Developing Your Family Identity

Family, Thoughts
When I was a kid growing up in a small Indiana town, my father would send me to the local market to buy a loaf of bread.  Sometimes I would pass an old man sitting on a city bench with my dollar bill flapping in the wind.  If he were to ask me "where are you going with that money?" I would have had a ready answer.  "I am going to the store to buy a loaf of bread for my father."  I knew exactly what I was doing with the money because I knew exactly what my mission was.  In the same way, we should be just as clear in our answer when someone asks, "What are you doing with these children that God, the Father, has given you?" When…
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The Christian Family

Family, Thoughts
The balance of truth and grace in a family setting is the theme of  The Christian Family, a highly-recommended book by Larry Christenson.  I especially like the process that brought Larry and his wife, Nordis, to the principles explained in the book. The Christensons were part of a small group of families who in 1963, as parents of young children, came to the realization that standard approaches to family life (at that time centered around a mixture of Dr. Spock, pop psychology, intuition, Sunday School, expediency, Ann Landers, and the-way-I-was-raised) led to a result that was "ten parts frustration to one part satisfaction."  Let Larry himself pick up the story of what happened next from the preface of his book. "So we took a very simple, and, as it turned out,…
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The New Identity Family

Family, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
We now want to explore what the new identity looks like in a family setting.  Remember, our new inclination at its deepest level is to practice our moral resemblance to Christ; to imitate the author of our everything new.  “And the Word [Jesus Christ] became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).  We want to imitate the "grace and truth" of Jesus Christ in our family life. What does imitating Christ in truth look like in a family?  It starts with a family life built on the truth of God’s Word.  The most succinct explanation of God’s plan for your family is found in Ephesians chapters 5 and 6 and Colossians…
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Full Circle

Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
With our latest post on perfection, we have, in a way, come full circle.  We started this blog with the conviction that rightly understanding the extreme newness of who we became in Christ at our conversion will influence how we live.  Particularly, how we relate to and achieve victory in our conflict with sin.  Our theme has been, "Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth" (Eph 4:24).  Our thinking has progressed something like this: At salvation, we were given a new identity and all kinds of new that came with it. Our new identity has a moral resemblance to God Himself. This fact is something we need to know. This fact is something we need to…
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Perfection and Perfectionism

Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
The lawn mowing season in Texas is a long one.  Ours started a couple of weeks ago when we were blessed by two young fellows coming over to mow the lawn.  (Our former, conscripted yard crew up and left for college last fall - can you believe it?)  As our new charges took turns on the riding lawn mower, their father asked me, out of the blue, "Why do you think believers do not take what Jesus said more seriously?" I believe our lack of taking "what Jesus said more seriously" is two-fold.  In the first instance, Jesus' radical call to discipleship which is a large part of what my friend was referring to is at odds with our pursuit of selfish ambition, materialism, the American dream, personal peace, affluence,…
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To Love as God Loves

Love is ..., Thoughts
On more than one occasion in these posts, I have quoted Roberta Bondi from her book, To Love as God Loves.  This thin volume is billed as a conversation with the early church.  The conversation was a spiritual eye opener for me.  C.S. Lewis once observed that reading only modern books is like joining a conversation at eleven o'clock which began at eight, leaving us to wonder about the real bearing of what is being said.  To Love as God Loves is joining a conversation near its beginning. Prior to the fourth century, the message of Christianity was clearly at odds with the pagan Roman Empire.  The dichotomy was so severe that many careers were closed to believers because they somehow entailed supporting, teaching, or depicting pagan mythology.  The distinction…
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Love Walked Among Us

Love is ..., Thoughts
I've written before about the nebulosity of love.  Love is easy to talk about in the abstract, harder to put into practice.  We understand love is the essence of God's character, but how does that translate into love living in us?  We can extol love as the greatest of gifts, but do we lift love to that level in our relationships? As in all things under the New Covenant, our new arrangement with God, the answer goes back to Jesus Christ.  In Jesus, love exemplified took on flesh.  In Jesus, love walked among us.  In Jesus, we have the fullness of love expressed in attitude and action.  And as Jesus reminded us over and over, His life of love was a reflection of the Father. In Love Walked Among Us,…
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Love That Builds

Love is ..., Thoughts
Today we continue the theme of "love trumps knowledge" with a stop in I Corinthians chapter 8.  "Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge.  Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies" (I Cor 8:1).  In other words, while knowledge puffs up, love builds up. In I Corinthians chapters 8 to 10, the apostle Paul writes about the "gray areas" of life in a Christian community, areas where sincere believers disagree about participation in certain events or practices.  A particular challenge to Corinthian believers was whether or not to eat meat sold in the market that was previously used as a sacrifice to idols.  Paul summarizes the knowledge argument for eating the meat in question saying, "Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we…
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Love Trumps Knowledge

Love is ..., Thoughts
As someone who enjoys studying the Bible, enjoys putting the big picture together, and enjoys connecting the dots, knowledge is important to me.  Not some gossippy knowledge of "who hit who" or a superior knowledge compared to the guy next to me.  No, my interest is in a knowledge of God, His creation, His purposes, and how He intended life to work for us; humans created in His image. God values knowledge.  God values the mind.  He instructs us to study to show ourselves approved, to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, and to love God with all our mind.  But as valuable as knowledge is, it pales in comparison to love.  The great chapter on love, I Corinthians 13, makes this point clear.  If I possess great…
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