HOW WONDERFUL IT IS WHEN YOU
FEEL THE WIND OF THE SPIRIT MOVING
SOMETIMES THE BREEZE COMES UP SO QUICKLY
YOU CAN SCARCELY BELIEVE IT!
I remember when my neighbor Gladys visited our Bible study. She was so quiet that I stopped by the next day with banana bread, thanking her for coming, telling her I hoped she’d come again, praying she might open up.
She asked me to stay for tea (a good sign!) and over steaming cups of orange spiced tea, I queried, “You were so quiet at study — what you were feeling and thinking?”
“Honesty, I felt kind of stupid — the other women seem to get it, but Dee, when I read the Bible, I feel like it is written in a foreign language.”
She was an intelligent woman, so I was quite sure what the problem was. Was the wind coming up? I wasn’t sure, but I tentatively lifted the sail. “You are a very bright woman. So…” I hesitated, losing my courage.
“So?” She cocked an eyebrow.
I hoisted the sail.
“I can remember looking at the Bible before I knew Christ and feeling a like you do. But after I responded to Christ, who was definitely wooing me despite my resistance, it was like He gave me new eyes. That was the Holy Spirit in me, helping me to understand what I couldn’t before.”
She was quiet — I put my hands in my pockets to keep them still. Then Gladys shocked me.
“That’s my problem.”
I couldn’t help but smile at her authenticity and at the wind of the Spirit I felt on my neck.
“Yep,” she nodded, “that’s it.”
“Gladys, would you like to put your trust in Christ?”
And so I explained the gospel, the Lordship of Christ, and she prayed her own prayer of repentance and faith. The next day she called me and said, “Dee, the Bible is in English now!”
IF ONLY IT WOULD ALWAYS BE THAT EASY.
TODAY WE LIVE IN AN INCREASINGLY HARDENED CULTURE.
AT LEAST IN OUR WEALTHY WESTERN WORLD,
IT IS COMMON FOR PEOPLE NOT TO WANT TO LISTEN AT ALL.
THERE WAS A TIME WHEN YOU COULD ASK,
“HAVE YOU HEARD OF THE FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS?”
BUT TODAY, IN AMERICA AT LEAST, THAT MIGHT NOT OFTEN BE RECEIVED WELL.
WHAT WE MUST DO, IS TO TRY TO DISCERN
IF EVEN JUST A FAINT BREEZE IS BLOWING IN THEIR LIFE.
WE MUST NOT BE MANIPULATIVE.
WE MUST TRULY BE GETTING TO KNOW PEOPLE
THEY MUST HAVE EVIDENCE THAT WE CARE.
AND THERE IS AN ART OF ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.
this interchange is between Tim Keller and Rebecca Pippert.
Did you see how Becky discovered her friend’s passion and then gently turned the conversation to Christ?
From there she could discern that her friend was open, that the gentle wind of the Spirit was wooing her.
I’m not saying this is easy — a canned approach may seem easier, but it is so much better to move with the Spirit. It’s not wrong to start with something that has been helpful in the past, but you must listen to your friend carefully, asking the Spirit to show you her heart and how you might make a natural turn toward Christ. There’s a lot of trial and error, and for me, there’s more error, but then there are those sweet successes. This was my conversation yesterday with a woman at pickleball. I haven’t had her over yet, but we’ve had some really good talks about our kids, our frustrations with the candidates, and yesterday here is how the conversation went:
Me: “So what have you been up to this week?”
She: “With the rain, I’ve been cooking a lot — apple pie, muffins, and soup to freeze!”
Me: “Sounds good. Do you love to cook?”
She: “Not really — but I am glad to have that all stored up!”
Me: “That’s exactly how I feel — especially with all the guests we have in Door County. So what do you love doing? What are you passionate about?”
She: “I love sewing. I’ve been making a Christmas stocking for my grand-daughter.”
I’m thinking — okay — she celebrates Christmas…she’s not Jewish…
Then she asked me what I was passionate about and either out of fear or being led by the Spirit (sometimes I don’t know!) I retreated to common ground for I knew she was an athlete. “I do love cross country skiing up here. It’s so beautiful — my body and soul are both restored.” She agreed — and then we got called to the court. After we’d played a game together, I found the boldness to tell her I also had been having lots of fun planning a Christmas tea with a few of the women from pickleball who were from different churches. I told her women were decorating tables, there would be a ballet, music, and other good things. She seemed interested so I took the plunge and told her I would really love for her to come!
She hesitated, but then she said yes.
It’s a beginning.
Should be an exciting week of catching the wind and encouraging one another!
I must make a comment about last week. You were living proof that we can listen lovingly when we disagree, and in so doing, may even have our minds changed. Silent bloggers e-mailed me and told me how impressed they were with you. My dad used to quote John Stuart Mill to me: “There is always hope when people listen to both sides, for if they listen only to one, errors harden into prejudices and truth ceases to have the effect of truth.” I myself was stirred — torn between voting for the party platform and doing a write-in because of not wanting to support such terrible immorality. I think it is a Romans 14 kind of issue where we each need to be fully persuaded in our mind as we stand before the Lord and not judge one another, but it was such a good discussion. It is the kind of dialogue God calls us to as sisters. At the close of last week our dear Jackie told us with tears that she must take a sabbatical from the blog — and we will miss her so, but pray so for her, for she means so very much to us as contributor, mentor, and encourager. (And to all who feel led to take a time apart, you are free, but NEVER hesitate to stick your head back in to say hi or make a quick comment!)
1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?
THE ART OF ASKING QUESTIONS & FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS
THAT MOVE WITH HIS SPIRIT
Read this article from Rebecca Pippert and share your thoughts:
2. What were Pippert’s main points? Comments?
3. Read 1 Timothy 2:1-6
A. What are we exhorted to do in verse 1?
B. What does God desire according to verse 4?
4. Read Acts 26:18 and from it formulate a prayer for yourself before you go out today.
5. As the week progresses, share any conversations you had, whether fruitful or not, in which you were endeavoring to move with His Spirit.
Here is another video to encourage you:
6. What thoughts do you have on the above?
Jesus was continually discerning open hearts. He walked through Samaria, and used questions to intrigue the woman at the well. He called Zaccheus down from the tree to go to his house. Likewise, Philip was told to go and wait at a certain road, for a man open to the Spirit, an Ethiopian eunuch, would soon appear. Paul, who had the Spirit within him, felt led to go into Athens. See how he turned the conversation…
7. Read Acts 17:16-28
A. Why was Paul’s spirit provoked according to verse 16?
B. How did he find common ground with the men of Athens in verse 22?
C. How did he turn it to their need in verses 23-27?
D. How did he again find a way to affirm them and connect with them in verse 28?
8. Pray for the people in your path that God brings to mind.
The following are some sample conversation starters I have used:
“What have you been thinking a lot about lately?”
“What are you passionate about and why?”
“What do you love or not love about your job?”
If they tell me about something hard going on in their life, I might ask, “What helps you to deal with that?”
9. What conversation starters have you tried?
10. Sometimes the person will answer and then ask you the same question. What does 1 Peter 3:15 tell us?
11. To be prepared, try answering the following in an authentic yet not scary way
A. What have you been thinking a lot about lately? (This can be an opportunity to share a way you’ve blown it, and yet what hope you are finding for your failure in Jesus — for that prevents you coming across as “holier than thou.”) What might you say?
B. What are you passionate about? (This can be an opportunity to share that you are a little hesitant to share for fear of offending, but that you were a mess, and very discouraged, but Jesus has made a difference — and if they wouldn’t be offended, you’ll tell them more.) What might you say?
Remember to share any conversations you have had with us — fruitful or not. Don’t be afraid to share failures. One man said, “Even though I blow it often, I still know my stumbling way of doing evangelism is better than my critic’s way of doing nothing.”
12. What is your take-a-way this week and why?