When I woke up my son today to get ready for school, he wasn’t happy by a long shot. He was cranky & grumpy and unfortunately, by the time he got in the car, he was still in the doldrums – a very yucky way to start off on a Monday morning 😦
We all have times, seasons, days and moments when we are grumpy & here’s a potential quick fix: be thankful. Rather than looking at the grumpy stuff (back to school, bills, tired, physical pain, hardship, emotional stressors, relationship difficulties, job / school challenges . . . . ), take some moments to be thankful.
that the sun came up this morning
for the oxygen that we breath
that God’s love is vast yet personal
that God is both faithful and good
for a nice blog to give you this helpful reminder ,)
Seems like all of us want to grow & improve in at least a few ways. We want to be more skinny or more muscular. We want to be smarter, more athletic, less impatient, . . . . . . All of us have things in our lives that we want to improve. If there was a magic wand that we could wave to make the wanted improvement appear, we’d go to great lengths to get that wand & ultimately the improvement that we want. But alas, there is no magic wand.
But here’s the golden ticket for the improvements that we want: routine. Yep, the nitty, gritty and daily incremental efforts that we can integrate into our daily routines can produce life changing transformation. Diets, fads, trends, cool & swanky techniques and mental gyrations often lack the power to improve that comes from just the daily, small decisions that we incorporate into routine living:
A deeper walk with God: plan to go to bed 30min earlier everyday for two weeks, so you can get up 15min early to read your Bible & pray – spend some time training your body & soul to make spiritual investments
being more healthy: chose to decrease or eliminate a cup of coffee (gasp), the afternoon treat, the evening snack for two weeks;
physical fitness: chose to walk more (rather than the drive for that close errand, park in less conveninet places that require more walking, take a walk in the evening rather than watch the 30min of TV that turns into 2hours, . . . .)
be smarter: reading is a great path to help us with the smart stuff; consider joining a book club, get a library card – check out a book; read something that you don’t agree with or isn’t in the normal interest list (broaden your horizon)
Small but steady changes often create the sustained improvements that can seem elusive. You can do it!! 🙂
I was really sad to learn about Robin Williams’ death & it’s even more tragic to learn that he committed suicide. For my generation, he was a very significant person who made many valuable contributions in the entertainment industry and many other areas. When I learned of his death, I of course thought of all the different roles that he played and only recently learned about his struggle with addiction & depression.
Depression is nasty stuff & we would be wise to be sensitive to people who are struggling in this area. Cliche’ & quickie one-liners don’t usually help people who are depressed. The “snap out of” talk, “pick yourself up by your boot straps”, “it’s all in your mind” along with other band-aid phrases can sometimes be nothing more than vaporous cotton candy, frothy & flimsy. If you know someone who is wrestling with depression, here are a few helpful tips:
be gentle & patient
genuine prayer is always valuable!
giving them some company can sometimes help
If you’re struggling with depression, here are some things that may help:
keep some regular routines: prayer, Bible time, church, going to sleep & waking at normal times
I’ve been reading recently about how many Christians have been under very severe persecution in Iraq from the ISIS (or IS) expansion & attacks. According to the news, Christians in certain areas of Iraq are being given the choice to leave their homes, convert to Islam or die. I find this to be very troubling for Iraq given it’s long & strong history of Christian & Jewish presence in this area. From a broader perspective, Christianity has always faced varying degrees of persecution throughout the world at various times. For example, currently North Korea, is a very dangerous place for a Christian to try & survive without denying their faith. For that matter, it seems like sometimes Christians are the best at eating their own – being judgmental, exclusive, elitist and capricious, but that’s for a different blog ,)
Here are a few things to consider:
pray for our brothers and sisters – Paul talks about bearing each others burdens in Gal 6:2; As the body of Christ, let’s be very prayerful for our fellow members who are in such difficult situations
persecution grows the church – hardship forces us to clarify our priorities & the right choices help our roots to go deep; deep roots create great strength & healthy fruit
Gal 5:15 talks about being careful not to bite & devour each other – there’s enough external persecution that we don’t need to tear each other down; let’s build up more than we cut down 🙂
I’ve been watching the situation with Israel & Palestine over the last month & I was very happy to read this morning about the ceasefire and what seems to be the ramp down of the military conflict between Israel & Palestine. If you have looked into any of the history of this area, you’ll quickly see that this area of the world has been unstable to varying degrees for millennia. Regardless of which side of the conflict you sympathize, its good for everyone that they constructively work toward a peace that can be realisticlly achieved between these neighboring countries.
With that being said, I don’t see how you can be a neighboring country, endeavoring to build trust while concurrently telling your population that your neighbor is the enemy – both sides do this. I also don’t see how you can build trust when an underlying tenant of your political existence is the obliteration of your neighboring country – there has to be mutual respect for mutual sovereignty. Finally, you can’t build trust without first creating an environment for constructive conversation.
I don’t like snakes, never have & I have very strong beliefs that I never will. I don’t like snakes, full stop. Lizards, on the other hand, don’t wig me out nearly as much as snakes. I watched a lizard eat a bug the other day & found myself cheering for the lizard – yea buddy! United against bugs!! 🙂
My husband informed me that I need to understand that lizards eat bugs like snakes eat mice & rodents. Even though I don’t like the snakes, everything has a place & use, by Divine design.
This makes me consider that perhaps God has a use for the things I don’t like,
I don’t like that babies starve to death with no hope for the future = Saving Moses
I don’t like that a 3year old girl sells condoms to her moms sex clients = nightcare
I don’t like that my thoughts can get murky & tainted = meditating on the Bible (1Cor 13 is a great starting place or the Sermon on the Mount, Psalms 23, Col 3, . . . .)
God can use the things I don’t like for significant redemptive value, maybe even snakes ,)
Lately, I’ve been doing some reading & spending some time in John 3, where Jesus is talking with Nicodemus. Their conversation has really sparked my curiosity on a few levels. To begin, this conversation was where Jesus made the famous statement, “You must be born again” Growing up in a pastor’s home, I heard this phrase “born again” multiple times & it’s been heavily used throughout Christianity with very weighty and significant importance. Consequently, I’ve always been a little more sensitive to this interchange between Jesus & Nicodemus.
With that in mind, please consider some important things about Nicodemus:
he was a man in a male dominated culture – his natural environment, POV, thinking, paradigm & frame of reference was all things male
he was a Jewish leader: not Roman, not Greek, not Persian, but Jewish with the rich heritage, culture and background of the OT, Moses, the Law, Torah, prophets, Psalms, etc; he was a religious expert in his culture
he was a Pharisee, which means that he held the same points of interpretation of the Law as the Pharisees as distinct from the Sadducees
he came to Jesus by night, possibly for a more private & offline conversation as opposed to a daytime, public discussion
Nicodemus’ first words with Jesus affirmed that they knew that Jesus was from God because of the validation of miracles to His ministry. Everything that Nicodemus does & says up to this point seems pretty normal stuff for who he is, a Jewish male Pharisee. He is talking about theology & miracles with Jesus which seems to be what Jesus is about.
But Jesus goes rogue
Jesus’ reply to Nicodemus has seemingly nothing to do with theology or miracles, but rather everything to do with birthing babies – you must be born again. It’s obvious by Nicodemus’ reply that he’s confused because he asks Jesus about the physical mechanics of a 2nd birth when a person is fully grown. It seems to me that obstetrics is a completely different topic than theology & miracles, or maybe not?????
I’m very much musing on this conversation between Nicodemus & Jesus and I expect that my musings will continue for quite awhile. In the meantime, here’s something you might be able to use in your daily living from my musings so far:
Sometimes I start conversations with God that wind up on a completely different & altogether better, deeper & richer experience. Let’s be careful not to limit our conversations with God to the topics of our choosing 🙂