Tag: holy spirit (page 1 of 2)

5 Words that Made me Stop

I’m a “J” on the Myers Briggs. That means I like quick decision-making and closure. I’m impulsive. A “jump first, ask questions later” kind of girl. Can anyone relate?

So a few weeks ago when I sensed a prompting (that I thought was from God), I was ready to act on it. Like immediately.

This nudge involved speaking a loving question into a friend’s life, but it was about a painful subject .

And then, this morning, before I did anything (this is one reason why morning quiet time is crucial for me! :)) I read 2 Samuel 2:1 “David inquired of the Lord”. The sentence sounded familiar so I checked in Bible Gateway. Sure enough I had read a version of  that same phrase 9 times about David! But this morning I didn’t just read it, I heard it as an additional reminder to me from God.

These 5 words stopped me in my tracks.

Inquiring of the Lord is a check-in with our divine Mentor of sorts. For me it meant praying about my prompting. “Lord this is what I THINK you want me to do. Will you confirm it in my spirit if so? Will you give me Your words if it is Your will?” And then I was still. (Always VERY hard for me!)

The way the Lord answered was to encourage me to put myself in my friend’s place.

Are the words you feel prompted to speak true? Yes.

Would they feel helpful or life-giving to you if you were in her place? Yes.

Are they necessary? No, they are not necessary I guess. I’m sure You, Lord, could find another way to talk to her, but You tapped me, and You remind me “put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” (Eph. 4:25)

After “inquiring of the Lord” and really trying to listen for His response, I prayerfully wrote a note to my friend. Thankfully she received it with gratitude and reflection.

However, there have been times when I thought I was responding to a prompting, only to be blasted by the receiver, causing me to slink away like a scolded puppy. There have been other times when I haven’t spoken up in spite of a prompting and have regretted it as I watched a friend walk into ruin.

Bottom line? I think all we can do is our part – be attentive to the Holy Spirit and carefully inquire of the Lord before we speak. Then have the courage to either speak up or keep our mouths shut with courage as He leads us.

What has your experience been with nudges from the Holy Spirit?

 

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3 Questions For Tense Days in America

It’s been an unsettling couple weeks, hasn’t it? Kind of like someone shook up our snow globe of life and we’re trying to figure out where things are going to settle.

Sunday morning husband John and I arrived home from a trip in time to overlap briefly with our daughter and son-in-law who were in town for a wedding. We went to brunch before taking them back to the airport, talking non-stop, trying to squeeze 24 hours into our 5 hours together.

We talked a lot about the sad state of our country and the mandate we feel to do what we can to stand up for those who are being persecuted, but the tone of our conversation left me a bit troubled. Our talk was marked more by righteous indignation, anger and judgment than anything else. We shared outrageous tweets and news stories we had seen.

Later, I was reading in Acts 6 where the disciples are choosing men for special work. They look for “people whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense…”

One they choose is Stephen who is described as “full of faith and the Holy Spirit…”

Later, in verse 8 it says, “Stephen, brimming with God’s grace and energy, was doing wonderful things among the people, unmistakable signs that God was among them.”

So, here’s the uncomfortable part. Would anyone listening to our conversation Sunday have identified me as “full of the Holy Spirit”? “Brimming with God’s grace and energy”? Not so much.

I’d be golden if a fruit of the Spirit was anger or frustration or criticism!

Yes, we need to speak truth. We need to rail against injustice. But bringing the kingdom of God will not happen if we are sucked into a vortex of CNN and Twitter madness that just fuels our anger.

To make a difference we need to be different.

We need to use different language, words marked by the grace and wisdom of Jesus.

We need to have a different spirit –  the Spirit of Jesus.

If we are to be the non-anxious presence, we need to be rooted and grounded first in Jesus.

So, 3 questions I’ve been asking myself:

  1. Am I taking time to be still, to breathe deep, to pray up, to fill up with the words of Jesus? Or am I turning first to news outlets?
  2. If someone overheard my conversation today would they note anything of Jesus in it? Anything different from the world? Am I listening with respect to the other?
  3. What does love require of me? 

“Wage peace.

Conspire justice.

Plot goodness.

Devise forgiveness.

Scheme mercy

Incite reconciliation.

Foment inclusion.

Practice resurrection.” Nathan Hamm

 

The 3 Words You Need in the Costco Parking Lot or ________________

I’m taking a blogging sabbatical this summer, but will occasionally be sharing some posts from the past.

In spite of my vow never to leave Minnesota in the summer, Friday I leave on a trip to Northerwestern Kenya to take a closer look at the work World Vision is doing in maternal and child health and learn how to be a better advocate. Traveling in the developing world always requires me to lay aside any agenda or timetable, so this post from a few years ago is a good reminder to me. Maybe you too.

I was maneuvering laboriously, with stops and starts, through the parking lot at Costco yesterday, thinking for the millionth time that the Costco parking lot is either an outer ring of hell or a brilliant opportunity for spiritual formation.  

As I dodged runaway giant shopping carts,

and waited for pedestrians absorbed in studying their shopping lists wandering blindly in the middle of the row,

and backed up for cars in front of me that slammed on their brakes upon spying the tell-tale white reverse lights of a car vacating a parking place they could nab

I thought of a spiritual practice a friend of mine has been advocating.  The simple practice of saying “Come Holy Spirit” throughout the day in situations like this that require patience, understanding, and discipline beyond me.

When I say “Come Holy Spirit” it reminds me that God is with me in every small moment.  It encourages me to try to see the situation through His eyes.  It reminds me of His character.  It says, “I’m depending on your power because I’m weak as a baby and about as mature.  I need you.  Your power perfected in my weakness.”

I love to think about Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.  He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…

Which of these names do you most need to be reminded of today?

Come Holy Spirit.

Come Counselor.

Come Mighty God.

Come Everlasting Father.

Come Prince of Peace.

Come.  

Even to the Costco parking lot.

A Reminder For Days When the World Seems to Be a Windstorm of Evil

As I write this I’m sitting outside in Lilongwe, Malawi. I write “November 18” in my journal, but it seems incongruous to think of cold gray skies and bare trees at home when it may reach 100 degrees in the afternoon here.

Now, at 6 a.m. though, it is tolerable and a breeze blows like it has continually since we arrived.

Sometimes gentle, sometimes with more confidence, the wind blows.

We receive news that the world seems to be crashing this week – chaotic, mean, angry, divisive. ISIS, racism, guns, immigrants without welcome…

And yet, in this tiny country that few can find on a map, the wind of God’s Spirit still blows.

We sit with people from around the world, joining hands and hearts with our hosts, who include some of the “least of these”.

We sit under a Baobab tree sharing stories, and the breeze whispers around us, and each time I am reminded that God’s spirit is still here, still at work and I think of another time the Wind was felt.

When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them. Acts 2:1-4

I sit and feel the breeze under the trees as a thankful community dances and sings around a well of clean water that they helped build with World Vision, that they know how to fix, that has changed their life – from despair to joy, from sickness to health. Continue reading

What Does “Witnessing” Look Like?

Monday I was out mowing the lawn on the steep hill in front of our house.  Back and forth under and around the trees, sweating.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw two pairs of women with young girls, Bibles in hand, making their way down our street, stopping at each house.  Jehovah’s Witnesses.  With invitations.

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I thought, “Ugh!  They have no relationship with me and they’re going to try to convert me.  I’m a challenge to them.  A project.  A name to add to their list.” (Christians would never do that! :))

My first inclination was to keep my head down and keep mowing, hoping that they’d take the hint and pass me by.  But then that pesky Holy Spirit reminded me of what I had been reading.  How I had been impressed by Phillip’s example of just asking a question of the Ethiopian who didn’t know Jesus (Acts 8) and how Jesus had modeled asking the question “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10)

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Can you Hear Him Now, and Does it Matter?

It’s summer, the glorious Minnesota summer of silver lakes with brightly colored sailboats leaning into the wind, and cheery cardinals in my back yard, and fifty shades of green, growing as enthusiastically as possible before the all-too short season ends.

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The other day I’m running.  And sweating.  A lot.  And thinking I am going to die (as usual). But I’m also on pace to go farther than I ever have.

I am scuffling around the east side of Lake of the Isles when I see a middle-aged woman sitting on a park bench.  She’s rubbing her eyes, looking like she might be crying.

IMG_2413Since I run at the pace of a turtle I have time to have a little conversation with God before I am too far gone.

God whisper: Maybe you should stop and ask if she’s ok.

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Invitations and the Three Things You Need

I’m not that person.  I’m not the sell-everything-move-to-the-slums-of-Calcutta-like-Mother-Theresa person.  That’s not the invitation I’ve sensed from God.  Yet.

I’m an ordinary girl trying to follow Jesus where He’s put me and getting it wrong a lot.

But if there’s one passion I have, it’s responding to the invitations God extends, as crazy as they might seem in my ordinary world.

The thing is these invitations rarely arrive in a giant Oscar-like envelope with a red seal screaming “THIS IS IMPORTANT!  PAY ATTENTION!”

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We long for invitation, but sometimes we have to lean close because the invitation is a whisper not a shout.

Recently, Bob Goff wrote,

“Jesus won’t try to speak over the noise in our lives; love whispers so we won’t be confused about who’s doing the talking.”

Sometimes it’s a whispered invitation to stop.  And do something you’ve never done before.  Something a tiny bit scary, or uncomfortable, or potentially embarrassing.

The whispered invitation may come right in your cramped apartment, or in your dysfunctional family, or on the road to work.

The invitation might look like a Jamaican cleaning woman stranded on the side of the road needing a ride,

or an injustice that begs for a note to your congressperson,

or a kid who could use a mentor or a meal.

The other day I saw a friend of mine who responded to the quiet invitation from God to take her aging parent for a delightful afternoon tea out, giving her mom loving attention and a listening ear no matter how confused she got.

Here’s the thing though.  I believe three ingredients are needed if you’re going to respond to these gentle, holy invitations.

An eye, an ear, an hour.

An eye for those in need, an ear attuned to the whispered prompts of God, and the time to respond.

I guess maybe the fourth thing that is needed is a willingness to actually do the work of responding, but the element that I think is most often missing in our lives, the thing that prevents us from responding to God’s invitations, is lack of margin.

A mentor of mine always said, “If you’re too busy to take a pot of soup to someone in need, you’re too busy.”

I know, I know…in some seasons margin is beyond our control.  And maybe the person in need is you.  You’re the perpetual care-giver who, like Elijah after an intense season, needs to respond to the whispered invitation for a snack and a nap.*

Then do that.  Pray. Rest.  Replenish.

But whether God whispers an invitation to be part of some kingdom work, or kingdom rest today, which element is most likely to get in the way of you responding?  An eye to see the needs, an ear to heaven, the guts to respond, or the time to do it?

God, show me where You want to work today, and invite me to be a part of it.  I’m trying to pay attention.

*1st Kings 19

What do You do With a Crazy God Whisper?

I’m not a mystic.  I’ve never heard the audible voice of God, and if you’ve read read this blog at all, you know that being alone with Him, without any other people around to fill the silence with laughter and music and celebrity gossip has been an acquired taste.

But probably the most life-giving, growing edge to my faith over the past twenty years has been paying attention to the promptings of God through the Holy Spirit.

This may sound sacrilegious, but it’s kind of like going on a joy ride with your crazy aunt and not knowing where you’ll end up.  You think she’s gonna zig and she zags.  You think you’re lost and bam!  You arrive at the edge of the Grand Canyon – more exhilarating than any snapshot could have prepared you for.

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On Stopping and More Tortillas

I stopped and talked to the homeless guy yesterday.

Yeah, that guy I’ve written about before. Ever present.  With the sign.

I drove up the ramp off the highway and the light was green so I didn’t have to stop and sit in the car next to him and his sign that reminds me he’s hungry and homeless while I wait.

I didn’t have to stare straight ahead, pretending I didn’t notice him.

The light was green.

The light said “go”

But I sensed the Spirit saying, “Stop.”

Ugggghhh.  I had a 23 second argument with God.

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When God Talks Crazy to You

There’s this homeless guy that I see many days.

He hangs out at the end of the ramp from the main highway near where I live.

He has a backpack and a cardboard sign.

He keeps regular hours.  Basically 9:00-5:00 as best I can tell.  Every day.

You know, like a real job.

This is a little confusing to me. I’ve often thought I should take the time to park and go ask him if he wants help applying for a job at one of the many businesses right near his spot.

I keep McDonald’s gift cards in my car that I give him sometimes when the light is red.

And I talk to him.  I’ve asked his name, but I can’t remember it.  Of course I sometimes forget the names of people I’ve met 12 times, but still, I’m not proud that I can’t remember homeless guy’s name.

Last Sunday I was driving to church with John’s sport coat and a nice black shirt in the car with me.

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