The Words We Speak

Love

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

(Ephesians 4:29)

 

I saw a response to a post this week – on another website – where the person commenting began with the words, “Alright, first of all, you’re an idiot.” I was struck by how casually hurtful – even abusive – that sentence was.

I’ve really become conscious lately of the power of the words I speak. I can be abusive, saying anything that causes harm and wounds the spirit of another, or I can speak words that are an encouragement to others. I want my words to continually speak blessings to those I interact with. First, though, I must listen – really listen – trying to discern the heart of the person I’m talking with.

One of the most powerful ways I’ve found to speak blessing over another is to aknowledge what I see God doing in their heart. As Christians, too often we journey alone, and we long to hear someone say we’re on the right track, and that the love of God is visible in our hearts and lives. I know I long for that, and I imagine many others do as well.

If you see God visible in someone, tell them. Speak words of blessing, speak words of love. And God will be honored and lifted up.

 

 

Follow the Spirit

dove

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.

(Galatians 5:16)

How do we let the Holy Spirit guide our lives?

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

(Galatians 5;22)

The presence of the Spirit of God is obvious. So are the consequences of not  following the Spirit. In everything we do, we have a choice: Act out of love or self-interest. Create joy or create pain. Bring peace or bring conflict and discord.

Follow the Spirit, and you will always know what to do.

Don’t Worry…

 

surrenderDon’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for what he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.(Philippians 4:6-7)

Almost every day I find myself in a conversation with someone who is worried, concerned or fearful about something in their lives. I’ve done it myself far too many times – stressed over something for days or weeks before finally taking it to the Lord in prayer. It really doesn’t make sense for a child of God to live like that. Worry is like praying for what you don’t want, and that doesn’t make much sense for a child of God either.

These verses don’t promise us freedom from troubles in this life, just a divine peace as we move through life. That’s good enough for me.

 

Making Faith Grow

Some observations from today’s discussion of faith, taken from the story of Stephen in Acts 6-7:

  • “And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility.” (Acts 6:3) . We have almost completely lost this perspective when choosing church leaders today. 
  • Stephen is described as a man a “man full of faith and the Holy Spirit” (verse 5) 

How does one become “full of faith”? 

  1. Taking risks. A ‘step of faith’ requires uncertainty, requires entering into the unknown. It requires us to trust God for a successful outcome and, when we experience success, our faith grows. Even when we experience failure, we often come to a deeper understanding of God as a result.
  2. Faithful in a little, faithful in a lot. Stephen was given a task that might have seemed menial. He was asked to take on the role of a servant, and God increased his role. Making our faith grow requires us to first be ‘faith-full’ with what we have right now. Which leads to our third point…
  3. Don’t worry. Trust God for the every day things of life, trust God amidst the ordinariness of life. God will provide. God is already where you need to be, and God already has what you need to have. God is not sweating it.

12 Symptoms…

12-Symptoms-Of-Spiritual-Awakening

This has been making the rounds on Facebook and on the Intertubes lately. I rather like what it says – in fact, it reminds me of the spontaneous joy I felt when I returned to the Lord after many years of absence.

Might I suggest…

  1. An increased tendency to follow the leading of the Spirit, rather than trying to force things to happen
  2. Frequent attacks of smiling.
  3. Feeling of being connected with others, nature and God.
  4. Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation – and worship.
  5. A tendency to think and act with trust in God, rather than from fears based on past experiences.
  6. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment and the desire to share that enjoyment with others.
  7. A heart broken by conflict – and a deep rooted desire for peace and reconciliation.
  8. A loss of interest in judging others.
  9. A deeply felt longing for holiness.
  10. Gaining the ability to love God, love others and love ourselves, just as Jesus said.

Why the need to re-write what is already a beautiful and heartfelt document? I’m finding – as part of my own journey away from religion and toward spirituality – that “spiritual but not religious” often translates into self-absorption, and actually feeds the ego, which is the exact opposite of the intent of all truly spiritual practices. Without God, we have nothing to direct our spiritual practices toward, we have nothing larger than our self for our lives to be in dialogue with, and we must then necessarily turn inwards. We thus elevate the ego, forever seeking after spiritual practices that make us feel good about ourselves, creating the illusion of a spiritual self in a material world.

And point number 7, as written in the original, is exactly what Jesus didn’t mean when he said, “Blessed are the peacemakers…” As Christians we are, I believe, called to the sacramental ministry of reconciliation, healing and restoration.

 

Be Still…

Last Sunday, Chad wrote this while at Third Space. A bit of inspired wisdom…

Be still and know that I am God. Why are you trying so hard to find me when I am right here with you? Step back and open your eyes.

I will always be there with you, I will never let you go or let you down.

Spiritual Formation in Community

023“Spiritual formation occurs primarily in the context of community. People who remain connected with their brothers and sisters in the local church almost invariably grow in self-understanding, and they mature in their ability to relate in healthy ways to God and to their fellow human beings.

This is especially the case for those courageous Christians who stick it out through the often messy process of interpersonal discord an conflict resolution. Long-term interpresonal relationships are the crucible of genuine progress in the Christian life. People who stay also grow.”

From “When the Church Was a Family: Recapturing Jesus’ Vision for Authentic Christian Community” by Joseph H. Hellerman

Micro-Church / Dinner Church

Dinner ChurchYou’ve heard of the ‘Mega-Church’? Meet the Micro-Church. A quote from the full article:

And so here we are, with our thousand square feet. Designing a space for a Dinner Church has been a curious process. We’ll have no steeple, no bell tower, no rows of pews or stained glass windows. During a community planning process this Spring, our architect asked the congregation, “What makes space sacred?” Quiet, they told her. Beautiful things made by hand. Natural materials. The way the light comes in.

And…

And what happens around those tables, designed to encourage the people of God to see one another, face to face? I would argue that justice, too, begins on a micro-scale at our church. It starts small, with relationships built around the table. I believe that every time a congregation sits down with someone from whom they would otherwise be divided, justice is made. The conversation between the recently homeless man and the recent college graduate. She may have passed him on a street corner earlier today, but tonight they are talking over a bowl of stir fry. Later, they will do the dishes together. And after that they may change their corner of the world for the better. To know the other always takes place on the smallest level possible: one human sitting down with another. But in doing so, we encounter something huge: the limitless presence of God.

Prayer for Sunday Morning

celtic_crossGiver of Life,

We acknowledge that this is sacred space.

We acknowledge that this is a time and a place that we set apart in our lives so that we might meet with you.

We long to hear your voice.
We long to hear your affirmation of love for us.
We long to know your heart.
We long to experience your touch.

We acknowledge, that we are broken people.

We have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
We have become immune to sin, comfortable with sin, on speaking terms with sin.
We have had sins done to us, and carry their darkness and pain.
We have witnessed the sinfulness of the world, even as we bear witness to our own sinfulness.

Forgive us, Lord.

We want to hear your voice in the sacred space of our minds.
We want to hear your affirmation in the sacred space of our longing.
We want to know your heart in the sacred space of our heart.
We want to experience your touch in the sacred space of our need.

We acknowledge that we are a people being healed.
We acknowledge that we are people who have been freed from death.
We acknowledge that all the love, the power, the glory and the blessings of God
are ours in Jesus Christ,
And we are grateful.

Amen.