Monthly Archives: August 2016

“Two Sides of the Same Coin”

coinThe English language offers up some great idioms, an idiom is “a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words” We use them all the time, phrases like: “Piece of Cake”, “Costs an arm and a leg”, Break a leg”, “Let the cat out of the bag” and “Bite off more than you can chew.” Today the idiom, “Two sides of the same coin” (different but closely related characteristics of one idea) best describes my thoughts as I reflect on the idea of biblical community in the book of 2 Samuel.

In my last blog entry, I highlighted the story of David and Mephibosheth and how it reminds us of the compassion, kindness and love that community should be built on (one side of the coin). The flip-side or contrast to this story is found only a few short chapters away, the account of David’s actions with Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Samuel 11). This short account conveys the effects of a sinful human nature, a self-serving desire and its devastating consequences to the true nature of biblical community (love, kindness and compassion vs. lust, deceit, and hostility). David, a sinful man by nature, was also a man dedicated to living a life pleasing to the Lord. Yet he falls, he commits adultery and murder to ultimately get what he wants (Bathsheba). David destroys our earlier perception of his desire to rule as a one who sets an example of living in community. In chapter 12 of 2 Samuel, Nathan makes his way into the narrative with a story of his own, a tale that points the finger of shame and disappointment on the actions of the King, David had become blind to his own actions. This destructive behaviour is the work of the Satan in our lives, he finds great satisfaction in breaking down our heart, soul and mind.

God never moves from the center of community, His desire is to be the one that binds everything together. It is us who shifts to “left field” once and a while. There is a beautiful component to living in community with God and other believers, and that is the powerful words that come through confession and forgiveness. David’s realization and confession of his sins, brings him back into the center of relationship with God. We too have this amazing privilege. David’s life changed from that day forward (things happen that were beyond his control even as a king) as it does for us. When I think of the two sided coin, I hope and pray that my actions reflect the life I live in Christ rather than the flip-side.

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Conviction & Community

45487Have you ever felt convicted to do something? On 13 September 2008, Christopher Irmscher set the Guinness World Record for the fastest 100 metre hurdles wearing swim fins. Christopher felt convicted to do something unique to get his name into the record books, his accomplishment so far stands undefeated as no one else has felt the calling or conviction to beat his time. (I wonder why?).

Searching through 2 Samuel and reflecting on the nature and function of biblical community seemed like a stretch when the majority of the book primarily details the many battles and life of David as King. Nestled between the accounts of David’s many victories in battle and the scandalous story of his indiscretions with Bathsheba we find the story of David and Mephibosheth. A story that reminds us of the compassion, kindness and love that community is built on. David, true to his covenant promise to Jonathan does right by showing his “unfailing kindness” (1 Sam 20:14) to the last of Jonathan’s family through the inclusion of Mephibosheth (Jonathan’s son) into his house as if he was his own son. David’s kindness, his compassion, extends from his relationship with Jonathan and ultimately from his relationship with a gracious God who had provided for Him.

Biblical community is found when God is the center of our relationships. The nature of our relationship with God is built on love; His unconditional love for us and at our best (often failing), our hearts desire to love Him back unconditionally. David felt convicted to reach out to Mephibosheth, I believe that God was using Him to be an example to others, an example of how to show compassion and kindness when it might be hard. God’s love for us, the conviction that he lays on our hearts comes through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. David, known as a man after God’s own heart lived a life obedient to God, he failed at times like all of us do. It is what he did with that failure that we need to recognize as we live in true biblical community. David acknowledged his failures, he confessed his sins before the Lord seeking forgiveness so that with a pure heart he could continue living a life pleasing to God.

 

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Echoes in the Word

EchoThere is something fascinating about an echo. I remember a time when we would drive through the “cow tunnel”, a car sized round culvert under the highway. I remember how when passing through, the blast of the horn would bounce around the interior walls of the tunnel sounding louder and longer than normal. There were times we would stop and shout into the tunnel only to hear our voices call back at us.

As I read through the book of 1 Samuel it “echoed” some very familiar ideas, feelings and events that I would say “sound” like much of what is happening in our culture today. 1 Samuel draws us into the story of Saul, David and Johnathan, a story of family, jealousy, hatred, love, betrayal and most importantly the greatness of God’s promises that were never to be broken. Living in biblical community is defined by the love and kindness that we should have for one another, the same love that God has for us. Much the same, our culture today and the stories we read in 1 Samuel echo each other. The people wanted an earthly king, someone who would lead them forward, giving them what they wanted. The people wanted someone who in the end made them promises that could not be kept. Today in many ways we still do the same thing in our own way, we just don’t call them kings anymore. Here and now, like then, God is often removed from the picture, and this is the one place we truly need to put our faith and trust.

The nature and function of biblical community has been overshadowed by the wants and expectations of people’s hearts, which have been influenced by worldly things. The true nature of biblical community is love, a sacrificial other-serving love, it is love in action. The primary function of biblical community is worship; it is recognizing that God is our Father. It is knowing and living according to His will so that He is honoured and glorified. David was flawed and often failed in the eyes of the Lord because of sin, but he was described as a man after God’s own heart. He was a man living in a loving relationship with his Heavenly Father and experienced the true meaning of community.

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Family Foundations.


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If you have ever been through the process of buying a home, one of the first things you look at or have inspected is the foundation. You want to make sure that the house you buy is standing on a solid foundation. The discovery of a crack or weak foundation is often a sign that makes us look the other way, even when it might be our “dream home”.

In the book of Colossians chapter 3:18-4:1, The Apostle Paul echo’s his teaching in Ephesians 5 regarding the instructions for Christian households. In both passages Paul outlines the important characteristics each member (wives, husbands, children) must live out so that they are living in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. The role or function of the Christian family as Paul describes it, serves as the true foundation that was originally intended in the beginning. Paul wrote to a group of Christians who were being influenced by false teachers, and in the same way today our self-interested societies have broken down and rebuilt many weaker foundations to define the family unit into what serves them the best. Paul uses some heavy-duty words like submit, love and obey to describe the characteristics of what should be found in a Christian household. Christ modelled this behavior during His time on earth in His relationship with His Father and we in turn look to emulate these things in our most personal connections as evidence of our own relationship with Christ. Just as these foundational elements cemented the bonds between God the Father and Son, when they are applied to human relationships they create firm footings for strong families to grow on.

I had the privilege of growing up in what I would described as a healthy Christian household according to the standards that Paul describes. Now, with that being said, our family has its share of quirks and tales of “potholed roads” just like most every family. We do not live in a perfect world, we must “devote ourselves to prayer” (Col 4:2) like Paul says so that the love we have for one another will exemplify the perfection of Christ’s love for us. Husbands must pray for their wives, wives for their husbands, and husbands and wives for their children. Our role, our function as a family is to bring glory to God and be solid foundation that others see and strive to build.

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Connecting the Dots

dot-to-dot

It seems the dot-to-dot craze has followed the return of the popular coloring books for adults and kids. Each intriguing puzzle and pattern from the simple to the complex challenges our cognitive skills. I personally enjoy the challenges of the hard or “extreme” dot-to-dot puzzles, they keep me searching and speculating as to what the final picture will be shaped into. Working with precision from one point to another keeps our mind active and sharp, always looking forward to the next step.

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians helps us “connect the dots” when it comes to growing in the family of God. Paul’s prayer for the people in Ephesus (Eph. 1:17-19) extends to our lives today. He prays “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” In many respects, Paul gives us the instructions for Christian living through this letter. He reminds us to be humble, gentle, patient, truthful and to “live as children of light”. He insists (4:17) that we must no longer live as we did before being adopted into God’s family. The hope that Paul prays for, the inheritance of the promise of eternal life together within God’s family sets us apart, “you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens… also members of his household.” (2:19)

I challenge you to read the book of Ephesians as a whole, from beginning to end in one sitting. What you will discover is Paul writes these words so that we gain a deeper understanding of who our God is and how we can have a deeper relationship with Him. As believers we are adopted into His family, we need to be proactive in searching for the “next dot”, the next step in building our relationships both with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Think about the investment of time and effort it requires to maintain a close relationship with your closest friend or spouse. Then, consider for a moment how much time you spend deepening your relationship with your Heavenly Father. Pray, like Paul, that God will give you the wisdom to see His love for you as a son or daughter in his family.

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