enemies to intimacy

fear & making decisions

I read this morning about a crazy guy that met Jesus & how his life changed.  In Mark 5, there’s a man who is demon possessed & is severely tormented.  No one can chain or control him.  He lives in a graveyard, screams & runs around cutting himself – totally nuts.  When Jesus comes to the area where this man lives, the crazy guy runs up to Jesus & the demons start talking to Jesus & being obnoxious.  The short end of the story is that Jesus kicks out the demons & the man gets his sanity back.  Clearly, this story is pretty interesting, but here’s one of the things that really gets my attention:

It says in Mark 5:15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

Because of their fear, the people in the village asked Jesus to leave their area when they saw the crazy man turned sane.  If we’re not careful, we will allow fear to influence us to make crazy decisions, like the people in this village.  They asked Jesus to leave their area after he had completely healed the town’s madman.  If Jesus could heal the crazy man of the town, could He not also heal others?  And yet the town kept their fear but rejected the Healer.  I hope that when I am forced to make decisions between fear & Jesus that I pick Jesus every time.

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Posted by Sarah in enemies to intimacy, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, spiritual, 0 comments

stress relief

Ok, here’s some transparency – I’m kind of stressed at this moment.  There are alot of moving parts in my life right now & it seems that whatever topic that I focus on leaves me stressed.  I know that there are seasons of pressure times in life & we all get to learn to manage through those seasons with hopefully few, if any, casualties. 

Nevertheless, the last few days & evenings have had some intensely stressful moments, but here’s also some encouragement:  this morning in my quiet time, as I’m doing my normal Bible reading routine, the verses I read in the NT were about Jesus calming the storm (when He had been sleeping while everyone else was freaking out).  Furthermore, I read Ps 94:19, “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.”  Finally, the verses I’m memorizing in John start with Jesus saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled – you believe in God, believe also in Me.” 

So here’s my take aways that you might also find useful:

  • I can have peace in my heart as I fellowship with Jesus regardless of the storms occuring around me
  • When I bring Jesus into the storms of my life, He brings peace
  • There are times that Jesus wants to work through me to bring peace to stormy situations – blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God (Matt 5)

May the peace of Jesus guard your heart and mind today, my friend

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Posted by Sarah in enemies to intimacy, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, spiritual, 3 comments

the right fight

Fighting is an interesting concept that gets practiced in many different ways:

  • the guy who flips me off because I cut in front of his car
  • fighting in Afghan, Iraq, Libya & other areas
  • fighting with our spouse over little things portending a bigger issue
  • fighting with a friend over a misunderstanding or something that is wrong

There are lots of ways of fighting, some of which are better than others.  When I was first married, Reece & I would have some normal disagreement, but my way of handling the conflict was to just shut down & disengage (aka – silent treatment).  Reece didn’t really put up with that technique, saying that there was nothing constructive accomplished w my silence – it didn’t help resolve the conflict, make any progress toward a common goal or do anything constructive.  Quickly, I realized that he was right.  Since then, Reece & I can definately have some fights & heated conversations, but we don’t clam up & get silent.  We also don’t take shots at each other’s person – we may not like the other’s behavior, but we don’t attack each directly.  Consequently, while we’ve had some pretty sturdy conflicts, we also have developed some really good honesty & intimacy over the years.

I think the idea of working through a conflict with God is even more important than when we work through a conflict w our spouse.  I don’t think that God is into a passive intimacy with us, where we just roll over & play dead.  Think about some of the great men in the Bible:  Job, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Peter, . . . .  These men all had conflicts with God – good honest “fights” where they disgreed with God, wrestled with Him, challenged His integrity, confronted the discrepencies in the world with God’s character & sometimes just flat out debated with God.  If we genuinely want a close relationship with God, there will be times when we will disagree with Him & I don’t think this makes Him nervous.  Engaging with God whether through intense love or frustration & even anger is better than indifference & passivity.  There is such a thing as a “right fight”.

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, family, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, spiritual, 1 comment

hold on a second!!

Ok, revelation time: when I was growing up (and sadly enough in some recent history), I had some very “sassy” moments, to put it mildly. Unfortunately, I remember some EXTREMELY bad moments when I’ve been very disrespectful. With a little bit of maturity now (with lots of room to continue growing), I look back on those moments with regret and embarrassment. I’ve even had an extremely successful pastor gently remind me of a very arrogant conversation I had with him when I was a teenager. Thankfully, he was very gracious and understanding when he reminded me of this conversation, but I was nevertheless very embarrassed by my words and behavior.

Bringing these memories into my present behavior, I’ve come to the conclusion that respect is never out of bounds and disrespect is always out of bounds. In my generation, we have often made the mistake of presupposing a person had to “earn” our respect before we would give it. I’ve often noticed now that if I will treat people with respect, whether they deserve it or not, they usually behave in a respectful way. For those individuals who remain disrespectful even when I treat them with honor, I figure that their behavior is their responsibility and not mine. At the end of the day, I want to make sure that I’m honoring God. So if I can treat my fellow human with honor, it’s creating a lifestyle of honor to please my heavenly Father.

I have never regretted treating someone with respect, but I’m always disappointed in myself when I am disrespectful. Honor begets honor – Prov 3:35 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, family, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, spiritual, 0 comments

fellowship with Jesus

I’m pretty turned on with Jesus – He makes my heart palpitate & captivates my attention.  I love to have fellowship with Him, be around Him, recognize His work, listen for His whispers, think about His preferences . . . .  I’m simply & happily absorbed by Him.

But here’s the fun part of my relationship with Jesus – it takes place not only in my quiet & private prayer time with Him, but I’m experiencing & aware of Him, more and more, throughout my day.  This is interesting because my days have such tremendous diversity.  On any given day, I might be studying for a sermon, cooking some experimental dish, trying to settle a conflict (among my kids, in a misunderstanding at work, . . . . ), trying to develop my video editing skills, talking about helping starving babies in Angola, getting on a plane to go minister somewhere, getting makeup put on for TV taping, wearing an orange safety vest for my crossing guard fun, . . . . . . .  What I’m finding to be so magnificent is that I get to experience & interact with Jesus in all of these contexts & even more.  I used to get frustrated about my relationship with Jesus because it seemed very limited & one dimensional – almost like I couldn’t seem to export Him from my prayer time into the daily living.

Of late, I haven’t had this struggle.  I’m sensing Jesus throughout my days & the fellowship with Him is rich beyond description.  Please check out Psalms 25 & consider reading it slowly, with some reflection 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in enemies to intimacy, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, saving moses, spiritual, 2 comments

call of the wild, call of the deep

Its interesting to take a step away & look “objectively” at our desires.  I think that we often get so wrapped up in achieving our desires that we neglect to consider what is motivating the desires that we have.  Sometimes, you can tell alot about a person by the things they like & desire.  For example, when I look at myself lately, I find that I’m very interested in deeper conversations & things that feel shallow to me at the present are very unappealing.  In fact, I had a very superficial & short conversation today w someone that I’ve known for a really long time.  When I got off the phone, almost the entire conversation felt like a slap in the face, I guess because I had been hoping for a discussion at greater depths.

So my take away is this: I think my desire for greater depths could possibly be a beckoning from God to move away from the shallows & into the depths w Him.  Maybe the call of the wild seems wild to my soul because it is God beckoning to the depths in my heart to embark on deeper adventures with Him.  I think that we need to be careful not to mistranslate our desires into shallow soul pursuits that distract us from genuinely spiritual destinations.

Probably one of my favorite verses in the Bible is Ps 42:7 – deep calls to deep & Your waves have swept over me (sarah paraphrase).

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, living, spiritual, 0 comments

Some random thoughts

I’ve had alot of random thoughts & questions running through my brain lately.  Maybe you could give me some feedback:

  • strength can be be a misperception.  I find that I’m probably in my best frame of mind when I am most dependent on Jesus
  • Christ must always be the mediator not only between God & me, but also between me & others
  • when I need direction on various projects & I don’t have alot of time to chase rabbit trails, what’s the best approach to chosing a path?
  • I want my kids to desire more of God’s Word – are there more things I should be doing to help cultivate this desire in their hearts?
  • community & solitude each have their pitfalls
  • Saving Moses – how can we make this more effective?
  • family is an environment where the Holy Spirit most effectively works to change me
  • it seems to me that the only long-term way to transform my insecurities is with the help of the Holy Spirit

Just a few things that my brain has been pondering 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, family, Holy Spirit, living, saving moses, spiritual, 1 comment

daily help

Each day has its unique challenges – some more demanding than others.  But every day is distinct.  Recently, I’ve had some pretty rough days, filled with lots of pressure, stress, difficulties & sadness.  This morning, I read Ps 68:19, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden,  The God who is our salvation. Selah.”
I love this verse because it helps me to consider that God is not only available to carry my daily burdens, but He is more than able to do this.  I find that when I try to carry the burdens of each day without His help, the consequences aren’t so whippy.  Usually, I find myself wiped out – tired, frazzled & unpleasant among other things.  Additionally, when I get in my independent mode, my closeness with God seems to wither & decrease.  Of all the demands & pressures in my daily life, the one thing I don’t want to decrease is my intimacy with God.  I not only want to give Him my daily burdens, but I need to give these to Him so that my fellowship & communion with Him doesn’t get sabotaged by me or the percursory events of daily living.  There’s tremendous value to daily letting God carry our burdens – the burdens of each day, throughout the day.  He wants to do this & is fully capable – better than we can.

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Posted by Sarah in enemies to intimacy, living, prayer, spiritual, 0 comments

some thoughts about time

This morning I had breakfast w a friend & it was totally wonderful.  We put this appt into our calendars about 2 months ago, to make sure we reserved some space / time for connecting.  I really appreciate getting to meet w this friend, from time to time, because of the depth of the conversation.  I find that as we talk, the conversation quickly gets into some very deep areas, particularly in relation to our walk with God.  For me, it was an especially rich conversation today because I met with her right on the heels of my devotional time w God.  Consequently, it felt very natural to sense God being very present at the table with us and guiding the conversation – almost like a three way conversation.  Even now as I’m typing I sense residual influences from our dialogue.

When I got home, my husband made a comment that implied that I’d been gone a long time – about 1.5 hours.  My reply was something about women connecting through conversation.  As I’m thinking now, our breakfast definately took some time, but when we got in our cars to go home, it didn’t seem like the appt took a long time.  In fact, it almost felt a little bit short, even though I knew it was time to go & that we had finished talking. 

So here’s my point:  good things take time.  No wonder that Isaiah says that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.  No wonder that the psalmist tells us to wait patiently for the Lord in Psalms 37.  Time is valuable and how we use it reflects our values.  Let’s think about our time

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Posted by sarahbowling, 0 comments

enemies of intimacy

Since we’ve just celebrated Easter, i’ve been thinking of the purpose of Jesus’ incarnation, death & resurrection.  I believe that God’s ultimate purpose in sending Jesus to earth was to redeem humanity to Himself – so we can connect to Him (with His help, direction, etc) in a deep, meaningful & purposeful relationship.  Ultimately, that we can have an intimate relationship with the Triune God.  Now please don’t spin out on the word, “intimate”.  Unfortunately, our society has tainted this word & it can potentially have some overtones that can be a little tricky to manuever around.  For me, intimate means very close, but not always having a sexual connotation.  When I’m talking about an intimate relationship w God, obviously I’m not including the sexual overtones that our society can associate w this word. 

Given the objective of having an intimate relationship w God, i think its important for us to consider what could be enemies to that intimacy.  As such, over the next few days or so, I’m planning to blog on what I’ve found to be various enemies to intimacy.  I’d totally love / welcome your input not only w comments, but I’d also be happy to receive your insights on the various enemies you may have experienced to intimacy.  I’m really excited to dialogue w you to see what God wants to share w us!! 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, living, spiritual, 1 comment