Friday, May 25, 2007

How Important is My Life?

How important is my life?

I want to be clear that the question is rhetorical. I am a bit afraid that a reader or two might decide to tell me how important they think my life is. Regardless of the nature of the assessment, I would struggle mightily with it. I am already struggling. Please do not throw an anchor to this drowning man.

I fervently believe that God commands me to love him and to love my neighbor as I love myself. I cannot believe that a loving, almighty, all knowing God would send me off on a fruitless errand. However, I can all too easily believe that I am failing to obey his commandments as well as I might. I want to love God. I want to love my neighbor. It seems that I have only a few ways to show my love for either.

I realize more and more that listening is important. God's voice seems elusive. I believe the difficulty is all the competing noise and voices in my mind. Hearing humans is straightforward. However, it can be very difficult to care enough about them to listen for what they are really saying rather than listening for what I want to hear or for an opportunity to add my own comments.

Speaking words of encouragement to humans and speaking words of praise to God are another fundamental way to show my love. It is very sad to think how often I have failed to use my ability to speak for the purposes of encouraging or praising. Often I complain, denigrate, or argue. It may be worse still to use the gift of speech to justify my actions or to glorify myself. I am certain that God is calling me to a season of my life where my greatest contribution to others will be my ability to encourage them. I pray that he enables me to speak encouragement.

Serving is another way to show love. God assures me that when I serve the lowest of the low, I am in fact serving the king of kings. I find joy in serving. However, I tend to find it easier to serve those that I believe to be most deserving. I pray that God enables me to prefer others without expecting them to meet standards that I set.

Giving, forgiving, and forbearing are all worthy ways to love others. May God grace me with the ability to do each more and more.

How important is my life? The more I love, the more important it is. I thank God for giving that purpose and that significance to my time here on earth.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The City of God

I recommend the following article to you:

In place of God
Culture Replaces Religion
May 3rd 2007 From The Economist print edition
FROM the earliest times, a central role of any big town was sacred or religious. Until the 16th century, the status of a city was in England granted only to towns that had a diocesan cathedral, and to this day the title metropolitan is in some churches given to senior clerics. Cities still tend to have bigger and more splendid churches, mosques and temples than do mere towns and villages.…

The article is excellent within the limitations that the author sets. He contrasts the role of religion, culture, and commerce as influences that draw people to congregate in the world's cities. Cathedrals, opera houses, and skyscrapers or shopping centers are cited as the icons established in major cities to suggest their preeminence in the various pursuits that we humans embrace to fulfill our "spiritual needs".

I found the article fascinating, but shadowed by the haunting emptiness of those worldly pursuits. The cold stone emptiness of great cathedrals. The sensory overload of shopping districts. The impressive, but very limited accomplishments of the arts, enshrined in museums and performed in opera houses or theaters. Even professional sports teams and their enormous venues are seen as the distinguishing traits of a true city.

Religious, commercial and cultural pursuits of the highest order may seem vastly superior to many other attractions of cities such as the carnal lure of the sex trade and sensational spectacles such as the gladiator contests (ancient and modern) or parades, demonstrations, and other mass gatherings. I have indulged in all of those pastimes and more. I was eagerly seeking fulfilment in the highest worldly attainments and the lowest vices that the great gatherings of humans have to offer. I enjoyed little success of a lasting sort.

I thank God that about 23 years ago he revealed the nature of the one truly significant city, the city of God. The citizens of the city of God are all who pursue relationship with God and trust him as the God who became a perfect and innocent man. A man (all man and all God) who willingly gave his life that we might be forgiven our many failings. The citizens of the city of God are those who share in the fellowship of faith in Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. Only God knows the exact population and demographics of the city of God. He encourages us to seek one another out, to love each other, and to proclaim our citizenship with the many acts of love and grace that God enables us to bestow on a hurting world.

Our faith in God as our saviour, and our love for one another should not be confused with the tedious, empty observation of religious rites and duties that many substitute for a genuine personal relationship with almighty God. He who created and sustains the universe and our very beings. Our faith and our love must inform all forms of culture or commerce that we pursue as residents of the cities of this world. Our faith and our love should preclude selfish indulgence in sexual immorality and a preoccupation with spectacle whether it be games, mass gatherings, or any other poor substitute for true fellowship.

The city of God is growing and prospering, yet it will not be obvious to those in the world who will carefully monitor all the wrong metrics: wealth, fame, sensual abandon. We will prosper as the genuine joy and the pervasive peace in our lives shine like a beacons to those seeking freedom from the fruitless pursuits of the cities of man.

If you are a member of the city of God, rejoice for your future is assured and you will receive comfort during the trials in this life. If you are clinging to the worthless idols that are worshipped in the cities of men, forfeit them that you may know the grace that can be yours as you submit yourself to the sovereignty of God. God who is love. God who longs to welcome you to his family.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Nuclear Family

Why do we call it a nuclear family? Apparently it has to do with being composed of a small number of fundamental building blocks.
Every human has had a biological mother and father with the exceptions of Adam, Eve, Jesus, and clones. I'm going to leave clones for another time. You probably have heard the same explanations for Adam, Eve, and Jesus as I have.

Whatever it is that makes us human, was designed by God. Once the prototypes were completed, ongoing production was assured. Father and mother have children. Children become fathers and mothers. Generation upon generation. Along the way uncles, aunts, grandfathers, and grandmothers and a host of other relations came into being. When biological moms or dads can't carry on their roles, others pitch in as needed.

Barbara and I have been blessed with a nuclear family that has only been altered each time we conceived another child. We have good reason to think that the alterations are now complete. The members of our family shift their positions on this globe. Our love for one another grows and matures as does each one of us. Our nuclear family remains composed of the same six persons. There will be a day when death may separate us for a season. After that, we hope to be rejoined for all eternity.

Our relationship with God is central to our being. Our relationship to our family is fundamental to our humanity. I thank God for our nuclear family. I thank God for the joy we have known. I thank him for helping us through the sorrows and for strengthening us to deal with difficulties.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


I scanned the past six months of posts on this blog, and observed a dichotomy that intrigues me. On any given day it seems that time creeps by. Even the biggest events, genuine milestones in my life, are filled with a creeping moment by moment sense that I am waiting impatiently to see if something important is going to happen. Occasionally, at a particular moment, I sense that something very important is actually happening, but that is rare. It is only in hindsight that the days of my life seemed filled with great happenings, significant progress, and elements of a compelling story.

The dichotomy is that between how mundane a given moment may seem and how dramatic those moments become when strung together into tales.
Tales of spiritual growth. Tales of sickness and tales of healing. Tales of relationships newly formed, then forged with the heat of circumstances and the relentless hammering of events.

Here I sit at 4 am in a silent house. I can hear the ticking of a clock. I gradually feel relief from the pain medication I took at 3:30. I struggle word by word to capture the dichotomy of the quietude nearing tedium of this moment contrasted with the rush of life changing events I have known in recent months and the oncoming rush of events ahead.

I am thankful for this tranquil island of now, in a storm tossed sea of what has been and what will be. It may even be a tiny glimpse of the eternal peace of a now spent in God's presence once the heavens and earth are made new and there is no more crying, no more pain, no more death.