Paradigm Shift

After reading Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds, our class was inspired to think more creatively on how we present data and information. We all agreed that a healthy balance of facts and creativity needed to exist. If you are too flashy without emphasizing facts, would you be taken seriously? If you were all about facts, data, and pie charts with no creativity, would your audience run from your presentation or fall asleep?

A recent conference at work on Trauma Informed Care was a healthy balance of delivering sensitive information with facts and evidence along with media and creativity. A video they used reminded us that everyone is going through something we may not understand or know about. Behaviors meet a need. If I’m angry, bitter, or sad perhaps I need something and don’t have the words to convey my need, so I respond, react, and do things that seem rude.

It reminds me of the habit from Stephen Covey’s book, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

As leaders we can often jump to conclusions, judge a situation through our lens, and lack the mercy that is needed in the moment. In our Leadership Presence book, reaching out with empathy was stressed. It’s not that we excuse the behavior, or ignore it, but we listen, understand, and hopefully empower the person to get their needs met within the boundaries set forth within the organization or family.

It’s a paradigm shift in our minds and hearts. Take time to view the video below.

Sing over us Lord

Look past your moment.  Take your focus away from your immediate surroundings. I had a hyper sensitive day in which a paradigm shift occurred in the reality that existed around me.  I couldn’t speak.  I could only observe.

At the hospital, a commercial came on from the PBS station that highlighted famous leaders, actors, and athletes in their glory moment.  The famous moments that we love seeing and they often give us goose bumps.  But looking past the glory of the moment, I realized it was the very thing that brought their downfall, their pain, or their death.   Marilyn Monroe’s beauty and fame never filled her longing desire for acceptance and love.

Leaving the hospital, I found myself downtown for dinner, and as we parked the car in a very safe and heavy populated area two prostitutes emerged from the ally.  Among young people walking around in prom dresses and families eating at local restaurants and celebrating birthdays, these two women were entangled in a web of destruction and pain.

Today, ice skating with my Bible study group was thrilling.  The children’s laughter, the cold air in your lungs, the joy of little children.  In the midst of all the joy was a father out of control angry with his little girl– a sweet little girl about 8 years old.  She was catching the wrath and name calling of the very man who should be calling her princess and correcting her behaviors in love.  Not everyone grows up with a father that loves them.

I envisioned Jesus who wept over Jerusalem…

“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it” Luke 19:41-44

Jesus weeps over those in bondage, the world’s ideals of love and beauty, and the child who is abused.

Lord be with us in our depravity.  Comfort us in our pain.  Rescue those who are far from Your love.  Bring peace to the tormented mind.  Lift the countenance of the rejected.  Bring Joy to those grieving.  Instill hope to the hopeless.  Extend grace and mercy to the sinner.  Fill the proud with sincere humility.  Place words of exhortation in the gossip’s mind and mouth.  Bring understanding to the confused.  Extend healing to those in bondage. Provide a way out for the captured.  Sing over us Lord……

Sing your song of Amazing Grace….

“The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17

Joy, Joy, Joy, tears of Joy

 Yesterday, my ten-year old and I listened to a TED talk of Billy Graham.  He was 80 years old.  The year was 1998.  Imagine–Mr. Graham is 96 years old!  From his talk to techies in Silicone Valley, he shared a quote from the greatest mathematician and scientist who greatly influenced the beginnings of computer technology.

It is the heart which perceives God and not the reason. That is what faith is: God perceived by the heart, not by the reason.

Blaise Pascal

The quote warmed my soul because it was what I was trying to convey in my post yesterday of not being able to comprehend the love of Christ!  As I dug further, I did not realize that John Piper was greatly influenced by Pascal’s joy in Christ.  Here is an excerpt from John Piper’s blog Desiring God:

Blaise Pascal was a French mathematical genius who was born June 19, 1623. After running from God until he was 31 years old, on November 23, 1654 at 10:30 pm, Pascal met God and was profoundly and unshakably converted to Jesus Christ. He wrote it down on a piece of parchment and sewed into his coat where it was found after his death eight years later. It said,

Year of grace 1654, Monday 23 November, feast of St. Clement . . . from about half past ten at night to about half an hour after midnight, FIRE. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of philosophers and scholars. Certitude, heartfelt joy, peace. God of Jesus Christ. God of Jesus Christ. “My God and your God.” . . . Joy, Joy, Joy, tears of joy. . . Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ. May I never be separated from him.

…..I suspected this was true. But I always feared that it was sin. That wanting to be happy was a moral defect. That self-denial meant renouncing joy, not renouncing lesser joys for greater joys.

Thank you, Blaise Pascal

But then God conspired with these writers to force me to reread the Bible. To give it a chance to have its true say. And what I found there concerning joy changed me forever. I have been trying to understand it and live it and teach it ever since. It’s not new. It’s been there for thousands of years.

I thank God today for Pascal’s part in my awakening. (John Piper)

I pray you can take the time to listen to Mr. Graham.  You will be lifted and encouraged!

Rescued

How far would Jesus go to rescue someone?  There is no one like Jesus. No social services program, church, or rehab program can do what Jesus can do in the life of an individual.

Jesus came near the land of the Gerasenes–wild, filled with tombs, and feeding areas for swine.  No respectable Jewish man or woman would enter this area.  A “lunatic” lived there–an outcast, naked, ashamed, and possessed. Jesus traveled to the depths of despair and shame to find him–to provide an encounter with truth and perfect love.  Amazingly, Jesus was rejected by those who should have recognized Him as Messiah, but this lunatic immediately recognized and acknowledged the power of Jesus–“What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!”  All this lunatic knew was shame and shame brings this belief that we should be punished.  Everyone else has given up on me, judged me, and left me to my disease–“I’m unworthy!”

But, Jesus…..

Jesus reaches out, finds us, seeks us on our worst day and says, “I love you.” We can run for years.  We can shrink back and even shake our fist at God, but He never withholds His love and mercy. He said to us that he would turn ashes into beauty.  Why do we hold onto the ashes while He is creating beauty?  Release the ashes and fall into His arms.

I don’t think even Mother Teresa could understand the depths of this love and mercy–no one can.  We are incapable of understanding the depths of His love.  For, if we were to understand it, the mystery that holds us in those darkest moments that has no words, no music, no understanding, we would create a “human understanding” of His love.  It’s incomprehensible.  It’s the kind of love that removes you from your circumstance and lifts you high on eagle’s wings!  It’s the kind of love that will last for eternity and never falter, go away, or be absent because you’ve messed up.  It’s the love that says, “You are beautiful.  I created you.  I think you are amazing!”  A love that rises above all loss, evil, despair, and conquers death!

Jesus, thank you for the cross, Your love, and grace.  Thank you for going to dark places with Your presence and reaching out to save….

Psalm 107: 19 – 21

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
He sent out his word and healed them;
    he rescued them from the grave.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

Based on Lent readings by Sue Mink

Born from ABOVE!

Did you know that “born again” doesn’t just mean that one has accepted Jesus as Savior.

“Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born anew, it’s not possible to see God’s kingdom.” John 3:3

Remember when Jesus explained to Nicodemus how to be “born again”?

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

The word anothen, translated “again” also means “from above.”  We are re-created and transformed by His love and power from above–it’s nothing we do here on earth, or man created!  And, until we grasp this beautiful, holy exchange we will not see Jesus for who He truly is–our Savior!

Believe on Him today and believe that it is from above!  Glory!  You have an earthly birthday in which you came into this world into your earthly family.  The second birth comes from receiving the love of Jesus and asking Him to be your Savior–born from above for eternity!

(Studied from Sue Mink’s Lent devotional)

Voice of Truth

I face a huge challenge next week in which I face one of my greatest fears–public humiliation.  It has the potential to get controversial.  I have this problem of struggling and overcoming inferiority.  I know its roots, and I know what God says about this lie; yet, the enemy knows my achilles–my insecurities and tries to use them against me.  I woke up this morning with a running tape in my mind of thoughts and comments of “less than”.  It’s almost unbelievable what the enemy will bring up from your past and remind you of your inadequacies.

Today is my sweet little girl’s birthday.  I prayed, spent time with Jesus, moved forward with the birthday breakfast and turned worship music on.  After breakfast, it was just Valentina and I at the table.  I began to pick up and she was deep in thought.  She had this far away look.  I asked her, “What are you thinking about sweet Nina?”

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“Did you know that all of our life problems are in the Bible, mom?”

“Yes, I said, It seems that many people struggle with the same things we struggle with today, and God has an answer.”

“Like, David and Goliath.  David had to face Goliath the mean giant of a man and defeated him with a small stone”, said Valentina.

I Samuel 17:  “The Lord doesn’t save by using a sword or a spear. And everyone who is here will know it. The battle belongs to the Lord. He will hand all of you over to us.”

“Oh, Nina, Yes!  God is speaking to me through you! I face a Goliath next week, and I must trust that God will help me face it, conquer it, and be victorious!”

I reminded her that in all our problems, like David’s, we must trust first, show up, and believe that He will provide.  We don’t see the ending–we trust that God will provide the answers along the journey.

“Valentina–do you have a Goliath in your life?”  “No, I was just thinking about it.”

Thank you Jesus for speaking to me through my precious child.

I will trust in You, Lord, the battle of insecurity, fear, anxiety–all of these will be destroyed in the name of Jesus!

Sometimes we like to project our situation or circumstance on a system and/or a person, but after really thinking about what David faced–it really wasn’t the person of Goliath, but the voices of the enemy that kept others from conquering this tyrant.  David heard the voice of truth and believed in a God who fights our battles for us. Remove your eyes off the person and look deep within yourself–your response, and the lies you are believing. Replace with the VOICE OF TRUTH!

I pray you can listen to this beautiful song from Casting Crowns about listening to the Voice of Truth!

Spirit lead me to where my trust is without borders.  Worship!  This song will take you to His throne of mercy and grace!