Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Sinking Down

air mattressI recently slept on an air mattress on a trip with some friends. Unfortunately there was a leak somewhere in the mattress, and by the time I woke up the next morning, I had sunk down into the middle with the two sides of the mattress enfolding me like a taco, which brought peals of laughter from my friends when they saw me “sunken down.”

The experience called to mind for me these words of the hymn “What Wondrous Love is This”:

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down
Beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul for my soul,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul.

When I was literally “sunken down” on the air mattress, it was hard for me to get out. It is impossible when I am sunken down in sin. Only Christ can lift me out.

Another thing I noticed when I was “down low” was that there was still a little bit of air left in the mattress so that I was not sleeping directly on the floor. When I think I have reached rock bottom in my life, I must always remember that the the wind, the air, the breath of the Holy Spirit still lifts me up and sustains me in the faith and keeps me from the very bottom of despair.

And when I was low in the mattress, the sides of air were, I realized, like a warm hug wrapping their arms around me, like a loving Father, who only hates the sin, saying to me, “Don’t worry. I’ve got you. You will not be sucked away by sin.”

The next night I slept on a full-pumped air mattress with no leaks, and all was right with the world.

 

The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

same carsI like when I find out there is a name for something that I noticed in the world that I thought was peculiar. You know how after you buy a car and then you see that make and model of car again and again on the road all around you? Well, that experience has a name: the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. It also has been called frequency illusion.

Scientists have found that the reason for this is that our brains like patterns. Our brains are constantly searching for things that are alike, a characteristic which is helpful for memory, but it does cause the brain to highlight things that may not be that important. Since the brain is bombarded with an abundance of words, names, and ideas every day, it is only natural that we might run into the same information twice or more within a short time. But when repetition like this happens, the brain elevates the information because the repeated instances make up the beginnings of a sequence. It is then that something called the recency effect kicks in, which is a cognitive bias that inflates the importance of recent stimuli or observations. This increases the chances of being more aware of the subject when we encounter it again in the near future.

I find this fascinating from a Christian perspective. While we may be able to chalk up these coincidences and patterns up to brain function, I have no doubt in my mind that often the Holy Spirit has something to do with it. How many times have we noticed someone or something on our drive to work or our walk at lunch that we had not paid attention to before … and then we noticed that person of thing again? We as Christians must consider that it is the Holy Spirit hard at work pointing us in the direction of something we need take seriously or act upon.

Keep your eyes open for patterns that the Holy Spirit is sending you to nudge you in your acts of faith.

 

Trajectory of Engagement

trajectory of engagementIn The Social Media Gospel, author Meredith Gould talks about the trajectory of engagement. This is the movement from online communication to offline relationships.

This concept of the trajectory of engagement is having a large impact on the church today. Engagement on social media may be a good start when it comes to church relations. But it cannot be the end result. We, in the church, know that faith engagement must at some point be face-to-face, person-to person. The trajectory must go beyond technology to faith-based living in the family of God.

So how does this trajectory happen? It happens through concerted efforts to invite those who are engaged in conversations on a church’s social media platforms to join in events at church, be it worship, a small group Bible study, a soup supper, whatever opportunity for personal engagement at the church presents itself.

It is only in the actual presence of other people that the richness and vitality of the Christian Church can be seen and felt most fully by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I know for me in my life, so many conversations I have with people in the church are now through text messages, which can be great for sharing a quick story or an encouraging word but cannot replace being together in the pew or chatting over a cup of coffee at lunch. The online and the offline communication must work in tandom for a deeper connection to develop spiritually.

I often wonder what it would have been like if Jesus had been alive during this time of social media. My first thought would be that he would point us to the parable of the Good Samaritan. Would we be like the priest and the Levite who walked by the person in need right in front of us because we were texting our friends?

It’s time for us to look up from our phones and look at social media in the church not as an end in itself, but a beginning, a doorway, a portal into a life of more meaningful real-life personal relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Be social in life and not just a screen!

 

 

Blessed Are You NOW

blessedIn a recent article in Living Lutheran magazine, author Tiffany C. Chaney makes an interesting observation about the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:1-12. She writes,

“The text doesn’t say ‘Blessed are those who used to mourn or those who were poor in spirit or those who made peace before.’ The blessed are in the midst of serving God now; they are deep in the trenches. They are being persecuted and reviled and more, even now. And yet they are blessed” (“Living Saints,” Living Lutheran magazine, November 2017, p. 23).

The present-tense reality of being blessed in the midst of trials really struck home to me. I realize that in the midst of struggles, I often look toward to some future time when blessings will come my way. But the fact of the matter is that blessings come when I am feeling sad, when I can feeling a lack of spirit, when I feel far from peaceful.

Continue reading →

Blooming in the Dark

moonflowerOn a garden tour I attended this summer, I learned about a plant called the moonflower. Believe it or not, this is a flower that only blooms at night under the light of the moon. Here’s how it is described on the Better Homes and Gardens website:

Moonflower is one of the most romantic plants you can grow in the garden. It’s a statuesque, ideal evening-garden plant bearing large trumpet-shape flowers that unfurl in the evening (or on overcast days) and stay open until the sun rises. Some are sweetly fragrant when open.

For some reason, that flower got me to thinking about how some of our gravest and most fearful moments hit us at night. How many times have we woken up with a start in the night in a panic, worried about an approaching deadline or an unresolved issue of some kind?

Continue reading →

Freedom

freedomAs we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this year, it is important for us to remember some of the key statements of Martin Luther. One of those statements is on the concept of freedom. Luther said in his most famous treatise On the Freedom of the Christian, in 1520: “The Christian individual is a completely free lord of all, subject to none. The Christian individual is a completely dutiful servant of all, subject to all.“

These two statements may seem to contradict one another, but, in fact, they encapsulate the complete picture of what we as Christians call freedom.

Continue reading →

Comfort Dogs

dog

Do you see a pattern here?

I confess that I am not a dog person at all. But when I was sick recently, almost every get-well card I received had a dog on it, and my assistant kindly sent me a porcelain dog figurine. So I got to wondering if God was trying to tell me something.

I firmly believe that he was not telling me to get a dog, but I am fully convinced that he was sending me a message of comfort.

Oddly enough, as you may already be aware, there is a well-established program called K-9 Comfort Dogs which trains and sends dogs to bring comfort to those who are going through a crisis of some kind. You can check out their wonderful work at this website:

www.lutheranchurchcharities.org

But as good as comfort from a dog is, comfort from God our Father is even greater:

In Isaiah 40:1 we read, “Comfort, comfort ye my people, saith your God.”

Continue reading →