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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Personal / Living In The Rockies Welcome Guest
    Living In The Rockies
          On he road to Cheley Camp, Estes Park, Colorado

    Tue, Oct 23rd - 5:54PM

    The Unintended Guest



        Lately, I’ve been very impressed by the glaring disparities in what we say and what we do in the “Church”.  This was never more apparent to me than what I experienced just this last Sunday morning.  To one degree or another, even serious Christians seem afflicted sometimes with what I would term “Spiritual glibness”, but not last Sunday morning during the early worship service in my church. 

        Things began to get off track during the very beginning of the service.  The “B Team” worship leaders were in charge, and the leader of them, a zealous sort considering the hour, very earnestly invited the Holy Spirit to attend.  I don’t know what the crucial difference was in this most common of invitations, but for some reason the Holy Spirit took his invitation seriously, and arrived during our singing and worship.

        I can't begin to explain the discernable difference in the worship, but it was readily apparent to all the folks I spoke with later.  After the last song, which arrived much too soon for me, the worship leader said it sounded as if thousands had been singing with us, even though at 8:00 am not very members were present.  He was correct – it did indeed sound and feel like our few were swallowed up in a great company of worshippers – and I think we were, thanks to the presence of the Holy Spirit.   The experience was truly incredible, like our hearts were bursting out of us through our mouths while angels encircled us and enriched the singing beyond all measure.  For a time there, nothing was impossible, faith was not necessary, and God stood next to each one of us.  My wife later commented that it was as if we were indeed part of a vast assembly, yet at the same time each of us was intimately alone with God.   

       I have no clue why the Holy Spirit chose to attend, and I’ve been a part of many services over the last 35 years when He was pointedly invited – and didn’t.  I wish I could figure it out, because our churches would be packed every Sunday if we could get it right every week.   And I have to realize that while we routinely invite God to attend our church services, it must also be us who somehow turn Him away – maybe by not believing He really will.

       Perhaps one of the reasons for this is the disparity between what we say with our mouths and what we believe (expect) in our hearts.  And if we don’t expect it, I don’t think we honestly believe it.  When we pray for any reason, if we don’t actually EXPECT God to take action on our request, then why do we waste time and offend God with our hypocritical attitude of prayer? 

      Change gears with me here – what about inviting Jesus into our midst by the use of the familiar scripture quote, “Where two or three are gathered together in My Name…..”, and then preaching that even though we strive to pattern our church after the Book of Acts, “those things” only happened to launch the First Century church and no longer apply to us?  Well, we try to moderate it by admitting that God can still do anything He wants – even miracles (in spite of us). 

       Here’s the haunting question for me:  if Jesus really did walk into our midst, how many sick and injured would be left after the service?  The answer is:  only those who didn’t ask to be made whole.  Read the Book – Jesus didn’t heal everyone in need, but He never failed to heal those who asked (and expected). 

       So maybe the real issue comes back to our expectations.  However we choose to interact with God, if we only hope He will change our lives (in spite of us), aren’t we in fact slamming the door in His face?  I wonder how different our lives would become if we honestly invited God in – and truly expected Him to do just that…..

       Like C. S. Lewis wrote in his Narnia series, “He’s not a tame lion”.  Why don’t we stop trying to tame Him?

     John

     



    Comment (4)

    Wed, Oct 10th - 2:25PM



    I AM MAGGIE

     

      Last year, my wife drew my attention to a dog advertised for adoption in the local newspaper.  Part black lab and something else, she looked benign enough, and desiring a companion for my golden, I adopted her.  I named her Maggie – apparently one of the most ordinary dog names in America.  But Maggie proved anything but ordinary, and I was to later discover the mystery half of her genetics must have been Tasmanian Devil.

      The day I adopted Maggie, she was docile and cooperative.  It’s a struggle now to remember that she was once that way.  That very day she almost took another dog’s head off when she felt she had been sniffed and prodded enough.  She has a very explosive temper – like a bomb.  And even though Maggie is now about 35 pounds, and shows no sign of becoming a large dog, she has a strong desire to fight any other animal, no matter how big.  She’s absolutely fearless, and incredibly stubborn.  To this very day, Maggie has demonstrated no desire to please anyone other than herself.  She isn’t malicious, thankfully, just stubborn past all understanding.  I don’t think Maggie ever was a puppy.

      Many days, I feel that Maggie is some kind of domestic curse I bear, but unfortunately, I’ve come to realize she and I are a lot alike.  She recognizes what I want from her; but just doesn’t care enough to obey.  Later, after her disobedience has run its course, she’ll come back wagging her tail and looking up at me through those sad, lab eyes.  And it’s not an apology – it’s her way of saying she just wants to be loved, in spite of her ongoing disobedience.  Sound familiar?

      I think part of the reason I’m living with Maggie and her misaligned character traits, is to remind me of my attitude towards the God I’m pledged to serve.  I desperately want God to love me – but yes, in spite of my ongoing disobedience.  Somehow I’ve missed the point completely.  I demonstrate my love for God by continually coming back to Him, wagging my tail as it were.  He continually wants me to demonstrate the love I profess not by wagging my tail, but through obedience.  I’ve got it all backwards – and willfully so – that’s the sad part -  willfully so.

      And that’s the underlying nature of SIN that I inherited at birth.  My kind of love is not capable of washing the sin away in my relationship with God, and His kind of love is not willing to overlook my sin simply because I come back to Him wagging my tail. 

      I’ve decided that Maggie will have to come to grips with how she wants to live.  I can't force her choice.  When she dashes across the street in the morning while totally disregarding my command, I now realize that someday perhaps, a Chevrolet will change her mind.  I hope she survives the experience. 

      In the same way, I need to understand that it’s not God’s job to bless my disobedience.  But there is more to the story…

      I always make the dogs sit down before I put their food in front of them.  Maggie always eats, but I always serve her second, for two reasons.  First, I serve her second because she usually doesn’t sit first, even though we do this twice every day.  Second, I serve her second because I cannot trust her with primacy.  She barely follows my directions now; I can’t ever let her think she’s first.  This reminds me of my questions for God.  “Why don’t you bless me (with more, sooner, faster, better, etc.)”?  Well really, I should strive to be someone He can trust with His riches, rather than just another mouth at the table:

                   

    1 Tim. 1:12  =  How thankful I am to Christ Jesus our Lord for considering me trustworthy …..    [NLT]

     

      I am Maggie.  I suspect you are too.  We both need to consider His ways ahead of our own.  He desires obedience.  If we really have love for Him, obedience will be our consistent choice.  And real worship will be given Him when we give up our ways for His.

     

     

    John



    Comment (0)

    Mon, Oct 8th - 4:12PM

    Abiding?? Practical Discussion On How To Abide



      What is abiding?  Why would it be important to know?  Some of the “best” Scriptural promises hinge on a small, conveniently overlooked word:  IF..  And one of my favorite promises appears in John 15:  “If you abide in Me…”.  Another lifelong favorite of mine is in Psalm 91: “He who abides under the shelter of the Most High…”.  Absolute dynamite promises (read Ps 91) in which “abiding” becomes vital to the believer.

      My pardon to Noah Webster, who seems quoted nearly as much as Scripture – to me, abiding means an enduring state of existence typified by faith, patience, hope and yes, endurance.  To sum: a life lived focused on God in all things, at all times.

      Focus – now there’s a prominent buzzword of the corporate cheerleaders.  It seems that in our times, motivational speakers are multiplying faster than rabbits.  Maybe if I never admitted I had occasional attacks of depression, I could be a motivational speaker too!

      Like so many other popular mantras, there is some truth in the concept of Focus.  According to many, there is a certain energy released when we focus, hence the current abundance of goal setting training seminars.  I remember years ago when I would focus on acquiring some coveted material item, sooner, rather than later, I would possess the item in my focus.  I can't remember this ever failing to work.  Of course, I was pretty miserable until I had the item, and I’m sure I was terrible to live with until the acquisition.

      So let’s make this practical to our daily lives – too much empty theory is just that – empty.  We are encouraged in our churches to make Christ central to our lives.  We sing songs about wanting to be glorified in Him.  (Are we remotely aware how much this might cost us?).  It cost the apostles their lives.

    But what if we discipline ourselves to focus on Christ – not just in church, but especially in our daily lives.  What if we could just maintain that focus?  Wouldn’t we be “abiding in Him”?  I rather think that’s what Christ had in mind for us. 

      Why, if we could maintain that focus it would energize our lives by routinely plugging us into Him, and not just for an hour Sunday morning.  To me, the shallow end of the church pool is the Sunday morning existence we pretend to have – but only in church.  Sure is easy to preach to the choir! 

      Are we at all discernable as God’s special people the rest of the week?  In many lives the answer is a resounding NO, and that’s what non-believers see.  They call it hypocrisy, and accurately so.  Their only fault is their lack of belief, not their lack of discernment.

      So here’s the deal, I’m going to try to focus on Christ every day.  Maybe it’ll become natural to do so with practice, and then I can work on focusing on Him ALL day, EVERY DAY.  

     

      Why don’t you try the same experiment?  What do you have to lose?  Well really – if it costs nothing or risks nothing, why bother?

     

     

    John



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    About Me

    Name: John Miltenberger
    ChristiansUnite ID: jmilty
    Member Since: 2006-08-22
    Location: Estes Park, Colorado, United States
    Denomination: Born-again believer
    About Me: Retired from Overland Park, Kansas and now living in Estes Park, Colorado. Another escapee from the Midwest!! Email: jmilty@q.com

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