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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

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

3 Mistakes to Avoid with Friends

As I write this blog, I’m painfully aware that I’ve made more than my share of mistakes with friendships.  I’ve fallen short in terms of being consistent, not expressing myself well, being impatient, insecurity struggles & loads more.

And because I’ve been reading Job for a few weeks now, I’m watching his friends and their interactions with Job, noting some stuff to avoid.  Here are some things that might be helpful to you:

  1. Listen to understand more than reply:  Job’s friends sat with him for 7days before they ever said a word.
  2. Presence trumps absence:  Job’s friends didn’t run away when his life went into a cataclysmic meltdown.  Let’s be careful that we’re not fair weather friends
  3. Compassion is better than criticism:  Job’s friends looked for his secret faults as a cause for his suffering, but they were skinny on compassion.  When our friends go through horrendous experiences, it’s more loving to be compassionate than look for & point out their flaws & failures.

Here’s to friendship & how God helps us grow in “iron sharpening iron” friendships, based on Prov 27:17 🙂

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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, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

The Prickly Factor

I like hummingbirds 🙂

Some days I feel prickly, like a cactus or porcupine. This is of course challenging for people who might interact with me, they might gets some barbs or needles.   When I know I’m feeling prickly, I try to do a few things that are helpful:

  • Why?  Often, it helps me if I can figure out the causes of being prickly, like sketchy sleep, travel, workload, hormones, people interactions, etc.
  • How? It’s important when I’m prickly that I’m careful about how I interact with people. Sometimes I put myself in timeout until I can play nice

No matter how I feel, it helps me to remember that I’m deeply loved & highly treasured by Holy Spirit. I’m also grateful that Holy Spirit gives me strength to have self control, not letting my flesh out weight the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5:25 🙂

 

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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

Senses & Values

Presently I’m with our annual Saving Moses team trip to Cambodia & it can be entertaining to watch people’s first reactions to various smells. Some smells like durian, fish paste, roasted garlic & some body odors can be shocking & repugnant. Also, some of the things we see in the slums we visit can be disturbing & challenging to process. So when I person is introduced to a foreign culture, it requires adjusting the senses & some adapting footwork.

In these times, it’s important to keep one’s core values in the cross hairs so that we process the sensory inputs through our core values.

I want my core values to be grounded in genuine love, compassion, grace & encouragement.

So no matter what’s happening with our senses, let’s ask Holy Spirit to help us be value-minded & not merely sensory stimulated.

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Posted by Sarah in busy, Cambodia, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, travel, 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

Connect or Obstruct

“Zip it!!!”  This is what everyone told blind Bartimaus when he was yelling, fussing & making a scene. He wanted to get Jesus’ attention so that maybe he could get a miracle from Jesus & see again, in Luke 18. 

I wonder what it was like to be in that crowd who was following Jesus & to be accosted by this desperate man. Their reply, “Zip it!!” tells me that the crowd didn’t have any interest in helping this desperate man. Indeed, they obstructed Bartimeus & attempted to discourage his efforts. 

Let’s be careful that we help people to connect:  find & experience Jesus, when someone seems to be annoying or a nuisance. 

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

I Disagree!!

I have three wonderful teenage children, very intelligent & sometimes opinionated. And it’s not uncommon to have some very interesting & heated discussions at dinner time about all kinds of topics including politics, musical taste, movie preferences, Hollywood, current events, government policies, theological questions, historical events, recipes & a plethora of random topics. In addition to our wonderful kids, my husband & I have our own perspectives & opinions.  So our dinner conversations can be both diverse & intense. 

As I think about these conversations, it’s important to consider not only what is being said, but also the tone & context for these interactions. If we are going to maintain close relationships, disagreements are inevitable. Here are some helpful thoughts related to disagreements:

  • Seek to understand more than being understood
  • A sincere apology is helpful when there’s misunderstanding 
  • If you’re trying to “win” an argument, appreciate that someone will lose & maybe that’s not a good goal
  • Respect is essential for constructive disagreement 
  • We can disagree without being disagreeable 🙂
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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 1 comment