Lenten Thoughts: Bubblin’

(This post originally appeared as a note on Facebook seven years ago. While I wrote it on a Monday, the truth applies to every day.)

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It’s Monday morning. And if that’s not enough, it’s the Monday morning after spring time change. So this morning, I’m not feeling very bubbly. I have been accused of having an effervescent personality, which sometimes (like on Monday mornings) is described as annoying.

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Enthusiasm and eagerness should be words that describe us all as believers. According to Paul, “He (Jesus) gave himself for us to set us free from every wrong and to cleanse us so that we could be his special people who are enthusiastic about doing good deeds (Titus 2:14, ISV).

There are certain words I have discovered over the years which have impacted my faith and practice as a Christian. The Greek word for enthusiastic or zealous is one of them. It’s a word that conjures up the image of frothing over. One of the first pictures that comes to mind is the classic volcano science experiment many had to do as kids. Adding the right ingredient, at the right time, in the right quantity resulted in an erupting volcano.

The ingredient making all the difference for us as believers is Jesus. He embodies everything we need. When we take him in, we experience a cleansing, a bubbling up that results in a bubbling over of eagerness and enthusiasm to serve him.

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Now when I think about being enthusiastic and eager I don’t think about waiting to be asked. Enthusiastic believers look for, and anticipate ways to serve–to do good things for the Kingdom. A few weeks ago one of the staff members at church was inviting people to fill out a survey to identify ways they were interested in serving through the Church. She kept describing it as a pool of volunteers. In my mind, I had this image of the community pool in summer. Remember how we had to get out every now and then and rest? We would be watching the clock and counting down, eagerly anticipating getting back in the pool. That eagerness should be what we feel as we think about serving: it’s so hard to wait!

It’s still Monday, and I’m still a bit tired, but I’m also excited! This new day holds all kinds of possibilities for service, some I’m aware of and planning for already. But there will be others that just present themselves to me. Tired or not, here comes the bubbling!

Do you remember the old Sunday School/Camp song: Jesus love is a bubblin’ over….babababubblin’…babababubblin’…..

Do No Harm

First, do no harm.

Quick! Where’s that from?

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Hippocratic Oath? That’s what I thought.

Nope. After doing a little online reading, I found it’s not in the original Greek version. There’s a phrase in the Latin that might come close. It is believed the phrase came into acceptance somewhere in the 17th century.

Why does this matter? What drove me to even look?

I’m glad you asked.

Yesterday, on my drive to visit some folks who are completing a drug rehab program, I had a heart to heart with God.

At first I was trying to anticipate conversations and how I would respond. Okay, I confess I think these kinds of thing through for all kinds of encounters. I’m an old Girl Scout: I tried to always be prepared.

But the rehearsals in my mind were going nowhere.

So I stopped—talking not driving.

And I confessed how foolish I felt and I asked God what I needed to do.

Yes, I’m a trained pastor (two different Masters degrees for that) and a trained counselor (Masters degree and all kinds of continuing education), but we’re facing a giant of an enemy in this heroin epidemic.

This must be how David felt when he faced Goliath. (Okay, go ahead think current Pepsi commercials. See video below if you’re unfamiliar.)

God, I don’t know what to say. I want to offer your kind of lasting, life-changing, life-giving help. How do I do that?

 I know, not a very eloquent prayer—didn’t even say Amen at the end.

But God heard. And God spoke: Do No Harm.

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This is a huge request for an ESFP with ADD. I am not like my introverted friends who think and then overthink and maybe think some more before they open their mouths to speak. I think out loud. Words tumble out of my mouth faster than I can check them.

How do I do that?

Here’s what I did:

I listened. A challenging thing for an ESFP with ADD.

Listening requires intentional focus. Trust me: this requires more energy than a 30 minute workout at CURVES.

But I did it.

And I shared what I knew to be true.

This included some of my own struggle, but also a couple of my foundation scripture promises and fundamental counseling truths.

I’m not sure if we slayed the giant…but we did some serious damage. I left those appointments whoopin’ and hollerin’ for Jesus.

These were divine appointments and I was just along for the ride.

Check back for the next post where I’ll share one of those fundamental counseling truths.  (How’s that for a teaser?!)

 

**ESFP is a Myers-Brigs Trait Inventory designation (MBTI). When I take the inventory I identify as an Extrovert who takes in my surroundings through my Senses, makes judgments through my Feelings, and organizes Perceptively (which is kind of like no organization at all—think scattered).

If you want to check out the test just google it. You can take it online and receive your information.

**ADD is a psychiatric identification, Attention Deficit Disorder. My brain typically runs in scatter mode. I act before thinking. I get overwhelmed by too many instructions. I am highly distracted…squirrel!

 

 

Samuel and a Teachable Moment

I have spent so many hours watching the Olympics this past week. I have let my reading and writing slip to the periphery.

Then I read my friend, Evelyn Mann’s article about an incident that happened with her son. Read it here: Miracle Man

If you have children, work with children, or live near children take time to consider Evelyn’s suggestions for ways to bridge the wonderment and answer the questions.

Samuel is an amazing child. Catch his joy!

 

Ordinary Moments with God: Laughing at the Unexpected

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I get the munchies sitting at my desk. I’ve been trying to eat better. I was debating between baby carrots and banana chips this morning. Banana chips won.

I reached into the cupboard looking for the opening bag, but I couldn’t find it. So I threw this bag in my lunch bag and headed out the door.

Later when the munchies hit, I pulled out the bag. I kept trying to rip off the top. Isn’t that the way most of these bags open?

Where was the tab? I didn’t want to ruin the zip closure. I like zip closures.

Why wouldn’t it it open?

I was about to grab my scissors when I realized: I already opened the bag. The pull tab couldn’t be found because it wasn’t there.

I opened the bag and poured out some chips to snack on–all the while laughing at myself.

The bag didn’t open the way I expected. I’m used to tearing off the top–so something must be wrong with the bag.

The answer was staring me in the face, but I couldn’t see it.

How many times do I respond the same with God?

Truth be told? Way more than I care to admit.

The verse that came to mind as I contemplated not trusting in my expectations was Proverbs 3:5-6

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If I want to get things right, surrendering my way of thinking, expecting, and understanding is the way to go. His path not mine.

PRAYER: God, I get so used things being certain ways. I’m comfortable with the familiar. Turning loose of what I know and understand is not easy, but it makes the most sense in the long run. Direct my paths and help me to be more “open” to the unexpected. Amen.

 

Ordinary Moments with God: Making the Most of Time and Opportunities

This year I’m focusing on finding God in the ordinary stuff of life. Each day I will take a picture of something common and consider the spiritual implications.

Here we go…

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I get an email on Monday morning telling me the battery on my Fit Bit Charge is low.

I like that it comes on Monday. I’m in the office and it’s not hard to plug my Charge in while I’m sitting and working at my desk.

So while it charges, I sit at my desk. I commit to an hour of sitting still. Not because I’m being spiritual, or even attempting to be productive in other ways.

I just don’t want to take any steps that aren’t going to be counted.

There. I said it. I own my superficiality. I need the external verification. I’m working hard at this weight loss, get healthy thing and I want everything I do to count, to matter.

At one point this morning, I was about to leave my office and I sat back down and checked how much time was left in the charging process. Not much longer.

What would I do with that time?

Time? Make the most of time.

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” Colossians 5:4

“Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.” Ephesians 5:16

How interesting that my Fit Bit can help me decrease physically and increase spiritually.

PRAYER: God as you help me develop habits to improve my health, make me aware of developing my spiritual muscles as well. Help me make the most of time and opportunities. I don’t want to sit around wasting time. Keep filling my ordinary life with your presence. Amen.

 

Teach Us To Pray

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Tomorrow morning I will be starting a series of messages on the Lord’s Prayer. When you pray “our Father” what are you saying, believing, doing?

The first thing I notice is the corporate nature of the prayer. We aren’t in this world alone.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, he could have given them a theological dissertation based on familiar principles. But he didn’t. Instead he gave them the essential components of prayer.

And he starts with our Father—not simply Father. There are definitely times to get alone with God, but when the group came to Jesus, and the group asked to be taught how to pray, Jesus addressed their corporate need to pray.

I encountered a situation recently that drove this point home for me.

How many times when a friend or acquaintance shares a need, have you told them you would pray for them? You are sincere in your intention to pray, but life gets in the way and that opportunity for intercession is lost.

I don’t get many people coming to my door these days. So I was a bit surprised when the dogs began barking in their “oh boy, there’s someone at the door” way. With the reluctance that comes from dreading the annoyance of one more salesman, I went to the door.

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The woman at my door was quick to assure me she was not there to sell me anything. She gave me her name, told me she was from the women’s abuse shelter. She added that their group had the permission of the Sheriff and Chief of Police to be going door to door.

I apologized for not inviting her in, but my dogs are big and overly friendly. She seemed okay having the door between us. I introduced myself as the pastor of a local church that makes a point of regularly supporting the shelter.

We chatted and she was about to leave my door. This would be that moment when we say those words that roll off our tongues almost without thought: I’ll be praying for you.

But I couldn’t say them. Because I knew, with a knowing that comes from the Spirit, I needed to say, “Can I pray with you now?”

So I did. And her eyes got big. She put her hand on the screen and I put mine up to hers and we had a wonderfully blessed moment of connected prayer.

And then she was gone. But she will stay with me. Her name and face come to mind often and I pray, like Paul, as often as I remember her.

Now, I’m not telling you that story because I’m anything special. I’m telling you to encourage you to not miss those kinds of moments, those kinds of blessings—that kind of power.

The question that needs our response seems to be: how will we be open to the opportunities of corporate and connected prayer?

How can I pray with you today?

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Monday Morning Musings: Homecoming

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Yesterday we celebrated Homecoming Sunday. It was well-planned and well-attended. The music was such a blessing. If there had been a prize for widest age span at church we probably could have won. The youngest child there was seven months and the oldest person was one hundred and three (103). Our attendance was twice our normal average, from thirty to over sixty!

God laid on my heart the story Jesus told about the prodigal brothers and how their selfish ways caused them grief.

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We often throw a lot of focus on the wayward wandering brother, but if the other brother’s behavior hadn’t mattered, Jesus wouldn’t have included him in the story. Each one made choices, each one put their desires first.

In the Bible there are so many stories about the consequences of choices made by individuals and groups of people. Think about Thomas, question one time and forever be remembered as the doubter. Or Mary and Martha, get frustrated when you get stuck in the kitchen, but don’t ever complain about it. And the list goes on and on.

Whether we’ve wandered and made a mess of things like the younger brother or stayed home with our heart tightly shut, it’s time to come home.

These twenty-one verses have been described as the most perfect short story ever written in literature.

It is a good story. But it doesn’t have to be over.

Yours doesn’t have to be either.

Write a different ending.

And even if the road home looks impossibly long. Remember the father went out to both of his sons. And he promises to be with you every step of the way as well.

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