Backdoorsman evangelist turns guide to the great outdoors!

My whole personality has been dictated by a fear of being judged and rejected/denied love and acceptance. My patterns in living have been for the self-seeking purpose of staying alive and keeping within the edges of boundaries that made it okay to be apart and unassociated with anyone who may appear dangerous to me.

Needless to say, this approach has not previously led me into contexts or subjects of conversation that enabled me to share my faith with anyone — unless I could be sure that I would not only be well-received but eagerly welcomed.

Yet all this time God has had in mind for me speaking to far more people about Him than this severely restricted group. I knew this in the back of my mind, but I couldn’t conceive of it being reality for me — at least any time soon.

Still, the sweetest reality of my existence is that God doesn’t live according to my poor vision and timetable. He has big purposes and the best possible means for bringing them about in my life.

Just recently I have been seeing how this is true in ways that are new to me. Everyday avenues of communication and socialization have taken on a greater purpose for me. God has put them before me, inviting me to let Him make of them nothing less than portals for presenting the gospel to the people around me. As wonderful as this experience is, this blessing didn’t come overnight; instead, it has come upon me slowly, as I have personally learned to let God come and inhabit every part of me — becoming everything I know and enjoy of existence.

I have learned who He is and how that identity plays into my life — how the character of God can become the very anchor of my soul and delight of my days. Because God has become accessible and extremely valuable to me through the continued work of certain trials, the burden for Him to be known by others has grown in heart.

To be honest, the catalyst to this “backdoorsman” evangelist becoming a guide to the great outdoors was nothing less than the love of God. This which comes from Him and runs back to Him. Love that makes us a drive-through along the way. A stream that must continually pour through us. The rushing, slowly corroding, and yet life-infusing waters which our heart terrain must embank. It is this everlasting flow running deep and wide within us that will not be able to be stilled or kept from overflowing to those who are still thirsty on the river’s edge.

The prison that keeps me deceptively comfortable

Belief is the key to knowing and including God in everything you do. Unbelief, whether we realize it or not, is the key to disassociating ourselves from Him.

Unbelief, what is unbelief? Lack of trust? Ignorance of God’s love? Unwillingness to concede that God is who He says He is, and should dictate how we act?

I believe that everyone of these things makes up unbelief — each one has greatly affected how I perceive and participate with God. I believe there is nothing solid other than what I believe and act upon. Yet it shakes me to the core when God rises up to prove that He is unmoving, and I have been wrong about Him.

In so many ways I need Him to be loving and tender yet I don’t want that to come to me in such strength that He commands my attention and demands my response. I would much more easily be satisfied if He were a soft, servile deity who fits loosely around me and my plans. I think He should be like a nice blanket that keeps me warm in winter weather, or a skin that makes me appear richer or more important.

In every case it seems that I don’t believe Him at His Word and action because I want Him to only agree to my word and action. I like what I believe, I don’t like what He wants me to be, therefore I find myself recognizing the unpleasant truth that I don’t like Him as much as I would like to think and say that I do.

Every day my doubts of God present themselves anew to my attention. And every day I have a choice between them and God. One is true, and the other is merely attractive on a temporary basis. One raises me up, and the other pull me down.

God knows that I have these doubts, and He knows that they express my mental and emotional vein at the moment, but He also knows what’s of  more validity than what’s going on inside of me.

Deceit occupies me inherently, but the Truth is always waiting at the door to be invited in. Where He is anything false can no longer stand. He is infinite and what a mistake I make in permitting an inaccuracy to diminishable or reinvent Him in my mind.

When I consider how deep the distortion of God within me resides, it comes as no surprise that I must be instructed in the Truth with a life-obsessed intensity; I cannot distinguish what it means to be alive until I turn from death. My life in Christ depends upon the death-like surrender of my life in sin. The depths of one are closed off to me so long as I cling to my right to search out the depths of another. The Truth will hold me if I choose to leap from the manipulative embrace of self-interested lies when He gives me the chance.

A Truth We Can’t LIVE Without

I daily forget how simple salvation is meant to be. I want to be sanctified, made holy so I can be satisfied. Yet I fail to realize that I am seeking to lay hold of a feeling that comes from me, and not God.

I am looking for self-affirmation, and delight that comes from taking stock in all that I am, and being able to say, without reservation, “This is what it’s all about! I am on the right track, I do the right things, and I am known and accepted for being all these things. Where is God? I need Him no more.”

I believe that I will be happy when I am sure that I am perfect — or at least when I am so distracted from all my petty imperfections (yes, that’s how I naturally see my sin!) that I can think I am safe; safe, from all reproach and anguish over any lack in me.

Without the reminder that my joy in beauty and majesty can rest upon me, though it rest not in me, I look for ways to prove that beauty can begin and end with me. I think that that will be all the comfort I need when I feel dull or empty inside. I will need only to pinch and wake myself up to the reality that I am more than I think.

Yet, the truth is, as much as I try over and over again to prove my theory, I grow disillusioned by it’s inability to satisfy my cravings for real beauty — Beauty that doesn’t depend on who I am or what I do; Beauty that just is; Beauty that invites me to sit down and enjoy it, or lose my breath as I get close to inspect it’s traces of the unseen and untainted.

I can only hold beauty to the extent that I hold fast to Him who is Beauty and grace. If I am wrapped up in myself, and what I want to be, I miss it. Beauty has passed me by, or rather, I have missed Beauty because I never thought to look about me.

In resigning myself to worshiping who I am rather than who I was made for, I have missed the point of who am: A vessel, with the privilege of possessing the living water, which is Christ; a temple, to be filled with the very Presence of the Spirit of God.

This afternoon God pointed out to me that I miss everything — and I do mean everything — when I don’t treat Him as the One He is.

In Him I have all the Beauty and Perfection I could want, all that my spirit craves, and yet I wander around, wondering why my spirit thirsts for more, when every where I look the emptiness remains, seemingly designed to convince me that I am misled about there being anything else.

But, turn around! Christ is; He never changes, and He does not cease to be interminable simply because I stop choosing to recognize it.

Salvation according to Christ really looks like Him, and not me. I am most aware of life and what it means when I am most aware of Him, and who He is.

Rather than being caught up in listless living, let me be caught up in Life and all that He declares Himself to be.

He says He is Light — then why do I keep praying like He might be darkness if I don’t continue to petition Him?

He says He is Salvation — where then do I get this idea that I will be lost or left alone because He may not be willing to rescue me?

He says He is Strength — how then, do I think it is possible for Him to be anything close to the weakness I see in myself?

He says He is Life — Oh, when will I forsake these lies that living and abiding in Him could somehow produce death that would not ultimately mean more life?

Let us therefore set our eyes on Him, who is all that we long to know and need to experience, by learning 1) to rejoice in who He proclaims Himself to be, and 2) forsake who Satan would proclaim Him to be. Having done these things, we will find ourselves overwhelmed by His love — the Truth that we have cast ourselves upon.

To Be Godly Do I Work to Stand Out Or Try to Lift Up the Ones Who Are Sitting?

What is godliness? We talk about it a lot in Christian circles, but how is it really defined? Is it an inborn tendency to keep oneself unsoiled by the ways of the world, or is it a quality of the spirit for which we must work?

To be godly, is it important to avoid what fouls-up the external image we project as believers, or are we to be looking for experiences and insights that affect what Christ knows of our internal nature?

Should we seek to put more distance between ourselves and the world or dig deeply into how worldliness is already integrated into the fabric of our hearts before we even consider the people we hang-out with, and the influences we choose to subject ourselves to. Do we have the liberty of passing the blame to what runs to us, rather than what runs in us? Is our ultimate aim to know what is in us, or to make what others see of us the most acceptable and praiseworthy? Do we want to really boast that we must be made new in  Christ or would we be content with I must appear more put-together and holy myself?

Can I justify shoving away people whose choices I disapprove of, or in a way do I draw closer to investigate why I think I am so much better than they?

Could contact with the world — this place we are supposed to be not of, yet still firmly in for the sake of the people who fill it — be the very thing God means to prick our heart and make us acknowledge our humanness still remains even with all we’re doing for Him?

I don’t like the idea of this myself. I think it would be so much finer if I could stick with measuring myself and the people around me by my own customized standards of spiritual worth and excellence — what really makes me look good. I could begin with me and never need to get around to others, or Christ for that matter. I could be the star, and others could just long to be like me — at least the ones who seemed to be looking up enough. I could be always confident that no one else could hold a candle to my discipleship. My value could remain in believing that I am Jesus’ only prized sheep.

Yet, that same Jesus asks me what I have to gain in this, because it is certainly so much less than Him. You see, I am realizing that I have to go out of my way to reject Christ’s righteousness for me to stand instead on a flighty idea of reward belonging to my own stellar performances.

Besides missing what He has for me, I miss what He has for others — I miss grace. I miss what is supposed to be shared by Christians for the sake of Christ’s glory, not ours. I miss the whole point, because I forget that I am not the point.

But, if I will get close enough, others will make that error abundantly clear. For, I’m finding that God uses people to function as reflective pools of who we truly are. I can walk around all day thinking I’m “the bomb”, yet, by openly interacting with another, I can be corrected instantly.

This is the power of God in positioning us to see ourselves for who we truly are. This is God cultivating God-liness in the unmistakably god-less. This is the Holy Spirit fulfilling in us God’s unshakable desire for us: a God-central, God-dependent life. A life in which we do not look good, but this for the sake of Christ appearing relevant. We lay off the wraps of image and prestige — and the striving for these things — to take hold of grace that unquestionably must point out it’s necessity in our failures in order to be a compelling witness to the watching world.