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CHRISTMAS all year

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The season is over. The presents have been worn & played with. The decoration are coming down & being put away. How are you feeling?xmas all year Is it possible to be as joyful & giving in January/February as you were in November/December? Of course it is! However, you may have to make one small, yet significant, change in your New Year mindset. Instead of the same ol’ resolutions that often disappoint; why not try CHRISTMAS all year! Think about it; everyone loves the season because of the joy, giving, lights, family, laugher, etc…so why not practice it all year!
C – cherish.
H – hope.
R – relax.
I – intentional.
S – simple.
T – thankful.
M -meaningful.
A – act.
S – significant.

Can we learn to cherish the moments that bring hope and learn to relax in the moments that don’t. Be thankful. Do intentional & simple acts that are meaningful & significant. You don’t need resolutions to change your life; ya just need a little bit of CHRISTMAS spread throughout the year! Maybe Roy L. Smith said it best, “He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”

Tourist or Traveler

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hand_shaped_heart_in_sunsetIn his book, ‘Courage & Calling” – Gordon Smith writes, “Observation is a critical means by which we learn about people – especially those who are different. Here, travel can be very formative in enabling us to see others and appreciate the human differences and the diversity of human experience. But a traveler is not the same as a tourist. To travel is to be with and among the people. A tourist is the center of attention; a traveler intentionally stays to one side and does not draw attention to her or himself.”
As I read those words, I had to ask myself: Do I approach my life – my everyday interactions with people – as a tourist or traveler? Do I make myself the center of attention or do I observe and learn with/from others?
I think of a verse: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another…” (John 13:35) How do I (how do you) love others? As a tourist – expecting all my wants to be met or as a traveler – intentionally observing and then loving them on purpose. Truth is, sometimes we need to be a tourist – we need others to bless, encourage and affirm us (“makie it all about us for a moment”) but let’s not forget; we are not to be tourists forever. We are called to be travelers – the very fragrance of God to those we are with & among (2 Cor. 2:14-15) Ahhhhhh, to be a traveler…to experience ‘This Love…”

Mobile World

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bosaltlake Trinity has launched its mobile-friendly website. I know, I know… It is about time! Now you can find the health info you need & want quickly. Check it out HERE, then share it with a friend. (yes, you have to be on a mobile device to appreciate it). Listen, we live in a mobile world. We love to be able to stream, text, facebook, tweet, instagram, snapcahat, etc…wherever & whenever. But in our mobile world, have we lost something…our own mobility? I simply mean this – we have the capability to be mobile – to connect to anyone…anywhere..anytime but we seem to be more sedentary than ever. Could it be our mobile world – with all its benefits – is causing some problems such as ‘text neck,’ joint/muscle pain, headaches, relational tension? I am not saying we should not be mobile but what I am concerned about is our lack of health (physically, mentally & spiritually) that can & often does accompany that mobile life. Use the mobile world – including Trinity’s new site – to enhance health not hinder it!
I got to thinking about this for two reasons: (1) well, did I mention we launched a new mobile site :)  (2) This past weekend, I taught some kiddos about Solomon and the building of the temple. I asked the kids, ‘Do you think Solomon kept the temple clean or allowed it to get dirty?” All said clean then they gave me reasons why & how. I used that to transition to talk about how our ‘bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.’ (1 Cor. 6:19-20). I asked them, “Should we keep our temples clean or allow it to get dirty?” Of course, all said clean. I asked, ‘How do we keep it clean?” They answered, “Take a shower.” That made me smile b/c that is the simple honest truth. Kids, love them! We then spoke briefly about drinking water, eating good food, exercise and thinking healthy thoughts. We ended by playing a game to get the kids moving (both physically & mentally) and I told the kids they would be wise (like Solomon) to keep their temples healthy! So, what about you? Do you wish to be wise? If so, be mobile in a mobile world!
To help you be wise & keep your temple clean, here are two helpful links: (1) A blog post about being flexible (aka: mobile) both physically & spiritually (2) Eight Healthy Habits to keep you mobile.

F.O.C.U.S

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oct2016walkAs I was working out the other day – the word focus came to my mind. As it did – I formulated an acronym for it. Not sure why I did but that is me I guess :) FOCUSFind One Cause U Support. I was sure that acronym had already been used. Guess what? It has not. But apparently if you google acronyms for the word focus – you will get 32 – yes 32 – other options.
As I have let my newly coined acronym steep in my brain, this thought occurred to me: Are we ADD in our pursuits – going from one good thing to the next without every taking the time to understand why we support what we support? Is there a common theme in each of those pursuits? Plus, I wonder how many people are supporting too many “good causes” which can dilute their time, energy and financial resources for the one cause (the one thing that deep down drives & pushes & calls) that may give them the most passion, purpose and enjoyment while at the same time benefiting others? Are we fearful of saying no to more because of what others may think of us? Do we say yes just to please other people? You see, to find one cause u support -it takes a bit of personal inventory and reflection on what brings you the most enjoyment and purpose in life. Are we willing to risk the pursuit even when others may not agree or understand?
I am currently reading a book titled, ‘Courage & Calling.’ The author, Gordon T. Smith, writes, “In John 17:4 we have the remarkable words where Jesus says to the Father, “I glorified you on Earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” I long for the same; that I am able to come to the end of my life and know before God that I had fulfilled my vocation. But we will not be able to do this unless we learn to say no. We will not have this privilege unless we come to clarity about who we are and what we are called to do. This requires focus, discipline and courage. But the results are freedom – freedom from ambition, freedom from the pressures and expectations of others, freedom to be who we are before God. It is freedom to embrace the call of God upon our lives with joy and hope.”
Let’s be honest: We all desire lives of freedom – filled with joy and hope but that does not just happen. It takes discipline and courage to be your unique-beautifully created self in a world filled with ambitions, fears and expectations. Simply, it takes…FOCUS?

Prepare my heart…

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As I was reading & writing this morning, this phrase came to my mind: ‘Prepare my heart to receive it’ – not fully sure all what that means yet but as I let it sink in – I thought about a few things:
(1) A farmer preparing a field. The farmer does not and would not expect a harvest without cultivating and planting.
(2) A team preparing for a game. The players and coach would not expect to win without preparing during practice.
(3) A band preparing for a concert. The band would not expect to hit all the right notes without hours of prep beforehand.
(4) A teacher preparing for class. The teacher cannot nor should not expect a great learning environment if he/she is scrambling to get a lesson together.
(5) An employee preparing for a presentation. The employee cannot expect to hold the attention of the employer if they ‘wing it.’
(6) A pastor preparing a sermon. The pastor should not expect a great response if he/she has not taken the time to hear from God.
(7) A spouse preparing a surprise. The spouse must pay attention to what the other’s likes/dislikes are if the surprise is to be of great value.
(8) A parent preparing to discipline. The parent may not get the result they want if all they are concerned with is behavior and neglect the heart behind the behavior. That takes much prep!
As I thought about all those scenarios and the degrees of variation that can occur within each of them – I did notice one thing. Being prepared is the key to receive what comes our way no matter what it is. If we are not prepared, how can we expect to not get anxious or worried? A friend gave me a verse: Matthew 6:34 (msg) - “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Being prepared is giving our attention to what matters.
Two other verses I found that speak to preparing the heart. (1) Ezra 7:10 – “And Ezra prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” Ezra not only prepared his heart but followed through with action. Let us be people that throws off passivity and prepares our heart to receive and gives attention to what God is doing right now! (2) Job 11:13-19 - “If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you. Then your face will brighten with innocence. You will be strong and free of fear. You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning. Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety. You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help.” Did you catch it – a prepared heart leads to walking in confidence.
How are you preparing your heart to receive all God has for you?

leave off the IF

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A friend and I were speaking about what it looks/feels like to love unconditionally. We were sharing how often we put conditions on our love – on our generosity – on your time, etc…We say something to this affect: I will love you if…I will give you to if…I can help you if… Sound familiar?
As we continued to chat – he shared with me something he read. He said that the author of this book stated (and I paraphrase), “How many people did Jesus restore their sight only for them to go and have lustful/greedy thoughts based on what they could now see? How many people did Jesus restore their shriveled hand only for them to go steal or murder? How many people did Jesus cast out demons of to restore their sanity only for them to call him crazy? How many people did Jesus restore their ability to walk only for them to walk away from him? How many people did Jesus restore their voice that later was in the crowd that yelled crucify him?” It seems Jesus did not put ‘if’ at the end of his statements…I will restore your sight if you never look away from me. I will heal your legs if you only follow me. I will restore your voice if you only share your faith. It appears that Jesus just said, “I will love you. I will heal you.” Unconditionally – unapologetically – unashamedly – love manifested itself.
Now the next question to ask: Did Jesus really not expect anything? I think he did. He often stated, ‘Sin no more.” I think he expected the person’s life to be changed. But his love/healing was not based on if it did or did not. His love was based on his heart’s motivation to share the love of the Father – costly yet free.
So, what is our love based on? Is it based on what we can get -how we benefit or is it based on our heart’s motivation to share the love we have received? Are we called to love and serve and give at the cost of our health or immediate family – of course not. Do we need to set boundaries with certain individuals – sure we do, that is wisdom but do not call it healthy boundaries when it is nothing more than, ‘I get nothing in return.” Let us evaluate our heart’s motivation when it comes to loving others and take seriously the call of 1 Tim. 1:5, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
Can we learn to leave off the IF & dare to say: I will love you. (period) I will help you. (period) I will listen to you. (period)

Replacement

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As you look around your home – do you see items that need to be replaced? I bet you do – we all do. But even though we see items that need to be replaced – we don’t do anything b/c of  two things (1) we think the cost is too high (whether that be emotionally or financially) and (2) we are comfortable (which is often synonymous with fear of change). Therefore – we hesitate and we accumulate. In the home, we accumulate items that collect dust – are often over-looked & under-used – and, if honest, create more work.
Now, look inwardly – at your heart – do you see items that need to be replaced? I bet you do – we all do. But even though we see items that need to be replaced – we don’t do anything b/c of two things (1) we think the cost is too high (we may have to give up certain friends, habits, foods, etc.. or maybe we will be viewed differently) and (2) we are comfortable (which is often synonymous with fear of change). Therefore – we hesitate and we accumulate. In the heart, we accumulate items that hinder growth – are often never dealt with – and, if honest, hurt relationships.
I am currently reading a 12-day devotional called: ‘I choose…’ On one particular day, it read, “In a world of endless ‘what ifs’ and always changing, ‘what nows’, it is easy to focus on our circumstances…then we allow potential bad news to plant seeds of fear and worry…that’s the danger of worry; it grows and takes up precious space in our hearts and minds…let’s choose to take our eyes off our wavering circumstances and instead focus on the one who never changes. God is famous for replacing…”Then it listed three things. I listed them below plus added a few of my own.
Replacement…(1) worry with peace (2) fear with trust (3) uncertainty with hope (4) bitterness with forgiveness (5) shackles with open doors (6) sadness with joy (7) indifference with compassion (8) lies with truth (9) orphaned with loved child (10) lost with found (11) blind with now can see (12) division with reconciliation (13) striving with grace (14) brokenness with restoration (15) pride with humility (16) weakness with strength (17) death with life (18) hate with love (19 fatigue with rest (20) coke (aka: pop) with water (21) sedentary with movement
Now ask yourself, what is taking up space in my heart and does it need replacing? At first glance, the replacement cost may seem high or uncomfortable but know the end result of a transformed heart, renewed identity and healed relationships is worth every effort. Let us not hesitate nor accumulate…or maybe better stated, “…do no grow weary in doing good…throw off everything that hinders and run with endurance the race marked out for you, fixing your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith…” (Gal. 6:9 & Heb. 12:1-2)

Question Mark or Exclamation Point

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“You are not a question mark.” This was said to one of my front staff (as she was slouching over the computer). She smiled (well, she actually playfully scowled) and sat up ‘super – straight.’ This prompted me to say, ‘That is right - you are not a question mark – you are an exclamation point.This exchange of words only took a few seconds but I have been thinking about it ever since with this lingering thought: What does my posture reveal about my health?
Let me explain b/c this question has both physical and spiritual aspects:
Physically – what is my posture? Do I look like a question mark? Am I hunched over? Are my shoulders rounded and my neck pushed forward? This posture typically increases pain levels. It often negatively affects the spine and surrounding muscles – it even adversely affects breathing. Or do I look more like an exclamation point! Am I upright? Is my head aligned over my shoulders? This posture often has less pain associated with it plus can enhance spinal and muscle control and help breathing.
Spiritually – what is my posture? Do I look like a question mark? Am I hunched over – cowering, shameful, anxious or fearful? This posture typically reveals identity issues (not knowing who God is or who I am). It often negatively affects relationships. Or do I look more like an exclamation point? Am I upright? Is my mind set on things above? Do I realize I am fearfully and wonderfully made? This posture often deepens and strengthens relationships.
Bottom line: Posture matters to a greater depth than we often recognize plus we fail to appreciate how closely our physical and spiritual posture mirrors one other. Today, take a moment to examine your posture (both physically and spiritually). If you notice some hunching over – truth is: we all have some to varying degrees but when noticed, are we willing to ask – how can I turn that question mark into an exclamation point. It may take effort to ‘straighten it out’ but know this – you were never meant to be a question mark; you were created to be an exclamation point!

stop, drop & roll

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When you hear the words – stop, drop and roll – what do you think about? Fire, right? Specifically someone on fire. It is what we are taught in school to do if your clothing catches on fire. Why am I mentioning this? Well, as I continue to read the book Uncommon by Tony Dungy – I was reminded of this phrase. The phrase was not specifically in the book but the chapter I section I was reading, ‘Lift your friends & others’ made me think of it. This section of the book spoke about friendship, mentoring and the power of positive influence. As I read, the picture that came to my mind was someone on fire and another person yelling at them to stop, drop and roll. But even more, they did not just yell the words but actually helped them perform the task. Yes, the person on fire got slightly burned but their life was saved.
As that picture lingered in my head, I wrote on the page I was reading the words, stop, drop and roll” with these words underneath – ‘stop, listen and care.‘ You see, all around us – every day – we see people ‘on fire’ – stressed out, burnt out, anxious, hurting, etc.. and we do nothing. We see the fire (or possibly the potential of fire) and think to ourselves, that is not our issue or if they need help, they will ask. Ever seen a person on fire – they typically are not asking for help but rather running around frantically trying to put it out. They need help, period. What if we decided to ‘stop, listen and care.’ A person may get slightly burned but it could save their marriage, their career, their health – literally their life. Now, I know you may be thinking – I cannot stop, listen and care for every person I see that I think may be ‘on fire.’ True, you cannot stop for every person but let me ask you a question: when is the last time you did stop, listen and care? And I did not say you had to give them money, let them live with you, meet with them weekly or anything else. But what I did say was that you probably could: (1) Stop: take the time to notice if someone is on fire (2) Listen: be present with the person in front of you once you stop (3) Care: figure out what you can and can not do to help.
People are burning alive. Are you (and I) willing to stop, listen and care so they can stop, drop and roll? And let’s be honest – in our social media crazy – phone always in our hands – quite distracted society – just our ability and willingness to stop and listen may be all the care we have to give.

Be Uncommon

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Currently, I am reading Tony Dungy’s book ‘Uncommon’ – you can find it here.  As I am reading, many things are standing out to me but one stood out to me today that seemed to resonate deeply. It is this: to be uncommon is to be ordinary but available. Did you catch that – ordinaryavailable…that makes you uncommon!
In the world we find ourselves today – do we not fall into the trap of common – doing what everyone else does – having the latest gadgets no matter the cost – staying ‘super-busy’ running from event to event. It seems that being stressed, tired and frustrated are the common traits of the day. To be uncommon – many think they have to climb the ladder of success – win the ‘big game’ – make lots of money – do something no one else has ever done and there is nothing wrong with any of those in and of themselves but who are you trying to be – that is the question. What if being uncommon is as simple as being yourself?
Today – more than any other time in history – we have a identity crisis – people have no idea who they are (and no – for those who are wondering – I am not speaking to the transgender debate). We have a deep-down-to-to-core misunderstanding of who we are and what we were created for. We try to be something different – something like the person we see on TV – or maybe like the popular kid – we try to be anything and everything but end up being – well, common. Our identity should be rooted and grounded in that fact that we were made uniquely, wonderfully and for a purpose. We have lost that perspective – we think we are made by accident and click around for the next viral hit hoping it gives us purpose. Can we stop? Can we stop comparing ourselves to other people and just be ourselves – our unique-wonderful-ordinary self. You see – we are all the same but what makes us uncommon is coupling our ordinary self with being available. In our perceived busy-ness we are often unavailable to lend a hand – to listen – to care or maybe worse yet – we are right in front of the person (I think of my kids) and we are unavailable b/c – dare I say it – we are staring at a electronic device. Yikes! Take a breath – pause – and realize our ordinary selves are fairly awesome – I mean, come on – there is only one uniquely-created, wonderfully-crafted, purposely-positioned you. Yes, you may be ordinary yet you matter greatly. As you let that become a foundational reality; take the time to be available. But a small word of caution – make sure in being available you do not become over-extended, stressed and as common as you were before.
Let’s sum this up: Be your unique, ordinary self — Be available – Be uncommon!