Tag: Holy Spirit (page 1 of 2)

Listening like a Leaf

 

I cannot expect to feel the wind if I never get outside.

 

So why do I expect I can hear the Spirit if I never give myself space to listen?

 

We fill our days with so many things. Good things. Important things. We read. We watch. We play. We build. We cook. We talk.

 

How often do we bring ourselves into silent spaces?

 

I get frustrated because I want to feel God’s presence and hear His voice more tangibly in my life. But I wonder how much of that is on me.

 

When I give Him only a moment, how can I expect more than a whisper?

 

Listening to the Holy Spirit means being shaken like a leaf in the wind.

shaken by the Spirit

To let that happen, I need to go where the Spirit is. To find where it is silent so I can hear Him. To find where He is moving so I can feel Him.

 

I seek entertainment more than I seek meaning. I seek satisfaction more than I seek calling.

 

Holy Spirit, I want to go where you are. I want to make space for you to come where I am.  I want to listen and I want to move. I want my life to be about more than the next little thing.

 

I want it to be about what matters: You and how You are transforming the world.

 

The wind is blowing. I want to feel. I want to listen. I want to be moved.

 

Five Minute FridayThis post is linking up with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. A weekly prompt with strict instructions: write for 5 minutes and post. No over-editing. No do-overs. An practice of freedom. A way to let go of perfectionism. An exercise for some not often used writing muscles. Read more posts or link up over there. Today’s prompt was: LISTEN.
(Full disclosure: I write the post in 5 minutes, but I take a little extra time to create a graphic to go with it. I think that’s still okay according to the rules…)

Please Talk about the Bible

 

I have noticed a trend that is bothering me.

 

Too many people feel uncomfortable talking about the Bible.

 

The great tools available to help us interpret the Scriptures have somehow become trappings that are stifling our voices.

 

We go to churches with gifted, dynamic, and intelligent speakers. (Or, if we don’t, we listen to podcasts of churches that do.) We read articles and books and blogs by writers who have advanced degrees in biblical history and languages. We interact with professional pastors who are paid to read the Scriptures.

 

We listen and read and study and learn. And, then, after all that absorbing, we feel inadequate.

 

Who am I to talk about the Bible? I don’t know Hebrew or Greek. I am not a trained minister. I am not a gifted theologian. It is not my role.

 

talk about the BibleYes. It is your role. Talking about the Bible is the role of each of us who have a copy of it in our hands.

 

Studying, speaking, and writing about the Bible is not a job best left for the experts.

 

Just to be clear, I believe in the work of biblical experts.

 

I count it a privilege to read the works of theologians and scholars that can deepen my understanding of its words. The Bible is not simple. It is a complicated text entrenched in culture and history. Professionals can shed light on the nuances and difficulties that we didn’t hear about in Sunday School or memory verse drills.

 

But I also believe in the Holy Spirit.

 

The Word of God is alive and active. When we read it, if we allow Him to, God uses the verses to change us. The Bible feeds our souls, convicts us of our sins, inspires us to live differently, and reminds of God’s redemption story.

 

When that happens to you, I want to hear about it. It keeps me accountable to reading the Bible, too. Not because someone is telling me to, but because I am inspired by hearing someone else’s story of why the words of the Scripture matter.

 

That’s not to say that every time we read the Bible there are lightning bolts and fuzzy feelings and rainbows in the sky. Sometimes we walk away frustrated or confused. We wonder why in the world God put that verse or that story in with the rest of the text.

 

When that happens to you, I want to hear about it. It shows me I am not alone in my frustrations. It allows us to wrestle with the Scriptures together instead of question alone. It reminds me that it is okay if I don’t have all the answers and cannot bring everything to a nice and tidy conclusion.

 

When you read the Bible, I want to hear about it.

 

I want to be reminded that the living Holy Spirit weaves these living Words into the living body of His Church. I want to appreciate that reading the Bible is not always about being accurate to the text, but also about being accessible to its power.  I want to be encouraged to keep on reading when I feel like giving up.

 

Talking about the Bible is not the job of professional pastors, it is the work of the God’s people. So please, tell me what you are reading in the Scriptures. You are my pastor, too.

An Open Letter from a Faith Blogger to the God She Writes About

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

 

I don’t know how to process what is on my heart today.

 

I am not sure if these words should be written here, on my site, or if they are private utterances that should be left between You and I in my journal. Something tells me the public space is appropriate for this reflection, but even as I type, I am unsure.

 

That’s just it. I am never sure. I am never sure what I should be writing for the world, and what I should be writing for just You or just me.

 

I don’t know how to be a faith blogger.

 

That’s technically what I am, right? I don’t mind the category. It’s what I like to write about the most: how I see You moving in the world around me, and what I see You saying in Your Word.

 

The thing is that I don’t know is how to be a faith blogger whose faith remains true and vibrant.

 

I notice myself analyzing almost every situation in terms of what would fit into a 140 character tweet or written about in a compelling 600 word blog post. Have I started to squeeze You into a box of my own making? Am I shoving away the mystery?

 

There is so much about faith that cannot be summed up in these digital spaces and confined words.

 

I wonder sometimes if faith blogging limits my faith.

 

And yet, I have seen how blogging has cultivated my faith. The processing I have done in this space has grown me in innumerable ways. I treasure the community of people I am getting to know, who are welcoming my words into their lives.

 

Father, how can something be so helpful and so frustrating at the same time?

 

Oh, those moments when I feel a prompt from You to write. When I share something You have been teaching me and it hits home for others, too. The joy I feel to be in step with Your Spirit. I am honored and humbled by the ways You have used this space.

 

But in one more post, that feeling turns on its head. I try to write a post as successful as the last, and it comes up short. Just one comment. No shares. Embarrassing statistics. And on the same day, that other writer, that master of words I admire from afar, that writer has a post that spreads like wildfire.

 

And I wonder, who am I? Are You really using me at all?

 

I take matters into my own hands and I fail. The comparisons trap my trust in You beneath their weight. I am sorry God. I am sorry I forget so easily about that conversation we had at the beginning of all this.

 

You know, that talk You gave me when only a handful of people read my posts at all. When I wondered what in the world I was doing and if I should keep it up. But then, I had that phone conversation with someone I care about, telling me how my words had made a difference.

 

It was such a gentle word You gave me that day. The way You reminded me of the story of the lost sheep. That You are a God who goes after the one. You are not about numbers, You are about people.

 

If I pour my heart out in this space and touch only one other person’s life, that is a rich exchange in Your economy.

 

I’m sorry that I so often get caught up in the wrong things. This is not about the numbers of readers I have. This is not about how many times a post gets shared. This is not about how my writing skills compare to those of another.

 

This is about You. A living and active God moving in the world, and in each of our lives. This is about us, sharing stories, and reminding each other that our faith is true and we are not alone. This is about the way You can connect strangers who have never met to help each other in our times of need.

 

Faith blogging is a frustrating, difficult, miraculous, and beautiful responsibility.

 

Thank You for letting me have this space. Help me to honor You well in the midst of it.

 

I love You.

 

Signed,

Your Beloved Child

 

hope and disappointment

I had a difficult start to my week. Why? Because I am a Packers fan. And the Packers lost on Sunday night.

I don’t know if you are a football fan. If not, you might not understand just how disappointing this was to me. The Packers were 15-1 for the season. There were high hopes of a Super Bowl appearance this year. THIS YEAR, the year I am living in Indianapolis, where the Super Bowl will be.

I’m not sure I have wanted a win as badly as I wanted the win this past Sunday. Which is what made the loss all the more difficult to bear.

Sports are full of wins and losses. And it seems that just as “the thrill of victory” tastes sweeter to the underdog who wasn’t supposed to win, “the agony of defeat” stings harder against those who were favored.

Sports can reflect a lot about human nature.

Low expectations are safe. When losses happen, they roll off our back, because we knew it would be that way anyway. When wins happen, they come to us as sweet surprises. High expectations are dangerous. When wins happen, we sigh with relief. When losses happen, they come to us as bitter surprises.

Crushed hopes hurt. They make us wonder if it is worth hoping at all. We fear being disappointed again.

Life with God is a story of hope. A hope that life can be more. Hope of forgiveness. Hope of reconciliation. Hope of love. Hope of an eternal relationship with God.

Yet, sometimes, doubts rise up. What if, when we get to the end of this life, we find out we were wrong? What if God isn’t really there? What if our hopes are dashed?

I think fear of crushed hope keeps many people from following God. But, Romans 5:1-5 tells us we don’t have to be afraid,

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Hope in God will not disappoint us. That does not mean we will not have trouble in this life. In fact, these verses tell us we will. But, we can see that trouble through an eternal perspective. Trouble does not indicate that our hope is in the wrong place.

But still, how do we know? How do we know God is real? How do we know there really is an eternity to look forward to?

Because unlike football, life is not a game. A sudden injury, bad call, or dropped pass will not destroy our hope. God has given us a guarantee. He does not just say, “wait until the end, and you will be with me.” He gives us His presence now. He gives us His Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is not just our conscience. The Holy Spirit is God’s presence. The Holy Spirit is the manifestation of hope. 

We don’t have to wait to find out if we have peace with God. Our hope is fulfilled the moment we believe in Jesus. The moment we seek forgiveness through Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us. Our hope is alive and real.

* Photo Credit: Phil Roeder, flickr.com

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