Sunday, May 30, 2010

God's Nearness Every Moment

Today I’m inspired by Gregory Boyd’s fantastic book Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now.

I’ve posted a review over at Net’s Book Notes.

The concept is to remain constantly aware of God’s presence, His nearness, His goodness in the moment.

Over ten years ago I read Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence. This book challenged me to remain aware of God’s nearness in the moment. There is a delicious intimacy to be had in recalling to mind that God is near and engaging with Him in the moment.

It’s the secret place of the mind. We can be about our work or driving or doing whatever activity, but then we keep our hearts focused on Jesus; He is near. He delights in us.

And part of this practice is surrendering our lives to God in the moment, talking through our plans or whatever is on our minds—worries, battles, whatever.

Jesus is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother. (see Prov. 18:24) Taking it another step deeper: Jesus is a Lover who sticks closer than a brother. (see Modern KJV of Prov. 18:24)

Have you ever stood gazing on something beautiful in creation? Maybe you’ve hiked a mountain trail, reached the top and stared in awe and wonder at the view before you. Your heart was stirred by the beauty, drawn, opened. God created you to enjoy that moment with Him.

And not just the momentous moments, but every moment. That’s my goal: to spend ever moment with Him. To enjoy Him. To remember He accepts me every time I come. To delight in Him throughout my moments.

I believe that’s God desire for each of us. Will you engage with Him?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tend the Secret Place

Years ago, I heard a teaching by Allen Hood of International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO. He spoke about Adam tending the Garden of Eden and walking with God in the cool of the day. He talked about how Adam cared for the place of communion between himself and the Lord. I loved that picture.

Do you have a special place where you meet with God? A room, or a garden? If inside, perhaps you use candles or have specific elements which beautify the place where you pray. If outside, perhaps there are trees, a bench, flowers, wind chimes, etc. which enhance the space.

Or perhaps you have no specific place where you commune with God. We're supposed to pray without ceasing. And we certainly move about during the day, so we take the garden with us.

Your heart is a garden for God. Our affectionate Father is the One who tends the garden of your heart. Jesus is the source from which you grow. (see John's gospel) Whenever a new heart state flourishes (patience, love, kindness, gentleness . . .), yours is a fruitful garden. Sometimes God prunes back unproductive areas of your life, or areas where He'd rather you not focus in order to be more effective in other areas of his choosing. Sometimes there are dry seasons in the gardens of our hearts. Sometimes there are floods (of joy and provision). Sometimes there are stormy seasons (of pain and heartache). As you cooperate with God's work in your life, you are tending the garden of your heart. And we can always trust God is at work, changing us.

One more note about a specific, physical place where you meet with God. He created us with five physical senses. Don't be afraid to engage with Him in those senses when you commune with Him. Go ahead, add inspirational artwork, or candles or music. Grab your favorite journal and the Bible and enjoy. Sip grape juice, too, if you want. (smile) However you'd like to tend the secret place, do it. Enjoy your time with God. Tend the secret place both by contributing to its atmosphere, but also by being present there with God.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Utterly Committed

If you've accepted Jesus' gift of salvation, He is utterly committed to you. No matter what, God is committed to you as His child. And no matter what, Jesus is committed to you as His bride.

Do you ever have a horrible day? Even while serving the Lord, our days aren't always peachy. I recently had a difficult day, full of disappointments. Discouragement fell over me, and I wondered what God was up to in the midst of my circumstances. But where else is there to go? Finally, I just settled into His arms to find rest. He said, "I know you don't understand." And that was it. Just the comfort of knowing He was near, He wasn't offended at my confusion, and He wasn't going anywhere.

I'm so glad God is utterly committed to me. Aren't you? We need Him.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Always Accepted

Oh the love of God. This weekend God showered me with kisses at our church women's retreat. My birthday was right in the middle of our three days at a gorgeous setting up north.

During the first workshop Friday morning, our leader taught on worship. She said, people may reject you, but you can always go to God in worship because you are always accepted in His presence. For some reason that really clicked with me that morning. Always accepted. Sometimes I forget that.

I can believe God for His grace at times like my birthday, but those normal days, uh, not always. But now I have a new warmth when I think of God's accepting me.

Today at church we shared "cardboard testimonies." Have you seen this? Each person takes a piece of cardboard and writes the "old" them information on one side and the "new" them information on the other, like: lonely, addicted, hopeless would be side A. Then, flip the cardboard and the other side reads: fulfilled by the God of hope (or something to that effect).

These testimonials are personal and powerful as each person parades across the stage and shares their silent story of how God has impacted and changed their lives.

One of the words on Side B of my cardboard today was "acceptance." :-)

YOU are accepted in the Beloved (Jesus), dear reader. As soon as you received His free gift of salvation, you were welcomed into the family of God. The Affectionate Father chose YOU. Purposefully. Specifically. Rejoice! You are accepted. Always.