Monday, January 13, 2014

Living the Presence-Driven Life

The River Raisin in my backyard, in warmer days
To: Members of First Baptist Church, Urbana, Ohio

Thank you so much for hosting me this past weekend. I enjoyed meeting with your leadership team on Saturday and being with you Sunday morning as I spoke on "Leading the Presence-Driven Life."

Here are some bullet-points of things I shared with you, plus ideas for going forward, and a few resources for further growth.

1. In Exodus 33:15-16 Moses is making an appeal to God. We read:

And he [Moses] said to him [God], “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” 

Here we have what some have called “the presence motif.” The reason “better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere” is precisely because of God’s desired, radiant, earth-shattering presence. 

2. See the word "distinct?" Our distinction from the surrounding culture is: God, and God's presence. Focus on this. Cultivate this. Be connected, yourself, to God.

3. We read in Psalm 127:1 that “unless the Lord build the house, those who build it labor in vain.”

God wants to “build his house.” Our role is to co-labor with the building that God is constructing. God is builds Church with people. We are, individually and corporately, living stones being mortared into God’s temple. This is you and me.

But note that God is the one who builds. God uses us in the building process. We must get our directions from him. The New Testament strategy of Jesus is to invite us (you and I) to "abide in him." We see this in John chapters 14, 15, and 16.

As a follower of Jesus, you are like a branch connected to Jesus, the Vine.

Connect with Jesus today.

4. A way to connect with Jesus and abide in Him is: to pray. My definition of prayer (following Dallas Willard) is: prayer is talking with God about what we are doing together. Prayer is having a conversation with God. This includes listening. 

Out of a life of prayer, following comes. God directs our paths as we trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Other ways of abiding in Christ include: meditation on Scripture, and worship.

A very good book on abiding in Christ is Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster.

An excellent book on prayer and praying is Philip Yancey's book Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference?

A good book on living in and through God's presence is Greg Boyd's Present Perfect: Finding God In the Now.

5. Out of God's presence comes direction in life. God calls; we follow. This requires giving up personal control over things. Control and trust do not go together. Remember that God is looking for disciples, not deciders.

What shall I do about this today? I suggest that you carve out some alone-times with God this week. Begin today. Use Psalm 23 and meditate on it. Read it, more than once. Keep this Psalm before you this week. Write it on a piece of paper and carry it with you. Pull it out at times and read it again. Try getting alone with God and praying for a 30-minute period, just you and God.

Use a notebook or spiritual journal. When God speaks to you this week, write it down.

If possible, connect with some friends who are doing this and share what god has been saying to you.

You may want to read John chapters 14, 15, and 16, which are crucial to what I was sharing with you this weekend.

Again, I'm so thankful for your pastor who invited me to be with you. It was good to be with you and meet many of you.

If there is something you would like to follow-up with me about please email me at: