“Spring–Renewal”

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Spring cleaning is a challenge, especially when we do not take the time, right? Too often we are too busy and spring cleaning becomes summer catch up or worse, nothing is done at all….

Perhaps this is indicative of our spiritual lives, too. We do not slow down—even a little— to enter into a spiritual renewal. The rush of the holiday season seems to ripple well passed January into February. And as we get to March, stopping to take a deep breath is near impossible when we can’t even catch our breath.

The solution? I’m trying to deliberately take time to pause, grab a text from the Word, and simple ruminate over it. Then let the text grab me. Maybe even seeing Psalm 49:3 come to fruition in my life:

My mouth will speak wisdom, And the meditation of my heart will be understanding.
[Psalm 49:3 NASB95]

Will you join me, then, in pausing for a spiritual spring renewal?

Peace,

Coach Mike

“Beyond Twitterpation”

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I have often wondered how “love” would be if we were like more like Thumper (from Bambi) and merely “twitterpated”. Is this the love that will stick with me in the hard times? Is this the love that will go out of my way to be inconvenienced? Is our zeitgeist so shallow or is there a more profound love out there?

Now I know the Lord Jesus not only gave us Love but demonstrated Love. I know that He encouraged His disciples to Love one another as He had loved them. I know that we struggle with this because of big and small issues, but what shouts louder than any shouting match or warms a cold shoulder is His Love. His Love Sacrifices but doesn’t complain; His Love Initiates but doesn’t impose; His Love Listens and doesn’t assume; His Love Cares but doesn’t possess. …

And I know that His “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Co 13:4–7 New Living Translation). Why? Because He is Love!

Will you join me, then, sharing this Love with each other and others?

Peace,

Coach Mike

“The ‘New’ on My Terms”

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If you’re like me, you like new things. In fact, we may go out and “comfort buy” to get something new in our lives to feel “good.” But of late I’ve been noticing that I seem to only like “new” when it is on my terms; when I can control the purchase, situation or event. When “the new” shows up unannounced or spontaneous, well, I appear to be less receptive, and sadly, sometimes even critical. …

As the Lord is transforming me to understand that He works all for the Good—even the unplanned, unannounced “new”—I need to receive these “new” as well. I do not need to feel out of control because He is in control, nor do I need to feel put out, left out or taken advantage of because He is allowing this new into my life for “the Good” which He may not have revealed to me yet.

How about you? Are you more comfortable with “the new”—even from the Lord—it is only on your terms?

“Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? — (Isaiah 43:19a NASB95)

Peace,

Coach Mike

“Too Busy to Behold?”

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And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.     10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people—(Luke 2:9-10 NASB95, emphasis added)

The angels implored the shepherds to “Behold” the Good News they were announcing. To “behold” something is to “look, pay attention, and listen.” The shepherds stopped what they were doing, even though it was very important, and gave the angels their full attention—and listened.

During this sometimes-self-imposed busy season, Perhaps you can join me in three simple actives: (1) pausing or maybe even stopping what we are doing; (2) pay attention to the Lord’s whispering to us; and (3) listen to the Good News He has promised. During a time when good news seems so rare, let us remember that Jesus is the Good News that brings great joy to all, especially those who Love Him.

Peace,

Coach for Life Mike

Too Busy to Be Thankful

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An episode in our Lord’s life:

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11–19 ESV)

I’m not sure if they were too busy, per se, but they were clearly too something to not return and thank the Lord.  I don’t mind being a foreigner, especially to this planet, if I were one of those who “returned and give praise to God!” How about you?

Join me in pausing and thanking our Heavenly Father for all the wonderful healings/gifts/blessings He has so graciously showered on us.

Coach Mike

Do Not be Distracted

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Another lesson that the Lord exposed to me on my sabbatical was: “Do not be distracted”.  It was consolidated at a friend’s church as he was speaking from Nehemiah.

Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.” But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer. (Nehemiah 6:2–4 NIV84)

Many people will distract us. Some will do this intentionally, but the majority will innocently “interrupt” us. But I have found the greater battle is internal. I get so distracted between a good “task,” “project, or “activity” and the best. I must pause and seek the Lord’s face prior to engaging in any activity. A simple, “Lord, what do You want me to do now?” prayer should be sufficient for most times, but the larger projects, do you think these would require a more deliberate special seeking of the Lord’s face? Join me on this journey to stay focused and  “not be distracted”.

Peace,

Coach Mike

“Perfection vs. Perfectionist”

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After my sabbatical few months back, I have given myself permission to take more thought time than I had before. And permission to understand that this time is not a waste of time. This was a big hurdle. I have so much I can be doing, but fortunately the Lord clearly grants permission for such times, right? Pondering His Word. Meditating in His Presence.

So the other day during one of these Pondering His Word Moments, the phrase hit me: “Jesus was Perfection, but He wasn’t a perfectionist.” Intriguingly, this staggered me. Being a recovering perfectionist and being one who wants to be like Jesus, the gulf between the two was so glaring. Why hadn’t I seen this before? And worse, I pondered all that Jesus did pleased the Father (cf John 8:29)! And He was never uptight, anxious, frantic that “it” needed to be just so,…. Then I started to laugh and picture Jesus  being this frantic, etc. perfectionist …. It didn’t fit. 

If He were, people wouldn’t want to be around Him  because He would be so demanding. His quality standards would be well beyond what anyone could achieve.  …

And in the juxtaposition of all these thoughts, I could see the Lord Jesus smiling at me: “Yes, Michael, I am perfection, but I need not fret about it, demand it of myself or of others. I just do what comes natural to Me.” The thought was so calming and reassuring.

As I let the Lord Jesus’ Life flow through me, He is perfection in me; even in my mistakes. (And this is another topic for another discussion!) He accomplishes through me what I could never accomplish. And so gracious, so peaceful. No demands upon myself or overly burdensome expectations on others. Just Calm.

What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with being OCD or a perfectionist? Share a few moments of your journey with us.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.(Colossians 2:9–10 NIV84)

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. (Colossians 2:9–10 NIV84)

“Receiving the New”

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The New! It is often unknown, unfamiliar, and hard to integrate into our daily lives. Kind of like getting a new device with the buttons in a different place…, or no buttons at all.

How do you incorporate the New? Is it welcomed? Or do you hesitate?

What if the Lord is doing something new in your life? Do we let the past tarnish our view of the New? Or do we, by faith, receive the New?

Let us trust the Lord has good “things” in store for us. Let us yield to the Holy Spirit to re-tool our minds so we can receive the New with the Joy and Gratitude–as we should. Join me in embracing and celebrating the New.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD (Jeremiah 29:11–14a NIV84)

Praying Blessings of Peace & Joy in throughout this New Year,

Coach Mike

“O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree”

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Have you ever noticed that the Christmas Tree is much different than the Easter “Tree”?  One is an evergreen, symbolizing Life, the other an instrument of torture, symbolizing death. And yet the one leads to the other. Two trees, two symbols, but One Lord and One Life—Life eternal and abundant because of what was done on the one Tree that gives us gifts under the other tree.

As you take time this season to ponder these two trees, perhaps the one will be a pleasant reminder of the other, and the gifts that are exchange from under the one will remind you of the Gift that was exchanged for you on the other?

Join me this December in being truly Merry People who sincerely wish others a Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New Year.

13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:13–15 NIV2011)

A Blessed and Merry Christmas & a Peace-filled New Year,

Coach Mike

Miracle of Miracles

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July 25 was the one year anniversary of my wife’s severe stroke. We have not made this too public for various reasons, but I thought I would do a blog on this in honor of my wife’s miracle. Actually, miracle of miracles. As you can see in the before and after photos, there is literally no difference. The Lord completely removed any disfiguration, deficits or deficiencies.

Allow me to enumerate the other miracles that took place on that day. Please forgive me for numbering these or even labeling them as miracles as if some how I can quantify them or even grasp all of them let alone understand them. Again, I merely “stand in awe,” but here goes….

Reporting on this one year anniversary, allow me to say that in the Lord’s mercy, I was the recipient of a series of miracles. Even a year later, I am still in awe of them. The “largest” one is that I still have my wife (of 40 years). This in in light of how severe the stroke was. It measured 20 on a 24 scale. This means either death or permanent damage with noticeable markers.

But today (as you can see from the “After” picture), she has been given a clean bill of health. To repeat, there are no markers or deficiencies at all. In fact, one doctor reluctantly said, “This is a miracle.”

Now to enumerate these miracles:

  1. The first miracle is that I was sent home to get some clothes for her stay in the hospital. As I was home gather her things, I get a call: “Your wife has just had a neurological episode. You need to come quickly,” the nurse clinically, but compassionately reported. “I will be there in 10.” (I actually got there in 8!) But when I got there, she was already “recovering” from the stroke. I bless the Lord that I did not see her in the stroke state. I’m told her entire right side went slough—deformed and shriveled…. I bless the Lord I do not have to have this image floating in my head. Miracle #1.
  2. Miracle #2: By the Time they had brought her back from the CT scan (about 20-30 mins. later), she was alert, and though she couldn’t talk, she was able to follow us with her eyes. I’m told she went to a 4 on this 24 scale around this time.
  3. Miracle #3: They couldn’t get in touch with any neuro-doctors—even the ones on call. This is a miracle because they would have attempted a high-risk invasive procedure. And I believe the Lord spared us this risk, since the blood clot was high in her left carotid arteries. (Include in this miracle is that they couldn’t get Skype to work with an off-site neurosurgeon.)
  4. Miracle #4: They still wanted to send us to Denver for more specialized care. The plane was there, fueled and ready to go. Because of the weather, they disregarded any helicopter transportation.
  5. Miracle #5: All the family and friend that were in her room praying for her were each using their own individual giftedness. It was beautiful to see the unity of the Body of Christ and the individual uniqueness of her members.
  6. Miracle #6Someone happened to have a rather large cash gift they slipped in my hands as we were leaving to go to the airplane. Bless Jesus. It helped cover much.
  7. Miracle #7: Kathy is approaching 2 on the 24 scale as she is loaded onto the plane.
  8. Miracle #8: The flight was supposed to go around a thunderstorm, and take about 1 hour to 1 hour & 15 minutes depending on the storm. But as we approached Denver, I witnessed the clouds part, and we were able to make a straight line to Denver. Oh, and in 45 minutes! (Included in this miracle is we even beat the local ambulance to the airport.)
  9. Miracle #9: I am told that the neuro-Team at Swedish Medical Center is one of the best, if not thebest, in the nation. They were ready for us as we arrived. Kathy was able to talk a little bit, but still could not say complete sentences…, and some funny time telling, too….
  10. Miracle #10: The next morning when the Doctors were making their rounds, Kathy was up with the O.T. Nurse walking over objects on the floor and then actively engaging in the discussion regarding her episode and recovery.
  11. Miracle #11: Our Oldest daughter and her husband started a prayer chain throughout their contacts. Our Middle Daughter and her husband saw us off from Grand Junciton, CO with prayer, hugs and Love—and the local prayer chain. And our Youngest Daughter was able to get off work, find a flight and fly in to Denver straightaway. (Included in this miracle is our youngest’s boss, let her go in the midst of a major project; she was able to stay with us for quite some time to assist in the recovery when we returned home.)
  12. Miracle #12: We were able to stay with our middle daughter’s in-laws while in Denver. We left with the close on our backs, and the Lord even provided a brand new toothbrush, besides the clothes I was able to borrow.
  13. Miracle #13: The insurance covered everything!
  14. Miracle #14: The prayers and support of all in Denver and those at home, family, and friends welcoming us with joyful hugs of praise.

I am sure there are many more miracles, many of which I am still not aware, but there are those private, quiet miracles that we cherish deep in our hearts.

Thank you, for allowing me to share this brief episode in my journey with Jesus, and joining us in prayers and praise.

Peace,
Coach Mike