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!
When I think about getting in shape, it crosses my mind that pears and grapes are viable options in contrast to the idealized hour-glass shape. I also think that I can get in shape for swimming, but be out of shape for running. This holds true for snowboarding, weightlifting & a plethora of other physical exercises.
Indeed, let’s go beyond the physical and cardiovascular concepts and think about our mental and spiritual shape! Keeping fit in our minds and emotions requires exercise and usage since the old adage, “Use it or lose it!” holds true.
And let’s be certain that we don’t neglect our spiritual shape when we consider what it means to be healthy. I’ve met plenty of people who are physically and mentally healthy, but whose spiritual lives are anemic on a good day. And I’m learning that if I’ll keep my spiritual health as a top priority, it’s often easier to be physically and mentally healthy. To stay spiritually healthy, here are a few helpful suggestions:
Read your Bible daily
Purpose to have prayerful conversations with God throughout the day
Connect with spiritual communities (church, small groups, Bible study, etc)
Congestion isn’t appealing. We don’t like to be congested from a cough or the flu and when traffic is congested, it’s not a pleasant experience to navigate. Congested means too much and it happens when there are too many cars or when our immune system is trying to fight against a virus or bacteria. So what are some possible solutions for congestion?
Here are some interesting ideas for your consideration:
drink more water: when we are congested with sin, the washing of the water of the Word (Eph 5:26) can help to flush out the sinful toxins that are harmful to our walk with Jesus.
rest: often times our lives get congested because we don’t maximize the rest times that God gives to us (Matt 11:28). If you’re in congested traffic, consider using the time to thank God for various things throughout the day.
patience: congestion can make us anxious and stressed out, which only makes the congestion worse. Consider what Jesus says in Luke 21:19, “In patience, possess your souls.” Seasons change and things come to pass but not stay.
May the healing and redemptive power of Jesus help us get past the congested times and maladies in our lives!
With Thanksgiving tomorrow, there’s a good chance that you & I will be eating some tasty food, along with second’s & possibly third’s. It’s also likely that you’ll skip some food that’s not in your favorite list. For me, I’ll take a pass on the cranberry relish but maybe double up on my mom’s chorizo stuffing 🙂
With the quantity of food that’s available tomorrow, let’s consider that our flesh appetites, left unchecked, can be highly destructive. As we are being thankful in this season, let’s also remember to cultivate or appetite for spiritual food, like daily Bible & prayer time!
I have a pretty consistent morning routine that generally helps to frame each day with sturdy Bible applications & a prayerful mindset, usually. But this morning didn’t pan out that way. I didn’t get to have my normal quiet prayer & Bible time before my family stirs. So I ran out the door to start my day, not having the rich fellowship with God that often sustains me throughout the day. I don’t like it when that happens & I’m grateful that this is a rare occurrence.
And here’s the really magnificent thing today: I’m sensing the Holy Spirit very clearly throughout this day, despite not having my morning tuning & calibrating fellowship. Of course my absence of quiet & solitary fellowship with the Holy Spirit this morning won’t become a daily habit. Nevertheless, sensing the rich presence of the Holy Spirit throughout this day encourages me that the Holy Spirit enjoys my company & interaction, not withholding that intimacy when I fall short on my end.
Be very certain in your heart that you’re deeply valued, highly treasured & greatly celebrated by the Holy Spirit!
There are times & situations when I don’t know what to do. There are also obstacles that seem to be unmovable. I can see where I want to be & what needs to be done, but I don’t always know how to get there or how to do what needs to be done.
These kinds of struggles can be experienced in our jobs, personal disciplines, education, relationships, finances, health, etc. So what to do?
Here are some things I’ve found to be helpful:
Pray more, worry less: ask for God’s intervention / interruption to do what seems to be impossible
God’s direction: what would God have you say or do in these struggles?
Active decisions: make intentional decisions to trust God, to speak faith filled words & to choose the high road.
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!
I watched this short video when I got home from Bangladesh this week, took a walk & had a really deep & profound experience with God.
I know it can be very strange to watch one’s self, but the Holy Spirit really spoke to me through this short video. Take a few minutes this Memorial Weekend to watch it & feel free to pass it along to your friends!
Do you ever struggle to focus? I definitely struggle with my focus & I’m learning that it’s easier for me to focus on some things more than others. For example, I’m not very good at listening to stuff, but I’m better at reading. Some people like video content & find it easier to pay attention. So here’s some good news for the video peeps! I started my own YouTube channel & I’m uploading a series once a week. The series I’m working on is about prayer & it’s really excellent!! For the prayer series, each episode is short & very relevant!
Feel free to subscribe & pass on the link to your friends who are interested in prayer!
Have you seen the cars that are started by pushing a button rather than using a key in the ignition? It seems like the “button pushing” concept is growing more common & it’s a nice upgrade for simplifying life, but for one massive exception:
Each of us have various buttons that cause us to react in various ways – some good & some, not so much. Rather than thinking in terms of people pushing your buttons & causing you to react, maybe it would be more helpful to think about the buttons that we have & why.
Instead of getting upset about people pushing your buttons, I think it’s more productive to think about what those buttons are & why we have them. This journey starts with accepting the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth & then agreeing to let the Holy Spirit lead us in truth. Without that decision, we’ll stay in perpetual bondage to the button pushing slavery & victim to the internal triggers that remain hidden but manipulated by the enemy of our soul.
Think about your personal buttons & ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth about these buttons to you!
Things that are exhilarating to me include: snowboarding REALLY fast, exploring new countries, reading adventure books & endorphins after a good workout. On the flip side, I don’t get excited about repetitious dishwashing, being a taxi mom or the mundane working out that precedes an endorphin rush.
Sometimes our walk w God can mirror these contrasting experiences. There are definitely experiences with God that are far beyond exhilarating & spine chilling. However, let’s never minimize the day to day essentials that cultivate that deep, fulfilling & abiding intimacy with Jesus. Thrills & chills are fun, but nothing can sustain us like our walk with Jesus through daily time in the Bible & prayer!
I appreciate watches that work & these do not. Using an unreliable watch is kind of like driving on a tire that needs air – pretty soon, stuff gets messed up! Schedules go awry, anxiety increases, appointments get missed & people get frustrated, not just a little. But all of these challenges can be avoided with a functional watch.
This goes to my point with prayer. Keeping our prayer life in tune, steady & practiced is essential for our internal stability. When my prayer life goes awry, it’s only a matter of time until life hits the fan.
Who’s up to watch & pray with me?
Have you have a few hours, days, weeks, etc when you would like to rent a porcupine suit? These are the times when you feel particularly bristly & not very friendly. As a follower of Jesus, it seems to me that I shouldn’t be like this. But alas, I can be cranky & cantankerous. In these times, I’d like to rent a porcupine suit & I should probably hibernate from social interaction so I don’t stab anyone with my bristly demeanor.
In these times, I need to let the Holy Spirit soothe the needles & console the grumpy. I may have some very good reasons to be cranky, but I must never resist help from the Holy Spirit to be better than my feelings, full stop.
This is a picture my friend took last week when I was showing her how to do a Turkish get-up in the local coffee shop. The purposes of this exercise is to improve ability, strengthen the shoulder & probably make a person look super silly. I say this because whenever I do them, I feel not just a little goofy.
Sometimes, our spiritual development can feel to our flesh like a Turkish get-up. Growing spiritually doesn’t always make our flesh feel comfortable & svelte. But growing spiritually helps us to go through life’s ups & downs with more agility & this also helps to strengthen our core self, grounding us in prayer & the Bible.
Don’t minimize the importance of doing the daily disciplines of prayer & Bible time that foster spiritual growth!
I really like to tell my kids, “Yes!” I like to tell them yes to eating salad, working out, studying, reading good books & hanging out with constructive friends. All of these get a hearty “yes and AMEN!” from me. But alas, they don’t always ask me for these kinds of things.
Sometimes they ask me:
to eat cake when it would be better to have some beets.
to sleep in when they need to go to school.
to hang out with a shady person when it would be better to do their homework.
Sometimes we ask God for stuff that’s not good for us & we often don’t like God’s answer. We can even deny that God is answering our prayers when we don’t like the answer. But alas, God answers prayer even when we don’t like the answer! Let’s trust that when God says no, it’s in our best interest & there’s a better plan or answer than what we’ve been requesting!
Looking at this picture, you would likely tell me to fix it & turn it around since it looks like Jesus is upside down. However, sometimes I think the Holy Spirit wants to turn us up on end so we be right side up, based on the Holy Spirit’s perspective. Some areas where we might need some adjusting could include:
Money: getting is never as blessed as giving
Time: sometimes I need to remember that prayer can be the key for productive rather than staying busy
Mercy: being judgmental appealing to our flesh, mercy wins with Jesus!
Leadership: serving is the model Jesus gave us if we’re going to be the Jesus-kind of leader
One of my all time favorite platforms to recognize Jesus is in small groups, Bible studies & prayer groups. And it seems logical that this would be true based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:20 when He says, “Where two or three are gathered in My name, I am there in their midst.” Some of the things I love about these settings are:
Robust conversations about Jesus from various points of view. Different perspectives help me see & experience Jesus in fresh & new ways.
Prayer support in the group.
Recognizing Jesus words, presence, power, wisdom & loads more, like when Jesus walked along the Emmaus’ road & talked with His followers even though they didn’t recognize Him in those moments.
Seeing the Fruits of the Spirit in first person experience because there’s always some kind of conflict or rub whenever you bring people together 🙂
Let’s be sure to keep some fellowship with other followers of Jesus as part of our essentials routines!