Sunday, December 30, 2007

Desk Calendar Devotion #2

Matthew 11:28 says, "Come unto Me, and I will give you..., many things to do to serve Me." I don't read it that way.

Ever remember a day just after a great night's sleep? Attitudes were sweet and positive. Work was ... almost ... a pleasure. Tempers were thick and life was enjoyed. Such is life for a believer who truly enters (and relies upon) God's holy Rest.

Might we consider a strategy whereby we prioritize and really DO rest, trusting the salvation of the world to Him. Too often our lives convey the idea that God can't do it without us

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Desk Calendar Devotion #1

"And lo, I am with you always...." How do we deal with a God who'll never leave us nor forsake us? Do we act as if He is here (both to love and to judge)? Is God's Presence existential? Can it be organic? May we feel it? Touch it? Know it?

How ever we experience the Presence of God, it is there; it is here! He is Emmanuel - God is with us! Like the "opposite" of His transendence (other-ness), so His Presence is full and forever!

We are guarded by His peace (Ph 4:7), we hope in the surety of His Spirit's righteousness (Eph 1:13; Hb6:12ff). His enduring and encouraging love does, indeed, last forever. Sin begets loneliness, worry, confusions, compulsions, and discouragement.

Might we learn to climb into the lap of our Emmanuel!

God is super-here!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Experiencing God?

I have a deep, continual and desperate desire to "experience" God. I also do not have a clear understanding relative to just what experiencing God is supposed to be like.

Here is an idea that I do have, maybe right, maybe wrong: Experiencing God is a good thing. I think that if I show up (and I do) and allow Him to determine what happens during our time together, then I will “experience” Him and will have come to know Him better resulting in my detachment from the world, the flesh and the devil.

Just now I sat quietly for around a half an hour. I tried to focus on Him and not my own stuff (although I did do some serious intercession) – I understand how me-centered prayer can be.

I also understand a bit about God’s Grace, Providence and Timing. I understand that the previous 30 minutes was a good thing, period. I have God’s word on it.

But, am I truly getting to know Him better? If that is defined as I did above, I begin to wonder if I am. I am inundated with evil thoughts, fantasies, and am very often drawn into sin.

What does an “experience” of God look like? What does it feel? How can one improve on the “experience”? Sure, I understand the danger of connecting experience with feelings, but I just wanted to ask those questions anyway.

I sure would like help… as if I’m not doing well “experiencing” God. Maybe I am doing well-er than I thought! Maybe I need to pray Psalm 139:23,24 more often and with more fervor. Maybe I have this deep hidden sin that remains un-confessed and therefore a mass impediment to my experience of God. Maybe, as Brennan manning says of his times with God, “I think He is just glad I showed up!!”

Maybe God is holding out. Maybe I am going through a desert, and God is intentionally allowing me to experience dryness so that he can shape me somehow.

Then, how do I explain my irritability? My impatience? My critical spirit? My fear? Why is peace so elusive?

I know I am in good company with many of the psalmists, but often even that does little good in consoling me. I want, I long for an experience with God, to experience His manifest Presence, His divine Encouragement in a noticeable way. A way that, when it happens, I have a keen awareness of it. I sure would like to have an emotional thing happen. I mean, how do we know something happens if we don’t … experience it with some sort of sense, for crying out loud?

I am not discouraged – maybe that is confirmation that I have, indeed, experienced God. I am not about to give up. I am not gonna quit, either! I am not going to live in the future when …. God has me in the now… where He is.

He has promised that He is “with me always, even unto the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). That is good enough for me (possibly another sign that I have experienced God, huh?)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

He's Right In Front of You!

The prophet asks the people: “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? (Isaiah 55:2a)”

I ask that of myself very often. I spend so much time and energy, thoughts and money on all those things that, at the time, promise to fulfill me, yet I know wouldn’t and won’t… but I “bought” them anyway.

I am convinced we all know – on a soulish level – that we have an eternal need within us, only met by something eternal, and are desperate without it.

That “it” is Jesus. Oh, stop it! You don’t have to start that stale, been-around-forever crap that tries to refute Jesus being the “way, the truth and the life.” You’re sitting at a computer… no one is watching you. You’ve got nothing to prove right at this moment. Get real for at least one second!

He is all that!

What if He really, REALLY is all that? I think He is – I am convinced He is.

I think every heart knows that.

The birth of Jesus is irrefutable. ‘Tis the season we’re in right now! His claims are, too; the ones in which He claims to be God, the Savior and Creator of the world as well as the Alpha and the Omega (the beginning and end of all things).

He died and came back to life – another irrefutable, scientific, empirically substantial fact!

OK, OK. Enough of that.

Back to me, personally. I am convinced. I am sure.

I scribbled this in church yesterday at one and the same time totally convinced that Jesus is all I need, yet willing to chase rainbows of the most diverse and creative varieties.


On what do you base your life?

One contemporary of Jesus asked Him (not a bad question in my estimation): “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting? (Matthew 11:3 MSG)”

Jesus’ reply seemed to say, “John, ol’ buddy, I have confirmed that I am The One way beyond any doubt. Now it is yours to believe or disbelieve.”

My worldview must say – with the Psalmist (14:1) – “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

Suppose I am right and you disagree. Ergo, you spend the only life you have been given wastefully.

Suppose I am wrong and you agree? So what? You spent the only life you have been given charitably.

Suppose I am right and you agree. You’ve won the eternal lottery!!! Not only that, you begin receiving dividends even before they are due!

Allow me to expand the prophet’s quote from above (Isaiah 55).

Is anyone thirsty?

Come and drink—
Even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
It’s all free!
Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?

Why pay for food that does you no good?
Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
You will enjoy the finest food.
“Come to me with your ears wide open.

Listen, and you will find life.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you.
I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.

Choose Life. No need to look elsewhere.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Put Your Wait Upon God

I am not my own (1 Co 6:19). In Christ I live and move and exist (Ac 17:28). These truths are hard to believe, actualize and live by – we live in such a God-denying, God-rejecting world.

For instance, as Christ-followers we are taught to “wait” for God, trust Him and be patient. Gees! I have difficulty waiting for lights to turn green! What does this say about me?

I am impatient even for good things. I want to be “godly” right now! Godliness is not a bad thing to seek, but what about my heart clouded with impatience? Here is how God works: Moses was put on the back side of the desert for 40 years at “prime” of his life before God used him to deliver the Israelites. God must’ve had a perfectly good reason for that. Do you reckon Moses experienced impatience, acid reflux while out there tending sheep for his father-in-law?!

Waiting means to “stop striving.” It comes from a heart resolved to trust everything – even the timing of events – to God.

God’s weird! But, only through eyes not yet clear on Who He is. God healed one crippled guy at the pool of Bethesda! How much harder would it have been for Him to heal all of them?

God paid a full day’s wages to men who had worked all day as well as to those who worked one hour! How weird is that! God’s response: “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own (Mt 20:15)?”

You and will battle with this as long as we live and as long as our knowledge (and, hence, beliefs) of God do not engender full trust.

What do I do? Just trust Jesus? NO! Find a way to get to know Him for Who He is! Sit with Him, read about Him, fast to know Him better, get alone and be still! Listen.

The following is truly an existential possibility for you, for me ! ! ! This is Good News!

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
Or, whine, Israel, saying,”God has lost track of me.
He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
Gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
Young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
They walk and don’t lag behind. Isaiah 40:28-31