Friday, August 25, 2006

The Christian Basics (at least my take)

Below are questions asked of me about my faith/religion/etc.


What does it mean to be a Christian? Does it entail certain actions, beliefs, practices, etc? If so, what?

A Christian is one who identifies Christ as his or her means of salvation, but a devout follower is who further acts upon that relationship, believing they are in need of pursuing God more.

What is "faith" in God? What does it mean to "put your trust in the Lord"?

Faith in God is the belief that God will take care of the worries and hardships in life and death, that there is no need to control or manage the safety/security/comfort of one’s life.


Is church important?

Church is important in the sense that we are the Body of Christ, and without exposure to it, and participation in it, we miss out on the design that God intended us to experience.

How connected are the practices of attending church and your relationship with God?

Connected in the sense that one can experience/participate in a corporate worshipping of God, receive support, and provide service to God.

Why go? Why not go? What do we get out of church/what are we supposed to get out of church? (That question could get very idealistic, but lets stick to our actual lives and experiences)

We go because it keeps us rooted in the faith, serving as a reminder of what we believe, who we follow, why we need to look/act differently.


How do you connect with God? Do you remember any times when God has transformed you? (Connected: does God transform us? Are we supposed to be transformed? From what, to what?)

Through prayer, worship, listening, serving, & obeying. I’ve felt differently due to events God has orchestrated, changing my behaviors. The Holy Spirit has stirred new thoughts or feelings within me, changing my outlook and actions. I think God’s intent is to transform us from Prodigals to Heirs, from the pig trough to the Dinner Table, from the rags to the royal robes, from isolation to the embrace of the Father.

Why do you spend time with God? Why don't you? Does it need to be a rigid practice? (like praying/reading the bible for an hour per day)

I spend time with God to eventually accept the truth of my identity in Christ. I don’t because I fear that intimacy and don’t want to become vulnerable, and abandoned. Pride is a comforting distraction, sin appears absolutely logical and productive for survival. It never was designed to be rigid; those things become rigid with improper motivation. Do you want to work for your salvation or better know your loving Father?

What keeps you from God?

The fear and pride and comfort of sin.

What does the Bible say about this stuff? Is it right? (That 2nd question can go in a lot of different ways, but I generally mean, does what the Bible say about being close/far from God resonate with you - so yes, it is a personally relativistic 'right' in this case)

I would like to believe my understanding is based in Scripture, though I can’t say particularly where for specific examples.


How do you prefer to worship God? (Singing, serving, etc. - be specific)

I prefer to worship, allowing the Holy Spirit be the music leader, directing its flow like a dance. Also, by thinking and speaking about the things of God with friends. Through writing, art, acts of kindness or becoming the servant.

Are there right and wrong ways to worship God?

It is not worship if it bolsters one’s ego and turns attention away from the Triune God.

Where is your worship life at right now? Aka, do you need to kick your own ass? (This presupposes a question: do we have to want to worship God in order to worship him? Do we have to have a right heart set? If so, how do we get to that place when we aren't there?)

To address the presumption, yes, one needs to desire to worship God to do so. One can end up at that heart’s place by two means: the Holy Spirit’s calling or intervention, or by intentionally seeking God’s heart, either through thought or action (but the Holy Spirit always plays a role in the enhanced richness of the worship experience – when communion with God is attained – despite what one believes he or she experiences).

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

So my Blog used to be called...

"Proof There is a God."

I still feel pretty inadequate, but I saw this documentary on the History Channel, and the evidence is legitimate. Check out the next airing if you can. I think it is awesome the way God can orchestrate all of it and it attests to the love He has for his people, an invitation that is still open to all. Granted, it is hard to digest the fact that people were killed as a means, but I have the rest of my life to figure that stuff out about God. My experience, and that's all I can unwaveringly attest to, says God is loving and faithful. Anyways... check out the Exodus Decoded... it is powerful.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Will of God

I imagined being a boy again. Isn't that fun... going back to the days of your youth, from that perspective, even if only in your imagination? I imagine riding my bike to my friend's house, enjoying more the ride home of course... downhill speeds and minimal pedaling... oh yeah! The sun's rays would speckle the ground through the trees' canopy... slow-motion as I lean to and fro, slaloming down my block. The joy, the innocence, the warmth... life is at its best in that moment.
If I were to have my own autobiographical movie, I'd have fun creating the background music. Jason Upton sings about this whistle in the Will of God. There is this whistle in God's Will. Isn't that beautiful? Imagine this whistle (or better yet, listen to the song) as the background music to one of the scenes of your youth. When I do, I get this sense of peace, this incredible peace and satisfaction with life, like it would be all too soon for the moment to end... Heaven would be this moment for eternity.
The problem lies in the fact that we age, and in so doing, lose innocence... We get hurt and start closing our hearts to others, and God. I think that's why finding Jesus for the first time is so great... exciting. We get to reclaim that innocence, to surrender our hearts to the Lord, and it is great! But again, the problem lies in the fact that we age (as believers), and in so doing, lose trust of God to protect us, to love us. The world screams the opposite, that no one is safe to trust... "Watch out for yourself! Lower your guard to no one... you will only be taken advantage of, or abandoned... better to stay closed off!"
Looking back to my youth, I remember no vicious fear of losing security. My parents were gods, impenetrable to attack or failure. Isn't that how God is really? Isn't our image of God reflective of our parents' image, even after maturity, when we grow distant... Now, in my life, my devotion to God is set... I will always be in the Body of Christ, always returning home as the prodigal, day after day, month after month, etc. But my image of God hold many disappointments still... and I know the Gospel! I know there are errors in my perceptual set of God!

So the question is this: how do we reconcile our understanding of God, thus learning to trust him whole-heartedly, as a child does his father? Isn't that the very nature of the Will of God, to know and act as the Children of God that we are?
Our fears get in the way of our relationship with God. We fear, so we react poorly, filling our insecurity with shiny things... idols. How my pride sparkles! It shimmers and blinds me... I don't even see my fear anymore, I'm too distracted. Or the glistening flesh found a mouse-click or two away... get enough of that and I'll feel safe... for a while. Or simply give everyone what they want to see, reserved, distinguished, mysterious... don't dare make things awkward or ruffle others' feathers! "No, stay under the radar and you'll be approved by them, and that will be enough for you."

I want to hear that whistle again... I want to experience that peace, that warmth as the whistle reverberates through my mind and heart and I know I am surrounded by grace and the strength of the Lord. It is easy being a kid, a child of God. Daddy carries the burden! Hell, Daddy carries me!!! And the only voice you hear, the only voice that carries any weight is Daddy's, for his word is the Law! What a great peace to trust the Father.

Why, then, is it so hard to hear Him now? Have we so forgotten to listen that we don't recognize when he does call?

"Only your will fills...
The void inside of me.
There's a whistle in your will...
Your yoke is easy,
Your burden is so light...
It's the bondage breaker...
The Will of the Lord...
And your whistle,
It blows off all the stuff

That tries to push me along
And move me forward,
And your whistle sets me free

Open our ears, O God...
Rise, O God, and break off
that Man-pleasing Spirit…

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…
Break off that man-pleasing spirit…
The spirit that leads us into foolishness,
The spirit that leads us into foolish ways
Open up our ears…
to hear you sing over us,
to hear your whistle, O God…"

- Jason Upton Whistle of Your Will
Dying Star)