Tag Archives: relationships

The Son Of God

weekly theme #7*

week containing the first Sunday after Epiphany

Mark 1:22 says, “They were amazed at [Jesus’] teaching, for he taught as one who had real authority – quite unlike the teachers of the religious law.”  I think it was more than his style or method of teaching that impressed those who listened to Jesus.  I believe it also held a depth that was only possible because of his communication and confidence with Father as well as his knowledge of the life beyond death.  I believe eternity will be more marvelous than I can imagine, and one of the highlights will be peace in all the relationships there.

Jesus said that he could only do what he saw his Father do (John 5:19), and he gave huge quantities of time to the relationship with his Father.  (Luke 6:12, Mark 1:35, Mark 6:46-47)  He filled himself with what the Father modeled and that bore good fruit.  What fills me determines my beliefs, then my values, then my behavior, and ultimately the fruit I bear.  My fruit indicates my filling.

I’m sitting in a room with several chairs scattered about, and one chair sits alone in the middle – facing my direction.  I imagined Jesus sitting there and asked him how I can balance all the things that beckon for my focus.  In a patient voice he said, “Focus on me.”  I cannot focus whole-heartedly on more than one thing, and nothing is more worthy of my focus than Jesus.  Only he can save me, and just as importantly, only he can improve me.  My best effort at improvement is cooperating with the LORD.  Thinking that I improve myself leads to pride and judgment of others.  I put myself on a pedestal to look down at others.

My call should send me to my knees, not a pedestal.  Jesus has trusted me to do his work, and I can only do his work if he possesses me.  “He will not crush those who are weak or quench the smallest hope.  He will bring full justice to all who have been wronged.  He will not stop until truth and righteousness prevail throughout the earth.”  (Isaiah 42:3-4a)  This is what Christ’s Body, the Church, is to do.  This is what I am to do.

When confronted by people who say, “Why doesn’t God do something?” I must honestly answer that he has.  He has empowered and commanded his followers to let him work through us, but we refuse to cooperate faithfully.  Honestly, I’m part of the problem when God designed me to be part of the solution.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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Searching for God Knows What

I just finished Donald Miller’s book, Searching for God Knows What.  I normally take pages of notes when I read books offering guidance for living, but I only jotted six thoughts from this book by Miller.  Sometimes less is more.  Let me share those six things.

  1. I am concerned with what people think of me because I ignore or dismiss the only One who can provide the affirmation I need.  Miller isn’t suggesting that I totally ignore other people but more eagerly embrace God’s love toward me just as I am.  He is the only one I need not pretend to be who I am not.  He sees me in all my sin, but still reaches out to me in acceptance.
  2. Human praise is so ineffective that I need it repeatedly and from a multitude of people.  This is absolutely how I operate.  I want to be loved, admired, respected, or whatever term makes sense to you.  I seem to desire this from a variety of people – even from people I don’t really like.  And the strokes I do receive are seldom satisfying for any length of time.  Soon I’m again hungry for affirmation.
  3. There is nothing wrong with being liked, but that is not my redemption.  That does not establish my true worth.  My worth is not determined by how many Facebook friends I have or even the depth of my friendships.  My true worth is determined by the value placed on me by the Redeemer.
  4. Repentance is choosing to have an audience of One rather than many.  This illustrates Miller’s conviction that “being saved” is more about relationship with Jesus than praying certain words or doing certain tasks in a certain order.  Asking people, “What do you have to do to become a Christian?” results in as many answers as people you ask.  What if being saved was the process of becoming wholly devoted to Jesus.  What if being saved wasn’t so much about “what” as it is about “who”?
  5. People are not right or wrong. I merely select ideas, beliefs, or behaviors that are right or wrong and make them my own.  I expend too much energy, damage too many relationships, and create too many wars just trying to be right – or trying to prove you are wrong.
  6. Do I ___________ just so I can check it off my list?  (stick any spiritual act in the blank)  Do I pray to strengthen my relationship with Jesus or just to complete the duty?  Do I go the gathering of the church to deepen my love for Jesus or out of habit?  If my focus was Jesus and doing whatever it takes to tighten my grip on him, what would I do?

Miller helped me see how shallow I am in relationships.  He fueled the flames within me for deep community and devoted love for Jesus.  And he assured me that love was a journey, a life-long journey.

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Making Love

“How often do you think we should make love?” she asked.

His head swirled.  This isn’t what he expected.  He applied to be on this game show because he thought it would be fun to tryout.  He never expected to actually get on the show!  Now here he sits on one side of a curtain, along with two other men.  A girl sits on the other side asking the male trio personal questions.  At the end of the questioning she selects which guy she wants to date.

Her questions were simple, and his honest answers came easily – at least until now.  How could he answer this one?  He believed that sex was an act too intimate for any relationship short of marriage.  But if he gave that answer, on national TV, he would be a laughing stock.  Worse yet, he’d just reinforce the stereotype people carried around for Christians – clueless goodie-goodies.  He needed an answer that carried a message, was honest, and be considered a “good” answer by Christians and mockers alike.  And he needed it now!  “Bachelor number three, what is your answer?” asked the host.

“Well, first I need to make clear that I don’t think making love is the same thing as sex.  Sex can strengthen love, for sure.  It can also imitate love and, unfortunately, replace love.  But I don’t think it makes love.  I think love is made by caring more for another person than for yourself.  You make love by going to a show when you want to go sit at home and watch TV.  It’s waiting without complaint when someone is late.  It could even mean listening to someone talk instead of watching the big game.  So to answer your question as you asked it, I want to make love every minute we are together – and apart.  I never want to have a moment in our friendship when we weren’t making love.  And as to the sex question, I think that’s something you and I can discuss in private.”

It was dead silent for a second then the audience erupted in applause.  One woman in the crowd yelled, “If she doesn’t pick you, I will!”  The two guys beside him just glared.  For the first time in anyone’s memory, the host was speechless.  And across the curtain, unknown to him, the young girl dapped at a tear in her eye.  God had given him the right answer – and not just for this show.

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