Saturday, June 23, 2012

Coming to Grips

For the past year God’s impressed upon me in various ways and through various sources a truth contained in two verses.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Those two verses carry the core of Christianity, the way of following Christ. Those two verses set us apart from indigenous religions that attempt to manipulate God into doing our will. Those two verses set us apart from religious which tell us we have to complete specific good works to earn our redemption with God. And I’ve known for some time now in the grand scheme of my life that I can’t do enough good things to make myself right with God.

But I’ve found recently that while I know I cannot commit any action to improve my standing with Him, I still buy into the idea that by omitting certain actions I will find myself more in the right spot. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s the same false belief.

I think if I choose to be less selfish for example that I will be more in step with the Spirit.  Oswald Chambers points out in “My Utmost For His Highest” that we can only be right with God by accepting the redeeming sacrifice of Christ. We have to admit we are powerless to affect our own righteousness and must depend solely on God.

Ultimately by reaching this point, we should find freedom. Freed from the burden of constantly striving to improve our condition, we can be wrapped around by the arms of God even more. Thus we have surrender in freedom, although freedom through such means goes against our human nature and intellect.

For me personally I know this will mean more wrestling and even down the road I will struggle over this at times. But moving forward, I’m spending time in prayer and coming to grips with all this.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Wonderful Overkill

This past week has been rather crazy. A couple of surprises and a couple of turning points. Some good, some bad. But they came all at once seemingly, and I've not had time to truly process them all yet. Add in work, and feeling disconnected from the larger body of Christ, and I've found myself quite exhausted physically but especially spiritually.

So I went in to work at 7am, got off by 4, packed, ran an errand and hit the road for home to attend some memorial services for a great aunt. On the ride home I switched through some different tracks to keep me awake and alert. Eventually I turned off the music and answered the whispers of "Come unto me" that I'd felt more urgently the more tired I got.

What started off as a rushed, clumsy voicemail of a prayer led me to spiritually fall on my knees. (I was still driving, hands on the wheel and feet where they should be so key word there is spiritually).

How often we misuse the word wonderful. We go out to eat, devour some friend chicken and we call it wonderful. Break down the word, and let's focus on wonder. Not as in "I wonder why Hawaii has an interstate" and yet you can't drive to another state on it.

When were you last filled with true wonder? Something that left a lasting impression on you? Like seeing a shooting star so close over head it's really a huge blue fireball? (Saw one such with a group of ECU friends back in 2010).

God is wonderful. The God of wonders (to use a popular but sometimes overplayed song). The God of wonders so amazing, each of them leaves a life impression on us. Similar is awesome (another overused word) to leave us in awe.

Suddenly throwing out "God you are awesome, and you are wonderful" is more than words, more than a cliche, more than a rushed automatic greeting at the start of a prayer. Suddenly they overwhelm us and make us truly worship.

And somehow in that moment, the burden gets a little lighter.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What does God delight in?

Recently I began to read My Utmost for his Highest, and devotional by Oswald Chambers (some have called it the best devotional out there). One of the readings two days ago was taking about joy. Chambers wrote that one of the last marks of intimacy between people is to share secret joys. Things that really bring you happiness.

I'm still undecided on if I believe that's really one of the last marks of intimacy crossed between two people. Maybe it is, but this got me thinking as Chambers went on to ask how often do we ask what brings God joy?

This brought me to a screeching halt, much like if you're driving down a highway and a deer runs out in front of you.

I haven't given all that much thought to what God delights in. Sure there's some obvious passages like Isaiah 58 or even children that might suffice as answers, but I've never really spent time in prayer asking God to show me what He delights in.

For the next few days I'm going to be intentional about setting aside prayer time to just ask God what He delights in, then to sit and listen.

Maybe this is what the line "joy of the Lord" really means, understanding what brings God joy, and having our delights transformed to match his.