Blueprint for a healthy home

We ALL want to have a healthy home. We all want our kids to turn out “right“. But as we get some mileage on our lives, we find out it’s harder than it sounds… to find some answers, I’ve been studying in the book of Exodus, looking at the patterns of God for the home in its history and content.

The old testament tabernacle emerges as a symbol of the home. Resembling a huge modern-day tent, it exemplified the pattern of worship, law and common-unity for the nation of Israel to grow up and around. This same tabernacle housed the presence of God in its Holiest inner chamber and clearly expressed the heart of God to be with man, in a home.

That mobile and temporary tent structure was replaced hundreds of years later by King David’s son Solomon who erected a massive stone temple that more properly honored and reflected the blue-print that God had described in Exodus for a dwelling place on earth. Even it in all it’s glory, the temple was still an imperfect demonstration of the heart of God towards man….

When Jesus Christ shows up on the stage of history in the Roman era, we begin to see more of the original architects intended design for a Heavenly home. What had been a magnificent stone representation (temple in Jerusalem) of the covenant between man and God was now being transitioned to a new covenant. No longer would the covenant be based on a man to God approach (outside in) but on a much firmer foundation, that of a God to man (inside out) approach. With this new covenant came a  new blue-print for God’s home. In this new pattern, His presence would no longer be containable in a physical structure like a tent (tabernacle) or temple. Instead He would live in the very hearts of those who accepted and followed the teachings and ways of  His only son, Jesus.

This created a new focus,a shifting of attention from the external behavior or appearance of  people,  to the internal reality of their hearts and minds.

Skipping the deeper theological tenants for the sake of brevity, suffice it to say… this new covenant still modeled the ancient blueprints of God’s plan and purpose to be in relationship with man, but it no longer required us to experience God through a surrogate (Moses, Priests or Prophets)…always one relationship away from God’s presence. Instead we were granted the most precious gift of all… of being allowed into the presence of God for ourselves. So what’s this have to do with a healthy home?

Simply this… for us to fully experience a peaceful and vibrant life we will need to back away from having an over focus on the exterior of our homes. Struggling to maintain the outside appearances of our families to others is not going to work… it’s exhausting and impossible to accomplish in our own human strength or wisdom.

When we try to live to maintain the “status quo” of what we believe is proper we major on a minor theme. If we as parents find ourselves overly concerned with “what they (others, neighbors, friends, church)  might think” of us, it suggests we might still be “stuck” in the old covenant of “earning our way” back to God by our external behaviors.

Jesus calls us to abandon that “old” way of living out faith, and instead as parents to make it a priority to spend time with Him first. If we spend that time alone with Him on a regular basis… it allows Him permission to write His law on our hearts…and when it’s in our hearts, it transforms. Families will begin to experience a perceptible shift, completely from within, starting from the top down, and spreading naturally from the inside out. Just like Jesus said it would.

Such changes are not temporary or transient, but eternal and reflect the heart transformation that can only occur when we are in the presence of God. When we focus on our own faith and our own heavenly father first, we may just discover that our ability to be Christ to our kids will suddenly expand and watch in amazement as our and their “hearts”  re-arrange themselves into a healthy and purposeful pattern… which is a divine BLUEPRINT for a HEALTHY HOME 🙂

Peace out RTP!

brad

Planting a seed…of hope for the dry and empty home.

When we start this journey of parenthood, it’s often in the afterglow of a newly married daze and floats idealistic on our own beautiful and euphoric haze of a peaceful and loving future family life… um-hummmn. ?

Has that continued for you or do you find yourself struggling to remember the “why” of your enthusiasm for life, for why you wanted to have kids…for why you still bother to fight to maintain the faintest dream of being a happy family. Remember how firm our convictions were early on… our vow to be different from our peers, of keeping our marriages healthy and our lives in balance?

Our world has a way of painfully touching us with its dark tragedies, of stealing our personal hopes and joys one little piece at a time. It works relentlessly and energetically to remove the warmth of our dreams and happiness from our first months and years of parenthood and marriage into the chilled cynicism of middle age and compromise. But I want to give you hope,  it doesn’t have to be life on empty any more…

Most of us get bruised and broken when we rely on something or someone who is unreliable. We place our hopes and dreams on the escalator of hard work and dedication only to find it often stops at the second or third level of life…nowhere near the top floor. We trust that if we just maintain our relationships, they will endure. We touch our faith only when we feel insecure. Our dreams can be based on fictional lives, illustrated by books, sit-coms and blockbuster films, but if we don’t filter out the fake and embrace the real… we start to long for something that never was as if it were.

God is calling to you to help. He’s been calling for thousands of years. Gently, simply and persistently. I’m here to testify that nothing else can truly satisfy. Nothing else can take away the darkest pain, the aches of our life. It’s incredibly hard to trust that such a cliché’ is true, but please consider for a moment. What if Jesus was reliable, what if he was real?

Would He will choose to heal you and reveal to you His plan for your Life from the moment of creation? What if ? I believe…because he did all of this for me when I was broken and empty and out of answers. I felt His call and I took the leap, will you ?

His truth is calling to you… son of Man, daughter of Eve, will you hear Him ? Will you consider taking the one ultimate step of trusting in Him? Nothing else. Of laying down your conditions, your false expectations, your past pains and your ever-growing fatigue with it all… for His promise of Peace ?

If you do, I promise you will radically be re-arranged. An internal reset of your life will occur as your perspective of the pain, and stress and failures of the past immediately start to become testimonies of God’s grace and redemption in your life. He restores the lost hopes, dreams and joy of your youth. He heals marriages, and homes and renews our minds and hearts with the truth of His cross and its ultimate ability to recover all that has been lost.

Don’t mis-understand, surrendering to Jesus isn’t a magic formula that fixes everything in our lives at once, in fact following Jesus is no guarantee of your problems being erased at all. What is promised to us is contentment. From agitated and anxious to steady, from angry to peaceful and from despairing to hopeful. Not because we can solve our problems any better than before…but we because we’ve finally found someone who can.

How is that possible?

It came from a seed. A seed that was the embodiment of all truth and life and love. And from that seed, our lives were redeemed as it was put in the ground two thousand years ago. A seed that valuable was just surrendered, sacrificed and buried deep in the ground so it could grow into much more. The fruit of that first seed is still growing today, in the lives of men and women just like you and me. It’s the fruit of “LIFE”. It’s never fails, it never looses its power or its grace. It heals all who eat of it and it takes out of all who believe in it… the sting of death and hell and sorrow.

Jesus Christ himself was that seed, and His path for those seeking to follow Him requires a similar commitment of surrender, the call to sacrifice our preferences for what we “want” and a decision to willingly agree to let the old “us” be “buried’. To die to our personal ambitions and self. Only when we surrender that old self will we find that like any seed, when it falls into the ground and dies… its re-born and radically transformed into what we were intended to really become and be.

If we insist on continuing to do life our way and on our own, we risk living out the rest of our days trapped in a pointless struggle for meaning. But we never quite get there...As parents we often stop believing in our lives around our middle age years. So we quit trying, but most of us then mistakenly re-focus our hopes and dreams on our kids to become what we never could be in an effort to make sense of what we missed on the way… it’s painful stuff.

God is calling to you parents, not just your kids… don’t give up on your lives! Plant your life seed. Surrender to Jesus and doing so… discover LIFE !

God’s grace and favor to you as you like me… seek to “Keep your kids on the road and in between the lines of life” this summer.

brad.

Parenting with Jesus…

So let’s go ahead and skip the Sunday school lesson, today we’re
talking about more than simply name dropping at expected times and places, this
is serious. For Christians, seeking to live as parents requires a supernatural
and un-exhaustible source of love, wisdom and grace. We all recognize our
inability to understand and solve every problem our kids experience, and to try
to do so on our own would put us in mental lock down for weeks.

Over the weekend, we hosted our youth group for some hang time to
start off the summer break. We listened and talked and shared what God had put
on our heart for the year, but mostly we asked questions and listened to the
responses. It was telling. Kids are sensing all of the challenges of life much
earlier than we had to, they are aware for the most part about the need to
“Hear from God” for themselves and for the shallowness of petty
theological turf wars in the church. They acknowledge their frustration with
the inconsistencies of youth leaders, and pastors and teachers and parents, but
most of all they realized they didn’t know exactly who or what to do with Jesus?

Every one of these kids had prayed the prayer, they had done a
youth camp or missions trip, they knew the bible well enough to speak the
language of a Christian and to even spend time with God on a regular
basis…but they struggled to define their relationship with Him. Jesus was a
mish-mash of traditional concept and stereotypes, mixed in with a bit of
current pop culture, and Jesus emerges in our kids’ lives as an icon of the
past with little personal interaction or tangible reality.

Sound familiar?

When it’s all said and done, it’s possible the single greatest
contribution any of us can give to our kids is a solid understanding of who
Jesus Christ is, and what He offers for us to experience with Him over the
course of our lifetime. The other stuff is great, it’s important and it will
serve our kids well to learn to balance their checkbooks, act with integrity,
love with wisdom etc… but if they grow up with a scattered and undefined
grasp of who our savior is. We may be missing the parenting point all together.

Ask your kids… “Who is Jesus?” This simple
question is upon a bit of reflection actually quite profound, inexhaustible really.

Without Jesus in our parenting, we’re kinda of asking our kids to
follow Christianity, burdened upon our own weak and vulnerable examples of
faith. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to do that.

Ask them.

It may be the single greatest parenting choice you can ever make.
Be prepared to struggle a bit yourself as you seek to define the relationship
you have with Jesus. Who is He? What did he actually do for you, for our kids,
for mankind? What has He asked of us? Where is He now? Why didn’t He fix
everything… or did He? Why can’t we see or hear Him… or can we? How can so
many people claim to know Him and yet act as if He never existed?

Taking the time will be a struggle, a valiant one, worthy of every parent’s
full attention and focus. At the heart of the bible, the very pulsing center of
all its teaching, its truth and its power lies one undeniable theme. Jesus
Christ. When our understanding of Christianity and faith and discipleship and
mentoring and life drift away from the central truth of our existence… what
do we really have to offer our kids?

“Lord, help us to grasp the essentials of our faith. Help us
to communicate the truth of our relationship with your only son and our savior
to our kids… strengthen us with your word and flood us with wisdom this day.
In Jesus name we pray, Amen”.

Peace out.

brad

A Critique of Rob Bell’s book…”Love Wins”

 I just finished reading Rob Bell’s controversial book, “Love Wins“. I came away with mixed emotions, but strangely stirred to consider carefully the suggestions his book asserts about what I “think I know”, rather than what the bible actually says.

As a parent, this book engages me to review my way of raising kids biblically and to apply the portions of the book that I believe have real merit for us and to discard the portions that I believe are a pure opinion. As a pastor I feel strongly that Rob has raised a very real and serious concern about how we as Christian’s present the “gospel” of Jesus Christ to our world.

For a fair and balance review of Rob’s book, I would refer you to a post from Christian Today. I believe theologian Derek Tidball has captured my own observations, considerations and concerns almost verbatim.

For real life faith and family issues, read on….

Parents, Rob Bell’s book raises some key elements about our understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus. He uses in particular the parable of the prodigal son as a powerful metaphor for understanding the viewpoint that God Himself has on both those who fail and repent and those who appear to be faithful and reliable servants. His observation that God see’s both sons as separated by their individual sins is a great parenting truth.

So often one of our children are easily identified as the “black sheep” of our families, always pushing boundaries, always the first to get in trouble and the first to talk back… and in converse there will be one sibling who is extra-ordinarily compliant. It’s easy to pre-determine the actions and reactions of each to our instructions and to pre-judge their actions as “good” and “bad” respectively.

Not so fast.

What about the conditions of the hearts of our children? I mean, are we carefully looking into their hearts before we draw our conclusions about their actions ? If so, we need to step back a bit and reconsider.

God judges from the heart, man from the outward appearance. If we are training our kids to simply model our faith, in time they will learn to simply “pretend” their way through childhood and adolescence. By adulthood, they will have mastered the art of deception and risk the tragedy of living out their lives in public as respectable and self-disciplined fakes. It strikes me that many of our churches are full of such individuals.

If we take the time to actually look a bit under the surface of their behavior, we may find that our compliant kids are actually more at risk for connecting with their faith in a genuine way than our “black sheep” are.  The honesty of rebellion is something that we need to actually cherish as we work with them to consider that mom and dad might know what they are talking about, and that the bible could actually be important to their own lives… 🙂

Tomorrow’s blog will consider the issues of this book and its impact on the church from the perspective of a pastor.

Until then, God bless you as you like me… “seek to keep your family in between the lines and on the road of life”!

Peace out,

brad.