Sunday, February 17, 2019

Growth

I'm tired of hearing about the church's ambition to grow. To be fair, I have to carefully balance my own perspective. We all like the "body of Christ" analogies and I think it has a lot to offer on this topic. If you have the mind for it, feel free to analogize just about everything that follows. I'm sure you'll see I'm only scratching the surface of this smelly sticker enough to see if its aroma makes your mouth water.

First, growth in general is good and good growth calls for rejoicing. It replaces dead cells and adds new ones where more strength is needed, whether for bones and muscles or immune and circulatory systems. It turns babies into youths into adults. It makes hair fun to cut and style and it makes finger and toe nails resilient tools. And all this good growth has one obvious thing in common, only God has true control over it. We can boost it with steroids or send it sideways with gluttony, but we are helpless when it refuses to happen and sometimes equally helpless when it just won't stop. That's the pattern for countless disorders.

If the world is teaching us anything right now, could it be that growth is not always good? Stock market bubbles. Cancer. Inner-city food deserts. Extremism. etc. Can we make the transition to concerning ourselves with the health of Christ's body rather than it's size? Not only do we have much more control over that but scripture aims us straight at it with the assurance that a healthy body grows (and stops growing) "as God causes it to grow" according to what's best for it. There are already books on this topic so I won't try fit one in the space of this post. But I would definitely encourage you to give it some thought before we're too spiritually obese for our part of the body to support itself. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

You're Adopted!

For anyone who's more than ten months behind the curve like I am, I have four five children now! The headcount always seems one off and being a family is officially challenging. Adding a four year old boy is not the same as adding a two year old girl, our previous addition. I know you all gasped with disbelief just now but it's true. He's the butterfly effect that has brought an exponential increase in energy, adventure and chaos to my wife's well oiled family machine. I say my wife's because, without her, chaos would already play a much larger role. I've long joked that I live in the magical house. So named because it cleans itself, refills the refrigerator, does the laundry and a dozen other routine chores all with reliable precision and very few demands. But the magic is a little glitchy lately.

Affairs of the heart are life's most challenging. In a Spirit led life, sometimes loving has to precede liking, caring has to precede affection and forgiving has to precede the other's repentance. That's especially true in a family, perhaps most of all in adoption. Let me say one thing before you decide this might not pertain to you; if you're God's child, you're adopted. God made it plain he has no natural born children. You came to Christ with baggage from another parent even if you "grew up" in the church. And God's "magical" house usually works on the heart before it works on the laundry. Welcome to the glitch, to priorities that don't square with keeping the status quo even if it was a well oiled machine.


From our recent list of hard-won but worthwhile rewards, I want to share this piece of clarity. Your emotions are not your heart. Your heart is the reason you persevere in spite of your emotions. I take that from the many times Israel narrowly survived God's wrath because of his patience. That distinction matters when you're feeling the pressure to keep working with a good heart while you're also feeling emotions that make you want to braid whips and flip tables. Christ can relate... and he was sinless. Take that to heart. Yes, we make the Spirit groan. But he keeps interceding for us till the work is finished. That's real family, groaning, persevering and highly rewardable in the Kingdom. Now, where's that boy?