When Plans Don’t Work

Planning isn’t one of my natural strengths, so the Holy Spirit has helped me grow in this area over the course of many years.  I’ve come to appreciate that if I want to accomplish big dreams, then it’s important to develop some plans and structures for these dreams to become reality.  So what happens when the plans don’t seem to work?  Then what?

In the Gospel of Mark, I’ve been reading about how Jesus healed people, often not according to the human contrived plans, i.e,  the Syrophoenician woman whom Jesus calls a dog, the 4 guys who break through a roof to get a paralytic in front of Jesus & the blind guy whom Jesus spits on for his healing.  It seems to me that Jesus almost never follows our human plans, so it begs the question:  why plan?

When you have plans to seem to go awry, maybe these ideas could be helpful:

  • plans help us think in constructive steps to achieve goals & dreams.  No planning = no progress
  • planning with prayer is a massively helpful combination
  • consider Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

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In Step with the Holy Spirit!

It’s Not Over

I just listened to a nice lady talk about how she had a stroke & was paralyzed from this stroke. The medical community was coaching her to accept this reality, but she felt something different in her heart. As she was in the rehab facility, God woke her & told her to begin moving her paralyzed hand. Initially, she argued with God, but then she began to try moving her fingers & miraculously she could move her knuckles, then her fingers. Long story short, she was miraculously healed from the stroke & subsequent paralysis, fully functional today with no residual affects.
Let’s be careful that we don’t quit nor give up on God’s Word & promises when we’re tired or don’t see the results we want, yet. It’s not over!

Watching or Playing?

Usually when I watch a sports program, if I let myself get engrossed, I think about what it would be like to play that sport. So when I watch soccer, I often walk away wishing I could play soccer and the same is true for lots of other sports (except football – I don’t want to play football).
Let’s also consider that the Holy Spirit probably has a similar mindset with your life. Rather than watching from the sidelines and being a spectator, I’m thoroughly convinced that the Holy Spirit wants to be a realtime participant in your life. And I can’t think of any good reason why we wouldn’t want the Holy Spirit’s participation in our daily living. Indeed, when we walk with the Holy Spirit, everything gets better, is more exciting and has a greater chance to experience supernatural power! So let’s be committed to letting the Holy Spirit be an active participant in our lives rather than a passive spectator!
To help you walk in this reality, feel free to grab a copy of my latest book for some helpful ideas and practical insights!

In Step with the Spirit!

Fake News

I’ve been seeing some interesting stuff about fake news. It’s not surprising to me that there’s an increase in fake news since the regular news seems to have some questionable assumptions & untrustworthy conclusions.
What we want is true news – stuff that’s objective & accountable. We want to listen / see news that has been researched & proven to be reliable. We want news that’s proven to be balanced & accurate over long amounts of time.
But let’s never forget or ignore that Good News is ground zero. And here’s the Good News:

  • Jesus loves you
  • Jesus doesn’t change
  • Jesus is sovereign

Regardless of the fake-ness or truth of the news that’s reported, the Good News is reliable, immutable & eternal!

The Opposites

Conventional thinking tells us that if we:

  • work harder, we’ll go farther;
  • study more, we’ll be smarter;
  • promote ourselves, we’ll gain notoriety;
  • exercise & eat right, we’ll feel better.

To a degree, these are all true. But the ultimate fulfillment to going father, being smarter (more wise), visibility & feel good about ourselves isn’t sustained in conventional nor fleshly thinking.
Jesus tells us that the way to being fulfilled is through being committed to kingdom opposites:

  • The last will be first;
  • the way ahead is through humility & service;
  • exercise & discipline are corollaries to soul health;
  • seeking God’s kingdom first sets everything in proper alignment to live a of fulfillment & reward!

X-ray Vision

“. . . . , 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!

God’s Invitation

This morning I read about Noah leaving he ark after the flood & it struck me today that Noah didn’t leave the ark until God told him to. This was interesting to me because there were lots of indicators that it was safe to leave the ark. It had been stationary for quite awhile, a dove brought back an olive branch & when Noah released a dove after the olive branch, the dove didn’t return. Noah went into the ark with God’s direction & he didn’t leave the ark until God gave some clear direction.
Let’s be mindful that we don’t allow external circumstances to be the final deciding factor with our decisions.

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The Aquaman

This weekend, I learned about some swimming races near my house at the local reservoir. I learned about these “Aquaman” races from a nice lady after I attempted to do an open water swim at a pond near the mountains here in Denver. My swimming was very disappointing to me & when I got out of the pond, I didn’t feel friendly whatsoever. Nevertheless, I started chatting with the lady nearby & she was very kind & informative. We had a lovely conversation & she helped me know of some open water swimming options that sound really fun!
I say this to encourage you about those moments when you’re struggling or discouraged. Remember that God can encourage & strengthen you in a variety of ways that are often unexpected. Be careful if you’re discouraged not to turn inward so much that you don’t allow God to help or strengthen you with creative ideas & unexpected encouragement!

The Masterpiece!

Have you seen or heard something that was deeply moving or thoroughly enthralling? Over the last 2weeks, my family & did a western US whirlwind road trip vacation where I experienced forests that were entirely enchanting, beaches of supreme serenity, waterfalls with endless energy & rock formations that defy human explanation. In some ways, this road trip was a day to day encounter with masterpieces of divine creation that still swim in my thoughts & mesmerize my imagination.
But here’s the greatest masterpiece of all: YOU! You have been fashioned, shaped & sculpted in the image of God & there’s no one who looks, thinks or talks like you! Because you’re God’s masterpiece & you have the breath of the Almighty in your lungs, please never settle for being a clone or repeat. One of the glorious things about a masterpiece is that it’s one of a kind & any reproduction pales when compared to the original. Be all that God has made you to be with the help of the Holy Spirit!

Some Quiet

Today, my family & I walked through the St Francis cathedral in Santa Fe NM. This church was established in 1610 & it was extremely beautiful with a southwest motif. For me, I could linger in the likes of these places for the stillness, quiet & serenity. It’s a contrast to the last 2weeks road trip with my family in a minivan for more than 5,000 that my husband has driven. While this vacation has been very diverse & scenic, sometimes a person needs some stillness in the soul for the feet to find some solid ground.
Be sure this weekend to carve in some quiet & still. For me, I find this helpful so that I can walk with the Holy Spirit better 🙂

Road Trip Lessons

For two years in a row, we’ve taken road trips for our vacations, each two weeks long. On our first trip, we went to Washington DC & our second trip is to the West Coast, ala Oregon & California. My husband, the penultimate saint, has done the bulk of the driving for both trips, so maybe I provide some comic relief & moral support. But think about it in terms of family bonding, since there’s no wifi nor DVD player in the car. Mostly, we’re doing pretty well & our three teenagers can say they’ve driven across America.
For me, I think that life is a long road trip, a journey with God with unexpected twists, ups, downs, sometimes tiring & sometimes joyful.
So here are a few thoughts about my road trip with God & maybe they’ll have some tread in your life:

  • Focusing in the car is important , but don’t neglect to look out the windows bc God has a big world around us!
  • Listen & don’t just watch – listen in the car but also listen in your heart as God has some amazing whispers & company to keep with you!
  • Traveling companions are helpful because you see & experience things in different ways than just by yourself.
  • Keep going. Life has struggles, dark times, hot seasons, smelly moments & glorious discoveries.

Things We Dont Like

Today, I’m in Bangledesh & I like being here because of the wonderful people. They are super friendly & very hospitable. Unfortunately, this country is one of the poorest countries in the world. They have annual floods that routinely displace thousands of people, killing large pockets of the population in these horrendous floods. Additionally, the education system here is still developing, so the literacy rate is a challenge. Bangladesh has 160 million people & its 90% Muslim, 8% Hindu & 2% mixture. There’s generally a high level of respect for the various differences among the ethnicities, religions & social classes here.
Today, we’ll be going around the capital city, Dhaka, & I’m super keen to spend some time here! There are about 30million people in this urban area with lots of diversity in the spectrum of poverty to wealthy. As I’m in this city, I know I’ll see things that I don’t like, but I want to see with God’s of compassion, healing & welcome. Let’s be careful that we don’t turn away from things we don’t like, when God wants us to engage & express genuine love 🙂

Walking with God

I’m presently in Cambodia with a magnificent team expressing Jesus’ love
To the babies & toddlers of prostitutes. This is a really powerful experience for everyone & me in particular. For starters, getting to love on babies is thoroughly glorious. Their bright eyes, curiosity, trust & acceptance are unparalleled in our adult relationships. There’s a simplicity & purity with babies that we seem to lose as adults. This experience is also powerful for me in getting to watch my team come together as individuals & join in cohesion, complementing each other rather than competitive division & exclusivity. Finally, this year is unique for me from the previous years. Last year when I was here, I was recovering from a concussion & that was extremely difficult, blech. The year before that, I was doing physical therapy to recover from shoulder surgery.
Going through hardships helps us appreciate the non-hardship times! Walking with God is truly the adventure of a lifetime!

Hair Salon Wisdom

Whenever I get my hair cut & colored, I usually walk away with more wisdom. Here are some observations from my recent experience:

  • Augmenting / Reduction:  This was an interesting discussion about the perceived need to increase or decrease body parts to improve one’s beauty. Let’s remember that we’re fearfully & wonderfully made in our Creators image 🙂
  • Politics:  On this topic, the best wisdom I’ve learned from my salons visits, is to listen more than I talk. Nuff said
  • Waxing:  This is the removal of unwanted hair & it has to be done regularly or those unseemly hairs become problematic. This becomes a need for maintenance & which reminds me about keeping my spiritual life tuned up. Sin gets increasingly visible when I neglect my spiritual growth
  • Vampire Facials:  I guess this is a new thing, but I’m not interested. The name itself repels me & maybe there’s something to be said for soap, water & a good scrub with a washcloth. This makes me grateful that while God does new stuff, I’m abundantly thankful that there’s no need to invent a new way to get close to Jesus. Indeed, the Father welcomes us with open arms, an eager heart & compassionate hands with tender words! No vampire facial needed 🙂

Watch OUT!!!!!

Don’t text & drive. Why? When our attention is divided, the quality of our focus decreases & our ability to engage declines. Simple translation: you’ll get in a wreck 🙂
I would suggest that the same principle applies to spiritual values as well. Because we live in a tangible & natural world, it’s easy to get our focus / attention on natural & flesh stuff. But if we become entirely absorbed with natural stuff, we’ll have a spiritual wreck. To be sure, we need to have balance with our focus & attention. Let’s be sure to give our attention to spiritual growth & not only natural urgencies & inclinations.

This Has Helped Me :)

I watched this short video when I got home from Bangladesh this week, took a walk & had a really deep & profound experience with God.

I know it can be very strange to watch one’s self, but the Holy Spirit really spoke to me through this short video. Take a few minutes this Memorial Weekend to watch it & feel free to pass it along to your friends!

Heroes

When I travel, I often meet people whom I admire & my weekend in New Zealand was no exception. To be sure, the country is entirely magnificent with its natural beauty, but her citizens are equally as enchanting. I met folk who are respectful in their conversations & engagement with diverse cultures. I met people who have overcome adversities that would make your hair stand on end. I met people who have a deep love for Jesus & carry His heart in their daily interactions, eager to serve & express genuine love.
We all meet people who have warts & flaws, but let’s have the courage & determination to see past those shortfalls & see each person as a glorious creation of our loving Heavenly Father!

Lots Of Diversity!

I’m presently in Auckland New Zealand & experiencing this beautiful country & lovely people. It always astounds me to see God’s ability for infinite diversity. I also love to see the distinction of cultures & there are heaps of cultures here! With the various cultures, you might have heard of the All Blacks, which is the national rugby team for NZ & wildly popular here, an integral part of the culture. Additionally, this nation has lots of nationalities including Maori, British, Indian, Polynesian, French & loads more. In some respects, I’m not sure that I’ve ever visited a place with more cultural diversity, except maybe South Africa.
In addition to the diversity of people, there’s also loads of diversity with the actual land (islands, volcanoes, mountains, beaches, plains & rolling hills). The weather is also quite diverse & seems to change almost by the hour.
New Zealand is thoroughly beautiful & full of life. It’s definitely a country that I’d like to explore with loads more time!

 

Attention!! Attention!!

https://youtu.be/t0XBCrhkvMw

Do you ever struggle to focus? I definitely struggle with my focus & I’m learning that it’s easier for me to focus on some things more than others. For example, I’m not very good at listening to stuff, but I’m better at reading. Some people like video content & find it easier to pay attention. So here’s some good news for the video peeps! I started my own YouTube channel & I’m uploading a series once a week. The series I’m working on is about prayer & it’s really excellent!! For the prayer series, each episode is short & very relevant!
Feel free to subscribe & pass on the link to your friends who are interested in prayer!