Sunflowers at South Haven Farm - Haven, KS


Do you ever feel stuck in a rut? Like you aren’t really going anywhere? I remember a time many years ago when I drove my car into my driveway and high centered myself on a snow drift. No matter how much I accelerated and no matter what else I did, I just couldn’t get the car back on solid ground where I could get traction. And sometimes in life, I feel that way too. Like all I do is spin my wheels but go nowhere. And that’s a really depressing feeling, especially for a performance-driven control freak like myself.

But on those days where I feel like I don’t make any progress or like what progress I’ve made isn’t useful,  I need to remember that living is a process. And that as long as I’m alive, I will grow closer to God every day. When I accepted Christ, I was forgiven, but it didn’t make me perfect. Perfection won’t get here until Christ comes back for us, but until then we live and we learn and get to know God through Christ.

Sunflowers at South Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Sunflowers at South Haven Farm – Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Philippians 2: 13.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

This encourages me because it reminds me that God didn’t just forgive me and leave me behind. No, He’s actively involved in my life. He’s working in me, helping me learn, interceding for me in prayer, showing me truth about Himself that I wouldn’t know without Him. But this verse takes the whole concept of being a Christian to the next level. It’s not only talking about how God works in us, but it also reveals that God is the one who energizes us.

This is the same verse in the Amplified Version.

[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

I think that’s pretty cool. I love the Amplified Version because you can really get down and see what the words mean. I mean, check out the word effectually. You can say God is at work in you over and over again, but simply putting that word effectually in there changes everything. Because even on a day when you just feel like you’re spinning your wheels, this verse means that God is still working and that He’s is still effective in His work, even when you feel like you aren’t.

And on those days when you feel too tired to do anything else, God is the one who gives you strength. Have you ever experienced that? I have. At the times when you need strength and endurance and energy, you have it when there’s every reason for you to collapse. I’ve been on mission’s trips when I should have been exhausted, but I wasn’t. My church does a massive outreach every October that requires us to be on our feet for 12 hours at a time after a full day of work. And maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot to you, but I’m a low-energy kind of person. I have a hyperactive brain, but that’s about it. But during those last two weeks in October, God does something miraculous in peoples’ lives. And in those moments where I feel exhausted, He gives me new strength and excitement.

So on this hump day in September 2012, if you follow Christ, remember that God is an active part of your life (or at least, He wants to be). He wants to work in your heart. He wants to work in you and help you get through a day. You should let Him. Because if you do, you can know that the things that He accomplishes through you will last. Maybe you won’t accomplish what you think you need to accomplish, but if you let God do what He wants, you’ll be effective either way.

Unlit lamp at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Being selfless isn’t our default setting

Good morning from Cincinnati, Ohio! I’m traveling for work this week, so who knows where I will be posting from tomorrow. But I’m running on five hours of sleep today, so if the interviews I get on film make any sense at all, it will be a miracle. So if you find typos in this, please be merciful.

I noticed something yesterday. Actually, I notice it every time I fly, but for some reason it stuck out to me yesterday more than it has in the past.

People only care about themselves.

Has anyone else picked up on that? It shocked me. Again, I know that. And I’ve seen it in many circumstances, but for some reason yesterday as I was trying to walk through the Chicago airport, this stood out to me more strongly than previous times. People paid no attention to me. They walked right in front of me, usually causing me to stop. They stopped right in front of me because there was something else they needed to do, and I nearly ran into them. And then they gave me a dirty look.

And that’s just walking around in the concourses. I’m not even talking about on the plane. People just want to get to their seats, and they don’t care how rude they have to be to do that. In six hours of traveling yesterday, I encountered one person who was thoughtful enough to offer me help, and that was another passenger onboard the flight from Chicago to Cincinnati who helped me get my carry-on bag back to the front of the plane because there was no more overhead storage. Because the rest of the passengers on the flight had crammed everything they owned into the overhead compartments so the rest of us with carry-on luggage had to check our bags.

Unlit lamp at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Unlit lamp at Glen Eyrie – Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Philippians 2:4.

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

Being selfless is part of following Christ. Christ didn’t call us to look out for number one in our lives. He has called us to put other people first, to care more about our neighbors (which is everyone around us) than we care about ourselves.

I got to thinking about how the other passengers on that plane were acting and how most of the other travelers I encountered yesterday acted. I know that we live in a self-absorbed world, but I guess it really didn’t hit me how selfishness really affects everyone. And please don’t misunderstand me because I have plenty of selfishness issues myself. But it irritates me that people seem incapable of truly trying to help others.

But at the same time, I don’t think it’s intentional. I don’t think the people who I encountered in the airports yesterday left home with the plan to be rude and inconsiderate. I just think they’re not paying attention.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our little worlds and our little lives and forget that there are six billion people in the world who also have their own little worlds and their own little lives. Life is so busy and it’s so frantic that it’s easy to forget that other people struggle too. But that’s all a part of caring more about other people than we care about ourselves.

It’s a conscious decision to put other people first. It’s a decision that you have to make every morning when you step out your door. Or even before you leave your house. Or maybe before you get out of bed in the morning. Before you talk to your spouse or to your husband or to your children. Before you talk to people at work, at church, at school.

Selflessness isn’t our default. Our default setting is to look out for number one, but that’s now how Christ called us to live. And we need the Holy Spirit’s help to live like Christ did, which means on our own we aren’t capable of living the way Christ has called us.

This concept is heavy on my mind this morning because I’m dealing with a situation that could be very awkward if not handled properly. Basically I need to communicate something to someone who isn’t really interested in listening and who is pretty much in a position of authority over me. And it’s not something I want to do. It’s something I’ve been told to do — by someone in a higher position of authority than both of us.

I have to find the balance between getting the job done and being considerate. And I don’t think I can do that without God’s help.

I love the Message, and I love the way the Message puts this verse. So I’ll end with that and ask you all to pray for me today that I can figure out how to do what needs to be done without resorting to being inconsiderate.

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. 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.