“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!
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!
I recently enjoyed watching the NCAA college basketball championship game & the most common question was, “Who are you cheering for? Which team do you want to win?”
In essence, which side are you on? As we walked into the arena, we were inundated with Michigan fans so I wasn’t too keen to shout out, “GO ‘NOVA!!!!” But I had definitely picked a side & cheered accordingly.
The same holds true for all of us in the narrative between what the enemy says in contrast to Holy Spirit’s narrative.
The enemy accuses, condemns, shames, deceives & is always trying hurt, kill & destroy us.
On the other side, Holy Spirit advocates, convicts, comforts, leads us into truth, makes us alive, confirms our true identity & continuously pours love into our soul.
So pick your side & actively select the narrative to which you’ll listen & entertain / converse with, keeping in mind the respective outcomes that go with each side 🙂
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 🙂
When I walk in my house, there’s a key ring where I always hang my car keys. I do this so that I can find them easily & not waste time looking for them, nor getting frustrated. Keeping things in their place helps me not lose things.
The same thing applies to my mind. If I keep my mind set in the right place, I don’t “lose” it. There are definitely times when my mind gets lost in various quagmires – emotional rabbit trails, planning stuff that’s not productive, relationship struggles, anxieties, dwelling on past failures, etc.
If we want to keep our mind in a good place, not lost or meandering, then let’s remember to always “set” our minds and n the Spirit, so that we have life & peace – Romans 8:6 🙂
We spend our days in limited & concrete terms. We live by schedules, deadlines, physical boundaries & financial constraints to say nothing of the limits in our thoughts & emotions.
But I keep sensing the Holy Spirit challenging my thoughts & limits – most of all in my perspective. I am coming to see that lots of my thinking reflects stuff from my past that I’ve perceived through faulty & flawed filters. What I keep experiencing is open doors in ways that I never anticipated & they’re wonderfully surprising! Let’s keep these verses in the front of our thoughts & emotions:
1 Cor 2:9-10, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.”
“. . . . , those who previously saw him as a beggar.” John 9:8b
I read this verse today & it really stood out to me about the power of vision & how we see people. In John 9, Jesus heals a man who was born blind. Before his healing, this man sat outside the temple & begged, so everyone recognized him as, ” that beggar guy.” When he was no longer blind, the people struggled to see him as anyone but, “that beggar dude.”
This has started me to think about various people I see: Bob the homeless guy at Starbucks, Tina the blind chick, Marion the needy one, Jerry the deaf dude, . . . .
If we see people only in the quagmire of their pain, dysfunction & disability, then maybe we’re limiting God’s power to work through us.
Maybe it’s a better strategy to ask God to reveal that persons true identity & divine design so that we call out their potential & not merely their inabilities & weaknesses. I’m more than a little grateful that God calls things that are not as though they are!
There’s a common mindset that says bigger, more & better should be the continual pursuit. I say this now because I’m in a camera shop waiting to get some technical help & noticing the spectrum of cameras available in each brand. There are the simple point & shoot kind all the way to the ones that can tie your shoes & microwave popcorn. Ok, not really but kind of.
I wonder if the enemy of our souls doesn’t send us down this rabbit trail to distract us from learning the secret of being content in any & every situation. In the same line of thinking, is Jesus enough for us or do our decisions, time & money say something different?
I’m not buying a better camera today, nor do I want to swallow the deception that more & better need to control my life 🙂
I’ve just spent several hours walking through the largest brothel in Bangladesh & had the privilege of talking with some very incredible women. I’m struggling to process these hours & conversations. Listening to each woman & looking in her eyes let’s me genuinely love the person sitting in front of me. We desperately need to throw out our stereotypes of people & interact on the basic level of human to human.
It seems to me that we cloak & insulate ourselves in our professions, education, hobbies, etc, all the while neglecting to interact on basic human levels.
I could tell you stories of sex workers that could probably evoke strong reactions. But let’s be careful not to create chasms of disconnection rather than cultivating genuine love on a very basic & daily level.
As I walked through the maze of alleyways, I kept hearing this question: Am I loving well?
I hope I bring this question home with me for my daily conversations & interactions. I hope this question defines my mindset & outlook.
Lots of times we think of healing in the terms of physical expressions, such as healing from cancer, scoliosis, ulcers, blind eyes, etc. While I’m wholly supportive of physical healing, I also thoroughly believe that we need God’s healing power to affect the entirety of our lives & not just our bodies.
For example, there are plenty of biblical characters who needed God’s healing touch in their thoughts & points of view. People such as Pharaoh who hardened his heart, Lot who chose the well-watered plains of Sodom & Gomorrah, as well as both Saul’s (OT & NT) are all people who needed God’s healing power to change their thinking & points of view.
I would also suggest that there are not just a few of us who need God’s healing power to touch our emotions. Places in our emotions that are controlled or dominated by excessive fear, grief, depression, etc are all opportunities for God’s healing power to redeem & renovate!
Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to heal not only our bodies, but all of us including our thoughts & emotions!
HELP!!!! I have three children & from time to time, I get these texts, calls & messages. Most of the time, they need me to drive them somewhere, buy them something or listen for venting purposes. One of the things I’m learning is to think about solutions that are internal rather than external.
It seems to me that it’s a common perception that our needs & struggles are externally resolved when the real solution lies on the inside with how we see & think about things.
Here are some things to consider:
Do I not like my neighbor because they look successful or because I’m insecure?
Is that co-worker really that obnoxious or are my internal judgements looking for reasons to justify my cold disdain?
Does that person get under your skin because they touch the internal hotspots that need divine attention & healing?
Before we think in terms of external solutions, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to adjust our internal assumptions.
I tend to run in the red zone. This means that I try to squeeze the most out of my time, energy, money, talents & attention. Generally, I’ve thought this has been a good way to do life. If a person wants to achieve a lot, suck out the marrow of life & choke on the bone, maybe even burn out, then FULL CHARGE ON!!!
But I’m beginning to see the importance of margin, or breathing room. Margin gives us space to think, recover, listen & be with the Holy Spirit. If you think about it, Adam’s first day of existence was God’s day of rest. Perhaps it’s in the margins & rest where we can experience the deepest intimacy & fellowship with the Holy Spirit, just maybe 🙂
This is a question people often ask when someone seems deep in thought or reflective. It’s a good question to ask when you’re getting to know someone or when a person seems unusually quiet. But it’s also a good question to ask ourselves from time to time, forcing us to take a thought inventory.
Taking an inventory of our thoughts is important because it lets us see places in our thinking where we can make some helpful adjustments. Indeed, consider some of the things Paul says about our thoughts:
2 Cor 10:5, “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”
Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think on these things.”
Rom 8:6, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace”
Let’s be attentive to our thoughts because they influence our lives in very powerful but subtle ways!
I’ve been enjoying the Spring weather & trying to take a daily walk to improve my physical & mental health. It’s nice to enjoy some sunshine, fresh air and feet on the ground. While my body is definitely grounded during these daily walks, my mind tends to wander to various topics: kids, work, schedules, prayers, writing, etc. Some of my thoughts can be healthy & constructive, but some of my thoughts not so much.
I was reminded today about setting my mind above and not below from Colossians 3:2 & Philippians 4:7-8. I think our thoughts can be kind of like fish:
bottom feeders who scavenge off the dirt and refuse at the lowest levels
horizontal eaters who forage through their daily living, focus set throughout this horizontal world
flying fish who sail above the average existence and get to see things from a vertical rather than horizontal perspective
Let’s keep our minds fixed above & not dwelling on the average or below average existence!
I woke up this morning to -7degree temperature. Thankfully our heater works well but my body definitely felt the chill, which compelled me to keep my heart warm. Sometimes it’s easy in the hustle & bustle of this season to get cold hearted, detached & insensitive. Regardless of the external temperature or the demands that we have, let’s endeavor to remain warm hearted.
As for our brains, part of my Bible reading this morning was in Colossians 3:2 where Paul tells us to set our minds above. To me, this means that i keep my thoughts out of the low things & stuff that’s fleshy.
I want to actively chose to set my mind in things above & keep my heart warm regardless of what’s happening around me. Who’s on board with that plan??
Whenever I travel, I get a glimpse at different “normals”. My normal living over the course of a week includes, usually some eggs for breakfast, driving the kids to various events, reading, writing, studying, some travel, coffee of course & ministry events. All of this happens on a backdrop that I take for granted: a functional car, clean bed, warm house, safe water, a friendly neighborhood, good schools for my kids & a loving husband.
I’m returning from a country, having visited some red light districts where the “normal” living for the babies & toddlers is something altogether different. Truthfully, I’m really struggling to process this disparity during my journey home. These kinds of experiences often change me at very deep levels, reshuffling not only my perspective but likely some of my priorities as well.
Sometimes we need to have our “normal” upended to keep our hearts aligned with God’s priorities.
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 🙂
Today is an important day for Saving Moses, as we are praying, planning & strategizing for what God wants to do with Saving Moses in 2016. Days like this are important & they are have very massive impact for what we do in 2016, as well as how we do those significant goals.
We have this annual meeting at my house, so there are things that I do to prepare: clean the house, get coffee / tea ready, my husband made fresh biscuits this morning for everyone, I’ve made some good plans for lunch & some other things. Suffice it to say that I’ve prepared for this meeting with logistical foresight, mostly. But the most important thing I can do for this meeting is pre-prayer.
Let’s always remember that prayer is foundation for all of our preparation, so let’s always pre-prayer for each day J
A few years ago, one of my kids had food poisoning from some black beans they ate causing them to puke at 1:30a on our white carpet. Clearly, this was a rude awakening & I’d prefer to keep these kinds of events at a minimum – smile. To this end, we’ve avoided eating black beans at a certain unnamed restaurant.
What we eat has an impact on our digestive system & what we allow into our thoughts has an impact on our mental health. Garbage in = garbage out. Let’s make sure we pay attention to what we think about, making sure that the Bible takes preeminence with our thoughts. To be healthy in our thoughts, let’s keep the Bible as our central hub 🙂
I had a friend who wrestled with anorexia & bulimia. It was an entirely awful thing to watch her in this struggle & I couldn’t grasp how she could think she was overweight when the scale said 72lbs & she was like 5’7″. Despite numerous indicators that she was not fat or overweight, she still kept this mindset & it ripped me up. As she struggled with this challenge, I did my level best to be a supportive friend but there was nothing I could do to change her perspective.
The vision she had of herself was defective & didn’t match truth, so this vision was inherently destructive. If we aren’t careful, our perspective & vision can be smoked with deception & distortion by the devil. This is why it’s absolutely critical that we live in Romans 12:1-2. Don’t be conformed to the world but be transformed by renewing your mind. Let’s choose power vision rather defective vision 🙂
Sometimes the word “hero” conjures up ideas of someone who is larger than life – maybe a superhero like Captain America or Thor, from the Avengers. So there’s this kind of silent default thinking that happens in my mind that I’ll never be that amazing, so don’t even try. When I think this way, I quietly give myself permission to be self absorbed, detached & ultimately anti-heroic.
Being a hero can most certainly be the person who does massive & sacrificial things. But I think that being a hero is more about a mindset than a one-time action. Being a hero can happen in actions of all sizes. A hero in our world is a person with a hero’s point of view: sacrificial, generous, encouraging, affirming, engaged, minimal or devoid of complaints & criticisms. Let’s consider that a hero is a lot about how we think & not just what we do 🙂
“I’m bored!” My kids are on Summer Break & I’d like to avoid the “I’m Bored Syndrome” that can occassionally creep into the Summer days. I definitely remember these seasons as a kid, so I’d jet outside & do lots of different things like bike riding for a few hours, learn new tricks on our trampoline, continue exploring the canal behind our house and find varieties of mischief. As an adult, I get bored sometimes with the mundane & hanker for some adventure.
If you find yourself “bored” even though you might be busy, here are some ideas to make the boredom evaporate:
prayer: there are so many adventures in prayer, that I always seem to be learning & discovering new things, probably because God is so infinitely creative
exercise: taking a walk, going swimming, bike riding, gardening, enjoy a walk with a friend
look up and imagine: ever remember laying on the grass in the Summer & imagining the clouds to be dragons or horses, frogs, castles, birds, . . . . I used to make up stories to go with the clouds, like my own fictional narrative & very entertaining
memorize some Bible verses & maybe even a chapter: occupy your mind with the ultimately creative and engaging Word of God 🙂
try some new recipes – Summer is always a blast to try new cooking stuff: grilling, fresh combinations of various veggies & fruits
There are lots of things in our lives that we should affirm. It’s super great to be positive and optimistic. It’s also really helpful to say, “yes” to job promotions, good grades at school, kind offers from friends and unexpected blessings from random sources.
There are, nevertheless, several things that need to always require a “NO” reply. Here are a few ideas:
doubt: pre-decide that doubt always gets a “no” answer and faith always gets a “yes” answer
unforgiveness: meditating about hurtful words and actions done by others should get a consistent “no”
mean actions & words: give yourself “no” permission to react hatefully or with snarky words to someone else’s mean behaviors or libel
insecurity: sometimes a simple mental “no” is enough to jolt us out of that destructive thinking pattern laced with the poison of insecurity
destructive behaviors: let’s be certain that we’re consistently saying “no” to addictive patterns, an undisciplined lifestyle, debilitating relationships, poor eating habits and unproductive usage of time, to name a few suggestions
What else should we be saying “no” to in our lives? I’d love to read your thoughts & wisdom 🙂
I really like the hit music from the 80s & this song by George Harrison “I Got My Mind Set on You” might be in my top 10. It’s perky, fun, upbeat & reminds me something really important – my mindset.
In Col 3:2, Paul says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” This verse is always a good grounding verse for me, particularly when my mind want to float into toxic areas, worry quagmires, destructive habits or other hazmat zones. This verse anchors my thoughts onto God stuff, reminding to focus my attention & thoughts on stuff that’s true, honorable, right, pure, lovely & a good report (Phil 4:8).
Let’s set our minds on God & revel in Gods continuous love & presence with us in every moment of this day 🙂
In an effort to counter-balance my post yesterday with, “stop waiting”, in all fairness, maybe God is doing the pick & shovel work of cultivating patience in my heart with some fertilizer augmenting, maybe. The reason I’m thinking about this possibility is from some recent experiences in a trip to Cambodia for Saving Moses. In this extremely brief trip, I found myself becoming really tense about accomplishing much – a very long way to travel for such a really short trip to get massive amounts of stuff done. Did we accomplish some things? Absolutely!!
But in those conversations I had in Cambodia when someone would say, “I’m happy to do this in the next three months”, or “Let me pray about it” or “Let’s see how this this plays out with some time”, I found myself becoming increasingly uptight. And then I heard this small voice in my heart, “What’s your hurry? Why are you in such a rush?” In my natural thinking, those questions sound like fertilizer augmenting – they smell bad, feel yucky, look revolting & have the greatest resurrection potential for me to grow at this time.
Here are some things to consider about patience, tick tock:
slow change often lasts longer than quick fixes
patience develops roots and roots often last longer than flashy
roots are the groundwork for abiding which facilitates fruit
patience takes my focus off of situations and puts it back on God