change

The Recipe for Answered Prayer

If you’re reading this, then you might have some questions or challenges about some prayers you’ve made that are unanswered or unresolved – so we’re in this together 🙂

To this end, I was recently asking God to change someone & make them more flexible.  This could translate to mean that I want that person to be more compliant to my preferences and it could mean that God might want to work on some control issues in my heart, which is certainly food for thought 🙂

As we think about the prayers we make to God, it’s interesting to think about how God answers prayers.  I say this because of recently reading two exchanges between David and God in 2Samuel 5, when David asks God about attacking the Philistines.  In the first exchange, God tells David to attack in response to his first enquiry.  David obeys God’s direction and successfully defeats the Philistines.

On the heels of being defeated, the Philistines attack a second time.  And David asks God again about confronting the Philistines.  In response to David’s second enquiry, God tells David to circle behind the Philistines, wait for the sound of marching in the tree tops and then attack.  David obeys God’s instructions and defeats the Philistines the second time.  From my point of view, these are very explicit instruction & a stark contrast from the first battle.

So here are some ingredients for the recipe to Answered Prayer:

  1. AFDI:  Ask For Divine Input rather than depending on your own brilliance or willpower
  2. Unlimited obedience, served up with daily consistency
  3. Trusting God more than a method:  yeast goes with flour like trust goes with God;  God seems to work uniquely in each situation, so trusting in a method isn’t as helpful as trusting in God 🙂
  4. DBS:  Don’t Be Surprised when you have to repeat something, but with a different method

In addition to these ingredients, it’s also important to consider how these ingredients go together, some possible marinading time and what happens when heat is applied over a length of time.  To this end, when I asked God about changing someone and making them more flexible, like I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I received an interesting reply.

I felt God say to me, “Sarah, maybe the answer to your prayer is a combination of that person becoming more flexible and you being less controlling.”

I had to sit with that feedback and let that marinade for a little while.  And truth be told, I’m still ruminating on what God said to me.  Maybe I’m a little similar to meat marinating in a sauce.  Maybe it takes God a little time to break down the fibers of my resistance and self-deception so that God’s truth and loving flavor can influence my thoughts, attitudes, words, decisions and action.  Ultimately, this is what I want.  This is the ultimate answer to my prayers, even in the heat and fire of daily living.

In our quest to get our prayers answered, let’s be committed to allowing God to change us and help us grow.  Maybe the tasty outcome of God’s culinary efforts in our lives is the expression of genuine love, as we are wholly dependant on God’s presence yeasting into our core identity 🙂

Selah 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, cooking, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, 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

Is It Better?

In Cambodia, every year I come to the same neighborhood to check in on some of my friends. Last year when I popped in, I was shocked to see the whole place had been demolished. Furthermore, all of my friends had been relocated several blocks away & now they are living in tin shacks rather than the wood lean-tos precariously perched on rotten wood planks & piers.

So this year, when I visited my friends in their tin shacks I was asking myself if this is a better arrangement?

When we think about change, some of us are more nimble with change & others of us struggle to navigate new stuff. But in order for something to be “better,” I would suggest that it’s helpful to consider our perspective.  If we stay anchored in the past, it can be difficult to see change as “better.”  If we look for the negative in the change, we will most certainly find negative. And maybe it would be helpful to consider that change is one of the methods God uses to help us grow.

Where my friends live now, in some respects, is much better than the past.  But they still face the daily choice to make the best of what they have. This holds true for us as well 🙂

After:

 

Before

 

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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 Ways to Grow from Feedback

In the recent days, I’ve had lots of feedback on sermons, writing, clothing, makeup, communication styles, etc.  In general, I much prefer the positive affirmation in contrast to stuff that’s more critical.  But alas, my potential to grow and improve is higher with the critical feedback more than only positive affirmation, with a few important ingredients:

  1. Be committed to growing & improving.  In darwinian speech we evolve through change or we become extinct with stagnation.  And no, I’m not a Darwinist so don’t get jittery 🙂
  2. The motive for feedback isn’t the main issue.  Sometimes people have good motives and sometimes people are trying to hurt us with their feedback.  What you do with the feedback is more important than the motive in which it’s given
  3. Don’t let the communication style distract you.  The way in which some people communicate is prickly on a good day.  But no matter how something is delivered, we can almost always find something helpful to grow and improve.

Finally and most importantly, stay in love with Jesus & stay true to His divine purposes.  Doing these two things aligns us for God’s participation in our lives to make lemonade out of lemons, based on Romans 8:28 🙂

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

Working for Good :)

In your life, what seems to be “not good?”  This can be stuff like getting fired from a job, a bad report from the doctor, chronic pain, a bad test grade, broken relationship & lots more. We would prefer to avoid the bad stuff & reasonably so. But bad stuff happens & what should we do about that?

It helps me to remember what Paul said about bad stuff in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

To this end, when we have bad stuff, let’s stay in love with Jesus & true to His purposes in our lives.  Leave the good stuff up to God to work out in your life 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, listen, living, prayer, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, 1 comment

Not Me!!

“I’ll never deny You!”  These are the words Peter used to argue with Jesus about denying Him. Jesus answered by letting peter know that in less than 12 hours Peter would deny Jesus & in Luke 22, Jesus adds some instructional content for Peter after his denial fiasco.

I’ve been thinking about this conversation between Jesus & Peter for a few days now because it demonstrates our ability to deceive ourselves even in God’s presence. Whether we acknowledge or ignore it, we willingly & even joyfully think we are something we are not, or we don’t think we are something when we really are.

Jesus knows this about us & doesn’t withdraw His love nor relationship with us, as we see in His words to Peter.

Let’s take pause & consider that Jesus us knows us better than we know ourselves & that’s an essential demonstration of His genuine love for us!

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

Milestone Markers

My daughter graduated from high school yesterday & when I sit down, there’s a lump in my throat. As long as I keep busy, I’m distracted & productive. But sitting down to write this blog forces me to pause. Now I have to keep the memories at bay or I’ll become a puddle of tears & I’m getting misty even as I write this.

We come to various milestones in our lives & it’s a healthy progression. In these moments we take in some of the scope of growth, achievements, recollections & shared moments, with lots more.  I’m grateful that God has wired us to be growing people. So be sure to take some moments to inventory how you’ve grown & changed, to help ensure that you’re going in the right direction & becoming the person consistent with your divine design 🙂

Happy Milestone!

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

Flexible and Responsible

This week has lots of moving parts.  My kids are finishing out the schoolyear, taking finals and doing work to get moving toward Summer.  My daughter is graduating high school this week, so we’re hosting a graduation party at the end of the week.  Additionally, there are some things at work that need some flexibility because of deadlines and workload.  So all of this is requiring me to be flexible to adapt to these moving parts.

At the same time, being flexible doesn’t mean I get a free pass to be irresponsible.  Indeed, being flexible lets me do what’s responsible in different and creative ways.  So I’m adjusting my schedule, shifting days and events, so that I can continue to be responsible and attentive to the things that are priorities in my life:  God, family and work.  With God’s help, we can be both responsible and flexible in ways we don’t always consider 🙂

Happy Monday to you!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 1 comment

The Accidental Hypocrite

I’ve never met a person who willingly nor joyfully self-identified as a hypocrite.  Indeed, hypocrite is a label we give other people, as we are grateful to not be “that kind of person.”

But I can’t help but feel, sometimes, that I am an accidental hypocrite.  I see this in myself when I:

  • judge someone for being intolerant
  • am disdainful of someone who seems insincere
  • allow myself to be critical but reject constructive input

There are lots of ways that we can be a hypocrite, whether purposeful or accidental.  And I would propose that an effective antidote for hypocrisy is humility.  While hypocrisy can flourish in the comparison fertilizer, humility is the truth serum that helps us appreciate that we are each struggling in unique ways and it’s better to encourage than compare.  Just a little food for thought for your wonderful weekend 🙂

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

Measuring Spirituality

In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees, scribes & religious leaders considered themselves to be very spiritual. They ate the right stuff, kept religious holidays & the weekly Shabbat, meticulously observed social protocols, wore proper clothing, prayed with public observation & lots more. From a casual bystander, these leaders paid rigorous attention to religious details, procedures, pious particulars. By the  measures of these religious leaders, they were very spiritual.

Jesus didn’t agree nor did they agree with Him. Jesus was a friend of sinners, drunkards & tax collectors. He didn’t keep to religious protocols nor comply with fastidious piety.

If we measure our spirituality by Jesus’ standards, we’ll be loving, generous, compassionate, encouraging, forgiving & welcoming.  Let’s be careful about what we use to measure our spirituality!

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