prayer

ever question your purpose?

At some point in each of our lives, we ask the question, “What’s my purpose?  Why am I on earth?”  I think this is a universal human question & there are lots of ways to answer this line of questioning, but here’s a simple approach that God has been dealing w me on of late:

I believe that a significant reason that I’m alive is to raise the awareness of Jesus in my world.  Raising this awareness happens in a VARIETY of ways:

  • sometimes through a direct conversation, helping someone see God’s hand moving in their life, asking a question that helps a person reach out to Jesus, praying for a person when they express a need, . . . . .
  • sometimes through an act of kindness, a smile, a friendly gesture, an encouraging word, letting someone go in front of you in a line, serving a person, generous forgiveness, . . . .
  • sometimes through a provision, being generous with our resources (time, energy, finances), paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line, giving a homeless person a meal, giving a starving baby meals for a month with saving moses ,) , . . . .
I want my life to make Jesus attractive to the people with whom I interact – not just because its Easter week & the seasonal trend to invite people to church (although let’s all get really motivated & bring hordes of friends to church).  I want to spread the fragrance of Jesus wherever I go.  I want to illuminate His presence in all my conversations.  I want to express His genuine love with His extravagant provisions.  For me, let this purpose be the preoccupation of each day.
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Posted by Sarah in Holy Spirit, living, prayer, saving moses, spiritual, 3 comments

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

doing what we don’t like to do

My kids have a list of things they don’t like to do:  wash the dishes, pick up their room, fold the laundry, homework before playing, . . . .   So when we grow up, what happens to this list?  Hopefully, we get good at the tasks we didn’t like doing as kids so they’re not such an issue.  Or maybe we just suck it up & do these things anyways since we don’t like the negative results if we neglect to do the things we don’t like doing. 
I’ve been thinking about doing the things I don’t like to do – maybe as an attempt to avoid doing them ,)

But here are some things that are rolling around in my thoughts:

  • if I only do what I like to do, what talents & areas in my life would remain dormat from such neglect?
  • character development – I still think these words should be in the “four letter word” category, along with the other cuss words I avoid
  • love: a good “four letter word” that also includes doing things I don’t want to do (I love God, love my family, love my friends, . . . . )
  • Jesus endured the cross & decided to do what He didn’t want to do because of the joy on the other side of the cross.  Could there be more joy on the other side of the work than my dislike & procrastination?

These are just some ideas I’m considering when I think about doing things that I don’t like to do – like I’m now wrapping up this blog so I can go to the Dentist 🙁 

What are your thoughts?  I’d be keen to hear your ideas, insights & observations 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in family, living, prayer, spiritual, 0 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

an acquired taste ,)

When I was growing up, my mom had a trick to help me get used to the foods that I didn’t like – eat a small amount every time its served.  With this strategy, I learned to like pretty much everything, except canned peas (still can’t do them). 

In some respects, I think the same strategy works with Jesus.  While we know that He is “good” for us, sometimes He’s not always what we “want.”  Sometimes we want frothy, superficial, unhealthy, quick fix answers to the deep issues of our heart.  But I’ve found that when I bring even a little bit of Jesus to the issues in my life, at first I may not “like” His meddling, but the more space I give Him to manuever in my life, the more I like the results.  In fact, I find that I’m getting to the point where I much prefer His answers & solutions to my own attempts to “fix” stuff.  So here’s my suggestion, whatever place you’re at in life w Jesus, pls consider adding a little more of Him into your life (maybe you could include Him in your marriage a little more, maybe you could ask Him to raise your awareness of Him at your job or school, perhaps you might consider reading a Psalm or Proverb every day, . . . .).  One of my fb friends gave me the EXTREMELY cool idea about praying for her when I re-heat my coffee (an almost daily routine).  The idea of adding more of Jesus into your life can apply to any & everyone so please don’t “exempt” yourself because of your background, or experiences. 🙂 

What are some other ways you might consider adding a little more of Jesus to your life?

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Posted by Sarah in living, prayer, spiritual, 0 comments

Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

I just watched some of the footage of these horrific events & it seems almost surreal – surreal because I’m sitting in my house, comfy & drinking decaf, very far removed from this tragedy.  But when I begin to think of the people who lived in the houses that were overrun by water, the people who drove the cars that are bobbing in the water like toys, the people who farmed the land & greenhouses that were swallowed by the mucky deluge . . . . I’m undone.  Even more, I’m very disturbed by the loss of life today in this highly industrialized country, along with the mounting numbers of dead & injured & other potential disasters that could result from this earthquake.

What do I say to all of this as a person who deeply loves Jesus?  The ultimate tragedy of these catastrophes are the number of people who have & will die, who are injured beyond medical help, the infants lost and families who are devastated.  When we hear the numbers for the dead & injured, let’s be careful not to get numbed by the statistics but stay deeply touched by the realization that each number is a person of immeasurable worth, deeply loved and treasured by Jesus.  Let us be certain & consistent in praying for the families who are left and let us be watchful for opportunities small & large to express the tangible love of Jesus to our kinship of humanity in Japan, but also in our immediate world as well.  May the love of Jesus compel us – 2 Cor 5:14

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Posted by sarahbowling, 0 comments

ears to hear

Presently, I’m sitting in Starbucks & just thinking about the importance of what we hear.  Currently, the store is playing some nice music, there are some gentlemen discussing a business negotiation, some moms are enjoying a coffee & chat while the barista shouts out the latest drink order.  There are alot of things for my ears to absorb.  Its the same in your life – lots of noises and voices vying for your attention:  your phone, kids, spouse, bills, job, deadlines, . . . . .  It is our challenge to manage all these voices & remain productive & faithful to God’s purposes & designs for each of us. 
Here are some suggestions:

  • be selective with your attention:  in Starbucks there are lots of voices, noises and things to compete for my attention, but I’ve put on my earphones because I want to control what I listen to – not everything deserves your attention.
  • think about your expectations:  do you listen with underlying motives or judgments?  If we’re not careful, we can quickly sever conversations and even relationships when we don’t hear what we want.  Don’t take everything as rejection & be careful not to allow your insecurity to distort what someone may be trying to communicate.
  • Prioritize what you hear:  the most important thing you should hear or be mindful to listen to is Jesus.  In Mark 4:23, He says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  I pray that for each of us, He would help us to hear Him everyday through His Word, His actions and even His voice to us.  There is no voice more important than Jesus’ voice
  • listen to help:  if we’re not careful, we fall into the trap of only listening to what we enjoy or want to hear.  Sometimes the best way to use your attention is to lend a listening ear.  My friend Jim wisely told me that its more important to be interested than interesting.  With that in mind, pls take a quick moment to look at this video:  http://www.vimeo.com/20154183

Listening – what a gift 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in living, prayer, spiritual, 0 comments

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