I was unhappy with opposite outcome of my prayers. I think it’s pointless to hide my emotions from God or pretend that everything is ok when it’s not. At the same time, the world doesn’t stop just because we get some bad news. So here are a few suggestions that could be helpful:
Tell God how you feel & what you’re thinking. Reading Psalms & Job give some really insightful thoughts & expression to emotions that are raw & real.
Perspective adjustments: sometimes it’s helpful to look at a broader picture than just the bad news
Consider the cause: is it possible that the bad news is a consequence of something you did? If so, maybe it would be helpful to make some course corrections / different decisions.
Choose to trust God: It always encourages me to remember that God uses all things for the the good to those who love Him & stay aligned with God’s purposes
Feel free to pass this along to any friends / family who might be struggling with getting some bad news
I’m making my way back to Denver from Angola Africa, where I’ve been for a week working with our baby malnutrition initiative with Saving Moses. I think this is my 6th trip to Angola & it never fails to bring me to my knees, almost literally.
On this trip, I’ve never seen, held or experienced so many malnourished babies possibly combined in my whole life – over the course of close to 5days. And I’m coming home with all of these experiences swirling in my heart, thoughts & emotions. Clearly, this will be a journey for processing, literally. And at the same time, I’m compelled to do more.
It seems to me like we all want to do more. But I wonder if we want to do more of the right stuff?Sometimes maybe we should think about what it means to “do more” prayerfully considering if our more is being directed by God.
“And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth and his eyes on his eyes and his hands on his hands, and he stretched himself on him; and the flesh of the child became warm. 35 Then he returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up and stretched himself on him; and the lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes.” 2 Kings 4:34-35
When I read these verses about Elisha raising this boy from the dead, what Elisha did sounds really strange to me, but I certainly celebrate the outcome! Weird actions in contrast to resurrection outcomes cause me to pause & reflect. Far too often, I’m quick to dismiss or reject stuff that makes me squeamish just to concentrate on the cool outcomes that I like. Do you ever find yourself making the same kind of decision?
Regardless of your answer, I’m entirely certain that the mother of the boy who was raised from the dead didn’t mind the method Elisha used to resurrect her son. Sometimes God’s methods can make us squeamish, but let’s never belittle nor dismiss God’s motives (genuine love) nor the outcomes, for the sake of being more comfortable & less squeamish 🙂
If we don’t feel pain, we run the risk of being unfeeling, insensitive, cold & apathetic. But for the people who live with chronic pain, feeling pain isn’t good. It’s also difficult to see people who are in pain. So what do we do with pain? Anesthetizing pain with entertainment, booze, exercise & other stuff turns out to be a very destructive way to cope w pain. So rather than anesthetize pain or run from it, let’s consider that we can ask Jesus to take away the pain & help us know Him better through the pain & suffering. Consider what Paul says in Phil 3:10-11, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
skme of the greatest potential for intimacy can happen through the shared experiences of pain & suffering. Even though we don’t like the idea, it’s true nonetheless. Think Gethsemane. Pray when there’s pain & watch what God does.
Edgy, sharp, cranky, churlish, frustrated. These adjectives can describe us at various times. Maybe you’re short on sleep. Maybe you’re stressed about money. Maybe you have a conflict with your spouse or friend. Maybe there’s a lot of pressure at work or school. Regardless of the reason, let’s be careful about our words & attitudes in these challenging times.
Here are some helpful ideas to keep our attitudes, actions & words seasoned with grace:
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you
Chose self control over reactionary behavior
Take a 30second pause & look for stuff to be grateful for
Remember that we often prefer the consequences of grace rather than the outcomes of expressing frustration or crankiness 🙂
There are lots of things that can be difficult: being consistent with exercise, missions trips, hostile or dicey conversations, regulating ones eating habits & lots more. I don’t like to do tough stuff, nor did Jesus. I say this because of His words in Gethsemane, “If possible, please take this cup from Me.”
So how do we go about doing tough stuff? Here are a few suggestions & I’d be keen to get your ideas in the comments as well!
Keep the end goal in mind: what is your desired outcome?
Be wholly present in the difficulty because often these struggles need our whole attention, energy & talents
Pray: divine help is always an upgrade!
Surrender to God’s will even when it conflicts with your desires 🙂
Do you have any bad things in your life? Of course that’s a stupid question. Everybody has bad stuff, little, big, occasionally & hopefully not continuous. As much as I want to avoid the bad stuff, it’s still there. So what to do?
Here are some ideas about what to do with bad stuff:
Pray – let’s not assume that prayer with bad stuff is a given. Praying is a resource that strengthens us, can change the bad stuff & even change us
Focal Point – what gains our attention usually gets magnified in our lives. So keeping Jesus scoped as our focal point helps us to keep perspective
Outcome possibilities – in Paul’s epistles & various places in the NT, we frequently read that hardship & bad stuff is often the pathway to really great things like lasting glory, perseverance / endurance, maturity, fruitfulness, (2Cor 4:17, James 1:4, Gal 6:9, Rom 8:17-18)
Bad may come & even linger but it will pass. Let’s chose to celebrate the faithfulness, provision, strength & presence of Jesus, even when we’re in a bad stuff season 🙂
This question is massively significant for us everyday. I say that because it was the starter question the serpent asked Eve in the Garden of Eden & it was the beginning of original sin.
So do we know what God’s Word says? Eve kind of knew, but she’s wasn’t totally clear & confident with her reply to this question & I think that’s when the enemy gets a toehold with us.
Sometimes we kind of know God’s Word, but if we’re super honest, it would be very helpful to know God’s Word better 🙂
Here are some questions to consider:
Do you ever struggle to know what God says?
Do you ever struggle to believe what God says?
Do you ever struggle to do what God says?
I think it’s really important to ask ourselves this question, “Did God say . . . ?” and apply it to our thoughts, emotions, actions, conversations. When we make God’s Word an essential priority, this will help us stay away from the enemy’s deceptions, whispers & questions!
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!
Today, is Independence Day for the United States. This is a day when we remember the foundations of our country, the sacrifices that have been made & we express gratitude for our freedoms & blessings. It’s indisputable that America has flaws & failings. But on this day, let’s choose to focus on these things:
Unity with diversity can be a strength when respect is kept as a core value
Freedom from tyranny was the premise on which our nation was founded – let’s not be tyrants nor bullies 🙂
Pray for our nation & its leaders – this day reminds me of the importance of continually praying for my country
Jesus says that greatness is grounded in humility, so let’s endeavor to serve & bless the world!
What to pray when you don’t know what to pray. Do you have those times when you’re lost for words? Maybe life has just piled up too deep, the demands are too plenteous & the stresses seem infinite. Sometimes when we go through grief, words can seem mechanical or elusive.
When you don’t know what or how to pray, here’s a good suggestion:
I had an interesting chat with one of my children this morning about the importance of planning. In our conversation, they told me that they didn’t want to make a plan for the summer to achieve a particular goal. I replied, as I’ve learned from my husband, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” As much as this quote rankles me, it’s nonetheless true, across a variety of platforms, including prayer!
Watch this quick video for an idea to help you with prayer!
We all find ourselves in busy seasons, when we have loads of things to do, all of them screaming to be accomplished YESTERDAY!!!!
I’m in one of those seasons this week & I heard a very sweet whisper in my prayer time this morning: “Don’t forget to pray!” This was very encouraging to me because when I get in these massively busy seasons, I tend to put my head down & close my focus to everything except getting stuff done. This sweet whisper was more than a little wonderful reminder to ask for divine Help & to remember that the Holy Spirit is with me all the time as my Helper.
Don’t forget to pray 🙂
I hate bad news. I don’t like bad reports from the doctor, I don’t like getting bad report cards from my kids & I don’t like hearing discouraging stuff. But it happens, no matter how much we plug our ears, distract ourselves or attempt to deny what we hear. So what to do?
Here are some helpful suggestions for when you get bad news:
Face it – denial of bad news only makes it worse. Romans 4:19 says that Abraham faced the reality of his aged body, but didn’t weaken in his faith
Get wisdom – life improves with wisdom but deteriorates with the absence of wisdom. So ask God for wisdom on how to handle the bad news – James 1:5
Faith focus – bad news can become debilitating if we don’t keep our focus on God & His ability to do the impossible – Luke 1:37
Pray more – when I get bad news, it’s easy for me to worry. Let’s encourage each other to pray more than we worry – Ps 55:22
Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know who’s struggling with bad news!