Christianity: A One Time Deal?

We can be such event minded people sometimes. We reach for these expected milestones in our lives.  Everything these days seems to be so “culture stamped” that we act accordingly.  It’s like we trick ourselves into believing we’ve won something awesome by graduating from learning institutions with stiff degrees in studies that’ve never touched out core.  We win again as we celebrate that newly acquired job, or do we?  What I know about that is a year or so in (if that long) the job is often despised and resented.

And what about the marriages we enter into knowing upfront it’s a compromise.  That the circumstantial time clock got us and we did what we felt we had to do.  I mean, marriage is a win, right?  In an of itself it’s a milestone… Does it really matter all that much to whom?  We tell ourselves nothing’s perfect.  This is ok.  Surely this is a win.

Even the born again experience has turned into something of a single act.  A milestone we reach, dig our Believer’s flag into the ground so as to remember the date for the telling, and we walk miserably away.  Even though I don’t believe in the ‘one time confession always saved concept’ I can see why so many do.  It’s because we live in a society of the one time deal.

Whatever “it” is, do it at least once.  Then we feel like we fit in.  We can place our cookie cutter on the table with all the others; be an active part of the traditions of culture.  Harp on our milestone experiences and finally belong to something.  But what it that’s not really true?  What if that’s what this void in our guts is all about?  What if we’re not really participating at all?  Only taking weak stabs in the air at the time line that rules our days.

I say no more!  Believer’s, especially during this season, ought to cultivate an allergic reaction to this approach to life.  Christianity isn’t an event.  It doesn’t just exist in that one walk we take down to the alter to confess our faith in Christ as Lord.  It’s our first recognizable hallelujah moment, don’t get me wrong, but it’s in that moment the true glory, the potential for the heaven on earth experience, has only just been born.

As His children, we have the opportunity to sit at our Father’s feet, grow in Him in otherwise impossible ways.   We become joint-heirs with Him, suffering together, glorified together (Romans 8:17)…. Hallelujah!!!

We are not born again unto stagnation, unto a one time event; but unto life, progress, fruitfulness, dominion.  We are promised in our born again experience that if we’ll commit to Him, we shall absolutely see the manifestation of our God made selves bearing witness to our heart’s desires.

When we commit to the lifelong process of being changed into the image of Christ by the grace of God, we abandon the winner’s circle for the circle of champions.  And praise God because there’s a huge difference between a winner and a champion.  We often win by default, by accident, by chance.  But a champion…  they come by their successes with great focus and commitment.

1) Winners are good.  Champions are excellent.

2) Winners achieve intermittently.  Champions achieve by habit.

3) Winners outdo others.  Champions outdo themselves.

4) Winners take all.  Champions give their witnesses something they can never fully describe nor ever forget.

5) Winning is about a moment in time.  Championship is about the development of virtue over time.

6) Winners want credit.  Champions give credit to the Source they know sustains them.

7) Winners take battles.  Champions wars.

8) Winners are found throughout the world.  Champions are Kingdom developed…

And God has been so giving to all of us.  He’s invested so much that we really can make it just fine without ever calling on Him for help.  People do it everyday.  I think I’ve pointed out how some even win at what they do….

It’s the reason why many so-called Believers have missed, and will go right on missing the Kingdom.  We’ve been made so awesomely, only the act of humility keeps us from overlooking the One Who made us.

But seeing that you really do Believe in God and in His Son Jesus…aren’t you ready for the supernatural?  I know I am…

I’m ready for the surrender God’s been whispering in my ear about for so long and I shudder to think of all the times I’ve shushed Him.  Told Him in abstract ways to leave me alone so I could focus on winning the same game He was trying to plainly show me how His enemy had rigged it.

…And now I see how if we can step away from our winner’s mentality for just a second, we’ll see something remarkable…  We’ll see God and know that this is our champion season and it’s meant to last our lifetime!

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About Alaina Odessa Expressions

Alaina Odessa is a Christian poet and author of Slow Running Honey, an anointed book of poetry that speaks to the secrets, self deception, and lack of self awareness that is holding many of God's people back from the abundance He created them for. She is creator of Alaina Odessa Expressions, a company dedicated to helping others 'Cultivate the God made self' through poetry, theatre, workshops, lectures, & television. Godly information fosters the mind renewal process all Christians must undertake to experience the fullness of Christ's sacrifice. Alaina Odessa Expressions strives to provide edifying, life changing content.
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10 Responses to Christianity: A One Time Deal?

  1. David Stubblefield says:

    Alaina, you know better than to encourage my responses. And sorry for the lack of coherence and the obvious lack of proofreading (for grammar). By the way, your description of washing a piece of fruit is very similar to a famous scence in French literature where Proust describes the experience of eating a madeleine (http://www.haverford.edu/psych/ddavis/p109g/proust.html). Much has been written in regard to this “event” and “memory.” You seem to have a remarkable sense of attunement these sort of pulsations of life. As well as to cultivating a practice that lets God creates us throught them. ( I am thinking in particular of the track that heard called “drink”. ).

    Anyway, your response, as usual, made me think and think about good and ‘higher things” so i want to explire this some more.

    Just to recapitulate a bit…There is the event–the “revelation” or lets say a certain dispensation of the eternal– on one hand. These all are of equal value from a kind of eternal perspective. Understanding this allows me to embrace the everyday with a kind of awe and wonder and to no longer desire to be somewhere (or perhaps even someone) else. The trick is to see the eternal or the divine INSIDE of the ordinary and not outside or elsewhere. (Years ago I read C.S. Lewis’ the screwtape letters about how the devil trips people up. The idea was to never let him sense God’s presence as a constant in his life this would be very dangerous the devils work and would cause him a real problem. To countering this the devil suggested to keep Christian searching for the breakthrough event, doctrine or whatever ‘great moment’–very similar to what you said above. By the way, Lewis noted, and i concur, that this is a major temptation for the philosophic type.) So events, to me, are of equal value in that every moment in life is equally for of God’s presence.

    However, in addition to the event, we have the subjective apprehension of the event. Here is where it get a bit hairy and theologians have struggled with this sort of thing: Does God need our help for his will to be done? If so, what exactly is the interplay between God and man? between grace and works? etc I think in one of your last talks (yes i am paying attention!) you mentioned that God may indeed throw new Christians a bone so to speak, but more mature christians need to make conscious efforts in order for this relationship to work. I agree with this and, in truth, we may not disagree all that much if at all. However, i do think that the subjective understanding of the event is variable and I am, to a certain extent, skeptical of it. Especially, when, as you mentioned, any particular event seems to define the self in a way that would make less responsive to ongoing revelation.

    Often times, we simply do not know, or can not fully know what God is doing in the events of our lives For example, boredom and dissatisfaction may be a way of incarnating a kind of desire in us or a way of teaching us that we want more. Therefore, there is something inside of that boredom that is dealing with us and this is often beyond our subjective capacity for recognition at a particular moment. I believe that this is always the case. So the grape IS never just a grape. But what that grapes means in our lives is another question. And maybe even the more important question as we shall see.

    This may be what you were saying and have been saying lately. Our response to the grape seems absolutely relevant to determing the experience and the meaning of that grape in our lives. I think this is your focus. This is really your question, what your after–cultivating a self and practice that responds to the grape. But, at the level of ontology (the study of being/what is,….sorry to introduce academicese), i think the event is what it is apart from us. This may seem to a somewhat abstract point but It seems important for me to remember this, especially during times of despair when one only sees a grape and can’t experience the fullness of the grape or attribute any meaning to it. But if one is ever going to of experiencing the fullness of the grape, attribute a meaning to it and actively LIVE this meaning, then one’s subjective apprehension of the event is absolutely critical…if not, everything.

    Thanks for prompting to me reflect. Whether this is right or not is perhaps not as important as the fact that we are honestly striving to better respond to God’s call (all in our own ways). Take Care and keep the stimulating messages coming

    • David,

      You type so much! (smile) You’re like, fluid in the art of commenting. I wonder if you could start some kind of lucrative business with this gift? People all over the Web are looking for loquacious commenters. Your responses are giving me Search Engine Optimization!!! Yay…but then I get a type of vertigo when I see all the words and words and words. (Yikes) I’ve opened up a side document so I can respond to you coherently… Can you believe that? That I’m having to cut and paste to comment on your comment… Lol… Anyway, I’m wasting time…I must get started!!!

      You say I’m remarkably attune to a comparative illustration by Proust, but I say the remarkable attunement is yours to even know of the correlation in the first place! Kudos to your study life.

      As far as CS Lewis is concerned. I’m reading Mere Christianity right now. It’s a bit confusing for me because he was such a part of the intelligencia AND British so to make up for the verbiage being off, I’m finding it’s better to read him aloud. Anyway, I haven’t read his Screwtape Letters yet, it’s next on my list now that you’ve laid this nugget on the table. But I would like to comment from your synopsis:

      It’s not the devil who keeps me in search of breakthrough events, neither is it doctrine. It is the Holy Spirit in me and my commitment to the act of discipleship itself that keeps me reaching for and pressing toward the mark of my Christ likeness. There is no way I would ever give credit to the devil for any Christian’s hunger and thirst for deliverance other than to say he is the reason we are separated from it at all.

      Again, for me, (and this is obviously going to continue to boil down to “I say tomato” vs “you say tomato”) there’ll always be events registering greater than others on the richter scale even as I praise God for them all. There is no greatness without the menial that leads up to it, and so, the menial matters much.

      Even if I approached it from the Eckhart Tolle perspective of being “awakened”, there are still degrees to that. If not, then the state of being awakened becomes the new thing to be bored with. We’re creatures of liveliness, of exploration. And not just exploration for its own sake…we’re looking for something, David, and when we find it, we know because the feeling tells us so. That feeling IS the event. It’s why the devil can trick us into believing sex IS intimacy; the high IS happiness; the roar of the crowd IS love… because we feel so vividly aware of ourselves in those moments it has to be good. By the time there’s any ground to stand on we see all we managed to do was grip sensation by its horns and ride it straight to hell.

      And no God doesn’t need our help for His will to be done. What He needs is our will. It’s a circuitous blindfolded journey of faith man takes with his God Who already knows the way. Free will is about His knowledge. Yes, man has it, but God already knows how he’ll exercise it. Omniscience. Neither our failures nor successes are news to God. Proverbs 25:2 says “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.” When we use our will to search out His, God and man become one.

      “So the grape IS never just a grape”…you say. That takes us back to the oldest philosophical question I know: if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear, does it make a sound? Yes, it does. That question is just man in his ever important man-ness thinking he has to be present and recording for history to happen. He doesn’t. History is history whether we know it or not. Nature doesn’t need us to exist. We need it. God doesn’t need us to exist. We need Him. And without His Love toward us, we’d have no importance at all.

      The grape is ALWAYS just a grape (it’s an object)…the only thing that can subjectify it is an individual’s perception to the event that contains the grape. A courting couple, a bunch of grapes, and an engagement ring registers quite differently than a bunch of grapes to a foreman on a 15 minute break.

      But with all that being said, my focus isn’t to cultivate a self and practice that responds to the grape, or any thing for that matter. That’s the problem. That’s the knot the devil & media & culture has us all tied up in right now. Being almost completely thing driven has gotten us into this idolatrous mess.

      My desire is to cultivate a self and practice that responds to the God of the self. This is where glory and honor meet and make us champions.

      Thank you, David….for stretching me:-)

      Blessings & Strength,
      Alaina

      • David Stubblefield says:

        Oh if you are looking for some search engine optimization, then we can do this thing!! LOL..
        .I feel like as long as my fingers are on the keys, then i am where i am supposed to be. Don’t want to do it anyone’s expense, though it sometimes happens. So don’t feel compelled to “hurt yourself” with your responses.

        You are really amazing. One of the best professors i know told me his method for teaching writing. He said that they way to be a good writer is simply to write, to practice. Duh? So the teacher’s job is to try to induce the desire to write. Simply enough but not easy.

        It seems to me that loving God is essential to being a good Christian, so a good teacher of the Christian faith, on some level, would have to induce the desire to love God (not sure you get this from C.S. Lewis but anyway). By the same token, the verse you quoted calls us to search, so maybe we can incarnate the desire to search in other???

        It is with this in mind, that i have to tell you that perhaps my favorite quote from the Bible is from Genesis when God says to Adam “Where are you?” Now obviously, its not that God can’t see him or that Adam is supposed to say “I am right over here can’t you see me? No. Like you said he is Omnscient. No this statement function in a totally differetn way. It is an example of what in linguistics is known as a performative (see speech act theory) in that it literally calls man into being as that being that MUST search for himself. (Perhaps that most famous example of a performative is “let there be light”)

        Anyway, your passion is amazing and you transmit that to me as much as anything. I guess that makes you a good teacher. Accept the gift and go to the end! (maybe that is your performative –or a paraphrase of it–that calls you into being as the one that MUST follow the path your on???)

      • I’ve heard and agree wholeheartedly with that…the best way to learn to write is to write. Julia Cameron has a beautiful series of books on this very thing… The Right To Write; Finding Water; The Sound of Paper…she’s one of my favorites as far as inducing creativity goes.

        Come to think of it, I’ve always been a better thinker with a pen and paper or with my fingers stroking the keys as I do so in response to someone or something. It’s amazing how that works…thank you for reminding me and for being a thought provoking catalyst because I enjoy writing most when it’s done out loud.

        About this performative speech act thing…I don’t know… I did a Google search of it and I’ma need another time to get my feet wet on that one. Illocutionary and perlocutionary just isn’t sinking in right now. I understand the words but not the concepts. Probably sounds like an oxymoron but it’s not. Or maybe it’s just perlocutionary speech…(smile) but my ignorance warns me to leave that alone.

        But I do appreciate your naming what God was really asking Adam at that moment. I’ve heard this preached on several times and never was that shared. We are now the beings that must search for the self…. interesting enough, we’re the only ones that are. There’s so much God to see when the eyes are opened.

        From Teacher to Teacher:-)
        Alaina

        PS~ I have a David file now. There’s a few vocabulary words in there and many many terms. You are a blessing!!!

    • Proust, too, is to be read aloud.

  2. Kim, I thank you bunches for taking to the time share your comment:-) And thanks a million for your prayers that God continue to use me as a voice for the Kingdom. Wait in full expectation for Him to do the same in your life…as you know, we reap what we sow<3

    Blessings,
    Alaina

  3. Kim Burgess says:

    Champions gives cresdit to the source who sustained them while winners want all the credit…know this is so good…..I have never heard anybody berak down winners and champions the way you did..You have gave great examples…and you have added a new faith confession to my confessions,,God help me to be a a champion for your Kingdom. and regonize the differnces!!!!…I pray for God to continue to speak through you..

  4. David Stubblefield says:

    There is a great section in one of my favorite books titled “On Great Events.” It starts of saying that the author “no longer believes in great events.” My take is that we have certain experiences where we sense that life is profound, worthy and full of meaning. The thing to realize is that this is going on all the time, this is always the case. We catch a glimpse of this truth and, if latter, it no longer appears this way it is because we have separated ourselves from it. Anyway, always looking for something outside of ourselves and our lives–some sort of grade event–can definitely become a sickness that stop us from seeing the life and the potentials around us.

    That is one reason why i am attracted to “an aesthetics of the ordinary.” You know, where artists paint a piece of fruit or some ordinary object and make it extraordinary. This kind of stuff affirms the miracle of existence itself and can be very powerful. In general, when i write i usually try to take some little small idea that everyone thinks is useless and show that its is in fact this extraordinary thing. I try to, if you will, “make the stone that the builders have rejected the cornerstone.” Of course, there is a politics at work in this as well.

    But the continual search for great events, the pursuit of and accumulations of exotic and new experiences can become unliveable. It is like someone dangling a carrot in front of you face and never allowing you to taste it since it is never enough. That is why it is important for me to affirm my everyday existence and to understand that no event has more worth than any other.

    • Thanks for sharing this David. I’m in a kind of limbo now though. There is much you’ve said that I agree with but on the other hand, there’s little harmony.

      I love your comment on being attracted to the aesthetics of the ordinary. That’s the fundamental appreciation we all need to even be able to recognize the extraordinary. But it’s also the very reason why I can’t concede with you on no event having more worth than another. Our breaths are made up of the seconds of the day. I’m with you that no breath, no second is more worthy than another, but the things we allow ourselves to experience within the breaths, I believe, have much to do with value variation.

      I mow the grass in a series of moments, in another, I meet and connect with the love of my life. I absent mindedly wash the piece of fruit that moments later fills my sense of taste and smell with such poignant sensation that I’m taken back to an earlier memory where I can hear the sounds and feel the touch that went along with it.

      And maybe I’m not taken back to anywhere. Maybe it’s just a now moment of full presence I have with a piece of fruit that I’ll never have again. Tomorrow it won’t be a bright bursting purple miracle in my mouth…it’ll just be a grape.

      You always offer me an invitation into philosophical thought. Thank you. I enjoy your comments.

      Blessings,
      Alaina

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