When Do You Know You’re Ready to Pop “The Question?”

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Wow.

It’s been 5 years.

5 YEARS.

Yesterday marked 5 years since we decided to journey together as a couple.

5 YEARS!!

ohmygoodness.

And on December 29th of 2015, after much deliberation, anxiety, reflection, and anxiety (did I mention anxiety?) I finally decided to pop the question:

“Elynn Rodriguez, will you marry me?”

Watch the proposal video here! 

As a note to myself, and to others who might benefit from this, I decided to write what I wish someone would have told me a few years ago.

Here are 5 principles that guided me towards taking the next step in our relationship! 

And she agrees with them 🙂

1) You know your “why.”

Your “why” is essentially your purpose statement – the reason you exist in this world. The process of formulating your “why” statement begins with an exploration of the following: a) who you are and b) what you want to do in this world.

Your “why” gives you purpose and clarity to everything you do. Once you are clear on what you are here to do, you will then be able to distill all areas of your life and determine if something, or someone, is worth pursuing.

This is crucial. Because till you know who you are, you will be incapable of truly serving someone else.

Service is important since it’s the bedrock of any lasting relationship, especially if you’re planning to put up with each others’ nonsense for an extended period of time.

2) You’ve had meaningful conversations with your significant other.

If the first point deals with the “why”, this point deals with the “how.”

The pre-engagement phase, or the dating phase, of any relationship is probably the best time to discuss important questions, especially pertaining to the future of your relationship.

We’d even argue that this should be your primary focal point of your dating phase as your relationship gets more serious.

The more questions you discuss with each other, the more meaningful conversations you will have. The more meaningful conversations you have, the more clarity you will have about the future of your relationship.

3) You’ve had meaningful conversations with trusted people.

The phrase “Love is blind” may actually have some truth in it. For how you perceive each other in the relationship may affect objectivity in important decision-making.

If you’re like us, you’d benefit from the counsel of trusted friends and family. They can identify potential “blind-spots” that you might have missed and may be able to give you much needed advice on whether you should continue or not.

While others’ opinions shouldn’t be the sole determinant of your relationship, they should not be entirely discounted, especially if you know that they have your good in mind.

4) You know that he/she is willing to journey with you.

We believe that two people can have different pursuits in what they want to achieve in this life and still thrive as a couple.

However, multiple pursuits without a single commitment to journey together will inevitably cause heartache, frustration, and pain.

Elynn and I are both very driven. Both of us have our own dreams and aspirations. After multiple conversations, we realized that if we don’t commit to appreciate and affirm each other on our individual pursuits, we will be end up being roommates and not a team.

We knew that after we learned to appreciate each others’ pursuits, after we revisited and revised our plans in light of a potential marriage, and chose to journey together, we felt somewhat ready to take our relationship to the next level.

The biggest myth is that you have to have everything figured out before popping the question. Do figure out as much as you can. Plan as much as you can. But know that you can never plan enough.

What you need to know at this point is that he/she is willing to stick it out with you as a teammate as you figure things out together.

5) You know you’re making him/her better.

If you’re not in the relationship to make them better, you are in it for self-serving reasons. You’re either growing together, or not growing at all. There’s no middle ground.

Marriage, from what I hear, transforms people. The more life is shared between two people, the more they begin to reflect and complement each other in unmistakable ways.

We had to know if our relationship was actually making us better individuals well before considering the question of marriage.

If we were not already making each other better and bringing the best of each other in our relationship, marrying each other would be the quickest way to a collectively miserable life.

Take some time to do some honest self-reflection with the following questions: “am I making him/her a better individual?” and “is he/she making me a better individual?” 

….

At the end of the day, relationships can be messy, wonderful, revealing, and inspiring. Choosing to commit to a relationship for life is one of the most important decisions you can make! 

A decision worth making is a decision worth thinking about, and these 5 principles helped us think better about the decision of a lifetime.

What about you? If you’re engaged or married, what would you add to this list? If you’re not, what do you think about this list? Leave a comment below!

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A 3-Step “Hack” for Examining and Enjoying Scripture

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Articulating the “why” and implementing the “how” are two things.

That’s why some may spit some smoove words to you, but may not actually have game.

OHHHHH!

But that’s a topic for another day. (Get it together, Kevin.)

The more I spend time with well-intentioned Christians, especially youth and young adults, the more I realize that while there is a confidence when answering “why” of Scripture (purpose) , there is a lack of clarity concerning the “how” of Scripture (method of study/interpretation).

So here’s a simple 3-step process I’ve been experimenting with for both my personal time with God, as well as my ministry to high-schoolers.

Before you check it out, however, there are 2 major keys of success that you must consider in order for this to work:

Be open-minded and be diligent.

To be open-minded is to be open to the voice of the Holy Spirit teaching you from, and through, Scripture. I believe that the Spirit leads us to find both the Truth for our faith and truths for our daily living in Scripture (John 16:13). Be willing to humble yourself to the truth of the text and be taught by the Spirit, rather than teaching to it.

To be diligent is to exercise the discipline of investigation consistently and effectively. I believe God rewards those who diligently seek Him and those who do will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13)

OK. You’re ready. Here are the steps:

Step 1 – Observation

Prayerfully read the passage under consideration multiple times. Look for the following:

– The 5 Ws ( Who is writing? to Whom is he writing? When is he writing? Where is he writing from? Why is he writing? )
– Repeated words or phrases
– Genre ( type of writing)
– Themes (ideas in the passage)
– Anomalies (words that are “oddly” placed)
– Patterns in the passage (parallels, metaphors, similes)
– The subject and the object (who is talking to whom?)

After you gather enough information, ask as many questions as possible about the passage. Be sure to ask ­only observation questions at this point.

Because here’s the thing: An excellent question is always better than a mediocre answer.

As one of my friends once told me, “The Bible is a book of answers. We simply ask it questions.”

At this stage, avoid, as much as possible, from jumping into questions that pertain to your personal life. We will get to this at the reflection stage. Stay with the passage. The more detective work you do here, the better your reflection will be at the end.

Step 2 – Connection

You will have collected enough data at this point to make some connections.

Start making connections from A to B where A = point from the passage and B = other scriptural passages, personal life experiences, history, education, etc.

If you have access to tools such as Bible commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and concordances, they will greatly aid you in making these crucial connections. The more connections you make,  the better.

Step 3 – Reflection

The fruitfulness of this step depends on how much work you put into steps 1 and 2. Poor investigation will lead to mediocre connections which then would lead to powerless reflections.

At this stage, pick one instance in the passage where you saw Jesus/God.

Put yourself in that scene. Use your senses. What would you see, touch, feel, taste, hear, and smell?

Then ask some reflection questions to yourself regarding the truth about that passage:

Examples:

What is Jesus telling me in this situation?
What is stopping me from doing what He’s asking me to do?
On a scale of 1-10, how much do I relate to the disciples in this passage?

The effectiveness of this step depends on the sincerity of your heart. Believe that God wants to speak to you.
Oftentimes it’s easy to forget that the Bible is, in fact, God’s love letter to His people. As such, any passage in Scripture, when carefully considered within its context, can reveal some powerful things during this time of reflection.

So there you have it. Observation. Connection. Reflection.

Try it. 

What would you add to these steps, if any? How can you make this better? Share your thoughts below! 🙂

Three Things I Learnt from Fasting for 72 Hours

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If you are reading this, it means that I’m dead, or am in the process of dying.

I can’t take it anymore..

Need………food…..

But let’s not kid ourselves. I love food WAY too much to part with it.

So I decided, instead, to participate in a cellphone/social media fast for 72 hours facilitated by the New Life Fellowship on the campus of Andrews University.

Here are three things I learnt from this experience:

The beauty of awareness

I found myself being intentionally aware throughout the day. Moments which may have been lost while being distracted by my phone were instead noticed and cherished.

My mom has a favorite mantra for us: “Be in the situation!” I’m glad that it finally got to my head, even if it was only for 72 hours!

I realized how many moments I had previously dismissed or passed over because of my preoccupation with a text or a tweet.

The fast also sensitized me to a special sense of awareness of the Spirit of God. The lack of ‘noise’ allowed me to tune in to the voice of God concerning my ministries, my relationship with others, and my connection with Him.

The fast was a much needed “comma” in the run-on sentence of my life where I could pause for reflection and assessment.

The bliss of prayer

Prayer had become so routine and mechanical for me. I would talk to God in the morning and send him “prexts” (“prayer texts”) throughout the day in my mind when I needed him to come through.
Since the fast, however, I had more time to talk to God just for the sake of talking to Him. Tough times of temptation instinctively would lead me to talk to Him, often out loud.

The fast led me to realize that prayer doesn’t have to be a calling bell for a cosmic butler, but can indeed be a conversation with a caring father.

The bane of dependence

I chose the phone/social media fast precisely because it would hurt. And hurt it.
I felt it more during the final moments of the fast, when I would want to tweet something, update my Facebook status, or text my fiancé.

When I wasn’t able to do any of this, I did feel vulnerable and, or, lost at times. I soon discerned that this was simply one example of many things I was already dependent upon; the fast helped me assess the accouterments which I had acquired and the tenacity with which I was holding on to them.

I would encourage a fast for any serious Christian who wants to take a closer look at themselves, and go farther in their relationship with their Savior.

Here’s a 5-step process that worked for me:

Step 1: Identify things in your life that you simply cannot live without.

Step 2: Prayerfully choose one of them.

Step 3: Delineate a reasonable period of time for your fast from that thing.

Step 4: Do it.

Step 5: Journal what you have learned about yourself, about others, and about God.

Who’s going to do it? If you want to challenge yourself, leave a comment below with what you are choosing to fast from!

4 Things That Kept Our Long-distance Relationship Going for 4 Years.

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You know what’s super awkward?

Excitedly inquiring someone how their significant other is when they’ve totally broken up with them and currently hate their guts.

Happened to me. More times than I care to admit.

In a society where people change their partners like they change their socks, it’s not every day you meet someone who’s been dating the same person for more than a year, let alone do it over long distance.

This past Friday ( September 4th, 2015), Elynn and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary. It is exceptionally special since we have endured most of it being miles apart.

So, we’re like… unicorns in that respect. Rare and stuff.

Here are 4 things that has kept us from killing each other during these past 4 years:

1) Commitment

Someone once shared the following statement with me:

“It’s not the love that keeps the commitment; it’s the commitment that keeps the love.”

This sentiment couldn’t be truer in our relationship. Since we were physically apart for most of our relationship, we had to rely more on the commitment we had for each other rather than on the love we showed each other.

We also saw commitment as a muscle that needed to be exercised through love when we were in the same place. The more intentionally we loved each other when we were together, the stronger our commitment was when we were apart.

I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that there were times, many times, where this commitment was tested either through internal struggles or external circumstances. A quick glance at the conflicts we’ve had in the past, however, reminded us of one thing:

Our conflicts were the flames in which our commitment was forged.

“Yea right. That’s cute and all, but conflicts wrecked our relationship, bro.”

I would agree with you. And I would want you to read till the end of the post. Because without #4, the above sentence is mush.

2) Communication

If our relationship was a body, communication might as well be oxygen.

Maintaining consistent communication was and still is a priority in our relationship. The times where we failed to communicate were inarguably some of the hardest times for us. Prioritizing communication early on taught us a few things:

  1. How we say it is as important as what we say. Approach is as important as content.
  2. Don’t take it personally unless specified.
  3. Affirmation is currency. The more you have, the more you can give and the better you feel.
  4. Listening is everything.
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Consistent, effective, and honest communication was, and still continues to be, a life line to us.

3) Consideration

Our long distance relationship amplified both strengths as well as weaknesses. We celebrated our wins,  but we also over-analyzed our shortcomings at times. The strain caused by this sensitized us to each other’s proclivities to extents where we were frustrated with each other.

We realized early on that we had to assume the best of each other especially when things looked bleak. Jumping into conclusions is far easier than struggling to understand, but we realized that the quicker we learnt that, the easier it became for both of us in the long run.

How did this look like in our relationship?

When she didn’t text me for hours on end, I had to recognize that it’s not because she didn’t value me, but because she probably couldn’t text.

She had to realize that my lack of affirmation after a heated conversation didn’t come from a place of malice but of mere mindlessness.

And I can go on. The point is that we had to consider the best interest of the other to maintain a healthy relationship.

4) Christ

Glad you read up till this point. Or maybe you cheated and just jumped to #4 from #1.

At any rate, here’s that sentence I used earlier:

“our conflicts were the flames in which our commitment was forged.”

The flames are necessary for the forging. But if the forgery is left without a forger – one who is responsible for the forging – the flames can be counter-productive, and, in many cases, even dangerous.

The Forger in our relationship was also a carpenter at one point. He knows what type of treatment removes debris and purifies the substance at the same time. He knows where we are the weakest and where we thrive. He knows our end from the beginning and has been shaping us to be His masterpiece on display.

Without Him, all the forging would have melted us by now. We are glad that is not the case.

Reciprocal commitment, consistent communication, careful consideration and Christ has kept us going for 4 years.

Looking forward to 400 more. 🙂

The Really, Great, Fantastic, News about… Guilt!

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Guilt sucks.

Nobody likes to feel guilty.

Maybe you’re still holding on to guilt from something you’ve done in the past.

Maybe you are expecting someone to feel guilty for something they did.

Maybe you’re sick and tired feeling it every.single.time you choose to do “it.”

No matter who you are, and what you’ve done, let me be the first one to tell you this:

Guilt is good.

Guilt is liberating.

Guilt is awesome.

Now I didn’t think like this till I read the following sentence by Ellen White in her book, Steps to Christ, which shoved me down a rabbit hole from whence cometh the following thoughts. If you struggle with me during the first part of this post, I assure you’ll breathe in the next.

There are way too many people holding on to guilt or chained by it. If that is you, please keep reading. If not, still keep reading. 🙂

Here we go:

The Father loved us, not because of the great propitiation, but he provided the propitiation because He loved us” ( SC, 14).

As rhymy and cool sounding as this sentence was, I couldn’t help but wonder:

What on earth is a “propitiation?”

Looked it up. This is how Webster’s Dictionary defines it: To propitiate means to “gain or regain the favor or goodwill of.”

The context points out that Jesus Christ is the great propitiation given to man. The Son of God was given to gain the favor of God for fallen man. This is utterly profound. Let’s consider what this really means lest we gloss over this quickly.

In all fairness, the one who initiates and makes propitiation for the other is the abuser or perpetrator, not the abused or the victim. It is the abuser’s responsibility to take the blame squarely on his/her shoulders and propitiate. But according to the above sentence (and Scripture), God provided his only son – innocent, blameless, and sinless- as a propitiation to us.

But how can the innocent, blameless, sinless Son of God be made unto a “propitiation” for wicked, shameful, blameworthy lives?

The apostle Paul comes in clutch in 2 Corinthians 5:21:

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

In short, Jesus was made a sin offering for us by God. Jesus chose to take up the shame, blame, and pain that was mine, onto Him.
As one of my friends once mentioned, Jesus is the only being who chose to be born, but did that only after choosing to die.

So if Jesus chose to take the pain, shame, and blame of my sin on the cross, I don’t have to take it anymore! Because, according to Paul, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ – those who have chosen themselves over to be molded and restored to the likeness of Christ.

I am in Christ by grace through faith. He lives in me through the Holy Spirit. But I am not exempt from the weaknesses of my flesh as long as I’m in this side of heaven. I can still choose to sin if I want to. So when you and I choose to do something that is contrary to the will of God? The immediate response is guilt. And it sucks. Right?

Wrong.

It doesn’t suck.

Guilt is great.

Here’s where I connect the “what” of the first part to the “so what” in the second.

I hope it’s clear that Jesus ALREADY took my pain, shame, and blame onto himself at the cross. I have chosen to be IN Christ. When I choose to sin, therefore, even though it’s my responsibility, I don’t take the blame for it anymore.

Jesus does. Jesus takes the blame, shame, and pain.

The Christ in me takes the blame for my action. The Christ in me feels the hurt, the shame, and the blame. We kid ourselves when we think that the guilt we feel is our guilt. If we really felt our guilt in all its severity and substance, we couldn’t handle it. We would be dead.

Don’t believe me? Look at the cross. My guilt crushed Him. My guilt killed Him.  Not His.

This leads to the seminal point of this post:

Guilt is the apology of Christ in me.

When I am in Christ, The “feeling” of guilt I feel is actually not my guilt at all; what I feel is actually the guilt of Christ in me. The “guilt” I feel, is my guilt that Christ took on himself, blaring from the megaphone of the cross and echoing in the chambers of my heart with a soft whisper:  “I… am.. sorry..”

Jesus Christ, our Eternal Elder Brother, came not just to save us, but to identify with us. As our forever Pastor in heaven, he relates to us – not just in our holiness but also in our brokenness. The guilt I feel is him identifying with me – the voice of Him who was treated as we deserve so that we can treated as he deserves.

The more I am connected to the Christ in me, the more I hear his apology. Conversely, the less I am connected to Him, the less I feel his pain.

That’s why guilt is good. Because the intensity of your guilt is proportional to your connectivity to Christ. The more guilt you feel, the less you need to be concerned about your standing with God.

But Satan knows that too. Therefore, he has a single item on his to-do list every single day:

Misrepresent God.

This is his Modus Operandi, game plan, and reason for existence. When you choose to sin, he capitalizes on our culpability and downloads into our system a series of lies:

This is your fault”

“You should be ashamed of yourself.”

“You are worthless.”

“God can’t forgive you. This is too much.”

“How many times can you fall? God is tired of you.”

Do you think God can ever love you after what you did?”

When you choose to believe these lies, you begin to act according to them. Your attitudes towards yourself and God are fueled by your thoughts. The focus is on self. Another one bites the dust.

But guilt is good news! It is the voice of Jesus inviting you to come back to his arms open wide. It is the voice of a loving father who is waiting to embrace you, not condemn you. It is the voice of an elder brother who is waiting to give you a high-five and encourage you for getting back up.

Guilt provides you the opportunity to glorify God by returning back to him.

So dear reader, I don’t what you have gone through. I don’t know what you have done. I don’t know how you feel. But I do know that God has already paid the price for you and his grace is ever present for those who are willing to receive it. As Jerry Bridges puts it, your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the need of God’s grace, and your best days are never so good that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace.

In Christ, you are so connected to him; So much so that you literally feel his aching heart longing for you.

Still feel guilty? Good. Run to him. He is waiting for you.

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How to Abuse Your Relationship With God.

girl-hair-meadow-403I have to admit.

Sometimes I think God is in an abusive relationship with me.

I get it. “Abuse” is a word loaded with paper trails, court appeals, and restraining orders. It does have baggage. But when taken at face value, to abuse simply means to misuse, or use improperly.

In that vein of thought, here are three ways in which you and I can ab-use our relationship with God.

Hopefully you don’t resonate.

1) Talk to him only when you need something.

Dr.Allan Walshe, my professor from my youth and young adult class, laid this gem on us:

“Requests are a part of prayer, but they are not the heart of prayer.”

He further explained that the heart of prayer is a relationship – a sincere, singular commitment to a personal God who knows you and longs to be known.

This was paradigm-shifting because prayer, for the most part, had been nothing but a calling bell for my Cosmic Butler.
It’s usually my 911 line for a bruise all the way to a breakup. Yes, I do season my communication with the occasional pre-meal grace. Yes, I do thank him for that miraculous A.  But prayer is still optional communication. I need it when I need God.

Yes. God does want us to come to Him with our requests and desires. As a matter of fact, he’d rather have us to come to Him than anywhere else. But we diminish the function of prayer when we relegate it to a mere transaction. Check out what Aunty White had to say about prayer:

Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him” (SC, 93).

God doesn’t want to be used. He longs to be loved. I’ll do well in trying to remind myself of that daily. Today, did I talk to him when there was nothing for me to ask him? Did I take some time today to tell him how great He is just because? Did I talk to him as I do to a close friend?

I wonder how our marriages and relationships would fair if we only talked to our partners only when we need something from them.

2) Enjoy the privileges of the commitment while ignoring the responsibilities of it.

When I join a company, I am made privy to two things: My membership privileges and the company contract. I can enjoy these privileges as long as I’m a member of the company, but the moment my choices conflict with the company contract, I may potentially lose my privileges as well as my membership.

Enjoying the privileges of my company while ignoring its responsibilities is a sure way to get fired. Yet when it comes to my company and commitment to God, the same rules remarkably do not seem to apply.

The privileges of Christianity are many. We are called to enjoy gifts like grace, peace, community, purpose, strength, joy and eternal life among others. But while we do that, we are concurrently called to uphold the responsibilities of Christianity such as discipleship, love, sacrifice, service, and join in with the missio dei of seeking and saving the lost.

Unfortunately many of us want to enjoy the crown without bearing the cross.
We let Jesus do all the dirty work while we get to enjoy his spoils. The German theologian and activist Dietrich Bonhoeffer, referring to this as “cheap grace”, galvanized his sentiments with the following definition found in his epoch-making book, the cost of discipleship:

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” 

Have mercy.

Have I enjoyed the privileges of salvation while ignoring the responsibility to my Savior? How have I done that done that today?

Salvation is free but not cheap. The price tag is still high. What then should be our response to the One who paid it all?

3) Ask him to modify your behavior without transforming your life.

The overarching meta-narrative of scripture begins with man created in the image of God and ends with the complete restoration of that image in man where the old order of things has been replaced and transformed into a new one.

The apostle Paul mentions this new order in his letter to the Corinthians:

“if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. The old things passed away, behold, new things have come.”

In order to effectuate this, he exhorts the church in Rome not to conform to the patterns of this world, but instead be transformed by the renewing of their minds.

Scripture is replete with references which convey the necessity of a total soul transformation. God seems to be asking more of his people because he wants to do more. And yet I still find myself asking him to change certain parts of my life not realizing that God is more interested in transforming all of it.

But is it wrong to ask God to give me more patience? Is it wrong to consult him for my weaknesses? I think not.  However, I think I’m missing the point when behavior modification takes precedence over a desire for life transformation.

The ultimate end of a relationship with God is God Himself. He wants us to see him face to face and to enjoy Him in an unadulterated atmosphere of holiness. This requires us to be changed and transformed into His likeness in order for us to withstand His glory in eternity.

Then what about our behaviors? When God transforms the life, behaviors are more than modified – they are repurposed.

These are three of the many ways I think I have abused my relationship with God. What about you? Have you found yourself in a similar or different situation? If you care to share, leave a comment below!

The Single Most Important Choice You Can Make RIGHT NOW to Grow in Your Relationship with God.

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What’s the most important choice you can make right now to grow spiritually?

If I were to tell you, you probably wouldn’t even believe it.

It is so simple, so unsophisticated, so candid that you might even kick yourself for not realizing it.

At least that’s what I did when I first realized it.

If you’re reading this, you are probably one of those people who have vowed to spend more time with God in 2015. Maybe you are sick and tired of being sick and tired of your relationship with Him. Maybe it worries you that your relationship with God has been relegated to a prayer meeting, one worship service, and one church service per week.

If you are not, that’s ok. I’m going to let you know this anyway.

Here it is:

The single most important choice you make RIGHT NOW to grow in your relationship with God this year is to be aware.

Did you catch that?

The one thing needed to start, improve, or deepen your relationship with God this year is awareness.

The sound of those wheels and cogs turning in your head is almost deafening, so allow me to unpack this concept.

If there is a resounding refrain God has been trying to sing toward mankind throughout history, it would be the following stanza:

“I am with you.”

The story of God as mentioned in the Bible starts with God “in the beginning” with the first humans at the Garden of Eden. It ends with God promising that He will be with them in the earth made new. The story of Jesus in the New Testament starts with God declaring that He is now physically and spiritually with man. The last thing Jesus mentioned before ascending to heaven was a promise to always be with his disciples, even to the every end of the age. Time and time again, God has revealed Himself in various ways to various people and has reminded them that He is and will be with them.

It’s also evident that whenever God is with people, they change.

God revealed Himself to Moses through a burning bush and Moses was never the same. God displayed himself through the elements of nature to Elijah and he was never the same. God interrupted Saul’s trip to Damascus and when he regained back his sight, he was never the same. The disciples of Jesus, when they experienced God through the Holy Spirit, were never the same. These are some of the many exemplars throughout the story of God where people are changed and transformed because of the presence of God.

But here’s a question:

As disciples of Christ, if God’s presence is with us all the time, why aren’t we experiencing change? Why don’t we seem to be growing in our relationship with Him? Why are we not experiencing spiritual growth as much as we hoped we would?

Here’s the answer: it’s because we are not aware of His presence most of the time.

We live in a world of distractions; a world that is vying for our attention while sapping our attention spans. According to the results of a survey, if this blogpost didn’t get your attention within the first 3 seconds of you clicking it, you probably wouldn’t be reading this sentence. Ads, posts, and tweets have gotten shorter yet flashier to accommodate to our ever changing media interests. Our attention is their currency.

If attention is currency, God is broke.

God is not getting all the attention He deserves from His professed people, and if you’re anything like me, you may still be struggling with paying attention to God. But the sooner we realize it, the better off you and I would be. Giving God attention is being aware of His presence and that makes all the difference to our spiritual lives.

Moses was aware of God’s presence and he was changed.

Elijah was aware that it was God who was speaking and he was changed.

Saul was aware that God was with him and he was changed.

The disciples were aware of God’s presence and they were changed.

One of my professors summed it up this way.

The presence of God + awareness = growth

The disciple of Christ, Paul, towards the end of his life wrote that it is God who works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose.
God is with us and in us working. All the time. But spiritual growth is cooperative act! God does the growing when we are aware of Him and is work in our lives. It’s only when we are aware of His presence, through prayer, reflection, study of His word, or in service to others, that we take the most crucial step in growing towards a deeper relationship with Him.

More awareness, more growth. Less awareness, less growth.

Do you want to grow deeper in your relationship with God?

Leave this page, close your eyes, and be aware.

 What about you? What are you going to do this year to become more aware of God’s presence in your life? Leave a comment below!