Monday Mindset: Inspiration

I want to consider how this word can be a mindset. I see it in three ways.

The first thing jumping out at me about inspiration is a question: what inspires me? Do I know where to turn when I need inspiration? Is there an activity, an author, a place, a song…What gets my creative juices flowing? What charges my battery, jazzes my mood, and puts a pep in my step? Here are a few of mine:

The important thing is to know yours. Know when to reconnect with them. And, keep your eyes and heart open for inspiration to break through.

In the collage I posted above I hope there was at least one pic that gave you pause to wonder. The middle top pic was something I saw one day when I was riding my bike on a rails-to-trails path. I love to see things that make me giggle, snort, and spew my coffee. The sign was on the post to warn drivers that there was a bike path crossing. All I could see was the upside down bike. All I could think was, “now that’s some kind of trick riding.” And I must have chuckled about it for the next five miles. Seeing the quirky and unexpected inspires me.

Next as we think on inspiration I want to encourage you to think about who inspires you. Do you have their books? Can you call them on the phone? When was the last time you connected with them in some way? Don’t lose touch with your inspirers.

Finally, who will you inspire today? Whose mood will you intentionally seek to lift? Whose creativity will you encourage? You will come in contact with a multitude of people by chance–live inspiringly! But who will be on your heart or mind to reach out to? Have you ever gotten one of those out-of-the-blue calls that resulted in renewed verve and vigor? Who can you do that for today?

Be mindful, friends. Be inspirational!

Hopefully Devoted: Nevertheless Living

(Yes, it’s almost lunch. I’m sorry. All morning, though I knew it was Friday and showed up for a Friday appointment, I was convinced today was Saturday. So, while it is still Friday, here’s today’s post.)

This is the image most closely associated with Jesus prayer in the Garden of Gethsemene. Serenely praying for God’s will to be done. Asking for this bitter cup to pass him by. He acquiesces, and declares that if it cannot, he would follow God’s plan.

So when it comes to praying about God’s will we have this kind of image. It’s tranquil, full of obeience and peace.

And yet these are the words Dr. Luke uses to describe the scene:

Jesus left and made his way to the Mount of Olives, as was his custom, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived, he said to them, “Pray that you won’t give in to temptation.”  He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed. He said, “Father, if it’s your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, not my will but your will must be done.” Then a heavenly angel appeared to him and strengthened him.  He was in anguish and prayed even more earnestly. His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.  When he got up from praying, he went to the disciples. He found them asleep, overcome by grief. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation (Luke 22:39-46, CEB).”

Or Matthew’s account:

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to the disciples, “Stay here while I go and pray over there.”  When he took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, he began to feel sad and anxious. Then he said to them, “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying. Stay here and keep alert with me.” Then he went a short distance farther and fell on his face and prayed, “My Father, if it’s possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. However—not what I want but what you want.”

He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you stay alert one hour with me? Stay alert and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation. The spirit is eager, but the flesh is weak.” A second time he went away and prayed, “My Father, if it’s not possible that this cup be taken away unless I drink it, then let it be what you want.”

Again he came and found them sleeping. Their eyes were heavy with sleep. But he left them and again went and prayed the same words for the third time.  Then he came to his disciples and said to them, “Will you sleep and rest all night? Look, the time has come for the Human One to be betrayed into the hands of sinners.  Get up. Let’s go. Look, here comes my betrayer (Matthew 26:36-46, CEB).”

Neither of those pictures above seem to adequately portray the intensity of Jesus as he worked his way to surrender. I read of anguish, struggle, drops of blood.

There would be those who say nothing we could surrender would equal what Jesus gave up in this prayer. And while I agree that very few of us will be called to die an overwhelmingly painful and shame-filled death on a cross. Here’s what Jesus said:

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23, NIV).

Sit with that for a while. Denying self is surrender, is nevertheless–it’s not my will by yours be done. It is as Jesus taught his followers: “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

And there’s that part about taking up their cross DAILY and following the way that Jesus walked.

That may not be a struggle for everyone, but it might be.

What will it be for you?

Monday Mindset: Do It Anyway

Do you ever wonder why you commit to something? Maybe regret it? I confess I have, and sometimes do. Like: what was I thinking when I decided it would be a good thing to get up on Monday morning and write a blog post? But here we are.

I was surprised to learn from Snooze news, “people are most likely to hit “snooze” on Wednesday (40%), while only 28 percent are likely to do so on Monday (, 4/29/22).” I thought for sure Monday would be the number one day statistically. After a weekend off, the temptation to keep hitting the snooze would be highest as we face the dreaded return to work.

Enter today’s mindset: Do It Anyway. Most of us push through, because we have to. Even when we don’t want to get up. Even when we don’t want to pay the fine. Even when we hurt all over. Even if it really doesn’t matter. Even if no one will notice. Even if they don’t deserve it.

Each week, every day, we are called upon to do something we don’t want to. Something that is either expected or necessary. And just because it’s the right thing, that won’t guarantee we will enjoy, appreciate it, or even be appreciated. Do it anyway.

I have carried around a small picture from my “Home Interiors” party days (circa 1987). When people are hard to love, don’t deserve it, or won’t even know, do it anyway.

I found this quote on my Twitter feed. It seemed to fit our mindset (and a recent one also):“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.” – Maya Angelou

Finally, if we are to truly have a “do it anyway” mindset, we need this reminder, too: The Paradoxical Commandments. By Dr. Kent M. Keit

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.

Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

Hopefully Devoted: May Your Name Be Kept Holy

Our Heavenly Father, may your name be kept holy (Matthew 6:9).

You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God (Exodus 20:7a).

This week I’ll start a series of messages on the Lord’s Prayer. We’ll primarily consider Matthew’s version. So our first message is on, “Our Heavenly Father, may your name be kept holy.”

Meditating on this reminded me of the commandment listed above. Typically we think of “not taking the Lord’s name in vain.” Which is what then became the meme above when I put the commandment into the positive (more “do this” than “don’t do that”).

So much can be unpacked in this one verse of teaching on prayer. I would lift up to you two helpful books for your consideration/edification/education. The first book is by Kenneth E. Bailey, “Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes.” And the other is “The Greatest Prayer,” by John Dominic Crossan.

For this post, however, I just want us to consider what it means to keep God’s name holy. When you were growing up did your parents ever admonish you to not do anything that would tarnish the family name? In some cultures this is more intensely adhered to, but there is that element of family honor to some degree across the board. And the consequences varied with the intensity.

Something that is holy is set apart, or set above all else. In the commandments, God already established that the people were to have no other gods before him, and no idols. How it became more focused on our verbal use of God’s name is subject for another time. Limiting how we honor God with merely our speech, clearly misses the full understanding of “keeping God’s name holy.”

Bottom line, keeping God’s name holy is about how we live. In all that we do, are we putting God first? Do we carry the name of God well? Is the fish on the back of our car giving other drivers a clear message who our co-pilot is? Does the cross that we wear or Jesus name on our t-shirt proclaim whose we are?

As we consider the Lord’s Prayer, let’s be sure to begin by evaluating our words, thoughts and deeds.

Monday Mindset: Discipline

Discipline. Tough word for a Monday morning when we feel like we’re doing our best to crawl out of bed and make it to the bathroom, unsure of how we’ll ever make it to work–let alone through the rest of the day…or week ahead.

When I went looking for pics for today’s mindset word, the two above were among the most popular. The Olympic theme, or athletics in general were the strongest contender by sheer number. I was hoping to see more educational, piano playing, band practicing–anything that requires intentional striving for excellence.

What was totally missing included silence, study, prayer, service, meditation. You know, spiritual disciplines. Does the world even see them as disciplines?

Here’s what I know about discipline:

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).

Rather, be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined (Titus 1:8).

Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good (Deuteronomy 8:5).

As a child I shunned discipline. I didn’t try because I didn’t want to fail. But all that did was make me feel like a failure since all my friends were good at stuff because they learned the importance of hard work and achievement.

Getting older helped. I began to see some things I was good at and I’ve applied myself and created my niches. I realized I didn’t have to be good at everything and instead worked hard in certain areas.

One thing I have worked especially hard at is exercise–a discipline of my body. I have completed a time of daily exercise 976 days in a row. That seems to impress some folks and others merely dismiss it as excessive or as misdirected energy. For me, it’s neither. Exercising every day is a discipline which I find comforting and encouraging. I tend to make light when people ask why I keep going. I tell them I don’t want to start over. But even if I had to, I would.

Here’s the thing: discipline is a choice. I may not be able to control the outcome or result, I can make the choice to do it. And I’m better for it. Getting on the bike, or walking, or rowing isn’t always fun. Sometimes I’m soar or tired or busy. But I have tasted of the fruit of peace and strength. I’m not going to quit.

What disciplines to you nurture in your life? What do you gain from them?

Bubbles…just because

I love bubble gum. I love blowing bubbles. Gum bubbles…soap bubbles. Doesn’t matter.

Bubbles are whimsy…light-heartedness…laughter…child-likeness.

That’s what I wish for you today. I doubt your day will be filled that way. But watch for the “bubble moments.”

Then I dare you…nah, I triple dog dare you: catch one on your nose!

Hopefully Devoted: Walk Humbly With Your God

This Sunday we will complete our current series on the Micah Mandate, Micah 6:8, by considering the third instruction/expectation: walk humbly with your God.

One of the commentators I read suggested that the order of the instructions is key to understanding what God was requiring of the people. First, do justice: do the right thing. Seek to live equitably. Consider who/how God is and how God wants us to live.

Then, love fiercely–because that’s how we are loved by God. Yes, we are to be kind. Definitely we are to show mercy: not giving unto others what they deserve, but we are to go beyond that expectation and show God-type love.

Finally then, walk. Live. Live daily. Jesus’ very instructions to his disciples was that they were to take up their cross daily and follow him (Luke 9:23).

One of the things we’re going to do in the Sunday message is look at each of the words in the final instruction. As I meditated on the phrase, looking at each word on its own, I began to wonder where God would place the emphasis. Honestly, I’m not sure.

The word, though, that kept rising to the top for me today is the word: humbly. Pondering this, I recalled a book I got last year by Christopher A. Hutchinson entitled, “Rediscovering Humility.” (Confession: I wasn’t in a place spiritually or mentally where I could read last year. Being in a different place now, I’m ready and reading. So far: it’s spot on!)

Right from the top, Pastor Hutchinson makes it clear that humility is not something we can add to our list of qualities to strive for in our faith journey. He puts it this way: “I wish instead to advance humility as the central paradigm of the Christian life. I believe humility to be at the very heart of Christian faith and even to be the best paradigm of all proper thought regarding God, oneself, and others…It is the alpha and omega of the gospel at work in God’s people (pg. 3).”

What does he mean when he calls it the “best paradigm of all proper thought regarding God, oneself, and others”? A paradigm is the example or pattern. In this case the author is saying when you peal away all the layers and get to the heart: you’ll find (or should) humility.

Who we are and how we are to be as a people following Jesus is summed up in humility. When Jesus preached his Sermon on the Mount, he began with the beatitudes, and the very first one (blessed are the poor in spirit), points to a clear awareness of who we are and how we are to be in relationship with God. When Jesus responded to the disciples request to be taught about prayer, Jesus began by pointing again to that relationship (our Father).

Micah leads to that same place. Get it right with your brothers and sisters (do justice). Love like God (hesed, everlasting fierce love). And keep walking, living in that proper relationship with God.

The very first scripture I learned as a child was Psalm 100. Those words are the bedrock of my faith: It is He who made us, and we belong to Him (Psalm 100:3). That for me points me clearly to who God is, and my relationship with the Creator. In awe and wonder, thankfulness and humility then I live my life…I will walk humbly with God.

Monday Mindset: Kindness

Good morning! Good day. Good evening. It’s the start of another week. And I have a word and a thought for you. (And me, because I need it, too!)

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I ask: Do you have any Karens in your life?

How many immediately thought of the caricatures so prevalent in our media of out of control, obnoxious, vile, often racial, overly entitled women screaming at some innocent worker or person they feel has wronged them or that is in the wrong place? It breaks my heart that the name I associate with some of the kindest, gentlest people would be portrayed in such a derogatory manner. Let’s create a new name so no one else uses when it comes time to name their baby. Because I can’t think of a new name, and won’t take my friends’ name in vain, I’m going to use Cruella–forgive me if that’s your Aunty’s name.

As we launch into this week, there will be many Cruellas who will cross our paths. What do we do with them? How would treat them? But even more than the ravings of the entitled, there will be wounded folks. People who are grieving, hurting, lost, and alone. How will we treat them?

It’s easy to be all up in our heads. Maybe having our own issues–too many issues to care about anyone else. How do we want to be treated? I’m imagining that we all can do with a little more kindness. And if that’s what we are needing, maybe even craving, imagine how much others need and crave it, too.

Your mission for today (hear the music in the background?) is to see Jesus in every (yep, I mean all of them–even Cruella) person you encounter. Because that’s Jesus’ lesson from Matthew 25 (check it out if you don’t believe me). And when you see Jesus (because he’s there), plant a seed of kindness. It’s might take an extra minute–isn’t Jesus worth that much?

And keep these words in your heart and mind, because you will never regret being kind:

If you need a theme song for today, try this one:

Monday Mindset: Resolute

Definition: admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering

Good Monday morning to you! And greetings to those who find this later. As promised, we will bring a Monday morning post that is focused on a word given to us by a friend on Facebook that will hopefully help us to get our week started on a positive note, and help to carry us through. Today’s word was given to us by my friend, Dawn Baldwin.

I’ve given you the internet definition of our word, resolute. I’ve also supplied you with a mini collage of pictures that I found on

A quick search of Bible references led me to these verses:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7.

To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1:29

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Which of the pictures above speaks the loudest to you of being resolute? Which Bible verse?

For me it’s the snails. I’m not sure if you can tell, but they’re either at a start or finish line. Sometimes life feels like it flies by at NASCAR speed. But not always. Often it truly does move painfully s l o w. Waiting for results or returned calls. Being on hold. Trusting others to do their part. Not knowing. Not seeing. Uncertain. Doing and overdoing can make us feel bone-tired weary…but so can doing nothing.

Here’s the major lesson I learned in 2022: God’s got this. And while I live in an instant, do-it-right-now world, there are things that take time. I came back from Arizona and I was ready (or so I thought) to jump right into my next assignment. And it didn’t happen. Month after month. Opportunity after opportunity. The fullness of God’s plan did not unfold for almost the entire year.

I will not pretend that I was patient. Nope. I shed tears and cried out to God. But I also kept on. I kept on trusting. I kept on watching. I kept on serving. My commitment was unwavering. God placed a call on my life and I knew that whatever was next would be divinely orchestrated. And, I was right.

Now as you look out over what this day, this week, your life holds, I invite you to check your resolve, your commitment. Don’t grow weary in the waiting or the doing. If the path takes a turn, anticipate the adventure. If the way seems hard, remember how you’ve made it through hard times before.

Go back and look at our definition. There’s a word included that gives added meaning to our commitment. See it: admirably. You will not admire your own resolve. God will not be impressed. Nope. Our resolute living is our testimony, our legacy.

So, hang on. Keep going. The world needs to see us trusting God’s power. The wold is hungry to see how to run the race. Our commitment and faithful running of the race will not only result in our reward for finishing. It may also encourage other weary runners along the way.

For the “sacredly troubled”

This is my grandmother’s prayer book. She received it in 1914. I knew it contained prayers for Christmas so I took it from the shelf this morning, and carefully began to read.

I found this prayer attributed to Rev. J.W. Nicely, D.D. : (I’m leaving it in its original form for now)

Our gracious Lord, in the rush of many duties, we would be quiet before Thee. Above the confusion of the world and the tumult in our own hearts we would hear the sweet Christmas message of peace. Unless our hearts be at peace with Thee through the Bethlehem-Born Prince, our lives will add to the discord and darkness of the world. This day, loving Father, we travel once again to Bethlehem beautiful location, but more beautiful because of the sacred and hallowed association. We descend the stairs in to the crypt and care not for mitered priest or soldier guard, but as spiritual travelers kneel before the silver star that marks the birthplace of Him who ever guides men to kindness, peace, brotherly love and the Father’s home. Come, O Christ, and be Immanuel to our beloved church. May Thy holy love enter with new joy and vitalizing power into the hearts of all our people, especially those who are ill, or bereaved, or sacredly troubled. Omnipotent God, purify “as by fire” the hearts of kings and the rulers of armies and let the Christ of Bethlehem rule in all our social, and industrial, and international relations. May the heaven-sent message first sung by angelic voices be heard this year above the roar of battle and the tramp of marching armies so that “Peace and Good Will” may as never before be established in the hearts of men. May the abundance of our blessings in America and the richness of our Christmas joy find grateful expression in unselfish service in behalf of those whom He loves. In His Name. Amen.

I love reading written prayers. I try to imagine the context the writer/pray-er finds themselves. Why would these things be their concerns, merit lifting to the Giver of life and peace?

In this prayer the phrase, “sacredly troubled,” stopped me. In all my years of ministry and through my faith journey I had never come across it. So, I looked it up and it is so incredibly timely for our current situation.

A quick survey of social media or overheard conversations in the local coffee shop reveals an overwhelming concern, even angst, related to questions about religion, faith and practice. Much of this seems linked to a lack of integrity and hypocrisy of those who have assumed roles of leadership within the Christian Church. Spiritual abuse, misogyny, legalism, and nationalism have usurped the message of scripture and teaching of Jesus. Those with questions don’t know where to go or to whom they should take their questions —so they leave. Leave the Church. Leave their faith.

And this breaks my heart.

So to those who are struggling, and sacredly troubled, I want to extend an invitation to come back. Bring your question, your hurts, your anger, your wounds, all the things troubling you. The most precious word in all of scripture is come.

Jesus made this invitation to “all those who weary and heavy laden” Come. Come learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart.

This Christmas I invite you to come to the manger, with fresh eyes, open heart, and allow the Prince of Peace, Immanuel (God with us) to heal the hurts and restore your faith in ways that can move you forward and closer to the One who knows you best and loves you most.

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