Our world can get complicated super fast – technically continues to evolve at warp speed, our schedules get increasingly dense & we are encouraged to be strategic in our thinking & planning. These things aren’t bad but they can add layers of complexity to our daily living. So for me, it’s a breath of fresh air to stop the proverbial roller coaster & refocus on my essential priorities.
It helps to take a deep breath, close one’s eyes, sit in the car for a few minutes & be still. Our brains can of course make this challenging but let’s keep our essentials as the bull’s eye for our living:
I’m continually amazed at the complexity God put into not only creation but more so in our human existence. For example, I’m learning just how amazing the balance system is for our bodies since mine has been messed up from a concussion a few months back. Sometimes our thinking can also get complicated because we can think about various decisions, about our emotions, about our values & heaps more. There are things which absolutely need to be complicated, but there are things that don’t need to be complicated. Let’s be careful to not make simple things too complicated:
Let’s keep our love for Jesus, others & ourselves simple & clean
Let’s keep our priorities simple, not trying to squeeze in too much
Lets keep our focus as simple as we can, particularly over this holiday weekend
“I am the greatest!” I heard Muhammed Ali say this when I was a little girl & I was really put off by his words. I remember thinking, “Why would a person be so obviously prideful? Did he really say that?” Then I watched him on TV and sure enough, he said it all the time with total conviction. Someone explained to me at that time that he was using his words to intimidate his opponents and a winning mindset creates winning outcomes. Once I understood the reasons Muhammed Ali said, “I am the greatest” then it made sense why he would make such a bold claim.
But as a little girl, even though I could understand the reasoning for such audacity, I always thought to myself, “No one but Jesus is the greatest.”
Being an amazing boxer doesn’t make a person the greatest.
Being crazy intelligent doesn’t make a person the greatest.
Being hyper rich doesn’t make a person the greatest.
Being drop dead gorgeous doesn’t make a person the greatest.
According to Jesus, the greatest person is the servant of all. Let’s align our lives with Jesus’ teachings and not fall for flesh fallacies.
Waiting doesn’t seem to be one of my strong suits. Frankly put, I’m often impetuous, sometimes impulsive and infrequently patient. So the idea of chilling out and waiting for something is not appealing to me. And yet, this is exactly what Jesus told His followers in Luke 24:49, “‘ . . . , stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.'” Thankfully, the disciples followed Jesus’ directive and I’m grateful to read about the fruit of their patience and waiting in Acts 2 – the Day of Pentecost.
So in our fast-paced, microwave popcorn and warp speed living, let’s take a step back & consider some of the benefits of waiting for the Holy Spirit:
waiting in a community affords the opportunity to build relationships and grow in our fellowship with other believers
waiting enforces a healthy discipline on a personal level that defies instant gratification
waiting teaches us to let Jesus be the Lord of our time and how we resolve our desires
waiting to be clothed with power and the Holy Spirit is what our world desperately needs from us, as followers of Jesus
Take a minute to grab a copy of Heavenly Help and as you read it, let the Holy Spirit speak into your heart about Pentecost becoming more real in your life!
Chips are fun things to think about. Chips can be potatoe chips, game or gambling chips, wood chips & lots more. At the core meaning of the word “chip”, is the idea of part of a whole or a fragment. And Jesus is the glue that brings all of the fragments & pieces of our lives into a semblance of completion & whole. When I think about the pieces, parts & “chips” of my life, I can get discouraged & even overwhelmed.
But I love what Paul says at the end of Col 1:17, in Him all things hold together! So let’s bring to Jesus all the broken pieces & chips in our lives so He can make us well & whole 🙂
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 🙂
As I was making my way home from Singapore yesterday, I checked the news & saw there was some kind of uproar about Starbucks & Christmas. Since I’m a coffee fan, I decided to briefly look into the uproar only to be disappointed. I’m disappointed because there are many issues in our world today that are super important that need our prayers & attention. And today, Donald Trump jumped into the conversation, leaving me to speculate about not only cup decorations and caffeine, but now I get to add politics into this busy buzzy world.
All of which brings me back to thinking about what’s important & specifically what’s important about Christmas: God loves humanity & Jesus’ birth into human existence.
In the grand scheme of things, let’s keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing 🙂
I’m on the long journey home today, flying from Singapore & landing a mere 5hours after the departure of my first flight (it’s the time change thing that turns today into a 37hour day). I have seriously enjoyed my time in Singapore, making new friends, ministering in new churches, exploring & learning – all things I enjoy.
But I have an ache in my heart for home, what’s familiar & ordinary. I’m looking forward to opening my refrigerator to make a grocery list for the week. I want to be with my church friends on Wed night, worshipping with them & nestling into God’s Word together. I’m eager to be with my family, hold hands, make goofy faces & hear about their weekend. I’m looking forward to finding my car in the airport parking lot & hoping the alarm doesn’t inadvertently go off when I open the door. And a hamburger with double pickles, no onions would be nice as well ,)
Jesus, the Son of God, came into our ordinary living, did the skin thing with us & didn’t just live for the next surge, thrill or rush. Seems like Jesus probably liked the ordinary in human living & not just the exciting 🙂
There are things that get under my skin & there are things that BUG me. I get agitated when people tailgate me, I don’t like it when my family leaves a dirty knife on the counter & I don’t like that my car’s alarm goes off randomly. These things are annoying. But in the grand scheme of things, it BUGS me that we withhold our love because someone doesn’t believe like we do. It BUGS me that we use religious jargon to manipulate & even shame people. It BUGS me that I can sometimes be the same hypocrite that I judge someone else to be.
It doesn’t bother me that my nails haven’t been manicured in countless years. It doesn’t stress me out that I wear wool socks to keep warm in the Winter & I’m not jittery that my clothes don’t always match well 🙂
I like alot of things: snowboarding, swimming, coffee, travel, family, chiliquiles, pho, rain, friends, reading, sleep, etc. But I can also overdose on all of these things – too much family, too much travel, too much reading, too much pho, etc. But I have yet to find the limit of my appetite for genuine Jesus and in actual truth, I can’t seem to get enough of Jesus.
A strategy that helps me with getting more of Jesus in my life is being more integrated with Jesus. Here are some ideas for integrating Jesus into our daily living more:
family – there are lots of times when I learn lessons about Jesus and have ample space to ask for Jesus to help me in relating constructively with my kids and husband
serving – I’m always blown away by how closely I feel connected to Jesus when I serve others (not to be noticed, validated or repaid), like some of our work with Saving Moses
praying – in my thinking, prayer is a two-way conversation with God and this can be happening all the time throughout any day; I need this
watch – looking for Jesus and paying attention to Him helps me be more aware and attentive to Jesus’ involvement in my daily living
In contrast to success, I don’t think any of us purposefully set out to fail or enjoy defeat. Indeed, the word, “defeat” causes me to recoil & evokes a gagging reflex in me. Truth be known, I’d rather not try & avoid defeat than to try & feel defeated – operative word, “feel”.
How we feel & what we think about success is really important to consider because our thinking & feeling affect what we do & even how we organize our priorities. Let me suggest to you that we humans tend to frame success in the terms of results but maybe God frames success in different terms. Perhaps obedience is more important to God than results. Is it possible that God defines success as obedience more than results?
Memories are important ingredients for learning & sometimes the lessons we apply from various memories aren’t very helpful. For example, I remember an occasion as a kid when my dad came home from a later afternoon walk with our new puppy & my dad was sobbing & totally busted up. I could barely figure out through his broken words & tears that our new puppy had been run over by a car & was dead. My dad explained that our puppy had darted in front of a car into a busy street during rush hour traffic and was run over.
To this day, the place where my dog was hit still has negative associations for me & I find myself subconsciously avoiding that intersection. That negative memory has shaped my behavior & I’d venture to guess that you may have some similar memories that shape your current behaviors & values.
I think it’s super important that our experiences and memories teach us valuable take aways, but let’s be sure that we choose the right lessons.
Some important memory lessons could include:
mistakes and failures are merely practice and lessons for some great success, likely just around the corner
communion: Jesus told His disciples at the Last Supper, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” – may we never forget the infinite love Jesus expressed in His sacrifice for us
forgiveness – practice makes perfect
fond memories can be helpful motivations for endurance & perseverance 🙂
Truth be known, I’m not a Mon morning fan & when I taught high school, I used to think that hell would be made up of perpetual Monday mornings. So on that happy note, let’s think about some really awesome things to keep our Monday perky & uplifting:
God’s love is continuous & reliable
Life is about exploring God’s love for us throughout each day
nothing we do or don’t do can make God love us less
we can trust God to work in our lives to bring about good things as we stay in love with God & true to God’s purposes for us
I love to win & I hate to lose – in pretty much everything. So I automatically like all of the Bible verses that talk about me winning, being victorious, more than a conqueror, etc. On the opposite end, the Bible verses that talk about sacrifice, losing my life, crucifixion, pain, . . . . these aren’t nearly as appealing to me as the winning verses. But life seems to have both the winning and losing experiences wrapped into each day: driving, competing at work / school, controversial conversations, competing against myself, etc.
I think that it can feel much better to win than lose, but let me throw out a few perks that can happen from losing:
losing can reveal our character when we might be at our lowest
empathy seems to grow better when we lose rather than win
winning can be sometimes be an impediment to connecting with someone
losing can be a place where strength, endurance and roots can grow
sometimes humility grows better in the soil of losing more than winning
Please don’t take this blog to mean that losing is everything. On the flipside, winning isn’t everything either. Maybe “everything” boils down to genuine love 🙂
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 🙂
If you live in America, the deadline for filing our taxes is next week. Maybe that’s kind of stressful for you. If you’re a pastor or highly committed church volunteer, you probably just survived a stressful season called Easter. Some of the upcoming events and holidays might have some stress potential for you – Mother’s Day & Graduation / Commencement. Despite our best efforts, I don’t think that any of us can immunize ourselves from stress. But how we deal with stress is a different issue & there’s some potential for good outcomes with stress. Here are a few suggestions:
relax & take a deep breath: I’m learning from my physical therapy from shoulder surgery that getting tense & uptight doesn’t help my muscles. When I relax & trust the therapist (aka Helper), we make better progress
let stress put some fuel and motivation in your efforts: Sometimes I need deadlines and pressure to help me be more productive – smile 🙂
the lifestyle question: stress as a lifestyle is entirely unhealthy and can cause us to make poor decisions in our health, relationships, priorities and time management; consider that you might be addicted to stress and maybe it’s time to actively choose peace over stress #selah
Here’s the honest truth: without hair dye, I’m easily 60% grey. To keep the grey at bay, I need to get my hair dyed at least every 6weeks or I start to look like a skunk with my roots growing out. So my recent problem is that I haven’t been able to see my superhero hair stylist. As such, I tried to buy some time with a box of cheater dye from Walmart, which apparently had expired because my hair is now various shades of purple, red, brown and even some pink, depending on your angle of observation. All of these shades can be humorous to the observer, but not as funny to me 🙁
So here are my cheater lesson take aways:
there’s no substitute for professional help – this includes letting the Holy Spirit be our Professional Help 🙂
it’s healthy to admit mistakes and laugh at one’s self – valuable lessons in humility
I’m far more sympathetic with other’s mistakes when I can’t disguise or hide my own shortcomings & failures 🙂
cheating & shortcuts most often become expensive long cuts, so to speak 🙂
I know that Valentine’s Day was Sunday, but I’ve been musing about love & what that means for us with God. So here are a few things for your consideration:
*Measure – in our human experience, we unknowingly measure everything, maybe because we are finite. But genuine love has no measures – no start, no stop, no ground, no lid, no wall nor limit. Genuine love is immeasurable
*Pleasure – genuine love is very pleasing to not only the recipient but also the Giver; we bring God great pleasure because we are God’s treasure
*Treasure – you are God’s supreme treasure; you are so highly valuable to God, that He sent His one & only son to die in your place so that you & I could walk in daily sweet communion & fellowship, reminiscent even of the Garden of Eden God taking a stroll with Adam.
You are God’s pleasure & treasure with no measure 🙂
Over the weekend, the news reported that IS (ISIS) chopped off the heads of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians because they were Christians. Unfortunately, the IS agenda is to kill anyone who doesn’t agree with their religious / political agenda. While I’m extremely outraged at the actions of IS, I shouldn’t be surprised by these actions. In the broad scope of history, it happens fairly often (depending on the country) that Jesus’ followers get persecuted & martyred. Before Jesus was crucified, He told us that this stuff would happen, but it’s unsettling nonetheless.
Here are some take aways:
*being a follower of Jesus doesn’t immunize us from hardship nor persecution.
*how we treat people who persecute us is very important – Jesus talked clearly about turning the other cheek.
*lets pray for our family of believers throughout the world that the Holy Spirit would help us to be strong & faithful followers of Jesus.
Seems like I’ve been losing things lately – lost my wedding ring on Sun (found it), lost a book I’ve been reading, lost a water bottle in Cambodia last week & I’m sure there are some other things I’ve lost lately that I can’t recall at the moment. Nevertheless, losing things can be mildly unsettling to very disturbing so this kind of losing adventure is never in my top 3 fun experiences.
But, we there are a few things that we absolutely MUST LOSE. We must lose:
*critical & judgmental outlooks & attitudes – Paul says in Ephesians 4 that our words should build up each other
*deception – Jesus tells us in John 14 that the Helper (Holy Spirit) will guide us into truth; following the Helper means that we must lose deception
*insecurity – knowing that we are infinitely loved without condition by the Triune God doesn’t give us space to hold onto insecurity
Any other suggestions about things we should lose?
Have an awesome Wednesday!