Imagining God’s Presence

The other morning, after I had read the Word, I was feeling especially convicted about my lack of time with God recently. I felt like I hadn’t given him my undivided attention lately, and that I was being lazy in our relationship. So I decided to kneel by my bed and take some time to speak intimately to him.

Well, as soon as I closed my eyes to talk with him, I was distracted. Words were fumbling out of my mouth-as I thought about all I wanted him to do for me. I felt uncomfortable in my position and kept shifting and moving around, and my mind was wandering about the morning plans and how I should probably make my bed before I leave.

So to help myself focus, I decided to imagine what it would be like to enter God’s presence to speak with him. This was my train of thought:

castle

I enter the most glorious building I’ve ever seen. I imagine it’s the Sistine Chapel meets the Disney Castle times 100. Not gaudy, but perfectly ornate. Not sterile, but perfectly orderly. Being escorted by angels I walk the halls and am delighted by the beauty of each room I pass through. We reach the throne room, God’s dwelling place, and 2 angels each grab door handles and pull open the doors. They glide effortless across the reflective floor and I step into the huge room. The moment my feet land I am enormously overwhelmed. In that moment I saw down the corridor to the throne. There sits the Triune God. He is one-but He is three. The power of being in the presence of God takes my breath away, and I begin to sob. I am consumed by feelings of love, joy, peace, power, and perfection. It is more precious and beautiful than any feeling I have ever experienced. He is magnificent and I am deeply experiencing love. His gloriousness causes my body to tremble. The other simultaneous feeling that engulfs me is one of guilt. I can feel his holiness in the air that I’m gasping for through my sobs. My shaking body is painfully aware of its choice to please itself over this beautiful, joyful Being that I now see. I am repulsed by my lack of desire to be here, and my unworthiness to be here simply devastates me.

In that very moment, the Holy Spirit, like a rushing wind, leaves the throne and envelopes me. I breathe fully for the first time as I feel him comfort me and hold me. He brushes my tears away and I hear him whisper the truth of my forgiveness through Christ, and now my standing before God. All at once these verses come to mind:

“[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  –2 Corinthians 5:21

“But by His [God’s] doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.”-1 Corinthians 1:30

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe.” –Romans 3:21-22

Peace floods my heart as look to Christ for my righteousness, and find it lacking nothing. The Holy Spirit picks me up and carries me all the way to the nail pierced feet of God the Son, seated at the right hand of God the Father. Looking at Christ’s wounds causes my tears to flow again. Overwhelmed by what he went through so that I could come to this room, I feel the holes in his hands and the only words I can muster are “thank you, thank you, thank you”. Every request I had, seems to vanish as I behold His splendor. My appeals for comfort and aid seem like such a ridiculous request considering what I have already been given. How could I ask for anything more? As tears gently flow, my heart is bursting with worship. Though no words are being formed, I simply bask in the enormity of His joy and perfection. The peace that floods my spirit is inexplicable as my smile matches the one on the face of the one True God. Who am I to experience such serenity? I’m holding Christ’s hands and am overwhelmed by the opportunity to worship and love him-this source of love, goodness, and satisfaction seems somehow grateful that I am here. Though snotty, selfish, and often sporadic-He is glad that I am here worshipping Him!

The Holy Spirit, still comforting me, looks at me, over to Christ, and begins speaking to the Father.  He tells the Father of my deepest longings, concerns, aches, and desires. He presents them more beautifully than I have ever been able to understand or articulate. All the requests are for the glory of God and in accordance with His will, and yet are still able to interweave my heart and mind’s innermost workings.

The Father nods knowingly, and all of a sudden I realize that it is time for me to leave for work! No! I don’t want to leave! I just got here! Through the Spirit, I am reminded of these verses:

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” -Psalm 139” 7-10

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” -John 14:16-17

With the reminder that God is with me always, and that at any time I can choose to enter the presence of God, I gather enough strength to rise to my feet. The truth seems too good to be true, but in faith, I thank Yahweh for making me his daughter. I will be back soon! I love you!”

And with that, with my heart filled, I left for work.

I tell this story to communicate 2 things: 1.) a sliver of the awesomeness of being able to know and have a relationship with the God of the Bible, and 2.) our need to take time to turn our eyes to God every chance we get!

I easily get distracted. Though as I imagined this a few days ago, I wept by the side of my bed, I have already many times forgotten about the incredibleness of His gift of himself. Though that morning I was filled with adoration for God, I too soon forgot the overwhelming peace and satisfaction that his presence brings. I amaze myself with how quickly I am sidetracked by other things of this world.

I need this reminder-to get out of bed early tomorrow morning and seek God.

It’s a privilege to go into His glorious presence.

It is an incalculable blessing to have the Holy Spirit.

We all need to think deeply about the gift of salvation. We need to everyday look to the cross. EVERYDAY experience His presence. EVERYDAY praise Him with all we have. If you are anything like me, you are an incredibly forgetful person who needs a whole lot of reminders. Fortunately, our just God is also patience, and steadfast, and has an endless supply of lovingkindess for his children.

So tomorrow, make sure you take the time to spend a few moments (or hours if you have them!) in the presence of God. Adore, confess, praise, petition, thank, and seek Him! It is a beautiful opportunity, and one we (I!) should do much more often!

5:55 a.m... try a one-week challenge to rise early and see how it changes your mornings...I'm definitely in!

“but swing the door wide open and pray to your Father in secret, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God. -Oswald Chambers

"We are never nearer Christ than when we find ourselves lost in a holy amazement at His unspeakable love." (John Owen)

A Summary of Egalitarianism and Complementarianism

Christian marriage: For complementarian marriage: love this!

God is so incredibly complex that he created two beautiful, multi-faceted genders to represent his good characteristics and glorify His name on this earth. Below I explain my understanding of the two basic camps held by evangelical believers. Later I will post/propose my thoughts on the possible melding of complementarianism and egalitarianism.

Egalitarianism                                                                                                                  

The primary source for the position of egalitarianism are the “Christians for Biblical Equality” (CBE) who stand for serving God by giftedness, not by gender. Their mission statement of equality is in 30+ languages and proclaims that the Bible teaches full equality of men and women in Creation and in Redemption for the furtherance of the gospel and the glory of God.  They rightfully interpret the inerrant, authoritative Word of God holistically, thematically, and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Creation is an enormously important part of the gender role deliberation. Egalitarians knowingly refer to Genesis to solidify the argument for full equality by citing joint responsibilities between men and women concerning child bearing/rearing, dominating creation, (Gen. 2:26-28) as well as a joint responsibility in the Fall of mankind(Gen. 3:6; Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21-22). Egalitarians explains how the word “helper” implies no subordination or inferiority, but instead how that particular word is most often in the Old Testament as a reference to God. Similarity the rib, and the word “suitable” also both point to equality and denote unity. Lastly, Egalitarians assert Adam’s rulership over Eve in Genesis 3:16 was a prediction of the upcoming harmful ramifications of the Fall, not a prescription of God’s original plan in creation prior to sin entering the world.

The forgiveness of sins for salvation is offered to all mankind despite race, age, gender, or socioeconomic status. Therefore upon salvation, the gifts of the Holy Spirit (healing, miracles, prophecy, wisdom, etc.) are bestowed upon women as well. They are called to develop their gifts, whatever they may be, for the body of Christ.  Additionally important to Egalitarians, the New Testament teaches that women exercise the prophetic, priestly, and royal functions (Acts. 2:17; 21:9; 1 Cor. 11:5; 1 Peter 2:9-10, Rev. 1:6; 5:10). All passages that appear to contradict these function for women are to be studied in the total context and interpreted in relation to the broader teaching of the Word. When such proper hermeneutics are applied, the problem with female leadership will thusly be understood as a cultural situation (1 Cor. 11:12-16; 14:33; 1 Tim. 2:9-15).

In considering the roles in family, CBE cites ten biblical references that indicate that both mother and father are responsible in the training, nurture, teaching, and disciplining of their children. Secondarily, they see that the Bible teaches how husbands and wives are both co-heirs with Christ and bound together in mutual submission and responsibility to each other (1 Cor. 7:3-5; Eph. 5:21; 1 Peter 3:1-7; Gen 21:12). Within this mutual submission, the husband function as “the head” by serving and lovingly giving of self, just as Christ modeled during his time on earth.  In the home, Christian husbands and wives should both be serving one another, and humbly considering the other better than themselves. They should equally divide the leadership responsibilities based on competencies, availability, and desire. In conflict, if a decision cannot be reached, instead of the husband imposing the final word, they are to use biblical methods of conflict resolution. This is to protect women and children from abuse that too often tragically follows male headship.

To honor the Source of spiritual gifts and to model the unity and harmony that should characterize Christianity, the church should allow women to serve in all levels of involvement. Though the world may discriminate, segregate, and make some feel inferior, God’s people will honor Him by recognizing gifting despite gender and by being a light of equality and development. The goal of egalitarianism is to free men and women from unbiblical traditionalism that creates dangerous caricatures of both males and females that stifle both individual’s reflections of Christ. In embracing mutual accountability to each other in Christ with a heart of humility and servanthood, they model to onlookers how obedience to Scripture puts out fires of domination and inequality and encourages fulfilling love of God and love of neighbor.

Complementarianism

The primary source for defining complementarianism for the purposes of this paper is found in the Danvers Statement of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) (Piper & Grudem, 2006). In expressing ten points of contemporary development that aroused deep concern in several evangelical leaders they include the distortion and “neglect of glad harmony” that egalitarianism brings. Their ten points clearly show a godly distain for any hermeneutical misdealing, and a deep desire for believers to delight in the gender diversities God has beautifully established. Complementarians steadfastly affirm the equality and high value of men and women before God as persons created in his image. However, they equally affirm that God has purposefully created male and female distinct in their gender roles (Gen. 2:18; 21-24; 1 Cor. 11:7-9; 1 Tim. 2:12-14).

For men, the result of the fall was the distortion of man’s once perfectly loving, humble headship into a dominating or passive headship. The role of headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall (Gen. 2:16-18, 21-24, 3:1-13; 1 Cor. 11:7-9) and not a result of the fall. Additionally, prior to the fall, the woman perfectly, intellectually, willingly submitted to her selfless husband. Her submission was not a result of the fall, but her struggles in submission are.  The beautiful redemption that Christ brings removes both distortions caused by sin. The power of the Holy Spirit can help move men and women back to the original roles of a husband’s loving authority, and a wife’s joyful submission (Eph 5:21-33; Col 3:18-19; Tit 2:3-5; 1 Pet 3:1-7) Principles of male headship in the family and in the church are throughout the Old and the New Testament (Gen. 2:18; Eph. 5:21-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Tim 2:11-15). Though redemption in Christ brings equal blessings of salvation to both men and women, there are some governing and teaching roles within the church that are assigned specifically only to men (Gal. 3:28; 1 Cor 11:2-16; 1 Tim 2:11-15). Complementarians affirm the truth that Christ’s authority is supreme over all, and no earthly submission needs to be followed into sin (Dan 3:10-18). They also affirm that Biblical criteria for ministry trumps passion or desire for ministry every time (1 Tim 2:1-15; 3:1-14; Tit 1:5-9). Both men and women must be subject to God’s word concerning ministry roles. Neglecting these God ordained principles will lead to devastating consequences in families, churches, and societies. Lastly, the Danvers Statement pleads with its readers to realize that the ways people in this world understand the gospel and experience the love and grace of God are exceedingly vast and diverse. Because of this every believer in Christ, regardless of gender, is provided with incalculable opportunities to experience a fulfilling ministry in word or deed for the glory of God. Though there are biblical criteria for some particular ministries, the harvest is plentiful and the gifts of God’s people are richly diverse. There is not one worker who needs to feel that their gifts are not able to be used.

The goal of complementarianism is for men and women to understand and celebrate the beauty of being equal in their value yet distinct in their roles. Refining the harmonizing roles of manhood and womanhood best epitomize God’s original design as seen in creation.  The human heart will be most fulfilled when resting and excelling in these roles of male headship and female submission.  Weakening biblically defined roles by following culture instead of the clear gender distinctive teachings of the Bible devalues God’s creation design and will surely bring eventual devastation.

John Piper (2008): "Wimpy theology makes wimpy women. Wimpy theology simply does not give a woman a God that is big enough, strong enough, wise enough, and good enough to handle the realities of life in away that magnifies the infinite worth of Jesus Christ." (Designed by Jennifer Knight.) http://dsr.gd/Mtd6Nk

Is it Wrong for Men to Listen to Female Speakers?

I almost think this is an absurd question. Are there people who think it is wrong for a woman to speak to a group of men about Biblical or theological things? Unfortunately, there are. Now, I’m not going to dive into this debate today (maybe soon!), but I do just want to offer up a quick 3:25 minute clip from Desiring God about the topic.

“I am happy to learn from Beth Moore. But I don’t want to get into a relationship of listening or attending a church where a woman is becoming my pastor, my shepherd or my authority. I think that would be an unhealthy thing for a man to do. I could give reasons for that biblically, experientially and psychologically, but I have given the gist of it.” -John Piper