Monthly Archives: February 2013

Musings from a Madman: The Reality of Relationship (Part 13)

The Secret Place where God touches you.

Once inside this secret place, you must relax. You are now in God’s presence. This is the place where his heart and your heart were designed to bond. Here you can forget about your trials and troubles for a few minutes and experience the peace and the presence of the One who loves you unconditionally. Here is the place where you don’t have to perform, say the right words, or worry about doing something wrong.

This is the habitation of God, and you have entered the presence of the One who loves to sing songs over you as you draw near. These songs contain the words your heart hungers to hear—the songs that cause your spirit to soar on the wings of eagles. Here in this place you are completely safe from rejection. God will not reject you. To do so, he would have to reject his son Jesus Christ. And that is something God cannot do because he would have to reject himself and that is impossible.

Here you will find your true worth—the value God’s accessment. You will hear his voice. Perhaps it will come in a soft whisper or a gentle word or phrase. One thing is for certain, if you listen closely you will begin to understand who you truly are in Christ. You will grasp the reality of the person God sees when he looks at you, not the despicable creature the enemy wants you to believe is the real you.

Perhaps it has dawned on you that the voices of condemnation, shame, and fear have all gone silent. Their slurs and slanders have no voice here. Truth is the only language spoken at this address. The only shortcomings here are the deceptions you have believed about yourself and smuggled into this tranquil spot. And, if you become a regular visitor to the place, those will soon disappear as the light of truth illuminates them one by one. Then you will see each one for what it really is—a lie. Here in this place, God’s word defines truth. What he says is!

Lay aside what everyone else says about you and listen closely to the words God is speaking. Listen! Learn! And then live out of the identity ascribed to you by God. He cannot lie! You are a son—a daughter—of the King. You are not worthless, unworthy, wicked, or stupid. You are not a failure or a disappointment either. You are the beloved of God!

Listen to God’s voice. Concentrate on every consonant, vowel, and syllable. Let the melody of those words sink like medicine into your wounded soul. Meditate on their full meaning. That healing word you have longed for so long is here—right now!

Stop worrying about what to do next. Just relax and be who God says you already are.

Musings from a Madman: The Mystery of Relationship (Part 12)

You have stepped into the secret place, into the very presence of God in your pursuit of an intimate relationship with him. Hunger, love, devotion, and desperation have all banded together and enabled you to knock on the door, and now the love and passion of God is opening it. You are about to experience his presence in a new way…what will it be like?

One word is used throughout the Bible to describe this moment and that word is “shalom” or peace. Shalom brings an inner and outer calmness of wholeness and health in your spirit, soul, and body. Shalom is not just what God brings; it is who he is as well. The presence of God can be a terrifying thing, but not if you belong to God and have come with confidence into his presence as one of his children intent on experiencing his presence and spending time with him.

The sudden descent of peace and being enveloped in it is an experience beyond description. It is enough to say once it happens you will know it and you will never forget it, no matter how often it happens. Storms may rage on the outside but in your heart there is a peace that surpasses understanding!

When the peace of God’s presence comes, the power of his provision begins to flow. He knows exactly what you need and he pours it out in abundance. Rest assured, whenever you enter the presence of God like this, your needs will be met, even if you can’t name them. Your hunger for relationship—your desire to sit in the very presence of the Lover of your soul—is the key. Out of relationship provision will come. You pursue the relationship and God will send the provision for whatever you need.

Take the position of a child crawling up in his or her father’s lap. That’s exactly what you are doing with God. He is your Abba, your Daddy. As a child would place their hands on their father’s cheeks and look him in the eyes—lift your hands toward the face of God and tell him you love him. Forget about everything else and concentrate on the One who loves you with an unconditional, infinite love.

Time no longer matters when you arrive here. Focus on his presence—on his heart. Listen for his voice. You will never forget how it sounds once you hear it. Relax and revel in his presence. For the moment, just sit with him, soak up his glorious presence, and enjoy the peace that comes for experiencing the reality of intimacy and relationship with God.  

Musings from a Madman: The Mystery of Relationship (Part 11)

Our pursuit has taken us to the very doorstep of God’s presence—now we must be patient. God is never in a hurry, but rest assured he will meet you here…in this place. Whenever you choose God over everything else, his passion is aroused. 

Passion?

Now wait just a minute…are you saying God has passion? You better believe God has passion and he is passionate about you. God’s word talks about the zeal of the Lord (a translator’s word for white-hot passion) throughout the Bible. Jesus was passionate about the Gentile worshipers that had been pushed out of the Temple by the merchants who sold the animal sacrifices and exchanged foreign currency for Temple shekels. The Holy Spirit is passionate about his relationship with God’s sons and daughters. By the way, where do you think the model for human passion came from? We did not invent it—it was patterned after our Creator. God has passion.

And—when you want God more than anything else, God’s passion for you is aroused. Maybe you have never experienced his overwhelming love and desire for you. If so, this would be a great time to check your motives once again. Perhaps the reason you’ve never experienced this is not “how” you enter his presence, but rather “why” you have come. You can make the right preparation and do everything on the list and still not experience God’s passionate presence.

What do you really want out of this anyway?

 Too often we come wanting power, position, or a hundred different prayer needs and we forget the main reason is to enjoy his presence. Sometimes we come to get what he can give rather than to rest in his presence. There is certainly nothing wrong with asking God for provisions, but his presence (who he is) is far more important than what he can do for us (his power). Whenever you choose the presence of God over everything else, his passion is aroused and he will definitely show up.

Passion is a prerequisite to intimacy. It will not be your hard work, abilities, or capabilities that attract God. No! It will be your heart—the devotion, the longing, and the love that desires to embrace his heart alone.

So be still and be quiet! Search your heart and check your motives. The real question at this moment is: Do you really want to be alone with God as much as he wants to be alone with you?

Musings from a Madman: The Mystery of Relationship (Part 10)

Once true surrender has taken place, it puts you in a position to receive. When you surrender you have given over everything—especially yourself and there’s nothing left to give. At that moment, you may hear God ask, “Who are you?” This is the question of entry that opens or shuts the door to intimacy. Your careful response is vital.

God’s not asking for information, he has all the information he needs already. He is omniscient. He knows everything. He is asking so that you will understand who you are. The question is about identification—who do you think you are.

How will you respond? Think about it for a moment, because this is the single most important appointment you have ever been invited to experience. You are where you are at this very moment—at the very doorway of God’s presence based on an invitation from Jesus Christ, not what you have or have not done, your personal connections, or your past. This invitation is not really about who you are, rather it is all about who God is. So the answer is important.

This is not the time to list your religious accomplishments, activities, or accolades. This is not the moment to share all the positions you hold in your local church or denomination. This is not the occasion to gush over your degrees, spiritual depth, or grace giftings. No, this is the moment to respond from a heart that has understanding and enlightenment as to who it really is.

Perhaps your response might sound like this: “Lord, it’s me, your servant, purchased by the blood of your Son, Jesus Christ.” That’s really all any of us have the ability to offer. When you come to this moment—it’s not about being the pastor, the teacher, the choir member, the prayer leader, the sinner, the mess-up, the success, the failure, the addict, the prisoner, or whatever label you might want to pin on yourself. No! “It’s just me, Lord. I have nothing to offer—nothing to give, but me. I’m here at your feet!”

The answer we give at this moment determines whether or not we step into the secret place with God. He is not impressed with our résumé; he is drawn to our heart. If your heart is surrendered, rest assured it will catch God’s attention and arouse his passion. Once you have his undivided attention—his presence will receive you and you will step into a place beyond what you thought was possible.

Are you willing to chunk your dignity for a moment in God’s presence? Are you willing to step out into a place that might be quite uncomfortable for your personality, your religious beliefs, or your mindset? Are you really desperate? If you are, you will do whatever it takes to get to this place, and once you are here, you will give the only answer that will open the door. No ultimatums. No demands. “Lord, it’s me—I am desperate to enter the secret place with you. I want to go into that place where no one else can see me so that I can simply be alone with you!”

True intimacy with God has a protocol to follow. Are you willing to take the next step? 

Musings of a Madman: The Mystery of Relationship (Part 9)

If pursuit is essential for an intimate relationship with God, then surrender is the key. Desperation will take you with mere inches of where you dream of going, but surrender of self opens the secret places of God’s heart. Surrender signifies the superiority of the one pursued and the inability of the one pursuing to catch up. The surrender of the self signifies a relinquishment of who you are and what you want for who God is and what he wants.

One of the lessons we must learn as we pursue a deeper relationship with God is that we cannot seduce God into doing anything no matter how hard we pray, serve, witness, give, fast, read our Bibles, or participate in other spiritual disciplines. These are not devices meant to twist God’s arm into doing what we want. No, they are disciplines that, when done with the right motive, lead us into his presence. We cannot seduce God, but we can submit to God.

God is not obligate or required to respond—in other words, he could ignore us because he can do whatever he wants whenever he wants to. He is sovereign and eternal. But God is drawn to the surrender of personal self. The aroma of selfishness dying gets his attention and assures him that we are genuine in our pursuit.

There comes a place when we can do nothing else—when all that is left is to throw ourselves on his mercy and grace and surrender. We fling ourselves at his feet and take hold. We refused to leave or be drawn away by the allure of anything else. In surrender, we grab hold and we give up all demand on what we will or will not do. At this moment, there is no going back—no retreat if things don’t work out. We kneel down and await our fate.

Surrender is a scary thing. The one who surrenders is unsure of what will happen next. They are uncertain how it might affect them. Knowing gives way to believing—sight gives way to faith. We have done all we know to do—God must make the next move.

Dancing with God

 Relationship is never solitary. Like a dance, it requires two to Tango as they say. The next move is God’s and you will no longer lead as this dance moves into the secret place. Your responsibility is to obey whatever comes next—to follow the lead of your Divine Partner.

 In that position of surrender—relax, but prepare yourself for the dance of a lifetime. That first step will be an unbelievable doozy of a move. So…get ready!    

The Musings of a Madman: The Mystery of Relationship (Part 8)

Once the preparation phase is finished we must actively step into the pursuit phase. Confession of sin has been made, a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit has been poured out in us, and worship and praise is pouring from us. Now is not the time to sit down in the porch swing and daydream about what it must be like to spend time with God. No! We are now all dressed up with somewhere to go.

Pursuit means to chase after someone in order to overtake them—to catch them. Our desire can only be satisfied if we take hold of God—if we pursue him with all our heart, stretch forth with our soul and spirit, and touch his heart in the secret place where he awaits us.

This may mean we push past where we have become comfortable in our quiet time and be willing to step into a realm we have never visited. Many of us are used to putting on a little praise music, reading our Bible, and giving God our grocery list in prayer. We rush in and then race out, without ever really touching God’s heart or having our heart touched in our haste.

Intimacy is about patience and timing. It rarely happens if one of the participants is on a strict or limited timetable. Sometimes—intimacy requires one to simply be still and wait. Most of us are impatient and the art and act of being still is next to impossible. But—it is in the waiting where our desire is truly tested. In those moments, waiting on God, we find out whether or not we are seeking God’s hand (what he can do for us) or searching for God’s heart (who he is). The question at that moment is motive again—why am I here and what do I really want?

If you are willing to pursue God and then wait until you experience his presence, you won’t be worried about the time or if what you are doing is safe. If being safe is your main concern you have not yet become desperate. Desperation drives you out of your safe places and into conditions where you may be vulnerable, unsure, or uncomfortable. God is good, but he is not always safe. There are moments when based on your reasoning and your experience, the next step is not safe. Why?—because you have never been here—at this place—before. True pursuit is filled with risks and genuine relationship with God—authentic intimacy—comes with a cost.

Are you willing to rest quietly—to be still and know that God is God? Pursuit is not always about running after the desire of your heart. Sometimes it is patiently waiting for the moment when everything is right and God is ready to reveal himself. The waiting is never about God’s arrival. No, the waiting is about your arrival—God’s already there.

Musings from a Madman: The Mystery of Relationship (Part 7)

The Ultimate Shower

The finished work of Christ has opened the door into God’s presence and we may enter that secret place with confidence. One of the benefits of relationship is access. But with privilege comes responsibility. Intimacy with God requires some preparation on our part. Some basic groundwork on our end is necessary.

To put it in simple terms, we need a spiritual bath from time to time. We still sin and disobey God, and so does everyone else. That sin is, in a spiritual sense, just like a kid playing in the mud. Unless the mud is washed off, it finds its way into the house, onto the carpet, and everywhere else. Sin stains far deeper than mud, so from time to time we need a spiritual shower.

We have to remember we are about to enter the presence of the King. No one would wear blue jean cutoffs, flip-flops, and a tee-shirt with sweat stains to a state dinner at the White House. No! We would take a bath and dress appropriately. Therefore, we must also deal with the stains sticking to our soul and hindering our ability to enter the intimate presence of God.

Forgiveness for sin is readily available from God (if we confess God will forgive—1 John 1:9), but we must step into the shower and that happens when we confess—when we agree with God that what we have done is sin. Confession brings about repentance—a return to God—to where we were supposed to be anyway. If you’re wondering how intimate your own relationship with God is, that can be determined by how long it takes you to confess the sin once it has been committed. Is it a few seconds, minutes, hours, days—or months? That span of time is directly proportional to the depth of that relationship.

Once the sin is confessed, just ask the Holy Spirit to fill you afresh. That spiritual filling is like putting on aftershave or perfume in the natural. We need a bath, but we also need the anointing of God’s Spirit. When we depend on the Holy Spirit and rest in him, entering the presence of God is no sweat. If you don’t rest, you sweat it trying to do things that you think will make God notice you. Stop struggling and straining and rest in the fullness of God’s Spirit.

Finally you need to dress for success. Leave the sin and sweat stained garments behind and put on something appropriate. A suitable outfit to wear to your intimate appointment with God is praise. Isaiah 61:3 tells us to put on “the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.” We tend to faint—to give up—because we are weighted down and worn out with the trails and the troubles that so easily consume us. But when we begin to praise God, we turn our attention heavenward instead of focusing inward.

You already have an open invitation. God awaits—patiently and passionately. What are you waiting for? It’s time to get dressed!