Jan 28, 2016

Whose Are You? by A.J. Bittner

to year
NOTE: This article was written by a friend of mine A.J. Bittner who is one of the worship leaders at the church that we attend and is used with his permission.

“A pastor I know took his children to Como Zoo and his daughter was very close to the lion cage.  Close enough that when the lion relieved himself, it was directly onto her! Have you EVER heard of that happening?  I thought that was my comedian pastor friend getting one over on me, but, oh my, he wasn’t kidding!  

A significant part of this little girl’s visit with the king of beasts is how her status in  the zoo was elevated for the rest of the day.   Wherever she went, the entire animal kingdom treated her like royalty.  Every monkey booth, hippopotamus pool and giraffe genius knew protocol and respect for Jonae Sutton, KING of the beasts.

She could not get close to another animal all day.  Jonae’s parents had cleaned her up as far as human eyes and nose could tell, but every animal within a hundred feet knew there was a lion in their midst.  That was all those animals noticed. Even though this little girl had only been in the presence of the lion, his presence left an impression that affected everyone she came near.  

It wasn’t any merit of her own that brought this respect, but because she had been near the king.  

As a worshipper and worship leader, I have read tons of books on the subject of “how to,” when and why to worship, and how to inspire people to get into the presence of God.  I’m always looking for scripture passages, stories, and songs that will turn people to God with their problems, questions, and desires, that they would trust Him with their lives.  Worship leaders love it when people take opportunities afforded them during church services to get close to God. 

No one should directly equate what the lion at Como Zoo did to a little girl with how God affects us in His presence, but understand that when we are in God’s presence, we are affected.  Those near us can notice that we have been affected.  In God’s presence, demons bow, fear flees, and we hear and understand God speaking directly to us. 

I want to highlight how one is energized by God’s presence.  He is OMNI-present, so why do we say we need to get into his presence?  I think many would suggest something about our willingness to pay God some mind.  When Jesus walked the earth, He often got away to a quiet place so He could escape distraction and spend intimate time with the Father.   

In this world, our lives are filled with trouble as well as joy and greatness, and Jesus always knew how to stay connected to His source of strength, our Heavenly Father.

When I have spent time outside of congregational singing, by myself with the Lord, I have felt the strength that comes from the joy of the Lord. Being sensitive to His voice has taught me how to live my life in God’s presence, mindful of the Holy Spirit, deferring daily in the regular and mundane activities of my life.  

This fulfills Psalm 34:1: “I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise will continually be in my mouth.”

I got a call recently from a friend I had barely seen in 25 years.  He left a voice mail for me saying his mother had died and he thought I would want to know.  We had only seen each other once since we were growing up: when he came to my father’s funeral.  No one enjoys funerals, but it was obviously a time to connect to a friend in need and offer strength, wisdom... anything.  

These are times to act sacrificially, and being in the presence of God allows us to connect others to Him as our source of life and strength and hope.  An attitude of deference to His will in all things is the posture for a life that can defeat any obstacle and bring us in to the fullness of life God created us for. 

Whoever or whatever you spend time with will affect how you interact with everybody around you.  Others will notice.  I have need of strength, and if I remain estranged from God, my own personal strength will fail when adversity comes.   

If I’ve been in the presence of a lion, animals will identify me as a lion.  Demonic forces will flee the aura of God the same way.” 

© 2016 A.J. Bittner   USED WITH PERMISSION ALL RIGHTS RESERVEDCheers to year 37.