Commune

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Commune as a verb means “to communicate intimately.”

Community is a “unified body of individuals.”

Communion means “an act or instance of sharing.”

Webster’s Dictionary is one of my favorite places to bring clarity in my life. The definitions help me understand what I am writing or saying. This past weekend I went to the Propel Activate conference by Christine Caine. It got me thinking and brought up some questions to seek answers to in my life.

Lisa Harper, a hysterically funny, godly woman, said “Community with others is not communion with God.” This phrase hasn’t left me. I often consider my powerful time of community with friends who love Jesus as communion with God. Before I even looked up the definition of commune, I knew that it meant intimacy. I am developing intimacy with my friends I fellowship with. I have community. I am with a unified body of individuals. I am not, however, connecting with God in this same way.

Communion with God is to commune with God. To be sharing intimacy with Him. To communicate intimately with Him. I do that daily. I just don’t do it as much as I do with my friends. I can spend hours chatting without running out of topics with my friends. I spend five minutes in prayer and I am often at a loss. What else can I say? Who can I pray for? There are also times when I am in prayer or studying God’s word that I lose track of time. However, those times are less frequent.

My desire is to increase my communion with God. (I am not talking the partaking of the bread and  wine, by the way. That is one definition of the word communion. I am referring to my act of sharing intimately with God.) How can I do this?

  • Set a timer and spend time in prayer. Each week increase the time by 5 minutes.
  • Read God’s word every day and spend time listening for his response.
  • Cut one of my sitcoms from my watch list and replace that time with intentional time pursuing God.
  • When I want to call a friend for help, spend at least a few minutes talking to God about it first.
  • Look for ways each day to connect with Him in new and unique circumstances.

As I work on this intentional pursuit for communion with God, new ideas will form. I will share them as they do. I encourage you to find more time to commune with God this week. Increase your time of intimacy with Him.

“Be still, and know that I am God” – Psalm 46:10 NIV

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Boundaries

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I am a communicator. I am a speaker, writer and singer. I communicate through spoken and written (and sung) word. I love to talk. I am like Mike Brady with my kids – a simple concept or reprimand becomes a long dissertation. Per their request, I am shortening my lectures. However, I like to talk and discuss and communicate.

I learned something this week though. You can set a boundary in your relationship and not tell the other person …. and that’s OK.

In relational issues, I like to hash it out. Talk it to death on occasion. I would process for a long time and come up with a boundary to protect me and/or the relationship.

SIDENOTE: If you don’t know what I mean by boundary let me explain. Let’s say your friend is perpetually late for your time together. You tell your friend, I will wait 15 minutes then I will get on with my night if you don’t show by then. If your friend is late, you implement the boundary. If she’s on time, you both grew from the experience and your friendship continues to thrive without resentment.

So, I have decided on a few things I am going to change with a few people in my life. Instead of my normal long conversation and negotiating with the friend, I am just going to do it. In these cases, I have already had several conversations that haven’t been fruitful. Now, I make changes.

You may ask, why not communicate the change? Because I don’t want the excuses or drama that will accompany the conversation. Because the changes are subtle and may not even be noticed by the other party. Because I want to protect the relationship and these changes allow me to stay in without being dragged down.

If you find yourself in conflict with a friend, or even just resenting a pattern you two have allowed to creep into your time together, I encourage you to prayerfully consider setting a boundary. You decide if it needs to be communicated or just implemented. Both are acceptable. Both bring results. Both protect your relationship.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

 

P.S. I am going to write about a fantastic movie I just saw “About Time.” It’s several years old and rated R (for language and some sexual references). I am giving you a few weeks to watch it before I write spoilers. It is one of the best, thought-provoking, heart-warming movies I have seen in a while. You can rent it on Amazon Prime for $2.99.

Questions

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My middle daughter loves to ask questions. When she was little, “why?” was her favorite phrase. Now that she’s a teenager “why?” is still her favorite phrase. Honestly, it drives me crazy. I can’t just say “because” either. She is inquisitive and wants a legitimate answer. I believe she deserves a legitimate answer too. So we spend quite a bit of time debating when she doesn’t agree with my answer. It makes for some lively conversations.

When is the last time you questioned something? A big thing now at many street corners is “no right turn on red.” Why this light and not the other one? Some I can clearly see the blind spot and understand why. Others, make no sense at all to me. I obey either way to avoid a ticket. Yet I still wonder why. With school starting many of us are writing checks for clubs and activities. Maybe we take time this year to ask the organization “how do you spend that money?” I don’t know where it all goes I just write the check.

Recently a dear friend of mine was moved to a new position at his work. He had been a worship pastor for years. He has some physical ailments that need to be healed before he can return to playing an instrument. However, I noticed no one asked any questions. Why can’t he still oversee the worship ministry like always but just not play the piano? Why can’t he plan the order of service? Why can’t he invest in the voices of the youth but not be their accompanist? Yet, no one is asking questions. One of the main reasons, it’s a church.

We are taught at a young age to never question the church or the Bible or even God. Guess what? God can handle it. Your church, they may be able to handle it. If not, it’s good for them to learn how to. You may help your church body grow by asking questions and striving for answers. The Bible can’t answer back but you can research your questions to find answers. So start questioning.

Why aren’t we more inquisitive? We were told we were “bad” Christians if we question. We are afraid of the repercussions if we say something against what “everyone” seems to support. We don’t want to make waves. We don’t want to be viewed as the trouble maker or “that mom.” We don’t feel comfortable speaking up. Ask yourselves, “why don’t I question?”

We are familiar with “Doubting Thomas” in the Bible. Jesus had died on the cross and resurrected to new life. When he appeared to the disciples after this, He encountered Thomas.

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him,“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”” – John 20:27-29 NIV

Jesus didn’t condemn Thomas for doubting or needing reassurance. He needed to physically touch Jesus. It increased Thomas’ faith. We are blessed because we believe without seeing. That doesn’t take away from the fact that Thomas also believed. He needed to see to believe. That’s OK. He still had a valid, solid relationship with Jesus.

Don’t fear your doubt. Don’t question your questions. Ask them. Start with something small and work your way up to the big stuff that has plagued you for years. Don’t hesitate. Be inquisitive. It will deepen your faith. It will stretch your confidence. It will increase your knowledge.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Lessons from the Beach

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Just returned from our annual trip to Pacific Beach. Our last one before my oldest graduates high school. This was our 6th year here, too. If the Lord allows, we will take this trip for the next 60 years. (That takes me to 110 years old for those who missed my 50th birthday blog.)

I’ve blogged about the beach many times. It truly is my happy place. I just had 5 days in a row on the beach. I’m overjoyed. Yet, how quickly will daily life rob me of that joy. A day? A week? A few hours? I’d like to say never. However, that isn’t reality.

What is reality, is my choice to ensure joy every day. One morning as I sat on the beach and talked to God, I learned something about myself – my need for justice robs me of joy a lot.

I had just read the story of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4). Do you know God extended mercy to Cain? He let him live. After the fall (disobeying God in the Garden of Eden), all would die. Cain didn’t put God first and offer the first fruits of his harvest. God didn’t like that. Abel did keep God first and offered sacrifices pleasing to Him. Eventually, Cain kills Abel in jealousy. So God made the land unyielding and sets Cain off as a wanderer to never be killed. Death was the just punishment. Mercy let him live. His life was tough from that point on (he was a farmer and the land would no longer yield to him), yet he had life. God’s mercy gave Cain an opportunity to change his ways. We never hear that he does.

Justice is when we get what we deserve. Mercy is when we are spared from what we deserve. Revenge is getting even.

I often want justice (sometimes revenge) when life is “unfair.” I want justice when

  • a store is out of stock with an item it promised
  • someone lies and gets away with it
  • someone cuts in line
  • someone hurts someone I love (or me)
  • someone gets mercy instead of justice (even though I get this every day myself)
  • the news shows me several back to back stories of pain and evil inflicted on strangers’ lives

Deuteronomy 32:35 says “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” That is God’s directive to us. It’s His job to administer justice or mercy. It’s His job and His choice. When I seek to administer it myself or desire to see justice done, I get caught up in the emotions of someone else’s story. It’s not my job. It’s not my concern. It’s God’s.

My beach insight is this “release justice to God and move on.” Easier said then done. It is my goal. I want to keep my beach joy and this is the first step in achieving that. Beach lessons are usually deep and profound for me, as is this one. Today as I do a million loads of laundry and wipe sand out of the car, I will sit in my new resolve to keep beach joy. It’s God’s not mine.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

P.S. Actual sunset picture from our trip. God paints beauty.