Monday, November 25, 2013
Saturday, November 16, 2013
When many people speak about being in God's presence, and its effect on people, they point to the Isaiah story.
When he was in the temple one day, he had a vision of God and an army of angels. Isaiah's reaction was fear and dread, because he realized his heart was not right with God. He realized this, because he knew his words were not right. (Since, people live from their hearts, their speech and their actions are indications of what is in their hearts. Everyone's heart is unclean. So, everyone will speak and act wrongly. That's why we need Jesus. And that's why God's Spirit fills out hearts -- to purify our hearts, so we speak and act in love.) It was then that an angel touched his mouth with a burning coal, acting as an instrument of purification, and he received his forgiveness.
People seem to associate God's presence with this holy dread, guilt and fear. People seem to forget about other areas that talk about about God's presence. David says that he is assured of experiencing joy and pleasures in God's presence. It is the presence that produces the joy and pleasure.
Scripture describes the results of God's Spirit moving in and through people's hearts. People "walk out" these results because they are a natural out-flow of God's Spirit in them. This is God's nature, so these are the result of God's nature. The first outflow of God's nature is love. The second outflow is joy.
I am not sure that the natural outcome of being in God's presence is fear, dread and guilt. I don't deny that people feel these things. (Eg. Isaiah.) But I wonder if it is God's intention that people experience joy and peace in his presence. Joy and peace is who he is. Joy and peace is what surrounds him.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Saturday, November 09, 2013
As we focus our hearts on God, we begin to see obedience differently, we begin to see our relationship with God differently, and we begin to see our relationship with people differently.
We have said here that as we set our heart-focus on God, he sets his heart-focus on us. And God's heart flows back into our hearts and into our lives. God changes our hearts to become like his heart. So, the things that characterize God will characterize us.
What is God's primary character trait? What has he told us is the most important thing? It is love. God's heart overflows with love for people. If God's heart flows into our heart, we will incorporate God's character. Which means we will love like God loves. Love, service and generosity will become part of our nature. We should expect life patterns to change as God changes our hearts.
I can see how there would be a tendency for people to get down on themselves ... or others in Jesus' family. It is easy to see a lack of love in the lives of so many who say they follow Jesus.
We fail. We will continue to fail. Scripture says God gave the Law, not for people to keep -- because that is impossible -- but so our failure would show us our need for Jesus, and drive us to seek him. Our failure to love should reveal our need to keep seeking Jesus.
Sin and failure should always bring us back to Jesus. People always follow their heart-focus. And they always become what their heart is focused on. Transformation will always be the result of failure, if we turn and seek Jesus' face.
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
Monday, November 04, 2013
Sunday, November 03, 2013
He observed people, who were physically fit and healthy, weaken and die. Or they would commit suicide by throwing themselves on the electrified fence. On the other hand, a puny, sickly person with asthma, anemia, and a heart condition would survive well past the end of the war. Physically, the first person was much more capable of survival than the second. He decided that the reason the first person died, and the second person lived, must lie somewhere in their inner life. So, he investigated. What he discovered was that those who survived had something to focus on in the future after all that they had experienced in the present was over. The survivors set their hearts on seeing family, finishing a project or visiting somewhere. And those who died had nothing to set their hearts on.
There seems to be a law -- almost -- that what a person focuses his heart on is drawn to that person. Those who focused on doing and being in the future, drew it to them. Those who had no focus drew the end to them.
I don't really know if I could explain how this law works fully. There does seem to be people who focus their hearts on gaining money or success, and those things seem drawn to them like a magnet. Of course, the focus compels them to act in a particular way ... and maybe that's the secret. Sitting down, closing your eyes and intoning like a mantra, "Money! Money! Money!" -- all the while visualizing small pictures of Washington, Lincoln and Jackson floating toward you, forming nice neat piles in from of you -- seems like a silly way to provide for your family.
Now, here is the part I am concentrating on. I confess I don't feel like I completely understand ... indeed, I may be totally wrong. I feel like Paul uses more poetic language here, which may be part of the problem. But here is what it seems to me he is saying:
Since, we are not hindered from seeing the nature and character of God more fully. And as we see him, as we focus our hearts on him, we draw the focus of God to us. God reciprocates. So, like the "law" Victor Frankl seemed to propose, we draw God and God's nature to us, as we focus on him. His grace fills our hearts and transforms our hearts, which in turn transforms our thoughts, words and deeds. If I understand this correctly, one tool for transformation is our heart focus, Worship, prayer and meditation become means of growth, not just means of relationship.