I find that life has seasons of serenity and contrasting times of turbulence. The danger of serene seasons is that we can become stagnant or let our values get highjacked by comfort and convenience. In relation to turbulent times, here are a few ideas that you, or a friend, might find helpful:
- take a walk – I find that walking and talking with God helps me unload anxiety and gain some helpful perspective
- pay attention to your choices – it’s not uncommon for us to seek comfort in turbulent times & sometimes what “comforts” us can actually be detrimental
- get some help – this can be a variety of things such as exercise, making a praise & worship playlist, having lunch with a friend, reading a good book, etc
- anchor in the Bible – it always helps me to find a few key Bible verses to keep in the forefront of my thoughts. Here are some helpful suggestions:
Ps 55:22, “Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you.”
James 1:2-3, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
Matt 6:33, “Seek first God’s kingdom & everything will be added to you.”
Luke 1:37, “With God, nothing is impossible”
Philippians 4:11, “. . . , for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”
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!
Stay-cation is this week’s plan & this far its going pretty well. We solicited input from our kids for various activities to do this week, hence the picture below 🙂
So I wonder what it would be like if we let God direct our activities. This morning I read in Matthew 11:28 that Jesus will give us rest for our weary & heavy laden souls. So when we “stay” in Jesus, maybe the abiding helps us to rest & we can live in “stay-cation” mode, letting God direct our steps.
“Who ME???” I think Gideon said this several times in Judges 6-9, in the Old Testament. I like Gideon alot because he’s relatable. His dialogue with God and various people around him reveal that he wasn’t a faith giant – anything but!!! Replying to God’s directives, Gideon put out fleeces, questioned God’s participation with Israel, snuck around at night to obey God & eavesdropped at the enemy’s tent to hear of Gideon’s impending victory.
Gideon wasn’t the poster child for supernatural faith and courage in the face of impossibility. But he is the posterchild for all of us who have doubts, fears, frailties and deficiencies. No matter how your faith feels at this moment, robust of ragged, God can do the impossible! More importantly, God isn’t repelled by your questions, doubts nor fears. Be encouraged in your heart, no matter how much fear or faith you may feel at any given moment. We can remain encouraged because God loves us and that love is never dependent on our faith, fear nor frailty!
I’m sitting in a room with extremely brilliant people & everyone has various areas of expertise. And in this meeting, regardless of what we’re individually good at, we are all working to contribute past just our expertise. The contributions we are making in this meeting require us to be flexible – to go out of our comfort zone & expertise rather than just staying in our niche.
I think this is also how we walk with Holy Spirit in our daily living. Generally, when we are experts in a specific area, we can forget to ask for Help or Divine input. But when we keep a flexible mindset, I think we stay more available for input from Holy Spirit, which we need everyday!
Last night, I got to play on the softball team w my church & it was LOTS of fun!! However, I felt not just a little awkward because I was the pitcher & I’ve never pitched before. So it was a vertical learning curve for me & some parts were just flat out ugly.
And sometimes following God doesn’t feel smooth or suave. Indeed, a lot of times when I follow God, I feel uncomfortable & awkward. But I’d prefer to follow God & feel awkward rather than not follow God & feel suave. And maybe that’s the whole point: following God isn’t about our feelings but rather about obedience, full stop. Following God will likely make your flesh feel awkward & uncomfortable, but follow God nonetheless. I’d rather follow God & have my flesh be uncomfortable rather than not follow God & have my flesh be comfortable 🙂
A lot of times, we think of being obedient to God on the pre-condition of guaranteed outcomes. We link our obedience to required outcomes we want from God. And unfortunately, too many times we withhold or change our obedience when we don’t see the outcomes we want. But conditional obedience leaves us immature, shallow & unfruitful. For example, if Paul had obeyed Jesus proportionate to his safety, comfort & health, then likely the early church would have severely faltered & been significantly less effective.
Let’s base our obedience to God on His unchanging, faithful & loving character. Faith in God facilitates internal security for external obedience 🙂
Theoretically, I like to learn. In practicality, sometimes it’s difficult for me to learn. In full disclosure, I struggle to learn to trust God & I have a difficult time learning patience & being steadfast, along with many other things.
But it’s interesting that Jesus’ disciples were called “learners”. So when I follow Jesus, my mindset needs to be that of a learner & to live in a continuous state of learning. I want to encourage you to keep a learning mindset, so that our following Jesus keeps getting better & closer everyday! With the help of Holy Spirit, we learn to be better parents, mates, students, employees & humans. So what are you learning?
Sometimes I want to take care of my soul & not have any help with that. I want to take care of my own thoughts, emotions, desires, decisions, etc. So I struggle to let down my guard & let others gain more than just superficial access.
But today, I read Psalm 121 & it’s all about the Lord being my keeper. As I think about the Lord being my keeper, this means that I give the Lord access to my soul – emotions, thoughts, desires, values & perspective. So I’m challenged to let the Lord keep my soul, which He can do far better than me!! Let’s be sure to let the Lord be the keeper of our soul!
“Plan your work & work your plan.”
Oftentimes I’ll ask God to give me the finances to do stuff that’s on my heart. And sometimes the money comes, but more often God gives me creatives ideas, time, relationships & solutions that help me to make progress on various plans. I’m also learning that God gives me wisdom & / or endurance.
Let’s be certain to recognize that God absolutely supplies our needs, often in ways that we don’t anticipate. Sometimes, God can even change a need so that it can align with the provisions that we have!
I like easy in all things: recipes, travel, exercise, conversations, studying, etc. In contrast, stuff that’s hard isn’t as appealing to me. So when Elisha told Naaman, the leper, to dip in the Jordan river to be cleansed from his leprosy, it was an easy solution to a long term painful disease. But Naaman was upset that Elisha didn’t do something different, maybe more difficult, complicated or rigorous. Ultimately, Naaman obeyed Elisha’s directive & was healed from leprosy.
Obeying God is often a matter of doing one easy step, realizing that coaching the mental game can be more challenging than the actual obedience.
When the dust settles, take the easy step of simple obedience to God, regardless of the mental games & gyrations.
I’m waiting, maybe with some patience, in the airport here in Bangledesh because the Pope is just landing at the airport. Consequently, the airport is shut down & everything has come to a halt. Clearly, he’s a significant dignitary so everything is on pause at the airport until he clears out. This has thrown off everyone’s schedules, interrupted plans & is making a major headache for traffic.
So this makes me think about how i facilitate Jesus’ presence in my life. While i want my life to be convenient, smooth & hassle free, Jesus as my Sovereign, gets to interrupt & change my plans. What would be even more wise on my part, would be to proactively ask Jesus to direct my steps & maybe i can avoid some frustrations with plan changes. Or i can also aim to keep a flexible attitude & be patient in the various hassles & disruptions i can face in any given day 🙂
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!
If the truth be told, I need deadlines because I’m too proficient with procrastination. So while I don’t like the feelings associated with the word, “now” I value the associated urgency that helps me to get stuff done. There’s also a challenge to the word “now”, when there’s an anticipation of an upcoming event or deadline. These thoughts are related to the timing of stuff – in the future or immediacy of the present.
When we walk with the Holy Spirit, let’s stay flexible in our thoughts about timelines, what needs to be accomplished today & stuff that’s upcoming. Remember that the Holy Spirit is present in every “now.”
Do you have any bad things in your life? Of course that’s a stupid question. Everybody has bad stuff, little, big, occasionally & hopefully not continuous. As much as I want to avoid the bad stuff, it’s still there. So what to do?
Here are some ideas about what to do with bad stuff:
- Pray – let’s not assume that prayer with bad stuff is a given. Praying is a resource that strengthens us, can change the bad stuff & even change us
- Focal Point – what gains our attention usually gets magnified in our lives. So keeping Jesus scoped as our focal point helps us to keep perspective
- Outcome possibilities – in Paul’s epistles & various places in the NT, we frequently read that hardship & bad stuff is often the pathway to really great things like lasting glory, perseverance / endurance, maturity, fruitfulness, (2Cor 4:17, James 1:4, Gal 6:9, Rom 8:17-18)
Bad may come & even linger but it will pass. Let’s chose to celebrate the faithfulness, provision, strength & presence of Jesus, even when we’re in a bad stuff season 🙂
I think we all have friends that fit into one of these categories. The “poof friends” seem to vanish when there’s work, adversity or discomfort. When everything is smoothy groovy, these poof friends are easily found, but they go “poof” when things get shaky. The “puff friends” are the ones that talk a lot, but lack substance, don’t follow through & neglect to keep their word. They huff & puff, but there’s little, of anything tangible to their puff.
The best friends are the proof friends. These are the ones who prove, with regularity, that they’re in the trenches with you, even in the muck & they don’t evaporate.
We all have people in our lives who are poof, puff & proof friends. But the real issue is what kind of friend are you? When I was growing up, the friend advice my parents always gave me was to be the kind of friend whom I wanted. So let’s endeavor to be the proof friend & not the puff. Or poof friend 🙂
And let’s keep Proverbs 18:24 front & center in our thinking: “There are “friends” who destroy each other,
but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”
There’s a common saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” And in our moments of honesty, we can often recognize the error of this thinking. This mindset happens when we look at another person & wish we had their life.
- “I wish I was smart like they are”
- “I wish I had their coordination or athleticism”
- “They have their life totally scooped – I wish I could be like them”
- “I wish I could be that kind of a leadyer, wife / husband, parent, worshipper, etc”
Here’s the truth: we are each uniquely designed with the suitable talents, gifts, opportunities, etc for the divine plan for which God made us. The grass for our path is appropriately green, distributed & manicured for the journey that God has designed for us. So my take-away point is this: keep you eyes on God & decide to trust God more than what you see, experience or feel
I love this picture because it shows me what it looks like when a baby is entirely settled, sleeping & trusting. We caught this moment last month when I was in Cambodia at one of our nightcare centers, with my Saving Moses work. This little treasure was fussy to start, but became increasingly relaxed in my arms until he fell asleep. And I’m. It sure that there’s not much more soothing to my soul than holding a sleeping baby.
In contrast, without our nightcare centers, these sweet little treasure wouldn’t have a safe nor serene place to sleep. He would likely be exposed to many inappropriately adult situations & his night would probably be a staccato of noise, interruptions, instability & maybe danger.
Let’s take this picture to heart, celebrating God’s genuine love that gives all of us rest & peace in our souls 🙂
Here in Cambodia, sometimes I get to experience technical difficulties. For example, sometimes the wifi here isn’t reliable, or maybe the traffic is more congested than I expected, or the plank over the sewage collapsed & things got messy. Throughout life, we all experience technical difficulties from time to time & this can be very frustrating.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit can manage our technical difficulties with supernatural agility. The Holy Spirit helps us with communication & with getting us to the places we need to be in His timing. Also, I’m abundantly grateful that the Holy Spirit can clean up & redeem the messes that happen in our lives. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to be our abiding expert for technical difficulties 🙂