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Learning to garden all over

From where I sit I see dusk descending; it is evening and will be morning, another day.  The greater lights of the mall are now aglow, so too the lesser lights of the autos, marking the circuitous route of workers stopping by on their way home.

Another day of labour has ended for many, ended I suspect without much reflection save some relief that Monday is finally over.  [Ah yes the second day of the week, even from the beginning, the day was not designated as “good”! 😉 ]

Credit - the many, whom I resemble often enough, I have been thinking, not just about work generally, but the working relationship that exists between man and God’s creation.  The LORD God assigned our elder brother to work and keep the garden (Ge 2:15).  The word “work” here is also translated as “care”, “dress”, “cultivate”.  The relationship is a positive one; the work of the man would be such that the garden would continue to be fruitful.  The man’s labour in the garden and with the garden, would serve God’s purposes for the garden.  Man in his toil would be representing God himself, he would be acting as his vice-regent, guarding the garden’s God-given capacity to bring forth harvest upon harvest.  In so doing, he was protecting the very means that God had ordained to provide man with his sustenance (Ge 1:29-30).  Man was to steward the garden, so that the garden could sustain the man.

That idyllic state did not last.  Man was not content to be vice-regent, even to God Almighty.  That rebellion, to which all of us naturally sign on to, has had devastating results.  We no longer care for God’s creation as we ought, instead we often rule over it with self-centred, short-sighted ruthlessness.  Instead of dressing it, we denude it; instead of cultivating it, we corrupt it.

From where I sit, dusk has given way to darkness.  A fitting metaphor of how I feel as one man reflecting upon mankind’s relationship to God’s creation.  I do not feel at all enlightened nor empowered to act in God’s stead as steward.  It seems so much easier and simpler just to thoughtlessly function as a squatter in God’s garden.

But that will not do.  Creation longs for the adopted sons of God to once again live as vice-regents.  God’s Kingdom has broken into our broken world and with its inauguration the futility that enslaves creation ought to be challenged.  I understand that I cannot change the world in global proportions, but it does not follow that I cannot change my world in personal and local proportions.  That seems to me to be very much a part of following Jesus.

How do you see it?


Forty percent challenge facing dads

Forty percent!  That is four out of 10; forty out of a hundred!  I know you can do the math too, but wow forty percent.  That surprized me.  But that’s what recent stats say regarding how many teens (aged 14-19) have had consensual sexual intercourse (see here: girls – 41.6%; boys – 38.1%).

Stats can be so impersonal.  Let’s work on that.  I have three live-at-home kids aged: 13, 17, 19.  These “stats” would suggest that if my kids were to mirror the culture at large then at least one of them would be or would have been sexually active.  That’s not impersonally that is scary!

As a dad, is there anything I can do to diminish the likelihood that my kids decide to become sexually active?  Yes, thank God there is.  In fact there is more than one post can present and certainly more than this dad has practiced.  With that said let me make the following suggestion for you to consider and even comment on.

Results show that teens who have a close or very close relationship with their father demonstrate a decreased likelihood of sexual activity during their teen years (boys – 16% less; girls – 12% less; see here p. 5).

Now that was easy to write, but many of us know that it isn’t easy to pull off.  Things clamour for our time and energy.  My own experience is that in the constant cacophony of calls for my attention my kids voices are easily masked or muted.  Sometimes, shamed to have to say this, it’s because it’s convenient.  What I mean is that there is too much on my plate and something has to slide…just for a bit…and that something is more easily my kids.  Oh, for sure I rationalize it, by saying when things slow down I will make it up to them.  You know I am still waiting for things to slow down!  Maybe you know of what I speak.

I think we need to find a different approach so that our kids receive a slice of us on a regular basis.  Not just because there is a favourable correlation with dad spending time with them and their choice to defer becoming sexual active, but for lots of other reasons.

Have I made no moves in this directions except for drawing a line in this post and daring myself to take up the fight to prioritize my kids?  Yah I think I see some scattered light that suggest a new day may be dawning for this old dad.

My daughter likes a particular TV show, she borrows it from the library on DVD.  I have become more intentional about when I watch TV  to watch it with her and others in the family.  She seems to love to sit next to me.  Go figure!

My son is home from university every other week or so.  Instead of car-pooling with others I drive him back.  It gives us an hour together to, wait for it, to talk!

I would love to hear how you are prioritizing spending time and energy with your teens.  Your ideas just might give me another nudge in the right direction.


Two Steps to the Slippery Slope

Photo Credit - was spring.  It was the time of year that kings go to war.  But King David didn’t go.  He remained behind in the comfort of his “palace”.  In so doing he took the first step toward the proverbial slippery slope.

That first step is choosing not to be where you ought to be. David ought to be with his troops fighting the Ammonites.  Instead he chose the leisure of his home.

Then “it happened”, that is how the ESV phrases what took place next (see v. 2).  If David had been where he should have been then he wouldn’t have been walking on his roof top at the end of the day.  And he wouldn’t have been some place from which he spotted a beautiful women bathing.  Welcome to step two: being where you ought not to be.  David arrived at the slippery slope and his look slid into lust, adultery and eventually murder.  He fell hard and his failure had profound implications on his family.

Pretty simple and pretty scary.  Guys when we choose not to be where we ought and then choose to be some place where we ought not to be we are pushing the gate open to the slippery slope.

12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1Co 10:12-13 NIV)


The Godless Gospel – Part 3

Things and techniques: those are the means of a godless salvation so suggests David Wells (see previous post).  In other words, people are trying to remake themselves, to “regenerate” themselves through what they possess and what they know.

Not long ago I had the chance to upgrade my basic mobile phone to an iPhone.  No suspense here, I did.  But now as I reflect back on that decision in light of what Wells is saying I see vestiges of the godless gospel at work…in me!

On the surface I had “good” reasons to upgrade, but down deeper something else was going on.  The upgrade would move me from the “basic and boring” niche of mobile phones to the “cutting edge”.  By possessing this phone my image would be remade, I would be remade; no longer would I be yesterday’s man.  Moreover, this upgrade would give me tools I did not have.  My phone was now a “smart phone” and I would be smarter because of it.  I would know when my appointments were, I would know people’s contact information, I could GPS them and a boat-load of other things.  Down time would be a thing of the past, now I could surf the web waiting in line, read the news, listen to podcasts, and more.  In my hand would be technology that I could leverage to be more than I ever was.

Do you see the godless gospel at work?  Do you see me trying to assuage my insecurities and failings through things and techniques?

It isn’t going to work.  My soul needs a redeemer, my hurts need a healer, my vices need a deliverer and my life needs a lord.  I am not going to find that is the things I possess or the techniques that I master.  I need a God-based grace filled gospel.  They don’t sell that on-line.


The Godless Gospel – Part 2

“I am looking for help and happiness, just don’t include God in the gospel” is the stance of some that we know. Last post we noted that David Wells argues that for many today salvation is no longer understood in a moral framework but instead in a psychological one.  This has led to four significant shifts.

First, people no longer esteem virtues; personal preferences is what is valued and vaunted.  People don’t talk about the “character” of a person, instead they talk about their personality.  Third, we don’t recognize our shared human nature but rather view life from our individualistic perspective.  And finally the experience of guilt from  violating God’s law has been replaced by private shame for which treatment not confession is necessary.

The gospel that is proclaimed to those that want deliverance without a deliverer is one based on things and techniques.  Without God we are left saving ourselves and our means is through the things that we possess and the things that we know.

Sound bizarre?  Next post I will talk about how the godless gospel showed up in my life.


The Godless Gospel – Part 1

Think of the people that surround you on a regular basis.  Do they not want happiness and security?  Do they not want wholeness and hope?  Do they not want to be delivered from disease and despair?  Do they not want affirmation and significance?

The people that surround me do!  And that which would provide all of that would be considered by them to be good news, it to them would be “gospel”.  However, what they don’t want (or so they think) is a God-based gospel.  Good news yes, God no.

David Wells, argues that when one removes God from the picture, there remains no adequate basis for moral absolutes.  Salvation is no longer understood in a moral framework but instead, he argues, in a psychological framework.  People are not seeking deliverance from sin and its effects, rather they desire to be saved from their inner angst.  Have you seen that?

In the next post of this series we will talk about some key shifts that have accompanied a move from a God-based gospel to a godless one.


Servant Leadership is what?

Photo Credit -“Servant leadership” is a term bandied around.  What do you picture when you hear it?  One genuflected and spineless or better stated genuflected because they are spineless?

Servant leadership in the home, marketplace or church is not wimpish and certainly is not devoid of authority.  What is absent is the drive for pomp and prestige, the willingness to scramble up the “ladder” on the heads, hearts and hands of others.  For sure servant leaders exercise authority, but they do so for the good of those they lead even if such leadership requires sacrifice on their part.

Jesus said this about leadershp:

25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt 20:25-28 ESV)


This blog is a place to wrestle with loving, leading and labouring according to the Jesus Way.


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