Have you ever made a plan only to find it go array? I have a friend who set a long term goal, worked diligently toward that goal for many years & now it seems like their efforts have completely unraveled & failed. Of course this can be super discouraging & when this kind of thing happens, we find ourselves on shaky footing & uncertain where to go or what to do.
So what should we do when our plans go array? Here are a few suggestions:
Step back & re-evaluate: sometimes a perspective adjustment can help us see a broader point of view & thereby improve our decisions
Seek God: if a crisis makes us seek God more than the crisis is good; if we don’t seek God more in a crisis, then the crisis can get infinitely worse
Who am I? A crisis often forces us to look at ourselves with greater clarity & objectivity. In this pause, the Holy Spirit can work on our character & shape us to be more Christ-like
Keep going & growing: don’t let detoured plans poison your thinking into quitting. Get up, brush yourself off, learn & keep going.
Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know that could be going through a course correction season 🙂
This sounds like a Dr Seuss blog, but alas, the Taiwan typhoon was not fiction. In actual fact it was very real & one of the worst in recent history. I’m writing about this because I’m with Saving Moses in Cambodia presently & this typhoon created some travel challenges. I was super concerned because my team of 25peeps was flying through Taiwan in almost the same time as the typhoon was supposed to land – nail biting & heavy prayer ensued. Long story short, the team made it safely without incident. I on the other hand had a more circuitous experience. Instead of flying into Taiwan, I decided to fly avoid the typhoon & fly north through Korea & bypass the storm. Seems to me that life is often like this recent typhoon experience. We can see possible trouble brewing on the horizon & we do everything to avoid it. But sometimes God has us fly through a storm maybe so we can know that God is mighty enough to keep us through a storm.
My efforts to avoid the typhoon were extremely tiring & I spent lots of energy / time to stay away. Perhaps we should trust God more than what we see or know in our natural thinking. God can help us avoid storms & God can keep us as we go through storms. Seems to me that the best lesson is to keep our focus on & trust in God more than any storm 🙂
I love this quote from a dad who was asking Jesus to heal his son. Jesus says to the dad that all things are possible to him who believes. The dad’s reply sounds like something I’d say, “I do believe; help my unbelief!”
For me, believing is often easier said than done. I can talk all day about believing God, trusting in God, having faith, etc, but when the rubber hits the road, sometimes I struggle with the believing thing. Of course I want to believe, so the desire is solid. But the actual believing is often where I fall short. When I think about why I struggle with believing, it’s mostly because of either past experiences or my brain goes into skeptical mode. So I deeply appreciate this dad’s honest words with Jesus, “Help my unbelief”. Like me, he’s saying that he wants to believe, but it’s a hurdle and he needs help to overcome this hurdle.
Here are some pointers for overcoming unbelief:
be truthful: hiding or cloaking unbelief is counterproductive, but bringing our weaknesses to Jesus is where strength starts
ask for Help! Since the Holy Spirit is our Helper, seems like a good idea to give the Helper access to the places of unbelief with which we struggle.
Jude 20 says that we build up our faith when we pray in the Spirit #selah
let’s remember that faith works by love, so the absence of love could be the catalyst for our unbelief #selah
Let’s decide that there is no unbelief in our lives that cannot be transformed into a place of strong faith!
I prefer open doors rather than closed doors, but it seems to me that God leads us not only with open doors, but also with doors that are shut airtight. Sometimes it bugs me when a door is closed to me & I can take it as personal rejection, which is always tough. But if I choose to see a closed door as part of God’s guidance, then it doesn’t seem to hurt as much & doesn’t feel quite so personal. It also helps me to remember that the Apostle Paul had his fair share of closed doors, many of which he was locked behind as a prisoner!
Let’s consider that God has the right doors to open for us & we can trust that God is working all things together for our good as we stay in love with God & stay true to the divine purposes in our lives!
Prison doesn’t sound appealing to me from any perspective. So thinking that God uses prison for good outcomes seems counterintuitive, full stop. Nonetheless, I read this morning about how Paul was put in prison & I remembered how Joseph was also imprisoned for some years. During the imprisonment season for both of these men, some really amazing things happened. Paul wrote heaps of letters, called epistles, to various churches which we can read today. During Paul’s imprisonment, he was also able to share about Jesus to some highly influential leaders, including Nero, the Emperor of the Roman Empire. With Joseph, he practiced his administration & leadership skills, as well as sharpening his dream interpretation abilities.
Let’s be clear that God uses all kinds of scenarios for divine outcomes: imprisonment, hardship, deprivation and not just our physical comfort ,)
So let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us to be successful regardless of our situation & remember that Sunday is Pentecost!! 🙂
Clearly, this year’s presidential race has generated heaps of attention, angst, journalism opportunities and raised eyebrows. The tumultuous run-offs between Ted Cruz versus Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders have encouraged me to pray more than I ever have for this year’s election.
Regardless of your political persuasions, let’s be sure that we keep our prayer level higher than our worry level. Let’s remember that God is in control more than any man or woman. Let’s be certain that we do three things that mark us as followers of Jesus, based on John 13:35:
Loving well is letting the Holy Spirit pour God’s love into our hearts, moment by moment & day by day 🙂
This morning I read how Joseph resisted the invitations of Potipher’s wife. Potipher was Joseph’s employer & Joseph didn’t want to dishonor his employer nor sin against God by giving into the wife’s seductions. In some respects, it might have been easy for Joseph to cave: Joseph was away from his family, he was a slave, maybe they could’ve kept their trist a secret & maybe there was some appeal to his flesh, on the most basic level. Nonetheless, Joseph kept his integrity & consistently rejected the wife’s efforts.
In my thinking, Joseph should have been rewarded for holding the high ground but instead, he was lied about & then thrown into prison. So now he’s not a slave but maybe worse, he’s a “convict”. God rewarded Joseph in prison & previously under Potipher by giving Joseph favor & leadership positions.
But the immediate imprisonment result wasn’t the optimum outcome for maintaining a high level of integrity.
Here are a few things to consider:
Do the right thing even if the immediate results seem to backfire
Keep pure motives to serve & be a blessing
Make sure your forgiveness stays fresh
I think all of this was practice for the real work of keeping a nation from being eradicated from a severe 7 years famine along with rescuing his entire family from starving to death 🙂
I purposely have stayed away from watching the current political debacles, attempting to regulate my emotional inputs. Having read some of the news this morning from last nights exchange, I’m glad we had company come for dinner 🙂
With that being said, I’m choosing to pray & trust God for the future. Somewhere in the Bible, there’s lots of good stuff about trusting God more than trusting in humans. It seems to me that politics would be a healthy place to practice this so I can be more proficient with trusting God in other places.
Not only do I want trust God better for the future, but I want to get better at trusting God for when my kids start to drive, doing some heavy lifting with Saving Moses & our nightcare work, with my new book Heavenly Help & a host of other things.
I’m trusting God with the future because I know that God will be there when I get there ,)
I read this morning in Genesis about how Isaac dug wells. He started off digging out the old wells his dad had and which were
closed down by the Philistines. Isaac continued to dig wells because he had big flocks that needed lots of water. As he kept digging wells, the Philistines argued about these wells with him. Finally, he dug some wells that no one bothered him over & he settled next to these wells.
Wells are a hidden source of water & life. We all need current wells of living water in our lives – not just wells from the past. It’s important to keep digging, keep looking & keep plumbing the depths in our walk with God. Indeed, Jesus said in John 7:38-39 that Holy Spirit will be a spring of living water flowing out of us. The true source of life is found in a deep, daily & cultivated connection with the Holy Spirit, our Heavenly Help 🙂
Sometimes I think it’s difficult to say these words, “I don’t know.” The reason that I make this observation is because of the numerous times people deflect a question to which they don’t know the answer. For example, I’ll ask my kids if they have homework in a particular subject & they often proceed to tell me about what happened in class today. Rather than say, “I don’t know if I have homework”, they redirect my question to a similar topic without answering the direct question.
In our web savvy world, it seems to frequently be an implied supposition that we know more than we do.
There’s no shame in not knowing something & it’s always helpful to remember that God knows everything.
When Abraham was instructed to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22, Isaac asked his dad, “Where’s the sacrifice?” Abraham didn’t know where he would get a sacrifice but his reply helps us frame our perspective for all the stuff we don’t know, “God will supply for this need”.
We don’t have to know an answer to trust that God has solutions & provisions. Let’s keep our eyes on God!
All the while these big events are happening throughout the world, here in Denver we have a snow day, so my kids are enjoying sledding and the boon of some extra free time. Personally, I like the shoveling exercise & the opportunity to reflect upon both big and small events.
Whatever is happening for you today, let’s remain committed to pray for the community in which we live, the city / town where we work & our nation. Let’s not be afraid of the future and let’s keep our focus and confidence in our all-knowing and all-powerful God, who loves us far more than we could grasp with our finite minds.
Our heavenly Father demonstrated the immensity of His love for us by sending His only Son in the flesh to live out the human experience, expressing genuine love throughout His life.
Sometimes I find myself in situations that are far beyond my skill set & often I get jittery, intimidated & overwhelmed. It’s precisely in these moments that I find the most fulfilling & richest relationship with the Holy Spirit. This is my experience because when I take a pause to catch my breath & reflect, I sense the Holy Spirit by my side, helping & telling me that it’s going to be ok.
Furthermore, it feels to me like the Holy Spirit invites me to take a walk together, something I love & relish. I like to take walks because there often seems to be boatloads of challenges that get worked out in my conversation with the Holy Spirit on these walks. I also appreciate that the Helper invites me on these strolls for a few helpful pointers:
more often than not, I have no clue where walking with the Holy Spirit will lead me & truth be known, I’m an adventure junkie – usually I love to go to new destinations & experiences, particularly when the Holy Spirit is leading the journey;
I don’t have to know the destination to enjoy the company – I’m learning this lesson across a wide swath of experiences & adventures;
Walking with the Holy Spirit is an adventure not only in the various experiences along the journey but also in the pace of the whole walk – sometimes at lightning speed & sometimes at a pace that is slower than molasses in winter, stationary at best & seemingly regressive sometimes;
Let’s walk together with the Holy Spirit, Gal 5:16 & 25, for not only the pace & direction but for the outcomes & most importantly for the company & fellowship! Take a walk & see what fun ensues 🙂
In preschool, my kids sang a song about the wheels on the bus going round & round; the horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep; the wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish . . . . I thought it was a stupid song because it was mundane & didn’t really have anything catchy about it. But my kids are teenagers now & I’m still singing “the wheels on the bus”, so there must be something sticky to the song or I’d not be humming the tune mindlessly on any given day.
And the truth be known, I find myself humming this tune when I get stressed out about a situation or get panicky about what the future might look like. This song reminds me that Jesus is incarnate & left us with the Holy Spirit who keeps the wheels on my bus spinning round & round so I can continue to move forward with God’s plan for my life.
A schmaltzy tune & very mundane reminding me of God’s very daily & integrated presence into my earthy existence 🙂
One of my favorite Bible stories is David & Goliath so I always find myself cheering for the underdog. I’m also deeply inspired by David’s courage & confidence in God. There have been innumerable occasions in my life when I’ve encouraged myself with David, a mere shepherd, defeating a giant seasoned warrior.
These points can help all of us when we confront various giants in our lives:
David’s confidence was in God & no one else
David didn’t fight as a warrior but rather from who he was – a shepherd (Saul’s armor didn’t fit & he used a sling for his weapon)
David had to stand against his brother’s derision & insults – sometimes families aren’t the supportive people we desire
David had to speak up & assert himself rather than be a meek & docile wallflower – he let himself be recognized & known
David recognized that previous struggles were practice for Goliath (lion & bear)
Lets allow God to help us be good at who we are rather than pretending or projecting to be someone we are not!
The words, “shallow” & “superficial” almost evoke a gagging reflex in me & I’ve been this way for my entire life. Case in point: as a 4year old, I preferred Seasame Street, Electric Company & Zoom to Mr Roger’s Neighborhood, because I thought Mr Rogers was juvenile. I even complained to my parents, “He talks like I’m a child!” So the idea of being shallow, superfical & juvenile has been repulsive to me for a long time.
Now, however, I kind of like shallow & superficial and here’s why: the world is too heavy to carry and the challenges I have are too hefty to solve, despite my best thinking, planning, education and efforts. Even though I like to think deeply, I need to come up for air and be more lite & bright, from time to time. I remind myself of these guiding principles when I get morose and dark:
Luke 1:37, “Nothing is impossible for God”
Ps 55:22, “Cast your cares on the Lord because He cares for you.”
Rom 8:28-29, “All things work together for good to those who love God & who are called according to His purposes.”
Ps 25:15, “My eyes are continually on You & You pluck my feet from the net.”
Matt 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God & all these things will be added to you.”
John 14:16, “I will ask the Father & He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.”
So let’s stay lite, bright & maybe even a little superficial & shallow! Feel free to pass this along to someone who might be a little discouraged 🙂
This past weekend, my husband & I attended a marriage retreat. Truthfully, I loath these kinds of things. I don’t like having relationship stuff discussed in such a public forum, it makes me uncomfortable & twitchy. But we all do things that we know to be good for us, even when we don’t like it (eating kale, jogging, going to bed on time, etc).
Relationships can be challenging & being married can be outright arduous. Here are some takeaways I gained from this weekend, relevant not only to marriages but to relationships in general:
winning an argument often means that relationship loses
forgiveness is essential & trust is earned
love is doing what’s in the best interests of the other person even when it’s difficult for me
being safe in a relationship requires communication & attention
When I was younger & more impulsive, I had a paragliding adventure that seemed kind of scary for lots of reasons. But instead of dropping out of the sky in a gravity plunge, I caught a thermal which shot me straight up like a rocket!
Sometimes when we agree to follow Jesus, it might initially feel like a free fall, particularly when we relinquish control to Jesus for making decisions. But let me encourage you that no matter what happens around you, following Jesus is merely a free fall for our flesh but a rocket ride for our heart! Good things begin to align when we take the plunge & trust Jesus 🙂
I had an interesting conversation with a friend last week about how she felt like some Christians didn’t accept her because of some of her questions, doubts and frustrations. She explained how that in the past she’d expressed some doubts or struggles in her faith in a small group and some of the members of the group were unkind, dismissive and disdainful.
Seems to me that if we are going to sincerely love each other, as Jesus instructs, that we need to walk the journey together more than criticize, critique or exclude. Jesus knew that Peter would struggle in his faith, deny and abandon Jesus, but that didn’t detour Jesus from staying Peter’s friend. In fact, Jesus closed the loop on any questions about His love for Peter in John 21 with His questions about Peter’s love for Him.
Jesus love us, full stop. I pray that I wholly let Jesus love others well & authentically through me 🙂
When my kids were younger, we experienced the wonderful invention of zero depth pools, with a gradual depth increase. In contrast to zero depth, when I grew up, there was only the ladder on the side of the pool for climbing in gradually or one could hurl herself into the public pool that wasn’t heated for a shocking jolt.
When I think about trusting God, I prefer to do the trust adventure in a zero depth paradigm – gentle & gradual increase with time & space aplenty. But there are times in God’s sovereign wisdom that we have to jump in the deep end with trusting God. Deep end trust with God could be decisions we make about the future (jobs, marriage, etc), concerns with our kids, relationships, etc.
With God’s help, let’s determine that we’ll be agile with both ways of trusting God: the big plunge & zero depth 🙂
Celebrate!!!! No puking & no migraines – YAHOOO!! I’m starting to get back into working out & in typical Sarah fashion, I want to go from 0-Mach 3 in a split nanosecond. This strategy has backfired on me in the past & resulted in some less than desirable outcomes. So on this go around, I’m being more patient & gentle with myself & voila, no migraines or puking!
I’m taking this lesson to heart for other areas of my life as well – less harsh, rigid & impatient with my family, work, friends, decisions, responsibilities, etc.
Maybe when we are gentle with ourselves, we let God’s love massage it’s way into our hearts with healthy transformation, at God’s pace 🙂