Everything Changes

Have you ever experienced the atmosphere in a room change?  Maybe someone was in a bad mood.  The color of the air seemed to change as their emotions filled the space.  The opposite can also happen when someone with gladness and joy releases peace.   One human can change the mood in a room for better or for worse.

If people can change the climate in a room – how much more can God?

One thing I will always seek after in ministry is God’s presence.  When He is present, anything can happen.  It’s like the words to the song, “When You walk into the room, everything changes.”  Healing, deliverance, restoration, and great joy abound when He is present.

But isn’t God everywhere? Yes, God is omnipresent.  However, His tangible presence is referred to in scripture as His Kabowd….or in more familiar terms, His Glory.   The Glory of God is defined as His heavy, weighty, presence.  It’s what Moses requested when he prayed, “Show me your Glory” in Exodus 33:18.  

God answered Moses’ prayer in a distinct way.  He will do the same for us as we seek and pray for the manifestation of His Glory to be in our lives, ministries, etc.

Is it important for us to make a request like Moses?  Certainly, God can crash in, even in His glory, without being asked.  But most of the time, from my experience, God is more present when His presence is INVITED.

We live in a condo.  Many of the condos around us are occupied with college students.  Occasionally, someone will walk into ours on accident.  It doesn’t happen very often, but it has happened on occasion. More often though, the only people who come into our condo have been invited in.  

Invitations are powerful.  They give access.

When we invite God’s presence ….His RSVP is affirmative.

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We can take a couple of approaches when it comes to inviting God’s presence into our day, life, or gathering.  

First approach:

We can focus on doing our own thing and leave it all up to God whether He shows up or not. I’ve heard people say this about receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They will say, “If God wants me to pray in tongues, He will grab ahold of my mouth and make me.”

Some have the perception this is what happened at Pentecost…that God just showed up & made everyone speak in tongues. They were not asking specifically for the gift of tongues, but they were expecting an encounter with the Holy Spirit. Jesus had told them to wait for the gift that had been promised.

They were ACTIVE in their seeking and waiting.

I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with the logic that “God will make me…”  In fact, it completely removes responsibility off of the individual and puts it solely onto God. I disagree, because I believe God allows us to participate in invitation.

While preparing and planning (for whatever) we can say: “I’m not going to seek an experience…I’m only going to focus on my agenda…if God wants to interrupt me, that’s up to Him.”

Ok –  fine, but don’t expect much of an encounter with God if you’re not asking for one.

Second approach:

A second approach is to invite God into our midst. Moses ASKED and God responded.

Jesus already made the first move.  He came as a man, and sacrificed His life in a brutal death so we could gain access to HIM.  Sometimes I wonder if we’ve forgotten the veil in the temple was torn.  That means we can boldly go into His throne room.   He is personal.   God is not some distant being up in space.  He is as near as our air.  He has form, substance and personality.  He has feelings and thoughts.  He’s a real person who has invited us to intimately know Him.

I remember being taught that the “touchy feely” part of Christianity was just for new believers.  I was taught that there was a honeymoon stage in the beginning, and after that we “mature” into walking by faith and not by our feelings.  Now I understand that is mostly a lie to move us into a religious system.  Jesus paid a great price to bridge the gap between us and Him.   The truth is IT IS FINISHED.  If we must “walk solely by faith and not our feelings” then perhaps we have missed the whole point.  The point being, the finished work of the cross.  

Meditating on the finished work brings up a lot of feelings for me.  Feelings of deep gratitude, humility, and a desire to pour out my entire life for Him.  Feelings of desiring more intimacy with this beautiful Savior, and wanting Him to receive the glory due His name. Feelings are not all bad.  Jesus created us to feel stuff because He also has feelings.

Feeling HIS presence is one of the best ways to experience Him.

Revelation of the access Jesus has given us to HIM is really all we need.  Confidence knowing He will give an affirmative answer to our invitation, makes asking that much more simple.

It sounds like this:

  • Holy Spirit, come.
  • God, come.
  • Show us Your glory.
  • Lord, fill our (home, office, place of work, church) with Your tangible presence.
  • Jesus, we love You, we welcome You here.

It really is that simple.  God loves us. He’s looking for resting places in people…  individuals and families who are simply humble and open to allowing His presence to rest in them.

How about you?  Will you allow His presence to invade your spirit, soul, and mind today?  Will you be His resting place?  

It’s as simple as asking.

When Push Comes To Shove

Yesterday I enjoyed an amazing ski day at Big Sky Resort all by myself.  It was an introvert’s dream.  Thanks to my iphone I was able to follow Facebook, and unless you live in a hole in the ground, you know that everyone was talking about comments made by Duck Dynasty’s patriarch Phil Robertson in an interview with GQ.

The Duck Dynasty controversy, in my opinion, is not so much about A & E vs. Phil Robertson,  as it is about relative  vs. absolute truth.  Phil was backed into a corner and asked questions about where he stands on a specific topic.

Those who stand on the side of relative truth believe truth is defined individually.  It is up to each person to decide what is true for them.  Those who believe in absolute truth believe something outside of themselves defines truth.  Phil is in the later group.

If you follow the “truth is relative”  line of thinking consistently you have to take anything off of the table as “wrong” because if it’s up to an individual to decide right from wrong, then anything can be morally right.  And by anything…I mean ANYTHING.

Those who hold to a belief that there is such a thing as absolute truth believe that something outside of our own feelings or opinions defines truth.  Most in this group look to the Bible as a guide for defining what is right from wrong.

It comes as no surprise that I am in this later group.  I love the Bible because it is more than just a book.  It is a living word.    The very best part is that the word came in the flesh as Jesus.  He is the word, and I have access to Him!  I can talk to Him and He talks back.  His presence is felt in increasing ways as I grow in intimacy with Him.  I will live with Him for all of eternity because He came and took my place in death.  Forever and ever  I will worship Him face to face, and He will sing over me, in an eternal exchange of affection.

Whatever your opinion was about yesterday’s Duck Dynasty controversy,  you must now recognize that a line has been drawn in the sand.  Our culture has been approaching this moment for years and now there is no turning back.

I wish  Phil had said things in a different way, but I can not disagree with his stand about what is right and what is wrong.

His follow up comments brought clarity:

 “I myself am a product of the ’60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.

“However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and, like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”

The topic of homosexuality is a prime target for those who want to bring persecution against the Christian church.  It’s  a hard issue to address because it’s so deeply personal.  If we say murder is a sin,  few people will argue or be offended.  But when we say that the act of homosexuality is a sin we are suddenly hateful.

I have wrestled with this for years.  My husband and I have had hours and hours of conversation about this topic.  We have friends who are homosexuals.  We love them, and we have shown that love in very tangible ways.  I have ministered to gays and lesbians.  I have counseled and prayed with them.  They know exactly what I believe about homosexual acts, and they know that I love them.

It is VERY VERY difficult to say in one line “I love the GLBT community” and “I believe that their actions are morally wrong.”   Oh how I wish it were easier.  The good news is that there are homosexuals who do get it.  Some even spoke out yesterday in Phil’s defense.

The GQ interview was a push comes to shove moment for the Church.  When push comes to shove, what is our belief?

Misunderstanding and persecution are the same thing.  Jesus was completely misunderstood by the religious leaders. Those who backed Phil into a corner did so because their intent was to bring persecution.   I feel a boldness that is increasing in my heart to proclaim the truth in love.  I do not want to fear persecution because I believe  when persecution hits, there is  an increase of boldness and kingdom expansion.

My prayer for those who hold fast to absolute truth, is that we will   recognize this  increased freedom and favor to share Christ’s love and truth in humility this season.  God is by nature a redeemer, and I am confident that He is going to take this controversy and use it for His utmost good.

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