Sunday, December 26, 2010

Time - A Parent's Perspective

As a parent of almost tween kids, I'm discovering more and more of what God's heart for us must be like. A particular example of this would be as my desire to spend time with my girls continues to grow, their desire for independence grows at the same time. This can be frustrating. Often, I'll sit by my girls and ask them how their day is and I'll get a short response with a request to go do something with a friend or computer time. To be honest, it often breaks my heart a little.

As a parent, I feel this. On the other side of the coin, as a child of God, I wonder if I can see His perspective a little better. As I was meditating on Christ this morning, my mind kept wandering to other things. What I need to do. Things I want to buy. Plans I'd like to pursue. And I felt all that God wanted me to do was simply BE with Him. It hit me in the face - God must be feeling the same way I do as a parent.

As a parent, Mark Beeson has taught me a great deal about parenting. He has spoken on scheduling time with your kids. This is why I still try to keep a regular time of taking each individual daughter out for a breakfast meal so we can simply BE together.

This regular time with God is a must too! But God isn't the one who sets the schedule, it's US! Regular time with God, however that looks for you, is really the only way to develop intimacy. I'm learning this from my kids.

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42


Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Mighty Manger

Read this from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's God is in the Manger:

Where is the divinity, where is the might of the child? In the divine love in which he became like us. His poverty in the manger is his might. In the might of love he overcomes the chasm between God and humankind, he forgives sin and awakens from the dead.

Even today, as well as 2000 years ago, this display of might - the might of the manger - could be completely misunderstood. The general understanding of power is often through brute strength or military might. But the God-man, Jesus, enters this world and pulls a sort of jiu jitsu move on everyone. Instead of a thunderous show of the power that formed the heavens and earth, He humbly comes as a child. This child will ultimately show us a meekness (restrained strength) that reconciles the whole world to a perfect, holy God through the cross.

I really wonder how the world would be different if power was wielded in this way. What would a world look like that had leaders humbly serving the weakest members of society? I'm not slamming anyone in particular, but I really do wonder how society would be different if the might that God displayed in the manger was emulated by leaders every day. I guess this truly starts with ME! How I lead my family, how I lead my teams and our church.

My prayer: "Christ, give me a passion to know You intimately, and wisdom to embody Your selfless leadership to those you have entrusted me to lead."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

How I'm Changing

I just finished Donald Miller's book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

This book is changing me. Though I am done reading it, it is still changing me. I am looking at life differently now. A short list of what I learned:

1. A Greater Story
My heart is much more open to the beauty of a greater story that is being told through my life. I've learned that one of the easiest ways that we are de-railed from the best versions of who God wants us to be is by lesser stories. Whether driven by culture or some internal needs, we settle for less than what God has intended. As I look at my life now, and the life of the my family, I'm most prayerful about this issue. I never want to settle.

2. It Takes Effort
Nothing worthwhile comes without effort. Intentionality in writing a great story is critical. As a songwriter, I have found this to be true as well. Songs don't get written if you don't just sit down and work them out. Simply waiting for inspiration has never been the way I write. The same is true with life. I may not feel like taking time to play with my daughter at a given moment, but every time I do, it has been well worth the investment.

3. Inviting Others
My friend Rob Wegner is great at this. As the story of his life unfolds, he is constantly inviting others into what he is learning. Countless friends I have would say the same thing about him. This is the kind of life I want to live.

4. The Petty Things Seem Silly
What I'm also discovering is that when my life is in tune with God's greater plan, the little, petty stories seem to fade in relevance to me. In fact, they often seem silly. Stories about my own image, how well-liked, or how talented I am - these just seem silly since I'm too busy being involved in a bigger story.

As I look to life in 2011, I'm really thinking about what needs to change. How a life well lived will impact the world for Jesus. Praying for what SELFLESS IMPACT might look like.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The True Role of Theology

More amazing wisdom from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in God is in the Manger:

"How we fail to understand when we think that the task of theology is to solve the mystery of God, to drag it down to the flat, ordinary wisdom of human experience and reason! Its sole office is to preserve the miracle as miracle, to comprehend, defend, and glorify God's mystery precisely as mystery."

This has so many ramifications. Since the goal of theology would then not be to "figure God out", it relieves a lot of the pressure that I believe some Christians feel. I often think about Paul's admonition to have a "ready defense" for the Gospel. While it is true that we shouldn't be thoughtless Christians, we also shouldn't feel the need to be in attack mode either. If someone comes to us with honest questions, we should be able to answer. However, if someone is on the attack, it is likely that no amount of convincing will ever sway this type of person.

It is here that we embrace the mystery that is Christianity. A lot of my Eastern Orthodox roots are stirred by these thoughts. Since the Orthodox branch of Christianity is from an Eastern mindset, mystery is embraced quite a bit more than in our Western tradition. Often, as Bonhoeffer states, we try to get to explaining God through reason, which ultimately stamps out any mystery.

This could be why so many people have turned to other faiths since many modern evangelicals seem to have all the answers about God. My thought is that theology itself, while discovering answers, should also be constantly stirring more and more questions as to who God is. This questioning posture will allow us to remain captivated by the mystery which entered the world through a manger so long ago.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Who Will Celebrate Christmas Correctly?

I've been reading an Advent devotional of collected writings by Dietrich Bonhoeffer called God is in the Manger. Read this paragraph this morning that struck me in its beautiful explanation of how to best celebrate this season:

"Who among us will celebrate Christmas correctly? Whoever finally lays down all power, all honor, all reputation, all vanity, all arrogance, all individualism beside the manger; whoever remains lowly and lets God alone be high; whoever looks at the child in the manger and sees the glory of God precisely in his lowliness."