Last night my pastor, Alan Smith, taught on the Spiritual discipline of speaking in tongues or, if you prefer, praying in the Spirit.
For those of you unfamiliar with this practice, it can seem pretty weird. Basically, it sounds like nonsense coming out the mouth of a grown up! But, while that may adequately explain the behavioral component of this practice, the inner experience is quite different.
I have a confession to make: I pray in tongues. (Are we still friends?)
On the few occasions I have done this, I felt quite silly at first. Then I started to notice a change in my heart.
Because I have a 3 ½ yr old daughter, I have the entire movie, “Frozen” memorized. For those other parents out there, you may be familiar with the scene where Elsa (you know, magical ice powers, low self-confidence, older sister – I can’t believe I’m broadcasting this embarrassingly infantile illustration to the world!) steps onto the beginning of a flight of stairs she created. If you remember, she doesn’t really know what’s going to happen. I can imagine her mind thinking “Will I fall? Will the stairs break?” Then, as soon as she takes her first step, the stairs become more solid as does her confidence as evidenced by a big grin on her face.
This is kind of what praying in the Spirit can be like to someone who has never or rarely done it before. “Am I about to do something silly?” “Will I regret this?” “Am I crazy?” Then you take the first step. For me, I opened my mouth, mentally confirmed my faith, and let sound come out! What a freeing experience!
I recall a passage from the letter to the Hebrews. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” I think praying in the spirit, or speaking in tongues, is much less about a behavior and much more about the activity of the heart. I am becoming more and more convinced that, no matter what your behavior, it will be edifying (“Christianese” for positive or encouraging and uplifting) if it is done in faith.
So, whether your stepping out in faith to try something new and foreign or past and forgotten, or just doing the dishes. Try living, eating, drinking, talking, sleeping, underwater basket weaving, and whatever else you may do as an expression of faith.
A favorite teacher of mine, Bob Hamp, has profoundly said, “Whatever you feed, grows.” Feed your faith by expressing it in the small things in life, such as seemingly random noises coming out of your mouth, and watch it grow!
As for me, I will be praying in the Spirit much more often. In fact, I’ve already started, and I’m already noticing my conscious contact with God growing along with all the fruits that come with that. Want to try it with me?
Let it go! (I couldn’t resist…ok I could have, but just didn’t)
It’s not what I thought.
Last night I was so confused and upset and not really sure why. I felt like I had been receiving a lot of criticism lately and I was just mad. “How dare they say this” “Why would they say that.”
Anyone ever felt unappreciated? Taken advantage of? Invisible until there’s something somebody wants? I did.
I used to think that there was really no place for anger. People would say to me that anger is actually sometimes helpful and necessary. I don’t really have any more solid an opinion now than I did then, but I cam to see what I think people might be saying when they tell me anger can be a good thing.
Last night I vented. I sat down with my journal and just started scribbling things that would probably not be helpful to repeat here. The whole time I was thinking “this is exactly what I think is not helpful for others.” But you know what? Afterward, I felt better! I was shocked! (I’ll leave you to determine what that says about me!!)
I started to rethink anger. What is it that helped when I vented last night?
I still think that anger is a coverup for some more deep and true emotions. But you might be surprised to hear that I now see a place for expressing anger. If I hadn’t vented last night, I never would have come to the conclusions I did. I never would have understood what was going on with me like I now do.
For those, like me who try to bottle up their anger, I recommend putting your anger on paper (and not blowing it into other peoples’ faces!). It really helps with perspective. As I read over all my scribbles and exclamation points (go figure I still use punctuation when I’m mad), I saw what was happening in me. Exposing my anger allowed me to see the more deeply true emotion in play.
In my venting (and before I was starting to understand anything) I started to list all the things other people (whether in reality or in my perception or both) thought I was screwing up. Then, I accidentally listed something no one has ever criticized me for. I realized in that moment that I wasn’t just angry at my critics – I was agreeing with them!
I felt like a screw up and, because I didn’t want to face that feeling, I got angry.
Here’s the truth as best I understand it:
No one, not even me, has the authority to call me a screw up. No one has the authority to tell me what I’m worth or who I am. In that moment, in a flash, I put down my gavel, and received what God’s judgment over and above my own.
No matter how much I screw up, how many mistakes I make, how many times I forget what I was trying to remember, let someone down, or drop the ball, I am loved. I am important. Before everything, God chose to make me. He didn’t have to. He didn’t need to. He made me because He wanted to, because He likes me – and that’s still true. No matter what, God wants to spend time with me and tell me what He thinks of me. God doesn’t think I’m a screw up. God isn’t casting down criticism on my head. God is inviting me to grab on to Him and transcend circumstance or personal success or failure. God and I are in love, and if you’ve ever been in love you know that what used to be important just isn’t so much any more. I don’t think God is telling me that things aren’t important. I think He’s telling me that our relationship is most important.
Next time I’m feeling like a screw up (or I’m feeling angry because someone else seems to think I’m a screw up) I hope I remember my connection to God and how much more important that is over my mistakes.
Thank you, God, for giving me the freedom to claim what You say about me. I choose to receive Your judgment over and above my own or the opinions of others. Thank You that You are the only One with the authority to judge, and that You dump buckets upon buckets of grace and love onto my head. I will gladly receive it. Amen.
This just in:
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See you soon!
I’m trying to set things up so that posts from the adamcluchey.com blog will show up here…
This is a test.
Hello world this is a test.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “I’m so sorry, things are just so crazy right now,” or, “This week has just been so busy!”
We often respond to such statements with a knowing sigh as if to say, “you’re telling me!” It seems that everyone’s lives are getting busier and busier all the time. What’s that all about?
Is there not a limit to how busy a person can be? Twenty-four hours in a day, right? Never mind how difficult it might be to add “one more thing” on your plate, is it even possible to shove more than 24 hours of stuff into a single day? We would have to travel through time! If we were really becoming more and more busy all the time, our day would quickly fill up beyond capacity! We would have to jump in our time machine at the end of the day so we could add on a few more hours so we could get it all done. (For you sci-fi fans out there, yes I know that’s not how time travel would actually work.)
The point is that we’re really not becoming more or less busy…ever. We all use every last second of our day, every day. It’s unavoidable. So then why do some people say that their days are busier than others? Because their priorities are getting crowded out.
For example, I make it a habit to sleep every night. But, what if at 11PM my daughter woke up and at 3AM I got up to start working on a school assignment due that day? I would probably tell you I had a busy night. However, if the same things happened during the day (my daughter woke up from a nap at 11AM and I worked on a school project at 3PM) they would be rather unremarkable. That would not be a busy day.
Things start to feel “busy” only when my priorities are challenged by other priorities. (i.e. sleep vs. caring for my daughter or sleep vs. making a good grade) But here are the facts: We all have the exact same amount of time in our day as the next person, and we all spend all of that time. The difference is in how we spend it.
The next time you feel “tied up” by responsibilities or busy-ness in your day, remember that you are spending your time exactly as you choose to. When people say, “I have no choice but to do this or that,” what they are really saying is that their priorities are so clear that it is as if they can do nothing else…but they really can. So can you. Take ownership of your time, and remember that it has always been yours. And, if you don’t like the way you see your time being spent, change it!
Line up your life with your priorities, and maybe your “busy-ness” won’t feel so busy anymore.
As a counselor, I often work with those facets of a problem that are “below the surface” or less obvious than others, but this is not always the best first course of action. I firmly believe that the hard work of “digging” into problems and discovering their ultimate cause is always beneficial, but sometimes the first step of this digging process is to simply clear away some of the rubble.
When we struggle with anxiety or depression or grief or anger, we often find ourselves blinded by them. If I’m feeling terribly depressed, then I’m only going to see my depression when you ask me to examine where it is coming from. It’s like looking through a red-tinted window and expecting to see things as they truly are. I may believe that everything is truly red, but that doesn’t make it so.
Sometimes the first step is to put on a “band-aid.” If I can gain some tools to turn down the intensity of my anger, then I might be able to think more clearly the next time it comes around. This isn’t the solution to the anger, but it is almost always a necessary first step in order to find that solution.
So, the next time you find yourself struggling, ask what practical steps you might employ to “take the edge off.” It’s one small step that can lead to many more.
Sometimes we can get so focused on a task or situation that we lose ourselves. This is often the time we begin to falter, and looking back we assume that it was the situation that was the culprit. That frustrating conversation with my boss, that guy that was driving too slow, or that project for work was the reason things went south.
No it’s not.
In every circumstance we will always have one constant companion: ourselves. Don’t lose yours!
It may see silly to say, but this is often exactly what we need to hear in a time of “hyper-focusing” where one circumstance or task has begun to dominate our entire lives.
For those Christians in the audience, remember that God’s Will is your best possible life. So hyper focus on that; it’s the one thing we can’t overdo. For everything else: put it down, take a break, and come back to it with a fresh state of mind. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
Connecting with others is one of the most important ways we care for ourselves. No matter how well-balanced or happy you may be, you will quickly falter without community support.
I have spent some large amount of time alone, and I have suffered for it. My struggles with depression and anxiety BECAME my community. Imagine (some of you don’t need to) what it would be like to be bombarded by hopelessness and negativity on a constant basis. How could anyone experiencing this find healing?
Though there are many answers to that question, getting “out of our own heads” is one of the most significant. It is also one of the most difficult for those that need it most…
For those of you struggling with the challenges of life be it grief, depression, anxiety, or even exhaustion, I encourage you (knowing full well how much effort it requires) to take your first step in connecting with community. Contrary to what you might think, community will energize and encourage your soul. And this applies to you (fellow) introverts out there as well; I am speaking from experience.
A word of caution: live a life of balance. I’m not saying you should go live in a commune, but I am saying that community can help you find balance in life. Don’t dive in head first here. Just take your next step. Call a friend, take someone out for coffee, join a church, see what happens…
To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
-Genesis 3:16 (NASB)
This is a difficult passage, to be sure. I would encourage you to research various interpretations from reputable online sources such as Biblegateway.com.
I’ve always thought of “Desire for your husband” as having one or both of two meanings: 1. Romantic in nature – a desire for attention, affection, and love. 2. Desire for power or control. This makes sense considering the phrase that follows, “he will rule over you”.
So perhaps Eve will attempt to control Adam so as to get the romantic attention she desires, but be frustrated by failure? Just an educated guess.
I should also warn you that gender authority in Scripture is a difficult and controversial topic in the Church today. It is also considered by many to be a “nonessential belief”, meaning more basic issues such as the nature of salvation take precedence whenever these nonessentials become obstacles.
There’s a little food for thought. 😉