Friday Uplift, 2-19-2016

The Spirit of God has made me, the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
(Job 33:4)

There are so many references to breath in Scripture.  It starts right away in Genesis 1, when it says “The breath of God hovered over the darkness” and continues all the way through when Jesus appears to his disciples and breathes on them,  As some of you may know or have heard before, the words for breath (Pneuma in Greek, Ruach in Hebrew) are used interchangeably with Spirit or Holy Spirit.  It’s not a mistake.
There is a lot of great theology wrapped around this idea of breath and Spirit being the same word, but today I’d just like to simplify it a bit.
Take a deep breath in.
Now breathe out.
Again, deep breath in, long exhale out.
That?  That breathing thing you just did?
That’s God.
God with you.
God in you.
When Jesus left the disciples he said that he wasn’t leaving them alone but that a helper, the Holy Spirit (pneuma) would be with them forever. (John 14:26)
And how do we know the Spirit is with us?
We breathe.
In and out.
All day long.

All night long.

Yes, this simplifies a complex theology of the Holy Spirit, but I have found it to be a great comfort to know these two words are essentially the same.
It’s one of the reasons I enjoy yoga so much.  It’s an intentional focus on the breath… which for me, is a constant and intentional reminder of God within.  This works for going on walks or runs without headphones, taking quiet time, or even just taking ten seconds for a deep breath or two.

NO matter where you are, what you are going through, what is around you, when you need to know where God is, all you have to do is breathe.
“The breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
A few more times, breathe in, deeply.  And let it out.
God with us.
God with you.

Amen

PS.

Need a song on this rainy Friday?
This one always reminds me of the truth of breath and Spirit.
“it’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise”
PS #2
Fun tidbit: If you breathe a cycle of deep breaths in and out 15 times, research has shown that cortisol (the stress hormone) stops being produced and your body makes endorphins instead.  AND it can last up to an hour!  That means a short few minutes of breathing (connecting to God) can calm you down and make you feel better.  SCIENCE!!
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Why Lent is More Important Than You Think

lent

In the hustle and bustle of our daily life – how often are you in silence?
No, sleeping doesn’t count.
(And really, some of you don’t sleep in silence either)

Really though.  How often are you silent?
Once a day?
Twice a day?
Ten minutes?
One minute but it was by mistake because your phone was in the other room?

We have lost the ability to be alone with our thoughts.
To be silent.
I love my phone as much, maybe even more, as the next person, but not being able to be silent is a big deal.
We need silence.
And even more importantly, God needs silence.
In the Book of Kings, we are reminded that God doesn’t speak in the earthquake, or in the fire, but instead we hear God’s voice in THE SILENCE.
(1 Kings 19:12)
Yeah.
In the silence.
So one might interpret this text today to say that God’s voice isn’t heard on social media or in loud music, but in the silence.

Silence is important, it’s life giving, and it connects us to God.

Mother Theresa even said that through silence God speaks.  “If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.”

So what does this have to do with Lent you ask?

Lent is the church season of silence.
Advent is joyful, sparkly, giddy anticipation.
Pentecost is loud, chaotic, fiery enthusiasm.
Lent is quiet, calm reflection.
Lent is tailor-made for silence.
And we need it.

We need to take these 40 days and remove some of the noise from our world.
We need to take these 40 days and fast from the things that hold us back from hearing God’s voice.
What is that for you?
Is it social media? Maybe.
Is it anger, or bitterness or pride? Maybe.
Whatever it is for you, consider how you might remove it and leave that space empty.
Quiet.
Silent.

God will speak in the silence.
We only need to leave a little space.

web-lent-symbol

What am I doing for Lent you might wonder? (or not wonder, that’s cool too)
I’m giving myself social media time limits.
I really notice that it is in silence when I am most likely to pick up my phone.
So I’m using an app that puts time limits on my social media and I’m going to see what happens.  I’m going to try to make silence something I value, instead of something that makes me uncomfortable.
This Lent – I’m making space.
Will you?

 

Friday Uplift, 2-5-2016

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

Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.
Genesis 20:8
I heard a lovely talk about the gift of Sabbath last week, and it’s really got me thinking about stillness.
In her talk, the speaker talked about our cultural epidemic of non-stop.  We’ve made over-working into something noble.
Why?
Have you ever wondered if all the running around and over-working is worth it?
Have you ever wondered if in the hustle and bustle that we’ve allowed into our daily lives, we might be missing something better?
These are really, really hard questions to spend time with – because we know, before we even finish asking them, what the answer is going to be.
No, it’s not worth it.
Yes, we’re missing something.
And we also know that the something we are missing is God.
Sure, we might squeeze in going to church or reading our Bible into the crazy we’ve created, but are we being still?
Are we leaving space for God to be with us and for us to really be with God?
Don’t get me wrong, I think God can work with what God is given, but man, can you imagine what God might do with more?
More time, more space, more you?
Sabbath, resting, being still – whatever you need to call it – is a gift, time where we only do the things that bring us life.  Only things that remind us who we are, and WHOSE we are.
How long has it been since you’ve taken a day or even an hour and only done things that make you more you?

The word STILL in today’s uplift scripture can be translated as relax,sink down, let go, be quiet, or even be idle.

We don’t really value being idle in our culture, but GOD DOES.  God values stillness because it is there where we can best be who we are created to be – and that is a child of God.

You are a child of God. Let that promise be with you today.
Sit with it.
Sink down with it.
Be idle and quiet with this promise wrapped around you like a blanket.

And see what God does with the gift of stillness.
AMEN.
Be still! Just now be still!
Something your soul has never heard, 
something unknown to any song of bird, 
something unknown to any wind or wave or star, 
a message from the Father’s land afar, 
that with sweet joy the homesick soul will thrill,
and comes to you only when you’re still. (unknown)