When Plans Don’t Work

Planning isn’t one of my natural strengths, so the Holy Spirit has helped me grow in this area over the course of many years.  I’ve come to appreciate that if I want to accomplish big dreams, then it’s important to develop some plans and structures for these dreams to become reality.  So what happens when the plans don’t seem to work?  Then what?

In the Gospel of Mark, I’ve been reading about how Jesus healed people, often not according to the human contrived plans, i.e,  the Syrophoenician woman whom Jesus calls a dog, the 4 guys who break through a roof to get a paralytic in front of Jesus & the blind guy whom Jesus spits on for his healing.  It seems to me that Jesus almost never follows our human plans, so it begs the question:  why plan?

When you have plans to seem to go awry, maybe these ideas could be helpful:

  • plans help us think in constructive steps to achieve goals & dreams.  No planning = no progress
  • planning with prayer is a massively helpful combination
  • consider Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

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In Step with the Holy Spirit!

Enjoying Contrasts

I have a child who enjoys classical music & rap. For me, these contrasts don’t match up too well, but to each his own.

I also made an interesting blueberry pie a few days ago where the recipe called for goat cheese & chopped almonds / more contrasts. The pie was like a party in my mouth because of the complementing contrasts: tangy goat cheese & sweet blueberries as well as crunchy almonds & soft blueberries. These contrasts were super pleasant although not something I’d usually consider.

That’s the interesting thing with contrasts: we don’t normally put contrasts together because they often seem to compete rather than blend & complement. But alas, this is how much of following Jesus seems to play out.
For example:

  • Jesus applauded Peter for acknowledging Him as the Son of God but He rebuked Peter for shooting off his mouth;
  • Jesus demonstrates genuine love in the face of abhorrent & brutal humanity;
  • we are to each celebrate our unique gifts & talents while blending them into the Body of Christ for mutual benefit

Navigating contrasts for spiritual growth requires us to pay attention to the Holy Spirit & remain steady in our commitment to genuinely love 🙂

Disagreeing with Jesus

I’m deeply in love with Jesus, full stop. There are times, however, that I’m not so whippy on some of the things Jesus says & does. This used to rankle me, until I started thinking about Peter. One day in my prayer time, the Holy Spirit walked me through the various times & ways that Peter disagreed with Jesus: 

  • At the very beginning when he told Jesus to leave him because he was a sinful man (Luke 5:8, after Jesus used Peter’s boat to preach a sermon to a crowd along the lakeshore). 
  • A little later, even though Peter walked on the water to Jesus in Matt 14:30-31, Jesus reprimanded Peter for his doubt from watching the winds & waves & sinking into the water. 
  • In Matt 16:22, Peter rebukes Jesus for talking about His upcoming death. This seems pretty audacious to me, considering that Peter had just declared that Jesus was the Christ / Messiah. 
  • Peter again argues with Jesus on the whole betrayal thing at the last supper in Matt 26:33-35. 
  • Peter disagrees with God with the heavenly vision in Acts 10:11-19 about eating unclean animals & preaching Jesus to the Gentiles. 

Seems to me that it doesn’t make Jesus bite His nails when we disagree with Him, but let’s be abundantly clear that no matter what our opinion may be, Jesus has the final say, full stop. So let’s keep loving Jesus, even when we disagree with Him, from time to time 🙂

follow the leader

At some point, all of us have played Follow the Leader or Simon Says, most likely when we were kids.  The first few times, it took me some practice to get the hang of it, but rather quickly, I wanted to be the leader so I could make others do what I said.  That felt really powerful ,)

I remember one of my teachers telling me, “Sarah, if you’re going to be a good leader, you have to learn to follow well.”  Of course, this wasn’t the advice I was eager to hear, even though it felt right in my heart and I still hear these words bounce around in my heart & thoughts to this day.

I’ve been thinking of these words about following as they relate to Jesus following the Holy Spirit in Luke 4:1-2.  These verses describe how Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit around in the wilderness for 40 days as He fasted & He was tempted by the devil.  When I’ve thought of these verses, they don’t feel particularly alluring nor enticing.  I’d prefer to not wander around in a desolate wilderness and fast for 40 days, nor be tested by the devil.  Yet that’s exactly what happened as Jesus followed the Holy Spirit.  Later in Luke 4, we read about Jesus being anointed by the Holy Spirit, speaking gracious & powerful words and we see Jesus start to walk in the fullness of His earthly ministry.  But all of that came after His committment to follow the Holy Spirit.

When we follow our flesh, it can briefly make us feel good.  But following the Holy Spirit has far better & longer lasting results than any flesh adventure we could choose.  Let’s be committed every day to following the Holy Spirit.

Remote Control

  
When my husband & I watch tv together, it’s an interesting adventure. If he drives, it seems that we wind up watching nothing to a conclusion. If I drive, we see too many commercials. Thankfully, we both enjoy watching sports & this helps us find some middle ground that we both enjoy 🙂
But before there were remote controls for changing the volume & channels on TV, we used to physically get up & turn the knob to adjust the volume or watch something different – a more tactile & active exercise than the modern remote control evolution. 

Let’s be sure, however, that we give Jesus “remote control” in our lives. Indeed, let’s allow Jesus to work in our lives so that we watch & focus on the things that are most pleasing to Him. Let’s allow Jesus to drive ,)

Hot Topic: Ala Carte

“Extra pickles & no onions” – my burger, my way ala Burger King’s mantra: have it your way. So much of our daily living is structured around being a satisfied customer. This is true to the point that we can almost be conditioned to believe that we get to have everything our own way, including our spirituality. 
But alas, such a perspective in relation to following Jesus is inherently dysfunctional. Jesus said that whoever would follow Him must lay down their life & take up their cross. While there is tremendous satisfaction in following Jesus, walking with Jesus is also the path of total sacrifice. Maybe we can start our relationship with Jesus in ala carte mode, getting to pick & choose what we like, but becoming increasingly mature in Jesus is more about being consumed than being a consumer 🙂  

#selah

compensate

I’m coming to appreciate what it means to compensate from dislocating my shoulder in early January.  When I injured my shoulder, I tore off some of the cartiledge from the bone so my shoulder muscles have been endeavoring to compensate and they’re getting very tired of doing extra duty for the last two months.  It seems to me that we all try to compensate in various ways for things that we perceive as deficiencies, shortfalls and weaknesses.  And here’s the honest truth:  none of us are all of that & a bag of chips.  We are all flawed, masterpieces in the making, rough cut & ragged on the inside & outside.

So rather than trying to compensate by amplifying our humanity, let’s lean into God, give up some control and trust that God is working in and on us, conforming us to the image of Jesus with the power & presence of the Holy Spirit 🙂

Let’s stop compensating and surrender more 🙂

Jesus, take the wheel

For some of us, being in control is kind of important. HA!!!! Who are we kidding?!?!!! Seriously?!?? Many of us have control issues & if you’re exempt from this challenge, then there’s a good chance that you know a few “control” impaired people. Here are some indications that you might have a little bit of a struggle with the control topic:
*if you’re not in charge, you don’t participate
*your idea of teamwork is when everyone does what you tell them to do
*obsessive is only a frame of mind & not a possible reality (this is called denial)
*meticulous is your best friend
*you struggle when someone doesn’t get it “right”
*sometimes “excellence” is a euphemism for control, sometimes

Let’s let Jesus take the wheel & be in charge. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, even though it may feel uncomfortable. There’s nothing wrong with imperfection – it’s called practice. And there’s nothing wrong with letting Jesus be Lord of our daily living 🙂
Jesus take the wheel!

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Extreme Adventure

Happy Monday to you, or whenever you read this 🙂

I’m a big fan of having adventures.  I like adventures with food, travel, sports, reading & lots more.  There is, however, one area with adventure that I’m not very bold nor risky & that’s the area of relationships.  When it comes to food, travel, sports, etc, whenever an adventure in these areas gets a little over the top, I know how to manage the risks & how to back off or resolve most of the difficulties.  With relationships, those adventures are more tricky for me to manage.  But here’s something that I’m discovering & learning:  a vibrant relationship with God is the most extreme adventure for which I could ever join.  Indeed, genuine love is bold, risky, thrilling, scary, extreme and audacious!  And jumping into genuine love is like swimming in God’s presence.  So let’s say yes to this adventure and living in an ever deepening & growing relationship with God – the Ultimate Extreme Adventure 🙂

I don’t like that answer

 I’ve been having some interesting conversations with God lately & I can’t say that I’m all that thrilled about some of the answers to a few important questions.  So what do we do when we don’t get the answers that we want?

I’m trying to coach my kids that when I give them an unwanted answer, that they still maintain a good attitude.  Maybe this is God’s way of coaching me to greater maturity as well – even when God gives me answers that I don’t want.  Perhaps part of becoming more mature is understanding that the source of our life is a daily & dependent relationship with God & not just a shallow “getting my way” quick fix.  I’m reminding myself that God’s ways are higher than my ways 🙂

just say “yes”

I’ve been thinking about the Holy Spirit & Who the Holy Spirit is of late.  Of course I don’t fully understand the Holy Spirit, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I always want to say “yes” to the Holy Spirit.  I want to say “yes” to the Holy Spirit when:

  • I don’t understand what’s happening.
  • I don’t feel like it.
  • something isn’t in my normal comfort zone.
  • I’m confronted with a behavior that is contrary to His truth.
  • He wants to use me for His purposes
  • I’m offered love, grace & comfort and I haven’t earned it nor do I deserve it.

I want to say “yes” to the Holy Spirit.

my 999 plan

 Someone told me about a new tax plan – something about proportional taxation.  Seems like an interesting idea & I can see that our economy has some challenges & we need to make some changes.  From these 2 sentences, please don’t project that I’m advocating any political position, party or platform.  Rather, my point is that we need to always be learning, growing & adapting – this is my 999 plan:  to continue growing.

I want to always be growing, learning & maturing.  Along this line, I want to always be growing in my relationship with God and truthfully, I never want to say “no” to God.  I don’t want my intellect to be a limit to God.  I don’t want my desires or will to be a hindrance to God moving in my life.  I don’t want my past failures or successes to impede God’s presence in my current daily living.  I don’t want my pride to cause a separation from God.  I just don’t want to say “no” to God in any way or context.  I don’t want to say no to God in my marriage, finances, relationships, with Saving Moses, my values, perspective, thinking,  or in any area.  Simply put, my 999 plan is this:  Yes, God 🙂

having the same mind as Jesus

Reading in Philippians 2 has been very stimulating and challenging to me.  Some things to consider in verses 5-8 are Paul’s command  to us to have the same mind or attitude that Christ has.  In verses 6-8, he tells us how to do this:

  • don’t hold onto a position (vs 6)
  • empty yourself (vs 7)
  • become a servant (vs 7)
  • don’t take yourself too seriously (vs 7)
  • humble yourself (vs 8)
  • die to yourself (vs 8 & Gal 2:20)

This is an “Everest” list – very big & maybe even insurmountable to some.  Nevertheless, if you look just a few verses later, Paul encourages us work out our salvation with fear & trembling & that God is at work in us to give us the desire & ability to accomplish His desires (vs 13).  So those times when you have a strange desire to help someone else, to take the low road & defer to someone else, to consider God’s preferences – consider those moments to be divine interruptions & even inspiritations.  These are moments when the Holy Spirit is helping you to have the same mind as Christ!  Any suggestions on getting better at being humble?  😉

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBpldBh346w]

Lord’s Prayer musings

Well, I’m very much enjoying this experiment & I’m big on experiments (I used to have like 3 or 4 old chemistry sets when I was growing up & I’d mix them all together just to see what would happen – fun times!!!).  Anyways, these are some things so far that have come from the Lord’s Prayer adventure:

  • better focus – gives my mind something constructive to ruminate on during the day rather than the random clutter & general nonsense that can be useless & even harmful
  • greater respect & reverence for God = hallowed be Your Name
  • greater intimacy & understanding that God is my Father with all the elements that connect with fatherhood
  • greater submission & surrender to His authority & will (respectively) – bend to my King & bind myself to His will more than my desires
  • more emphasis on God & less on me

So, if you haven’t tried the Lord’s Prayer experiment, read the blog below & give it a shot.  If you’re doing the experiment – how’s it going & what’s been happening? 🙂