Sometimes I think that we try to use busy-ness to immunize us from boredom – my friends at Starbucks always seem happier when the line snakes out the door rather than when the store is empty. They tell me that having a busy day is much better than a boring day. My problem is that when I use busy-ness to combat boredom, I often find myself in a state of frantic perpetual motion. Busy-ness can be a good thing with proper balance & direction, but if we use it as an antidote for boredom then we run the risk of living hallow, driven & inconsequential lives.
For me, I have found that the best antidote for being bored is to watch and listen for Jesus in my daily living. Here’s my thinking: I believe that Jesus is very much engaged & intertwined within my daily living. He’s with me when I’m driving, He’s in the meetings I attend, He’s sitting by me as I drink coffee, He’s present in the conversations & interactions I have with others, He’s present when I’m helping the kids with their homework & when I cook dinner, . . . . Jesus is ever with me – but even better, He’s not merely a silent & disinterested spectator. He is an active participant in my daily living – with His help, I can be increasingly aware of His internal peace in tumultuous situations. With His help, I can hear Him speak to me through various conversations. With His help, I can sense Him talking through me to encourage someone. With His help, I can grow to recognize His presence, voice, direction & hand throughout each day. As in Psalms 86:11, I pray Lord that you would “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”
Enough is an interesting word. It makes me think of other words like, full, satisfied, adequate and others. I’ve been thinking about this word in many different ways – one of them related to rhubarb 🙂 You see, when I was growing up, we had a few rhubarb plants & my mom would make these really tasty rhubarb desserts. So over the last 5 years, I’ve tried to remember to buy some rhubarb plants to plant in the Spring. I’ve failed because I always remembered too late & the stores were all out of rhubarb plants. But this year is different 🙂 I bought a few plants over the Easter weekend & I’m really excited to plant them – now I’m just trying to figure out where. I want to make sure that I get them in a place with enough sunlight – enough being the operative word.
Of late, the word “enough” has been interrupting all kinds of thoughts – making me think that I don’t have “enough.” Maybe you’re like me & perhaps you wish you had more time, more energy, more wisdom, more money, more sleep, more sun, more friends, more help, more love, more rhubarb ,) more patience, more . . . . . just plain more. God & I have been chatting about this dilemma – maybe I would be more accurate to say that we’ve been wrestling about this topic.
So its interesting to note that yesterday in my Bible time I read Ps 107:9, “He satisfies the hungry and fills the hungry with good things.” Furthermore, I’ve been studying about God’s grace this morning & He tells me that His grace is “enough”. Perhaps my challenge is that I’m looking to my own resources more than looking to God as my provider. When I see God as my provider, then I can trust that whatever He gives me is “enough.” But when I get my focus off of God & onto myself or something else, then I easily fall into the lack trap – never enough.
Ever struggle with keeping your focus on God? What are some things that you’ve found helpful in keeping your focus centered on God? Would love to hear your thoughts 🙂
Of late, I find myself being challenged to love more authentically. To me, this means that I’m challenged to love w less selfishness & with more generosity. Here’s an interesting example, after church yesterday, Reece took us to a nice restaurant for Easter lunch – the only challenge was that the waitress was having a rough day. Consequently, our meal took more than 2 hours from start to finish. So here’s my choice: be grumpy w the waitress who is already having a tough time or be super kind, generous & helpful. Hopefully, I landed on more of the “kind & generous” side of the choice, even though I felt impatient, etc.
I find God challenging me to love people more genuinely & less for what they can do in return for me – to love without expecting acknowledgment, gratitude or even retribution. Here are some ways that I am being challenged to authentically love:
- time: taking time to listen, engage, be present, to be less impatient & worried about being inconvenienced
- care: to express care by expressing genuine interest – asking questions that reflect concern, interest & engagement
- affirmation: using words that encourage, promote excellence, strengthen a person’s value, brighten another’s day, forgive quickly, validate & affirm the person even when I disagree w their choices or behaviors
I think that God loves the hell out of us in many different ways. I hope He uses me to make His love a daily reality to those with whom I interact – that’s a tall order that only He can accomplish 🙂
I had an interesting experience in a conversation with a friend a few days ago as we were talking about various challenges in our lives. In the discussion, I opened up and shared some frustrations & struggles that have been on my heart, which may seem fairly harmless. After the conversation as I was walking to my car, I felt a bit of a gentle scolding in my heart from God. Some of His loving rebuke challenged me that sometimes I can be whiney: complaining about what isn’t going well, “venting” with my frustrations, etc. Even worse, I can get into a pity party & swallow the lie that I’m a loser. I think we can all fall into this trap from time to time.
I’m extremely confident that God was confronting & challenging me to change in His loving rebuke because the next morning, my Bible reading time just happened to be in Josh 1, where God commands Joshua 3 times to be strong & courageous. Furthermore, I also read Ps 103:1-5 where David beautifully magnifies the work of God in our individual lives.
So here are my take-aways (and perhaps they will encourage you as well):
- just because the evil one serves me a plate of discouragement doesn’t mean that I automatically pick up a fork & start ingesting his poisonous delicacies masquerading as a chummy conversation;
- be strong & courageous: may my ears & eyes be sensitive to hear & see God moving in my life (vertical focus) more than how I feel or what I see & hear on the horizontal plane;
- Be strong & courageous is a command from God & it obliterates my self-pity dribble
Perhaps on this Resurrection Weekend it would be constructive to celebrate the death of the “loser lie”. Indeed, when they crucified Jesus, many thought He was one of the world’s biggest losers, but He came back & annhilated the “loser lie.” So my friend, let me invite you to join me in receiving His lluminating imperative to be strong & courageous to evaporate any discouragement, deceptions & lies in our lives 🙂
We could probably all do a bit of extra cleaning in this season, especially with all of the kids’ school stuff that’s presently occupying far too much counter space 🙂
Here’s another idea for some Spring Cleaning that I’ve been thinking about lately: perhaps we could all do some “soul cleaning” with some fresh work on the forgiveness front. Here’s what got me thinking about this – yesterday, I ran across a person with whom I had a very unpleasant exchange in January & I found myself being very frosty with this person, noticeably LESS friendly with them than anyone else. This was a nice wake up call that I probably need to freshen up my forgiveness maintenance. Maybe you’re not like me, but I find that I’m really keen to make the forgiveness decision, but sometimes I neglect the followup maintenance that forgiveness can require. When I make the forgiveness decision, for me this means that I chose to not “punish” the person for our altercation by being unpleasant in any future exchanges. Furthermore, when I forgive a person, I make the decision not to discuss their failure with anyone else (outside of a normal healthy disclosure). Additionally, when I chose to forgive, I find it helpful to bless person & to “let go” of the offense – not remind them of their failure by bringing up the past. Like I said on my fb post, forgiveness is a decision that can require ongoing maintenance ,)
Happy Spring Cleaning!
At some point in each of our lives, we ask the question, “What’s my purpose? Why am I on earth?” I think this is a universal human question & there are lots of ways to answer this line of questioning, but here’s a simple approach that God has been dealing w me on of late:
I believe that a significant reason that I’m alive is to raise the awareness of Jesus in my world. Raising this awareness happens in a VARIETY of ways:
- sometimes through a direct conversation, helping someone see God’s hand moving in their life, asking a question that helps a person reach out to Jesus, praying for a person when they express a need, . . . . .
- sometimes through an act of kindness, a smile, a friendly gesture, an encouraging word, letting someone go in front of you in a line, serving a person, generous forgiveness, . . . .
- sometimes through a provision, being generous with our resources (time, energy, finances), paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line, giving a homeless person a meal, giving a starving baby meals for a month with saving moses ,) , . . . .
I want my life to make Jesus attractive to the people with whom I interact – not just because its Easter week & the seasonal trend to invite people to church (although let’s all get really motivated & bring hordes of friends to church). I want to spread the fragrance of Jesus wherever I go. I want to illuminate His presence in all my conversations. I want to express His genuine love with His extravagant provisions. For me, let this purpose be the preoccupation of each day.
I read this morning about a crazy guy that met Jesus & how his life changed. In Mark 5, there’s a man who is demon possessed & is severely tormented. No one can chain or control him. He lives in a graveyard, screams & runs around cutting himself – totally nuts. When Jesus comes to the area where this man lives, the crazy guy runs up to Jesus & the demons start talking to Jesus & being obnoxious. The short end of the story is that Jesus kicks out the demons & the man gets his sanity back. Clearly, this story is pretty interesting, but here’s one of the things that really gets my attention:
It says in Mark 5:15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
Because of their fear, the people in the village asked Jesus to leave their area when they saw the crazy man turned sane. If we’re not careful, we will allow fear to influence us to make crazy decisions, like the people in this village. They asked Jesus to leave their area after he had completely healed the town’s madman. If Jesus could heal the crazy man of the town, could He not also heal others? And yet the town kept their fear but rejected the Healer. I hope that when I am forced to make decisions between fear & Jesus that I pick Jesus every time.
Ok, here’s some transparency – I’m kind of stressed at this moment. There are alot of moving parts in my life right now & it seems that whatever topic that I focus on leaves me stressed. I know that there are seasons of pressure times in life & we all get to learn to manage through those seasons with hopefully few, if any, casualties.
Nevertheless, the last few days & evenings have had some intensely stressful moments, but here’s also some encouragement: this morning in my quiet time, as I’m doing my normal Bible reading routine, the verses I read in the NT were about Jesus calming the storm (when He had been sleeping while everyone else was freaking out). Furthermore, I read Ps 94:19, “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” Finally, the verses I’m memorizing in John start with Jesus saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled – you believe in God, believe also in Me.”
So here’s my take aways that you might also find useful:
- I can have peace in my heart as I fellowship with Jesus regardless of the storms occuring around me
- When I bring Jesus into the storms of my life, He brings peace
- There are times that Jesus wants to work through me to bring peace to stormy situations – blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God (Matt 5)
May the peace of Jesus guard your heart and mind today, my friend
My kids have a list of things they don’t like to do: wash the dishes, pick up their room, fold the laundry, homework before playing, . . . . So when we grow up, what happens to this list? Hopefully, we get good at the tasks we didn’t like doing as kids so they’re not such an issue. Or maybe we just suck it up & do these things anyways since we don’t like the negative results if we neglect to do the things we don’t like doing.
I’ve been thinking about doing the things I don’t like to do – maybe as an attempt to avoid doing them ,)
But here are some things that are rolling around in my thoughts:
- if I only do what I like to do, what talents & areas in my life would remain dormat from such neglect?
- character development – I still think these words should be in the “four letter word” category, along with the other cuss words I avoid
- love: a good “four letter word” that also includes doing things I don’t want to do (I love God, love my family, love my friends, . . . . )
- Jesus endured the cross & decided to do what He didn’t want to do because of the joy on the other side of the cross. Could there be more joy on the other side of the work than my dislike & procrastination?
These are just some ideas I’m considering when I think about doing things that I don’t like to do – like I’m now wrapping up this blog so I can go to the Dentist 😦
What are your thoughts? I’d be keen to hear your ideas, insights & observations 🙂
Fighting is an interesting concept that gets practiced in many different ways:
- the guy who flips me off because I cut in front of his car
- fighting in Afghan, Iraq, Libya & other areas
- fighting with our spouse over little things portending a bigger issue
- fighting with a friend over a misunderstanding or something that is wrong
There are lots of ways of fighting, some of which are better than others. When I was first married, Reece & I would have some normal disagreement, but my way of handling the conflict was to just shut down & disengage (aka – silent treatment). Reece didn’t really put up with that technique, saying that there was nothing constructive accomplished w my silence – it didn’t help resolve the conflict, make any progress toward a common goal or do anything constructive. Quickly, I realized that he was right. Since then, Reece & I can definately have some fights & heated conversations, but we don’t clam up & get silent. We also don’t take shots at each other’s person – we may not like the other’s behavior, but we don’t attack each directly. Consequently, while we’ve had some pretty sturdy conflicts, we also have developed some really good honesty & intimacy over the years.
I think the idea of working through a conflict with God is even more important than when we work through a conflict w our spouse. I don’t think that God is into a passive intimacy with us, where we just roll over & play dead. Think about some of the great men in the Bible: Job, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Peter, . . . . These men all had conflicts with God – good honest “fights” where they disgreed with God, wrestled with Him, challenged His integrity, confronted the discrepencies in the world with God’s character & sometimes just flat out debated with God. If we genuinely want a close relationship with God, there will be times when we will disagree with Him & I don’t think this makes Him nervous. Engaging with God whether through intense love or frustration & even anger is better than indifference & passivity. There is such a thing as a “right fight”.