stretch

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.

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
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

I wonder if God doesn’t want us to stretch more: to stretch our faith, to stretch our compassion, to stretch our endurance & maybe stretch in some other areas. Today, I had to stretch past my natural limits in lots of ways.
Since I’m here in Cambodia, I need to stretch my time so that I can be fully spent when I leave. I did this well today because God helped me. This day was overflowing with accomplishments & productivity! I also felt my compassion stretch today, such that I didn’t pull away from broken people & I felt God’s love pour through me. I was also stretched today in the area of wisdom, as I had some challenging conversations that exceeded my natural abilities. Stretching helps us to stay nimble & flexible, maybe helping us obey & follow God better!
Let’s allow God to stretch us!

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by sarahbowling in busy, Cambodia, enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

Keep Fresh ,)

There were a few years when my parents bought a fresh tree for Christmas. Unfortunately, we didn’t stick the stump in a bucket of water so it quickly became a fire hazard, a delight to my dad & me, since we were both pyromaniacs ,)
By the grace of God & only God, we never burned down our house, with a few close calls. 

So keeping things fresh is important & here are some suggestions:

  • Keep your mistakes fresh & new – stale & repeat mistakes aren’t helpful
  • Forgiveness needs to stay fresh – crusty forgiveness usually becomes brittle & broken
  • Love Jesus with fresh ideas – routines can help us be consistent but fresh & present love keeps us intimate with Jesus & sometimes the best way to love Jesus is to love people well
  • Fresh thinking is helpful for resolving old problems – consider reading some books that you don’t normally read
  • Fun friends – meeting new people can be challenging & rewarding; consider some extra listening & open heart to make fresh connections with new friends 🙂

Let’s keep fresh & perky 🙂

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by Sarah in busy, Christmas, cooking, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, nightcare, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, travel, values, watch, 0 comments