The week between Christmas & New Year’s feels like a “not ready” week, maybe because of all the festivities, bustle & frenzy leading up to Christmas, . . . . . And then we pause 🙂
And for such a pause, I’m abundantly grateful. I don’t have to get ready for anything – no dinner guests, no events, no sermons, no parties, no gift wrapping or last minute presents to buy. In this week, it’s ok to be “not ready.” So I appreciate the opportunity to lounge in pjs, take time for reflection, watch birds and squirrels eat berries off the tree outside my window, get my vacuum into the shop for a much needed tune-up, sleep in a little bit and be entirely comfortable with being “not ready.”
Maybe this idea goes back to the concept of Sabbath, when we pause from our work and take a day of rest. I sincerely believe that such a pause is an essential ingredient for growing in our intimacy with God 🙂
There’s lots of stuff in the Bible about wisdom, even a whole book, Proverbs, that’s devoted to the topic. It’s also mentioned in the NT a fair amount, like in James 1, where it says that we should ask for wisdom. So given the frequency of this topic, perhaps it would be helpful to think about what it is, along with what it is not.
In the “wisdom is not” column, here are some things to remember. Wisdom is not:
merely information; facts, formulas, information and details
advanced degrees, memorization or books read
In the other column that defines wisdom, based on the Bible, here’s what we can say. Wisdom is:
grounded in “fearing God”; this means that having a healthy and robust respect for God in our lives is the pathway to facilitating wisdom
discerning the times and seasons in our lives
appreciating what is appropriate and helpful in various situations and events
recognizing when to speak and when to listen
Lets always be ready to get more wisdom & let wisdom be active in our daily living!
There are many things that can be shocking, such as a precipitous drop in the stock market, unexpected news from a relative and sometimes, God does stuff that’s shocking. It seems to me that most of us don’t like stuff that’s shocking, such that we stay away from this kind of thing or we insulate ourselves, to minimize the exposure.
And yet, sometimes, things that are shocking can help us to get out of a rut. For example, I think Jesus was very shocking to the religious establishment in His day. Indeed, He challenged not only their assumptions and traditions, but also their practices and daily interactions:
He ate with sinners.
He associated with tax collectors.
He kept company with the irresuptable.
All of these actions of Jesus were very shocking to various upstanding citizens. And yet what is more importance than the shock value, is the reality that Jesus did all of these “crazy things”, from the premise and core motivation of genuine love. Sometimes, genuine love is the essence of shock value 🙂
In the US today, we celebrate a national holiday called, “Labor Day.” The official year that it was started in America was 1882 & laborers had to strike to get the day “off” for a pause or rest from work. And I think it’s the universal human experience that we all need a pause from work. Perhaps we agree on this because of Divine design.
If you think about it, even God took a pause on the seventh day of the Creation week, when He rested. And to reinforce the need for rest, God established the Sabbath as one of the Ten Commandments. The Sabbath is one day a week to rest from our work & set our attention / affection toward fellowship with God.
So let’s celebrate not only success and productivity, but also rest because without rest our souls become thin, weary, unsettled and broken. Happy Labor Day!
“We interrupt this program for this important message . . . . “
All of these examples remind us of things that arrest our attention to focus & tell us to focus on something different, even if just for a few minutes. In general, I don’t need any help to interrupt my focus because I can be easily distracted. Consequently, I do as much as I can to eliminate distractions and interruptions. While this strategy can be helpful in being productive, it is also possible that God might be trying to get my attention and I’m dismissing the “divine interruption” because I perceive it as a distraction.
In the Bible, there are some great examples of God interrupting a person’s daily living to grab their attention & invite them to make a course correction. Such examples include: Moses & the burning bush, Samuel as a little boy with Eli, Gideon hiding in the winepress with the angelic visit, the Samaritan woman at the well with Jesus & Saul on the road to Damascus.
We would be wise to pause at what could be a distraction or interruption and reflect for a few moments to listen and watch for God to speak with us. Sometimes God interrupts our daily living to help us make some important decisions & course corrections 🙂
“We only have two fish & five loaves of bread. It’s not enough for such a big crowd!!” These were the disciples’ words to Jesus about feeding a crowd of more than 5,000 people. And the observation is valid when we think about the provision in contrast to the need.
I see this mindset in many perspectives in my life. My needs for energy, time, resources, friendships, favor, wisdom, etc often seem to dwarf whatever provision may be available at the time. And as I read today about Jesus multiplying the fish and bread, I was challenged by this whole stark contrast between provision and need. I can belittle and grieve what is lacking or I can give Jesus whatever provision I have, let Him bless it and live in the resulting abundance.
In Jesus’ hands, little provisions can become multiplied abundance!
This is a common phrase that I hearwhen someone wants to acknowledge a difference & not be excessively hostile. In general, I like the premise of this phrase, but it unravels quickly when the other person oversteps their personhood & begins trampling on you.
For example, even though Joseph had expressed clear limits to Potiphar’s wife, she exceeded his boundary & tried to force him to have sex with her. This turned out bad for Joseph, even though he did the right thing. While we may try to be respectful & do the right thing, not everyone follows those same convictions. And if things go south for you, like they did for Joseph, you can rest assured that God works everything to our good, as we keep loving God & stay true to His purposes. Just some food for thought for your wonderful weekend 🙂
Did you know that your skin is the largest organ on your body?This morning I had an appointment with the skin doctor to look at a spot that was suspicious. My dad had super fair skin, which I inherited, so I’m trying to pay attention to my skin & avoid bad stuff.
The whole skin thing is yet another example of God’s grandeur & intricacy. Not only does God make our bodies with massive complexity, filled with elaborate parts & pieces all working together with symphonic elegance, but then all that sophistication gets squeezed into skin.And skin is easily overlooked.
Feel free to sit in the reality that you are fearfully & wonderfully made by your attentive & loving Heavenly Father!
I’m making my way back home from speaking at a pastor’s conference in Bangledesh. This has been a “quick trip”, considering that getting to Bangledesh can be a 30hour journey with a 12 hour time change – so no travel to Bangledesh is a in reality a “quick trip.” When I was deciding about this trip, I was weighing the cost of the trip, not only financially, but the cost of time, impact to my family & Spring Break time together – sacrifices.
With all these considerations, I felt in my heart that I needed to join this conference – a very unique opportunity to meet Christian leaders in a Muslim country & hopefully encourage & minister to them. And in light of our new nightcare in Bangledesh, I felt that this opportunity would also be strategic & a great way to begin some important relationships for the future.
Before I left for this trip, most of what I felt was a mix of hope, anticipation & sacrifice. Now that I’m returning home, I recognize the sacrifice to be sure. But getting to team up with Holy Spirit to minister to such incredible leaders has left me astounded. Additionally, I experienced some progress on some questions in my heart. And I sense a significant green light from God about Saving Moses growing in our nightcare work throughout this region of the world. Yes this trip was a sacrifice & I’m physically very tired. I’m also very awestruck with God’s generosity that counteracts the sacrifices that we make. I’m very thankful.
I’m learning that what I think is often more important than various experiences or events. If my thoughts are dark, if I’m feeling insecure, inadequate, uncertain or frumpy, then I tend to behave & interact from a darker place. On the contrast, when I’m hopeful, optimistic, bright, steady & confident, then my interactions are more positive & constructive, with a higher quality of internal resilience.
So maybe this is why Paul tells us in Phil 4:7-8, to let Jesus’ peace guard our hearts & mind, as well as instructing us about keeping our thoughts centered on gratitude, stuff that’s right, honorable, etc.
it’s important to think about our thoughts & appreciate that how we interact & engage is an interior decision more than an external response 🙂
I want to choose better rather than bitter, but sometimes it’s not an easy choice. There are two occasions in the Bible that I specifically see the “bitter” problem:
when Peter betrayed Jesus & he went away, weeping bitterly;
when the water at Mara was bitter, the Israelites complained & Moses threw a log into the water making it sweet & drinkable.
So when I think about these “bitter events”, maybe they could’ve been better if the complaining & betrayal were eliminated.
I can see how that would be true for me when given the choice between bitter or better. When I complain less, I do better. And when I love Jesus even when it’s difficult, I’m better in my soul.
Something to think about for this wonderful Monday 🙂
Take a quick minute to remember a few of the ways God has shown up in your life, met various needs & resolved things that seemed impossible. I’ve been looking over the last several years today & seeing God’s hand throughout the years in so many magnificent & unexpected ways! As I look back, not only do I see God’s faithful provisions, but I’m astounded at the perfect timing of His work, weaving random experiences into a gorgeous tapestry of grace & genuine love.
Whenever you get discouraged or begin to question God’s input in your life, take a few minutes to look at what God has done in your past. Most assuredly this will encourage your heart that God is very present & engaged in your life!
In Romans 8:28-29, there’s a list of things that God says won’t separate us from His love for us, stuff like death / life, angels / demons, etc. It’s a very impressive list & comforting to know that none of these things would interrupt nor interfere with God’s love for us!!
The question then rises, if God’s love for us doesn’t have any gaps, then is it possible that we might let some things separate us from God’s love? Is it possible that we allow things to separate us from god’s Love, stuff like fear, pride, unbelief, busy-ness, worries, relationships, sickness, past memories, unforgiveness. Over this weekend, I’d challenge you to take some moments to inventory your life, with the Holy Spirit’s help, to see what you might be allowing in your life that could cause some obstacles for you to experience & deeply know the Father’s love for you 🙂
Shimmering trees, speckled sunlight, icy roads and chilly air invite me to think and reflect deeply about God’s love in diverse display. In Colorado today, cars are slipping off the icy roads and people are bundled in coats, scarves and boots, with their preferred warm beverage cupped tenderly in their hands. It’s these kinds of days that God gives to me and we sharpen the saw.
This means that when the outside is cold and uninviting, it’s nice to stay inside and look for the cozy nooks and spaces to pause, listen and let God plumb my soul for greater connection and togetherness. And this is what I’m designed for: being close and snuggly with God. This is where I’m most settled and content, where I mature and deepen my roots, sharpen the saw.
Maybe this is what Job speaks about in Job 20:20, “Because he knew no quiet within him, He does not retain anything he desires.” These are the kinds of days when God grows the quiet in my soul and it’s deeply satisfying and richly rewarding 🙂
“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 🙂
I’m really good at impulsive & sometimes that isn’t always a prudent thing. So learning to be intentional is very helpful. It seems to me that Moses was impulsive when he killed the Egyptian slave master, but he learned to be intentional. I say this because of his dialogue with God at the burning bush.
The upside of being impulsive is that we can be willing to take risks. The upside of being intentional is evaluating the risks & using wisdom to navigate the possible hotspots. I think the best way to be intentional is to walk with the Holy Spirit rather than letting our flesh make dumb decisions for us 🙂
I want to think that I’m genuine & forthright. I don’t want to think that I am either deceived or deceptive. But alas, in Jeremiah 17:9, it says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”
So it’s important to acknowledge that we can trick ourselves into thinking & believing things that aren’t true.
When we think & believe things that are untrue, even if just slightly, we put ourselves at high risk to live in distortion & dysfunction.
The best vaccination for deception is the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls the Spirit of truth. Let’s make it a platinum priority in our lives to be led into truth by the Holy Spirit – John 16:13
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!
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!
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.