Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “Give Me Some Space” #CatchingFoxes

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and a workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

Today we wrapped up our series with our Kfirst community that focused on how God wants to connect and use our emotions.  (Click here for yesterday’s notes.)

Our final message shifted our focus from how we deal with our own emotions to who we can help those in emotional trials.  So often, when we are not comfortable with what others were feeling, we either try to “fix” their feelings or move them out of what they’re feeling. And, often, we wind up damaging or stifling the emotions. Emotions need oxygen to breath so that they can develop. They need to be in position to grow and mature; not suppressed so they never reach their potential.

Our inspiration and instruction came from Matthew 26 when Jesus went into Gethsemane to pray. Matthew 26:38, Jesus says he felt, “very sorrowful, even to death.” In the midst of the most difficult time of his life, Jesus asks his closes companions for some “space.” He needed, not for others to FIX him or SAVE him, but for them to BE with him.  He needed a place with others and with God to process and deal with the flood of feelings he was experiencing.

This is a calling for all of us. We are to help provide others with the space to help them develop what is going on below the surface. And we can provide emotional space in three ways:

  1. Be present in the moment. 
    • You need to pause “Am I really present with this person right now?” The disciples missed their opportunity by focusing on their needs (sleep) and forgetting why they were asked to go deeper into the garden with Jesus.
    • We can do it by:
      • Listening.
      • Walking alongside without judgement and making people feel inadequate because of their emotions.
      • Let go of the need to control what others are feeling and we trust the Holy Spirit to be at work.
  2. Relinquish distractions.
    1. I’ve got to be willing to lay down the things that distract so that the we can dedicate the attention needed.
  3. Release your agenda.
    • You let go of the words you have and the plans for “fixing” others. Plans fade because the space has been filled w/seeing, listening, and being with them.

This week, would you let the Holy Spirit guide you this week to provide “space” for someone? Would you look for an opportunity to give the “space” to someone? It’s a sacred privilege to have someone share their story with you. And if you get the opportunity, allow God to use you, not to speak per se, but to listen and be a healing presence.

Love you all.  Join us this Sunday as we kick off our annual marriage series “From This Day Forward.”

BTW: Here’s a song for your week!

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “Redemptive Anger” #CatchingFoxes

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and a workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

A couple of weeks ago, we kicked off a series with our Kfirst community that focuses on how God wants to connect and use our emotions.  (Click here for yesterday’s notes.)

Our bodies have a physiological reactions to anger and it causes us to “feel” overwhelmed as if we cannot control our anger. But in the face of the physical reactions, we can control our responses. And it can be cone through a redemptive approach to anger.

Yesterday, we did a “flyover” of biblical anger. We did our best to help bring understanding that first, God has anger, and second, we do too. And if we can approach it the way God does, it has potential to change the world around us. From looking at the Old Testament, we can see that God’s anger always had a redemptive purpose for His people. His end-game was to bring about a positive, constructive outcome that would leave His people in a better place. Even in the New Testament, Jesus’ anger was to position the people in the blessing of God and not chase them away from it.

This is how we can approach anger. We don’t run from it; we harness it to have a redemptive outcome to it by being intentionally reasonable.

So we digested Philippians 4:5-9 and helped give a strategic approach to anger.

  1. Redemptive Thinking (v. 6-8)
    • Every thought is a train. And before I board it, I want to know if it’s heading in a direction that I want to be. If we expect a positive direction to your anger, you cannot be constantly fill your mind with the negative. Take command of your thinking.
  2. Redemptive Venting (v. 6)
    • Take all of the stuff driving your anger and turn it into a prayer; funnel it into praise. Let God give you the strength you need and the peace you crave. Let Him give you the meaning you’re after and He’ll help you to deal with the person you’re angry with.
  3. Redemptive Investigation (v. 9)
    • Get a better picture of the story than you currently possess. I love what author Lysa TerKeurst says, “There’s the story, then there’s the story we tell ourselves.” Instead of allowing your anger to “fill in the blanks” of your story, get the right information to make the proper decisions.
  4. Redemptive Response (v. 5, 9)
    • Anger was designed to be a visitor, not a resident.
    • My option #1 – Confront the matter.
      • You can be reasonable in love; give the truth in grace.
      • Your approach will stem from your view of God
    • My option #2 – Overlook the matter
      • Biblical Forbearance: Turning it over to God and refusing to be held captive to the wrong

Look at these four points and ask yourself, “What do I need to work on for me to have a redemptive response through my anger. Ask the Lord for help in not just revealing where you are being challenges but to help you grow through it.

Love you all.  This Sunday, we’ll wrap up “Chasing Foxes.”

BTW: Here’s a song for your week!

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “Hostile Takeover” #CatchingFoxes

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and a workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

A couple of weeks ago, we kicked off a series with our Kfirst community that focuses on how God wants to connect and use our emotions.  (Click here for yesterday’s notes.

Yesterday, we talked about getting control of our emotions. And our biblical example was Moses. This amazing charismatic leader was also a very emotional leader. But emotions are meant to be managed; they were not meant to manage us. Proverbs 25:28 says,

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

Simply said, in that culture, walls were vital to a cities preservation and success. Without walls, any thief or enemy can come in and out doing what they want and or taking what they desire. And thus, we come to Moses in Numbers 20. It was here he lost his dream due to unchecked emotions. Unfortunately, this has been the story of so many people who have lost out on relationships and opportunities due to a lack of self-control with emotions.

So we looked at Moses and gathered some keys to having a “Hostile Takeover” of what is happening inside of us.

  1. Crack down on repeat offenders.
    • Anger was no stranger to Moses. If he would have taken care of his anger as a young man, it may not have been such a stronghold. So if something is emerging as a repeating, unhealthy pattern, you must deal with it before it consumes you.
  2. Excel at talking to yourself.
    • We excel at listening to what our thoughts are telling us. It seems most people are terrible at “speaking to themselves.” I think it’s a safe assumption that Moses broke under the weight of the interior dialogue taking place.  His wife has just died and now the complaints of a nation are upon him.
    • Self-talk is a more than a conversation with yourself. It’s speaking the truth of God’s Word and your identity in Christ to the emotional state you are dealing with. Instead of listening to what your internal state says, speak to it life and freedom.
  3. Turn on your updates. 
    • At 118 years old, Moses has given himself permission to not change. But growth is mandatory in our walks with Christ. Like a smart phone, we need to “turn on the updates” or submit our emotions to the Holy Spirit to tweak and grow what He wants to transform in our lives.
  4. Be quick to recover. 
    • Moses never recovered from his failure in Numbers 20. He saw the promised land but could not enter. Too many have emotionally become casualties of failure or seduced by success. I find people either keep falling where they failed or they want to go back to some place of success (glory days). But according to 2 Corinthians 3:18, God doesn’t bring you to a place to leave you. He wants to lead you from glory to glory.

When Jesus died upon the cross, he acquired controlling interest in your life. As Paul told the church in Corinth, “you were bought with a price.” We don’t have to be a casualty of unchecked emotions. In Christ, we have the right and authority to have a “Hostile Takeover” of any emotion in your life.

This week, do an inventory check. Wake up every day doing this HOSTILE TAKEOVER by saying, 

  • I serve Him and not myself.
  • I honor Him and not myself.
  • I please Him and not my old nature.

Love you all.  This Sunday, we’ll continue “Chasing Foxes” as we ask God to refine our vision about these divine gifts of our feelings.

BTW: Here’s a song for your week!

Navigating the Seasons of the Soul – Summer: The Season of Abundance

On Sunday, we continued our series “Catching Foxes” with our Kfirst community. Our focus has been on what the Word of God says about our emotions. This past Sunday, we looked at the seasons that our emotions can go through.  And we’re taking days this week to specifically focus on each one of the seasons. (Click here for Sunday’s notes.)

Check out previous “season” posts:

Summer: THE SEASON OF Abundance

Is there any day better than the last day of school? I remember counting down till that final day where I turned in my books, cleaned out my locker, and practically ran home ready to start the summer.

Michiganders love summer like no other people on the planet. I’m talking Sherman’s ice cream, South Haven, backpacking, naps in a hammock. We’ve been cooped up all winter (and part of spring) and we are ready to explode into activities. There seems to be a bit less pressure and more opportunities to enjoy and explore.

“Summer” is  the season of abundance and it’s no surprise that the primary emotion of summer is joy.

But I’ve noticed something about this season: It’s the only one we can miss. I’ve heard people say, “Summer got away from me” or “I can’t believe summer is almost over.” Then it’s Labor Day and we are realizing that we missed out on maximizing the season we had been given. It seems we treat no other season like we do this one. So there is a caution about “Summer.” For if we do not embrace it, we can miss out, not the initial experience but the work that God has meant to do in it.

There are two ingredients to the summer season of our emotions:

Celebration
Celebration is an intentional focus on the goodness of God. If you read your bible (specifically the Old Testament) you’ll see a thread of celebration. Rather than thinking that God just stands there in a sober, melancholy demeanor and tolerates our celebration, recognize that He initiates or commands the party. Take some time to study the festivals of the Old Testament. You’ll discover that the celebrations were designed and initiated by God.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Proverbs 17:22

There is a time to mourn, but there is also a time to dance. There’s a time to weep but there’s a time to laugh. Celebration is God’s plan for filling us with the healing presence of joy while helping us to not take ourselves too seriously. Engage in activities you love with people you love. Engage in those things that help fill your soul with joy.  I believe that those of us who know Jesus should be known as the most alive, free, fun, and joyful people on the planet

Gratitude
We have the propensity to be prideful. And can get in seasons of abundance and assume some (if not all) of the credit instead of running to the One who is the source of every good gift and give him thanks. A general sense of thankfulness helps elevate our lives above pride and to see our lives as recipients of God’s magnificent grace. 

Not only should we be filled with a general gratitude, but we should be filled with specific gratitude. I go back to a simple hymn I grew up on that says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” Where a general sense of gratitude can set the atmosphere of your life, specific is strategic as it targets areas of pride and fear so that God is recognized in EVERY area as our provider. Look for specific things to recognize and give thanks for.

  • I want to give thanks I woke up this morning (If I’m still breathing, God’s not done with me).
  • Thank you I can get out of bed and start a new day.
  • Thank you for the people’s faces I get to see today (name them).
  • Thank you for the little things I find pleasure in (name them.
  • Thank you for opportunities I’m given every day (name them).
  • Thank you for leadership (name them)

It’s hard to be a jerk if you are thankful.

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.Psalm 65:11

If you are in the season of abundance (Summer), make sure you explore and enjoy what God has brought you into. Don’t miss anything. God wants to use this season to deposit into you and, through you, into others.

 

If you are in this season, remember our final lessons from Sunday.

  1. You were meant to process your season, not be possessed by it. 
  2. Don’t get so consumed with the next season you missed the work of your present season.
  3. Unnecessary pain results from remaining in a season long after it changed.
  4. Your season is not your story; it is a chapter in His beautiful story for your life.

Love you all. See you Sunday as we continue our series “Catching Foxes.” 

Navigating the Seasons of the Soul – Spring: The Season of New Beginnings

On Sunday, we continued our series “Catching Foxes” with our Kfirst community. Our focus has been on what the Word of God says about our emotions. This past Sunday, we looked at the seasons that our emotions can go through.  And we’re taking days this week to specifically focus on each one of the seasons. (Click here for Sunday’s notes.)

Check out previous “season” posts:

SPRING: THE SEASON OF NEW BEGINNINGS

Spring is exhilarating. After a long winter, there’s nothing like the joy of spring. And it’s the same with the seasons of the soul.

Where “Winter” is a season of loss; Spring is a time of new beginnings. It’s the sensation of getting a second chance, the start of something new.  It may be:

  • A new relationship
  • A new position
  • A new development in your marriage
  • A new opportunity.

And these “new” moments cause tremendous movements to our emotions. It’s for this reason, the two primary emotions of “Spring” is excitement and shock.

Spring is that place where you say things like “I think this is the right move” then, all of a sudden, “What was I thinking?”

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to “Spring.” And for this fickle and wonderful season, I’ve discovered two challenges:

  1. Embracing the “new.”
    • The sense of “unfamiliar” has detoured so many people of the new things God is beginning. It’s so easy to look back (and even want to go back) to a previous place or season because it’s “what I know.” The children of Egypt, in a season of spring, faced a Promised Land. But, that “unfamiliar” feeling made them look at a land of plenty but long for a place of suffering. It was what they knew best but it wasn’t God’s best. It was miserable, but it was comfortable/known.
  2. Develop forward progress.
    • Most of us in the newness of the season of spring, face moments of “Two steps forward, three steps back.” April in Michigan is that way. We’ll have a week of 60-70 degrees. The sun will shine, yard work gets done, bikes come out, and people are happy. Then all of a sudden, the temperature plummets and snowflakes begin to fall. There’s that mass social media panic to wonder if the new season will ever unfold. Whatever you see God developing, be adamant about pushing forward. You’ll face challenge and you might even experience some temporary failure heading into “new territory.” But fight the urge to give up on what God has brought you to.

My challenge for “Spring”: Boldly step into the new.

God is in the business of renewing you and me.  1 Corinthians 5:17 says,

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

He is the God of new beginnings. And I find that each place God brings me to is not my last “new beginning.” He has plans (plural) and purposes (Jeremiah 29:11). His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). Are there some new beginnings in your lives these days? If so, don’t allow Satan to quench your enthusiasm. He wants to send you back to winter. He desires you to live in the season of sadness. ; The Devil wants you to be stuck in a place unwilling or unable to move forward.   Let the Holy Spirit drown out the deceiving voices and empower you to hold onto hope. And hope, no matter how small the dose, can lead you to extraordinary new beginnings.

If you are in the season of new beginnings (Spring), be encouraged knowing this: God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6).

If you are in this season, remember our final lessons from Sunday.

  1. You were meant to process your season, not be possessed by it. 
  2. Don’t get so consumed with the next season you missed the work of your present season.
  3. Unnecessary pain results from remaining in a season long after it changed.
  4. Your season is not your story; it is a chapter in His beautiful story for your life.

Love you all. Tomorrow we wrap up by looking at “Summer,” the season of abundance.

Navigating the Seasons of the Soul – Winter: The Season of Loss

On Sunday, we continued our series “Catching Foxes” with our Kfirst community. Our focus has been on what the Word of God says about our emotions. This past Sunday, we looked at the seasons that our emotions can go through.  And we’re taking days this week to specifically focus on each one of the seasons. (Click here for Sunday’s notes.)

Check out yesterday’s post: Fall: The Season of Transition

Winter: THE SEASON OF Loss

This, in my opinion, the hardest of the seasons.

When we flow out of the fall, winter is there waiting. Both awesome and unavoidable, winter though challenging, is a necessary season.  For a farmer, the winter invites a time where the climate:

  • Eliminates damaging insects and pathogens.
  • Temporarily halts growth so that the plants’ energy is held in reserve so that it can build up for new growth.

So it is with us. This very challenging emotional season hits us hard. And for a those going through “Winter,” two primary emotions, which for years, has had far too much shame attached to them:

Sadness and Anger.

If you look over the course of your life, you can find times of loss.  Maybe you have to reach way back in your memory. Maybe it’s what you’re living in right now. Loss can come from a variety of sources.

  • Loss of jobs.
  • A fracture of a relationship.
  • A report from a doctor.
  • News about a child.
  • [fill in the blank with your loss]

When you are in “winter,” it’s hard to imagine that the clouds will ever break. The season of loss, can be simply overwhelming. Why? I think of it like a Michigan winter. You have that “feeling” where you are staring at the recent blizzard wondering IF the snow will every melt away and IF the sun will come out again. This emotional place can be as such; will this season every go away and will hope shine again.

I love the words of Jesus in John 16:33,

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

Jesus warned us we’d face problems. It’s a part of our lives and an inevitable experience. The the question is not IF we will face them but HOW we will face them.

Pursue God in loss
Some people, through the season of winter, feel very far from God. They may sense the primary emotions of sadness and/or anger, but they don’t sense His presence. That sensation (or lack thereof) part of the darkness they experience. But others, when facing winter, see it as a chance draw closer to God than more than ever before. Why? They choose to face this “Winter” time to engage with God and pray more fervently. The sense of desperation in the sadness and anger causes them to press into God’s presence for help and hope.

Work Your Roots
I know the feelings of “will this season ever end.” I live in Michigan. It’s what we all say around February. But it’s here where God does a deep work in the roots of our lives. In his book, “Four seasons of Marriage” Gary Chapman says, “We realized through winter we rediscovered our roots, affirmed our faith and grew in character.” The “Winter” is our place of stripping away what we thought was necessary and get to what we have been built with. Our roots are what are being tested and are what carries us into the next season.

If you find yourself in “Winter,” keep running toward God. Run into the arms of the One who will never “leave you or forsake you.” God isn’t distracted or offended by your emotions; God wants to be with you in them. Your emotions of sadness and anger are both normal and expressible to God. Don’t ignore them; invite Him into them.

Be of good cheer. Spring will come. The clouds will part and new beginnings will be here.

 “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalms 56:8 NLT

If you are in the season of loss (Winter), be at peace knowing this: God hasn’t forgotten about you even though you may feel that way. He “keeps track” of you and cares for you as He notices every tear you shed. If you are in this season, remember our final lessons from Sunday.

  1. You were meant to process your season, not be possessed by it. 
  2. Don’t get so consumed with the next season you missed the work of your present season.
  3. Unnecessary pain results from remaining in a season long after it changed.
  4. Your season is not your story; it is a chapter in His beautiful story for your life.

Love you all. Tomorrow we look at “Spring,” the season of new beginnings.

 

Navigating the Seasons of the Soul – Fall: The Season of Transition

This week, we are not doing our normal “kickstart blog,” we’re doing something a bit different. Instead of using the blog as a recap of Sunday, we’ll use it an extension of the message from Sunday. So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

We continued our series”Catching Foxes” with our Kfirst community. Our focus has been on what the Word of God says about our emotions. This past Sunday, we looked at the seasons that our emotions can go through.  And we’re taking days this week to specifically focus on each one of the seasons.

(Click here for yesterday’s notes.)

Fall: The Season of Transition

This is my personal favorite; I love September-November. From the blazing colors of the trees, football, ciders mills, and football. But as we start to rake leaves and put on our hoodies and jackets, we realize that change is coming.

It seems these moments of change/transition happen when, it seems, everything in our lives is going kind of smooth and stable. When the “norm” is altered, we find ourselves feeling shaken up. I mean, if we’ll all admit it, we are creatures of habit. We like a flow that we are used to; a pattern of life we can control and/or predict. Yet transition is something we all face.

Generally, there are two types of occasions that can trigger a “Season of Transition”:

  1. Developmental Transitions – These natural changes we ALL go through (adolescence , early adulthood, midlife, empty nest, etc)
  2. Life Events (Moving, job change, health challenge, adopting a child, etc)

Change happens, but “transition” is the deeper work. William Bridges says,

Transition is the natural process to which someone dies to a new life.”

You and I cannot do well in a transition unless we recognize that something is ENDING and we are willing to LET IT GO because of the new life/journey ahead. That time of “letting go” can be both stressful and excruciating as we step out of our comfort zones into a new season of life. It’s for this reason that the primary emotions of this season is fear/worry/anxiety.

Bridges goes onto say, “(in transition) we are disoriented because our identity is being challenged.” In the “Fall” season, people might say something like, “I don’t even know who I am right now.” The “Fall” challenges the basic sense of who we are. Why? Because we’re afraid it will be the end of us.

In the season of fall, you need to ask yourself some KEY QUESTIONS:

  1. What is it time for me to let go of?
    • Maybe God is wanting to transition you to marital health, but you need to let go of some selfishness in order for your marriage to transition.
    • Perhaps God has been wanted you to get rest, and for that transition, you need to let go of some busyness.
    • Could it be that God wants to close a season at a job or a ministry in order to prepare you for a new season?
  2. What is over now?
    • Name it. Write it down. Be specific. We will never be able to embrace new beginnings if we don’t loosen our grip on what is done. I think of Isaiah 43:19 where Israel couldn’t perceive the “new season” because they were so focused upon the situation they had been in.
  3. What am I learning?
    • I need to constantly learn and relearn that my identity isn’t about a job, a role, or title. My identity is grounded in THIS: I am a treasured child of the Most High God. Life will shift and change, but that will never change.
  4. Who am I trusting?
    • Everyone on the planet goes through change. But the differences with followers of Jesus is that we can choose to trust God while we are IN transition. The very essence of our faith is to trust God, not just when things are stable, but when the winds of change are blowing.

The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your lifeThe Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go (transitions), both now and forever.Psalm 121:5-8

If you are in the season of transition (Fall), be at peace knowing this: God knows you’re in transition and He will “stand beside you” in it and “watch(es) over your life” during it.  If you are in this season, remember our final lessons from Sunday.

  1. You were meant to process your season, not be possessed by it. 
  2. Don’t get so consumed with the next season you missed the work of your present season.
  3. Unnecessary pain results from remaining in a season long after it changed.
  4. Your season is not your story; it is a chapter in His beautiful story for your life.

Love you all. Tomorrow we look at “Winter,” the season of loss.