Saturday, November 17, 2012

Face to Face with God?

Oh, what a beautiful morning!  Oh what a beautiful day!  The sun is shining where I am down-home today and the Son is also shining in my heart!  I hope the same is true of you!

My Honeypot (my husband) and I were having devotions together this morning as we do most mornings.  It was about having a “face to face” moment with God.  He asked me if I had times like this. We began to share around those times in our lives.

One of his most memorable times was when he was scheduled to be the morning speaker at his church and he had nothing to share.  It wasn’t that he hadn’t tried, mind you; he had!  Alas, it had been to no avail and two hours before the service he was dry as a bone.  He said he went out to the woods and sat down on a felled log.  He simply bowed his head and asked for help.

Suddenly, God was with him, and He gave him a most interesting message that he calls his snake bite sermon.  Perhaps, with his permission, I will share that with you someday, but today’s blog is about those times of God’s intense presence and how do those come about?

For him, it was a time of being at the end of his own efforts and surrendering himself to God to receive something beyond him.  In that surrender, God revealed Himself in a mighty way.  My husband’s eyes tear up and I can literally see the Holy Spirit on him when he shares this story with me.

I shared with him a time when I was just beginning to “practice the presence”. I had been informed earlier in the evening of the death of my stepfather.  I was in a quandary regarding whether to drop everything and travel to my hometown to attend the funeral.  At that time, I was involved in full time ministry which meant that I could not get away easily.

I went to bed with that on my mind.  Sometime in the night I was awakened and went to my spot where I was learning to meet with God.  I sat down with pencil and paper in hand and wrote down what I heard.  It was something like this.  “Go about your Father’s business; the man who died is not now nor was he ever your father.  I am and always have been your only Father.  Let the dead bury the dead”.  I did not go to the funeral and later realized that was a very wise decision.  I was able to do so in great peace as I had heard from heaven.

That night God the Father’s presence was so real, I can still feel it now as I share this with you and every time I think of it.  Something changed inside of me as a result of that encounter.  I moved from being a fatherless child to being a child of the most powerful and loving Father ever!  Now I had been a Christian about twenty four years at that time and I knew that I was a child of God, the Bible told me so.  But, that night I experienced Him in a way different from any other and I KNEW that He was my Daddy.  It changed the way I felt about myself forever.

There are many other times when God has been so near, I could feel His presence more real than I can feel any one else’s.  I will share some of those in the days to come, but right now let me ask you…have you ever had a face to face encounter with the Living God?  Do you KNOW you are His child?  Do you have a felt sense of Him being your Father or is it just head knowledge?

Do you even know that you can have such an encounter or have you been brainwashed into believing that is not possible?  The scripture reference for the reading today was Genesis 22 where Abraham had one of those God moments.  In obedience to the voice of God, he had taken the thing most dear to him in all the world and gone to Mt. Moriah, a place of sacrifice.  In that moment of surrender, God met him face to face! Do you think Abraham was ever the same?

There are multitudinous times in scripture when people met with God face to face, but we are sometimes told that is no longer possible for those of us living today.  I say that is a lie straight out of the pit of hell.  I have met Him myself so many times now that I would be hard pressed to ever share all of them with anyone.  Believe it or not!  It is true!

If you have never had an experience like this one, may I encourage you to seek His face.  He is waiting and eager to meet with anyone who will come to Him.   Psalm 27 is a beautiful one in which the psalmist cries out “When you said, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.”  (Hebrews 11:6)  Expect Him to show up!

May I suggest that you take a moment at the first opportunity that presents itself, get quiet before Him and read this Psalm in its entirety? Pray as you read; that is, dialogue with Him.  This means that you say what’s in your heart and then you listen for Him to speak to you by His Spirit in your spirit.  I find that I do not hear His voice in my head but somewhere from the center of my inmost being.  One thing I can tell you, I always KNOW the times when I have met with Him and the times when the voice has had some other source.  I will share sometime how anyone can know the difference.  

Happy Seeking!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Why it is hard to pay attention to God

Yesterday’s blog was about paying attention to God or "practicing the presence of God"!  I continued to peruse this concept throughout the day.  What does it mean to pay attention?  I would love to be able to throw that question out to all of you and brainstorm some answers.

One thought I had is that we pay attention to what we love!  I love my husband; my husband loves me!  We have each other’s attention.  It is not work for me nor is it work for him.  It is a very natural thing that comes out of our love for each other.  For instance, if my phone rings and I see that it is him calling, I will drop all else to respond.  I know that he does the same with me.

Now think of that in the context of our Lord.   Does He have our attention like that?  We have his attention like that although most of us remain pretty unaware of that truth.  And Truth it is! 

(Ps.139:17,18) “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.”  This entire psalm has been a life changing one for me and many others with whom I have shared its contents.

Really! God? the God of the whole universe, who created heaven and earth and all that is within them…He is constantly thinking of me?  In a positive way?  Astounding!  How long has it been since you’ve been to the beach and counted the grains of sand?  These good thoughts our heavenly Father has toward us are more in number than all the grains of sand on the earth.  Selah..stop and think calmly about that!!!

Oh, I know some of us have been taught that God is everywhere and He sees everything we do and, therefore, we better not pout and we better not cry because He won’t like us if we act like that.  I know the song is about Santa but some people even have that mixed up, right?  To them, prayer is reciting their wish list or making up a todo list for God.  What’s sad about that is then we don’t understand why those prayers don’t get answered.

More people have the concept of God as a “gotcha god” than you would imagine.   This idea is fostered in order to cause people to be good, or else.  And people do fear Him, but they do not love Him.  Who could love a parent who was constantly watching every move looking for an opportunity to hit the child over the head with a two by four?  Not me!  And not many of you either.

When I worked at a treatment center for depression and anxiety, my duty was to teach about “distorted views of God.”  I loved that job.  I would tell people they ought to fire such a God and get a new one because their idea of God was not the God that Jesus came to reveal at all.  When they wrote a job description of the God they wanted it was more like the true God of the bible!  I saw many people set free in amazing ways.

Imagine with me for a moment a parent who is constantly thinking of the little one that they love so that they can raise it up to be the very best person possible.  Can you imagine that same parent saying something like, “OK, go on and put your hand on that stove and then you will learn a lesson not to touch the stove”?   No, and neither can any other person who has been raised by a loving parent.

Our heavenly Father is a good parent to His children!  (Matthew 7:7-11)  He is not a Father that would give a serpent to a child who asks for a fish, or stones to one who needs bread.  He is One who gives good things to those who ask Him!  He is the same Father to us that He was to Jesus. (John 20:17)  His heart’s desire is for us to be children to Him as Jesus was, totally dependent!  Who wouldn’t do that if we knew Him as He really is?  No one!

It is our enemy, the Devil, who tells such lies about God and, I believe, even inspires the kind of parenting that keeps people from being able to relate to God as a good and loving Father.  (John 8:41-44)  He is a liar and the father of lies.  It grieves me to hear the kind of thoughts that he has been able to sow in the hearts of people about our one true God! 

So let me ask you today…what is your view of the heavenly Father?  Unless you have done some work in the area of healing, it is not far from the parents who raised you.  If they were loving and devoted, then you see God in this way.  If they were anything but that, from cold and distant to harsh and tyrannical, then your way of relating to God will be similar to your response to them.  Hear me, I am not blaming; I am trying to explain how this happens.

May I encourage you to read the gospel of John with an eye toward this thought…what kind of a Father was God to Jesus?  Jesus said that He came to reveal the real Father to us.  (John 14:7-9)  He said if we knew that Father, we could love Him and it would be a joy to practice the presence of such a loving Father.  We would bound boldly into His throne room and jump up into His lap and look up into His face to receive His life changing look of love!

May the Son of God be shining on you today!
I pray that is your experience today!  If not, I ask the Spirit of God to reveal to you the truth of which I speak today and bring healing to your heart and mind as needed.  And, in the meantime, I pray the Son of God to be shining into the dark and cold places of your heart warming it up toward Him!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Paying Attention to the Lord

He is worthy of our attention!  And He is waiting to meet with you at your Well to spend time with you today!  Psalm 16:ll He will show us the path to life; In His presence is fullness of joy; At His right hand are pleasures forevermore!

Good morning, blogger friends.  I know it has been some time since I have shared anything with you and I apologize to those of you who might have missed me.  This has been a very busy time for me as my granddaughter has started college in a town very nearby our home and her mother has moved here as well.  I guess one could say there has been a lot of moving and shaking going on. 

This morning I was reading in a prayer book about the importance of continually walking in a sense of worship.  Now many people are natural born worshippers and they would say, Oh yes, I can relate to this and this I can do.  Then there are people like me who didn’t really learn to “worship” until I had been a Christian many, many years.  In fact, I am still learning.

As I stopped and pondered that thought another one came to me.  I read one time that the root of the word worship is a little like “His Worth Ship” like His Lordship, indicating that He is worthy of our time and attention.  Now this is something that I can relate to very well and I will tell you why.

One of the most life changing concepts in my Christian life has been to learn to “practice the presence of God”.  At first, that did not compute with me either.  I tried and I tried to experience the actual presence of God with me.  I listened as some of my friends told of how glorious and healing it was for them to do so.

One day I was sitting beside a young man and I noticed that he had a ring with a cross on it.  I asked him about it.  He said it was a “rosary ring”.  I asked if he was a Catholic and he said no, but this ring helped him to remember to practice the presence.  It was comforting to hear that he needed a reminder.

Others responded in a similar fashion.  One lady told of how each morning she would put a dot of ink on the top of her hand and every time she would move her hands and notice the dot she would stop and remember that God was present with her.  Now I was beginning to get it.  So, I went downtown and looked for something to remind me of His presence.

I found what I call my cross stone.  It is a small white marble looking stone with a cross etched in it.  I began to carry it with me everywhere and, sure enough, every time I saw it I was reminded to stop and realize that God was present with me.  This was the beginning of a great healing for me.  I will share more about that in subsequent blogs.

But, let me ask you today.  Is it easy for you to think of God as with you, right here and right now.  Oh, you may have learned at some time that he is omnipresent, but is that real for you?  It was not for me until I began consciously remembering that He was and giving Him my attention.  For me, this is one important form of worship!

May I encourage you to find some little thing that might remind you today that God is with you!  it could be as simple as the dot of a pen or a rubber band on your arm, or even one of those colorful bands that are so popular today.  Anything will do, but do it.  It has been one of the most life changing habits for me.

I would love to hear from you about your thoughts on this idea.  Write and tell me if you tried it and, if so, how did it go?  Hopefully, I will be able to write some more very soon to tell you more about how I learned to experience His presence.

Meantime, I hope the Son is shining brightly into your world today and the warmth of His presence is changing your day!