Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Search for Intimacy

This place I'm yearning for, or seeking, could best be described as a desire for intimacy with God. But what is intimacy in the biblical sense and is it possible to have intimacy with God?

The view coming out of the 18th century Enlightenment was that God was an absent clockmaker. He set the universe in motion and went about his own way. He was distant and not involved in our lives. Enlightenment-influenced theologies have started with humans, built a system of morality that suits us, and then tries to tailor God to fit our morality. This is not God-centered, but man-centered. It is hard to find true intimacy with an absent God. At best, we want God to meet us on our terms, and when He doesn't, we stop trying.

Extreme Calvinists believe that before time began, God predestined some to Heaven and others to Hell. Those who are destined for salvation cannot resist His irresistible grace and those destined for Hell have no ability to make it to Heaven regardless of how good they were or how many times they expressed their belief in Christ. The choice has already been made. This also rings of an absent-clockmaker who determined who was on His team and who wasn't.

To set the record straight, I believe that God is alive and well. He spoke creation into existence and is still involved in every aspect of it today. He is the Alpha and Omega, omnipotent and omnipresent. He has predestined that the way back into a relationship with Him would be through Jesus Christ's atonement for our sin on the Cross. Basically, our sin separates us from God and someone has to pay the price. Sin must be punished. God's justice is at war with His grace. His solution was for Jesus to take our sins upon himself. Jesus, in essence, took the bullet for us. Since God is omniscient, He ultimately knows who will choose salvation and who won't. While His desire is for all to be with Him in Heaven, ultimately we get to make that choice.

All this to say that if God is distant, intimacy cannot be found. It would be nothing more than a feeling at best, a psychosis at worst.

Again, I believe the evidence best supports that God is alive and well. He is active and wants to be a part of each of our lives. He wants to have a personal relationship based on mutual love. But, and this is a huge but, it must be on His terms. He is God, we are not.

I'm the father of a 5 year old. Timmy tries to meet me as an equal. While I enter his level at times, ultimately, I am in charge. My decisions override his when his are not in his best interest, or against my desires. I am older, wiser and more mature. I see cause and effect that he cannot see. My love for him precludes me from letting him harm himself. But I also know that he needs to grow up and learn. I will allow him just enough rope to hopefully learn right from wrong. I rejoice when he makes a right decision and hurt when he doesn't. God is much like this, only much wiser.

Just as Timmy can't comprehend my love for him, I cannot truly comprehend God's love for me. I didn't understand how much my dad loves me until I had a son. It blew me away. My greatest desire for Timmy is that he continues to love me, to do what is right and be my best friend. I can't force it, but I can be there for him and woo him. Could this be how God views me?

Anyway, it's getting late.

Sign of the Times

Our church, Solid Rock, has been going through the Book of James this year. It has been interesting and timely. It seems like each week's news was custom made for the next Sunday's sermon. Here's a link to the series.

We are finishing up James 5.

We are living in a time where our greed has caught up with us. It has affected all political parties and people. I don't care your beliefs, if you live in America, you have been caught up in it. I know I have.

We are seeing our wealth eaten away, not only because of Wall Street greed or political bumbling, but because we also invested in things that were temporary. We like things. We are a consumer nation. We like instant gratification. We also like to think that we are not part of the problem. But we are.

While we might not be the wealthy CEO, greedy sales rep or insensitive government employee, we all have helped support those who do take advantage of the poor, needy or helpless. Either through action or inaction. Who has ever bought something from China or another impoverished country? We might not like the conditions, but we love the products and prices. Who has truly lived out the Shema? To love God with all your Heart, Mind, Soul and Strength and to love your neighbor as yourself? Who has consistently looked after the poor and needy? The widows and orphans. Who has ever walked by someone in need and not done what was right?

God is calling the world to account for it's greed and lack of concern for those in need.

But he also gives hope to those who love Him. In vs. 7 we are told to be patient and wait. The illustration is that of a farmer waiting patiently for his crops to be ready for harvest. The farmer waits with anticipation for that day when all his hard work and toil bears fruit. We are also asked to endure. While it is not comfortable, God will give us the strength to endure.

I have had a tough year with work and finances. While I still have a job, my circumstances have prevented me from earning a living. While this is about to change, it has been hard. It has been easy to say "Why Me?"

What I feel God is asking me to do is to simplify my life and spend more time with him. To stop planning and start trusting. To do each day what I know I need to do and let Him provide the clients and finances. To replace planning time with prayer time. To replace striving with seeking Him.

This isn't new to me. I have done it in the past and it has worked. As I have drawn closer to God, He has always provided.

Lord, give me the strength to change my habits yet again.

Anyway, it's late and I need to sleep.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Beginning

Life has come at me rather swiftly and I have found my dance with God to have taken 2nd place. I went to Bible College, entered ministry, fell in love, got married, had a child, left ministry to provide for our family… Ten years later I find a yearning for something more.

I know that something has nothing to do with my wife, family or career. I am extremely happy with where I am at, yet I find that God's presence is not as close or fresh as it once was. I find that I get less revelation from the Word when I read it, and my prayer time is dry. Kinda like talking to myself... Basically, my dance has become a walk, and that has even grown stale.

It's not that I don't love Jesus, because I do. He just hasn't been my priority. First I got caught up in studies and ministry and then in the day to day challenges of being a husband and father. I understand that I have been in a season of life, but I want more. I yearn for more. I want to woo and be wooed by the Lover of my Soul.

This blog/journal is my feeble attempt to document, chronicle, kick start, hold myself accountable, or whatever, this dance. I run the risk of falling flat on my face as I am not going to allow this to be a "Church" or man made thing. Our current church home is not on the "cutting edge of any charismatic move of God, but His presence is very strong there. I find ,yself more excited about church and faith then I have been for a long time.

This journey is between God and I. If anyone read it so be it. That's me being vulnerable and transparent.

Let the romance begin anew.