faith

hot topic: help my unbelief

I love this quote from a dad who was asking Jesus to heal his son.  Jesus says to the dad that all things are possible to him who believes.  The dad’s reply sounds like something I’d say, “I do believe; help my unbelief!”

For me, believing is often easier said than done.  I can talk all day about believing God, trusting in God, having faith, etc, but when the rubber hits the road, sometimes I struggle with the believing thing.  Of course I want to believe, so the desire is solid.  But the actual believing is often where I fall short.  When I think about why I struggle with believing, it’s mostly because of either past experiences or my brain goes into skeptical mode.  So I deeply appreciate this dad’s honest words with Jesus, “Help my unbelief”.  Like me, he’s saying that he wants to believe, but it’s a hurdle and he needs help to overcome this hurdle.

Here are some pointers for overcoming unbelief:

  • be truthful:  hiding or cloaking unbelief is counterproductive, but bringing our weaknesses to Jesus is where strength starts
  • ask for Help!  Since the Holy Spirit is our Helper, seems like a good idea to give the Helper access to the places of unbelief with which we struggle.
  • Jude 20 says that we build up our faith when we pray in the Spirit #selah
  • let’s remember that faith works by love, so the absence of love could be the catalyst for our unbelief #selah

Let’s decide that there is no unbelief in our lives that cannot be transformed into a place of strong faith!

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, hot topic, listen, living, prayer, saving moses, spiritual, values, watch, 0 comments

closed doors

I prefer open doors rather than closed doors, but it seems to me that God leads us not only with open doors, but also with doors that are shut airtight.  Sometimes it bugs me when a door is closed to me & I can take it as personal rejection, which is always tough.  But if I choose to see a closed door as part of God’s guidance, then it doesn’t seem to hurt as much & doesn’t feel quite so personal.  It also helps me to remember that the Apostle Paul had his fair share of closed doors, many of which he was locked behind as a prisoner!

Let’s consider that God has the right doors to open for us & we can trust that God is working all things together for our good as we stay in love with God & stay true to the divine purposes in our lives!

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Posted by sarahbowling in Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, values, watch, 1 comment

A Good & Practical Read

I’m a reader & I read a wide array of books on a plethora of topics.  So here’s a good one that’s uber practical for your body, soul & spirit:  30 Day Faith Detox.

I’m recommending this book because there’s not a single reader of this blog who doesn’t need some help in all three of these areas.  I’m also recommending this book because it’s practical, holistic, easy to read & implement.  So grab a copy today!

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Posted by sarahbowling in cooking, fasting, Genuine love, grow, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, values, watch, 0 comments

Path to Pentecost: Doubt

In the world of faith, doubt can sometimes feel like a cuss word of the four letter variety. On the surface, those of us who endeavor to follow Jesus don’t doubt, maybe. But when we’re honest, there’s plenty of times & situations when we doubt. And even today something will probably happen that could cast a shadow of doubt on our faith. 
Thankfully, Jesus has the capacity to accommodate doubt, as evidenced in the way He interacted with Doubting Thomas. 

Poor Thomas. He wasn’t around when Jesus first appeared to His disciplines after His resurrection & Thomas couldn’t believe that Jesus was risen when everyone expressed this jubilant transformation. “Not unless I touch His side & put my fingers in His nail prints, will I believe”. And for more than a millennium Thomas has been the redeeming hope for those of who struggle with doubt. Of course there’s a price to pay for doubting: for 8days Thomas was the lone doubting ranger among these hyped up believing disciples. But Jesus appeared to Thomas after 8days & Thomas did exactly what he required: he felt the nail prints in Jesus’ hands & he touched Jesus’ side that was sword pierced. 

Jesus most certainly accommodate our doubts, but let’s be willing to change our doubts & not cling to them in obstinate entrenchment. If we aren’t willing to change our doubts then we can become moribund, a word rooted in the idea of death & decay. 

Remember to grab your copy of Heavenly Help – this could be just the tool that Jesus would use to help you work through some doubts 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, Pentecost, prayer, relationships, values, watch, 0 comments

Messy, Muddy & Murky Faith

  I’ve frequently thought of faith being this clean, powerful, superhero, handsome, supernatural ideal. Like if faith was a person, it would be stylish, muscular, manicured, well appointed, organized & timely – maybe like Captain America in The Avengers. Indeed, when I read about the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, they all seem powerful, competent, effective & generally great role models, mostly. 
In actual truth, when I look at these heroes more deeply as well as my daily attempts to live a faithful & faith-filled life, it often feels messy, murky & muddy. The outcomes of faith are very appealing but the walk & work of faith isn’t quite as pristine & manicured. It seems to me that faith is both a walk & a process. We love the results but sometimes we want to escape the work, uncertainty, mess & process that precede the outcomes. 

Just because faith can be messy, murky & muddy doesn’t mean we should quit. Indeed, the process is worth the results 🙂

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

let’s be honest

I had an interesting conversation with a friend last week about how she felt like some Christians didn’t accept her because of some of her questions, doubts and frustrations.  She explained how that in the past she’d expressed some doubts or struggles in her faith in a small group and some of the members of the group were unkind, dismissive and disdainful.

Seems to me that if we are going to sincerely love each other, as Jesus instructs, that we need to walk the journey together more than criticize, critique or exclude.  Jesus knew that Peter would struggle in his faith, deny and abandon Jesus, but that didn’t detour Jesus from staying Peter’s friend.  In fact, Jesus closed the loop on any questions about His love for Peter in John 21 with His questions about Peter’s love for Him.

Jesus love us, full stop.  I pray that I wholly let Jesus love others well & authentically through me 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, nightcare, prayer, relationships, saving moses, seeing Jesus, spiritual, values, watch, 3 comments

doubting & believing

This morning, I read the story of Doubting Thomas & how he didn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead until he had physical proof for himself.  Despite what Thomas’ friends told him, he made the adamant position that unless he saw the nail prints in Jesus’ hands, put his finger into the nail prints & touched Jesus’ side where He was pierced, he wouldn’t believe.  Thomas’ belief had 3 pre-qualifiers, all based on physical evidence.

It’s interesting to me that we don’t read about any of Thomas’ friends getting cranky with Thomas for his unbelief – despite all of them following Jesus for 2+ years and seeing all kinds of crazy miracles.  But no one criticized nor chastized Thomas for doubting – maybe they accepted the truth that Thomas was on a journey of faith, not much different from their own journey.

Just because someone is at a different place in their journey of faith doesn’t give us the right to be critical of their lack of faith, anymore than we would want someone to criticize us for some faith deficiencies & shortcomings.  Let’s decide to encourage each other in our journey of faith & not throw rocks when someone is struggling with unbelief – indeed, faith works by love ,)

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, values, watch, 0 comments

stop waiting: faith and action

If the truth be known, I’m not so good at waiting & I’m trying to get better at that whole foreign concept.  I tend to jump in & ask questions later, often getting WAY OVER MY HEAD & then freaking out.  I probably lead with my heart & let my brain come along for the ride from time to time.  Clearly, this has gotten me into some hot water & mildly comical situations, more than I’d like to admit.  But on the flip side, it’s also made for some really outrageous adventures & results, most of which I totally love 🙂

Thankfully, God has surrounded me with people who have their feet on the ground & keep me from floating away into some dreamy oblivion.  But perhaps God has me in the lives of these very grounded people, as well, so they can go & do far beyond their natural thinking.  Let’s value how God has made each of us & readily align our lives with faith, which is by definition belief in action 🙂

plankville

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spiritual chats

I had an interesting discussion recently with a friend related to talking with people about Jesus. It seems to me that sometimes we can get a little jittery about talking about Jesus with someone who isn’t necessarily a follower of Him (particularly if you lean in the introvert zone). Our culture also says that we are supposed to be tolerant & any overt or heavy duty proselytizing is nothing less than entirely offensive, rude & even repulsive. So talking about Jesus can get dicey.
So here’s an interesting thought, let’s start having spiritual conversations in our daily living, even with people who don’t necessarily believe the same way you do. Some things that can be helpful when having spiritual conversations include:
*listen: ask questions & pay attention
*respect: winning, convincing, coercing & shame don’t belong in these kinds of conversations; be gentle
*avoid the subjunctive: “should” & “ought to” tend to be unhelpful at best
*have spiritual chats with followers of Jesus: share with someone what God has been speaking with you about

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, values, watch, 1 comment

hot topic: Mars Hill Church closing

Recently, the controversial pastor Mark Driscoll resigned from being the lead pastor for Mars Hill Church in Seattle.  Yesterday, the church announced that it was disbanding and dissolving all of its satellite campuses, giving each location freedom to chart it’s own path for the future.  Being a pastor’s kid and having lived in church for most of my life, this announcement saddens me for various reasons:

  • as humans, we often fall into the trap of following people more than we follow Jesus
  • oftentimes the people we think are leading us closer to Christ are made of the same flawed flesh in which we live and breath
  • we struggle with how to keep each other accountable without being judgmental, intolerant or divisive
  • we are susceptible to many internal deceptions that stroke our flesh and poison our passion for Jesus
  • somewhere it talks about striking the shepherd and scattering the sheep

So here’s my point:  there are lots of hurt, confused and disillusioned people from all of this fallout with Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll, many of whom have followed Jesus because of Pastor Mark’s leadership and influence, as well as the communities that had formed around the satellite churches connected with Mars Hill.  In 1Cor 12, Paul talks about the how the body of Christ functions together, diverse parts and pieces working together in complementary more than competitive ways, promoting Jesus in all ways and opportunities.  In Galatians 6, Paul talks about how we should bear each other’s burdens, restoring, assisting and being part of Jesus’ redemptive work.

So as members of the body of Christ, let’s be devoted to pray for this situation and moreso for the people who may find themselves floundering from all of these changes.  Let’s pray:

  • that the enemy does not make progress with this opportunity for strife, dissension and conflict
  • for the body of Christ that has been a part of the Mars Hill fellowship – let’s pray for their hearts
  • that God redeems this hardship and struggle

 

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, hot topic, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, values, watch, 2 comments