Christianity 201

June 5, 2020

When Following Christ, Intellectual Depth is not Spiritual Depth

People who read a blog with a title like Christianity 201 often crave spiritual depth. They should have recent to expect to receive just that.

  • A teacher who presents historical background we’ve never heard.
  • A preacher who exhorts his audience to strive for higher levels of commitment.
  • An academic who connects the dots from text “A” to text “B” and both of them to text “C.”
  • An author whose preferred style means that every page is heavy with deep truths.
  • A blogger who mines the classic Christian writers and shines new light on those lost works.

And I am in favor of all five of those.

But what is true depth? What does it mean to say he (or she) is a “deep Christian?” Does it mean academic honors, or research ability, or literary giftedness, or a visionary spirit, or having your doctrine correct?

I don’t think so. Otherwise spiritual achievement would be reserved for intellectuals. That’s actually what many Christian websites communicate. People read them and say, “Yes, I could be that spiritual, but only if I were smarter.” In other words, they regard depth as something that’s out of their league.

The name of this blog, Christianity 201, implies that kind of depth. And often, I must confess, I default to writers and articles which stimulate the spiritual intellect.

But talk to someone who has walked for decades with God, and you’ll see something else at work. Yes, there is a love for his word, the scriptures. But there is also, simply put, a love for Him.

Again, Spiritual depth isn’t depth of understanding, or depth of communicating truths, rather, it’s about depth of relationship with God; or depth of intimacy with Jesus. You see a person and say, “That person really knows God.” Or conversely, “That person is truly known of God.” Or better, “That person really loves God.”

And what happens in the mind, manifests itself in the life, and can be observed in one’s character. I think to be that person, who is regarded as a “deep spiritual thinker” you want to be doing a different set of things:

  1. Try to live your life by the highest ethical standard, in ways both visible and invisible. Start today by going through your e-mail and finding personal letters from people that you never answered. Or phone calls you never returned. Or a bill you’ve never yet paid. Or a situation where you’ve never sought forgiveness, or forgiven the other. I believe strongly that much of our standing before God consists in doing right things. That includes sins of omission. Then this becomes a natural lifestyle. “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4: 17 NASB)
  2. Aim for excellence. I am so very tired of people whose work for the kingdom of God is “just enough to get by.” In the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve seen people spend hours supposedly studying the great works of Christian literature, but then their blog post about them is full of careless spelling errors. They are renowned as a true worshiper of God, but their guitar is never properly tuned. “‘If a man dedicates his house as something holy to the Lord, the priest will judge its quality as good or bad. Whatever value the priest then sets, so it will remain.” (Leviticus 27: 14 NIV) That’s an interesting chapter to study; also consider, “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” (I Cor 3: 12-13 NIV)
  3. Humility. Some of the most spiritual people I know do not believe that they are. Again, the Christian internet tends to have its own “stars” and many of these people really believe the stuff about themselves that’s online. But again, truly ‘deep’ Christians never see themselves as such. They are aware of their personal shortcomings. Sometimes Paul found it necessary, by way of introduction, to provide his listeners with his spiritual pedigree, or spiritual resumé. But then he goes on; “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Phil 3: 8-9 ESV).

So let’s summarize this in a prayer:

Lord show me if I’ve directly or indirectly missed the mark of your highest (and deepest) calling through sins I’ve committed and sins of omission. Also, help me to my best Lord, that’s for sure, but help me to aim for the best. Don’t let me offer up anything either to you or for you that has less value than I am capable of giving. Finally, in whatever spiritual community or faith family I find myself, don’t let me start to believe my own press. When others say something good about me, let me know when to give You the credit, and when to correct their impression.

Conclusion:

We need to live our Christian lives not out of deep reasoning, or deep understanding of the things of God; rather, we need to live out of a deep conviction that comes from walking closely with God.

April 7, 2016

Ice Cube or Iceberg?

Today we return to the writing of Andy Elms from the UK ministry Great Big Life. What follows is from a series of emails to which I subscribe, I’ve condensed several days into one here.

Matthew 6:1-2 (NKJV)
Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
So what do I mean by “Are you an Iceberg or an Ice cube?” Both are made of the same basic material – frozen water – but they are two very different experiences. An ice cube floats on the water and if you hit it with something it moves; an iceberg has a tip that sticks out of the water with the majority or major part of it under the waves, unseen. The difference comes when something hits an iceberg – it does not move; in fact, as HMS Titanic found out, what hits it will sink.

icebergSo much of modern Christianity seems to be about what happens in the sight of others (especially worship leading and preaching). It seems that a lot of people want to just do Christianity that is with others and seen by others; everything about their Christian experience is ‘above the waves’. Yet I believe the Bible encourages us to build something stronger and deeper than this. Like the man who built his house upon the rock, we are to build a walk with God and an outworking of our Christianity that has great depth. By this I mean a whole lot happening under the waterline of our life, where man does not see but God does.

It’s when we take time to develop what we have with God ‘under the waves’ of what others can see or hear that we build a faith walk that is strong and unmovable, so when an enemy ship or random life attack comes against us we do not sink or float off, rather we cause that which came against us to sink while we remain strong and unshaken.

[The above text] touches this concept when it talks about how we are to give: it instructs us to have an ‘under the water, unseen by man’ reality to how we give. When we know in our hearts that man may not ever know what we have done and we may never get their applause, but God does see and know, we can know we will get His reward; and don’t tell me for a minute that His reward won’t be far superior than that which man gives.

Matthew 6:5-6 (NKJV)
And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

…God is interested in building the parts of you that are not seen by others, things like your character and integrity, because He knows as you daily grow in who you are, in the unseen, who you are ‘above the waves’ will naturally grow and strengthen too.

In the next part of Jesus’ teaching He looks at prayer, and the whole thought of ‘iceberg or ice cube’ continues to be very relevant. When it comes to prayer, is there a part of your prayer life that is never heard or witnessed by others, reserved just for the audience of One? With so much of today’s performance-driven Christianity we have become great at praying eloquent prayers when others are around, but God is interested in what is happening when it is just you and Him.

[The above text] instructs us concerning our personal prayer walk with God – that we are to all have a prayer place that we go to where no other person can hear what we are saying or see what we are doing. Like the ‘below the waters’ part of an iceberg, this place of personal prayer should be the largest part of what we have going on in the area of our prayer and communication with God. If it isn’t we can easily become ‘professional prayers’ who pray to be heard and given applause and appreciation by man. The problem is that those who pray to be heard by others have received all of the reward they are going to get. Those, however, who pray not to be heard by man are told that God Himself gives the reward for what they have done that no one else saw.

I hope this encourages you today to grow a prayer life ‘beneath the waves’ of what man observes, to have a secret place where it comes to communicating with God, to build a depth in prayer knowing that where there is depth “deep can call out to deep” (Psalm 47:2), and Father God wants to talk to you deeply.

Matthew 6:16-18 (NKJV)
Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

…Here Jesus uses the same principle but this time picks on the subject of fasting. He says when we fast, we are to do it in such a way as to not let others know. Don’t do it in an ‘above the waves’ fashion, rather do it in such a way that none watching you would even know.

I am sure like me you have met people who are fasting and they just can’t help themselves, they just have to let you know. They whisper quietly, “I am fasting, don’t tell anyone”, or they actually don’t need to say anything, the facial expressions say it all! The reality is, the minute they let you know they should probably give up because the power of fasting, according to today’s text, is in others not knowing. Don’t get me wrong, when others find out that’s fine; its when you do it for others to know you are doing it that you have problems, and all you are doing is just starving yourself.

Jesus teaches us to wash our face, put the make up on, put gel in our hair, and walk around in such a way that only God, who sees what happens under the waterline of your life, can see what you are doing and why you are doing it. When fasting is done to be seen by the audience of only One – like giving and prayer – He then takes the responsibility to reward you openly. The person who fasts to been seen by others better enjoy the applause they get, because that’s all they’re getting.

Let me challenge you to continue to grow the part of you that is ‘beneath the waterline of your life’, knowing that this is the part He rewards and this is the part that makes you strong and unsinkable. Let me say again, when shallow Christians who have no depth have a collision with life’s various problems and situations they simply float away. But people with depth don’t float away, they remain standing strong, weathering every storm that comes along. Grow and invest in the person you are beneath the waves!

June 29, 2015

Redefining What it Means to be ‘Spiritually Deep’

People who read a blog with a title like Christianity 201 crave spiritual depth. A teacher who presents historical background we’ve never heard. A preacher who exhorts his audience to strive for higher levels of commitment. An academic who connects the dots from text “A” to text “B” and both of them to text “C.” An author whose preferred style means that every page is heavy with deep truths. A blogger who mines the classic Christian writers and shines new light on those lost works.

And I am in favor of all five of those.

But what is true depth? What does it mean to say he (or she) is a “deep Christian?” Does it mean academic honors, or research ability, or literary giftedness, or a visionary spirit, or having your doctrine correct?

I don’t think so. Otherwise spiritual achievement would be reserved for intellectuals. That’s actually what many Christian websites communicate. People read them and say, “Yes, I could be that spiritual, but only if I were smarter.” In other words, they regard depth as something that’s out of their league.

The name of this blog, Christianity 201, implies that kind of depth. I should be quoting Spurgeon right about now, or making an observation from reading the New Testament today in Greek (which, for the record, I don’t read.)

I think there’s something much more important at stake, but something much more commonplace. I think to be that person, who is regarded as a “deep spiritual thinker” you want to be doing a different set of things:

  1. Try to live your life by the highest ethical standard, in ways both visible and invisible. Start today by going through your e-mail and finding personal letters from people that you never answered. Or phone calls you never returned. Or a bill you’ve never yet paid. I believe strongly that much of our standing before God consists in doing right things. That includes sins of omission. “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4: 17 NASB)
  2. Aim for excellence. I am so very tired of people whose work for the kingdom of God is “just enough to get by.” They spend hours supposedly studying the great works of Christian literature, but then their blog post on them is full of careless spelling errors. They are renowned as a true worshiper of God, but their guitar is never tuned. “‘If a man dedicates his house as something holy to the Lord, the priest will judge its quality as good or bad. Whatever value the priest then sets, so it will remain.” (Leviticus 27: 14 NIV) That’s an interesting chapter to study; also consider, “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” (I Cor 3: 12-13 NIV)
  3. Humility. Some of the most spiritual people I know do not believe that they are. Again, the Christian internet tends to have its own “stars” and many of these people really believe the stuff about themselves that’s online. But again, truly ‘deep’ Christians never see themselves as such. They are aware of the shortcomings. Sometimes Paul found it necessary, by way of introduction, to provide his listeners with his spiritual pedigree, or spiritual resumé. But then he goes on; “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Phil 3: 8-9 ESV).

So let’s summarize this in a prayer:

Lord show me if I’ve directly or indirectly wronged anyone today. Remind me if I’ve missed the mark of your highest (and deepest) calling through sins I’ve committed and sins of omission. Also, help me to my best Lord, that’s for sure, but help me to aim for the best. Don’t let me offer up anything either to you or for you that has less value than I am capable of giving. Finally, in whatever spiritual community or faith family I find myself, don’t let me start to believe my own press. When others say something good about me, let me know when to give You the credit, and when to correct their impression.

June 2, 2011

Going Deep, Staying Real

Today, a reprint from June of last year…

The present Christian online culture craves spiritual depth. A teacher who presents historical background we’ve never heard. A preacher who exhorts his audience to strive for higher levels of commitment. An academic who connects the dots from text “A” to text “B” and both of them to text “C.” An author whose preferred style means that every page is heavy with deep truths. A blogger who mines the classic Christian writers and shines new light on those lost works.

And I am in favor of all five of those.

But what is true depth? What does it mean to say he (or she) is a “deep Christian?” Does it mean academic honors, or research ability, or literary giftedness, or a visionary spirit, or having your doctrine correct?

I don’t think so. Otherwise spiritual achievement would be reserved for intellectuals. That’s actually what many Christian websites communicate. People read them and say, “Yes, I could be that spiritual, but only if I were smarter.” In other words, they regard depth as something that’s out of their league.

The name of this blog, Christianity 201, implies that kind of depth. I should be quoting Spurgeon right about now, or making an observation from reading the New Testament today in Greek (which, for the record, I don’t read.)

I think there’s something much more important at stake, but something much more commonplace. I think to be that person, who is regarded as a “deep spiritual thinker” you want to be doing a different set of things:

  1. Try to live your life by the highest ethical standard, in ways both visible and invisible. Start today by going through your e-mail and finding personal letters from people that you never answered. Or phone calls you never returned. Or a bill you’ve never yet paid. I believe strongly that much of our standing before God consists in doing right things. That includes sins of omission. “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4: 17 NASB)
  2. Aim for excellence. I am so very tired of people whose work for the kingdom of God is “just enough to get by.” They spend hours supposedly studying the great works of Christian literature, but then their blog post on them is full of careless spelling errors. They are renowned as a true worshiper of God, but their guitar is never tuned. “‘If a man dedicates his house as something holy to the Lord, the priest will judge its quality as good or bad. Whatever value the priest then sets, so it will remain.” (Leviticus 27: 14 NIV) That’s an interesting chapter to study; also consider, “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” (I Cor 3: 12-13 NIV)
  3. Humility. Some of the most spiritual people I know do not believe that they are. Again, the Christian internet tends to have its own “stars” and many of these people really believe the stuff about themselves that’s online. But again, truly ‘deep’ Christians never see themselves as such. They are aware of the shortcomings. Sometimes Paul found it necessary, by way of introduction, to provide his listeners with his spiritual pedigree, or spiritual resumé. But then he goes on; “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Phil 3: 8-9 ESV).

So let’s summarize this in a prayer:

“Lord show me if I’ve directly or indirectly wronged anyone today. Remind me if I’ve missed the mark of your highest (and deepest) calling through sins I’ve committed and sins of omission. Also, help me to my best Lord, that’s for sure, but help me to aim for the best. Don’t let me offer up anything either to you or for you that has less value than I am capable of giving. Finally, in whatever spiritual community or faith family I find myself, don’t let me start to believe my own press. When others say something good about me, let me know when to give You the credit, and when to correct their impression.”

August 25, 2010

Worship Leader Strategy

For a blog that was created to avoid the topical tangents of my other blog, I do, in fact, end up talking about worship many times.   Maybe that’s not a bad thing.   Even if you don’t sing or play an instrument, to what degree are you known as a ‘worshiper’?

The other day my mother mentioned to me in a phone call that even though her voice has aged, on a recent afternoon she wanted to sing a couple of songs to the Lord.  She got the concept that He was the audience.   She wanted to give Him that gift.

Doug Thorsvik writes the blog Strategic Song Selection which is read by other worship leaders.   What follows isn’t a regular post, but a special page he created in April ’09 on the subject of worship leaders having a well-planned strategy behind what they do.

As part of the Air Command and Staff College seminar I completed when I was in the Air Force, I took a correspondence elective course titled “On Vietnam”. The big idea I took away and the lesson that has stuck with me is: tactically the U.S. Military had little trouble winning individual battles; however, strategically the U.S. ended up losing the war. Following those tactical defeats, our opponents strategically delayed the war through regular peace table talks until the lack of popular support for the war in America ultimately forced an end.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the military terms tactical and strategic here are brief definitions and examples:
Tactical: 3. of or pertaining to a maneuver or plan of action designed as an expedient toward gaining a desired end or temporary advantage. (Dictionary.com) Example: Desserts and junk food stimulate the taste buds with fleeting satisfaction.
Strategic: 4. Military. a. intended to render the enemy incapable of making war, as by the destruction of materials, factories, etc.: a strategic bombing mission. (Dictionary.com) Example: A balanced and nutritious diet makes good overall health and well being possible.

I wonder . . .

  • Does our approach to planning and choosing songs for individual worship services emphasize the tactical at the expense of the strategic?
  • Are we winning the battles, individual engaging church worship experiences, but losing the war, growing worshippers of depth, substance, and endurance?
  • Do we choose songs to serve believers at all times and for a lifetime, or is our concern limited to individual Sunday worship services?

Paul uses military concepts in Ephesians 6:10-18 as he talks about the armor of God. The passage is rich with potential applications using songs. For example, when he says: “18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests,” I would say strategic use of great prayer songs can help prepare believers to do just that.

What exactly does strategic song planning look like? A starting point is recognizing the difference between being tactical and strategic. It’s easy for the tyranny of the urgent (the next set list) to overshadow being strategic (taking a longer view).

Read more at Strategic Song Selection

August 24, 2010

Don’t Give Church Kids “Things”

A Christian bookstore in Anytown, U.S.A. …

Customer: I’m looking for something to give my Sunday School class on the first week; maybe some pencils or something…

Clerk: You know, kids are pretty high-tech these days, they’re not really impressed with pencils anymore and we’ve kinda stopped ordering them.

Customer: Well, what does that leave? How about some rubber stamp things, or stickers; or one time I got bookmarks with smiley faces…

Clerk: You know, forgive me for saying this, since I don’t know you well, but maybe you should just give them you.

Customer: I’m sorry. What was that?

Clerk: Maybe you should just give them yourself. Pour your life into them. Spend time listening to their stories. Invite them over to your house a few times.

Customer: Okay. I get that. But I really felt I was meant to come in and buy something here today.

Clerk: And so you should.  But invest in your own spiritual development. Build yourself up in God’s Word, and then, out of the overflow, you’ll have so much more to give your Sunday School students.

Customer: Like what?

Clerk: I don’t know. It will be different for each person. But something that challenges you to get deeper into Bible study, deeper into prayer, deeper into sacrificial giving, deeper into awareness of global missions, deeper into personal witness.

Customer: But that doesn’t directly benefit my Sunday School class.

Clerk: Actually it does directly. As you are being moved deeper into grace and deeper into knowledge; as you are being moved toward the cross; your kids will pick up on that spiritual momentum. They’ll be drawn into the current of spiritual motion that’s taking place.  It’s the best gift you can possibly give them.

June 23, 2010

Redefining “Deep”

The present Christian online culture craves spiritual depth.   A teacher who presents historical background we’ve never heard.   A preacher who exhorts his audience to strive for higher levels of commitment.   An academic who connects the dots from text “A” to text “B” and both of them to text “C.”  An author whose preferred style means that every page is heavy with deep truths.   A blogger who mines the classic Christian writers and shines new light on those lost works.

And I am in favor of all five of those.

But what is true depth?   What does it mean to say he (or she) is a “deep Christian?”   Does it mean academic honors, or research ability, or literary giftedness, or a visionary spirit, or having your doctrine correct?

I don’t think so.   Otherwise spiritual achievement would be reserved for intellectuals.   That’s actually what many Christian websites communicate.   People read them and say, “Yes, I could be that spiritual, but only if I were smarter.”   In other words, they regard depth as something that’s out of their league.

The name of this blog, Christianity 201, implies that kind of depth.   I should be quoting Spurgeon right about now, or making an observation from reading the New Testament today in Greek (which, for the record, I don’t read.)

I think there’s something much more important at stake, but something much more commonplace.    I think to be that person, who is regarded as a “deep spiritual thinker” you want to be doing a different set of things:

  1. Try to live your life by the highest ethical standard, in ways both visible and invisible.   Start today by going through your e-mail and finding personal letters from people that you never answered.  Or phone calls you never returned.   Or a bill you’ve never yet paid.   I believe strongly that much of our standing before God consists in doing right things. That includes sins of omission.     “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”  (James 4: 17 NASB)
  2. Aim for excellence. I am so very tired of people whose work for the kingdom of God is “just enough to get by.”   They spend hours supposedly studying the great works of Christian literature, but then their blog post on them is full of careless spelling errors.   They are renowned as a true worshiper of God, but their guitar is never tuned.   “‘If a man dedicates his house as something holy to the Lord, the priest will judge its quality as good or bad. Whatever value the priest then sets, so it will remain.” (Leviticus 27: 14 NIV) That’s an interesting chapter to study; also consider, “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.”  (I Cor 3: 12-13 NIV)
  3. Humility. Some of the most spiritual people I know do not believe that they are.   Again, the Christian internet tends to have its own “stars” and many of these people really believe the stuff about themselves that’s online.   But again, truly ‘deep’ Christians never see themselves as such.  They are aware of the shortcomings.   Sometimes Paul found it necessary, by way of introduction, to provide his listeners with his spiritual pedigree, or spiritual resumé.  But then he goes on; “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Phil 3: 8-9 ESV).

So let’s summarize this in a prayer:

“Lord show me if I’ve directly or indirectly wronged anyone today.  Remind me if I’ve missed the mark of your highest (and deepest) calling through sins I’ve committed and sins of omission.   Also, help me to my best Lord, that’s for sure, but help me to aim for the best.  Don’t let me offer up anything either to you or for you that has less value than I am capable of giving.   Finally, in whatever spiritual community or faith family I find myself, don’t let me start to believe my own press.   When others say something good about me, let me know when to give You the credit, and when to correct their impression.”

May 8, 2010

Using The Bible to Keep God at a Distance

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:35 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

I was very impressed with this analogy from David Paul Door’s blog.

There is a way to read the Bible that keeps God at an arm’s length. If you primarily read the Bible as a book of principles to follow and people to imitate then your relationship with God won’t be intimate, it will be contractual.

Why is this so?

In a contract whatever you put in is what you will expect to get back.  I pay my mortgage every month and after 30 years I expect the bank to hand me the deed of the property.  This relationship works because I don’t have the money to buy a house with cash.  And in exchange for some interest paid I get to be the full owner of the property.

But this does not create intimacy with the bank.  I actually don’t mind them fading into the background.  And on their end they don’t bother me unless I haven’t paid.

Do you see how a relationship with God can never be intimate when the interaction is based on these terms?  We think, “I put in obedience, He, in turn, blesses.” In this instance, our interaction with God can still be fervent, it just won’t be intimate.   There will be no love.

But when we begin to see the Bible as story of God’s blessing humanity, eve when they didn’t keep up their end of the bargain, something in our relationship changes.  The anger of “you owe me, God” is exchanged for humble gratitude.  The devastation of “I would’ve had more if I could’ve just been more obedient” turns into an exhilarating freedom and joy.

And who wouldn’t want to draw near to a God like that?