Losing Sight of God (#612)

There was a time, back then, when you knew he was real and that he loved you. When people told you how to grow closer to him you got busy with the duties of being a good Christian, and that sense you had of his presence faded away. Now you're exhausted with trying to please him and unsure he even exists. Was that just my own delusion back there? One of the worst things religious obligation does to us is to diminish our perception of his reality. Going through some listener email Brad and Wayne end up with this story, and how we find our way back into the reality of God-with-us.

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  1. Great conversation in between all the giggling. 😀

    I loved Brad’s quote about people having a surrogate savior, and I think it’s an age-old problem. Sure there are those leaders who encourage that, but there are just some people who always look outside of God for what only He can truly offer. We see this in the scripture with the building of a golden calf. People have always sought for shortcuts and probably always will until they wise up. But when will that be? Maybe we’re headed in that direction now with all those who have and are leaving the church and finding God and a richer relationship with Him outside of the system. I saw this quote yesterday that I agree with:

    “Sometimes … I think it may be the case that God calls some people to unbelief in order that faith can take new forms.”~ Krista Tippett

    But so many people fight this. When they feel like they’re in a place of unbelief, disenchantment, etc., they or sometimes their family and friends will encourage the only thing they know: attempts to try harder through prayer, scripture reading, church attendance, etc. People are so scared of being in places of the unknown or the uncomfortable, that they revert to all the old things that they’ve been taught will keep up on the straight and narrow. We lean on everything BUT trust–the one thing we need most, in my opinion. Trust that God is. Trust that God cares; that He listens and understands and that He will lead us.

    I also very much identified with your comment, Wayne, about always having a “touch of the reality of God”. That was my experience as well, having been raised by a mother who really focused on my brother and I having a relationship with Christ. Church was important and we regularly attended, but Christ was the foundation, and when I left the church where I had been a member for 12 years and served in leadership, it was about the church and my treatment by other Christians, not God. My faith in Him hasn’t been shaken. Interestingly enough, I recently ran into someone from that church that I hadn’t seen in years since she moved out of state, and she just couldn’t believe that I wasn’t going to church right now. I told her I was focusing on me (which I am based on a series of life events including the experience at that church along with caring for my mother three years prior to her death last year). She said (kindly and sincerely), “Well, I’ll pray for you.” Never once in the conversation does she ask how things are in my spiritual life or even seek to understand what was going on in my life; just an expressed shock over me not going to church. I’m sure this is just a conditioned response on her part along with the notion that church and one’s spiritual life are irrevocably intertwined, not to mention that she probably saw me in a certain light because I was a Bible teacher. She even shared with me about a bookmark that I once gave out in class that she still held on to and she wanted to know that was the impression that I left on her. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t negate where I am in life today nor is it enough to make me go back. But for her, that’s who I was and I just need to go back. Even my mother, with the foundation that she laid for me, would also take this approach with people–“you need to get back into church”. But what people don’t realize is, that when they take that position with people, they are encouraging that surrogate relationship that Brad talked about versus the real relationship with Jesus. And who knows, maybe one day I will go back, but if and when I do, it won’t be because I’ve allowed myself to be guilted into it. Until such time, I’m living my life and trusting Jesus as the One who sticks closer than a brother.

  2. For me…the pretense of a one day Christmas seems so restraining, hoopla of trivial fantasy… Living loved is so much more than a day or week or holiday, etc. Each day is it’s own unique treasure; some, you can’t appreciate until years later down the road…two grown men laughing and enjoying each other, priceless.

  3. Guys: I’ve listened to the podcast a few times already today, and I just have to encourage you. The topics you covered today from Mike, and Chris were very helpful. Then you shared the letter from the despairing woman. She really moved my heart. I identify so closely with her frustration and pain. Your conversation that emerged in response to her comments was extremely fruitful.

    “We’re teaching a lot of true things, but do you know Jesus better today than you knew him 6 months ago?” What an excellent question! Today’s Christianity has become everything else BUT knowing the Person Jesus better.

    “You’ve got to go back to the place in your heart where and when you knew him. Remember that first day when you knew you were loved. Where is that for me today?”

    My first identifiable ‘God-moment’ was like that for me. I knew I was LOVED into the very depths of my being. But that is key, so I’ll say it in a different way. Years have passed since then, but I know his love for me much more deeply today. In hindsight, and from your conversation, I realize something I never saw before. God’s method with me was to overwhelm me with his presence. He put me in that place and time so that I could not resist, but would let him minister to me! I just sat there and breathed him in! I couldn’t help it!

    So that’s the key from here on out: I need God to minister to me every single day. “And God breathed into his nostrils the Breath of Life, and he became a Living Being.” Yes! Like that! I need to let him make me a new creation.

    [from the parable of the sower] The Word of God, the Person of Christ, must penetrate the soil (my heart) and take root there. Once his presence takes root in my heart, it really is just like breathing. You hear his voice, you feel ‘nudges’ on your heart, you encounter compassion, etc. He is ministering to you and keeping you Alive!

    So I want to encourage everyone to “Ask God to make Himself real to you.” Then expect him to begin to minister to you. And let him!

  4. I have been thinking about several of things talked about over the last several podcasts. Talking with God, I got the impression that what we call sin, are things God is wanting to protect us from. Sins are things that can cause us physical, mental, or spiritual harm.
    Abortion which I know can cause a women to have great distress in soul and mind, from the conversations I have had. Most women I have ever known who have had an abortion, have so many regrets and sorrows. At first they may not, but at some point it causes them such grievous distress of mind and soul.
    Sexual immorality regardless of straight or gay. It eats at the people who have battled this, I know this from both personal experiences and conversations.
    Telling something in malice is the same. Years later people to have great regret for doing something in malice for short term revenge.
    I know it does not impact every person, but those who seem to have a tender soul, it seems to impact them adversely.
    To me I am in no position to condemn the sins of others, but to help them understand the impact sin / brokenness can have on a persons life.

    To others; How far off is my thinking?

  5. Wayne, you are fortunate that you didn’t graduate from Stanford, who changed their mascot to a tree a couple of decades ago.
    I appreciate how often you say things I have felt, but you put it into words, or at least different words than I have. When you talk about the 10 am Sunday thing, I am currently reacting to moving from a metropolitan area where the informal fellowships I knew all met later in the day, to another area where almost all of them do meet on Sunday morning. This comes from having lived working as a flea market vendor, retail salesperson, etc. where I had to work Sunday mornings, and the system just doesn’t fit that change in our society.

  6. For young Christians they are vulnerable to get trapped into religion and not know any better to step back…that is why Jesus said “woe to those who cause a stumbling block…better to be thrown into sea with millstone around neck” I had encounters with God but got into anorganization that I feel is pretty much cultish…they did talk of intimacy and friendship but there was spiritual abuse and control. I got set free hallelujah and was able to go back to those first encounters and be healed and now walk afresh in His true Grace. While in that organization that they call church or fellowship, I was told I was not truly born again yet after I said I got drunk on vacation, told I needed to be baptised once I get truly born again, told that I better figure out when I really got saved because my first testimony didn’t line up with what they thought…so much to the story but it’s sad when religious leaders can try to “steal” someone’s real true encounter with God. One time after I had gone through issues with the leaders, I openly said to one and said I don’t want to be mean and but I want to be honest with how I’m feeling and sometimes I think this place is crazy and almost cultish..the leader immediately without a blink responded, “that is because you have a rebellious and independent spirit” so I wanted to be right with God and went home and looked up how to get rid of a rebellious and independent spirit…the first three pages came up as “if you’re in a church where they say you have an independent and rebellious spirit…get out fast!” Lol! Then I went I visit another church that weekend and they had a guest speaker that talked all about if this person or organization tells you this or does this they are being controlling and manipulating”….my dad helped me see to follow God and not man and I was able to tell the leader with full confidence and smile on my face that I appreciate everything they did to me(they treated us like queens when we first come) and then said I am leaving and in that place I was supposed to get their blessing to leave….well he wouldn’t bless me so in front of the whole church he said “I can’t bless her as she could be going to a Mormon Church for all we know but we are releasing her” my husband and I both got free (before we were married) and now others have left since then. That was a place that was so deceptive as they preached against needing doctrine and preached intimacy with God…Ive experienced religion from other leaders who preach doctrine and said I’m not a believer unless I go to “church” on the “Lords day”. It’s a dangerous and sad place religion and leaders that cause stumbling blocks…when a Christian looks up, respects the pastors it can be difficult to stay grounded in your own encounters with Jesus but thankfully He has always brought me back to Him and that I AM HIS and no one and nothing can take that away. I think the woman who wrote will have an awesome journey now that she is out of that place that fosters performance and dead works…she, her husband and daughter can BREATHE now and take in His presence that is delightful and good and loving…He loves them and she doesn’t have to be afraid to loose her salvation…or at least that is not what God wants for her to have her relationship based on fear of not going to heaven…I’m very very excited for them to breathe and just be able to stop trying and just SEE Him all around them in everyday life! Like Wayne said once, Love the next person in front of you and see where it leads….love it!

  7. Also: I do not like anything about Christmas…if you have ever seen 4 Christmases that is our family lol! Both my hubs and I have divorced parents and then an aunt or two thrown in makes 5-6 Christmases sometimes and we get worn out:( don’t like travelling with all the gifts…loading and unloading decorating and in decorating all in the supposed celebration of the birth of our Savior…I joked with my girls…”Jesus is born so I get a new toy a new Lego set etc” makes sense right!?! Nah, I don’t like Christmas and tried to avoid it by going to FL this year but still got trapped into it when we got back! Lol! Next year I’m hoping to say no gifts and head to FL for the holidays…we shall see. I think the reason why I don’t like Christmas is because it’s a man made holiday and I’m not into traditions…Jesus never said to have one day a year to celebrate His birthday…weird to me anyways…the only nice thing I see about it is that one day a year almost the whole world stops in the name of the Savior Jesus…I do like that in a way but everything else I would like to avoid…hows that for bah humbug!;)
    I like the idea of getting together with family without all the pressure and expectations and exhaustion:)…any other day or the year lol!

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