January 20, 2017

Young man I am very proud to call brother

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It is fair to say that a person who gets food without taste may be better off than one who gets no food
Living with no flavor gets easier each day, especially when it was a choice
When taste controls your very existense it can even be the best choice
You can go years with no flavor or scent of it and each day grows simpler
The mind grows clearer about other things that others consider important
The desire stops haunting your every spare moment
After all, flavor isn’t a need anymore than a million variations of color
Dreams of a meal come, but grow more and more faint no matter how glorious
Was it ever really good
Those who control the meal control you less and less with each passing day
The urge to steal a taste or force open the gate to it reduces to almost nothing
You laugh to remember
They made you feel small for asking
They made you feel disloyal for not
They were hurt as you quit asking because they just knew you couldn’t do without
Jealous and sure you must be eating elsewhere
What joy the flavorless is
But return to even the flavor of a cracker can sends you tumbling back to a world of forgotten joy
Controlling, unnecessary, awful joy

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A Place to Grow

This lesson comes from a book we read together here at South Side Church. It was introduced to us by Pastor Jeremy McLaughlin. The book is ‘No Perfect People Allowed’.  The root question of this lesson is, “What would it take for you help put people in a right relationship with Christ?”
John 4:35 “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”

Why would we expect that fish to grow in dirt or corn to grow in the ocean?

What are we hoping to grow and what is it trying to grow in today?

Barna Research Group – For the first time in America; Today the majority of people looking for spiritual guidance DO NOT choose the Christianity. What do we as a Church have to do to bring people to know our Jesus?

The message here is in the video…


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Behavior and Belief

It strikes me that our behavior is the only real indication of belief. I can say I believe that fish are poison and yet if I keep eating it then somewhere in my mind I don’t beleive in the eminent danger or I am not concerned with the consequence (death wish). I don’t even think I have to recognize that I lack true belief. I should be able to tell from my behavior but that is just no so.

So where how does this become something I can change? Where is the seat of my true beliefs? I ask because I know of things in my life today that cronically do not match what I think I believe.  I watch TV shows I know contain things that are unhealthy for me, look at pictures, read books, keep debt, and the lost live on, yet I go on. But do I really beleive that those things are wrong if I continue, or do I just want to believe or have others believe that I beleive? Do I think my belief will have an impact?

I am ruminating on this because I think it is the root of what is broken in my/our existence. It is the lies we tell ourselves. It is the thing that keeps us a prisoner and that may keep others imprisoned. Others are often imprisoned by our false witness. But the joke is that it is us we are lying to most.

Right this minute I know I don’t know and that I am going to have to live in that. I know that God does know my heart even when I don’t.  I know that others won’t even want to explore this. But if you do I would love to talk. Reply if you like. But know that I don’t know the answers. I will probably have trouble believing you do. That is just where I am. I am just looking up the questions right now.

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Flip This House

For many of us as we look at the priority in our homes we see something like this:

  • Children
    • My children come first
    • I would do anything for my children
  • God
    • I Love God
    • We believe in God
    • I want to be involved with God’s work

Today I want us to change our perspective and actually flip it upside down.

(LIKE BEFORE: I warn you this is much better in video. These is really just the outline of what was laid on my heart.)

If we built our house the way we built our priorities how would that hold up?

  • Foundation: Children
  • Occupant: God

That makes for a very unsafe structure for everyone involved.

Let me make a case for the “more excellent way”, as Paul would put it.

  • Foundation: God
    • Matthew 7:24-29 (NIV) 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
    • The focus of the home
      • Has God has become a lucky charm or an idle we keep on the mantle
    • God needs to the direction of the home; the basis for how we live.
  • Occupants: Children
    • In the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) there is an odd comparison to the modern day person. They compare that child to an occupant of the city.
    • Ephesians 6:1-4 (NIV) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
    • 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
    • Served by the home, but not the foundation of or the protectors, leaders, of the home.

Something is missing in this picture… the House!

  • The House:
    • Parents – we live in a mistaken reading of John 13:1-17.
    • Jesus is not making himself less than these men. He is explaining that in order to be the leader they need to be at the service of those they lead.
      • The protectors
      • The Leaders
      • The Teachers
      • The Servants?
      • The 2nd priority of the home

If our children are the focus and the foundation of our homes we build unhealthy children and unhealthy homes.

      • T-shirt now: “I spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on tutors, enrichment classes and Baby Einstein CDs and all I got was a neurotic kid.”
      • Soccer, Baseball, volleyball, museum trip, favorite DVD’s, All the right clothes, All the right clubs… But when did you actually talk to them last?
      • Psychiatrist Michelle Goland agrees: “The mistake many moms make is they believe that if they are a good mother, their husband will be fine and he will understand, but in reality, the husband may feel pushed out of the parenting role and begrudgingly gives up trying to have a relationship with his wife.”
        • This goes both ways

The danger is making our children our God’s. THEY BEGN TO BELIEVE IT

The danger is letting the occupants destroy the house and this nether protects that occupants or the house.

  • Trouble being or keeping friends because they can’t focus or accept others being important
  • Trouble keeping a job because they don’t get that the job is about the customer or employer
  • A perception that all things that they do not like will or must be removed
  • An inability to be married
  • Trouble accepting the Lordship of Jesus Christ because they are the Lord of all.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10), but these people fear no one and to tell them they should is to insult their 21st century soul.

Proverbs 13:24 NIV “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

I would tell you the one who put the rod in their child’s hand has created a monster.

If instead we teach our children to serve others.

  • Take them to help in the community
  • Teach them that the world is for them to serve and grow
  • Teach them to help the hurt

If we teach them that then we have truly made followers of Christ.

The alignment of this home we need to strive for is to put God at the foundation. To make our children the beloved occupants, and to for the parents to be the home.

  • Foundation: God
  • The House: Parents
  • Occupants: Children
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parentParenthood – Raising Adult Children

Forever Young – Song by Bob Dylan

  • May God bless and keep you always
  • May your wishes all come true
  • May you always do for others
  • And let others do for you
  • May you build a ladder to the stars
  • And climb on every rung
  • May you stay forever young
  • May you stay forever young.
  • May you grow up to be righteous
  • May you grow up to be true
  • May you always know the truth
  • And see the lights surrounding you
  • May you always be courageous
  • Stand upright and be strong
  • May you stay forever young
  • May you stay forever young.
  • May your hands always be busy
  • May your feet always be swift
  • May you have a strong foundation
  • When the winds of changes shift
  • May your heart always be joyful
  • And may your song always be sung
  • May you stay forever young
  • May you stay forever young.

(LIKE BEFORE: I warn you this is much better in video. These is really just the outline of what was laid on my heart.)

The series Parenthood just had its final episode and DaRhonda and I really enjoyed the show.

Zeke and Camille Braverman are the parents of 4 adult children, 4 children-in-law and 9 grandchildren.

It gets complicated.

Part of the problem here is that you thought when you had these kids that you were raising them to be adults and then you were done. They would wander off into adulthood and you wouldn’t… Have to be involved…

  • you wouldn’t…Have to fix things…
  • you wouldn’t…Have to worry…
  • you wouldn’t…Have to care as much…

But that isn’t how it works is it?

If you were surprised to find there was no manual for the raising of children, wait till you get to being the parent of adults.

A while back DaRhonda and I got together with a group of friends and spent a few weeks talking through some of the experiences we have had. We talked

  • Through the joys of having good people that came from our homes
  • The heart break that comes when they are hurting or even when they are hurting themselves for others
  • The weird and complicated game of letting them be adults, but still letting them be your kids
  • The difficulty of watching them make the same mistakes you made without running in an “fixing it”
    • Even when they look at you and ask you to “fix it”

An interesting rule was born in those meetings. I think it came from one of the books we were reading at the time. “Once a Parent Always a Parent”

Besides confidentiality, which should be obvious in a group of friends… We restated this each week.

“Even when I am talking to you about my child and some issue that may have occurred, that is still my Baby. Please don’t run them down or treat them poorly because of what was said here. Treat them like my Baby”

If we as Christian parents wonder how our Father in Heaven feels about us I think that sums it up pretty well.

That is still my baby.

While Jesus was here on earth He spent a great deal of His time trying to help people understand the Father. So much of what we have recorded from Him is telling us about how God feels about His lost children and how we might Love them.

In the book of Luke Jesus we find a frustrated and very disappointed Jesus. He has actually been told to leave Jerusalem and now he is now being ridiculed for spending His time with the “sinners”. His response is to tell parable after parable all pointing to God’s priority and God’s feelings for His children.

Luke 15:11-31

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Watch this Father closely.

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Modern Marriage

I will be doing my best to not get political! In fact, I am going to declare up front that this is a message from God on modern marriage and it will not contain a stance on what government should or shouldn’t do about marriage, civil union, or pro wrestling. To quote Jesus, “render unto Caesar that which is Caesars”.

Marriage today is going through a shakeup of definition. Much of this is really about the legal definition of who can and cannot get married.

You might be surprised to find that this has ever been the case…

(LIKE BEFORE: I warn you this is much better in video. These is really just the outline of what was laid on my heart.)

Marriage first appears in the Bible:

Genesis 2: 18-25

Two ways of thinking of this.

1 – If there had been a hunting dog in that first group of animals woman may have never been created.

2 – This is proof that evolution did exist as man evolved into the greatest creation ever known. WoMan.

OK, maybe we need to think of another…

After the origin of marriage in the Old Testament marriage becomes something very different.

It is all about the man

  • Genesis 4, you have Cain’s son Lamech taking two wives
  • Jacob is tricked into marrying the sister of the woman he loves (business deal)
  • Patriarchs had multiple wives and concubines (Genesis 16:3 and Genesis 29:16-30)
  • Men in war took women back like cattle, sheep, silver and gold (booty Numbers 31:22)
  • David has 30 wives and many concubines, Solomon 700 wives and 300 concubines
  • We really only hear about these wives if they are trouble or the man causes trouble over them
  • Even when women are the main character in these stories it is about the men. Esther one of many in a cattle drive to find a wife.
  • Moses tells them that they can get divorced by simply giving a certificate of divorce

Then comes Jesus

Jesus is a trouble maker (Matt 5): Killing, Adultery, Divorce, Revenge, Dealing with your enemies

All of this is in the Old Testament.

Then in toward the end of the book of Matthew Jesus is asked a question about one of these comments and His response seems to lay the whole Bible on its head. It happens over marriage.

Matthew 19:1-8

Jesus message: That was not the plan from the start

What is Jesus saying that is so different to these men? What was marriage and what had marriage become?

According to Jesus Marriage was:

  • Humanity was God’s creation that reflected His image (Gen 1:26-27)
  • Reimagined in two parts male and female then reunited as one in marriage (Gen 2:24)
  • Never to be broken apart (Matt 19:6)

Jesus is saying that man had already corrupted marriage and this was the problem.

  • Woman was never meant to be piece of property gained or lost like cattle or a new fishing boat (NOT Booty)
    • This includes Men by the way
  • Man and woman together become the reunited image of God. You do not separate that.

I would argue that when we look at the problems in marriage over time they all come back to the corruption of these original ideas.

Paul furthers this story to give us a complete image again

Ephesians 5:21-33

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

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