4 Practices I Do To Deepen The Presence of Christ In Me

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 in Blog | 1 comment

4 Practices I Do to Deepen The Presence of Christ In Me

It’s one of the most difficult Christian tenets for the non-Christian to believe:  Jesus is really present in you and me.  Yet Paul says clearly: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.  The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)  This verse depicts the depth of sacramental faith.  Jesus is really present in the life of the believer.

It shouldn’t be that difficult to grasp, I guess.  You’ve heard the truism – “You become who you hang with.”  When I spend time with you, you rub off on me.  Or as Carl Jung said, “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”

Presence changes you.  And the presence of Jesus in you should rub off some corners, smooth some creases, soften some words.  He must increase, I must decrease.

Thus these Four Practices.  Otherwise, I tend to lock Him in a pantry until Sunday…or Christmas.

1.     Read “The Practice of the Presence of God.”  I read this book at least once a year, sometimes twice.  It’s an ancient classic I didn’t discover until the early 1990’s.  Ever since then I annually read it to remind me to live in Jesus in the mundane.  His presence never deserts me, thus His ear never grows deaf nor His voice distant.  His presence never deserts me, thus where I am, He is.  This book has helped me appreciate every moment as holy, every believer as a sacrament.

2.     Use Baillie’s “A Diary of Private Prayer.”  A pastor I respect shared this with me and my wife.  She bought me a hardback used version and wrote all of my staff and families names on the appropriate pages.  If your birthdate is on April 1 or October 1, your name is written on the “First Day” morning page.  Thus when I pray one of Baillie’s stunning prayers, I also remember to pray for you.  You can thank my wife.

3.     Read through the Book of Acts.  While the book is descriptive and not prescriptive, it testifies to what God’s Spirit does when it moves into new peoples and places.  I’ve probably read this book almost 100 times over the last 27 years.  It’s a testimony to the power of the presence of Jesus in His people.  It has become my manifesto.

4.     Read through a Gospel.  I want to get to know Jesus, what He did, how He corrected, how He loved, how He lived.  I don’t read for understanding as much as I just read so the Word of Jesus gets into me.  So that Jesus gets into me.  I read the Gospels to give words to the presence of Christ already in me.  I want to know Jesus more deeply so that I depend on Him more fully.

What about you, how is the presence of Christ in you changing you?  And what do you do to deepen that presence?  I’d love to know.  Share in the comments below so that others can learn from your practices.

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Living Mercy

Posted by on Jan 8, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

When it comes to living mercy, there are 3 P’s of Mercy that you should put into practice:

Prayer (What should I pray?)
Provision (What can I provide?)
Presence (How can I be present?)

Everyone can pray something. Driving by the homeless man at the green light, driving by the accident on the freeway, driving by your neighbors who have a really great life (so they think). Prayer is a given when it comes to mercy.

Provision is a tad more involved but the flavors number at least 26. Try M’s: Meals from the neighbors, mouthful of compliments, memory book of photos. Or B’s: Babysitting so the folks get a break, bailing water after the busted pipe, broken-window repair (even if it wasn’t your son’s fault). This is not MIT level thinking. More like “see a need, fill a need.”

Presence, though, now there’s when mercy goes all-in. Presence means you’re present. You show up. You sit and wait and worry with the worriers. Or encourage with the courage-less. Presence doesn’t just send money or food or restaurant coupon. Presence provides a person. Presence provides you.

If you can do all 3, score. Fantastic. But you should strive for 2 out of 3 as your 2013 standard.  You and I were not originally designed to live for ourselves. Sin tricks us into thinking that’s where fulfillment is hidden. In reality, living for ourselves only leads to emptiness. Living for others, serving others, doing right by others, is fulfilling and invigorating. It rejuvenates and releases. It’s what we were made for.

When Jesus asks “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” He’s teaching us there is no neutrality when it comes to living mercy. No gray area. Failing to do good is evil. Seeing a need and doing nothing about it—no prayer, no provision, no presence—is not of Jesus.  No living mercy there.

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