dialogue

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 Tips for Tense Conversations

Yesterday, I had some very heated discussions & I didn’t enjoy them.  They were challenging to me & it took me awhile to let my emotions unwind & settle down. When I look at Jesus’ life, he had some heated exchanges not only with the religious leaders of His day but also some of His immediate followers. Here could be some helpful tips for these kinds of conversations:

1 – Why? What’s the purpose of the conflict? To be right? To reconcile? To understand the others perspective?

2 – How? How did we get to this place of hostile exchange?  It helps to understand each persons journey up to that point

3 – When & Where?  What space is needed to facilitate a constructive discussion?  Sometimes a little bit of time & a neutral location can help reset the conversation for better resolution & less carnage.

And of course there’s the ever helpful forgiveness essential – a gift we give ourselves 🙂

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

Sunshine Mantra

Everything is great!  Life is fantastic! I’m blessed & highly favored!  Living’ the dream!

I’ve said these words more than occasionally when my life isn’t whipy, when I’m tired, sick & when stuff is awful.  So was I lying?  Was I making a faith confession?  Was I living in denial?  Depending on the day or hour, yes 🙂

If we want to love genuinely, let’s be ready for someone to be honest & say that stuff isn’t going well. Indeed, when Job went through a season of living hell, his friends stayed with him in silence for a week before they said a word. There was no sunshine mantra in the conversations w Job & his friends.  When a friend goes through a crisis, let’s be willing to walk alongside them with honesty & not get ruffled. 

As it relates to having a personal crisis, I recognize that not everyone can handle our honesty or when things aren’t going well.  And that’s ok!  Let’s allow God to bring people into our lives who don’t always settle for the sunshine mantra. 

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

The Best Multi-Tool

Have you seen those gadgets that look like big pocket knives, but they have various configurations of tools?  Depending on the size of the tool, these contraptions can have screwdrivers, miniature hammers, awls, scissors, files, corkscrews & stuff that is totally baffling to me.  Since I’m not into keeping tools easily accessible, I don’t carry around this kind of thing, although I admit it could be useful.

With this idea, let’s consider that genuine love is the multi-tool perfectly suited for our relationships, regardless of the depth, length or intensity of the relationship.  Here are some of the specific applications that we can use everyday with genuine love as our relationship multi-tool:

  • patience, endurance, stability, faithfulness – these come in handy when you’d rather jet or quit
  • forgiveness, always hoping, believing the best – these are useful for those sharp exchanges & misunderstandings that happen from time to time
  • kind, encouraging, celebrating truth – great tools to build up the other person without being fake
  • selfless, generous – super helpful when we need to go the extra mile
  • celebrating righteousness & being protective – keeping a relationship clean & clear from fleshly clutter is essential to maintaining healthy interactions

Be sure to keep genuine love as your top priority in your relationships!

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

Doing Tough Stuff

There are lots of things that can be difficult: being consistent with exercise, missions trips, hostile or dicey conversations, regulating ones eating habits & lots more.  I don’t like to do tough stuff, nor did Jesus.  I say this because of His words in Gethsemane, “If possible, please take this cup from Me.”
So how do we go about doing tough stuff? Here are a few suggestions & I’d be keen to get your ideas in the comments as well!

  • Keep the end goal in mind: what is your desired outcome?
  • Be wholly present in the difficulty because often these struggles need our whole attention, energy & talents
  • Pray: divine help is always an upgrade!
  • Surrender to God’s will even when it conflicts with your desires 🙂
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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fasting, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, nightcare, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

Path to Pentecost: Jesus?

Before there were planes, trains & automobiles, people used camels, donkeys & the sandal express to resolve their transportation needs.  So once upon a time there were a couple of guys walking from one town to another and a random stranger joined their pedestrian ambulation.  There ensued a heated conversation about the current events of that time: something about a very magnetic man getting brutally murdered by the key religious leaders of the region & supposedy this murdered but magnetic guy had risen from the dead, according to the rumor on the street.  The stranger seemed unaware of these current events, but somehow started a religious conversation that caused a holy heart burn in these fellow travellers.  Long story short, these guys came to understand after Jesus disappeared that He was talking with them along their journey, even though they didn’t recognize Him.  Luke 24

Just because we know about Jesus doesn’t mean that we always recognize Him in the events or journey of our daily living.  I think that part of our Path to Pentecost is letting the Holy Spirit help us recognize Jesus better in our day to day existence.

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, Pentecost, prayer, seeing Jesus, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

Being Honest

“How come all these awful things have happened?”  Ever ask God this kind of a question?  I think probably everyone alive has asked God some variation of this question & the Bible shows people asking God the same stuff. 

I’m reading about Gideon & I seriously appreciate his honesty with the angel at the beginning of their conversation: If God is with us, how come all this stuff has happened to us? This was in reply the the angel’s salutation, “The Lord is with you, valiant warrior” 
Gideon’s initial behavior & words didn’t really confirm that he was a valiant warrior & if we are honest, there are lots of times when our behavior & words don’t express that we are valiant.  Nevertheless, God knows our substance & potential so God speaks to our true self rather than the smokescreen insecurities we wear. Not only does God call us by our true identity but God also helps us know who He is, as Gideon acknowledges when he experiences God as the Lord our peace in Judges 6:23-24. 

So let’s make it a premium value to be honest with God so that we can honestly know God 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, seeing Jesus, spiritual, travel, values, watch, 1 comment

hot topic: Ferguson Protests

Most of us are aware of the decision of the Grand Jury yesterday with the case related to Michael Brown’s death, along with the resulting rioting, demonstrations and violence.  I’ve been thinking and praying about this for quite awhile & I’m extremely concerned about what is happening in St Louis.

  1. I’m concerned because there has obviously been a problem that’s been growing there for quite awhile and Michael Brown’s death and the resulting Grand Jury decision is possibly  the match that has ignited such a violent outburst of anger and frustration.
  2. I’m concerned because our nation has had a tumultuous journey in resovling ethnic conflicts.
  3. And I’m concerned to my core because the idea that violence can solve injustices has never proven to be a constructive road for progress and resolution.

mlk-2 When you look at history in the last century, some of our best leaders who were catalysts for constructive change in very unjust situations include:  Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.  As we commit to pray for Ferguson and the construtive resolution to this area, let’s consider the wise words of Martin Luther King Jr:  “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate;  only love can do that.”

May Jesus help us to bring peace where there is strife, love for hate, restoration for destruction and reconcilation for isolation.

 

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, hot topic, living, prayer, values, watch, 8 comments

another courageous conversation: concern

 I know I worte yesterday about Joseph having a courageous conversation related to his boss’s wife trying to hit on him, but Joseph had other courageous conversations as well.  Another example of his courageous conversation is his discussion with some servants of Pharoah who had been thrown in prison w Joseph – the cupbearer & baker.  In this conversation with these men, Joseph interpreted their dreams.  One would live & be restored to his position under Pharoah & the other would die. 

Now, here’s why I think Joseph’s conversation with these men was courageous – he was concerned.  The reason I think Joseph’s concern was courageous is because the opposite of concern, apathy & selfishness, are the coward’s reply to the needs of others.  When these men told Joseph their dreams, there wasn’t much that Joseph could do to help them, but he could use his God-given talents with interpreting dreams to express his concern. 

In a similar way, there are probably some people in our lives with whom we need to have a courageous conversation to express our concern & care – maybe concern about their choices, relationship w God, etc. 

Apathy is for cowards, but concern is for the courageous

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courageous conversations

 Wow!  This is certainly a theme in my life right now!  A courageous conversation is a discussion that requires courage – it can require courage for a variety of reasons.  As such, let’s look at Joseph (in Genesis 37-42) to look at 1 of his courageous conversations:

Maybe Joseph’s first courageous conversation required bravery because of his convictions.  Consider his dialogue with Potipher’s wife, who wanted to make out w Joseph.  When you read what Joseph said in Gen 39:8-9, you can see that he needed courage to say what he said:   “But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge.  There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?'”

Convictions require courage & when we are asked to do something that violates our convictions, we must draw on God’s strength & wisdom to share with diplomacy & bravery that we will not violate those convictions.  Let’s be brave & gracious in our conversations, with God’s wisdom, strength & love 🙂

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