I was asked this question a few years ago on an application and recently came across it my response … thought I would share it … feedback welcome.

In the final analysis this question is really one of awareness.  I have this crazy notion that God is the creator, redeemer and sustainer of all things, and as such he is always ever-present.  So then it comes to me to hear his voice and know his presence with me in those “all things.”  Therefore, I believe that there is no activity under heaven wherein I can’t significantly encounter God.  However, that may or may not be a pleasant encounter.  To some degree that depends on where my heart is towards him and the activity in which I am engaged when that encounter takes place.

For myself, I tend to encounter God significantly in the following ways: corporate worship and the Lord’s Supper, personal times of prayer and meditation, and reading the Scriptures with my children.  Taking communion together as a body is so rich and meaningful it is hard to not to encounter God in a significant manner.  The tactile nature of eating and drinking combined with the picture of one body made up of radically needy and broken people coming together to receive life and grace is a moving experience to me.  I consistently have personal prayer and Scripture meditation early in the morning partly because it helps me center myself first thing for the day but also because it is one of the few times the house is quiet enough to really sit in silence (I have three rowdy boys!).  Sometimes it feels empty and vain.  Sometimes I sense his presence and pleasure so that my soul is awakened to his work.  Showing up is the real battle.  My other consistent time of prayer is post-workout.  I’ve worked-out in some form or fashion my whole life and it something I really enjoy.  There is something significant for me to come to the end of my physical abilities and in exhaustion find his peace and presence.  Part of this experience is remembering that I am “from the dust and to the dust will return,” which is both very sobering and very hopeful in light of the gospel.  Reading and praying with my three boys has been one of the most life-giving activities for me in the last two years.  We read from “The Jesus Story Book Bible” and many times it is just too much to read aloud as I am overwhelmed with emotion at the simple beauty of God’s “never-ending, unfailing love” for his children.  Also the discipline of Scripture memorization with them has challenged me in the mental exercise of setting your mind to the truth of Scripture.  So these three ways for me represent the three mains spheres of life where God encounters me:  Church/community, personal prayer and meditation, and my family life.

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There has been a lot of banter about the Jesus is greater than religion video posted on youtube a while back.  And while Bethke (the cool dude in the video) brings up some good points he feeds into an idea that basically equates anything that smells like organized religion with everything that smells period.  Works great with the “I’m spiritual just not religious” crowd that feeds on the Golden Corral buffet of theology and spirituality.

I came across an old letter this week that helps the cynic in me to see the beauty and blessing that is the fellowship of those who, while broken, are committed to living out their faith together.  Around the year A.D. 130, roughly 100 years after the death of Christ, a well spoken Aristeides sent word to Emperor Hadrian regarding a growing sect known as Christians.  Here is part of what he wrote:

Now the Christians, O King…have the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ engraven on their hearts, and they observe, looking for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.  They commit neither adultery nor fornication; nor do they bear false witness.  They do not deny a deposit, nor covet other men’s goods; they honor father and mother, and love their neighbors; they give right judgment; and they do not worship idols in the form of man.  They do not unto others that which they would not have done unto themselves.  They comfort such as wrong them, and make friends of them.  They labor to do good to their enemies… As for their servants or handmaids, or their children if any of them has any, they persuade them to become Christians for the love that they have towards them; and when they have become so, they call them without distinction “brethren.” They despise not the widow, and grieve not the orphan.  He that hath distributeth liberally to him that hat not.  If they see a stranger, the bring him under their roof and rejoice over him, as if it were their own brother;  for they call themselves brethren, not after the flesh, but after the spirit and in God… And if they hear that any of their number is imprisoned or oppressed for the name of their Messiah, all of them provide for his needs, and if it is possible that he may be delivered, they deliver him. And if there is among them a man that is poor and needy, and they have not an abundance of necessities, they fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with their necessary food.  For Christ’s sake they are ready to lay down their lives. (A New Eusebius)

Let us live and love like that!

To paraphrase a wise professor I once had; “in our passion to proclaim Jesus to the world it only does harm to bite the hand that has fed you for 2000 years.”  Not only that but it’s speaking out against your own family large though their warts may be.  The overly individualized view of faith in America has an antidote, and it’s the scummy bath water of community that is being thrown out with the baby.