• Pentecost 2011.  We live in the woods. Quite frequently we remember that we are the outsiders. Some creatures avoid us. Some try to get in the house. Some do get in the house. Some are given names and toys and are asked to stay.

“Let’s get three cats!” Four words. They have gone down in infamy in my home.

Last year we decided to replace Cleo and Phoenix (now in that part of heaven with floor-to-ceiling drapes, slow chubby mice and fresh litter boxes). So in came Twinkle, Max and Ruby. “Let’s get three cats!” They are adorable. They are mischievous. And they are flea-ridden.

That’s right. Our home is officially infested. Hopefully, by the time you read this, the sprays, powders, bombs, baths and medicines have eradicated this modern-day plague.

“Let’s get three cats!”

We’ve learned a lot about fleas the last few days. Basically, a humid, carpeted indoor setting over 70 degrees is the ideal environment for fleas. Introduce a small herd of cats and you have the perfect conditions for your very own flea habitat. Terrific.

Did your church celebrate Pentecost last Sunday? It is a special day at our church. We dress in fiery colors. We sing songs about God’s Spirit. We joyfully emphasize the event which accelerates Christians into a supernatural life. By celebrating Pentecost we deliberately acknowledge that “church-ianity’ is insufficient – we must be people who are powered by God’s very Spirit.

One of the key words here is “people.” It is God’s intent that his Spirit thrive in community. A group of people who know each other, worship together and share a similar belief in Christ. But if you look a little deeper, you will discover that God’s Spirit needs more to ignite a group of people. For example, God’s Spirit thrives among people who pray together. Prayer is a hallmark of those people who do great things by the power of God’s Spirit.

But the greatest environmental factor needed for God’s Spirit to flourish is love. Loving one another and God’s presence go hand-in-hand. Similarly, unity is a key to a thriving setting for God’s Spirit. Both love and unity require kindness, encouragement and the frequent acknowledgement of one another’s strengths and gifts. It is in this setting that the exciting, challenging and sometimes difficult words from God’s Spirit can be absorbed. And, on the other hand, criticism, negativity and complaining can distract God’s people from their awareness to God’s gentle, yet potent Spirit. Those behaviors create an environment for a different spirit.

I hope you and your church are basking in the joy and guidance of God’s Spirit this Pentecost. And I hope you are striving to create the environment for God’s Spirit to flourish among you. And I also hope that you are not creating an environment for fleas. “Let’s get three cats!” Sigh.