In the last few weeks, I’ve learned of various people who have committed suicide and it’s heart wrenching. A few of these individuals have been pastors, which hits even closer to home considering that I’m a pastor’s kid, I’m married to a pastor and I am a pastor. These events have also made me reflect on various people over the years who have committed suicide.
As much as I want to be articulate in this post, I feel so deeply about this subject that I can’t seem to get my words or thoughts into some semblance of order or cohesive progression. So maybe I’ll just free flow with this post and pray that it’s helpful to you, somehow.
More than anything, I hope that you will be gentle, tender and kind with others and yourself, regardless of any external veneer. When we are in a car and see a handicapped license plate, sticker or a “baby on board” sign, we will often give that person a little extra consideration, grace and space because we know there’s a vulnerable / fragile person inside that vehicle.
May we also have the same mindset with the people in our lives, appreciating that each person with whom we interact, has their own internal struggles regardless of what the exterior looks like or how they behave. Let’s be purposeful to:
Another Christmas has concluded & we will soon close the chapter on 2016. Sometimes it’s difficult to say goodbye & sometimes we say with great enthusiasm, “Good riddance!”
No matter what your perspective is on the goodbyes for this year & season, let’s keep in mind that Jesus is always with us, so we never have to say goodbye to Jesus! But maybe we should say goodbye to a few things for 2017:
Would Jesus have you say goodbye to some habits that encumber your walk with Him?
Would Jesus have us say goodbye to the not so deep walk we had with Him in 2016 to grow deeper & closer with Him in 2017?
Would Jesus have us say goodbye to some disorderly priorities that perpetuate unhealthy mindsets & dysfunctional behaviors?
Let’s remember that Jesus is God’s greatest present to us & that He’s always present with us! With the Holy Spirit’s help, let’s determine to be present with Jesus in 2017 more than we were this year!
If you look carefully at this picture, you’ll see that Jesus is inside a transparent “box”, made to look like a present. And it’s not a stretch for us to see Jesus as God’s present to us. John 3:16 comes to mind with God loving & giving Jesus to us.
But let’s think about this in another way: perhaps Jesus modeled for us God’s core desire – presence equals present or gift.
When we give God our presence, this is one the greatest presents we can give God. Of course money, serving & worship are vital gifts that we give to God, but giving God our presence is the expression of whole hearted love. Let’s be sure to make time in this busy season to be present with God 🙂
I haven’t wrapped a single Christmas present yet & a few years ago, I didn’t wrap any until 11pm on Christmas Eve – what was the point in that?!??? I don’t think I’m generally a procrastinator, it’s just tricky to remember & find time. Maybe this year, I’ll wrap our presents soon, maybe. One question worth a little consideration is what will you & I be giving Jesus this year, to celebrate His birthday. It seems kind of counterintuitive to give everyone but Jesus a present on Christmas, the day when we celebrate His birth 🙂
So going with the 5 Love Languages idea, here are some gift suggestions for Jesus:
affirmation – take some moments to sing one of your favorite praise / worship songs directly to Jesus or make a brief list of reasons why you love Jesus and tell Him
touch – consider giving someone a hug that would appreciate that; sometimes when we touch someone with genuine love it’s a nice way to communicate genuine love to Jesus (when you do this to the least of these, you’ve done it to Me – Matt 25:40)
gifts – think about giving a coat, hats, mittens, socks, etc to a homeless shelter or discretely helping a needy family in your church, maybe make an extra donation to a charity (Saving Moses is awesome – smile)
service – every church has extra services, usually, to support the Christmas season: consider volunteering a little extra to share some love 🙂
quality time – consider dropping by a park and taking a brief walk with Jesus or waking up maybe 10min earlier just to give Jesus your presence, which is possibly the ultimate present He desires 🙂
My kids are on Spring Break this week & we’ve had some really great family time together! We skied a few days & have totally enjoyed some mountain get away time. At the same time there have been a few hotspots & some things with my job that are diecy. If I’m not careful, I could let my mind get focused on the hotspots & work issues but one of my friends gave me some good advice: discipline your mind to be present with your body. For me, this is really good advice & maybe for you as well so that we can fully enjoy what God is doing where we currently are 🙂
We are having a very nice Christmas break with our kids & I’ve noticed that they haven’t once said, “I can’t wait until . . . ” This says to me that they are enjoying now, this present moment & this is a great lesson for me!
Sometimes I get stressed out about the future or discouraged looking at the past. Whenever I get I these weeds, I neglect to see the beautiful flowers of today. Even worse, my awareness of Jesus’ presence seems to deteriorate & I can easily become stressed & depressed. So lets decide to let the past be over & relax that when SE get to the future, Jesus will be there, just as much as He is with us in this moment 🙂
I have this eating trick that’s kind of stupid, but it works for me: whatever I like the least is what I eat first & whatever I like the best, I save for the last, so that I have something to look forward to. There’s a whole psyche that lies behind this strategy, but that’s a story for another day ,)
My point is that I have a plan that helps me to look forward to something that I enjoy. Maybe this is why God created mankind last when God created the world. Perhaps God waits with eager anticipation to get to be with us – waiting for those moments when we turn our attention to God and give some of our time and presence to our Creator. I have this strong conviction that the fundamental purpose that God created us is to have fellowship with God. With this in mind, the fellowship we get to have is sacred, relished and wholly pleasing to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (that’s alot of pleasure!!). God looks forward to getting to be with you today 🙂
I have a friend who lives in Denver, but used to live in Arizona 15 years ago. She’s a very nice friend & our kids get to play together from time to time, but I’ve noticed that whenever we have any types of longer conversations that she always talks about how much she misses Arizona, about her friends & church there, about the great food, etc. Our conversations make me wonder if she has ever really moved to Denver in her thinking. The reason I find this to be disturbing is I don’t think she is living “here & now.” Some people live in the past, some live for the future, some live in different locations, but neglect to be present.
One of the things that makes this such a tragedy is that Jesus is present with us “here & now” and at any given moment, we can have some very rich & fulfilling communion with Jesus, listening & watching for His presence in the context of our daily living. Please don’t miss being with Jesus in your daily living, but dreaming about being somewhere else in time or space 🙂
I find that listening is an amazing experience. Here are some reasons why. When I listen:
*i am present w the person who is speaking
*i broaden my experience & perspective by hearing another persons point of view
*i gain, learn & grow
*my relationship can deepen & grow
What has been profoundly riveting is when I listen to God. These times for me are nothing less than breath taking. It’s good to listen
My daughter & I were talking this morning about being wholly present & what this means. I explained to her the contrasting view of being partially present or having our attention fragmented. I explained that the opposite of being wholly present was when she might be trying to get my attention or ask a question at the same time that my 1 son is asking for a snack & the other is giving me a giant bear hug, with the phone ringing, my husband walking in the door asking what’s for dinner & the door bell ringing. When all of that is happening, my attention is fragmented & I’m not wholly present with my daughter & her question to me. She totally understood the fragmented attention thing.
I explained, however, that even though humans have very limited capacities to be wholly present with each other, God has no such limitations. Indeed, the Trinity is always wholly present with us & what brings great delight to the Trinity is when we are wholly present with God. In my journey so far, I’ve found that I need God’s help to be wholly present with God. Nevertheless, it gives me great pleasure to be wholly present with God throughout each day – the fellowship that is available to us is nothing less than total euphoria because in God’s presence is fullness of joy. Taste & see my friend, that God is truly good 🙂
My husband & I were discussing our family’s schedule for the next 2 weeks & simply put, its a BUSY season. When I looked up the word busy in the thesaurus, here are some of the words that I found & they seem fairly accurate: occupied, active, engaged, unavailable, full. My challenge is that when I get “busy”, I tend to become less present in my relationships & it seems like I can be very fragmented – little pieces of me spread everywhere.
But here’s my thinking about this season & a possible solution to the frenzy potential: If I can make myself “present” to God (offer myself to Him as a gift / sacrifice), then I trust that He will structure my time, the things I need to get done & the energy to do His work. It has been my experience that when I remain present with God throughout the various activities & demands in my life, I have more peace, I’m more productive & my relationships are less shakey. I like the practice of integrating God throughout each day, activity, conversation & chore – seems like I’m less “busy” when I do this 🙂
I’ve been thinking about what genuine love likes & acts like & I’m stealing some thoughts from The Five Love Languages about expressing genuine love. So here are some ideas about what love is. Love is:
*gifts – not only for Christmas & birthdays, but random gifts that are meaningful to the recipient
*affirmation – specific applause & recognition can be a hugely impactful experience for the one who hears such words
*touch – a gentle hug, a kind touch on the shoulder, a warm hand shake can be very affirming to a person who appreciates this expression of love
*time – for some folk, time is a deeply meaningful experience because it cannot ever be increased. It is the most finite resource that we have
*serving – helping others is an excellent way to give love for others.
The real meaning of love is more about the recipient than the person who is giving. In genuine love, the giver tries to be as present as possible & meaningful to the recipient.
What are some of your thoughts about genuine love?