A New Default for Problem-Solving

How often do you find yourself in a situation where you’re at a loss of what to do – or how to react?

Maybe you’ve already tried 6 ways of dealing with a specific child, and have run out of the energy and even the will to come up with one more thing that could solve their current problem. It seems that whatever group of children I have in my care, there is usually at least one who, for a season, makes me truly at a loss. So if I’m not conscious about its spiritual aspect, I will let it go on for days or even weeks – trying to come up with solutions using human logic and reasoning.

I forget sometimes, that I serve a God who solves problems all the time, and his solutions often bypass logic and reasoning. He was showing me this week that the road to discovering a divine solution (revelation) is paved with relationship. It is not in his nature to always come right out and tell us what the answer is, or see us trying different things and then suddenly download a wisdom file about the issue at hand. Instead, he waits for us to make the first move. Kind of like he did with Jeremiah:  “The Lord gave him this second message… ‘ask me and I will tell you some remarkable secrets about what is going to happen here’.” (33:1-3)

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This week, my challenge was to stop making my own ways of problem-solving – my default ways. And to make going to Him for his thoughts – my new default setting.  If there is emotional or relational chaos, frustration, anxiety, confusion, academic setbacks, depression, rage or other behavioral stress, He is reminding me that I can ask him what his solution is. And then wait. Expect him to answer. This is where I can go off-track too. I can pray…and even expect him to answer me, but then forget to listen for the answer.

Listening for an answer is a discipline that takes focus and intention. It takes turning down the noise of the everyday activities…and getting quiet. Last night, I prayed for a solution for a child, and the Lord literally woke me up at 2:30 with one. Even then, as I pondered it in bed, my natural first thought was not to thank him for doing this. It was, “Why am I thinking about this in the middle of the night? I should be sleeping!” And then it hit me. “Ohhh… that’s right. I prayed for this. God, this isn’t me, it’s you. You’re answering me. Thank you.”

See, this is the point where I have been deceived so often. The enemy has convinced me that it’s just my own voice, when God Himself has spoken. And sometimes because I don’t hear Him audibly, and all I get is that whisper still and small, the enemy comes in, lies to me saying it’s just me (minimizing or discrediting the voice of God like he did to Eve) and that’s all that I need to hear, to dismiss it – forgetting that the closer I grow with the Father, the more my voice sounds like His voice. For the Word of God through Paul says (“But we have the mind of Christ [to be guided by His thoughts and purposes].” –1 Corinthians 2:16).

Why did He reply to me in the night? It’s when I’m most at peace, and when it is most quiet in my home.

I believe the more we realize we can come to Him and ask “Can you tell me your thoughts about this?”, the more of a space it creates for intimacy to grow between us and the Father. And that intimate space is perfect for kingdom-secret-telling. It is a natural space that has actually been ours to share with Him since the day we said YES to following Jesus and everything in Him became our inheritance. We just don’t realize or utilize fully the access we’ve inherited. 

Here are some scriptures I found on getting closer with God and how He can hide and reveal wonderful things to his kids:


Daniel 2:22 (NKJV) says:  “He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him.”

In John 15:15 (NIV) Jesus talks about abiding in him (referring to ongoing connection and intimacy) and says the sweetest thing: “I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”  

So could this mean that what qualifies someone as a friend of Jesus, is the passing along of revelation He’s gotten from his Father? Solutions – new names – purposes – concepts – words of wisdom and knowledge – bold and creative ideas – He feels comfortable sharing these with us. And this three-way communication between Father, Son and us – His adopted and beloved, means we’re friends. How humbling this is to accept.

Proverbs 25:2 says “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”  To me, this is referring to God – as the King of kings – and us being the lower-case kings. It’s saying he loves to bring glory to himself by keeping things from us for a season, because he knows that the experience we have in searching out his answers and finding them at just the right time – is a glorious adventure, for us!

Ephesians 1:9  “He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ”

Proverbs 4:18 “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.”  What a vision that is. We are declared righteous…and our path in life – or perhaps in a season of life – is meant to grow lighter and more clear – like a pathway illuminates with the sunrise. I love this so much.

Let’s trust that He’s never ever stumped – He knows with omniscient wisdom the solution to every single problem we face – at school, in relationships, at home – everywhere! He’s just waiting for us to switch our default setting to “ASK…LISTEN…WAIT…and TRUST”. So lean in. He will speak to you, passing on what you need from the Father – because believe it or not, he calls you His friend.

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Just Ask for the Milk

I was recently at the closest grocery store to my house – the one I go to for all the convenient things we eat or need – Grocery Outlet. I love that place…I just make sure I look at the expiration dates on dairy before I put it in my cart, but I love it there because they really do have what we need – all except “lactose-free” milk. I’ve been shopping there for years now, and every time, I just felt as if I had to make two separate trips – an additional one to Fred Meyer, JUST for our lactose-free milk. It’s so annoying! But I’ve just always done it.

Then it dawned on me to ask if it’s possible to get it there. Yeah… after almost 5 years, I thought to ask. The checker got a manager, and she walked up, and I asked her if I could ask for an item that I continue to not see -one that our family uses all the time. She turned me down right away, “Sorry, the way we work is that we get items delivered to our main warehouse from other stores, and if it’s not there, it’s just not there.” So I replied, “Oh, so it’s not possible to make a request for an item?” “Hmm… No, not really. No. Sorry.”

I normally would have just thanked her for her time and left, but that day I thought, why not let her know what it is. Not that it would change the policy or how they work, but why not. So I looked down, and then up at her again, this time, specific, “…it’s lactose-free milk. Not soy, almond, cashew, or coconut milk. Lactose-free.” She repeated it back to me and then said, I can ask our warehouse guy that does our orders to see if he can look for it next time he pulls he does one. Do you mind waiting here for a few minutes?”

“Not at all”, I said, surprised. And a few minutes later she returned.  “He said he’d add it to the order Thursday, and it can be here Friday. Homogenized or 2%?”

“2%.”

“Is $2.57 ok?”

“Yep! Thank you.”

What just happened? She went from saying they don’t “do requests for certain items” to “we can order that item for you this week”! What’s the difference?

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As I walked away, I heard her yell back to me, “2%, right?” I yelled back, “Yes. Thanks!”

And this might seem like the silliest analogy because it’s about milk of all things, but I really do feel like God was telling me as I drove home,

“Be specific when you ask for what you need of me. Even if it feels like the odds are against you. Even if you’ve not experienced it yet. Just ask. You never know.
I might say, Yes. I can do that.” This was a “wink from God” that really encouraged and empowered me.

Voicing Praise Will Shake the Faulty Foundation of Lies

One night, it was around midnight, on the other side of the planet, two guys were thrown in prison – wrongfully. But their prayer and praise and hymn singing resulted in earth and soul-shaking miracles.

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The very foundations of the prison were shaken. This was literal. Today, we do not find ourselves in literal prisons – but rather, demonic strongholds, or fortresses. These strongholds also have foundations. What would be the foundation of addiction, for example? The foundation of depression? The foundation of pride? I would venture to suggest that the foundation for most if not all demonic strongholds – that which all outward symptoms are built upon, is deceit. Lies.

When we see our prison-like circumstance as an opportunity to lift up the name of Jesus (in prayer and praise), the very foundation upon which demons have been stationed – becomes powerfully shaken! The core of their arsenal, their “Big Guns”, Lies, are dismantled. Rendered impotent.

And as a result, every time, there is a releasing. There is a spiritual opening of doors, and breaking of chains! 😳

There is a supernatural freedom that accompanies the proclamation of Truth.

But notice – the last 4 words of this passage. “Everyone’s chains were unfastened.”

Freedom did not just come to Paul and to Silas. But when they used their voices in the midst of their utter agony, sitting in their pools of blood, to give praise to Jesus, and lift up expectant prayers…everyone around them who was held captive became free! Paul and Silas’s decision to praise in the prison directly resulted in not just their own release, but the release of everyone else in that dungeon.

Our praise in duress. Our fervent, expectant prayer. Our singing – can do the same. Make it loud. Our God will shake the enemy to his core. He will open doors that were sealed and locked before. He will unfasten tight chains that were once the source of pain.

When have you encountered immediate freedom from bondage after deciding to sing, praise and pray to Jesus?

To be Remembered as Your Preschool Teacher

Sometimes I wonder how much of a difference I’m making in the lives of the preschoolers I teach. I wonder why I’m throwing so much of myself into this.

I know I’m there to demonstrate love, first, to nurture and teach them their ABC’s, bend down and coach them on how to write their first name, and give them room to explore and play like tiny civil humans. I know I do so much more than that, too. Like… give them tips on pencil-holding, nose-blowing, turn-taking, Bible verse-remembering, and germ-containing.

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What is Soul Rest?

One thing that puts a little smile on my face on any given day, is when I see a hummingbird fly over to my feeder and take a drink. I usually think the words, “Drink Up!” which makes me think of drinking in the things of the Spirit. Maybe that’s why I don’t like it empty for too long.

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Today I realized when watching one little guy sip to his heart’s content, that his wings never stopped. Did you know a hummingbird’s wings beat between 50 and 200 flaps per second depending on the direction of flight, the purpose of their flight and the surrounding air conditions? After thinking about it, only one in about four will actually stop flying when they drink at my glass feeder. They get enough food to last them a while, and they’re off. They’re fed… sustained, and then they resume their busy little schedule of whatever it is hummingbirds do.

I watched, hesitant to move, waiting for his wings to stop. But they never did.

An average hummingbird’s heart rate is more than 1,200 beats per minute (compared to the average human heart rate of 60-100 beats per minute). A hummingbird takes an average of 250 breaths in that one minute – and that is when they’re at rest. Their breathing pace naturally increases when they are in flight.

A moment later, I heard through the kitchen window glass, the hum of those wings as my tiny friend flew away and disappeared through a hole in the hedge. I squinted for a last glimpse of him – and wondered if God ever watches us like I do hummingbirds… waiting for our wings to stop. Waiting for us to actually rest while we take in what He’s left for us take in. We sip on our Sunday morning message. We “drink up” our devotional, and I wonder if it matters to Him how often we drink a little at a time, “on the go”.

There must be more value to rest than we can consciously grasp. This world values the opposite. It overwhelmingly values busyness, often equating busyness with productivity. “If I can just keep flapping my wings while getting this food, I can get more accomplished. Carve some seconds off.” “If I can just soak in some decent lyrics while I’m driving…” “If I can cook dinner while I get one more chapter read from my audiobook…”

But either I’m lazy, or I’m wise to think it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re more productive. At least in God’s eyes. So…what is “productive”, what is “accomplished” in God’s eyes?

Am I lazy, or am I wise to think that resting is crucial? Even Godly. That as upside-down as it might seem, resting in Him – in his presence – in the faithfulness of his words – without a scheduled start and finish time – is probably the most productive thing we’ll do all day – or all week.

But rest is not a given. It’s not something that is transmitted to us if we slow down, sit in front of the fire or have a screen off for long enough. I mean, doesn’t even the term “long enough” change from day to day, depending on a dozen variables? True rest, from what I’m noticing, is more of an opportunity that comes to people as a direct result of their obedience to what God is telling them to do. It’s not even non-scheduled chill time with Him. Although non-scheduled chill time with Him is some underestimated gooood stuff, that I am valuing more and more with each year.

Soul-rest is a gift from God Himself, written about in Hebrews 4. Read that whole thing – it’s only 16 verses long. And the last 3 give hope to the weary and busy of us – the weak and tempted of us. Please – keep reading till the end!

I want to be intentional this year, to stay “rested” in Him. Meaning, not just not busy or multi-tasking. Because neither one of those is wrong. But to stay rested by checking myself – and asking, “God, am I walking out what you’re asking of me in this season?” And the inverse – if I notice I’m not at rest, asking Him, “Ok, Dad… I feel stress. I know something’s off-balance. Am I not obeying? Is it as simple as not believing a promise you gave me a long time ago? What is it? Would you help me pinpoint it?”

Every single child of God has access to a special kind of rest that no one else in the world has access to, because of Christ. Soul rest. He makes it possible. And obedience makes it ours. Let’s drink up.


https://www.thespruce.com/fun-facts-about-hummingbirds-387106

 

Highest and Lowest

When worshiping tonight, I had the urge to lay down on the floor. I’ve never done that before, at home, in my kitchen. The rest of the family was out and I had a long, random Youtube video playing through my speaker – a One Thing conference worship session. After The Lord met me in a precious way as I interceded for some people, I dropped to the floor and stayed there for awhile. Not thinking of the dirt or crumbs. Arms out. I did wonder what my kids would say if they walked in. But they didn’t.

I noticed some things when I got low to the ground. I didn’t want to get up. I felt almost weighted. I just wanted to be silent, not move, and soak in the words. Or sing. Or yell them. My poor neighbors. Then be silent again and think about Him. All kinds of things about Him. I asked Him if He would give me a vision, but He didn’t. I am realizing I don’t really know how to be still for long. I don’t know how to quiet my thoughts…or let my mind go blank for Him to write on. But I’ve heard it’s possible and it sounds awesome. So I’m going to practice it. See what happens.

I remember this thought I had as I lay: It is right for me to be down here. So low.

Not like, “I’m nothin’ but a lowly worm” off-base humility kind of thought, but like, “Jesus, you are higher than all. And I cannot get physically any lower than this. How are we close tonight? How is it that I can feel you here with me like this?”

There was a rightness about it, this is difficult to explain.

The song ended. I wiped my tears with my sweater, got up a little weak, and started making myself a tasty fajita. All was well with the world.

Let Him Interrupt

His boy was finally home. The lost son had appeared around the bend. The dead – was now alive. It was celebration time! What a scandalous story of mercy, the Prodigal Son. This son as-good-as spit in his father’s face, asking for his inheritance early, left home and spent it in no time – frittering away his portion of what his father worked hard to earn. It wasn’t his remorse, actually, but his hunger pangs that drew him back home. Jesus tells the story with precision and purpose recorded in the gospel of Luke.

I am focusing today, on just a couple of moments in it, where he is sitting in shame and pig slop, considering the worst case scenario vs. the best. What to do. Do I dare return? If so, what would I have to say for myself? I’ll pick up the scripture in verse 18 of Luke 15, where the young man is thinking and planning it out:

“I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”

This is human reasoning. First admission. Confession. “I have sinned against God and against you.” And then there is an equating of that sin with a real felt unworthiness to continue as being counted a son, or heir. “I am no longer worthy of being called your son.” And his third statement is one of working to be accepted and to earn his keep at his father’s estate. He begs to be allowed to work there. “Please take me on as a hired servant”. Our equivalent of “Will Work For Food”.

It’s human nature to think you are unworthy of his goodness, his mercy, his love. Especially just after you’ve royally messed up. I urge you, let him interrupt you as you pray and reason. Let him stop you mid-sentence. Right there. And not allow you to finish your thoughts  – your “Please take me back, but only use me to serve you.” Your… “I will do all I can to please you God.” Your “I will read my Bible every day, now.” “I will volunteer at church consistently from now on.” “I will keep my promises to you.” “I will pray more.” “I will stop wasting time, money – my life.” “I will…”

What have you prayed?

Let’s pick back up in the story where he finally comes home – in his dirt and stench, with nothing left but poor reasoning and plans:

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[a]

And that is as far as he got. Because his compassion-filled father interrupted before he had the chance to say what he’d rehearsed in his mind – before getting to the big pull – what he thought would be the kicker – the deciding factor: “Let me work for you as a hired servant.”

But the good father interrupted – to speak to his servants, actually. The option, the plan his son had to work – to perform for a wage for his provision – was never even voiced, and certainly never considered:

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

May I suggest, that the Father – our Father in heaven – longs to interrupt your “I will…”‘s with his, “Quick!…” Notice in the passage above, where he interrupted. His son’s plan was:

1. confession 

2. declaration of unworthiness of son-ship 

3. proposition to earn his wage in order to eat

The father in the parable interrupts after #2. But make no mistake. It’s not because he agrees with #2 and just cuts him off before he gets to #3. He addresses the unchanging of his boy’s status as son first thing, when he says, bring the finest robe and get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. These were signs of this time, of dignity, wealth, authority and family identity. Of belonging, and the position of son, restored. And if that wasn’t implication enough, I see him (yelling excitedly over his shoulder), “this son of mine was dead and now has returned to life!” “This son of mine.” Well, that settles that. The father would never disown his son. No matter what. Nothing would change the relationship at least on the part of Dad. His love and bond were too strong. Even stronger than before!

So that leaves one element in the speech of the squanderer left unaddressed by his dad, #1, the confession of sin.

I believe that was intentional too. No need to bring up the sin and betrayal. To say, “I can’t believe you even bought prostitutes.” No need to talk about it at all. His son brought it up. That was all that needed to be said. Nothing more, nothing less on that. Perhaps because there really should be a humble admission – an honest confession.  But when that happens, it is usually evidence of a heart and mind already changed. Repentance. And that is the starting point for all renewal. All restoration. No need to take him by the arm, walk him back to the pig pen and rub his nose in the nasty pods. There was already repentance.

I know as a parent, I’ve been guilty of doing just that – bringing up the past – dragging my child through the details, even amidst an obvious broken and contrite heart. Why? Many times, I’ve even implemented some made-up punishment vaguely related to the wrong. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s my attempt at making sure they know the “depth” of wrong done so they aren’t tempted to go there again. But God is changing me. He’s softening my heart to be more like his. To reflect more mercy, more empathy. More like the father in this parable. It’s been slow, but I see some change.

If you read the rest of Luke 15, you’ll notice his son never bringing up the proposal again. Never bringing up the betrayal committed, the dishonor or the unworthy feeling he had still being considered a son. Because what his father said when he interrupted – this was the new narrative. This was truth. Identity. Significance. Purpose.

Whenever the voice of guilt turns to condemnation, or when your inner voice is declaring unworthiness of being a child of God, but only worthy to serve…

Whenever you feel like you need to perform for His approval, or work for a perceived view of your right standing, or keep doing more, more, more for His provision and sustenance, I implore you ~ repent. Change the way you think about Him.

Let Him Interrupt.