Friday, December 21, 2012

What does it mean to experience God? I Google-ed it just now – at some risk – and got a lot of well-meaning stuff. I rolled my eyes at most of it!

Personally, I don’t want to experience God’s blessings, or even His power for that matter. I just want to experience Him.

I come to this with the following “baggage”:

  1. I believe I can experience God.
  2. I believe the experience of God is a good thing. In fact, I believe it to be the main thing – the first thing.
  3. I believe God deeply desires for us to experience Him.
  4. I believe my tendency is to experience God in order to get something.  I must proceed with caution, because I believe in experiencing God I do get something.
  5. I believe the world has clouded my mind on experiencing God, making me a consumer and someone who is, in the words of C.S. Lewis, “far too easily pleased.”
  6. I believe there are many, many miss-understandings about the experience of God. I believe there are many “experience” counterfeits. I believe the church desperately feels the need to teach on experiencing God, the same churches whose teachers no little on the subject.
  7. I believe there are people who genuinely experience God – and on a level I have not yet … experienced.
  8. I do not believe experiencing God is complicated or hard to achieve in some sense.
  9. I believe the evil one is very threatened by God’s children truly seeking to experience God.
  10. I believe experiencing God demands patience, trust, perseverance, and faith – a faith that is willing to resist tagging an emotionally charged moment or a pleasurable gas pain as the experience of God. I believe God calls all the shots when it comes to experiencing Him.
  11. I believe we most likely experience Him more than we think we do, and in many diverse ways.
  12. I believe God rewards us when we seek an experience of Him.
  13. I believe the experience of God is primarily with the heart. Surely, though, the mind, the emotions and the physical are somehow “involved.”
  14. I really believe we experience God when we are still and alone. I believe this because the world – whose god is the evil one - is so noisy and congested.
  15. I believe my experience of God pays a dividend in the lives of my friends.
  16. I believe in a God generous and lavish with His love.
  17. I believe the experience of God defies definition and quantifying. Certainly there is no recipe/formula nor are there x number of steps to experiencing God. Yet, I believe we must do something in order to experience God.
  18. I believe grace needs to be mentioned in any conversation about the experience of God. I believe God is Sovereign, and that we have responsibility.
  19. I believe extreme caution and humility must accompany any conversation about the experience of God since we are so prone to impose our own idea systems on them. I believe it is a good thing to talk about the experience of God.
  20. I believe human relationships to be a context as well as a metaphor for the experience of God.
  21. I believe prayer is a central component in experiencing God.
  22. I believe experiencing God can be a corporate thing.
  23. I believe experiencing God not to be a “holy grail,” in that it is some monumental “goal.”  God is our destination, our goal, and followers of Christ have this in the “already” category.
  24. Somehow, and finally but not exhaustively, I believe I will “know” it – sense it – when I do experience God. But, admittedly, I have very little to say on this subject.

Philippians 2:12-13

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.  (NASB)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

On BELIEF . . .

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

As I write, I am learning that endurance and hope are two sides of the same coin.  I am seeing my heretofore self-centered THEO-logy (go figure!) coming to naught. And, I am seeing that as a good thing!  God is really good at disappointing us when we try to make it all about us.  Fortunately, hope is welling up in my spirit as I began to believe, truly believe that God is real and I can live as if He is real! And, I am enjoying the gift of endurance... with a glorious and eternal Banquet set for me in the (hopefully) near future.

God being real is easy for the mind but not for the feet.  I give intellectual ascent to a real God, but do I - day to day - behave as if He is real?  Fear and worry are my middle names. I have taken anxiety-reducing medications!  Matthew 6 says repeatedly that worry is a sin.

Last week, I had to ask my son to leave our home. His choices simply did not come in line with our values, plain and simple. Counsel from many trusted friends affirmed our decision.  Yet, I worry and I am very afraid. Granted, some of that is both legitimate and good. But, will I rest in faith on the belief that I am doing the right thing, that God is Who He says He is - my Provider, He loves and grieves for my son more than I do, and that my obedience will not come to calamity (at least, as He defines calamity)?

A.W. Tozer writes, right out of the starting blocks in The Knowledge of the Holy, page 1:

...The gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.

Again, he says:

A god begotten in the shadows of a fallen heart will quite naturally be no true likeness of the true God.

So, because my God is too small (as J.B. Phillips would say), when I read Isaiah 41, it has no consequence for me. It is no big deal, only stained-glass words from an archaic Bible.

Take a test yourself. Read Philippians 4:19 and ask if you really do believe it.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

OK, belief is tested in life not words. One can only answer that question  as one is, just that, tested!

I am being tested.

God, through Isaiah, is saying to me, "Greg, do not fear... namely BECAUSE I AM WITH YOU." He follows: "The very reason I ask you to abandon dismay is that I AM YOUR GOD." He goes further, " I can and will give you all the strength and help you need and... I AM THE LOVING AND FATHERLY SAFETY NET UNDERNEATH YOU RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT."  Get it?  Fear and dismay are quenched under the overwhelming soul-entrenched Presence of a Big God!

What I believe about God is being challenged! God, grant me the grace to believe unto daring and courageous and trusting obedience. Please help my unbelief.