Tag Archives: God’s presence

Extras! Be Green Week 2

2 fun extras I want to share with you this week as we consider how God reveals himself through the created world.

• Click here to listen to a radio interview I did for a national Australian radio show. In this interview I get a chance to share my passion for creation care and the biblical basis for it.

• Check out this amazing YouTube video, “Nature by Numbers,” about how math is just about everywhere in the created world. It’s really stunning and cool. It points to the intricate design throughout all of nature.

experience god creation

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Reflect and Respond, Be Green Week 2

During our “be green” journey, as we focus on experiencing God through his creation, consider this Scripture to guide a time of meditation and pick an action step to try.

Reflect: Psalm 19:1

The heavens declare the glory of God; 

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Respond with Action:

• Stargaze one evening or get up early to watch a sunrise. Focus your heart on how God is demonstrating his existence and his wonder through what you see.

• Pray, praise, sing, worship! Thank God that he speaks and affirms biblical truth to you through his “second book.”

• Pause to see God in nature by viewing the stunning images captured by my friend Dorothy Greco, a writer and photographer. Where do you see God in these snapshots? What is revealed about God’s character? (And if you feel inspired, grab your camera and shoot some of your own snapshots. Nature provides an abundance of divine beauties to ponder!)

experience god creation.

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Experience God through Creation

I don’t know about you, but for me there’s just something soul-healing about a deep breath of fresh springtime air. After the novelty of snow has turned into winter weariness, the first signs of spring’s new life fill me with joy, peace, refreshment, hope. And it’s not because the air itself has some magical power—rather it’s because God speaks to us through his world, ever reiterating his Word in echoing messages of grace.

experience god creation

Our natural world—from the dirt under our feet to the canopy of galaxies above our heads—proclaims deep and eternal Truth. What many theologians (and Galileo, by the way) have called God’s “second book,” the environment in which we live speaks to us.

It speaks to us not in a pagan or New Age or spiritualist way—but in the way the Bible makes abundantly clear, again and again. Consider . . .

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech; they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)
 

And . . .

“[W]hat may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20)
 

This truth coursing throughout all of Scripture is a foundational tenant of our exploration of “being greenWe can discover God, learn about God, and experience God’s presence in and through God’s created world.

For me, when I get busy or stressed or too self-important, time in nature sets me straight. Looking up at the clouds humbles me, reminding me of my smallness—and renewing my wonder at God’s love for me. (“What is man that thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4).) Gazing at the intricate beauty of a flower leaves me in awe, reminding me of God’s artistry. Listening, in a bit of fear, to the tumult of a tornado-wielding thunderstorm renders me—Job-like—in a proper sense of fear, recognizing the power that is beyond, so beyond, my finite comprehension. Glimpsing a deer family through the trees in the nature preserve near my house speaks to me of God’s tender care for all of his creatures, from ants to eagles to whales to newts. And it reminds me, too, of my creatureliness—for I, like the deer, rely upon the God-made sustenance of planet Earth to live and to thrive.

be green photoHow have you experienced this biblical truth? How has God revealed his character, his values, his power, his very existence to you through his created world? How does time spent in nature (even just a 10-second pause to breathe deep spring’s bounty) re-align your soul to the reality of God’s presence and God’s love?

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Present and Loved: Meet Margot Starbuck

Being present to life, to loved ones, and especially to God all ends up being connected to deeper issues inside of us. How do we see and know God as God really is? What do we understand about ourselves and who we really are? I’m so excited to invite you in on a conversation with a fabulous writer, Margot Starbuck. Margot is the author of several books, including her brand new title: Not Who I Imagined: Surprised by a Loving God.

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MS_square_photocredit_Scott FaberMargot, can you tell my readers a bit about yourself?

Sure. I’m a word nerd; I’m the author of five books and love speaking to audiences around the country. I live in Durham, North Carolina, where I’m a mama to three fabulous kiddos—ages 12, 13, 15. So when I’m not inspiring audiences, I’m yelling at them to pick their stinky socks up off the floor and to stop leaving Flaming Hot Cheetohs wrappers in the den. I can also be found cheering at soccer games, baseball games & volleyball matches.

Untitled-19I love the title and subtitle of your new book: Not Who I Imagined: Surprised by a Loving God. What is it now that most surprises you about God or God’s love?

I’d say the biggest surprise is the way in which God’s love is different than our human experiences of it.

We catch glimpses of God’s gracious face, God’s steadfast listening ear, in the faces of those around us but, by nature, no human being can love us perfectly.

Still, we learn what it means to be in relationship with an “other”—in God’s case, a holy other—from the faces around us. We learn whether we’re worth showing up for and sticking around for. And, unwittingly I think, we project that onto God.

My biggest surprise was discovering—in my BONES—that God’s gracious face, God’s love, is categorically different than what I’d received from humans. It doesn’t mean I don’t see those peeks of God’s face in others, but it does mean that I’ve encountered a reliable presence who does not fail.

This month on my blog we’re looking at the theme “be present”—at how we can live more attentively to God’s presence in our lives and, more broadly, at how we can really be rather than just skate through life. How do you most naturally connect with or experience God’s faithful, loving presence in your life?  Continue reading

For the Kids: Never, Ever Alone

My book Faith-Filled Moments is a collection of all sorts of ways parents can use games, recipes, outdoor experiences, crafts, science experiments, and more to help your child connect with God and love him more.

Faith-Filled.Moments.coverSo in the spirit of our theme be presentI want to share an idea you can do with your kids that’s similar to the activities in Faith-Filled Moments. (If you like this, you’ll love the 80+ unique moments that you’ll only find in the book!)

Never, Ever Alone

Use the card game Old Maid to help your child understand that she always has a partner in life: God.

Supplies: children’s deck of Old Maid playing cards

Experience

The classic card game Old Maid can be played by kids as young as 3 or 4 years old…and it’s lots of fun! The basic idea of the game is to find a matching partner for each of your cards; there will always be one card left over at the end of the game—the Old Maid—and she doesn’t have a partner. (See the printed rules on your card deck for specific play instructions.)

Connection

In this game, each card has a partner, but the Old Maid is left alone. A very simple an obvious spiritual point can be made using this game: We are never like the Old Maid…we are never, ever alone! Share with your children the crucial truth that, when we have a relationship with Jesus, he is always with us. We are never alone in life; we always have a partner. You might say something like, “Even during times when you may feel lonely, you actually aren’t alone. God is with you!” You may want to share Jesus’ promise in Matthew 28:20, “Surely I am with you always.”

Also, take the opportunity to make this real to your child by calling attention to the present moment. Continue reading

(More) On How

In response to my post “Ever Present,” my friend Renee asked a critical question: How?  How can we live each moment attentive to God’s presence? Last week I shared 22 ideas with you for being more present in life and more present to God (find ’em here). But this week we’ll look at some deeper, theological and spiritual answers that come from a book I treasure.

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red poppyThe Practice of the Presence of God is a tiny little book with a great, big, walloping impact. It explores a seemingly simple idea . . . that revolutionizes every moment. It’s the record of some of the conversations and letters of Brother Lawrence, a French monk from the 1600s. Rather than summarize his ideas in my own words, here’s a short sampling:

Brother Lawrence taught:

• “That we might accustom ourselves to a continual conversation with [God], with freedom and in simplicity. That we need only to recognize God intimately present with us, to address ourselves to Him in every moment.”

• “That it was a great delusion to think that the times of prayer ought to differ from other times.”

 In letters, Brother Lawrence explained:

• “I make it my business only to persevere in His holy presence, wherein I keep myself by a simple attention, and a general fond regard toward God . . . an habitual, silent, and secret conversation of the soul with God, which often causes me joys and raptures inwardly.”

• “[W]e must accustom ourselves to a familiar, humble, affectionate conversation with Him. We must hinder our spirits’ wandering from Him upon any occasion.”

[**All quotes in the Public Domain]

What’s your reaction to this idea? What would a continual conversation with God look like in your life, in your heart? A relationship of freedom and simplicity? Addressing yourself to God in every moment?

Consider and pray . . . How might God want you to practice—make a habit of—tuning in to his presence?

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Now a bit more on Brother Lawrence. He was a monk who found he best connected with God during his daily duties – kitchen work. He experienced intimacy with God more in the context of his normal life than even the times set aside for prayer and devotions in the monks’ cells. His encouragement for believers to maintain a continual conversation of the heart with God can help us transform any – every! – moment into a sacred one!

But, let’s be honest.

stained glass prayerHe was a MONK.

He had NO KIDS!

He worked in a MONASTERY!

So how in the world can his advice fit within the context of real life? Because, let me tell you, it seems a LOT harder to have this kind of continual conversation with God in modern life than it probably was for him – at least in terms of the many distractions that assail us.

Yet Brother Lawrence offers us some insights that can yet help us navigate all that draws our attention from God. Continue reading

Surprise! God is present.

Awhile back, I got to do an interview with pastor and author Adele Calhoun for Today’s Christian Woman. My conversation with her was so personally encouraging, and one thing she said really stuck with me: “Consider the biblical story itself and the wide variety of ways people experienced God and got to know God: Abram heard God’s voice, Jacob dreamed of angels ascending and descending, Moses saw a burning bush, Balaam heard God speak through a donkey, Samson felt God’s strength, Elijah heard God in a whisper on a mountain, Isaiah saw God high and lifted up, Daniel had dreams, Mary talked with an angel, and on and on. The Bible itself is a catalogue of people’s diverse and unique experiences with God.”

paintbrushesHow do you experience God and connect with God’s presence? What does it uniquely look like for you to be present with God?

Clearly, Bible study is a critical way to come to know and understand God and who God is. This is the starting place. We also connect with God emotionally, spiritually, and even intellectually in practices like prayer and worship. These are the “essential vitamins,” per se, of the Christian life.

But there are also some ways we can be present with God that surprise us. For example, we can connect with God through creative expression—art, poetry, music, and even casual doodling can be intentionally transformed into a Christ-centered experience as we ponder the beauty of God’s world or mull over truths in awareness of God’s presence with us. Continue reading

Ever Present

As we explore what it can look like for each of us to be present rather than just exist, I want to share a dream I have. It’s a dream I wrote about for my friend Holley Gerth‘s blog as part of her “God-Sized Dream” series. And without further ado . . . 

dandelionEver-Present

At first-blush, the phrase “God-sized” makes me think big. Really big. Ginormous. I go straight to the idea of God’s grandness.

So does this mean my dreams must be enormous?

To be honest, they’re not huge dreams, really. See, lately I’ve been viewing my dreams—all of my life—through a different angle.

God’s size? God is omnipresent—every place in the universe, and also present in every single moment. God’s presence defies size, defies time, defies our finite limits. God’s size isn’t just bigger than the gigantic scope of the universe; God is also present in the beauty of the tiniest crocus bloom and, zoom even smaller, in the miracle of the tiniest buzzing electron.

And God’s presence? God’s there in those awe-inspiring beautiful, truly amazing moments of our lives . . . but God’s also faithfully right there in the “small,” hum-drum, normal ones. And this is where my dreaming lives. Continue reading

Be Present

Be.woman laughing

Who will you be?

How will you be?

What does it mean to live, not just exist?

To flourish, not just surive?

Starting this month, we’ll do a month-by-month BE series, exploring the choices, attitudes, and practices we embrace that help make us who we are—that help shape our identify and carve out a way of life that aligns with our most deeply-held values.

And for March, we will be present.

What does it mean to live fully present? And, undergirding our own mindful living, is an even more essential question: What does it mean to live in communion with the God who is present? Always present. In-every-moment-of-your-life present?

Join me in this journey.

Be.

Be present.

Be with God.

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A Big/Small Dream

“My dream is to live rich moments rather than have life scamper by . . .” 

Have you ever dreamed a God-sized dream? I explore God-sized dreams and the presence of God over at my friend Holley Gerth’s site. You can read more by clicking here.