JOY is Relational. Joy is Contagious. Joy is transforming. Joy starts with a smile. Joy helps our brain grow better than any health food. Joy reduces stress. Joy has more social impact than looking sexy. Joy improves our immune system more than exercise. Joy protects marriages. Joy raises brighter, more resilient children.Read More
Welcome to our new Blog.
We hope to create a place of resources and growth. As the weeks continue there will more and more articles around the importance of our hearts to completing the calls of God on our lives.
Comment and let us know what blesses you and what you want to learn more about!
If you know me, you know that I was not raised in a "church" going home, but I bet my parents would have said on a survey that we were Christians. I was born in 1975 and by 1980 I had been taken to church by neighbors and I found something that I liked there. Seven years later and a move to another state, I had a personal encounter with the person of Jesus and my life was changed. More dramatically 4 years after that, at 16 years old, I experienced a supernatural encounter that could not be explained away by those who didn't believe that God moved that way anymore.
I followed this passion to a Christian college where I had to grapple with my faith, and the confusion that was presented to me by many well meaning people... some who were immature in their faith and others who were bitter, judgmental and controlling.
I now know that my brain was forming and those experiences and opportunities I had to form my own beliefs and not take those that were being handed to me by society, church, and family, WERE KEY.
A somewhat heart breaking statistics came out this week from the Pew Research Group and while I know that statistics can be used to say why you want, I think they they are telling us in general what we are seeing in America today. More Americans Millennials than other generations consider themselves "religiously unaffiliated". When you look at older and younger millennials it tells an even more complete story, one that is heart breaking to this Gen-Xer who lives my life with intentionality and love towards the Next Generation.
"To put it simply: Older generations of Americans are not passing along the Christian faith as effectively as their forebears." Daniel Burke, CNN
My thought is this... in my generation we had BATTLE CRYS and were encouraged to BE WORLD CHANGERS in very aggressive, combative and legislative manners. We banned things, protested and made sure we were HEARD by any means necessary.
I believe that we have exchanged LOVE for WAR and by doing so, we have been fighting the ones that Jesus wants us to love. We have given up our influence for legislation... the problem is...
YOU CAN'T LEGISLATE BELIEF
YOU CAN'T LEGISLATE MORALITY
YOU CAN'T LEGISLATE LOVE
BUT YOU CAN SHOW THESE THINGS and INFLUENCE THEM.
The truth is adults learn through relationship and our brains detect judgment in .07 seconds (faster than any words are exchanged) and somehow we lost relationship and leaned into judgment and war to tell people about Jesus.
What happened to being WITNESSES and letting the results lie in the hands of the Holy Spirit?
I have seen more Christians protesting and arguing in recent times, responding to fear and fighting for their "rights" than I have seen random acts of kindness and love.
I would argue that this is what the NEXT GENERATION is looking for... they are searching for TRUTH...
Who is going to introduce them to the person of Truth (Jn 14:6) through the commands that HE gave us?
We can't do it on our own, so he gave us the plan:
1. Love the Lord your GOD with all your hear, soul, mind and strength..
2. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Simple but not Easy.
As we have begun to follow the lead of where to take Aaron’s Hands, the door opened wide to Asia and I embarked on a one month trip to visit just one community of friends.
During the month, I have had the opportunity to meet many leaders who are involved in amazing dreams and visions. I also just got back from a trip to a more remote area, where I was privileged to meet and minister to and with some more local believers who are very much leaders. They are leading family members and others to new love and new knowledge, one relationship at a time... they are living, loving and growing. It was amazing to be around.
While with these folks, I was one of the only ones that had just about ZERO language skills and ability to communicate. My expat friends had all been investing in their language skills for literal decades. We were in a room of people literally from all over the world... who all were speaking a common language that I could not speak. This is not the first time I have found myself in this situation, in fact, I seem to be here fairly often and I love it. It made it even easier for me to hear both their hearts and the Heart of God for them, for me, and for the world.
As the time progressed, I noticed that I was hearing what sounded to me like “women” a lot. It was in fact the word for “WE” or “US”. As I listened and as things were translated for me, I began to realize and then to see through actions that this group of people are not individualistic at all... they speak and live WE.
In the US, we are very proud of our individualism and I don’t think that it is bad to be an individual, but I can’t help but notice that one of the cries of the heart that I have seen in the West is to BE KNOWN and to KNOW. To be a part of a “WE” and not just be an “I”. It was here, that the Lord spoke to me that the great lessons that could be learned here from my foreign brothers and sisters... was this idea of “we”.
This group of about 40 was multigenerational and represented several people groups in just one part of a vary vast landscape of people, many of whom don’t yet have a written language or the opportunity to read or know about the love of the Father.
These 40 people have heard the Good News and have believed... so they gather when they can to celebrate and grow and then return to their villages to live out their calling to be Salt and Light. Some were literal family members of the same household, but others were from far off, the only believers in their villages. Most of them don’t see each other that often... yet they were loving on each other, involved in joy and healing together. They didn’t need a program or a weekly cell group with someone telling them how to interact... they simply were “we’ instead of “I”.
I couldn't help but notice that we were literally in an “upper room” and I could feel like there was more and more momentum building that is going to launch these and others among the other more than 20 people groups (in that one river corridor) who have yet to hear. It was a amazing to be a small part of that, but I watched my friends from America and Canada who have given decades of their lives to learn the language and culture... I watched them minister and encourage without translation and I knew that the job to HELP THEM STAY is an important one.
It is a job that will take a “WE” mentality. “We” are the church and if “We” want to see the fulfillment of the Great Commission... then “we” need to work together.
If you would like to be a part of helping workers who have left home to be on the field. Who are raising families, learning languages and stepping into the trauma of others to tell them the GOOD NEWS and then teach them and love them to more maturity....
Please consider patterning with AARON’S HANDS on a monthly basis, because
“WE” can help “Leaders STAY where they are called” and together “WE” can do more than just TELL the world... we can make disciples and teach them all that we have been taught.
I was reading an article by Brene Brown and was struck by this statement“...in my research on shame and vulnerability, I've also learned a lot about resilience. “
She goes on to explain more of what she means..."For my book Rising Strong, I spent time with many amazing people—from Fortune 500 leaders to long-married couples—who are skilled at recovering from setbacks, and they have one common characteristic: They can recognize their own confabulations and challenge them. The good news is that we can rewrite these stories. We just have to be brave enough to reckon with our deepest emotions. "
I find it fascinating to think about our lives as our “stories” or our very own “narratives”. We all write our stories and our beliefs from our perspectives of our experiences... and one story line is built on another and another and another. As we move forward in relationships we can easily place the frame work from a pervious story on top of a current situation. I am finding that “renewing my mind” has been and continues to be a physiological experience where my brain creates new neuro-pathways. I am also finding how I have stumbled into activating different parts of my brain for a more complete re-wiring where I seriously am at peace and feel more like myself.
I believe completely that we can rewrite our stories, and I also have seen how it isn’t just about acknowledging pain and disappointment (thought that is an important first step) it is about building resilience which seems to be built on true JOY. Joy where as Jim Wilder says in his new book Joy Starts Here, "someone is glad to be with me" and " we are glad to be together". Joy is relational and it builds my brain and that maturity builds a resilience where I can return to that Joy and a place where everything is okay (Shalom) from pain... I can build resilience.
“You are what you believe “ - better stated, “ You become what you believe”..... Our stories all started in families (of some sort) and some may have been HIGH Joy environments, but many of us were in low joy families where our brains did not get the essential JOY that it needed... and even if it did, it is difficult to keep our joy in the world we live in. So what is it that gives us that RESILIENCE to get back to Joy? Jim Wilder and the Life Model Works folks have come up with several things... but it seems like the essential ingredient is an Immanuel lifestyle... where I practice the presence of God with me... because no matter what... God is ALWAYS happy to be with me. So, if I can perceive his presence and feel that, I can return to Joy and help my brain get to a place of peace and solutions and not be in a place of anxiety. This takes practice but once I recreate new pathways in my brain, I can learn to know where God is at any moment.
What is your narrative and where do you go from here?
If you want to grow in joy and resilience, can we first suggest that you take a moment right now.... and follow these four steps:
- Take a Deep Breath
- Ask the Holy Spirit to Come and Smile
- Thank God out loud for the first thing that comes to mind. Continue to practice this gratitude for 2 minutes.... even if you have to repeat things.
- With your eyes closed, ask Jesus to help you perceive his presence right there and then ask "What do I need know right now about you or about me?" Write it down what you feel, see, hear, or sense. His "voice" will sound like yours as you are perceiving the impressions and connecting with the mind and heart of God.
If you are standing at the top of a platform like this and all you can see is your way down into more fog… please listen to me and don’t go down there. I don’t care how familiar it is, what you have done, or how many times you have done it… nothing fruitful can come from willingly walking into or jumping into the pit.
Have you ever had a negative thought where you knew that you had a choice to keep thinking those terrible things about yourself or think on better things? Or maybe you are just rehearsing what others have said and you believe that you are that bad… that things are that bad… that there is no way out?
Hear me when I say, there is scripture and SCIENCE that proves that….
You are a genius.
You are amazing.
You were created by love for love and the creator of the world put a part of eternity in you.
“He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
No matter how you may feel right now or what toxic thoughts keep running through your head… you are worth living for. You really are.
Why am I saying this now?
Because Sunday night I went to the funeral of an old friend. He was 36 years old and suddenly last week, he took his own life. A life that had been literally saved multiple times. A life that he had surrendered to Jesus. However, somehow in that moment he believed that he wasn’t worth living for.
Have you felt that way? I have. In fact, I felt it three times… at 14, 16, and 19. Fortunately, I heard a still small voice when I was 19 that told me I wasn’t alone and over the years, the truth of my genius sunk in.
That is what I hope for you… that you would really know the truth and the truth would set you free.
As I stood in the funeral home, watching a slide show of pictures, I was struck by what a very cute little boy my friend was. The pictures looked similar to this random one... pictures that I bet are in the photo albums of millions of families. Christmas, school, vacation, and animal pictures, bikes… all showing a little boy growing.
A boy who was made in God’s image…. a little boy wired for love. It is often said that people only post happy pictures to Instagram, but the truth is we usually only take happy pictures. Or we take a snapshot of a happy minute in the middle of a normal hour of life. We capture that minute and we use it to build our memories. I don't know what toxic things happened to that little boy between those pictures and the young man I met… but something eroded his brain. Somehow, fear got in.
I remember my friend as a guy who had made bad choices in his life… and by the time I met him at about 19 years old he had given his life to Jesus, but he still had a lot of internal toxic thoughts about himself. I am not sure that he ever forgave himself for his choices that consistently led to him hurting those whom he loved. He carried a lot of shame. Shame says, “I am wrong, I am flawed, something is wrong with me”. The last time I saw my friend in 2003 he told me that he was never going to preach again, because every time he did ( he had a gift for speaking and for scripture memory) he found himself “falling” back into sin.
In talking with a person who had seen him last week, he said that my friend had not forgiven himself for the last set of bad choices and consistently was rehearsing what a bad guy he was in his thoughts. It may seem righteous to beat yourself up or to hold yourself hostage… you may feel like you deserve it, but the truth is that
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Dr. Caroline Leaf, a leading cognitive neuroscientist, says that “Research shows that fear, all on its own, triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormones. There are INTELLECTUAL and MEDICAL reasons to FORGIVE!”
Can I encourage you that if you are hearing a lot of negative thoughts about yourself or even a few, that you consider that both the Bible and Science have a way out for you to get you to freedom and back to love?
Dr. Leaf has a 21 day Brain Detox program that is online. It is a little investment, but you are worth it.
Will you take 7 minutes a day to literally deconstruct the damage in your brain and reconstruct it so you can be fully you?
I am going to be writing more about my thoughts on Dr. Leaf’s studies and information in future blogs, but I wanted to extend this as an encouragement and life line.
If you read this and you are not at the top of those stairs looking down, please look for someone who is. Look for someone who has believed the lie that they are too bad for redemption.
Then tell them the truth of His Love by encouraging and reminding them of WHO they really are.
They are a genius.
They are amazing.
They were created by love for love and the creator of the world put a part of eternity in them.
There was a time when I felt like my spiritual life was like a roller coaster and I wasn’t sure when it was going to be up or down. I would praise God in one moment and then feel great sadness the next. My greatest desire truly was God, but it always seemed like things got in the way… life got in the way.
I remember that one of my favorite songs that we sang in my very conservative, evangelical youth group was entitled “ As the deer pants”. The thing about it was that it reflected my heart at that time… I was declaring that the Lord was my strength, although I felt weak most of the time… and my heart was to worship Him. I just didn’t know that I had full control over whether I did or not.
You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship you
My picture was that a deer was panting for water that it couldn’t find or didn’t have. I was a biology major in college and I learned a lot about H2O. It is essential. It can be said that “ the river is the life blood of a village” and we know that every living thing needs water. So, this picture of a deer panting for water and my soul longing for water- but not being satisfied…. that was how I felt.
The thing is… this song comes from the Psalms. Psalms 42:1 and if you read the whole thing… it is a much different picture than just that of longing. It is a picture of decision and fulfillment… a picture of true soul healing.
The Psalmist sees that he is hungry for God… that he has tried to “make it happen” …
“For I used to go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God” but now they are asking their soul “Why are you in despair?” and then they tell their soul what to do “ Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, for the help of His presence”. Then after he speaks to “himself” he cries out and asks God for help. “ O, my God, my soul is in despair within me” and then he makes a decision… a THEREFORE. So… what is it there- for? He is saying because my soul is in despair… I will then “ Remember thee from the land of the Jordan, and peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
So… what happened in the land of the Jordan… the peaks Hermon… form Mount Mizar?
I think the Psalmist is probably David and he is remembering when he was saved from destruction and crossed over the Jordan river… and then remembering back to Moses and the stories of the crossing there and the defeat of two kings near the peaks of Hermon… and the small mountain.
Soul… remember His goodness… remember what God has done in the past… verses 7 and 8 are the key ones here because they bring the resolution.. the truth
Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life.
I am thankful Lord, that deep does call to the deep…. this is my prayer, this is my truth.
The sound of your waterfalls remind me that there is consistency… and no limits … to your loving kindness.
As a sophomore in college, I had many sleepless nights and was even diagnosed with an ulcer at one point because of the stress I experienced while trying to keep my academic scholarship. It is crazy to think about now, but everything was about keeping my grades up and getting into medical school. It was this stress that had me going to school every summer and even led me to a remote village of Honduras to study and volunteer on a medical mission trip.
I knew that it wouldn’t be like home, but I had no idea what to expect because I had never been to a 3rd world country, nor had I ever thought about missions. With only a few hours of generated electricity a day and sleeping under mosquito nets in a shack, it was my first opportunity to be out of my comfort zone.
In fact, I was so far out of my comfort zone that the zone stretched and soon became my comfort. Simply put, I showed up in Honduras as a 19 year old, somewhat selfish child and I left a 20 year old woman with an expanded worldview and a heart of service.Read More