Less of me. Covid Questions.

[Before I start I want to acknowledge a few things. First, if you read my blogs weekly, this content may sound familiar. I wrote a series on the Holy Spirit last summer and most of the content from this blog comes from that series. Also, I recognize that there is a lot of content in this blog, I attempted to summarize four blog’s into one. I feel like it is important content to share and truly is the key to experiencing peace, joy and hope regardless of circumstances. I would encourage you to go back and read the whole series. But in light of recent events, I feel compelled to wrap up this series and address our current situation.]

The question I left us with last week was, if the Holy Spirit dwells in us and He is the key to peace, hope and Joy – why don’t we always feel that way?

Sin.

I know, you want to stop reading. I said I was going to talk about the Holy Spirit. No one likes to talk about sin. We ignore it because we don’t understand it. We don’t talk about it because it brings too much shame. We feel above it because our hearts are filled with pride. 

It wasn’t until I dug deeper into the Holy Spirit’s role in my life that I began to understand sin in a convicting, life altering way. 

I shifted my perspective from sin being a list of the do’s and don’ts to being the barrier keeping me from experiencing the fullness of the Holy Spirit. 

I started to look at sin like a muscle knot. 

We have all had a muscle knot before. We do something physically we shouldn’t or do something in a way we shouldn’t and our muscle fibers tense up and adhere to each other. When that happens, blood flow is restricted. A knot keeps the blood and nutrients from flowing freely through your body. 

If sin is the muscle knot of tensed up fibers, the Holy Spirit is the blood supply. Just as blood brings life to all parts of the body, the Holy Spirit brings life to us.

What if we started to look at sin, instead of a list of dos and don’ts, as a knot that is keeping the Holy Spirit from giving us the fullest life intended for us? What if we looked at the pain caused by the knot as a signal that things aren’t right, that we need to adjust something? What if we looked at sin as God’s way of telling us that he has more and better things for us? What if he is trying to say that if we worked through the knot, we would experience more of him? 

When I began to look at sin this way, I felt motivated. I felt motivated to change. I felt compelled to dig deep into those knots. I stopped ignoring the pain and tried to get to the root of the problem. I was motivated because it was no longer a list of the do’s and don’ts, it was the key to unleashing of the Holy Spirit in my life. 

When I became a more serious runner I started using a foam roller. A foam roller is a device that is designed to massage out knots. You press the point of pain on the roller. And you gently roll back and forth on the roller. Though it is the smallest of movements, it is so painful. The longer you do it, the less it hurts and the less knots you have. The blood is allowed to bring life to the whole body, the way it was intended. 

So let me share a few ‘foam roller techniques’ with you. These are ways I have found in my own life which when practiced regularly cause the knots of sin to dissipate and the life of the Spirit of God to freely flow through my veins. 

(I wrote a blog post dedicated to each one of these techniques, if you are interested in going deeper – click on the links.)

First technique: We need to die.

John 3:30 says “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”  Less of us means more of the Holy Spirit. 

How do we become less?

We need to die to our dreams, plans, desires and ideas. None of these things are bad within themselves, but they become problematic when they get in the way of God’s dreams, plans, desires and ideas. 

Let me give you an example.

I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs, but four years ago I was offered my dream job. I felt like it was the job God created just for me. It lined up with my passions and gifts. I was good at it and I wasn’t the only one who thought that. It was a no brainer, of course I would take the job. But I didn’t feel any peace. I would take one step towards saying yes and would be met with confusion. I would rework a scenario in my mind to make sense of it all, move forward and again be met with chaos. I really wanted that job. The job was in ministry so of course God would want me to have that job, right? As you can probably sense, the job didn’t work out and I was really upset about it.

What I needed to do was die to myself, my ideas, my dreams (that I felt were from God), but instead I pushed and I pushed. I said things I didn’t mean and burned bridges in the process. 

It took me a while to finally surrender that dream, but you know what happened when I did? I finally felt peace, the peace that passes all understanding. I didn’t feel confused anymore. I had a clear picture about what God had for me. It wasn’t the picture I would have painted, but I would have it no other way. And as I continue on this journey to die to myself, to my ideas, my passions and my dreams, I’m experiencing unprecedented growth in my faith and in my relationships.

I needed to become less, so he could become more.

Where do we start?

Start in the morning by surrendering your day to God. Lay down your ideas, dreams and plans before him. Be open to divine interruptions throughout the day. Keep this question in the front of your mind “Is this you God or me?” If you aren’t sure if it is God that is nudging you, error on the side of obedience. I believe that if you have pure heart, God will bless your efforts.

Second technique: Repentance.

Matthew 4:17 tells us “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of God is here.’” It struck me that according to Matthew when Jesus began his public ministry, his first words were “repent”. I think that should cause us to pause and take note. This might be important. 

What does it mean to repent?

The biblical definition of repentance is “to turn from sin and turn towards God. It is a change in direction.” 

As I started digging deeper into that definition, I felt like God impressed on my heart….

Repentance starts with saying I’m sorry.

Even as I type these words, I resist. Those words are often spoken without much meaning or attention. I often find myself saying to Bryan, “Stop saying you’re sorry, just change your behavior “ (we don’t mince words in our house). But as I continued to meditate on those words, I was reminded-sometimes you have to fake until you make it. You have to start somewhere and in this case I have found that it had to start with words.

It is not the words themselves that begin to change us, it is what the words start doing our brain, and with that, our heart. Science tells us that we can literally change the way we think by doing the same thing over and over again.

It’s called Neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to restructure itself after training and practice. New thinking changes brain structure and function. With each repetition of a thought, emotion or word, we reinforce this new pathway. It’s like a hiking path. The first time that we try to blaze a new path, it is full of weeds and grass. It’s hard to navigate. Then the next time we try it, it’s not quite as bad. There are some weeds and brush to push aside, but the path is more clear and easy to navigate. Before we know it, the path is clear and easy to walk on. 

So start with words. Go to the Lord and say you are sorry. And then do it again and again and again until you blaze a new path.

Then practice the act of turning.

After you apologize to God, try physically turning the other direction and take a few steps forward. As I stated in the definition, repentance isn’t just about apologizing – it’s about turning from sin and turning toward God. Just see how it feels. I think, over time, you will really notice that a physical turn can make a significant shift in your heart and mind.

In my experience, as we practice these two techniques, we will become less and He will become more. The knots of sin will be massaged out and the Holy Spirit will have the ability to flow freely throughout our body. As a result, we will experience the fruit of the spirit.

“the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control….” Galatians 5:22-23

The fruit of the Holy Spirit serves as a Litmus test. A litmus test is a way to prove or measure something. I believe what Jesus is saying to us in Galatians 5 is (paraphrase mine) “Do you want to know if you are filled with the Holy Spirit? Ask yourself, are you loving? Are you joyful? Are you peaceful?….if not, come to me, let’s examine your heart. I think we have some foam rolling to do” 

Become there is more,

Lisa

Do you want to dance? Day 6.

Have you started a Covid-19 journal yet? If not, start there. Go and order a fancy journal on Amazon if that would motivate you. I usually just grab an old notebook. Staple some loose paper together if that’s all you have. After this is all over, you will be glad you kept a journal during this time.

If you are just joining us, start here. Each day this week will build on each other.

We are in the midst of exploring the different roles of the Holy Spirit.

Yesterday we talked about the Holy Spirit as the one who leads us to The Truth and helps us become more like Jesus.

The Holy Spirit gives us to power to share the good news.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

The Holy Spirit gives us the power and the boldness to share with people who Jesus is and what he has done in your life.

Journal question:

Is there someone in your life that you want to tell about Jesus? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you.

The Holy Spirit gives us each a unique spiritual gift.

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge, by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” 1 Corinthians 12: 7-11

The Holy Spirit gives us each a unique gift in order to serve others.

Journal question:

Do you believe that? What gift do you think the Holy Spirit has given you? How does he want you to use it to serve others?

Tomorrow I am going to share the next post in my series, Covid questions. Stay tuned as I share ways to unleash the power of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Because there is more,

Lisa

Do you want to dance? Day 5.

Have you started a Covid-19 journal yet? If not, start there. Go and order a fancy journal on Amazon if that would motivate you. I usually just grab an old notebook. Staple some loose paper together if that’s all you have. After this is all over, you will be glad you kept a journal during this time.

If you are just joining us, start here. Each day this week will build on each other.

We are in the midst of exploring the different roles of the Holy Spirit.

Yesterday we talked about the Holy Spirit as a teacher and one that brings freedom.

The Holy Spirit guides us to truth.

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16:13

Not only is the Holy Spirit a teacher, he also guides us to The Truth. I believe this verse is telling us that the Holy Spirit reveals the truth of who God is and what His Word says.

Journal question:

Is there something that you struggle to understand about God or the Bible? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to you.

The Holy Spirit sanctifies you.

“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11

Sanctified is a word that essentially means becoming more like Jesus. The Holy Spirit helps us become more like Jesus.

Journal Question:

How can the Holy Spirit help us become more like Jesus?

More tomorrow,

Lisa

Do you want to dance. Day 4.

Have you started a Covid-19 journal yet? If not, start there. Go and order a fancy journal on Amazon if that would motivate you. I usually just grab an old notebook. Staple some loose paper together if that’s all you have. After this is all over, you will be glad you kept a journal during this time.

If you are just joining us, start here. Each day this week will build on each other.

We are in the midst of exploring the different roles of the Holy Spirit.

Yesterday we talked about the Holy Spirit as a helper and one that brings hope.

The Holy Spirit teaches and gives insight.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to teach us. Each morning before my kids go off to school I pray that God will help them learn and understand what they are being taught. I often pray when I am learning something new that God will help me understand.

Not only that, the Holy Spirit reminds us of what he has already taught us.

Journal questions:

Have you ever asked God to help you understand something? If so, did anything change? Has God ever reminded you of something he taught you? Why do you think he did that?

The Holy Spirit brings freedom.

“Now the Lord is the spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

Journal question:

What do you think this verse means?

More tomorrow,

Lisa

Do you want to dance? Day 3.

Have you started a Covid-19 journal yet? If not, start there. Go and order a fancy journal on Amazon if that would motivate you. I usually just grab an old notebook. Staple some loose paper together if that’s all you have. After this is all over, you will be glad you kept a journal during this time.

If you are just joining us, make sure you read yesterday’s post. Each day this week will build on each other.

We are in the midst of exploring the different roles of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is your helper.

“I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.” John 16:7

I used a different translation of this verse in my blog post. The NIV bible uses the word “advocate” instead of “helper”. Other translations use the word “comforter” or “counselor”.

The original Greek word is ‘paraclete’, from the verb parakaleo, to call alongside.

Journal question:

Why do you think this word is translated differently in different versions of the bible?

The Holy Spirit gives hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13


I don’t know about you but I am struggling to find hope right now. Things are tough. But even in times of ease, true hope only comes by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Journal Question:

How do we tap into that hope?

More tomorrow,

Lisa

Do you want to dance? Day 2.

Have you started a Covid-19 journal yet? If not, start there. Go and order a fancy journal on Amazon if that would motivate you. I usually just grab an old notebook. Staple some loose paper together if that’s all you have. After this is all over, you will be glad you kept a journal during this time.

If you are just joining us, read yesterday’s post first. Each post this week builds on each other.

The Holy Spirit can be hard to understand. Yesterday I shared a few resources to help explain who the Holy Spirit is. The rest of this week we are going to focus on the different roles the Holy Spirit plays.

The Holy Spirit dwells in believers.

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in your midst.” 1 Corinthians 3:16

When we choose to follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes into our body, heart and mind. He dwells within us.

Journal question:

What does that mean to you?

The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin.

“And when he (Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgement.” John 16:8 (ESV)

You know that gut feeling that you get when you do something wrong? That is the Holy Spirit.

More tomorrow,

Lisa

Do you want to dance. Day 1.

Have you started a Covid-19 journal yet? If not, start there. Go and order a fancy journal on Amazon if that would motivate you. I usually just grab an old notebook. Staple some loose paper together if that’s all you have. After this is all over, you will be glad you kept a journal during this time.

If you are just joining us, make sure you read yesterday’s post. Each day this week will build on each other.

This week we are going to take a closer look at what/who the Holy Spirit is and the unique roles that he plays.

It can be hard to understand what/who the Holy Spirit is. Because of that, today I am going to share a few good explanations I have found.

https://www.allaboutgod.com/holy-spirit.htm explains the Holy Spirit like this:

“The Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For many of us, this is a difficult concept to grasp. The Bible declares that there is only one living God, yet we learn from scripture that He comprises three separate personages. One way to partially visualize this concept is to examine the nature of water (H2O). Water is a single compound that can exist in three states – liquid, ice and vapor. An egg is another picture. It is comprised of the white, the yoke and the shell, yet it is still one egg. Of course, by no means do these examples paint a complete picture of our God, but they are illustrative of the fact that His three “persons” in no way invalidate His oneness.”

Check out this video on The Holy Spirit from the Gospel Project.

Check out this article on the Holy Spirit written by a teenager.

Who the heck is the Holy Spirit?

by Trenton Mattingly

Seriously, who the heck is the Holy Spirit? Most people have an idea about God the Father and God the Son, but not much of one when it comes to their more elusive partner in crime, the third person of the Holy Trinity: the Holy Spirit.

In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI even said, “The Holy Spirit has been in some ways the neglected person of the Blessed Trinity.” Think about it: When was the last time you thought of the Holy Spirit as something other than just a flaming dove who happens to show up from time- to- time in the Bible? If this is true for you, you should definitely keep reading to find out all the incredible things you’ve been missing out on!

To read the rest of his article click on the link: https://lifeteen.com/blog/heck-holy-spirit/

Hopefully one of these resources helped you understand who the Holy Spirit is. Tomorrow we are going to start exploring the different roles of the Holy Spirit.

More tomorrow,

Lisa

Do you want to dance? Covid Questions.

We are going to take a dramatic pivot this week. Instead of focusing on the ‘why’, we are going to spend a couple weeks talking about the ‘how’s. I don’t know about you, but I would love to know how to have peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). I would love to know how to consider it pure joy when I face trials of many kinds (James 1:2-4). I would love to know how to truly cast all my worries on the lord because he loves me (1 Peter 5:7). I would love to know how to have hope in the Lord (Psalm 71:14).

Those are nice ideas, but how do we do those things?

The Holy Spirit. 

Yup.

Before we get into the specific verses, we must recognize the role of the Holy Spirit in all of our ‘hows’.

I have become a bit obsessed with the role of the Holy Spirit these past couple years. I have followed Jesus my whole life. I have learned about, taught about and even prayed to the Holy Spirit for as long as I can remember. But only in the last couple years have I begun to understand the Holy Spirit’s purpose and power in my life today.

I came across John 16. 

Jesus, as he is speaking to his disciples in John 16:7, says “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” 

Okay, I have read this section of scripture tons of times in my life, how have I missed its significance? Jesus said it was better if he goes?!? Can you imagine what the disciples were feeling at this point? Why would Jesus say that?

Jesus uses several names when he references the Holy Spirit. In this context he is referring to the Holy Spirit as the Advocate. I looked up the word Advocate and the simple way to describe what it means is “One that walks alongside.” 

I started to see.

Jesus came to earth in human form. He submitted to the boundaries of a body. Jesus can only be in one place at a time. But the Holy Spirit is different. It is boundless. The Holy Spirit can be anywhere and everywhere, all the time. Jesus is saying to his disciples, it is better for me to go, because I am only one man – I can only be in one place. But if I go, I will send one who will walk alongside each one of you. I will send my spirit who has no bounds and who will live in you and alongside you, guiding you the whole way.

That is a powerful concept, one that demands our attention. Jesus said it was better for him to go. He has sent someone to walk alongside you. To live among you. He’s given you the Spirit of God, the one who came to make dry bones dance…sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let me explain.

There is a powerful story in Ezekiel about the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. In Ezekiel 37 God gives Ezekiel a vision. In it, God sent Ezekiel to a valley that was full of dry bones and asked Ezekiel if the bones were alive. Being the smart man Ezekiel is, he replied with reverence, acknowledging that only God knows. God continued to talk to Ezekiel and told Ezekiel to tell the bones to come to life. God tells Ezekiel he would attach tendons and muscles. He will give the dry bones flesh and breath. Reluctantly I’m sure, Ezekiel repeated to the bones (Yup, I said it, Ezekiel was talking to the bones) what God had spoken to him. And to Ezekiel’s surprise, It happened. Tendons, muscles and flesh appeared. Skin covered the bones and they had breath. They stood up. They could dance. 

God gave Ezekiel this vision to share it to God’s people as a promise of restoration. 

A promise of what the Spirit of God can do.

He can make dry bones dance.

Ephesians 1:13 says “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” 

What that passage is saying is, once we choose to believe in Jesus, we are given the Holy Spirit. If you are following Jesus, the Holy Spirit is already walking alongside you. The Spirit of God that makes dry bones dance is with you. 

It’s only through the kind of power that makes dry bones dance that we are able to have peace that passess all understanding. Only the Holy Spirit enables us to have joy no matter how hard things become. Not until we tap into the Holy Spirit’s power are we able to bring all our worries to Jesus. It’s through the Holy Spirit that we have hope no matter how hopeless things may seem. 

The confusing piece is that while I have chosen to follow Jesus, I sure don’t possess all those qualities – how about you? I don’t feel peaceful most of the time. I have a hard time finding joy. I still worry a lot and especially right now I’m struggling to find hope. 

So how do we go from having access to those things, to possessing them?

It’s time to unleash the Holy Spirit. 

Stay tuned.

Lisa

This week I am going to be posting daily thoughts and journal prompts based on this post. Make sure to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss anything!

He is better. Day 6.

If you are just joining us, read this post first. Each post this week will build on one another.

Have you started a Covid-19 journal yet? If not, start there. Go and order a fancy journal on Amazon if that would motivate you. I usually just grab an old notebook. Staple some loose paper together if that’s all you have. After this is all over, you will be glad you kept a journal during this time.

In my post on Thursday I talked about how I came to a place where I realized Jesus is better than knowing the answer to my ‘why‘. Each day this week I encourage you to think through one of the ‘hows‘ I shared. Yesterday I encouraged you to find the good in the midst of your challenging circumstances.

As we wrap this week up, I want to remind you of a few things that I have said several times. Please remember that surrendering my ‘why‘ was not a one time experience. I personally had a significant, abrupt experience, but it was 16 years in the making. Also, since then, I am constantly surrendering my ‘why‘ and many other things to God daily.

So if you spent some time this week digging deeper into the ‘how’s‘ and you don’t feel like you have made a lot of progress. Keep pressing in, don’t give up. I promise it will be worth it!


Tomorrow I will post my next blog in the series, Covid Questions. We are going to take a dramatic pivot this week. Instead of focusing on the ‘why’, we are going to spend a couple weeks talking about the ‘how’s. I would love to know how to have peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). I would love to know how to consider it pure joy when I face trials of many kinds (James 1:2-4). I would love to know how to truly cast all my worries on the lord because he loves me (1 Peter 5:7).

Because there is more,

Lisa

He is better. Day 5.

If you are just joining us, read this post first. Each post this week will build on one another.

Have you started a Covid-19 journal yet? If not, start there. Go and order a fancy journal on Amazon if that would motivate you. I usually just grab an old notebook. Staple some loose paper together if that’s all you have. After this is all over, you will be glad you kept a journal during this time.

In my post on Thursday I talked about how I came to a place where I realized Jesus is better than knowing the answer to my ‘why‘. Each day this week I encourage you to think through one of the ‘how’s‘ I shared. Yesterday I challenged you to make a better than list. Today I want us to focus on this profound truth.

God will make good out of bad, we just have to look for it.

Over the last several years, I have found a lot of comfort in the simple truth that God makes good out of bad. Although I would love to avoid the pain altogether, it helps me to know that there is good on the other side of the struggle.

Romans 8:28 tells us….
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (NLT)

My encouragement to you today is to take some time to think about the good that has come from your hardships. Don’t forget the small things. You may want to take a fresh look at something bad that happened to you in the past that you are still struggling with. Or it may relate to our current situation, Covid-19. Regardless of the situation, take some time to look for the good in the midst of the bad. Don’t be surprised if after taking a closer look you find yourself one step closer to surrendering your ‘why‘.

More tomorrow,

Lisa