Saturday, July 26, 2014

Family Life

We are called to relationship with God.  We are called to become part of his family. And if we accept this invitation,  we are charged to keep the family rules.

All families have rules.  They affect relationships within the family.  (How family members are supposed to treat each other.) They affect relationships between members of the family and those not in the family.  (How do members represent the family. How do members treat those not in the family. ) They affect responsibilities. (Family life needs to be maintained.  Members get "chores" and "roles.")  And each member is supposed to be involved in all of these. Each member maintains relationships with the Father and other family members. Each member is a "commercial" for the family. (They explain and demonstrate what the Father is like,  and what family life is all about.) And each member is a janitor and an ambassador.

But each member's janitor\ambassador duties might be different. One might mop the floors and work in an inner city soup kitchen. One might help prepare meals and provide hospitality (meals, rides, interpretation) for international students. And a large part of all of it is training. One needs to prepare members to use mops and potato peelers, share Jesus' message with an infinitely diverse audience, connect with the Father, hear\understand him directly, and give healing to hearts, minds and bodies.

And things change. Rules and responsibilities morph. I have gone from doing everything (some involvement in every meeting and every project) to very little involvement.

Sometimes, I think the drastic change with what I was doing with what I am doing is due to burn out. A human being can only burn the candle at both ends for so long. Eventually, you run out of candle. Sometimes, I think I am being lazy. And sometimes, I think the expectations and mind-set of those providing the training and direction do not challenge the rest of the family enough. Expectations are that only some of the family do the work. In some local families, the leaders expect to do all the work. In some, the leaders pioneer all the work and do encourage others to join. But there is no the right timing, motivation or preparation for others to participate. And in some projects, there is not enough roles. And in other projects, there is need for millions of workers, but only for a short intense period.

The family grows and flourishes as each member performs his part. There is blessing as each member performs his part. If some are working hard, some doing nothing and some doing a little, there will be little growth. Does each person need to search long and hard about where his\her place is? Do we need spiritual career counseling? 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


God knows all about us. The good, the bad and the trivial. He still seeks us. He still wants to know us.

After he created the world, God would walk in the garden in the cool of the day and talk to Adam. What did they talk about?

It wasn’t a Bible study, because there was no Bible. It wasn’t preaching about repentance and faith, because there was no sin. It wasn’t encouragement about obedience, because they was no law. What did they talk about?

“You know God, I’ve been trying to train the monkey to clean up after they eat. It’s like herding cats!’

“The gazelles want me to organize a soccer league.”

“I don’t know what it’s called, but that purplish-red fruit is really good!”

Maybe they just shared what was on their hearts. God talks about how the world and people were designed. How cool it all was. How he envisioned it all developing. Adam talks about what he knows. Different ways the animals act. A new plant he found and what it could be used for.

Maybe the purpose and design of mankind is to know God, to open our hearts to him, and to receive what is on his heart for us.

Maybe sharing what is on our hearts is what prayer is all about. I know the world has changed. At the very least, it has gotten a whole lot more serious since the age of innocence before the Fall. The stakes are high. People’s lives hang in the balance. The world is in a shambles. And God wants to be involved, and wants us to be involved, in all the pain and the loss. But maybe God also wants to hear your heart about:

  •  Your favorite team trading your favorite player;
  • Your family vacation; 
  •  Your golf game … and that wicked slice; 
  • How you wish you were better; 
  •  How you are afraid of change, taking initiative and failure.

He already know the good, the bad and the trivial. You might as well talk him about all of it.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


People make assumptions about life. We all do it. Assumptions are basic rules that are always true. We hear a fact. This fact is similar to other facts. So, we assume its ramifications are like those other facts.

Your mother loves you. So, she provides good things for you. She provides things that you like, like pecan pie. She wants the best for you, so she guides you toward the things that comprise the best. She doesn't want you to get hurt, so she protects you as best she can. But she is limited.

God loves you. So, he provides good things for you. He provides things that you like. He wants the best for you, so he guides you toward the things that comprise the best. He doesn't want you to get hurt, so he protects. And he is not limited.

So, why do followers of Jesus get hurt?

Maybe God really doesn't love us. Maybe God really is limited. Maybe there are other factors and our assumptions are wrong.  Maybe.  Maybe.  Maybe.

It is very complex question. Lots of people, a lot smarter than I am, have tried to answer it. I couldn't get close in the post; I couldn't get close in a series of posts.

Like habits,  human beings make assumptions.  Assumptions are built subconsciously, unconsciously. They affect our behavior, our expectations,  our responses and our relationships. They are built from past experiences,  cultural norms and ideals. And they are often wrong.

I assume God loves me. My assumption is based in large part from God's declarations in the Bible. Its proclamation that the Father sent Jesus into the world,  to die on a cross, to raise from the dead, to restore our relationship with him, and to satisfy God's justice regarding sin.

I also assume God wants to restore the reign over his kingdom.  There was a rebellion,  and as a result,  life is not as God wishes.  We are all experiencing the effects of that rebellion.

I also assume the rebels are resisting God's efforts. And like certain terrorists, who blow up city buses to create fear and stop any momentum towards positive living, they don't care who they hurt or what damage they cause.  God's enemies are only interested in causing pain,  fear and misery.

I also assume God could crush the rebellion with a wave of his hand.  And I also assume that God's love extends to the rebels,  and his desire for relationship with all peoples, includes them as well.

And. And. And.

People make assumptions to make life simpler and easier.  Decision making is greatly reduced in complexity.  Of course,  decision making can miss necessary factors and be wrong. So, assumptions need to be challenged periodically.

Or maybe we need to approach life differently. Maybe life is too complex for us to analyze.  Maybe we need to trust our relationship with God,  and the "fact" that God is eternally present with us, has all the time in the world for us and wants to speak to us and guide us. So, we need to cultivate the practice and skill of tuning into his presence and hearing him speak to us.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

God's Family

I often describe God's people as God's family. Scripture bears this out. God calls himself our Father. (Though he often acts our Mother.) Scripture refers to fellow-Christians as brothers and sisters.

We became a family by being born of the same Father. We are then knit together with an indissoluble bond.

Why is the fact that the body of Christ is a family? Family is one of the foundation stones of humanity. It gives the under girding for the definition of being human.

● provide values. We learn what is important, what is necessary and what is not.
● gives instruction and modelling. Numerous areas in life are caught, rather than taught. We learn these areas by watching and being with others as they are examples.
      - We learn steps and methods in problem solving.
      - We learn how to respond in failure and negative circumstances.
      - We learn ways and attitudes around resolving conflict.
● work together to achieve goals. In the family of God, this includes:
      - demonstrating God's nature.
      - proclaiming his message of restoration.
      - instilling his character in members of the family.
● growing together in wholeness.
● depending on and including God in life.
● nurturing and giving identity to his children.

Many are pushing to redefine family. In part, this is rebellion against the God who created family. In part, this is a reaction against a church that has not fully lived out God's word.

Church has moved away from being family, and has moved toward being a volunteer organization, like club. One chooses to belong based on personal preference. Don't like the music, the decor, the speakers, then change. Keep shopping until you find one you like, that you feel comfortable with.

But a person cannot opt out of his family. God designed people and he designed family. And he gave each person a mother and a father. God designed men and women differently, so God designed mothers and fathers differently. Each parent contributes uniquely to the development, health and well-being of each child.

Similarly, God puts each person into a place and enables him to contribute to the health and well-being of his spiritual family.  The family of God grows and flourishes as each member contributes his part. (Jumping to a different metaphor ... how well would your body work if your right hand decided to quit? Or decided that doing the work of God was entirely the province of the mouth?)

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Eternally Present - II

There is another aspect of God's eternal presence. There are places in Scripture where it describes God's intimate knowledge of us.

He knows our thoughts, our intentions and our motivations. He counts the hairs on our heads, the steps we take and the tears we cry. He knows our ways, our actions, and our patterns of life.

Scripture says he has uncountable thoughts toward us. Imagine ... he is thinking about, totally consumed with, seven billion people at the same time. Right now, he is giving each one his complete, undivided attention.

So, what is he thinking about?

Many people immediately think, "He's thinking about my sin." We'll, if there is one thing I'm sure he's not thinking about it is our sin. I know this, because there is (at least) one place in Scripture where God says he is the one who wipes out our sin. And not only does he wipe them out, but he won't remember them. And if he won't remember them, how can he think about them?

I'm sure he will be aware of our needs, weaknesses, failures and areas of growth. But I am equally sure he will consider our strengths, our destiny and the places/conditions where we are assets.

We are designed by God. He is eternally present with each of us. So, he gave infinite, all-consuming care to each of our designs. These designs are now marred by sin, but we are still intricate, beautiful and marvelous mechanisms. And we are more than mechanisms. We are dearly loved. God considers each one of us as a wonder and a miracle. God only makes wonders and miracles!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Eternally Present

Someone told me once that they thought it was inappropriate for people to ask God for mundane things. She felt God was too concerned with the important issues in life (like hunger, poverty, cruelty and injustice.) So, eventually, I found myself asking the question: is God concerned about all of life, or just the heavy issues?

My answer to this question has made God's omnipresence one of my favorite attributes of his nature. Because it doesn't only mean that God is present everywhere, but it also means that God is eternally present with each person.

So, God is the only one who is in a position to pay focused attention on world hunger and each child's empty stomach. He cares deeply about human trafficking and each person sold into slavery of any sort. He cares about war, disease, pollution and poverty. And he is eternally present with people who are worried about tests, parking places, being late to work, as well as loneliness, inferiority and loss of hope. God is eternally present, so he can fully enter into what is on each person's heart.