Walking into the presence of God

Walking in the presence of God

Walking in the presence of God

Walking with God is not always as clear as we would like for it to be.  But then, maybe we shouldn’t desire for it to be clear.  Walking with God is about trusting Him… trusting his Son, Jesus, to be who he has destined to be in our lives. And allowing the Holy Spirit to have total freedom to lead and empower as He desires.

Today, I went for a hike on a rainy day up Pine Mountain.  As I walked up the mountain, I thought of Moses and wondered what it was like for him to walk up to spend time with God in such an intimate way.  I’m no Moses but as I approached the clouds I asked God to surround me and let me walk with Him up there.  I didn’t descend the mountain with stone tablets or a specific word to share with His people, but rather an assurance He is with me.

GOD said to Moses, “Get ready. I’m about to come to you in a thick cloud so that the people can listen in and trust you completely when I speak to you.”  (Exodus 19:9, The Message).

Even though our lives don’t seem to make sense at times – or the outcomes aren’t as we planned – or the answer to prayer didn’t come in a way we wanted it to – He is with us.  I captured the moment in this picture.  I thought about how much this path represents life… my life.  As I reflect upon this afternoon,

Walking into the future is much like this path. I’m asking God to fall on me and my path as the clouds did today on the mountain. Totally enveloped by His presence.

How’s your voice?

Have you ever lost your voice?  If not, I’m sure you have heard someone who has.  It’s an unusual experience and a bit painful.  You are the same person you were the day before – you just can’t communicate the way you are accustomed.

I love music.  There is no telling how much money I have spent over the years on cassettes, CDs, and now digital downloads.  I’m not a musician.  Although I own a guitar.  I only played when I didn’t have anyone else to lead worship while I was a youth pastor.  I still had to have someone else sing and be the voice to lead us where I desired for us to go.  The only time I play now is when God uses a song to speak to me.  I sit down to learn the song (if the chords are not too complicated) as I meditate on what He has been teaching me through it.

I was watching a live performance last night by The Choir.  It was a beautiful moment to watch and listen as these four men play their music.  (You can watch it here) They have literally been one of the best soundtracks of lyric and sound for my life than anyone else.  There are other bands who have had their place in my life that have really moved me and lead me to deep moments in Christ but The Choir has been there pretty much the entire time.  They are in the midst of embarking on their 15th studio album!  I’m excited for them as well as for me… I’m looking forward to hearing what nugget God has in store for my life through their voice.

Steve Hindalong (writer, drummer) talked about how blessed he is to have a voice like Derri Daugherty (vocalist, guitarist) to communicate the lyric Steve writes.  To hear Steve communicate that last night was touching.  I have been thinking about that very thing this week…. “My voice.”

If you think about it, we all have a voice that God intends for us to use for his purposes.  It could be on our job, in the church, at the grocery store, your blog, your small group, you name it…. where is it your voice is heard the most?  We live in a very noisy society.  Our ears tune in to certain sounds and messages that are appealing.  Just as our ears tune in to what we like… an important element in our life we can’t forsake is our own voices.  Just as I look forward to the next album by The Choir – there are people out there who need to hear your voice (my voice).  We all have a message to bring to this world.  God desires for us to surrender our wills – our hearts – to His Message and be His voice.

I don’t want to lose my voice.  I know that there are many things in life that have been crowding in to rob me of my voice.  I want to surrender and ask God to let me rise above the noisy crowd and be who He wants me to be.  No more running!  No more fear!  No more hiding!  No more being quiet!

It’s one thing to preach a sermon someone else has written.  It’s another thing to write the message from your own heart.  It’s one thing to cover someone else’s song.  It’s another thing to write it.  I guess that’s why I had much rather listen to the original artist recording over someone else performing it.  Kind of like listening to Journey without Steve Perry… why would you want to do that?

Don’t lose your voice!  There are people out there who need to hear it.  Their ears are tuned in to what you have to say.  Stay true to your heart and the Message the Holy Spirit has given you… now be His voice and deliver it however He has gifted you!

Overwhelmed with the presence of God

It has been awhile since I have posted here.  I realize that it is a technical mistake to not continually post – especially if one wants to keep those following as a follower.  I appreciate those who have messaged me or spoke with me in some way that I needed to write.  That’s always so encouraging… thank you!

So, why have I not been writing? It began at the start of Lent.  After reading, Wonderstruck, about Margaret Feinberg‘s experience around Lent, I decided that this year I would take those days leading up to Easter to focus.  And focus is what I did! I sat down to write several times but each time I felt like my focus was being divided.

Matthew 6:33 was the basis for my focus.  I began praying around these words of Jesus, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”  I researched the Bible and prayed with the focus of God’s Kingdom and His righteousness.  As I began praying, I realized how self-centered my prayer life had become.  My praying over the years had become about the later part of Matthew 6:33, “…and all these things will be given to you as well.”  I realized I had been seeking “things” rather than seeking God.  My relationship had become about the physical over the spiritual-love-life that God so desires to have with His people.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied withgetting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (Matthew 6:30-33, The Message).

At the beginning of Lent, there was a lot of things that came up against me and my family.  I was beginning to wonder if what I had began to do was the right thing or not.  I pressed on!  With each obstacle, I spoke to God and prayed with His Kingdom and His righteousness as my focus.  I did not ever pray about the specific issues that came up.  I trusted the words of Jesus to seek first His Kingdom.

I write in a journal most days.  That journal at times becomes a list of stuff I am wanting God to bless me with.  I begin praying about those things and neglect intimately seeking God.  Think with me for a moment about your best friend.  Do you have them in mind? OK, now imagine every time you see them instead of talking with them you ask them for something.  Not ever once inquiring about their life or thinking about their needs, etc.  All you want out of them is something they can give you.  How long do you think you are going to have that relationship if it is only based on you asking them of something?  It’s not going to be much of a relationship is it?

If all we have are lists of things we are praying about – where is the relationship with God? 

During Lent, I came to realize my past “comfort” was found in praying over my problems rather than finding real comfort from the Holy Spirit.  Because the Holy Spirit is at work around us, all of the time, God knows what we need.  We don’t have to “worry” our prayers before God over those things.  He truly desires for us to live in freedom rather than fear.  I found freedom this year in knowing God.  I am so thankful for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.  I am thankful for this time of Lent.  I am thankful for a renewed passion for love I have for God.  I am thankful for all the Holy Spirit has done in the past couple of months.  I am amazed and so blessed.  I can honestly say with great passion and grace I have been Wonderstruck by God.

Have you been accused of cheating on God?

I keep reading James 4 and 5.  It seems like for the past couple of years I will go through moments where I keep going back to these two chapters… over and over.  The other morning I sat down to read and James 4 came to mind so once again I begin to read.  The words, “You’re cheating on God.” stood out to me.  My first reaction was, “No, I’m not.” Until I read the next couple of verses.

You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”  (James 4:4-6, The Message).

If you have been keeping up with me the past week or so – you will know I have been reflecting a lot from Margaret Feinberg’s new book Wonderstruck.  I have been more focused on the wonder of God and how He takes the opportunity to show up in our lives.  Margaret’s thoughts have led me down a path that looks for how God plans on showing up next.  I have been finding that life is a bit more wonderful when I live with this kind of expectancy.

God wants our attention.  Not only our attention but our affection… deep love and commitment to Him.  He desires for us to want only Him.  The book of James reminds us, “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.”  I asked myself, “Where have my pursuits and thoughts been?”  Career, money, family, that problem I can’t seem to conquer, some sin, and/or God’s will more than God Himself – These are all areas in which any of us could be accused of cheating on God.  Now why any of us would really do that is really the mystery.  While I sit here and ponder this I really wonder how in the world I could ever put anything else before God.  His love for us goes beyond what any language can communicate.  In fact, His love is best communicated through the life of His Son – Jesus.  But, I know the attraction to flirt with the world is there.  The way James puts it each time I decide to give my focus and affection somewhere else – I am cheating on God.

It doesn’t have to be a sinful thing that moves us into flirting with the world.  It could be a good thing… even a godly thing… as long as it takes the place of God then we have walked into a situation that could lead us into relying upon ourselves, someone else, or that thing that has won our affection more so than God.

So, where do your thoughts take you?  Are you living in oneness with God or are you cheating on Him?

The other side of the mountain

After my run up Pine Mountain I spent some time sitting enjoying the scenery and the cool breeze.  I was the only one up there for the first 10 minutes or so.  I was later joined by a woman who apparently ran up behind me then two other men who had hiked up with water bottles in hand and walking sticks.  They sat down near me talking business and an acquisition they were considering.  I thought it was an interesting way to discuss business.  Based on their conversation (I wasn’t listening in at all – I promise) they go up there often.

Once I was done taking in the sites and conversations I decided it was time to go.  As I began the RunKeeper app on my iPhone I decided to run the other side of the mountain too.  The purpose for the run beyond the exercise and scenery was to hear from God that morning.  My checklist was complete with the exception of hearing from God.  It wasn’t until I was heading back up the mountain on the other side that I encountered Him in a way that was real and personal.  I had not been satisfied with just making it to the top.  I wasn’t going back home without knowing the experience was complete.

As I was reading Colossians this morning I was reminded of a previous post, When your path intersects with God….  The run back up the other side was exhausting.  I wasn’t taking in the scenery any longer.  I was only concerned about getting back to the top to enjoy the view.  That’s when I related the run back to my life and how too often I stop focusing on the beauty of the journey when things get tough.  In hindsight, it makes me see how much I enjoy living on the mountain top.  The words of Paul in Colossians 3 are fitting as I’m reminded of “the other side of the mountain,”

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides.  Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you.  Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ – that’s where the action is.  See things from his perspective. (Colossians 3:1-2, The Message).

When your path intersects with God…

…it is nothing short of wonderful!

I love the Fall season.  The cool crisp air. The leaves turning colors. I also enjoy the rain that typically accompanies the season.  A couple of weeks ago I went for a run on Pine Mountain.  It’s a beautiful little trail on the east side of our town.  The Friday that I took off from work was perfect for some time with God on the mountain.

My prayer that morning was to meet God on the trail, on the  top of the mountain, see Him in the scenery, or hear Him in the breeze.  I wanted to hear Him speak to me.  I wanted to know He was with me.

From every angle of the path, the leaves, and the mountain I looked at was picture perfect. (I took a lot of pictures).  The colors of the leaves were absolutely beautiful.  As I ran, I kept noticing the path I was on.  The path continued to stand out.  I would look at it off in the distance to see where I was headed.  I would pay close attention to the rocks so I would not trip.  Occasionally, I would stop and look back for a moment to see where I had been.  The perspective of the path was always a bit different when I would take a moment to look back.  

I made it to the top and decided I would do the trail on the other side of the mountain as well.  It was when I was about half way up the other side that I began to get tired.  My eyes were no longer enjoying the scenery.  My body was asking, “Why did you want to put me through this run?”  I was just trying to get back up to the top.  I stopped for a moment and that is when I believe I heard God speak to me.  This is the thought that came to mind and what I recorded in my notes that day,

Life has become overwhelming. You have lost your view of the journey.  You are focused on the rocks in your path and the perceived darkness looming ahead.  Roye, look at what you have begun to focus on… You are no longer enjoying the journey.

I stood there tired.  I stood there and understood.  I stood there and I knew I was not alone.

Within the past week, I’ve been given the opportunity to preview Margaret Feinberg’s soon to be released book, Wonderstruck.  I’m amazed at how God is speaking to me right now.  I have personally received so much confirmation and affirmation for where I am in life as I have read this book.  She writes,

Many of us say we want to experience God, but we don’t look for his majesty. We travel life’s paths with our heads down, focused on the next step with our careers or families or retirement plans. But we don’t really
expect God to show up with divine wonder.

God invites us to look up, open our eyes to the wonder all around us, and seize every opportunity to encounter him. (26-27).

I have begun praying for God’s wonder.  I believe my path has intersected with God…  On the trail a couple of weeks ago and this week as I have been reading Wonderstruck.   Little did I know God was preparing my heart two weeks ago to be reading this book now.  I believe this is one of those wonderstruck moments Margaret writes about.  I pray you will begin to look for God to show up in your life in places you would least expect Him to.  In fact, I challenge you to ask God to show up in ways that only He can so you will know there is no mistaking that He is with you.  

Praying for wonder…

Perfect timing for Margaret Feinberg’s latest book, Wonderstruck.  Her new book is set to be released on December 25, 2012.   I sat down in the living room to begin reading the first few chapters that were sent to me. As I began to read, I watched my youngest daughter play.  She is only 2 years old and has a life  ahead of her to learn and grow.  I can see the wonder in her eyes with each new experience she faces.  She hasn’t faced any real hardships in life beyond the occasional, “No, you can’t do that.”  That moment made me stop and question if God looks at me in the same way.  Does He see me as one who is filled with wonder?

I also have 3 older girls and 2 boys.  The oldest being 18 years old.  She also has a life ahead of her to explore.  I’m watching her as she applies to several different colleges around the country.  Both of my daughters are looking at the world around them with wide-eyed wonder.  They are both at different stages in their development – yet they both are on the crest of excitement as they adventure on in this life. Are you and I living with that same wonder?

Margaret Feinberg’s, “Wonderstruck,” has not disappointed… I haven’t even started chapter 1 either!  Her ability to draw my attention to the most simple and basic thoughts concerning God and His pursuit of a relationship with me are beautiful.  Her introduction has drawn me to a place to pray – to ask God for wonder.  I am confident you will also have a similar experience as you read it.

A few weeks back I was up praying.  It was around midnight when I decided to go outside to walk and pray.  As I looked up at all of the stars I had a moment where I was Wonderstruck.  Margaret describes such moments like this:

The wonder of God is that moment of spiritual awakening that makes us curious to know God more.

That moment lead me to praise and worship Him as I stood there that night.  I pray I never lose my sense of wonder in my pursuit to know Him more.  That’s why as I embark on this journey through Margaret Feinberg’s, “Wonderstruck,” I’m joining her and praying for wonder.  I hope you will too.

This song by The Choir, Wide-Eyed Wonder, came to mind as I was reading and watching my 2-year-old.