And now for something completely different … not really

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I thought about posting a joke today, since it’s April Fool’s Day, but I’ve never been very good at playing pranks on people. And at the moment, my focus is being pulled in so many different directions, I can’t spare the creativity to come up with something clever. Ever feel like that? Like you’re so busy there’s no way you can ever get it all done? Like you have so much to do it’s more likely that you’ll drown in a sea of paperwork and computer keyboards before you finish anything?

It’s good to be busy, but being too busy is never a good idea. But how busy is too busy? What does too busy look like?

There’s no easy answer to that question because “too busy” varies from person to person. I can’t speak for you, but I can speak for me. And I’m too busy.

This always happens to me. I pile on tasks and projects because I don’t know where my limits are. Well, for the first time in my adult life, I’m taking the initiative to put my foot down. I have the authority to say enough is enough. I can decide to try something new, but that’s hard for me.

I don’t like change. I like doing things the same way they’ve always been done until it becomes blatantly obvious that the old way isn’t working anymore. And even then I’m stubborn enough that I’ll keep on keeping just for spite. But does that honor God? Does God really prefer that we keep plugging away at an important calling with ineffective tools?

I started Always Peachy Devotionals in January 2011. Since that day I have written a blog post every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings. Granted, I’ve missed some. But for the most part, I was pretty consistent.

I’ve stubbornly held on to the rationale that I didn’t need to change anything about the devotional posts. But I didn’t ask God what He wanted me to do. For months, I’ve heard His whisper at the back of my mind telling me that I could reduce the number of posts I was doing, but I tuned Him out. Surely I’d heard Him wrong. Surely He couldn’t actually want me to cut down on my devotional posts. The devotional posts are usually the only thing I write that people actually read, right? (No, of course not, but it’s easy to think that way when you’re already feeling discouraged.)

Recently my prayer has been for God to close my eyes and my heart and open my ears. When I see something that needs to be done, I jump ahead to accomplish it. When I feel strong emotions of any sort, I jump ahead of God to fix problems on my own. When I hear God, most of the time, He doesn’t want me to jump at all.

So I asked God to help me listen to His voice, and I heard Him.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]So I asked God to help me listen to His voice, and I heard Him. [/su_pullquote]

Starting next week, the Always Peachy devotionals will happen three times a week, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays will be reserved for other blogging topics. But God is really pressing a new concept into my heart.

My blog posts are often compartmentalized. God and following Jesus and trusting His Word are often concepts that stay in my devotional posts and don’t always make it to my other blog post topics. Well, that’s changing too. Jesus is integral in every moment of my life. So why shouldn’t He be integral in every blog post I write too?

I don’t like new things at first. They’re hard to get used to. It’s like a new pair of shoes that pinch your toes until you’ve broken them in a bit. But the truth is, God loves news things. He loves doing new things in our lives.

Consider what He says in Isaiah 43:18-19, “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

God’s people had to obey the Old Covenant. Yes, the Old Covenant was good, and it provided a way for people to follow God before Jesus came to earth. But the Old Covenant wasn’t complete. The Old Covenant, or the old agreement that God had made with man, didn’t take away sins. It just put them on credit, so to speak.

With the New Covenant, the better agreement, the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our sins were forgiven. Completely. Irreversibly.

God likes new things. God likes new ways of doing things. He’s in the business of renewal, so why wouldn’t He be interested in doing something differently if it works better than the old way?

So don’t be afraid to try something new today. Open your ears to hear God’s voice. You might be surprised what He asks you to do. Maybe it’s not the way you’ve always done it. Maybe it’s not the way your parents or grandparents did it. But if it doesn’t contradict God’s Word, and if it has the potential to help others, do it.

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Ministry team assembled from the US and Guatemala to reach the Kekchi, Peten, Guatemala

How paintballing taught me why teams matter

I don’t remember how old I was when I went paintballing for the first time. I think I was in high school. If you’ve never been paintballing, you should go. Just for the experience. It’s one of those ridiculous things people do–running around shooting each other with air-powered paint pellets. I thought it would be like a water gun fight, but it isn’t. Oh, no, it’s so much better.

But it hurts. Not going to lie.

I think we were supposed to be on teams, but I’ve never been really good at competing in a group. I’m not coordinated at all, and I usually have to move at my own pace, which is significantly slower than other people. So I don’t like being on a team with others because I slow them down, and that makes me feel guilty. It always has. So I prefer to be on my own.

But in paintballing…. well, let’s just say it’s better to have a team mate. Because when you end up charging at someone, your partner can take them out … just not before they shoot you three times point blank in the chest …. I won’t mention names (*cough-cough-Jimmy-Dinsmore-cough-cough*).

It’s better not to charge into battle without someone who’s got your back. You’ve seen in all those movies where the hero tells his sidekick to cover him? It’s like that. Somebody to help you out in the heat of battle so you can accomplish more than you could alone.

And maybe the paintballing metaphor is a little much, but it still gets the point across in my brain. If I’d had backup that day, sure I still would have gotten shot (three times point blank in the chest, Jimmy Dinsmore) but I would have had somebody behind me to pick up where I left off.

Today’s verses are Numbers 11:16-17.

Ministry team assembled from the US and Guatemala to reach the Kekchi, Peten, Guatemala

Ministry team assembled from the US and Guatemala to reach the Kekchi, Peten, Guatemala

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather before me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel. Bring them to the Tabernacle to stand there with you. I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.”

Moses is regarded as one of the greatest leaders in the history of the world, even by secular scholars. But even he wasn’t above his fair share of whining. Just being honest. And Numbers 11 is one of those chapters where Moses has had it with Children of Israel, and because they won’t quit whining, Moses takes it up with God.

And God, instead of smiting Moses for complaining, gives him this advice. God tells him to gather a certain number of people who are recognized and respected, and God would appoint them as rulers over the Children of Israel along with Moses, so Moses wouldn’t have to do it all by himself.

Aren’t you glad God understands our need for teams, even if we don’t? Honestly, I think Moses probably could have elected those 70 elders without God’s permission. He didn’t need God to tell him that it was allowed. He just wasn’t used to working as part of a team, I’m sure. Or maybe he wasn’t used to delegating. Or maybe he had my problem and didn’t want to slow others down because he couldn’t move as fast as they wanted.

In any case, Moses couldn’t manage the entirety of the Israelite nation by himself, and that’s why God told him to get a team together. And that principle is still good to remember today. Or do you think you can handle your life by yourself?

God has put some amazing people in our lives, and they’d probably be thrilled to death if you asked them for help. Don’t believe Satan’s lies that you have to do everything alone. That’s not true, and that’s not what God intended for you.

So what great challenge are you facing right now? How about next week? Or next month? Maybe even next year, if you’re planned out that far in advance. What do you have to do that is too much for you?

Yes, God is on your side. He’ll never leave your or forsake you. He’ll give you supernatural strength to be able to do things beyond your own capacity. But He’s also put people in your path to be on your team, people who love you, people who want to help you, people will skills that you don’t have. Don’t forget about them. Don’t cut them out. Don’t deny them the blessing of being able to be a part of what God is doing in your life.

Being tough is fine. Being stupid about it? That’s something else entirely.

White rose in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Don’t give up on God

I’m ridiculous. Do you ever feel that way? Like even when you have it all together, you’ll never have it all together?

I know the truth. I know what God says. I know what’s right according to the Bible. And I really, honestly believe it with all my heart. But I still want my own way.

I want to do things my way. I want to live the way I want to live. I want to use my resources the way I want to use them. And I can get downright stubborn about it.

I cling to my childish understanding of the world and my own life, and I refuse to let go. Maybe it’s comforting because I can wrap my head around it. Maybe that’s why I don’t want to let go, because if I can control it, I feel better. But it’s a lie. I don’t control anything.

White rose in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

White rose in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Jeremiah 10:23.

I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.
    We are not able to plan our own course.

The prophet Jeremiah understood it. He grasped the concept that God is in control. But what I find ironic is that Jeremiah understood this at one of the darkest times in Israel’s history.

Nothing was going right for Israel at this moment. They were under siege. They were miserable. And Jeremiah himself wasn’t doing so hot either. Imagine being God’s messenger at a time when your country is being chastised for its behavior.

Yeah. Lots of messenger shooting going on.

But even in the midst of all that, Jeremiah could step back and accept the truth. We’re not in control. We never have been. We never will be. We’re not big enough to control our lives, and if you think you can,  just wait a while and something will happen that’s too big for you to handle. And when life spins out of control that wildly, you’ll wish you knew someone big enough to handle it for you.

It’s hard to trust God sometimes, especially when it feels like He’s taken something away from us. But let’s be honest here. Who is God anyway? In the good times, we don’t have trouble believing in Him or believing that He knows what He’s doing. It’s only in the bad times because our trust is shaken.

We have this idea that if we do what God tells us to do we won’t ever have to face troubles in life, and that’s just not true. Even the best, most righteous Christ-follower in the world has to go through trials and struggles and days that just don’t seem fair. But just because what we’re going through sucks right now doesn’t make God any less who He is. Just because we’ve hit a rough spot in life doesn’t change who God is. If it did, He wouldn’t be God.

So whatever trouble you’re facing today? Whatever heartache or frustration or sadness or darkness, don’t give up on God just because you can’t see the end of the road. If you can’t see the end, it’s just one more reason why you need hold on to Him tighter.

Because you can’t control your life. You can’t plan your life. Our lives don’t even belong to us. They belong to Him.

So doesn’t it make sense to let Him have His way?

Very present and well-proved

I am a stubborn person. I like doing things myself, and I don’t ever want to ask for help, even if I need it. I don’t think this was ever more aptly demonstrated than my trip to Guatemala, most notably the situation with the horse.

It’s not that I’m afraid of horses per se; I just haven’t had much experience with them. Looking back now, I should have started out on the horse instead of trying to walk the whole way to that first village, but I really thought I could make it. I just didn’t expect to dehydrate so quickly. And then, of course, once I figured out that I was in trouble, the rational part of my brain was telling me that I needed to ask for help. But the rest of me–the stronger, louder, obstinate side of me–told me I would just cause more trouble for everyone if I wimped out. So I didn’t say anything and kept going. And that was pretty stupid. I’m really glad the Colonel was along to keep me honest. =) As he stated, I was going to cause more trouble if I passed out and he had to carry me out . . .

I’m not good at asking for help. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the middle of the jungle running out of water or if I’m at work drowning in projects. I don’t like to ask for help because I have this issue of not wanting people to think I’m weak. It’s all pride. I know that, and I’m working on it.

Being independent is good in some cases, but no one is self-sufficient except God. And that’s a lesson I think I have to relearn every day.

God wants to help us. That’s what I have to remind myself. God wants to be involved in my life, actively working alongside me and helping me through difficult situations. But God is a gentleman and won’t force me to accept His help. He wants me to ask.

The verse today is Psalm 46:1.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.

That’s the New Living Translation, but I also want to list what the Amplified Version says too.

1GOD IS our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.

I love that. God’s not just always read to help us . . . . His help is “very present and well-proved” help. How many people can you say are willing to offer help like that? Most of the time, the help people offer is according to their availability or their schedules. But not God. If we ask Him for help, He will help us.

He wants to help us. But we pitiful humans are so proud that we don’t ask, at least we don’t ask as much as we should. I know I don’t.

So instead of battling through life alone, I’m trying to do better about recognizing when I need God’s help . . . . which is every moment of every day. It’s not about being weak. It’s about realizing the power that is available to me through Christ. There’s no situation I can’t handle without His help. And there’s nothing I can’t accomplish without God working through me.

If I try to get through life on my own, I’m not going to make it. Phsycially, emotionally, financially–I’ll be a wreck. But if I let God lead me, and if I trust Him to help me make the right choices, I can’t go wrong.

I’ve asked for God’s help today. I will probably have to ask for God’s help a dozen more times before the day is over. Mainly, I’m probably just going to have to ask Him to help me ask Him for help . . . if that makes any sense. But I have no doubt that He will actually give me help.

That’s what He does.

He’s my refuge. He’s my strength. He’s my help. My very present and well-proved help. And I have access to Him freely because He’s my Father. And trying to get through life on my own is childish and prideful, especially when He has offered over and over again to help me.

We just have to ask.