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Archive for September, 2014

Relationships

It has become clear to me over the years that perhaps there is nothing as important as relationships. In our worship at Wellspring, we concluded the theme of building on trust and looking at the life of Moses up through the giving of the law. It occurred to me this week that everything about the law is about relationships … whether it is our relationship with God or with one another.

Humans simply don’t exist without relationship. I suppose some people try to journey through life alone, but I would suggest that their lives aren’t as rich and fulfilling as those who live fully in relationship with others. Perhaps it would be better said that we don’t exist well without relationship. Relationships are what have molded me and shaped me over the years.  In the grand scheme of ideas that enter my brain (including this one), it occurs to me that none of my ideas are entirely my own. They have been crafted out of much dialogue and interaction with people who have both agreed and disagreed with what I think.

Life itself is dependent upon relationship. Even animal species that tend toward isolation from one another must be in relationship for their species to survive. Many animals live in herds for protection and propagation. In our world, we call that “living in community.” Community is the essence of human life, and life outside community is sterile and meaningless.

So as difficult as relationships can sometimes be, relationships are still the essence of our being. My challenge for you is to find ways to strengthen your relationships. My challenge is to start with our relationship with God. What can we do to strengthen that relationship and then work from there to relationships within our family … our community … our world?

For the life of me, I just can’t think of anything more important than relationships!

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Commandments

After my daughter and her family moved to Hawaii, I was charged with a task. I have had the privilege (through the first week of October) to keep her puppy, who is under vet care to avoid the quarantine customary for pets moving to the Hawaiian islands. This “puppy,” however, is a 100 pound Rottweiler named Daisy. Daisy is a lovable, playful dog, and it is because of her that I have come to have a new appreciation for commandments.

Daisy, you see, is trained and is incredibly smart. She is very capable of heeding commands, but she also has impulse control issues. Maybe that’s why I love her so much and why our daughter thought it was such a good idea that I get the honor of caring for her … I know the commandments, yet I have impulse control issues, as well. Commandments don’t come easy for me. I usually want to do things my way. I am prone to rebellion, and like Daisy, I am prone to do things that can get me in trouble.

Like Daisy, as well, I can feel guilty. When I came in and found a box torn up in the den, all it took was the simple question, “What did you do?” to send Daisy under the table with her nub as low as it could go. When I fail (which is much more often than I would like to admit), I usually am looking for a table to be under when I sense God asking me, “What did you do?”

But the good thing about the commandments of God is that they are designed for my well-being and to bring me to a new place in my relationship with God and with my brothers and sisters in God’s world. Instead of thinking about commandments as being those things that constrain me, I have learned to see the commandments of God as the gifts that free me to be the child of God I was created to be.

Michelangelo, the great sculptor and artist of the 16th century, is perhaps best known for things such as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and his sculpture of David (along with many other works). In sculpting, the quote that is attributed to Michelangelo is that

every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.

I think perhaps this is how I have come to view the commandments. Whether we are talking about the 10 commandments of Exodus and Deuteronomy or whether we are talking about Jesus’s recitation of the great commandments (as found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy) to love God and one another, I have come to see the commandments as God’s sculpting of my life to be the child of God I was created to be. And the other part of that reality is the realization that God loved me enough to sculpt that life just for me. God looked at the block of stone that is my life … my sin … my impulsive behavior … my inability to see others as God sees them … and is working to cut away everything that is not my authentic, God-given self.

Yes, commandments are hard. Just like the lovable granddog, I am learning more about commandments each day. But my prayer of thanksgiving is that God loves me through each step as I follow the commandments to love as God loves us!

Live in Grace!

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourselfAll the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

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