Genuine love

The Ambition Factor

Are you ambitious?

That’s a really loaded question.  If we answer “yes” then we run the risk of being perceived as selfish, driven, neglectful, insensitive, demanding and lots more.  If we answer “no” then we might be perceived as unmotivated, lethargic, non-productive, aimless and inert.  No matter what your answer is, the external perceptions aren’t as important as your internal motives.  To this end, if insecurity, fear, selfishness, pride impatience, anxiety, etc drive our ambition, then the chances for a trainwreck and hurting others skyrocket.

I’ve been thinking about ambition as I’ve been reading about David being anointed to be king & then running from King Saul for ten years, just to stay alive.  In these ten years, David has some opportunities to kill Saul & take the throne which would be ambitious and easy to justify because Saul was a jerk & David was anointed by Samuel to be Saul’s replacement.  But David kept his ambition in check because he valued God’s anointing.

Furthermore, when Saul & Jonathon were killed in battle, David didn’t promote himself as king to save the day for Israel.  When David heard that Saul & Jonathon were dead, his immediate reaction was to grieve and write a lament about the loss of these important men.  In relation to David’s possible ambition to become the next king of Israel, it’s very insightful look at David’s words and action in 2Samuel 2:1, “Then it came about afterwards that David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up to one of the cities of Judah?” And the Lord said to him, “Go up.” So David said, “Where shall I go up?” And He said, “To Hebron.”

In this verse and the succeeding verses, I see several helpful keys for being ambitious:

  1. Seeking God:  raw ambition is often impulsive.  As a result, seeking for God’s input and direction is a very effective way to prevent the fallout from hasty, impulsvie and raw, unchecked ambition.  After mourning the death of Saul and Jonathon, David’s first action was to seek God.
  2. Clear Direction:  David had two questions for God.  The first was about action and the second was about location.  When we seek God, that helps to neutralize the impulsive nature of ambition.  Once we have some input from God, it’s helpful to pause for more clarity, direction and input from God.
  3. Be committed:  once David had God’s input and direction, he moved to Hebron, took his wives, kids and all of his loyal followers to settle down and reside in Hebron.  If we are driven by raw ambition, it can be very difficult to put down our roots and be committed in a community, in relationships, a church job, marriage etc.
  4. Get confirmation:  once David, his family and followers moved to Hebron, we still don’t see David being pushy, assertive, demanding nor self-promoting.  On the contrary!  In 2Sam 2:4 we read, “Then the men of Judah came and there anointed David king over the house of Judah.”  From my perspective, David waited for Judah to come to him.  Maybe we could say that ambition pursues but anointing pauses and waits.
  5. There’s more:  even though David was anointed to be King in Judah, the rest of Israel didn’t accept David to be their king until seven years later.  Unfortunately, human ambition settles for less than God’s best and fullest promise. Patience can vaccinate our human ambition so that we receive the full potential of God’s promises.

If God puts a dream in your heart for your life, let your highest priority be to walk with God even more than achieving God’s goal or dream. Walking with God will get you to the dream God puts in your heart, along with shaping your character, deepning your relationships and most importantly, knowing God with ever increasing intimacy.  Let’s make our life’s ambition to revolve around knowing God and letting God be known through our lives!,

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

4 Keys to Intentional Living

“Let’s Do It!!!”  This is my impulsive reply to the suggestion to go snowboarding today, even though there’s not enough snow, the lines are stupid long, there’s like one run open and I have more than enough work that needs to accomplished today.  So the intentional reply should be, “Man that sounds like a blast!  But if I wait, the snow will be better, more runs will be open and I’ll have more fun if I choose to skip my impulse reaction today.” And still, it sounds like lots of fun to throw caution to the wind 🙂

There’s a chick in the Bible whom I greatly admire because she was more intentional than impulsive.  This is Abigail, the wife of Nabal, the jerk.  When we first meet Abigail, she is purposefully gathering loads of provisions to bring to David because her foolish husband was self-absorbed and hostile.  Nabal had refused to give David & his men food and assistance, even though David had been kind to Nabal’s shepherds.  So David had determined to repay Nabal evil for his unkind reply.

Into this toxic mix steps Abigail, who intentionally brings supplies to David, acknowledges her husband’s foolish behavior and prevents David from making a disasterous impulsive decision.  Abigail brings heaps of provisions to David, without telling her husband.  And when she returns home, Nabal is drunk, so that could be the perfect time to tell him what she did!  But again, Abigail is intentional about how and when she communicates with Nabal, waiting until the next morning when he’s sober.  Once Abigail tells Nabal what she’s done, the Bible says that his heart is turned to stone, he dies shortly thereafter & David nabs Abigail to be his wife.

Abigail is intentional in lots of ways that could also be helpful to us in our modern living.  Here are some things for your consideration about doing life with intentionality:

  1. External assessment:  what is going on around you, in your immediate vacinity & the broader world?  How might these events and situations be affecting you?  Abigail assessed what was happening with David, along with determining what her husband had done.
  2. Internal assessment:  what’s inside you, what do you want and what are your motives?  Sometimes we’re unaware of our core motives and what we want.  This can cause us to make impulsive decisions without considering the results.  When we look at Abigail, she wanted to prevent destruction from coming to her house, as well as preventing David from doing something he would later regret. She sat with her motives before acting impulsively & maybe lashing out at her husband.
  3. God’s input:  what does God want and what would be God’s best for this situation or season in your life?  Although we don’t read of any explicit input from God to Abigail in the Bible, her actions reflect God’s heart of compassion, grace, forgiveness, intervention and generosity.
  4. Course of Action:  what actions could you take that would best support God’s design and character?  When I look at Abigail’s decisions:  she chooses to be generous, she chooses to interrupt David’s wrath and retribution, she chooses to communicate with her husband when he can best absorb her actions and she chooses to protect her household from Nabal’s foolish behavior.

These helpful keys, when applied into daily living, can prevent us from making impulsive & possibly foolish decisions.  These keys can help us be intentional and more thoroughly aligned with God’s purposes and designs in our lives.

So based on these helpful pointers, I’m deciding to not go snowboarding today.  Instead, I’ll get my board waxed and the edges sharpened so that when I go, I can have double the fun ,)

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Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Be Explicit!!

“*&$)%^#@*&)^#**!!”

I’m using these symbols to replace the actual words spoken to me in an extremely coarse exchange I had with a person who was upset with me.  Initially, I was a little taken aback with the vocabulary, but at the same time the explicit words helped provide abundant clarity for what this person was expressing.

In contrast, I’ve also had exchanges with people whose communication was super unclear and vague.  In these kinds of interactions, it can be challenging to know exactly what’s being said.

What style of communication would you prefer?  Do you like explicit and overt?  Or do you prefer indirect and maybe obscure?

I think it’s important to think about communication in these ways, not only for our human to human interaction, but moreso for the communication that happens between God and us.  I say this because it’s very natural to assume that God communicates with us similar to how we communicate with each other using words, conversations, dialogue, etc.  Thankfully, God has given us the Bible for some concrete words to help us know and recognize God not only in human history but also in God’s character and heart.

However, we would be wise to pause and consider that God is Infinite and we are finite.  To this end, communication from and with God does not always follow the same patterns and expressions that we experience in our human to human dialogues or communication.

For example, in 1Kings 19, there’s a fascinating exchange between the prophet Elisha and God.  This exchange happened after Elisha had seen God move dramatically in 1Kings 18, confirming God’s power and judgment against the idolatry of the King and Queen of Israel.  After this dramatic demonstration, the Queen of Israel threatened to kill Elisha and he fearfully ran for his life.  God sent an angel to provide food and rest for Elisha, who then ran into wilderness where he was hiding in a cave for the culminating events of 1Kings 19.

In this chapter, Elisha looks out from the cave and sees a massive wind that is strong enough to smash rocks, but God wasn’t in the wind.  Elisha sees an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake.  Elisha sees fire, but God isn’t in the fire.  When Elisha hears “a still small voice” he recognizes this is God speaking with him and heads out of his cave.

If you’re like me, I want God to speak to me in clear, explicit and direct ways.  I would like it if God would dialogue with me with definite words, clear discussion, obvious interactions and overt engagement – maybe not quite as extreme as an earthquake or rock crushing wind.  And to this end, I’m massively grateful for the Bible because it gives me God’s Word in black and white.

Let’s appreciate, however, that God communicates with us not only in explicit and definite ways, but also in ways that are more subtle, like the gentle whisper or still small voice.  God can communicate with us as a gentle whisper, a tender reminder, the beautiful sunrise or sunset, through the comment or hug or a friend, in a sermon or blog, in a dream at night and many other ways.  Consequently, we would be wise to ask God to help us recognize the massive variety of ways that God communicates with us everyday, appreciating that Infinite has innumerable expressions for communicating with us who are finite.

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Posted by Sarah in enemies to intimacy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

3 Benefits to a Saul Grinder

Ever feel like you’re going through the ringer, like life is just hard & almost nothing is going right?  I’ve been reading about David in the Bible & how he spent more than a decade running away from King Saul who was trying to kill him. Maybe a little like a meat grinder, David was in the Saul grinder for a long time. When you read the Psalms that he wrote in the Saul grinder season, these Psalms are overflowing with David crying out to God to be his shield, comfort, strength, shepherd, provision & so much more!!

Maybe David went through the Saul grinder to help us today, when we go through various difficult seasons. Let’s allow Holy Spirit to encourage us in the grinder times that Holy Spirit is with us, walking alongside us.  These seasons can have tremendous benefits for helping us:

  1. grow closer with God,
  2. develop stronger trust in God,
  3. see God do miracles & sharpen our focus on God rather than the challenges  & problems that seem to be so difficult.
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Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, 0 comments

Not My Home

Over the weekend, I had the privilege of ministering in Baltimore at my friends church. As I’m sitting in the airport now, waiting for my flight back to Denver, there’s lots of things here that are different from my hometown. They seem to really like crab here & that’s pretty uncommon in Denver. There’s also the prominence of Baltimore Raven football clothing, a huge melting pot of ethnic cultures, way more diverse than Denver & i don’t see the marijuana thing here that’s so pervasive at home.

I’m familiar with my home culture, so the contrasts stand out here. Maybe we could also say this for our heavenly home. Perhaps we know in our hearts our heavenly home & this earthly existence sometimes feels foreign to us. And maybe some of the reason for our earthly life is to bring the culture of heaven to earth, letting our relationship with Jesus define our outlook, attitudes, conversations & priorities. Let’s not forget that heaven is our home & let’s be committed to bringing  heaven to earth, genuine love in our daily living 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Watching People

One of the things I really enjoy about traveling is watching people. It’s interesting to see the seasoned traveler, organized & generally relaxed in contrast with those who don’t travel as much & maybe a little more anxious. And of course there’s the ever enjoyable TSA adventure that makes all of us do the carry-on jig, not very pleasant.

When I travel, I see a beautiful variety of God’s creation, in all shapes, sizes, colors, political affinities, ages & expressions.  This reminds me that God loves each person wholly bc God is love.  So no matter how a person acts or what they look like, when I remember God is love, it helps me appreciate each person uniquely since they’re fearfully & wonderfully made in Gods image!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, listen, living, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

5 Values of Process

I like to achieve goals & accomplish stuff. And I recently read about David killing Goliath which was a huge achievement!!

Sometimes I think we can get so goal oriented that we miss or neglect the value & maturation that we gain in the process to achieve such goals. Indeed, David went through lots of process to culminate in the Goliath victory: 

  1. he killed a lion & a bear: don’t belittle “small” victories 
  2. he became super proficient with a slingshot: sometimes what is a hobby or “play” has powerful application in our future 
  3. he knew that Sauls armor didn’t fit a shepherd persona: don’t be anyone but yourself 
  4. he was scrappy with his brother & most importantly: feisty can helps us confront bigger giants
  5. he was confident in God:  let’s not trust anything nor anyone more than we trust God

Let’s value the process & journey not just the outcomes & destinations!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

The Bee Sting

I think this is a bee sting, but it could be a wasp or maybe a blasted flying red ant!! I was sitting on my porch, enjoying a beautiful day when out of NOWHERE some demonized insect stung my big toe & it’s been a no bueno walk.

This is one of the ways that Satan does his demonic work. He comes out of nowhere & tries to sting us to leave residual pain, swelling & compromised mobility. Satans stings can be a health challenge, traffic accident, financial emergency, etc

Here’s some helpful points to neutralize the enemy’s sting:

  • Get the stinger out: recognize the enemy’s attack & take out the main poison
  • Wash the site: clean up any ripple affects with honest dialogue w God
  • Be timely: don’t let an enemy attack linger but deal with it as quickly as possible so it doesn’t fester & spread into other areas

Let’s allow Holy Spirit to help us smoothly walk in life into Gods divine design!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, spiritual, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Interior Decorating

Decorating isn’t my strong suit & neither is clothing fashion nor color coordination. So I’ve come to terms with wearing shirts inside out & clashing patterns / colors.  In terms of my house, I was thinking about doing some interior painting & how a color change could possibly improve the ambiance.

Thinking about the whole decorating thing has made me also think about what’s inside me.  I’ve been thinking about this because what’s inside me is what gets expressed externally.  To this end, I get to chose what’s inside me, what I allow to grow in my thoughts, how I see things & my attitude.  This helps me behave & talk proactively rather than reactively. So my interior decorating in my soul is very important 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Having Jesus Relationships

I just finished a really wonderful phone call & I’m enjoying the settled & exciting residue of that conversation. As I’m thinking about it now, I’m recognizing God’s fingerprints on both the chat & this friendship.  To recognize & appreciate God friendships, here are a few pointers:

  • differences are delightful but conformity is bland.  Enjoy the journey to discover different perspectives & ways of doing things!
  • trust and transparency are interdependent.
  • communicate for depth & connection, not just information
  • keep forgiveness as a core priority, fresh and authentic
  • pray over your friendships to discern God friendships and natural friendships

David & Jonathon are a great model for a God friendship!  Feel free to read about this friendship for some interesting insights – 1 Samuel 18-20.

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, values, watch, 0 comments