conversation

Walking and Talking

I revel in the experiences with God that have lots supernatural experience, demonstration and high octane impact!  It’s phenomenal when God does supernatural things like healing someone, giving a precise word of encouragement or insight, providing a supernatural funding or a colossal coincidence that could only be orchestrated by God.  I love these kinds of supernatural engagements and experiencing God’s fingerprints in our human existence!

At the same time, there’s much to be said for what could seem mundane in the simple walking with God.  I’m thinking about this in relation to my day yesterday that had some interesting walking in it.  When I think back over the walking I did yesterday, it had some very helpful experiences:

  • Destination – I walked a lot to get to various places like showing up for interviews, meeting with people, getting lunch, catching airplanes to get home and walking to my car in the snow. Let’s appreciate that walking with God is the incremental progress we experience with God, as we walk out God’s purposes and blueprint in our lives, one step and one day at a time.  Walking with God can lead us through all kinds of environments and encounters
  • Supernatural – in the midst of walking yesterday, I bumped into a guy whom I’ve never met and he proceeded to speak to me from God, telling me things that I’d only talked about in my solo quiet time with God. It was a really powerful experience for me, in the midst of walking to my next appointment.  I’m very grateful that God does supernatural stuff in the midst of what can seem mundane.
  • Communication – there’s much to be said for walking and talking, which I’ve found to be one of the best contexts for dialoguing with God. Indeed, when I was growing up, we used to sing a hymn with these words, “And He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own, . . .”  As I age, I find these words to resonate in my soul as a counter-point to the cacophony of noise and activities that try to overflow the divine limits in 24 hour increments.  There is much value for walking and talking with God throughout each day!
  • Heat – it was snowing and cold yesterday when I was waiting to catch the bus from the airport back to my car. The longer I stood in line, immobile, the colder I became.  So I decided to pace up and down the sidewalk as I waited for the bus, keeping warmer than standing still and turning into an icicle.  In a similar way, I think walking with God can keep us warm, active, compassionate and agile.  When we aren’t moving with God, maybe we can get cold, rigid and dull.

When we think about walking, it can seem to be something dull and easy to overlook.  However, let’s remember that walking and talking with God in our day to day living is a really powerful way to grow in knowing God better and more deeply!  Let’s keep walking and talking  🙂

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

Next Level Spirituality

I hear lots of talk about going to the next level in a variety of contexts, such as: exercise, cooking techniques, snowboarding proficiency, work commitments, teenage adventures, etc.  It seems to me that when people use this terminology, it’s to emphasize an improvement,  increase intensity or make something more extreme.

So what could going to the next level look like with spirituality?  Maybe “next level spirituality” first requires an honest assessment of our current level.  Who am I now?  What are my present comfort zones?  What do I naturally gravitate to?  It’s hard to go to the next level if we don’t even know what our current level is.

This makes me think about the first time Jesus met Peter, in Luke 5, when Peter was mending his net after a discouraging night of fruitless fishing.  While Peter was net mending, Jesus borrowed Peter’s boat & preached to a big crowd.  When Jesus finished, He told Peter to put his boat out to catch fish, which Peter did & caught a boatload of fish!!  I think Peter recognized a stark contrast between Jesus’ teaching & his own spirituality because of how he replied to Jesus after the miracle catch of fish.  Peter said to Jesus, “Away from me, for I’m a sinful man.”  And I love that Jesus invited Peter to the next level of spirituality, by answering, “Follow Me & I’ll make you a fisher of men!”

Peter responded to Jesus’ invitation by dropping his net, leaving his boat & following Jesus for almost three years.  I’d venture to say that Peter’s spirituality went into hyper-drive, getting to spend 24/7 with Jesus for these years.  In Peter’s next level spirituality, he had some incredible experiences like walking on water, distributing miracle provision bread & fish, seeing innumerable healings, along with some resurrections and heaps more.  At the same time, Peter’s next level spirituality also included some defeats, such as arguing with Jesus about denying Him, sinking into the water when he was distracted by the winds & waves, falling asleep in Gethsemane when Jesus most needed him, along with cutting of a servants ear when Jesus was arrested.

But I would suggest that the best way we can evaluate our spirituality and go to the next level is seen in Jesus’ conversation with Peter, in John 21, after His resurrection.  This conversation happened within a few days of Peter vehemently denying Jesus, Peter failing to keep watch with Jesus in Gethsemane because of being sleepy & after he cut off somebody’s ear.  Shortly after these failures, Jesus shows up on the shore of Galiee.  When Peter knows it’s Jesus, he  throws himself into this sea, so he can swim to Jesus, who is waiting on the shore with a toasty fire, fresh cooked fish and bread, a ready breakfast for hungry fishermen.  The subsequent  conversation that occurred between Jesus & Peter was all about genuine love.  And in my thinking, the highest level of spirituality is rooted in living genuine love.  I say this because of Jesus’ words in John 13:35, “People will know that you follow Me by your love for one another.”

Let’s be careful to appreciate that miracles are cool, character is vital, but genuine love is essential for next level spirituality.

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

Real or Right?

I asked someone a question recently & when they replied, I asked, “Is that the real answer or the right answer?”  When I asked this question, it began to circulate in my mind & I wondered how many times I give the right answer but maybe not always the real answer. I know what I’m supposed to say, so I give the right words. And I do this because I know that the “real words” could be challenging not only to hear, but also to speak.  It’s very wonderful when both the real & right words are the same!

I’m grateful to realize that God can help us grow & change such that our real words can also be the right words more & more!  

Just a little friendly food for thought on this nice Monday 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, nightcare, prayer, relationships, spiritual, uncertainty, 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

What Smells?

How often have you smelled a perfume or cologne & it reminds you of someone you know?  Or maybe you played sports & when you smell a certain soap it brings back those memories from showering off the workout / practice sweat. 

In the same way, we can leave a lingering smell / residue in our interactions with people. To this end, think about the people who leave a “bad taste in your mouth” & how you might try avoiding them. On the other side, think about those people with whom you interact & you find yourself smiling, cozy on the inside & wanting more interaction. 

I would propose that genuine love is what all of us want & the exchanges that have genuine love leave a healthy & desirable residue. With Jesus’ help, let’s aim to leave a sweet smell from our people interactions!

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

Wrong Place, Maybe

When I go to the grocery store, I expect to find groceries & when I go to my health club, I expect to find weight machines & workout stuff.  So people come to church & expect to find Jesus, but here’s an interesting exception for you to consider:

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

No Pretending

“The well is deep & you have nothing to draw with.” Little did the Samaritan woman know that her observation about the deep well would foreshadow the deep conversation she would have with Jesus in John 4. Initially, their discussion was about getting Jesus a drink of water, but in no time, Jesus went for the jugular when He told her to bring along her husband & then He read her mail about the litany of failed marriages she had. Clearly, with Jesus there was no pretending.
And I think this value rings true for us today as well. When it comes to talking wth Jesus, there’s no sense in posturing or pretending. It’s better to come to Jesus in full disclosure & entire access. This is an essential ingredient to live in the continual state of healing & redemption that Jesus has for us!! The Samaritan woman went back to her town & declared to them, “Come & see a man who told me everything I ever did!” And thus began the Jesus revolution that turned her town upside down!

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

No Reception :)

Have you ever been frustrated when you can’t get reception for your cell phone? Yesterday, my family & I were driving through Yellowstone WY for our family vacation & there was zero cell reception for probably more than 6hours. For a little bit, it was frustrating but the longer I went without cell phone usage, the more I liked it. Maybe these observations could be helpful to you when you think about connecting with God:

  • Not getting what we want isn’t always a bad thing
  • Distractions like phones, tend to interrupt our attention to being present in each moment
  • With the Holy Spirit, we have perpetual reception because the Holy Spirit is always with us!
  • Having a break from continual communication is probably more healthy than we often realize
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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, 0 comments