Sunday, January 29, 2012

He is Lord over everything

Last week I asked God to show me Himself. I want to know Him, not as words on a page, but by experiencing who He is. I made a list of 10 attributes I feel He gave me - certainly not a complete list, but a starting point. The next attribute on my life is:

#2 - He is Lord over everything

On Wednesday, shortly after publishing my last post, I looked ahead at the next attribute. I was spending time in the Word, and I pondered looking up verses about His sovereignty, about His status as ruler or authority, about His omnipresence or His omnipotence. But instead, I just closed my eyes, and I said, "God, I want to experience you. I want to experience that you are Lord over everything."

Well, those are dangerous words to pray! In the quietness of a quiet time, words are sometimes empty, sometimes too easy to whisper. Then our day begins! Well, this particular day was going to be a juggling act of spinning plates. I had to teach from 2:00 to 3:20, and I was booked on a flight at 4:20 to Houston to see my best friend. Hal had clients at work in town for meetings and presentations, but we had worked it out so that he could take me to school, pick me up, and take me to the airport. I had a very small window between school and take-off time!

But, about fifteen minutes after I prayed that little prayer, "I want to experience you...", Hal calls and his meeting and presentation is now at 3:00 instead of 1:00, and he cannot take me to the airport. My first reaction isn't always so pleasant. Thank God He gives us second chances! I just stopped and prayed. Okay, God. Work this out. You are Lord.

And He did. The whole day was a lot like that. It was a day of changed plans, unexpected interruptions, discomfort, and even pain (I also picked up strep throat on Wednesday--as I was en route to Houston!). But at the end of the day, I was overwhelmed with His sovereignty. After the first little hiccup with Hal's change of plans, I got better at seeing His Lordship--and better at responding in awe. Each opportunity, I didn't panic. I just smiled. God, this is one more chance for me to see that you are Lord.

It wasn't a day of some major event or happening in my life. No grand miracles. No lepers healed, or lame men walking. But, it was a miracle. The whole day. And each time I got to see Him working something new out. Each time I got to see Him take control and take care of me.

My faith was strengthened. My heart was warmed. He truly loves us enough to take care of us. He loves us so much that He does work it out. And we can see it so much better when we choose to respond, to make the right choice--the choice that doesn't get upset or bent out of shape, the choice that says, You are sovereign, and I trust you. You are Lord over everything!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Discovering God's Attributes

Discovering God's Attributes
As far back as August, God has been revealing to me the need to seek and know Him. I might seem a little behind since I've been a Christian for 9 years (almost 10)! But this is a different journey than knowing about Him; it's about experiencing Him on a different level than I've ever experienced. It's not about reading in black and white that He is good; it's about tasting His goodness. And even on Monday, I told Him my heart's desire was to discover Him all over again.

So, I have asked Him to show me who He is, to remind me again of His character and His attributes. Part of this, I know He will reveal through Scripture, but part of this I desire to experience for myself. I want to know Him beyond mere knowledge. 

This week, He lead me to a passage in Acts that is rich with His attributes. These 8 verses (Acts 17:24-31) tell us who God is:
  1. God is creator
  2. God is Lord over everything
  3. God is boundless (He does not dwell in our man-made buildings)
  4. God is in need of nothing (He is sufficiency)
  5. God is author and determiner of our plan (He is sovereign)
  6. God is near us
  7. God is our life-support ("In Him, we live and move and have our being.")
  8. God is our Daddy (We are his offspring)
  9. God is not man-made nor is he contained in man-made artifacts (See #3)
  10. God is judge
 This list is, I'm sure, only the beginning, but I want to take these attributes and look at them individually, starting with God as Creator.

#1 - God is Creator
I think it's interesting that in this passage, this attribute appears first, for it is, in some ways, foundational to the Christian faith. We believe, by faith, that God created the world and everything in it, that it was not some random act but was by design. To believe that we are created beings separates us from atheists and agnostics.

Using Scripture, we might point to Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth." Or John 1:3, "All things were made through him, and without him, nothing was made that was made." I heard an apologist once say that the English word "made" that we use here is so weak compared to the full expression or meaning of "come into being" or "come into existence."

But for those who don't accept our Bible or believe it to be fully true, I say - look around! How can it be an accident that no two humans have the same DNA, the same internal make-up? We have 7 or 8 billion people on this planet; how could that be possible, except by intelligent design?

Long ago, scientists would say there was order and structure in science that accounts for the sense of perfection and symmetry we see in creation. Now, they want to say, it's chaos and random; it's unknowable and unpredictable. But what I hear them saying, what they describe are the attributes of God - perfect, ordered, yet unknowable and unpredictable. He expresses himself in nature.

So what does it mean that God is creator? It means He is creative, artistic, and attentive. He gives attention to every detail. It means He purposed us as beings and made us unique. As we've often heard, "We are fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139: 14). But ponder that. And lastly, it means He was not only careful in His creation, but He carefully attends to us with the same tenderness: "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26)

Today, let's not only experience God our creator - through the magnificence of His creation and the uniqueness of our beings - let's also hold fast to the assurance we have in Him as creator, that He cares for us, He watches over us, He sees our every need.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Living Life Fully

Life is passing by, and I am missing it. I am not living. I don't live eucharisteo (see Ann Voskamp's book).  I don't live life to the fullest. I just sit, resting on the bench, a passive participant.

I want to be a better.... everything. Someone who prays. Someone who lives by faith. Someone who follows through, who finishes what she began. Someone who commits. Someone with discipline and diligence. Someone who trusts. And risks. And leaps. And dreams. I want to live.

But to be honest, the task seems so daunting. And I think part of me doesn't know how to even begin. God told me almost a year ago, "When life gets hard, when you feel like I've not answered your prayers, that's when you press in the most. Speak truth and believe it!" But, as great as that sounds, it's also not so simple.

I know I need to press in, but how? I know I need to speak truth, but what? I read all these amazing books, and I think Yes! Yes, that's for me: a dare to live fully, right where I am; a dare to live by His extraordinary grace; a dare to break free from intimidation. But the sun comes up (often while my eyes are closed), and the sun goes down. And I am the same. I am unchanged. I am a hearer, only.

But I am learning... I am in control of the choices I make. I get to choose life or death. I get to choose faith or doubt. I get to choose grace or failure. I get to choose dreams or fear. I want to make good choices, to live by good habits, to develop a godly character, to live by the Holy Spirit.

And while I can control the choices I make, how I'm going to live or respond, some thing are outside my control. And, as Susan Bozarth said this weekend, I must learn to be content with my reality. Hal and I have been praying and hoping for some things in our life, but life is what it is. And God's timing is one of those things that is just simply out of my control. And I have to be content with that. I have to trust that He has the best plan, the best timing, the best future.

Oh Lord, that you would hear me, that you would see me: raw, vulnerable, real, open, honest. I do not like what I see, but you have made me new. You have redeemed me. I need to know that. And I need to know you. Just you. Not anything that you could do for me, but just who you are. I want to know who you are. I want to be in awe, in reverence, in holy fear of you. I want to know you. May that be what drives me, what motivates me, what gets me out of bed each morning with excitement. Just you. Who are you are. The gift of a new day. The chance to know you, to discover who you are. 

** Live by faith. Live by grace. Live fully. You get to choose how you live today. **