Don’t Think of You

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Earlier this week I found out that the mother of a long-time friend is fighting for her life. I was told she’s in hospice and may not make it through the week. My understanding is that cancer came upon her pretty quick.

I’ve also been concerned about a long-time friend who has been battling cancer. She’s been sick for quite some time and has spent the past few weeks in hospice. Every day I check the Facebook page of a mutual friend to see if she’s still with us.

A few days ago I began emailing with a friend from high school who I’ve recently connected with. We haven’t seen each other since graduation, and I was told a story of this single parent who has raised a severely handicapped child. I cannot even begin to imagine what day-to-day life must be like for them. (And yet, the days seem to be faced with joy.)

Another friend lost her baby brother this week, the second brother she’s lost in the past few years.

With these events in the forefront of my mind, I’m finding I have less tolerance for some of the things that people say and do. Jealously, insecurity, pettiness, back-biting, gossiping and a what-about-ME attitude is becoming annoying.

Life is so incredibly short, and as I get older I’m focusing on what really matters – other people. There are so many true needs out there: hurts, desires, longings, even basic everyday provisions.

Don’t think only of yourself – how you’ve been overlooked, offended or left out. Don’t complain. Don’t argue. Don’t have a bad attitude.

You may be perfectly healthy in body, but how is your mind? Is it sick? Are you self-centered? Do you only think and talk about yourself? Or do you lay down your own passions and desires to help others succeed? Maybe somebody needs a listening, understanding ear. Maybe they need an arm around them as they struggle through hardships, loss and pain – or grief. Maybe they need to know they are special, important and have worth and value.

When I think of the process of losing a loved one, or even the loss of a life that was expected while young to take care of a loved one while older, the things we get upset about in the day-to-day are so small and trivial.

Before you complain about being offended or hurt next time, ask yourself if it’s really that big of a deal in the overall scheme of life.

My pastor showed this video by Francis Chan a few months ago. This life and its struggles are nothing compared to serving Jesus and living all of eternity.

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Poke Your I Out

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We live in a very narcissistic society. Life has become about our comfort, our entertainment, our activities, our interests and selfies abound on social media.

But this isn’t what Jesus teaches us. He teaches us to put others first.

Philippians 2:4 (MSG)

Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

This doesn’t come natural for us, at least not for me. It takes thought and effort to put others before my own desires.

We can become distracted when we don’t get our way: jealousy, envy, selfishness, anger. Know what? These are some of the grace-killers mentioned in Galatians 5:20-21.

But earlier in Galatians 5, we’re told to serve one another through love, because of the freedom we have in Christ.

As we minister to our pastors, leaders and congregation it’s important to poke our “I” out. It cannot be about what I want, what I need, where I can get comfort or what job I can do. It’s about serving others.

It’s also about serving God. We weren’t meant to be comfortable in this world. We should be more comfortable with God than with the spirit of this world. That means we may have to give up our desires for what is best for the kingdom.

Bless your pastor by putting others first.

Be You

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These words came to me this morning: If you were doing what somebody else is doing, you couldn’t do what you’re doing. Be you!

Do you ever look at what other people are doing and think, “Man, I wish I could do that!”

That’s not always a bad thing. Those desires can encourage us to step outside of our comfort zone and move us toward improvement. Where we need to have caution is when we become envious or jealous of other people’s gifts, talents or purpose in life.

I have a friend who is an amazing artist. I always marvel at the work she does, painting beautiful landscapes and nature scenes. I’m doing good to draw stick people!

I have another friend who takes incredible pictures. Her subjects are beautiful, the lighting is perfect, the backgrounds are unique. I’m doing good to capture people without a goofy look on their face, usually with the sun making them squint!

Another friend is a gifted counselor. I’ve seen her in action. The wisdom flows from her without thought and encourages others in their faith. I’m doing good when all I can think to say is, “So how is that workin’ for ya?”

My list could go on about friends and family and the things they can do better than I.

But if I painted landscapes or took pictures or counseled others, or anything in a long list of talents other people have, who would do what I do?

I’ve often been told, “I could never do what you do!”

That doesn’t make sense to me. It’s not hard to log in to MailChimp and send a newsletter. It’s not hard to keep a master calendar. It’s fun to design the bulletin and promotional materials for events the church has going on.

God has blessed us all with a gift and a purpose that requires that gift. Use what God has given you, and use it with joy! Be thankful that you can do what nobody else can do. Be thankful you can reach people only you can reach. Be thankful that you will make a difference in someone’s life that only you can make.

Just be you!

Galatians 6:4 – 5 (MSG)

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

 

Are You Hollow or Solid

Chocolate Bunnies

It’s not Easter without a big, chocolate bunny, right? I used to get them in my Easter basket when I was a kid.

Let’s look at the large, hollow bunny versus a small, solid bunny.

The large bunny looks good because he’s big! The more chocolate, the better, right? Sometimes he even has colorful candy eyes, or a pink candy bowtie.

The small bunny looks good just because he’s chocolate, but the amount appears to be less. He is smaller, after all. And the package is smaller, too; just a little, flat box.

Wouldn’t you reach for the larger bunny based on appearance alone?

But bite the ears off; what’s inside?

The large bunny is hollow, there’s nothing in there. All you see is shell. Pieces may even crumble off as you nibble at the thin chocolate.

The small bunny is solid, chocolate all the way through! You may even need a hammer to pound off a piece small enough to eat so you don’t hurt your teeth trying to take a bite.

As Christians, which bunny are we when the tough times come? Are we hollow, looking good on the outside, but inside there is no substance? Do we crumble when the trials come?

Matthew 23:27 (MSG)

…You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eating flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.

Or are we the smaller bunny? Solid in our faith when the hammers of life fall on us? Are we harder to break apart because there is substance to us?

James 1:12 (NIV)

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Be solid! And bless your pastor!

Read my previous post: Did You See That

Did You See That

Photo: Namphuong Van

We’re all so busy with life, rushing from one thing to the next.

Jobs, activities with the kids, ministry responsibilities, family obligations, dream-chasing. All good things, to be sure, but what are you doing to take time for yourself? To regroup and to rest?

It is necessary for us to slow down. Slowing down helps us enjoy life as we take time to see what’s going on around us. As a health coach, I know that slowing down also has health benefits.

I have to purpose to take time away from the craziness of life.

I love to sit on my deck in the summer to have a meal. I pull my face out of my plate and watch the birds flying, the squirrels chase each other, the beauty of the clouds as they float in the blue sky, the way the trees sway in the breeze, even the insect that is annoying as it buzzes around my head!

There is so much going on around us that we are missing!

My son loves to watch The Slow Mo Guys on YouTube. They record everyday incidents then show them in slow motion; water balloons bursting, mouse traps going off, a ball hitting a man in the face. It’s amazing to watch in slow motion what happens within a split second – so fast we can’t see it with our natural eyes.

Watch this video of a cat jumping from a tree:

Isn’t it amazing what goes on that we miss? I encourage you to watch some of the other videos from The Slow Mo Guys to force yourself to slow down and think about what is going on around you. Their language can be unsavory at times, but they do some incredible things!

How does this bless your pastor? Because if you don’t take time to slow down and take care of yourself, you won’t be much good when you show up exhausted for ministry events.

Slow down and see the things around you that you haven’t noticed before. I’d love to hear what you find!

What will you do today to slow down?