Thursday, June 16, 2011

How my son is raising me

"A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we."
G.K. Chesterton

My two year old son is full of boundless energy. He simultaneously delights and exhausts me. Yet he also invites me to pay attention to the world in a way that reveals the nature of God in ways I hadn't considered, as Chesterton so masterfully describes in his observation of children.

On a more sobering level, my son invites me to ponder the junk in my heart that I would rather ignore, the anger that flares up so easily when I am annoyed by his stubborn will or his consuming curiousity, the reluctance I have to embrace him when he has lashed out at me with the typical intensity of a two year old. But how else will we learn to "bless those who curse" us without the instruction we receive from our defiant children whom we love so deeply?

Have you ever considered how God uses ordinary relationships with family and friend to form us? How is God using your family members to conform you to the image of His Son? What is he teaching you through those around you? What are they revealing to you about the character of God?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Is your marriage more than fizz?

How is your marriage these days? In a recent blog post, Pastor Jim Martin wrote that people often view marriage like an icy cold can of coke. You pop the top, hear the fizz, drink in a satisfying beverage, and toss away the empty can. Your thirst returns, you see another can of coke, and the process begins again. Martin writes, "Are we to be a people who just look for the next cold can that promises some fizz? Or do we know that marriage is more than fizz. Fizz is nice. Yet, marriage is much more than fizz.

All around us are people who flaunt the possibility of fizz. Again and again, men and women are seduced by this possibility. It could be that a woman is attracted to this possibility because she is being ignored and neglected by her husband. It could be that a man is attracted to another woman because he attracted to the possibility of fizz.

Marriage is more than what I can get out of it in any given moment."

Maybe a better way to view marriage is like a good bottle of aged wine. The wine-making process that leads to a smooth, buttery, glass of Merlot involves cultivation, pruning, harvesting, crushing, storing and aging that over time results in something richer and more complex than simply a glass of sweet grape juice.

My wife and I lament the fact that in my family of origin, my dad left my mom and went off searching for the "fizz" of the early years of their marriage. Sadly, he missed out on the richness of life with a spouse that comes through the shared ordinary moments of life: the joys and challenges of raising children, learning to live with one another, building a life together, sharing heartache and laughter, conflict and oneness.

Why do you think so many people are unwilling to persevere through the less satisfying seasons of marriage when their patience, commitment, and hard work can reap a rich intimacy that builds over time?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Common Grounds

What grounds you?

In their book, The Sacred Romance, John Eldredge and Brent Curtis noted that our culture produces a "thinning" effect on our souls, causing us to become "light", airy, and vulnerable to whatever blows in from the winds of our post-modern culture. They called this "ontological lightness, the reality that when I stop "doing" and simply listen to my heart, I am not anchored to anything substantive. I become aware that my very identity is synonymous with activity."

I a recent newsletter, Eldredge reflected on how, in the 10+ years since the publication of The Sacred Romance, this condition has only gotten worse. The piercing and tatooing movement, the "simplicity" movement, the increased obsession with celebrities, and the popularity of "reality" television all point to a deep need for substance, groundedness, and a deeper sense of self .

And with social media like facebook (and blogs....gulp), one writer noted that "we can digitally represent ourselves without having to be ourselves."

It all seems so hollow. Yet I am just as susceptible to this as the next person.

In the book of Acts, chapter 17 verse 28, the Apostle Paul, in presenting the news of Jesus to a curious crowd of skeptics and seekers in Athens, notes that "in him we live and move and have our being." Any other place we look for groundedness comes up short.

How do you stay grounded? If you are a Christ-follower, what do you do to remind yourself that you are one in whom Christ dwells? What do you do to keep your identity rooted in Him?