I’m making my way back to Denver from Angola Africa, where I’ve been for a week working with our baby malnutrition initiative with Saving Moses. I think this is my 6th trip to Angola & it never fails to bring me to my knees, almost literally.
On this trip, I’ve never seen, held or experienced so many malnourished babies possibly combined in my whole life – over the course of close to 5days. And I’m coming home with all of these experiences swirling in my heart, thoughts & emotions. Clearly, this will be a journey for processing, literally. And at the same time, I’m compelled to do more.
It seems to me like we all want to do more. But I wonder if we want to do more of the right stuff?Sometimes maybe we should think about what it means to “do more” prayerfully considering if our more is being directed by God.
When I go to the grocery store, I expect to find groceries & when I go to my health club, I expect to find weight machines & workout stuff. So people come to church & expect to find Jesus, but here’s an interesting exception for you to consider:
Do you like Easter?I thoroughly enjoy celebrating Jesus’ resurrection & His defeat over death!The next big celebration on the church calendar happens with Pentecost, the outpouring of Holy Spirit, & what a massive demonstration that was!!!So what about the middle time between Easter & Pentecost?What should we do in the middle, between these noteworthy events?
It seems to me that there’s a lot of our walk with God that happens in the middle. For example, we pray for something & then there’s often a middle time before we receive an answer. Or think about a time when God led you to start something & maybe you’ve done the beginning but you’re in the middle now, before you see the full culmination of what God has spoken to you.
In between Jesus’ resurrection & Pentecost, Jesus told His disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they’re clothed with power from Holy Spirit. I’m really confident that when Jesus told His disciples this, they didn’t know what to expect – they didn’t know what Pentecost would look like for them. They just knew there was something more on the horizon.
And I would encourage you, in the middle seasons, to anticipate & earnestly desire more of Holy Spirit in your daily living. More Holy Spirit can look lots of different ways for each of us, so let’s be careful not to specifically define what more is. Let’s just be open to having more of Holy Spirit in our lives!
Death is the pre-requisite for resurrection & today is that middle ground. Death happened on Good Friday & resurrection happens tomorrow. But the disciples didn’t know that Jesus would raise tomorrow, no matter how much He told them. And they knew He was dead with lots of uncertainty on the horizon. This is often how the middle feels – uncertain & tenuous.
I don’t think there’s anyone who is reading this now who isn’t in some middle place in life. We can find ourselves in the middle of: schooling, fighting a disease, a financial crisis, a relationship challenge, a difficult decision & heaps more.
So what do we do in the middle? Here are some suggestions that could be helpful:
1 – community: the disciples held together when they found themselves in the middle & waiting for what was next
2 – faith focus: let’s keep our attention on God who works all things together for our good, as we stay in love with Him
3 – purposeful farming: be sure to plant healthy seeds like patience, gratitude, diligence & others since we will reap what we sow 🙂
I’m making my way back home from speaking at a pastor’s conference in Bangledesh. This has been a “quick trip”, considering that getting to Bangledesh can be a 30hour journey with a 12 hour time change – so no travel to Bangledesh is a in reality a “quick trip.” When I was deciding about this trip, I was weighing the cost of the trip, not only financially, but the cost of time, impact to my family & Spring Break time together – sacrifices.
With all these considerations, I felt in my heart that I needed to join this conference – a very unique opportunity to meet Christian leaders in a Muslim country & hopefully encourage & minister to them. And in light of our new nightcare in Bangledesh, I felt that this opportunity would also be strategic & a great way to begin some important relationships for the future.
Before I left for this trip, most of what I felt was a mix of hope, anticipation & sacrifice. Now that I’m returning home, I recognize the sacrifice to be sure. But getting to team up with Holy Spirit to minister to such incredible leaders has left me astounded. Additionally, I experienced some progress on some questions in my heart. And I sense a significant green light from God about Saving Moses growing in our nightcare work throughout this region of the world. Yes this trip was a sacrifice & I’m physically very tired. I’m also very awestruck with God’s generosity that counteracts the sacrifices that we make. I’m very thankful.
“Jehoshaphat was afraid & turned his attention to see the Lord & proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” 2Chron 20:3
Being afraid is a universal experience to every human & maybe there are times when we have more or less fear. But fear is not a rare emotion in our human living. What we do with fear is more important, in my opinion, than the actual fear. So when I read about Jehoshaphat being afraid & turning his attention to the Lord, it gives me some good input on what to do with fear. I’m thinking also that this could be helpful for you too!
Rather than biting your nails, fretting, getting jittery, nervous eating, etc, when we have times or experiences with fear, let’s be certain that our default instinct is to turn our attention to God, remembering that nothing causes God to “bite His nails.”
I’m sitting in an English class of one of my kids & learning about gerunds, infinitives & participles. Maybe I’ll learn about these sentence parts this time around, possibly. It’s fun to watch a teacher who is excited not only about their content but also about their students!
In a similar way, I think that God gets excited about teaching us!! It seems to me that God takes us through various classes to help us grow & do better. Such classes include patience, endurance, truth with love & discretion to name a few. As much as I want to think that I’ll graduate & never need these classes, that will likely only happen in heaven. So today, I’m learning & growing one decision at a time, leaning into the Holy Spirit for supernatural help!
Take a quick minute to remember a few of the ways God has shown up in your life, met various needs & resolved things that seemed impossible. I’ve been looking over the last several years today & seeing God’s hand throughout the years in so many magnificent & unexpected ways! As I look back, not only do I see God’s faithful provisions, but I’m astounded at the perfect timing of His work, weaving random experiences into a gorgeous tapestry of grace & genuine love.
Whenever you get discouraged or begin to question God’s input in your life, take a few minutes to look at what God has done in your past. Most assuredly this will encourage your heart that God is very present & engaged in your life!
““I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
In Luke 5:32, Jesus told the religious leaders these words in reply to their complaint about Him eating & drinking with shady characters. And throughout all of Luke 5, the people who get a sharp tongue from Jesus are the religious leaders.
As I’ve thought about this, maybe Jesus was loving this group of people by being cranky & confrontational because they were deceived. Perhaps Jesus wanted to heal the deception in their lives so they could have an intimate relationship w Him & they needed the non-gentle approach. Let’s remember that genuine love celebrates truth 🙂
If we don’t feel pain, we run the risk of being unfeeling, insensitive, cold & apathetic. But for the people who live with chronic pain, feeling pain isn’t good. It’s also difficult to see people who are in pain. So what do we do with pain? Anesthetizing pain with entertainment, booze, exercise & other stuff turns out to be a very destructive way to cope w pain. So rather than anesthetize pain or run from it, let’s consider that we can ask Jesus to take away the pain & help us know Him better through the pain & suffering. Consider what Paul says in Phil 3:10-11, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
skme of the greatest potential for intimacy can happen through the shared experiences of pain & suffering. Even though we don’t like the idea, it’s true nonetheless. Think Gethsemane. Pray when there’s pain & watch what God does.
We all lose things: car keys, sock mates, computer files, credit cards, water bottles, etc. So how does a parent lose a child? That’s exactly what happened to Joseph & Mary when Jesus was 12 y/o, st the annual festival they attended in Jerusalem. His parents thought that Jesus was with the caravan returning to their village, so they didn’t look for Him nor worry about Him until a day had passed. When they began looking for Him, He wasn’t with everyone, so Joseph & Mary made their way back to Jerusalem to find Jesus.
Similar to Jesus’ parents, we can sometimes lose Jesus in the festivities & hubbub of the Christmas celebrations. So let’s be committed to keep a continual lookout for Jesus throughout each day of this Christmas season, watching for opportunities to be kind, loving generous & Christlike. Indeed, some of the best ways to experience Jesus is to spread His love in our daily living!
A few years ago, there were some cute movies, Finding Nemo & Finding Dory. Each movie was about the long search to find a missing son & a beloved friend. When I think about finding Jesus, I’m encouraged that Jesus is accessible throughout every day! Check out this video:
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 🙂
I’m in Bangledesh & interviewing families who have recently fled from Burma, literally running for their lives, many of whom are pregnant, with newborns & babies in tow. The things I’m hearing & seeing here are deeply moving. I’ve met moms who have lost their babies, whose babies are malnourished & who are trying to nurse newborn twins. This is all very powerful for me to hear & see, meeting mom’s & babies who have survived atrocities & uncertainties of catastrophic proportions.
And i can’t help but think about Mary, Jesus’ mom, who fled in the middle of the night with Joseph, with baby Jesus in her arms. Joseph had a warning dream about Herod killing all the babies in Bethlehem, so with tremendous urgency, he escaped Herod’s murderous intent. So Mary understood the plight of the moms I’m meeting.
May we also find genuine love to be our first reaction when we hear of refugees & moms who are doing everything possible to keep their babies alive & safe.
Now that Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror, Christmas is ready to take center stage. And with Christmas , come all the associated activities: decorating, parties, concerts, shopping, cookies, wrapping, etc. In the midst of the hub bub, let’s keep our hearts & focus attentive to Jesus. He’s a really quick video that could help you keep your focus on Jesus throughout this holiday season:
“I am Joseph, your brother.” I’ve been reading the story of Joseph in the last part of Genesis & I’m always astounded by the events that led up to these words. There are so many ways this story could’ve taken a bad turn.
Joseph could’ve let bitterness settle into his heart & he could’ve cruelly repaid his brothers for their malevolence.
Joseph’s dad could’ve died before learning that his son was alive & highly successful.
Joseph’s brothers could’ve continued to be the jerks they were with him when they sold him into slavery.
But none of these things happened & when Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers, he was fully committed to keeping his family alive & healthy, redeeming his family in a time of famine & desolation.
Let’s follow Joseph’s example in our daily living & relationships – committed to being agents of redemption, even when others may not recognize the redemption.
I’ve been noticing a trend with mobile services. For example, we recently had a guy come to our house with his mobile workshop to service our bikes. And this morning, I saw a mobile beauty salon – amazing!
This made me think about how wonderful the Holy Spirit is, to be with us everywhere we go – Mobile Help!! I’m abundantly grateful for the Holy Spirit being my ever present help with divine wisdom, supernatural strength, limitless comfort & continual presence – way better than the mobile food trucks, beauty salon & bike repair!
I seriously want your feedback!! Every Christmas season, I do a blog series about looking for Jesus & I post goofy pictures of baby Jesus in various settings, to reinforce the reminder to look for Jesus in the busy-ness of the Holidays.
So where would you like to see Jesus in the upcoming Holidays? Please give me your suggestions in the comments below, on FB, twitter, etc. Last year, I took Jesus to the ICU at a local hospital, He drove with me in my car (Jesus take the wheel), I perched Him on a park bench & did lots of other creative things. So what would you suggest for me to do this year, in the theme of looking for Jesus?
It’s easy to be a spectator, watching from the sideline, making comments & suggestions. It’s an entirely different experience to participate rather than spectate. This principle rings true in all kinds of contexts:
attending church in contrast to being an active participant,
watching people struggle with problems in contrast to helping people with prayer & presence,
only reading the Bible rather than applying what the Bible says.
Let’s never forget that God put skin in the game for humanity by letting Jesus become God in the flesh. So let’s be sure that we continue to imitate Jesus in our daily living by being active conduits for God’s presence wherever we go & in whatever we do!
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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