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You're Invited

"What do you seek?" Jesus had turned to ask the two disciples of John the Baptist who were following Him. John the Baptist had just told them that Jesus was the Lamb of God. Perhaps not sure how to respond, they asked Jesus "Rabbi, where are you staying?" Jesus then offered an invitation to them, "Come, and you will see."

Whether you are a Christian or not, you are invited to come and see. I doubt that Jesus' own disciples had it all figured out when they followed Him, but they were curious and hopeful. Things you read, listen to, and watch on this website are invitations for you to follow Jesus and learn from Him. Come, and you will see.

If you already know Jesus, you're invited to know Him better. If you do not know Jesus, then you're invited to get to know Him. Not forced, not pressured, but invited. Come and see.


 "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." John 17:3 NASU


And you're invited.

On this page you will find the things that I wish I knew early in my relationship with Jesus.

 

If you aren't yet a Christian, don't let that stop you - this is available to you also. My hope for you is that soon you will come to the place where you can find faith in Him. Meanwhile, come and see. Follow. Take part. Ask God to help you find a church or a community of believers and then go where He leads. He won't strike you with lightening or anything, I promise! He wants a relationship with you too much for that. As Eugene Peterson would whisper over his young son after he fell asleep, "God loves you. He is on your side. He is coming after you. He is relentless."

When you are ready for relationship with Jesus, He'll be there. Respond to His invitation for relationship: "Dear Jesus, I give You my life. I place my hope and trust in You. Thank You for dying in my place so that I can have new life together with You. Amen."

The salvation that Jesus offers isn't just for deliverance from Hell, or into heaven when you die. It is for an exciting life lived with God in the here and now. An abundant life immersed in the Spirit of God lived joyfully with others that know Him too. Welcome to the life we share. Welcome to our God-bathed life!

Questions and doubt are okay. It is human. God can handle your questions and doubts. Feel free to take them directly to Him. Speak with God about them. He won't be angry. He understands us. It is good for a relationship to air and discuss questions and doubt.

 

It is okay to ask others about your questions and doubts, too. Find a pastor or Christian leader or Bible study teacher or the like to discuss it with. If they criticize you for it, their bad. Find another one to discuss it with.

Do you want to believe in Jesus but find that you lack faith to do so? That is okay. You can pray to Him and ask Him for faith to believe in Him. Jesus is real, even though you may not have faith in Him yet.

In Matthew 7 Jesus is talking about how God provides what is good. But sometimes we need to seek, not simply ask or try once and then give up. In that context He says to keep asking and it will be given, keep seeking and you will find, keep knocking and it will be opened to you. You may need to keep asking, seeking, knocking, but you will find the faith to believe in Jesus if you are seeking truth. The Holy Spirit is already working on you to help you believe. That is where your desire to believe comes from.

Perhaps you want to believe in Jesus but aren't ready to set aside a sinful lifestyle. If that is you then I have two pieces of great news for you!

The first is that God does not expect you to clean yourself up to come to Him and invite Him into your life. In reality, without Him you don't possess the power to clean yourself up anyway. But once you come to Him and invite Him into your life, then the Holy Spirit will empower life change in you. It won't be up to just you.

The second piece of great news is that God is deeply fond of you regardless. Jesus didn't lay down His life for a cleaned-up version of you, He did so for the right here and right now version of you. He did so in order that you may live in relationship with Him. He isn't disgusted by you. He doesn't hate you. If you think He does, you're wrong. He knows everything so nothing you do surprises Him. You are desired by Him. Set aside whatever shame and guilt you may be experiencing. You can simply come to Him and invite Him into your life.

The spiritual activities that we do: reading and studying the Bible, praying, sabbath, silence and solitude, meditation, celebration, going to church, being a part of a small group at church, taking a walk to admire creation, confession, etc, are all for our relationship with God and people. They are relatonal activities that we do with God. They are not to gain God's approval, to look spiritual, to gain brownie points in heaven, none of that. They are so we can grow closer to God and love Him and others well. They do aid in our formation, but that is secondary to relationship.

 

And you don't have to wait to become a Christian to start. Pray to Jesus now. It might feel weird praying to someone you don't believe in, but try it. Same goes for reading the Bible. Don't know where to start? The gospel of John (after Luke and before Acts) is a good place to start (you can read it right here). Jesus' love captivated John's heart and imagination. Go to church. You might feel out of place but that's okay - church people feel awkward trying to be inviting and making conversation with you, too, so you are on level ground. Or find a small group at a church - there are fewer people and you don't have to get up early on a Sunday morning. Take a walk or hike in creation - go slow so you can admire the design and beauty. If you feel thankful, Jesus made it so tell Him. Spiritual practices don't have to be reserved just for Christians.

Practicing the Way Vision Series Episode 1: Link to Spotify episode of the John Mark Comer Teachings podcast. There are several great points in this podcast but one of the main ones that I want to highlight is how he draws a contrast between what it means in our society to be a Christian vs what it means to be a follower of Jesus. While these terms can be used interchangeably, meaning that a follower of Jesus is also a Christian, the term Christian doesn't necessarily mean a follower of Jesus in our current culture. (Being a follower of Jesus is another term for being a disciple of Jesus.)

 

What you'll find on the Our God Bathed Life website are invitations to become a follower of Jesus, a disciple of His. Being a follower of Jesus is first and foremost about relationship with the Trinity and relationship with other people. It leads to humility. There are other benefits like life transformation. But our life transformation (which will be a lifelong journey) is meant for our joy, better relationship with God and others, and as a witness to others of the power of God to change lives. My hope is that you will choose to be a follower of Jesus through deeper relationship with the Trinity.

Seeing Beauty: Episode of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. The concept in this episode is that beauty is a soul nourishment like food is a body nourishment (though food can taste, smell, and look beautiful, and as such can be a soul nourishment as well). Jesus created beauty. He made physical matter and made this world, but He didn't have to make it beautiful. A sunset sky, a flower, majestic mountains, a newborn, children playing, great pieces of music and art, the face of someone we love, all speak to our sense of the wonder of beauty. Beauty is all around us if we take the time to look, and our sense of wonder at beauty is a way that Jesus loves us, so that means expressions of His love for us are all around us if we look.

Forgiveness: The Way to Freedom: Episode of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. I agree with James Bryan Smith that there is a spiritual force in forgiveness; it is something that has tremendous power. Closely related to forgiveness is confession, which has the effect of releasing a kind of weight off of us. Confession and forgiveness can accomplish a tremendous amount of good. There are a number of good points about forgiveness in this podcast

1) The power of forgiveness (I think it is one of the most powerful forces in the universe

2) Forgiving yourself

3) A prayer exercise where we ask the Holy Spirit to show us if there is anyone we need to forgive (then ask for His power to forgive)

4) Offering forgiveness to others

(And more)

Give Thanks: Episode of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. Did you know that learning to live with an attitude of thanksgiving can help you to love God and others better? I notice it in my own life. Like any human I suppose, sometimes I do better and sometimes I do worse living in an attitude of thanksgiving - and it usually doesn't really have to do with my circumstances. I can be in the midst of difficult circumstances and be living with an eye to the goodness of God seeing the good of what He is doing in my life and all around me, or my circumstances can be wonderful and I can be living with an eye on what I think is missing in my life. (Philippians 4:8 & Romans 8:6) Keeping your mind on Things Above - looking for the good that God is doing - affects not just yourself, but also those around you. Being thankful and considering the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and good helps to keep us in good cheer and allows us to turn our focus outward with hope. We can then be present with others, offering the hope that we have. And I know I am a lot more pleasant to be around when I am thankful and cheerful than when I am focused on what I "lack".

Sabbath: Rest, An Act of Resistance: Spotify Link to an episode of the Rule of Life podcast. This episode brings up a great point about internal and external resistance that you will encounter when you begin a new practice. New spiritual exercises won't come easily or smoothly. You will make mistakes, your mind will wander, you may feel guilty like you should be producing instead of resting (like in this example), or others may want the time you have set aside. Remember that it isn't a hard and fast rule so use your best judgment, but you may need to fight through all this until you find a rhythm that works in your new exercise.

Here it is on YouTube:

(Unnamed Episode): This link is to episode 1 of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. Smith is one of my favorite authors. In this episode he tells us where his often used phrase, "I am one in whom Christ dwells and delights." came from. And it is a delightful story.

Finality of the Cross: This link is to episode 2 of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. A fundamentally basic point is brought up in this episode, but an especially important one. If you have trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior, then God does not deal with you on the basis of your sin. You have His life, and you will not lose it. Of course, just like in any good relationship, if you do something to offend God, then you should confess it and want to do better for the sake of your relationship. But your position is secure in Christ at the moment you place your trust in Him. Smith goes on to explain why this is so important to understand.

Eternal Life Now: Episode of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. Eternal life is now in session for all who trust in Jesus. John 17:3 defines eternal life as relationship with God. And that is what God intends for all people. That is the point of our lives - relationship with God.

Things Above Conversation with John Ortberg: Episode of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. Eternal Life is Now in Session is the name of a John Ortberg book. As I write this I have yet to read it but I have read other Ortberg books and I trust this one is very good as well. But in this episode, Ortberg says that many people, including an earlier version of himself, believe that salvation is what you need to believe for the minimal entrance requirements to go to heaven when you die. He likens it to the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where they are trying to cross a bridge and the bridge keeper will only let them pass if they answer three questions correctly. But eternal life starts now (John 5:24 & John 17:3) and it is relational. For the believer, heaven starts now. In a very real sense, when we die, it is simply a continuation of the life that we now have, but without a physical body that has sin in it (but also is the temple of the Holy Spirit - so don't think of your body as evil). When we are given a resurrected body, it will be free from the presence of sin, and it will be glorious.

Shame: Episode of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. Thank God for poetry! While I am not really a fan of it myself (I prefer it in musical form or narration in film), many others have been affected by it. In fact, one woman came to faith by reading a poem written by George Herbert in which God helps a man to release the shame he feels about being in the presence of God. God wants to share a meal with him but he is too ashamed of himself to do so. But God gently invites him several times until the man eventually gets over his sense of shame and comes to the table to dine with God. It is a beautiful poem. God feels the same way about you and I. He wants us to come to the table to be with Him, He wants to be with us. Shame acts to keep us apart. God invites us to release it so we can be with Him.

Brighter Than the Sun: Episode of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. "Dad, are you happy about me?" Smith's son asked him this question when he was little. I heard another parent tell a similar story where her daughter asked if she "smiles about her" or something to that effect. Does this question we hear from children to their parents echo the same question we want to ask God? "God, are You happy about me?" In the movie The Shack, Papa (God the Father) tells the main character that God is "especially fond" of him. He asks back to God, is there anyone You aren't "especially fond" of? "No, I suppose not." John 3:17, Galatians 2:20, Romans 5:8 all say that God came to save us. John 15:5 Jesus invites us to abide in Him. With us all the time? I don't even want to be around myself all the time. Yet God seems to delight in it. Dallas Willard says "God does not love you without liking you." It is true. He is good.

Saved by His LIfe: Episode of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. Did you know that you are not saved by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross? If the story ended there that would just be a sad story. Yes, our sins may have been paid for, but then what? Romans 6:1-11 we hear Paul explaining that not only were we baptized into Christ's death, but that we were raised with Him into newness of life, eternal life, abundant life (John 10:10, John 17:3, John 5:24). It is through the resurrection of Jesus that we are partakers in His life. That is the name of this site/podcast/blog: Our God Bathed Life - we are baptized/immersed into His very life! So we are not saved by His death but by His life! Let us now live into that life.

Conversation with Bruce McNicol and Robby Angle: Episode of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. The early part of this podcast deals with an extremely important topic: no one works to gain approval or acceptance from God - He offers approval and acceptance through Jesus Christ. Paul in Ephesians calls it grace through faith, Martin Luther calls it faith alone, but God offers us His gift of life not at all on merit. It is freely offered, freely received, to any and all who would accept. But that runs counter to our natural instincts. There is a reason why every other religious belief system on earth runs on merit - it is how our imperfect fallen selves are oriented and our culture reinforces the idea. So we think that to be loved and accepted by God we must earn it. Grace doesn't work that way. We start with the grace of being loved and accepted by God while still separated from Him, are made new and given life and the Holy Spirit when we trust in Him, and from that new life we do good with the Holy Spirit who works with and empowers us. We do from our being, not be from our doing.

The latter part of the podcast deals with small groups and the necessity of community, which is another critically important part of the life of the Christian.

With God Life: Episode of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. In this episode James Bryan Smith defines the kingdom of God as the with God life. It is living in the power, provision, and protection of God. God wants to be intimately involved in every area of our lives and live in ongoing conversational relationship with us. This is a helpful and simple understanding of the kingdom of God.

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