1:1 With God

A guest post by a good friend – originally posted on the CCCTO Semi-Pro fellowship blog

What does it mean to worship God and work on your relationship with Him, outside the couple of hours you’ve marked in your week as “God time”?  What is left of your faith, when you strip away everything that is warm, fuzzy, familiar, and habitual?

This past weekend has definitely been an eye-opening experience for me, as this was my first time going home since telling my parents that I had made the decision to become Christian.  Coming home to a non-Christian environment really took away everything that I’ve become comfortable with in the past several months, like going to church on Sundays and praying with a group before meals.  Being sick this past week made the experience even more contrasting, since I couldn’t even make it to discipleship or Bible study. Basically, this past week has been void of any of the normal “God time” that I’ve become accustomed to having.

What this made me realize is that I’ve become a little too comfortable with my spiritual walk in the past few months.  It’s been easy going to church and Bible study each week.  What’s not to love about seeing friends that you love and who share the same love for God as you?  No one likes eating more than me, and I get to eat all the time with these wonderful people, either after church, during Semi Pro, or whenever a couple of us can get together to hang out on the weekends.  I’m not going to lie- it’s been a lot of fun and way too easy for me to get caught up in the happiness that is found in human relationships.

But having time away from everybody and everything that I’ve associated with my faith has helped me refocus on the most important relationship of all:  my personal relationship with God.  It’s shown me what is left of my faith, when its just me and God.

My relationship with God is something I haven’t really spent time on in awhile, actually.  It’s crazy to think that I call myself a Christian when the most important relationship in my life is something I haven’t put in time or energy into.  I make all this time to maintain old friendships and foster budding friendships, but I can’t put time aside for me and God.  I set aside time during the week to go to church, Bible study, and discipleship in order to grow my relationship with God, but is there even a relationship to grow?  What is the point in me spending all this time talking to other people about my relationship with God when I don’t directly talk to Him about it first?

I am so blessed because God has really used this past week to remind me of His amazing love and of how much I MISS HIM.  It’s kind of like when you have a really awesome one-on-one conversation with an old friend that you’ve gotten used to seeing in group settings so much, except on a much grander scale.  The basis of the conversation in a 1:1 is so different and it immediately reminds you that it is the personal aspect of the relationship that makes this friendship real. How blessed am I that God would draw me back to Him each time I wander?  I miss Him so much that my heart aches when I think about how in love I used to be with Him.  Yet, He is SO gracious to welcome me back with open arms every single time.

Do you know what its like to have everything you’ve relied on spiritually for the past several months taken away completely?  No church, no Bible study, no discipleship?  Not even the normal worship songs that you’ve gotten accustomed to hearing every day?  It’s liberating.  This isn’t because I don’t love those things and this isn’t because those things haven’t helped me tremendously in many ways (in fact, they are wonderful and have been crucial to my growth as a new Christian).  But, it has been liberating because it’s taken away every excuse that I’ve given myself (“I am spending time with God. I’m going to church, aren’t I?” or “Well, I’m fellowshipping with people right now.  God wants that, right?”) and has forced me to rely on God. Just God. Our wonderful, holy, and loving God.

When you rely directly on God as your source of growth for once, He kinda takes you on a wild ride.  He had me hear sermons that I had always meant to get to “eventually” but never made the time for because I already felt like church and Bible study provided enough “God time” for the week.  The messages turned out to be messages that struck me where it hurt the most but were messages that I needed to hear the most.  God and I read through parts of the Bible with a focus that I don’t usually have and with time that I don’t usually spend to carefully read and fully absorb the words in front of me.  Funny enough, they were all passages that I’ve read before in the past.  These passages took on a whole deeper meaning when read whole-heartedly the second time around, when it wasn’t just my eyes, but my heart and soul drinking in God’s Word.

God even surrounded me with a bunch of worship music I had never heard before.  Did He know that I’ve grown so used to mouthing the words to a bunch of worship songs, that I can listen to a whole CD of worship music without so much of even feeling a tug or slight ache of the heart at the thought of MY SAVIOR DYING AND SUFFERING ON THE CROSS FOR SOMEONE SO UNGRATEFUL, SO SELFISH AS MYSELF?  You know, there was a time in my life I used to feel like crying at almost every worship song I heard because the cost of my salvation, Christ’s blood, was so real to me.  It is sad at how easy it has been for me to grow numb to Christ’s love and cling to everything but the cross.

Yet, God is so, so gracious each time I forget.  This weekend, I had a lot of time to drive in the car by myself, so I switched on some K-LOVE.  It just seemed right to spend that time listening to worship music, instead of calling up people on my phone (which is what I normally do to pass time on longer car rides) for once.  It was crazy actually listening to the lyrics of these worship songs that I wasn’t familiar with and thinking about what they meant to me.  There was one song that really struck a chord with me, as I was driving home tonight:

You Are My King (Amazing Love)

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well, Your Spirit is within me
Because You died and rose again

Amazing love, how can it be
That You, my King, should die for me?
Amazing love, I know it’s true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do, To honor You

You are my King
You are my King
Jesus, You are my King
You are my King

Amazing love, how can it be
That You, my King, should die for me?
Amazing love, I know it’s true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do, To honor You

In all I do, To honor You,
In all I do, To honor You,
In all I do, Let me honor You.

Every good thing I have in this world is because of what Christ has done for me on the cross.  I have an amazing Bible study and church, not because of anything one person has done, but because we are bonded together by our love for our King.  If you take away everything good in my life, I am still the most loved I have ever been; nothing can change the fact that God has given me His endless, amazing love through Christ’s blood on the cross.

Christ is the center and source of everything I am, and without Him, I am nothing.   My relationship with God cannot and should not be founded in anything else but Him alone.

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  – John 15:5

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Family

Recently, I made a resolution to actively and intentionally be a Godly light/witness to my family.

It is no easy feat. Many times I lose patience, lose hope, even lose the will to be a light at all. And all this just makes me feel like an utter failure. No matter how hard I try, I can do nothing.

Which is exactly the point to this post. One of the underlying themes God has revealed to me in my study of the Word and daily walk with Him is that ALL WORKS ARE DONE BY GOD. And this of course applies to my family’s salvation. God’s living Word says:

“In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” [Ephesians 1:4-6]

What does this tell us about how sinners are adopted into the mighty spiritual family of God? (These are based off of my small group notes on adoption)

1) Adoption is from God:

– Eph. 1:5 – In love HE predestined us!

2) Adoption is a fully Trinitarian work:

– i.e. It involves the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the love of God revealed through HIS initiative of sending forth His son for us! (Eph. 1:5 — according to the purpose of HIS WILL)

3) Adoption is through Jesus Christ:

– Jesus came to redeem those who were under the law. Back in the day, the law was made to show how short we fall from the glory of God, since no one could have followed these laws perfectly. And since we could not save ourselves, Jesus suffered our payment in full.

4) Adoption is confirmed by the Holy Spirit

– After adopting us into His Kingdom, God then sends us the Holy Spirit into our hearts so that we can experience a close, familial relationship with God the Father!

Conclusion: God did everything.

With my family, most of the time I feel completely inadequate (which we are — Romans 3:23). Then one night my dad comes into the kitchen and takes the giant pot of porridge from the stove. His face is all lit up and giddy. I ask him,”Dad why are you taking the xi fan away…” He explains that it’s his turn to bring food for the Monday night Ping Pong/Bible Study Fellowship! Heeheehee!

This event may not seem like a big deal, but just seeing how excited he was to fellowship (and study the Bible!) with Christians was an amazing miracle to witness. And the critical realization is that I didn’t do anything to spur this on. It was ALL God, to the praise of His glorious grace.

God is so good, and whether He saves my family or not, He is still good. I am already so thankful to be part of His heavenly family, and I anxiously await those who will be joining it in 2010. Happy New Year! :D