This Whispering God

I was struck with renewed awe of late by a telescopic image of the galaxies, noting a distinct, but tiny orbiting speck of dusk, known as Earth. This is not new information but always brings perspective to those even more miniscule, who call out to the God who created these heavens! If distance was a requirement to be overcome in order for our prayers to be answered, even the loudest of vocal projections would be futile. Volume cannot be a physical factor in answered prayers, though intensity certainly at times seems necessary to express our longings.

God is ever present in time of trouble, hearing our faintest whispers, even when our needs catch us off guard with no time to pray! How can a Being so awesome as to speak all this into existence possibly be aware of our voice, much less, given the cacophony of noise our own mechanical creations have produced?

Noise, heightened volume, and the need for much speaking are perhaps our own illusions of what prayer is supposed to be. My reality has been that the most silent of thoughts are often the moments I can point back to as answered prayers; and though I can truly profess to hearing the audible voice of God, more numerous are His whispers to my heart.

God is beyond finding out, but not beyond being heard. My journey of forty years plus has provided reams of stories of His response to my prayers and the prayers prayed for me.

Not only am I confident of God’s words to me but ever more so, the words spoken to the prophets of old, some still yet to be fulfilled. Just this morning in my study of Jeremiah 33, I might as well have been reading a newspaper, as God continues to deliver on His promises. He seems to protect this tiny Israel against all odds, while maintaining a global presence of Judaism,even represented by Rabbis that I am told descend from the Levites, just as promised.

‘“The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “This is what the Lord says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, then my covenant with David my servant—and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me—can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.’” 1

“Today, Leviim are believed to be the direct patrilineal descendents of Levi, while Kohanim are Leviim who descend directly, through their fathers, from Aaron. Other Jews are assumed to come from one of the other tribes and are called, simply, Yisraelim. A convert to Judaism takes the status as a Yisrael. The only valid method of being a Levite (or Kohen) is to have an unbroken tradition, passed from generation to generation, stretching back to the time of Moses. In many Jewish communities, meticulous records were kept throughout the generations to ensure that ancestral lines remained clear.”2

The likelihood of any of this seems slim, given the religious and tribal wars the Middle East is so known for; compounded over the last two millennia by this righteous branch from David’s line, fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Still yet love endures and yes advances, even in the midst of hate and religious resistance; of late rousing still another, radical Islam.

Ironically, all their brutal fervor may be the manifestation of evil’s awareness of another promise now unfolding: the promise to Hagar and her child of Abraham, named Ishmael; which means “God has hearkened”. This moment seems to be stirring up all three Abrahamic religions, while God continues to demonstrate His faithfulness to all those to whom He has whispered over the centuries and to those who still dare call out to the “I Am”. He is no respecter of persons.

The God of plural galaxies is now whispering life and love to this tiny religiously plural globe; perhaps another sacred moment in history, much like the days of Moses in Egypt and Mary in Bethlehem; though this Lion of Judah seems more often to roar, when any religion, be it Judaism, Christianity or Islam, attempts to muffle this whispering God.

1 Jeremiah 33:19-22 NIV.

2 http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/tribes1.html

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Salt & Light

“Ye are the salt of the world”…not just the salt of the sanctuary!

And the light…“but no one lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel.”

Strong words from Jesus!

Is this what we have done with our message, building a physical façade around ourselves and our fellowship as believers? Have those same facilities now isolated the “epistle(s) of Christ, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God”, our lives once intended as the living message of God while we worship and work among all men?

Is the context for the gospel now solely dependent upon our public lifestyles outside the sanctuary, though our target audience often misses the key elements that keep us coming back to church: fellowship, song and praise and the rich word often shared within. These elements so much better demonstrate the grace that helps us overcome our own sins; the setting also providing a much needed understanding as to what it means to interact with the living Body of Christ. There is something to be said for “gathering” and church provides that, much like holidays with family.

Outside that context, I am much too comfortable in my humanness, often leaving those who do not understand redemption to judge Christianity based on how I react sometimes in a traffic jams or my response to a political campaign. Ouch!

In preparing for a message on Sunday, I was just thinking how easy it is to flex our spiritual muscle in the church, or display our gifts before others who love us. Speaking in a church, teaching a Sunday School Class, even teaching in a Christian School takes preparation, prayer and sacrifice (all teachers seem to be there these days), but in my experience, the blessing of presenting the gospel is more often that of the presenter, than the audience. I am honored to occasionally be asked, but am always challenged when I think about how different it would be to deliver that same message in love, to an audience not so Jesus friendly.

Perhaps the reason for this blog, a public access venue, that keeps me honest.

How do we maintain our savor, the ability to impact lives outside the Body of Christ; Jesus compared those who live otherwise with a spice that had lost its strength, good only for the dung heap…the modern day mulch bed!

My life of late has been about seeking this out, though not driven by personal condemnation, for as John the Apostle of love, cites: “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” Even the word “saved” has now been given a less than loving connotation! I simply want to make a difference with my spiritual life in a world that seems to have less and less regard for the Spirit.

When I pray of late, I am encouraged to “embrace the cross”…not meaning that I should buckle down and pull my weight in the church; or in the community, as in some additional volunteer work, but to fully embrace what Jesus did for me personally on the Cross, in fact, to let that love, demonstrated by the suffering Christ, embrace me! Affording opportunity for His righteousness to fully envelop my life, providing for me even the mind of Christ!

Our mind has such an impact on our behaviors, the gateway to our soul; the eye gate, the portal through which light enters our mind is critical to determining our first response toward others.

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”-Jesus

Here Jesus cautioned us as to how our mind receives things; interestingly enough he tacks on a stinging comment about the love of money, and the way it can skew what enters our eye gate. That is a sermon for another day, but one that the America Church needs to hear!

Ever notice your first impressions (even the vibes you might feel as you read this blog post) and how they affect our initial response and ability to accept something new or even beneficial? Those first impressions are filtered through our mind’s eye.

Your first response to your first impressions, when acted out, then creates lasting impressions on others; often an indelible take away, that may determine what people think about you long term! Unless of course, they too are forgiving, as I hope my readers will be.

We are spiritual beings that live in human bodies; easily picking up a sense of another’s mind set long before they even speak or act. I recall a recent situation with a young lady with whom I had been asked to engage. When we met I could sense darkness, yet while I was feeling that darkness, I had to wonder what she was feeling from me?

I am quite sure that in my busy pace, I often lack the mind of Christ; even in that moment I found myself distracted by the failures represented by this young girls physical appearance. Life had battered her! Yet, when similar folk approached Christ, needing remedy for their life, whether it was water from a well or freedom from the demons, His response was one of compassion, wisdom and power…salt and light!

What if we daily possessed the “mind of Christ”, not just the access to his wisdom when making difficult calls in our own life; neither some momentary “word of knowledge”, though these spiritual attributes are powerful in times of making great decisions. What if we truly received the words Paul wrote to the Philippians (Chapter 2:1-9), in the nutshell: “let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.”

For those desiring the fuller version:

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (WOW!)

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

I wonder what our reaction to others, and theirs to us might be, if we fully engaged with the mind (attitude) of Christ. How would we view others that are without the awareness and the access to our Father that grace has provided us?

Would we find ourselves weeping over our communities as Christ did Jerusalem? Would we spend our days in service to others, seldom judging, always offering grace, love and whatever tangible remedy was within our power to meet their needs? Perhaps a read through I Corinthians 13 might be in order here…the love chapter!

James reminds us however of the need for balance, for praying when you have a larger capacity is not enough to be called love. If you only offer prayer when in reality you could meet the need, “how does the love of God dwell in you!”

Prayer can do great things for us and for our world. Perhaps Paul knew the difficulty of such maintenance and thus his “pray without ceasing” comment. Prayer is our reporting for duty; maybe why most pray each morning, when grace seems so renewed?

When you pray, embrace the cross or better yet, allow the cross to embrace you as you learn to love others.

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Consumed by Love

Whether this sense of awakening that has gripped my heart in these past few weeks is simply another chapter in my life or another chapter in the book that still resides deep in my soul, I cannot tell. Yet unless I pursue my heart, I perhaps shall not rest. For some reason since 1986, I have captured the majority of my days in a journal and now for four years in this blog; however, all those stories and contemplations seem less than adequate for the “word stored up in my bones.”

But if I say, “I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.
Jeremiah 20:9

This would seem to be the most intense window in my life thus far and perhaps the threshold of the fulfillment of my first call at age nine, “One day you will preach the Gospel.” Though I am nearing an age that would trouble even Moses, and living in a time when our nation recoils at such a notion, chapters like Exodus 3 bring both hope and fear to my heart. The fear being that it sounds so crazy, the hope being the crazy things that the I Am has done in my life thus far.

Perhaps that is the reason for this book, interrupted prophetically by another, “The Church in Foreclosure,” and further hindered, perhaps sovereignly, by the life struggles ironically captured within its numerous drafts. My review of those crazy things, the moments where stumbling would seem to end all possibilities of the “next,” has perhaps become the only means of processing those things sufficient for the sake of new courage in this old man?

Everything that has been spoken to my heart has now come to pass, with the exception of that time when I would know and feel bonafide as a preacher of the gospel. Why now when my career life is almost ended, when the numerous things I have attempted as a means of platforming that call now, seem exhausted?

According to numerous concordances, Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three years old, when they spoke to Pharaoh. As strange as that sounds and as challenging as that might be for my body, perhaps it is time.

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Righteousness Restored

I was praying and meditating this morning around the concept of justice both in my life and in the community at large. I pray for my community and the world at large, for I believe in prayer and I live in this world. To not pray nor attempt to lead seems irresponsible, given the challenges now facing our nation.

However, this morning’s prayers were somewhat selfishly motivated, a desire to see justice in a matter pressing within my own life. Yet, when I cry out for justice toward me by others, I am often confronted with my own waywardness and realize that justice is not what I want for me personally, but the grace to live righteously!

Love always seeks after grace, not only for one’s self, but for others; yet, love does not overlook unrighteousness any more than a parent condones misbehavior as a means of demonstrating love. Love is a balance of mercy, grace and justice. The purpose of justice is to bring one to righteousness, which then justifies and restores them to the glory for which man was created. We were all created equal and in God’s image, and should shine with a radiance demonstrative of that loving Being.

That hardly seems where this globe is headed, given the hatred, bloodshed, political dishonesty, greed and bigotry of our current culture.

There seems a growing chasm in the understanding of justice, as lifestyles become more promiscuous and divergent from the traditional mores that have grounded our culture, though each demands a justice that condones their behavior. I perhaps have bought into that somewhat, for I am feeling a tinge of judgmental thought in my writings, the very opposite of my intent. I just needed to process my thoughts and a fear that the word justice has come to mean no more than the right to do as I please, regardless of the human condition and generational demise created by that attitude.

Tragically, the logic that would otherwise lead us to a more righteous understanding of justice is marred by the history of our injustices. The years of bigotry and literal trade of human flesh for the sake of the economy of this and other countries may have come home to bite us in the globe, as enhanced literacy and technology further expose our sins to the masses? We justified slavery in the name of God while men of faith remained silent for centuries. Yet, when the likes of Martin Luther King brought a fresh word to our hearts, we acknowledged their righteous stand for political reasons only; then, continued to justify rank capitalism, upon the backs of those same poor and disenfranchised for which they spoke. Sin is subtle and when allowed to go unrecognized for what it is, soon leavens the whole lump, silently eroding the freedom, joy and even sanity that righteousness would otherwise restore.

My growing love for people and the ache in my heart for even how love is now misunderstood is perplexing at times. That perplexity seems even more compounded by the judgmental and cynical attitude displayed by those who carry the Name of our Lord, though demanding that they too be protected from the impact of sins condoned within their own families. Meanwhile, those who disregard the sanctity of love, live into desires that righteousness would seem to otherwise restrict. I say this with total openness to what God might be doing on this globe. I frankly don’t understand; thus my prayers.

As I prayed, it seemed that some sense of revelation and relief was achieved as I further considered my own life and waywardness. If when I failed at following the example of Christ, cried out for mercy and found grace- a way out of my peril, was that justice?

How can mercy be just for this sinner, when grace for the same seems to evade those around me? If my definition of sin is the lack of righteousness, then the only way beyond justice and into justification would seem to require that some external righteousness be employed?

Believe it or not, at times Wikipedia makes more sense than many a sermon: “Imputed righteousness is a concept in Christian theology that proposes that the “righteousness of Christ … is imputed to [believers] — that is, treated as if it were theirs through faith.” It is on the basis of this “alien” (i.e. from the outside) righteousness that God accepts humans. This acceptance is also referred to as justification. Thus this doctrine is practically synonymous with justification by faith.”

The Biblical difference in a Christian and a sinner may have little to do with their sins and much more to do with the grace of the God who “justifies” them when, by grace, they open their hearts to receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He certainly demonstrated a much more just love, as he freed the harlot that religion would otherwise stone, opening a way for an abundance of righteousness to occupy our lives by His Spirit.

All of us have sinned and sin is sin, without category; thus whether sawdust or plank, it diminishes our vision and impairs our ability to reflect the glory of God. We were designed to shine like the firmament! Leaving us in our sin was unacceptable to a loving Father, who then offered a remedy through a crucified Son; defying sin, He substituted the gift of grace. That is the Good News!

When we recognize our sins, neither too small to matter nor too large to be forgiven, grace is ever present from a God who is love. It is our response to that grace, whether hourly or as often as sin is revealed, that matters. With each response mercy is present and judgment therefore diminished, as hearts are open toward a righteousness freely offered.

It is when righteousness is rejected that judgment follows; yet only sufficient to discipline our senses, opening our hearts to grace and the gift of righteousness. God is love!

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Grateful For Dad’s Living Room

This morning seems rather unique, even in a “born again” kind of way! I was awakened early as usual, but with a tremendous sense of gratefulness; far more than that, an abiding “new-start-like” refreshing; a gift of grace perhaps? I don’t know how it happens, but grace comes in moments like this, and thus the name.

I am hurriedly trying to capture the moment in this digital journal of mine, while not losing the joy that seems present with this early morning aha!

This amazing sense of abiding grace and childlike joy, present since my first thoughts, seems similar as I recall, to being awakened on Christmas morning. I had rested well, after a long weekend in the mountains with two wonderfully successful couples, now lifelong friends, all gathered in a setting of some four hundred exquisite acres of Virginia fall artwork, with colors straight from heaven; almost iridescent as the sun rose each day.

As my Sunday morning ritual began, with coffee brewing while I made the walk down our driveway to retrieve the local newspaper, my first glance upward toward a clear starry sky seemed only to further accent this wonderful awareness that had now possessed me. Where did this overwhelmingly joyous attitude come from, and why me?

Why was this now 66 year old kid born into a family with a Dad who understood the pleasure of being alive, the love of family and the reward of hard earned pay? Why was I given a Mother who was faithful to that husband, changed the diapers of her four kids, and did the laundry for her college freshman when he dropped it on the floor after a week of school that he could not afford, made possible only by a loan of money from a local foundation, through people who could not possibly know him?

Why when he had almost ruined his young life with alcohol, did he have a serendipitous moment of redemption in his Dad’s living room at age 25; with a God he did not know, through the prayers of that same Dad, who had learned to trust that God as a young teen, while he and thousands of others fought for the freedom that I now enjoy; in fact, a lifetime in a land far more privileged than any other on the globe?

Why did I end up in a classroom teaching Science of all things, where I would providentially meet others, just after my experience with God; folk who had come to know this same Christ by way of their own life experience? How could it be possible that I would then be invited to attend a Prayer Breakfast, which I had no clue was occurring, even allowed at some point to lead that endeavor? That leadership opportunity would introduce me to a pastor who happened into the community where I taught. That man would become a mentor in my life, and later would invite me to serve as an assistant pastor at a small church I had never heard of to that point, answering a long forgotten calling spoken into my life at age nine. Through him, I would meet a denominational Superintendent, who would further invest in me as a leader.

Given a few statewide and even national recognitions by my denomination, that seemingly sovereign denominational placement would be sufficient to attract the attention of a national leader who would be called to take a church in my hometown, and would then invite me back home to serve on the pastoral staff of a growing congregation, almost as if my somewhat shady past had never occurred.

Why would I have just earlier than that appointment, felt led to return to college, directed toward a degree I had never heard of (Resource Development), having no awareness of opportunities that would follow? I would complete that degree and later another, which uniquely prepared me for future municipal positions I knew nothing about. Why was that Public School leadership position as a community advocate, even to the personalities and superintendents served, so custom by design, preparing me to impact a city for Christ through a large church that would I would never have known existed were it not for that early prayer breakfast assignment. That positon with the Public Schools by the way, was disbanded by the state of North Carolina shortly after I left the school system, almost as if its temporary nature was solely for my learning?

Now that same church has grown in its awareness of the needs of its city, even changing its name to WS First, somewhat fulfilling the answer to a promise made by that same “living room” God to whom my Dad earlier introduced me. That promise was that if I would follow “Him”, I would impact cities.

Parenthetically, should my reader perhaps misinterpret this morning’s sense of awe and celebration as some arrogant boasting, I can assure you that I am as amazed at God’s involvement in my life anyone! Remember, I am the prodigal, not the priest.

I now hold three earned degrees, have a phenomenally gifted wife, who manages to seasonally adorn a beautiful property tucked in the woods of Clemmons and all debt free; though my professional life has been quite different than any career minded person might have planned! Our property has become a place of encouragement and celebration, from the new kitchen just completed as means for furthering my wife’s gift of hospitality, not to mention our almost ten year old cabin, tucked just inside the Village that even granted me three terms as their mayor!

Now we share this property with a daughter, son-in-law and new grandson, John Luther, who have settled just walking distance across the creek. John Luther perhaps will watch and learn of this God, as we spend these next few years together, the Lord by grace, further unfolding the life of his Grandpa and a special dog named Coach, on the very outskirts of that hometown to which I was called in 1990.

Yes, a hometown for which I have now spent over twenty-five years praying; four of those years, from a lofty perch in an office overlooking the city, made possible as a gift from another brother now deceased, who believed in my calling. I have known the privilege of serving on the planning board, networking with scores of others who share that love for this city; even chairing Leadership WS, a privilege usually reserved for those far more successful them myself. This awareness also reinforced this a.m., almost as if a set-up for this amazing morning of gratefulness, as the local paper celebrated new facilities recently afforded Leadership Winston-Salem. To review the list of names involved, and know that these fine folk are my now my friends, is an amazing thing also.

As my first superintendent, Dr. Thompson used to remind me: “When you see a turtle on top of a fence post, you know it didn’t get there by itself.” How did this humble but grateful “turtle” find his way atop this fence post? Grace and the help of hundreds whom God has introduced him to since the night this prodigal visited his Dad’s “living room” in 1973!

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Consideration

“Consideration is the concept of legal value in connection with contracts. It is anything of value promised to another when making a contract. It can take the form of money, physical objects, services, promised actions, abstinence from a future action, and much more. Consideration to create a legally enforceable contract entails a bargained for, legal detriment incurred by the promisee OR a legal benefit to the promisor.” 1

Yesterday morning, as I prepared for my day, knowing it could be a difficult one, this word “consideration” seemed to lodge in my heart. Still there this morning, I will take that as a need to elaborate by way of my electronic “journal.”

As a Realtor, I know that no contract is complete without two signatures and some exchange of consideration. Most already know where I am going with this, yet my purpose for this blog is that it serve as a means of processing “out loud” the thoughts that occur to me in my early morning rituals with God.

Even that statement gives me pause! I, John Bost, a human (humus…soil) have a morning ritual with God? What a glorious thought, that the King of Heaven would know me by name, or as Jesus put it, know even the very hairs on my head and would await, literally lean over the portals of heaven each morning, with renewed grace, hoping I will give Him audience! I am a friend of God!

Got carried away there for a moment!

What gives me the right to believe that I hold the affection of the Being who constructed a Universe with galaxies untold, adorning the heavens, and for no other reason, than for me to gaze upward each morning, as I pick up my morning paper? Really? Is there that much love, power and creativity within One being, and that Being focused on me, as if I were the only occupant of His entire creation? Yes!!

Just as young John Luther will arrive today for the second time in our house, all my Universe will turn to focus on him! So the Father loves me.

But what gives me that right, secures that hope? Yes, even when I act out in a lesser way than one would think that a party in that position would behave? When I, the promisee, fall short of the glory of God?

There is a binding contract, a testament, a last will offered on behalf of a promisor and this one secured by virtue of Divine blood, the highest consideration. For God, so loved the world that He gave His only Son! Even beyond that, He has provided a deep assurance to carry me in His personal absence; that I might be encouraged when life becomes difficult, perhaps too difficult for my own understanding to suffice:

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” II Cor 1:22 NIV.

Christ’s blood is now forever held in escrow, guaranteeing my legal right (righteousness) to eternal and abundant life; His Spirit now forever stamped on my heart as a seal,“guaranteeing what is to come.”

Selah (“pause, and think of that“)!

1http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consideration

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Person, Position and Power

This morning began like so many others with the reading of the local news, followed by my usual reading of scripture, which always sets the stage for my daily prayers. Yet by the third cup of coffee, I was ready to revisit a nagging pain of compassion that remained from my earlier reading of a Letter to the Editor by a local Christian turned atheist. This was a deeply felt testimonial that I must admit resonated with me, regarding the relief he experienced once he released himself from his Christian belief system. I did that as well at 16 years of age; a belief system, “reinforced by a cosmic system of fear, rewards and punishment.”

That my friend is the age old story of religion and unfortunately the consequence of a life trapped by such a system, regardless whether its source be Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or any other of the plethora that now exist around the world. My readers are now in shock, as my lifelong journey has truly been about pursuit of a relationship with God!

Don’t get me wrong, I daily spend time with God and for the most part, am in constant communication with him as I make my decisions about life. Just yesterday, in a business meeting, I requested a link to a certain body of knowledge contained in the “cloud.” I listened to the particular sound my friend’s computer made, as this virtual data bank was whisked my way. I could not help but wonder why we have so easily bought into the virtual reality of our day and yet see the Kingdom of God as fantasy!

For those who can recite my litany of failures, I did say for the most part! That works well, as long as I attend to that occasional “physical,” taking my spiritual temperature as a means of avoiding the infection of religion, now so probable in an environment where the virus is rampant. Freedom of religion is a beautiful concept, yet if America is the laboratory, it may no longer be all that our forefathers intended; not because of the beauty of God and the liberty each should have to pursue a relationship with God, but for the fact that so many variants have developed, each of the many perpetuating their own cultural expectations, articulating a static system of belief (or nonbelief) that is more “group think” than personal experience. If your religion is PC, you might even identify with the word “faitheist”! In America, at least, we are living in a religious heyday.

My objective is not to oppose freedom of religion but to challenge those who have accepted a belief system, externally imposed from birth perhaps, but untested personally.

Again, I am so often accused of being religious, and in fact am even a Deacon in a local church, which is not a bad thing in itself. I feel called to engage with people whom I believe are seeking something more than religion, a relationship with a higher being. God is awesome enough that when pursed, He/She, if that masculine pronoun causes you pause, will find a way to fellowship with you intimately. There is a place in everyone’s heart for fellowship and love, yet there is a danger when one allows conformity and acceptance with their particular huddle of folk to supersede the need for their own personal relationship and pursuit of God.

I am labeled as a Christian and when that means that I am a devout follower of Christ, I take no offence. Do I wrestle with the system that Christianity professes? Daily! Do I understand such theological constructs as the Trinity, the Incarnation, the decent into Hell by Christ, followed by His bodily resurrection and ascension? Hardly enough, but it is upon that intellectual scaffolding that I pursue God daily and with that pursuit, I am coming to understand just where such ideas originated.

Does it come with much study, daily devotionals, Bible memory and the sorts? Not necessarily though I do use these tools daily. Does it come with much prayer? Yes, if one considers a constant dialogue with the Spirit prayer. I will even share that each morning my day begins with a time alone and mostly on my knees; a posture befitting for this human (humus) who is awed by this Being called God, who reigns in a Kingdom with which I have been privileged to engage, though unseen beyond the occasional vision or visitation.

Perhaps I am getting a little edgy for my reader’s comfort as I attempt to articulate this treasure that I have found during my 40 year journey with Christ. How do I know with such certainly that my faith is real and not just some religion imposed upon me by my relationships with other gullible and needy human beings, “robbed of happiness” as stated by letter writer described above?

Perhaps my life is somewhat privileged, as my faith came not from church attendance but in fact the very opposite. I came to know Christ by way of a most unexpected confrontation in my Dad’s living room during a time of severe wounding in my life and in fact, quite the opposite of the brother recently turned atheist, that is when I found happiness and a future. I was at best agnostic, engaged in ever illicit activity imaginable and I seemed happy with seldom a bad night. It was the compounding effect of those “happy” nights that caused me pause when I reflected upon where my life was headed morally.

My response that night when I walked in on my Dad, a devout Christ follower, who was in fact on his knees praying for his “lost” son: I somewhat arrogantly challenged God with these words, ”God if you are out there and you exist and you will change my life, I will give it to you.” I don’t know why, but my life changed radically and my question as to his existence was forever resolved.

Fortunately, I did not immediately engage with other Christians but for about a year, simply shared my life change with others who were struggling, some within churches and others still held captive by the lifestyle I had just abandoned. I began to follow after the only model I knew that had made significant difference upon this earth, Jesus Christ. His model was simply love, not judgment, fear or condemnation, though I must say, it has been quite rewarding. The more I pursued that model, the more Christians began to encourage me; both because of my evident life change and perhaps their sense of need to disciple me (Uuhmm).

The benefit of this distance from church was, that it gave me a time to learn on my own; perhaps, how to access Christ out of pure struggle, not only from what was revealed in the scriptures but revelation that came each time I spent time contemplating this great “Person.” The difference between that and becoming “churched” was that I learned to accept nothing that did not add value to my new walk with Christ or that I could not experience for myself in communion with Christ.

That does not mean that I did not eventually learn the benefit of serving alongside sincere believers for the greater good of my community. I just was cautious as to buy-in to a belief system other than what my simple journey with Christ afforded. Somewhere along the way, I was privileged to be convinced of my own uniqueness and the fact that the God of the universe (and there can be only one, by virtue of definition) truly values that uniqueness, enough to cultivate it daily, as we journey together.

I believe in a Personality that is far above human and yet sets over or possible within this “matterial”(sic) creation. I believe that the Kingdom to which I have been called is equally as real, but somehow exists within a dimension that the physical cannot define.

Beyond that Personality which I call God, I have been positioned by grace to live a life of love demonstrated by Himself when He became flesh and dwelt among us in the man called Jesus Christ. Yes, God became human that I might participate in His divinity! That is not sacrilege but privilege.

Yet, there is so much brokenness in my person that living into some religious system in order to measure up never seems to work, the Old Testament affirms that. I must lean fully upon the empowerment of that same God. Amazingly, that provision is made possible by the righteousness of Christ imparted to me and lived through me by The Spirit that lives within me. The life I live, even what good I might occasionally participate in, is not my own, but is the Person of God, in Christ, manifest by His Spirit. Maybe I do get the concept of the Three in One!

I know this sounds like Christianity but believe me it is far beyond what is being proffered in most of our “Houses of Worship” today; and though we mean well, religion’s product at best is too often only a few good deeds made possible by the combined efforts of a team of congregants; at worst broken, disillusioned young men like the one who testified in the local newspaper this a.m.

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