Oct 16, 2012

It Happened To Me

I didn't see it when I was young and dumb.  I arrogantly and off-handedly dismissed all things Spiritual as drivel -  someone's idea of right and wrong, ultimately reduced to a long list of do's and don'ts.  

But, I have since discovered that the Christian walk is about something much bigger and better than that.  It is really about a deeply meaningful friendship.

And that friendship means this.  Every day of our lives, we rise to the presence of the Living Jesus.  As a result, we are never alone in any circumstance.  He shares with us, every challenge, every achievement, every fear, every joy - every milestone and circumstance of any kind.  Thus, in all of our life experience, we enjoy a constant access to His divine companionship.

And, through this shared life experience, He provides to us a truly empowering synergy with which to face life's challenges.  He enlightens us with perspectives which move us beyond the smallness of our self.  And, as any true friend would, He sometimes confronts us and becomes insistent - in our best interest.  

And, it is true.  I have never seen my divine Friend.  Indeed, He is normally entirely invisible to the physical eye.  But, that has no real impact on our friendship; because, it is not through the physical eye that we come to know God on this most intimate level.  Instead, there is an "inner sight" which allows us to see Him very clearly in ways that the physical eye never could.    

This is an entirely new inner sensitivity, which Christ awakens in the heart of devout believers.  It is essentially a very  heightened God awareness.  And, indeed, this new level of simply knowing enables the believer to move far beyond the limitations of the totally unsuited physical senses to finally experience a true daily intimacy with God in a deeply meaningful friendship. 

So, through this inner awareness, we are now able to perceive the full spectrum of the dynamics of our relationship with God.  We can now sense His relevant thoughts, His demeanor, and even the unspoken whispers of His heart, as is and should be normal to any deeply vested relationship. 

Thus, the physical senses are made largely irrelevant to the divine friendship by this internal sense of sight.  Why do we need to physically see, when we can simply know?   

I understand that many balk at such ideas.  Indeed, as did I, many people arrogantly dismiss anything they cannot perceive and verify through the physical senses.  But, when we taste the wonderfully pure and simple essence of God's loving companionship, we quickly cease to be one of those people.   At least - I did.

"A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 

 "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."  - Jesus

Oct 8, 2012

The Even Bigger God

It is one thing to encounter the God who deals with the needs of our soul.  It is entirely another to encounter the God who takes on the needs of our days.  The God of our souls is certainly big.  But, in some sense, the God of our everyday need is even bigger.

The Apostle Paul recounts in the New Testament how he sought God three times for one such need, what he called his, “thorn in the flesh.”  We are not entirely certain of the nature of the problem to which Paul was referring.  But, we know it was a difficulty which was both insurmountable and enduring.
So, Paul was completely outmatched in this struggle.  

Thus, He goes on to relate that he “pleaded with the Lord” to take this “thorn” away.  And this was the Lord’s answer to him.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

This was probably not the answer that Paul was hoping for, at least at first.  He was probably hoping that Christ would answer in His “almighty-ness” and simple flick the problem out of existence with His divine finger. 

Most of us, when facing a similar intimidation, probably, approach God, initially, in that same way.  Our first hope is probably just to gain a quick fix. 

But, as the Lord indicated to Paul by His answer, there is another solution which God often chooses to employ as an alternative to instant deliverance.  It is the “graceful solution.” And that is the solution that He offers to Paul for his “thorn.”

This offer of Grace instead of Raw Power may sometimes be disappointing, at least initially, to those who are actually enduring the pain of some overwhelming problem.  But, when we understand the full implications of the graceful approach, then we do gain some comfort and hope.  And that encouragement begins with the word Grace, itself.

It is often the case in more recent times that Grace is merely understood to be God’s “unmerited favor.”  This definition actually better defines Mercy.And, mercy is certainly a product of God’s grace.  But Grace is a much larger term than Mercy, and so, the two don’t equally interchange. 

Grace, as generally defined by any dictionary, is best and more accurately understood to be “an innate or naturally occurring goodness.”  And, that is precisely how it should be understood in the New Testament usages.

So, what we are really seeing in the Lord’s offer of His graceful sufficiency to Paul is His willingness to bring the innate goodness of His divine nature to bear.  Christ is offering to put His natural goodness to work in Paul’s behalf. 

This is the same Grace (natural goodness) which designed the redemptive plan for mankind.  This is the same innate goodness mentioned in the Book of Ephesians, where Paul writes, “For by grace [God’s natural goodness] you have been saved through faith, and that, not of yourselves, it is the gift of God…”  So, Christ is offering to employ His own limitless goodness to design and provide a wonderful solution for Paul’s dilemma.

But, why?  Why not simply use His “mighty cosmic powers” to just instantly remove the problem?  Why travel the longer path of the graceful solution, when quick and easy are so available.

Some time ago my 10 year old grandson came to visit me.  In his hand was a Walmart bag.  In the bag was a bunch of parts from a lamp, now thoroughly broken.  Together, he and I built this lamp for his room, a couple of years before. 

He said, “Paw Paw my lamp is broken.  Will you fix it for me?” 

Now, I could have said, “Oh, let’s just run to Walmart, and I will buy you a new one.”  That would be the quick and easy, “almighty power of Paw Paw,” flick the problem away, kind of solution, of course.

But, I much prefered the gracefulness of another solution.  That is the solution where I take my grandson to our beloved place, my workshop in the back yard, and we spend time together doing what he needs done. 

There, while we fix the lamp, we will talk about a thousand things.  We will tease each other.  We will challenge each other.  We will laugh.  We will brainstorm. We will tell tall tales. 

And he will learn, not only about lamps, but about Paw Paw, and Paw Paw's values, and Paw Paw's God.  And I will learn the details of his life.  And our love, and the depth of our relationship, will grow through this purely good time as it unfolds.

That is the answer to the “Why.”  God chooses to employ Grace, to allow His natural goodness to unfold before us, to set up the interactive process of relationship building.  And, in that interaction, our love grows, and our relationship is deepened, and we are transformed.

Paul’s response, when He eventually understood the inestimable worth of what God was doing for him, was this. “Therefore, most gladly will I rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 

Paul eventually understood that his troubles were only the opportunity to experience, at a new level of relationship.  And, it was the unfolding natural goodness of Christ’s which became the matrix for it all. 

The simple reality is this.  What life presents as trouble, grace (the divine goodness) is able to transform into a good, life and character changing experience.  It is the kind of  experience which allow us to discover the even bigger God in ways not previously known.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." - The Apostle, Paul

Another article regarding "Grace" which you may find interesting is "The Nature Of Grace."  
                           Go To:  "The Nature Of Grace" article.

Oct 2, 2012

The R/Gap

In point of fact, redemptive faith is actually best understood to be, “a transformative personal humility before God.” And, this redemptive humility is entirely defined by our complete willingness to embrace both God's values and His daily directions for our life.  

But, in the modern Church, we have allowed this true concept of redeeming faith to morph into the perverted idea of "the non-responsibility of the believer."  And, this perversion has had the same impact on our relationship to God that we would expect it to have in our relationships with each other. It has robbed our relationship to God of all validity and authenticity - just as you would expect it to do if employed in human relationships.

For example, operating under the idea of non-responsibility,  children would no longer feel obliged to obey their parents.  Wives and Husbands would no longer feel the need for fidelity to their spouse.  And, society as a whole, embracing this idea of personal non-responsibility, would lose their sense of ethics and morality since those things are entirely based in a sense of responsibility.  

Thus, it becomes easily obvious that the idea of personal non-responsibility would, indeed, be devastating to our important relationships.  It would actually destroy the very basis of those relationships. 

And yet, this is, indeed, the very flawed concept of faith which we have widely embraced in the modern Church with regard to our relationship to God.  And, we have done so with precisely that same devastating result.     

And, this widespread error in our concept of what God expects of us in redemption entirely explains the "Relational Gap" which has developed between God and the present Church - and even the present culture as a whole.  We are now a great deal more distant from God, both individually, and as a culture, simply because we no longer understand how to correctly engage Him through a correctly constituted faith.

 And, it is an absolute certainty that we will not be able to close this relational gap until we once again embrace the correct idea of what saving faith really is.  Until we return to the kind of humility before God which fully embraces His value system and His daily guidance, that gap can only continue to grow into an every widening gulf of even greater confusion. 

Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" - Jesus

For a more comprehensive look at the concept of “Redemptive Faith” you may want to read Touching God's Heart in Reading Room 3
(Jump to: “Touching God's Heart” now ) as well as "The Nature of Faith" (Jump to: “The Nature Of Faith" now ) and "The Dark Light" (Jump to: "The Dark Light" now in Reading Room 4.