Here is part III of the talk I gave at the retreat I attended recently. Just one more to go after this one.
Ok – great. How do we build this relationship.
For me, first, before anything else, I had to realize that God is already there. He’s my Father, standing in the road, waiting for me to come home to be in relation with him. It was a relief to know that all I had to do was accept…not EARN the relationship.
What I can to is devote the time to ENHANCE the relationship and abide in it with Prayer – Searching the Scriptures – Meditation – Worship – Holy Communion – Spiritual Direction
Prayer – I was used to praying in church on Sunday, maybe at big meals
Think about your own children for a sec. If your own child only talked to you one day a week, they wouldn’t get the benefit of your understanding, your acceptance, your wisdom…and you’d miss THEM!
I want to hear my child’s fears, joys, requests, etc.
1st Thess. 5:17 offers a solution “Pray without ceasing.”
I’ve learned to pray with my eyes open, while I’m talking with someone, driving (and my wife said I should pray more while I’m watching the news). Any time...I always have His ear.
Searching the Scriptures- I have several favorite authors (Max Lucado, Phillip Yancy, John Eldridge) and I would love to meet each one and be their friend. I feel like I know their character from their books.
Likewise the heart and mind of God is woven in the pages of the Bible. It contains God’s thoughts.
Albert Einstein once said “I want to know God’s thoughts, all else is detail.”
In His word I find His thoughts about Himself, and I find myself as He reveals my purpose, my value.
Meditation – This isn’t the legs crossed burning incense saying Ommmmmm kind of meditation. This can take several forms:
Sometimes I’ll find a scripture that I repeat over and over to myself throughout the day, or paste it to my mirror, on my phone so it can penetrate my mind.
Other times it might be spending quite time, with my head cleared of others concerns listening for the prompting of the Holy Spirit, that “still small voice of God”
I’ve heard more than one influential pastor say that their prayer life involves their prayer to God, and then their silence, listening. I’ve found more often than not, when I do listen, a scripture will come to mind which applies to predicament or concern at the time. Let me tell you, for a guy who’s scoffed at a lot of people for saying that God “talked” to them I’ve had to recognize that God does “communicate” with His children in many and various ways, if we are quite and discerning enough to listen.
Worship – Whether I’m prostrate on the ground praying, kneeling, singing songs, clapping, raising my arms, attending church, tithing, I’m engaged in worship.
There are countless ways to express our Thanksgiving and love for God. In part, through worship I am reminded of my place in the spiritual hierarchy, GOD is on the throne…worshiping Him means I acknowledge Him there.
Also in part, worship to me is like the game you may have played with your child. You say I love you, and they say I love you more, and you say no I love YOU more. When we worship God, telling Him we love Him, Psalm 22:3 “God inhabits the praise of his people.” says He’s not just listening and receiving high on His throne, He’s there, saying I love you more. And we say we love YOU more, and He trumps with “I loved you FIRST.”
Holy Communion – We humans’ are designed to learn in many ways: We learn by reading, by watching, by hearing, and by DOING.
I’ve heard the crucifixion story many times, I’ve seen it in movies like Passion of Christ, But, when I bite into the bread, chew, and swallow, I feel his body broken for me.
When I drink the wine, I feel his blood spilled for me.
I share that humble drama with my brother’s and sister’s in Christ “In remembrance of Him” (Luke22:19) and feel restored in purity (relationship).
Spiritual Direction – If my AC breaks this summer, I’m going to call a trained, knowledgeable professional. When I’m lost in an unfamiliar city, I check a map. When I’m unsure of a spiritual issue, or unsure of life’s path, I can seek the direction and counsel of experts. This means spending time with mature Christians. I may annoy him but I try to visit with my pastor in his office, one on one, at least once every two months. Reading books by mature Christian authors is another source of spiritual direction (C.S. Lewis, Max Luccado, Phillip Yancy).
God gave some the gift of teaching and encouraging and we can utilize those people and take advantage of their insights and encouragements. Of course this can also include other Christian people…God doesn’t just use “experts,” he’ll use anyone available to share His truths.
Part IV, the end, tomorrow...