Christianity Is: Exposing Himself

terrified
Did that title catch your eye? I find it interesting that some words and phrases have come to have such a default risque association. The use of double entendres is truly an art. Just consider the vanilla definition of “expose” (it comes from Latin expositus ‘to put or set out’) and the difference when a pronoun is added.

It occurred to me, though, that what we Christians are called to do is exactly that: to expose Christ Himself to others. To “introduce someone to” Christ and the Good News, and to do this – not in a preachy, “thou shalt” way, but by quietly, simply living His example fully in our own lives, that it may be seen in us first. Then, when asked, we are enabled to explain:

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
1 Peter 3:15 NIV

And what is this “Good News”? To begin with, ‘good’ is hardly descriptive enough. This is gggrrreeeaaattt! Amazing! Miraculous! It is the answer to every problem! It’s simple secret is in its ability to make everything right– not because it changes anything outside us, but it transforms the very heart of us. It’s a divine attitude adjustment, altering how we view ourselves for ever after – because we finally understand that we are made right.

imageHow does this happen? As I’ve expressed before, the fundamental question that we each must answer for ourselves is whether or not there is a creating ‘force’ or ‘being’ with a ‘personality’ and/or purpose for the creation. You either believe there is or not. The decision is based on the physical evidence of the world around us – and, if we will “admit” to “seeing” them – the meta-physical realities, as well. Call it what you like: spiritual, mystical, coincidental, miraculous – there is an element to this universe that has no ‘rational’ explanations, but our minds demand one.

What I believe – and believing is knowing what I can not prove – is in God as told of in The Bible. He created. Man, despite being made in His image, chose and fell. But God knew this would happen, and had already built into creation the resolution: Salvation which both restores Man to relation with Maker, and fulfills all need for justice.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

A response of “yes” to God – His existence, purpose, and nature – satisfactorily explains everything. Without divine intent, the question of “why” can never cease to be asked.

forgivenessConsider what this perspective gives me: By my faith in God I believe – I know – I have been granted many things by God, including the ability to accept what is. It’s really that straightforward. The past is past, over and done with, no regrets, no changes. The future, while clouded in mystery, is going to be good, whether just figuratively (because of my outlook) or literally (because any stormy season will pass). I have just this moment to live in, and I do have a purpose – something meaningful and good to do. Something greater than myself.

I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – testifying to the Good News of God’s Grace.
Acts 20:24

“God, grant me the serenity.” Peace. It’s just one of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Together, they are the exhibition (oops, another racy word) of God indwelling me. For you to observe. Hopefully, for you to wonder at, and derive some hope of your own.

For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you.
That is, that we may be mutually encouraged by eat other’s faith, both yours and mine.
Romans 1:11-12

 

Christianity Is: Tearing Your Heart

Have you ever been really sad? I mean heart-broken, heart-wrenchingly miserable, so completely wretched with sorrow that your voice can not express it and the only thing to be heard is the wordless wailing of your soul?

Have you ever been that sorry over something you’ve done?

Can you feel that way on purpose?

I’m all too familiar with this feeling, both from things I perceive done to me and from my own regretted words and actions. But, as a Christ-follower, it is an emotion I seek daily, as the opening note in my song of crying out to God. I want to be heart-torn, in preparation for His reparation.

broken-heart

Tear your hearts,
not your clothes.
Come back to the Lord your God.
He is kind and merciful.
He does not become angry quickly.
He has great love…
Joel 2:13 ERV

Humility begins with my acceptance about who I have been, who I am, and who I can be in Christ. It recognizes my ongoing, desperate need for God’s forgiveness, understanding, mercy, encouragement, and strength (Running On Fumes, 4/12/16). When I can sincerely reach this agonizing point, I am ready to listen to Him and to fully commit to His path for the day.

mended-heart
But I wipe away your sins because of who I am. And so, I will forget the wrongs you have done.
Isaiah 43:25 CEV

I say I daily search for this, and I do mean that, these days as a believer, it is not so much a sensation found as it is achieved by my morning practices of prayer, meditation, journaling, and Bible-reading. (Would that make them ‘mourning’ practices?) God has promised to forget my sins, but my past is what has made me what I am today, and it will continue to shape me for tomorrow. In other words, knowing who I have been motivates me to strive to be who I could be.

In truth, what I yearn for is the incredible passion of those first encounters with God’s redeeming love; the so-called “mountain-top” experiences. I worry that with anything less I will fall short of realizing my true condition. I fear that pride in myself – in thinking that I have accomplished anything – will creep in and dilute me, will weaken my stance. But this is the leap of faith I must take. It is simple trust in what God says. It is the belief in the unseen. It is faith.

…Maybe He will change His mind about the bad punishment He planned.
(the last line of Joel 2:13 ERV)

666
Want another way to think of it? It is the confidence with which one approaches a daunting operation, like open-heart surgery. I put my life fully in the surgeon’s hands. I had to be assured that God’s will would be done.
(Image: early 2015, about 6-8 weeks after the surgery)

And I want to know that every day.

How Can I Keep From Singing?!

joyFascination With God can be found in everything/anything around us when we “Find The Beauty”. Nature, art, beautiful sounds and smells and sights, acts of kindness, praise and worship, and giving ourselves in service and love pump us up with this totally freeing super-good-and-purely-natural high. When we truly look or listen or sing or feel what these things are made for, we experience true joy, and it’s our first baby-step on the path to a permanent (or, at least, prominent) serenity. We might need to start with a crawl before we can stumble and walk, but soon we are running and leaping into the air to soar on wings like eagles.

bird-singing

chris-tomlinFor me, music is a primary expression of my Fascination With God,and one of the best at delivering it in an easy and simple way is Chris Tomlin. One of my favorite ‘topics’ of praise and worship is, very plainly, the urge to sing. Make a joyful noise!

Hope you like this one:

microphoneHow Can I Keep From Singing?!

There is an endless song
Echoes in my soul
I hear the music ring

And though the storms may come
I am holding on
To the rock I cling

How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love
How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing

I will lift my eyes
In the darkest night
For I know my Savior lives

And I will walk with You
Knowing You’ll see me through
And sing the songs You give

How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love
How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing

I can sing in the troubled times
Sing when I win
I can sing when I lose my step
And fall down again
I can sing ’cause You pick me up
Sing ’cause You’re there
I can sing ’cause You hear me, Lord
When I call to You in prayer
I can sing with my last breath
Sing for I know
That I’ll sing with the angels
And the saints around the throne

(2006 sixsteps Music Thankyou Music Vamos Publishing worshiptogether.com songs Wondrously Made Songs)
Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Matt Redman