We can go through seasons in our lives when there’s an abundance of lemons. By this, I mean that sometimes life serves up lots of bitter stuff, such as: a bad medical diagnosis, poor results on a test in school, an unexpected bill when the money isn’t there, emotional struggles, extra responsibilities in an overcrowded life, relationship catastrophes, etc.
So how do we make lemonade from the bitter experiences that can happen in life? Here are a few suggestions:
Prayer: take whatever is bitter & bring it to Jesus for divine input
Choose to trust: after prayer, make the consistent decisions to trust Jesus to bring good from bad, order from chaos, blessing from curse
Gratitude: even though we don’t like hardships, struggles & lemons, James 1:2-4 says that such difficulties can work into a blessing & become lemonade. So maybe gratitude is some sugar to sweeten the lemons
Here’s to letting God turn lemons into lemonade in our lives!
I just finished a few days in Dubai & it’s very impressive what has been accomplished there in a few decades. Before 1970, the area was a small fishing village & the people there worked hard to squeak out a living in place with abundant heat, sun & sand but not much else. A leader in the area, Sheikh Zayed, had vision for the future that would use the discovery of oil to position this region for abundance, modern developments & opportunity. Today, the United Arab Emirates is highly developed & very impressive.
When we consider what is around us & what the future could be, let’s do some important things:
I’ve never met a person who enjoys failing & most of us avoid stuff that has a high risk for failing. But there are LOADS of people in the Bible who failed, took risks and some had tremendous successes – usually after they had overcome some significant failure hurdles. Some examples would include:
Jacob’s son, Joseph: failed with his brothers, but became 2nd in command to Pharoah in Egypt & rescued his family from famine
Jacob: tricked his brother & father, but went on to become “Israel” and the founder of the Twelve Tribes
Saul / Paul: gave hearty approval at Stephen’s martyrdom & became the largest contributing author to the New Testament in addition to founding the majority of early churches on two continents
When you fail, keep in mind some helpful perspectives:
failing is a verb, but failure is a noun: one can change but the other is more permanent
the greatest lessons often come from failing more than succeeding
failing can the essential fertilizer for redemption
no failure is beyond God’s power & love to transform into beauty, resurrection, abundance and divine success!
As I parent my own teenagers, I am increasingly recognizing the boatloads of magnificent stuff my parents invested in me when I was growing up & I’m massively grateful! Much of my appreciation for the Bible, beauty & creativity, as well as Holy Spirit can largely be attributed to my parents & their influence on me. Additionally, my parents taught me heaps about doing what’s difficult, rather than shying away.
Do you have difficult things in your life? Difficult things can include: internal mindsets, challenging work situations, relationships, school classes, bad habits, etc. Here are some verses that you could pray to help you do what’s difficult:
Phil 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengths me
1John 4:4, Greater is He Who is in you than he that is in the world
2Cor 2:14, God leads us into triumph
Rom 5:5, God’s love is poured into your heart through the Holy Spirit
James 1:5, Ask God for wisdom & He’ll give it to you liberally
Feel free to send this to anyone you know who could be struggling to do difficult things!
I used to despise weight training, particularly in high school when it was gross to be in a weight room with bulked out guys who were dripping sweat and grunting all the time. That was super disgusting to me & so it wasn’t until my forties when I even considered the possibility of doing weights again. On this go around, I began to enjoy weight training because I had a friend who trained with me & we had some expert coaching. Then I got really excited about the idea because my clothes started to fit better! I also learned some helpful principles:
Form is important: the wrong form can result in harmful injuries and weights that are too heavy are counterproductive. This reminds me to cast my burdens on Jesus because He’s strong enough to carry the heavy weights in my life
Strength grows with consistency: when I’m consistent with weights, my strength improves. And with Jesus, being steady in my daily quiet times helps to strengthen my interior life
Weakness can be changed to strength: at the end of doing a rep, my muscles are often tired & that’s when it’s the weight most difficult but also beneficial. Leaning into Jesus in our weakness is where we can have the most strength!
Hard circumstances, unknown terrain, impossible journeys – these are all things in which God specializes. As you read this, maybe you’re in a financial crisis & Christmas looks impossible; maybe you’ve received a medical report that’s disturbing; maybe you have some toxic relational challenges that seem to be never ending; maybe you’re discouraged or depressed; maybe you have some work or school difficulties that are bigger than your abilities, time or energy.
Be encouraged today, that God can make a way when there seems to be no way. Remind yourself of how God delivered the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt:
providing a leader, Moses, who was educated & committed to their freedom
supernatural signs & wonders (10 Plagues) to break the slavery bondage
Passover to establish the relationship between God & the nation of Israel
plundering the Egyptians when the Israelites walked out of Egypt
split the Red Sea & drowning the enemies who were intent on dragging the Israelites back into slavery
God did lots more when He liberated the Israelites, so be encouraged that you’re not in a situation that exceeds God’s ability to transform nor redeem! Feel free to share this with your friends to encouage them as well!
I’m a wannabe basketball player. Having watched the NCAA men’s basketball championship last night, I’m all the more convinced that I’m a mere wannabe when it comes to playing basketball.
I also wannabe other things, but nothing more than a genuine follower of Jesus, full stop. And for this goal, I have endless hope for the sole reason that Jesus has given me the Holy Spirit, as my Helper, in this supreme goal. Indeed, the closer I draw to the Holy Spirit:
the more I make choices that reflect Jesus,
my conversations are filled with truth & love,
my perspective changes to a divine outlook rather than filtered by my flesh.
Would you join me in this adventure to be a Jesus wannabe?
Gal 4:19, ” . . . until Christ be formed in you.”
In Romans 12, Paul tells us not to be conformed to the world but rather transformed by renewing our minds. I really like this verse because I’m not very good at conforming, or so I think. I want to think that I march to the heartbeat of the Holy Spirit & that my decisions are grounded in the love of God. But the key to these goals is living from a transformed mind. Indeed, our thoughts are the battlefield for what comes out of our mouths & the decisions we make with our time, money & energy.
Being conformed to the world around us isn’t nearly as important as being transformed by Holy Spirit’s presence within us!
Some questions to consider over this holiday weekend:
In what ways have you possibly cloned to the world around you?
In what ways do your thoughts need to be transformed?
How can we better allow God’s love to influence our decisions, conversations & mindset?
Here in Cambodia, I get to experience awful all the way to awesome & usually all in the same day. This particular trip is even more interesting on the heels of recovering from a concussion. I don’t like that my memory isn’t as reliable, I don’t like the sleep challenges that are more difficult than usual, I don’t like feeling my brain get tired & I don’t like feeling like I’m in continual slow motion.
But here’s some awesome: I’ve never travelled with a more surrendered group of people committed to expressing Jesus, full stop. I’m experiencing heaps & heaps of grace that keeps me in a perpetual state of gratitude. Finally, I feel like I’m on the cusp of some explosive opportunities that God is about to open.
Seems to me that redemption is all about take the awful & God turning it into awesome – for you life to be sure!!
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 🙂
On Wednesday nights, our midweek church service, my family usually has frozen pizza for dinner because it’s a quick & easy meal. Pop the frozen disc in the oven & less than 10minutes later, voila we have dinner 🙂
Maybe Moses had the same mindset, initially, when he confronted Pharoah about letting the Israelites go & worship God. Maybe Moses thought this liberation experience would be fast & efficient. But alas, the liberation process was exactly that, a process. This process happened over the course of a few years & included massive destruction to the status quo, hardship, death, thirst, frogs, hail, Pharosh growing increasingly resistant, grasshoppers, drowning, plundering, . . . . And I haven’t even started to talk about the mental transformation that God cultivated in a nation of people entrenched in a slavery mindset.
Let’s appreciate that God is growing us through not only the miraculous but also the process, which isn’t always lightning fast 🙂
We all gravitate to what is comfortable to us, often at the expense of trusting & depending on God – pause & think about what that means in your life.
For me, this means that I enjoy experiencing God in a sunrise, hearing the whispers of God’s voice in the Bible alluring me to come closer & losing my self in experiencing God on a snowboard or walking among prostitutes in a red light district in Asia. What isn’t comfortable for me is being intermingled with hyper extroverts, amped up on caffeine & red bull. It also stresses me out to have innumerable “weather conversations” without some deeper anchors & topics that get my feet in the dirt with substance & authenticity.
Even though I like a conversation that’s earthy & grounded, often when I want to walk closer with Jesus, I have to leave the ground & boat, joining Jesus on the water – away from whats comfortable & cozy in my natural leaning.
When we walk with Jesus, it’s not always where we are most comfy & cozy but rather upended & transformed. Let’s keep walking, even when it’s on the water, as long as it’s with Jesus 🙂
Since we’re a week into January, it seems fitting to bring up the new year’s resolution topic. It’s really common to hear about the various resolutions people make, at the beginning of a new year: get out of debt, lose weight, get in shape, etc. Most of the common resolutions are noble and worthy goals, but they frequently evaporate with time, pressure, distractions and / or crises.
Maybe what we need instead of resolutions is a revolution. Maybe we are too content with a incremental change rather than fundamental transformations. Perhaps our problem is that we want window dressing but not a domestic overhaul. It seems to me that we often settle for shallow, frothy and superficial changes when God is waiting to entirely renovate, redeem and transform us. Perhaps we should put away the notion of resolutions and fully embrace God’s holy revolution 🙂
When I was in college, I read a German book about metamorphosis – some guy turning into a giant insect. It was a really creepy book & there’s a good possibility that I’ve had a few nightmares from this book. It seems to me that without God’s involvement, human attempts to transform & change can result in nightmares and yucky results.
In contrast, whatever I ask God to be involved with in my life, there’s always an improvement. For some food for thought, please consider Titus 3:5-6 🙂
When I was growing up, I remember that my dad really enjoyed fixing up antique furniture. He would get something for cheap from a garage sale that looked like it should’ve been taken to the dump. He would bring it home, whip out the ultra-toxic, highly noxious & uber deadly furniture stripper, don his invincible, thick, industrial grade rubber gloves and begin to turn the trash into a treasure. After getting all of the garbage stripped off the wood, he’d sand down the furniture and get out some furniture glue to put together any broken pieces very gently with furniture clamps and then oil the treasure so that it was entirely transformed. In some ways, my dad was a magician. But in other ways, he was very incapable. He couldn’t do cars, electrical lamps and plumbing to name a few.
Thankfully, our heavenly Father is in the all-around fix-it business. He takes all of our brokenness, strips away the corrosive veneer we accumulate to cover the ugly, he sands down and smooths out the rough spots and more. One of the things I love about our heavenly Father is that He is the ultimate Master Craftsman. There’s nothing broken that He can’t fix, there’s nothing ugly that He can’t redeem and there’s no one so dysfunctional that He cannot transform. Nothing is impossible with our Creator! 🙂
Sometimes I have these amazing “aha moments” when I see God doing really cool things and I also have times when these “aha moments” seem to have been vaporized by the crazy demands of a day or because of some really heavy duty disappointments. Regardless of what is happening, how we feel or the various experiences in which we find ourselves, we swim in heavy grace.
Swimming in heavy grace:
embracing our lives,
giving us the air to breath: what we haven’t earned
protecting us from drowning in the consequences that we deserve
amphibious living: transforming our shortcomings to something more glorious
flooding into the crevices, corners and quagmires for redemption and hope
Now that we’ve finished Christmas, I’m starting to reflect back on this year and thinking of many of the totally great things that have happened in the last 12 months. Watch this to see some really cool stuff:
I had an interesting conversation with someone yesterday that seemed to be really out of character for them. I found this interesting because I often believe that it’s impossible to change the spots on a leopard. The problem with this way of thinking is that I can get really rigid in my attitude toward various people & not allow them to change in my thinking.
This is a really big problem because this way of thinking entirely ignores the transforming power of Jesus’ redemption for us. People can & do change, so lets be full of gratitude that God isn’t only helping us to grow & change, but God is also working on other people with redemptive & transforming power. Lets give each other the gift of space & grace to grow & change 🙂
The Love Holiday is just around the corner & it is most commonly celebrated in a romantic context. But being the strange bird that I am, I think that limiting love to a romantic context is a catastrophic tragedy 🙂
So here are a few of my thoughts on genuine love:
genuine love is the most transformational power known to humanity
genuine love starts with God & requires God to be expressed in human relationships
genuine love is more about the recipient than the giver