Sunday, January 2, 2011

I Believe

It's amazing how God speaks to His children. It's such a subtle nuance, but so powerful. It's almost an indiscernible whispering that will go completely unnoticed, until you begin to practice tuning Him in. The more I listen for Him, the more I place myself in His presence...the more I can hear Him, and the more He shows up. 

If I was forced to explain it, I can think only of two real life comparisons. 

1) Before someone spends time going to the gym, they think they look fine. Pretty average perhaps, but nothing seriously lacking. Then they start working out. A week or two goes by without noticing much of anything. But sooner than later, they begin to feel muscles they never knew existed...they begin to see musculature emerging that had been residing beneath an inch of fatty tissue. All of a sudden, they become excited to see more. What once seemed adequate suddenly appears quite unsatisfactory in hindsight. And the quest to really get in shape begins. 

2)The second example I can think of is when you buy a new car. I drove around for 20 years and never once noticed a Ford Focus on the road. I never knew to, or had a reason to, notice one. Then I bought one last year. I was amazed at how many Ford's I noticed on the highway. Who knew I had been passed this many times by a Ford Focus! Now they're all I see! All this time, oblivious to the I can't drive down the road without seeing one.

I think it's like that with God's voice. I've been focusing on Him for weeks. Calling out to Him, doing my best to be in His presence. At first nothing dramatic. Just a calm assuredness that I was not alone. But then, He began to show up and speak to me in my everyday life.

Some stories:

Earlier this week I was looking online for a timeline chart of major old testament charactors. I couldn't find much. 2 days later, my wife and I swung by the Christian Bookstore. I think she had to return something. I began browsing the Theology section. A discount sticker caught my eye. Before I even read the title, I grabbed the book off the bottom shelf. It was an Old Testament treatise by one of my favorite authors and a gentleman that I've met several times...Norman Geisler. Although I collect his work, this was a book I had never seen before. How providential I thought! Half off! I cracked it open, and the first page I came to was a timeline of ancient biblical charactors. From Noah on down the line. 

Hello God.

Also this week, I've been calling out to God about how I can best serve Him over the next couple of decades. Spending a lot of time in prayer, and gearing up for a New Year of discernment. So I get to Church today and my good friend who's planting a church in LA is giving the sermon. And wouldn't you know, his main point is to put God first and to behave like part of Christ's Body as we were called to do. To sacrifice and take a risk on what God intends for our lives. Challenging us to question whether we are inviting God into our plans, or whether we are accepting God's invitation for His plans. Convicting. And directly answering my prayers.

Hello God. I am here.

Last week, I was reading about death and the references to Heaven in the Bible etc. Later, I pull up at a red light and the license plate in front me said etrnlif. Eternal Life! Are you kidding me? The list goes on and on. When this stuff happened early on in my conversion I remember being stunned. Like when the title of the sermon was 'Good News, Bad News' the morning after I found out I had failed the NC Bar exam...and Reba had passed. But God's voice is not uncommon, when you include Him in a dialogue. Muscles will begin appearing when you spend time on them, Ford's will begin popping up everywhere when you're driving in one.

God will appear if you ask Him to. He still answers.

Now...none of these things would have meant anything to me if I hadn't been purposefully putting myself in God's presence. I wouldn't have noticed who wrote the discounted book, the chart on the first page I flipped to wouldn't have mattered, I wouldn't have been stung by the sermon today in church, and in my old life I probably would have muttered 'Jesus Freak' when I read the license plate in front of me at that stop light. None of it would have had any meaning for me at all. Nothing ever amounted to anything more than the odd coincidence - and even that was rare.

But I've started 'spiritually working out' and made that commitment to honing myself as part of  the Body of Christ. I've bought the ''spiritual new car' with the onstar connection to JC...and now I notice God in ways I never knew existed before. I'm seeing Him in places I never knew I was supposed to look. I'm finally hearing His voice when he had been whispering to me my whole life. Who knows how many times He rolled passed me on the highway? He speaks with a quiet understanding that bowls me over with power and clarity. God is on point if you take the time to communicate with Him. He shows up. He's real, and it's exciting.

Getting Ready For Church

It can really be a challenge to set aside the worries of work on Sunday. I often feel the anxiety of a rough work week looming around the corner.

Prayer is helpful. I'm a huge fan of technology and I have found the following apps to be a great resource. (Lutheran) (Episcopal)

A great web site to use as a tool is: (Anglican)

Of course, those are all protestant and fitting with what I feel most aligns with God as he's revealed himself.

What can be frustrating for a proddy like me is that...the best prayer apps online and on itunes are Catholic. I used to listen to the Universalis and Divine Office apps, but there was just too much praying to the Virgin Mary. I can't feel comfortable focusing that much time on intercessory help when I've got a direct line to JC. But that's me. In terms of format and audio presentation, the Catholics are running the hi tech prayer market right now.

I'm part of the ACNA, and I think it would be imperative to ride the crest of technology when it comes to evangelism. The younger generations are all about staring at the computer screen, and there may be no better way to connect with them. I need to develop this...

Well, off to Church. One of my good friends is giving the sermon today. He boldly left our little Antioch to plant an Anglican church in the spiritual wasteland of LA. He's been an inspiration, so I'm looking forward to hearing from him.