Object, Project or Person?

How we treat people reflects what we think about them on the inside.  So if we treat the barista like an extension of the espresso machine, then we’re thinking of them in terms of an object rather than a living human.  This happens alot when we get in transactional modes of interaction & neglect to see the person with whom we’re interacting.

When we try to change someone:  correcting their attitudes, challenging their political opinions, getting them closer to Jesus, making them “better”;  let’s be careful that we’re not treating them like a “project“.  The exceptions to this concern can be the parent, teacher or mentor roles, all of which are most affective when we perceive the recipient of our input as a human & not merely a project.

I think what made Jesus so entirely irresistable by the masses of humanity, when He walked on the earth, is that He interacted with everyone with authenticity, genuine love and sincere interest.  He engaged with each individual as a person, not as a project nor object.  This is what happens when we interact with others from the place of genuine love rather than manipulation, achievement or domination.  Let’s allow our lives to remain in genuine love so that our interactions with others resound with redemption & reconciliation!

 

Liking Time

It seems to me that most of us don’t like time, maybe because we don’t seem to have enough of it, or we resent the pressure it applies. When I was a kid, I didn’t like time because it seems like an eternity – now it often seems scarce.

Perhaps for these reasons & loads more, God told us to keep a Sabbath, the day of rest & refrain from work. I think that if we don’t structure our energies, resources & time to conform to God’s imperatives, we harm & even break ourselves from misusing & abusing God’s provisions.
Today, I have a pause & I find myself being not just relaxed but maybe more importantly refreshed in this space & time to exhale. Furthermore, the pause let’s me give some undistracted focus to being with God & there’s nothing my soul craves more than this intimacy with my Creator.
Let’s be grateful for time, by using it according to God’s instructions.

Does the Bible Know You?

I appreciate that this is a weird question & kind of a backwards idea to knowing the Bible.  Nonetheless, I think it’s a really significant thought & definitely worth your consideration.  I say this because I grew up with heaps & heaps of Bible content:  my mom started memorizing Proverbs when I was around 8years old, I went to Sunday School every week, took Bible classes in high school, etc.  I would say that I have a relatively firm grasp on the Bible.

But I don’t think that having a sturdy grasp on the Bible is as important as the Bible having a firm grasp on us.  I say this because we can far too easily quote the Bible instead of live it, or let the Bible live through us.

I think about this in terms of Paul’s words in Colossians 3:16, about the Word of God living richly in us.  If I’m going to let the Bible know me, then I need to give the Bible access to my thoughts, emotions, secrets, dark corners, painful memories, relationships, character, priorities, etc.  When the Bible lives richly in me, when the Bible knows me, then I find that I grow & mature in being Jesus’ follower.  Let’s not only know the Bible, but let’s allow the Bible to fully know us!

DMV

Ever have to wait at the DMV? It’s a lovely experience that equalizes humanity to those little number strips, as we all wait for our turn to go to the lady behind the window.  She knows everything & is all powerful. When I think about it, I want to be nice to her, bring her a peace offering & hope she’ll look favorably on my request. Maybe she’d like a donut with coffee, . . .
It’s possible that my DMV experience is a condensed practice for daily living with God  with one major difference: the lady behind the window is human. This means that she is flawed & disconnected from my human existence. Thankfully, God is more than human, integrated throughout our daily living & continuously loving. The DMV makes me appreciate that God is always available, no number required 🙂

Change the Filters

This weekend, we changed the furnace & vacuum filters. It’s good to change the filters from time to time & the vacuum filter was long overdue – no wonder the carpet has been messy!

Let’s think about this in relation as well to our mental filters. Sometimes we see things through filters that can be dirty, tainted, distorted & ineffective. Consequently, our perspective is messed up & we can make dysfunctional decisions & carry on with messed up conversations / mindsets
Let’s be sure that we follow the Holy Spirit in truth. Maybe it’s time to let the Holy Spirit challenge your mental filters so that life works better & isn’t quite so messy!

Go Fast or Slow Down


I like to go fast – snowboarding, quick flights & speedy travel. In the last two weeks, however, our family has taken a “slower” vacation. We’ve driven from Denver, stopping to see relatives & friends, all the way to Washington DC. We are now driving back to Denver from DC. I’ve done the round trip flight from Denver to DC more times than I can count & it takes about 7hours total (including driving & airport security) to fly one way. In contrast, it will take us 2.5 days to drive from DC to Denver, with minimal stops. 
Along this vacation, I’ve noticed some significant advantages to this slower travel stuff:

  • More time to think, pray & explore – rather than focusing on the travel, slowing down allows me the space to pray & process
  • Beauty in various forms – from flat farmlands to the Smokey Mountains & rolling forested hills of West Virginia, there’s beauty everywhere. Being on the ground let’s me experience this beauty & appreciate Gods immense creativity. 
  • Deeper conversations – getting to chat with my relatives & friends face to face has been a great benefit to this slow down approach to travel.

There’s some good wisdom to the Simon & Garfunkel song, “Feeling Groovy”

Slow down, you move too fast.

You got to make the morning last.

Just kicking down the cobble stones.

Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.

I pray that you can slow down & enjoy your weekend with the Holy Spirit!

Benefits of Waiting

I’m writing this in Indiana, as I’m waiting for a driver to take me to the airport. I was waiting earlier for an interview & when I get to the airport, I’ll wait some more to get on the airplane. Seems to me that we often spend time waiting for various things – stop lights, job interviews, school acceptance, for the right mate, direction from God & heaps more. 
Sometimes it’s easy to get impatient in the waiting times. So here are some benefits to help you while you wait:

  • Waiting gives us the space to catch our breath & collect our thoughts
  • Waiting can be the prep time we need for the next season of busyness, activities & responsibilities
  • In Isaiah, it says that when we wait upon the Lord, He renews our strength & we all need supernatural strength
  • The best thing about waiting is the chance to have some focused fellowship with the Holy Spirit, our Heavenly Help

Less ‘cussing

In the last several weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the ups & downs of concussion recovery. This is a different adventure than recovering from other physical injuries I’ve had. A concussion is an injury to the brain, so it takes awhile to get the neurons back online & return to one’s normal routines & responsibilities. I’m definitely making progress, but typical to my personality, I’d like to be moving along more quickly. In the meantime, these are some rich benefits I’m experiencing in this journey:

  • relying on the Holy Spirit has helped me with my independence struggle
  • this weakness has facilitated greater fellowship with the Holy Spirit in a real time context & not just hindsight
  • I’m less prideful & more compassionate 🙂

Less “concussing” but still learning 🙂

Quips & Blips

imagesHere’s a quote on friendship by the famous CS Lewis.  The quote is classic Lewis, insightful & inspiring.  But alas, there’s a downside to this warm & engaging quote above Lewis’ picture.  The quote doesn’t scratch the surface of who CS Lewis was, nor the immensity of his thoughts, wisdom, writing nor influence.  He was truly a giant among men.  So let’s be careful that we don’t think we know the man by looking at his picture & reading an inspiring quote.

In the same way, let’s consider that we can often treat God with the same shabby quip and blip method.  I’ve definitely been guilty of taking a quick verse and letting that suffice for my understanding of who God is.  To really know a person means to spend time with them in lots of scenarios and to listen and watch them with an open heart.  How much more true is this for the lifetime adventure of knowing and walking with God.  Let’s leave the quips and blips strategy for politics and shallow journalism.

Let’s allow Heavenly Help to teach us the lifestyle of Jeremiah 9:23-24.

 

Old and Mature

Does age equal maturity?

I was talking with a friend this weekend about being mature.  He made a comment that settled into my mind for lots of thinking.  He made the statement that being an “older Christian” was the same as being a “mature Christian”.  This is where I paused to think.  I started to think about what it means to be a mature Christian and I thought about this in light of knowing lots of folk who have been Christians for multiple decades.  Does time equal maturity?

If time and age don’t equal mature, what does it mean to be a mature follower of Jesus?  Here’s a short answer: a person who is more & more Christlike is an increasingly mature follower of Jesus.  If you’d like to ruminate on some sturdy ruffage on this topic, consider taking some time to read & digest Hebrew 5:11-6:8 🙂

Let’s endeavor to be not only aged followers of Jesus, but more importantly mature believers, full of Christlike fruit in our daily living 🙂

Let’s Take a Walk

  
Sometimes I find myself in situations that are far beyond my skill set & often I get jittery, intimidated & overwhelmed. It’s precisely in these moments that I find the most fulfilling & richest relationship with the Holy Spirit. This is my experience because when I take a pause to catch my breath & reflect, I sense the Holy Spirit by my side, helping & telling me that it’s going to be ok. 
Furthermore, it feels to me like the Holy Spirit invites me to take a walk together, something I love & relish. I like to take walks because there often seems to be boatloads of challenges that get worked out in my conversation with the Holy Spirit on these walks. I also appreciate that the Helper invites me on these strolls for a few helpful pointers:

  • more often than not, I have no clue where walking with the Holy Spirit will lead me & truth be known, I’m an adventure junkie – usually I love to go to new destinations & experiences, particularly when the Holy Spirit is leading the journey;
  • I don’t have to know the destination to enjoy the company – I’m learning this lesson across a wide swath of experiences & adventures; 
  • Walking with the Holy Spirit is an adventure not only in the various experiences along the journey but also in the pace of the whole walk – sometimes at lightning speed & sometimes at a pace that is slower than molasses in winter, stationary at best & seemingly regressive sometimes;

Let’s walk together with the Holy Spirit, Gal 5:16 & 25, for not only the pace & direction but for the outcomes & most importantly for the company & fellowship!  Take a walk & see what fun ensues 🙂

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 🙂

alone

Sometimes people treat “alone” like a disease that needs a vaccination or a dysfunction that requires a remedy.  We tend to fill our minds with music, social media, events, appointments, text messages, books, entertainment and anything we can conveniently grasp to immunize us from this “scary” state of being alone and quiet.  It’s a conundrum to me that we’ll tolerate zombies, vampires, ghosts & spooky Halloween stuff with a lite comic wink but what shivers our spine & tweaks our nerves is solitude & the thought of being alone.

Yet being alone is an important ingredient for being human.  Consider some of the incredible outcomes Jesus experienced from being alone:

  • Jesus’ testing in Matthew 4 was initiated by the Holy Spirit leading Him into the wilderness – He came out of that experience with anointing & power.
  • Jesus went up on a mountain by Himself to pray through the night – when He came down, He chose His 12 disciples who perpetuated Jesus’ ministry.
  • Gethsemane was an alone time for Jesus – He surrendered His will so that we could live in reconciliation with God

I get that we aren’t Jesus, but maybe some of the things we most desperately need come from what we most ardently avoid 🙂

Jesus Had Questions – intro

There’s nothing weird or abnormal about us humans asking questions. Indeed, questions communicate an inquiring mind, curiosity & an interest in learning. What seems rogue to me is that Jesus asked questions. Since Jesus is omniscient (all knowing), what’s the point? And yet He asked lots of questions when He did His skin thing with us. 
For example, His first question was to His parents when they’d misplaced the Son of God for more than three days – as a mom, I can’t even begin to fathom what that was like for Mary, but that’s a discussion for a different day. 

In Luke 2:49, Jesus asked His parents, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”

Here are a few takeaways from Jesus’ questions to His earthly parents:

  • Just because we’ve walked with Jesus for lots of years doesn’t mean that we can’t learn new things about Him everyday!
  • Jesus is God’s Son & defaults to being around His Fathers interests – best place to find Jesus is where the Father is working
  • In an interesting twist, why is it that we sometimes don’t look for Jesus? Are we distracted? Are we “satisfied” with flesh & not incarnate?

Lets look for Jesus throughout this day 🙂

Hot Topic: Cheating ala Volkswagen

In the news, I’ve been reading about Volkswagen & the massive recall they’re doing for cheating on their emissions software – about 700,000 Volkswagens have this cheater software installed in these cars. Clearly, this is a global embarrassment & I have no doubt that there are many employees who have lost their jobs from this debacle, including the resignation of their CEO. The problem we see today is obvious on a global level, but the truth is that the problem was kept behind closed doors for many years. 
My takeaway from this news event is that what we entertain in our minds & allow to grow in our thinking can create behaviors & lifestyles that could be crippling & even destructive. Watching VW has been a sobering wake up call to me, challenging me to inventory my thoughts & actions for the purpose of eliminating duplicity & destruction 🙂

Illuminating

It can be easy to let routines & the daily grind lull us into not paying attention well. Doing the same thing day in & day out can be monotonous, tedious & numbing. Maybe this, in part, is why God implemented a sabbath rest – a day that’s different from the other 6 days of the week. 
I think that doing something different one day a week helps us to recalibrate, come up to periscope depth & get some fresh perspective. Indeed, I think I listen better & see more accurately when I do the sabbath thing. Be sure to get some illumination this weekend from taking a rest / pause 🙂

Fools Gold

When I was growing up, I learned about the Gold Rush & how some people were tricked by “Fools Gold”, thinking they’d found gold only to be disappointed that the shiny metal was nothing more than shiny metal. 

This lesson is speaking to me again here in Angola, where Saving Moses has 6 malnutrition clinics.   Two of our clinics are less than an hour apart. The first clinic is very rustic, seemingly primitive & seems to lack even the bare essentials. The electricity has only been added in the last few years & whenever I hang out there, it almost feels like I’m camping, but our moms will live with their babies in this place for an average of 3-4 weeks in what we would consider primitive & seemingly uncivilized conditions at first glance. Some of the staff are frequently high school graduates interested in going into medical school so they get their feet wet, literally, starting at this malnutrition clinic. 
The second clinic, about an hours drive away, is a seemingly sharp contrast. It’s definitely a more modern building, adjacent to a medical school & staffed with medical students & health professionals running around in white lab coats. On the outside, it looks like it’s far more developed & we would often conclude more effective than the first clinic. 
But the reality is the opposite. The first clinic, albeit rustic, is highly regarded & well renowned for specializing in malnutrition. With our therapeutic milk, 80% of the babies in this clinic survive & grow to be healthy kids. In this seemingly backwater clinic, people will travel for literally hundreds of miles to get their babies to what they consider the best possible care to survive the ravages of malnutrition – all in a place that barely has running water. While the second clinic looks better appointed, it’s not as effective nor well regarded for its malnutrition work. 
Just because something looks shiny & bright on the outside doesn’t mean that it’s golden, effective & even healthy on the inside. Paul tells us in the New Testament not to be deceived by the external & what we see but rather to be led by the Holy Spirit in our hearts, attentive to the Spirit of Truth 🙂

Sometimes

I’m taking a pause here in Angola, sitting on the ledge in one of our malnutrition clinics for Saving Moses. I’m pausing for lots of reasons, one of which is to have a few minutes to absorb & process. I can get so thick in the middle of all of these babies & moms that I get more than a little overwhelmed. I don’t get overwhelmed by the smells, milk mustaches nor knobby knees or elbows. I get overwhelmed by love – the love of Jesus for each baby, in all of her frail humanity, sometimes suspended in each rapid breath. I get overwhelmed by her eyes looking deep into me with curiosity, some anxiety of the unknown but most of all by the common life we share as humans. We live different lives but we are glued together & anchored in love. 

Sometimes a person should pause to reflect, absorb & let the feet get rooted deeper & deeper into genuine love. I find myself deeply in love with Jesus, sitting on the ledge here in Angola & I’d love to have you sitting next to me sharing this experience of deeply rooted genuine love. 

hot topic: Women’s History Month

Happy Monday morning!  Did you know that March is the “official” Women’s History Month?  I think that’s totally awesome largely because of my recently released book on Jesus Chicks.  If you haven’t picked up a few copies yet, click the link and grab a few before we run out – it’s the best thing I’ve written so far!!

With that being said, here are a few quotes from women that are worthy of some reflection:

  • “Blessed is she who believes that there would be a fulfillment of has been spoken to her by the Lord” – Elizabeth to Mary in Luke 1:45
  • “The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” — Rosa Parks
  • “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.”  Ruth to Naomi in Ruth 1:16
  • “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” — Mother Teresa
  • “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
  • “And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” Mordecai to Esther in Esther 4:14

stop waiting: faith and action

If the truth be known, I’m not so good at waiting & I’m trying to get better at that whole foreign concept.  I tend to jump in & ask questions later, often getting WAY OVER MY HEAD & then freaking out.  I probably lead with my heart & let my brain come along for the ride from time to time.  Clearly, this has gotten me into some hot water & mildly comical situations, more than I’d like to admit.  But on the flip side, it’s also made for some really outrageous adventures & results, most of which I totally love 🙂

Thankfully, God has surrounded me with people who have their feet on the ground & keep me from floating away into some dreamy oblivion.  But perhaps God has me in the lives of these very grounded people, as well, so they can go & do far beyond their natural thinking.  Let’s value how God has made each of us & readily align our lives with faith, which is by definition belief in action 🙂

plankville