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The Power of Who

We all become like the people we spend time with. In a warning, the Bible states the principle as, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33) In an inspiring challenge, the Bible proclaims, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7) The principle is the same, “Who we hang around with affects who we become.”
This is one of the major themes of the book of Judges. In chapter 3, we are reminded that:
• Our relationships shape our spiritual convictions. “They [the Israelites] took their [previous inhabitants of Canaan] daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.” (v. 6) It has long been known that men are greatly influenced by the women in their lives. Even in “modern times” studies show that men tend to change their behavior when they are around women so that they become less competitive, gentler in their conversation and more careful about their attitudes and behaviors. Women, on the other hand, do not change their ways of interacting and behaving much when they are around males. For the nation of Israel, this meant that the men shifted to the spiritual heritage of their wives much more often than the wives were won over.
On a side note, this is one of the reasons men get so angry with women. They are incredibly influenced by the most important women in their lives and they get defensive when that influence doesn’t feel right. Too often men then overreact. It is not right for us men to do this but it is a common reaction. It would be better for us to calmly communicate and learn to negotiate effectively but history has shown that it is an advanced skill for most men.
On another side note, we need to keep proclaiming for the benefit of those who are not married that “Who” you choose has the potential to determine “What” you will believe.
• Our relationships shape our morals. “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.” (v. 7) The people of Israel didn’t set out to make God angry and make bad choices. They didn’t make it their goal to be rebellious or “do evil.” They simply failed to see the consequences of being intimate with people who didn’t share their convictions in life. We are certainly on the earth to be an influence for good. If we want to maintain that influence, we need to choose as our closest allies those who share our moral convictions. It has always been my goal to be friends with people who disagree with me but I am determined that my closest friends will hold tightly to the lifestyle choices I depend on.
• Our relationships shape our opportunities. “He raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them . . . So the land had peace for forty years.” (v. 9-11) The people did better simply because of the presence of Othniel. He was a leader. He had a clear vision of what the nation ought to do. He was solid in his convictions, steady in his morals and sold out to the mission. The rest of the people gained confidence from him and discovered a new way of life.
Lord, remind us today that who we choose to align our lives with will greatly determine what we are capable of in life.

A Long View of Life

Galatians 6:9 reads, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” It has always been easy to apply this verse to my life as I struggle with the realities of life. Work requires patience and perseverance. Owning a home is a constant relationship of maintenance. Helping others is a rollercoaster of victories and disappointments. It would not be difficult to become selfish if I didn’t keep in mind that this phase of life is short and God is faithful to reward us at the proper time.
It hadn’t occurred to me until today that this is a commentary on God’s relationship with His people. Early in the book of Judges, we discover that the people God cared most about are a difficult lot. “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD . . . They forsook the LORD . . . They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the LORD’s anger.” (Judges 2:11-12) In an attempt to get their attention, “the LORD gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them.” (v. 14-15)
It would be easy to conclude at this point that the Israelites were not worth the effort. They were given the greatest privilege on earth. They knew God and had His personal protection, provision and partnership. They were guaranteed success and security as they cooperated with Him. Instead of embracing the privilege they despised it and sabotaged it. They rejected the One who truly loved them and had worked tirelessly to give them a good life. They trivialized the commitment they had made to one another to become involved in silly, self-destructive behavior. Even when life became hard for them, they refused to return to their senses.
Many of you who are reading this are starting to insert names because this scenario has been written over and over in the history of mankind. Spouses can be extremely difficult to love at various stages of their lives. Kids can be nearly impossible to raise at times. Friends can quickly change from comrades to competitors. As I work with people, the same question seems to rise regularly, “Should I hang in there with this person? Are they worth the effort?”
It is, without a doubt, an agonizing question that searches our souls to see how selfless we truly are. It has helped me to realize that God has gone before me in this venture. When the nation of Israel got to the point that “they were in great distress, then the LORD raised up judges.” (v. 15-16) He could have rejected them but instead He raised up judges. He could have given up on them but instead He raised up judges. And the people were ridiculous. “When the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors . . . They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.” (v. 19)
The question remains, why would God continue to love and protect these people? It was for the harvest! God knew that the Savior of the world would be born in the nation of Israel. Today they were hard to love but in due time they would become a blessing to the whole world.
Oh God, give us eyes to see the harvest when the ground seems too hard to plow and plant.

Sticky Influence

Over the years, I have developed an interest in helping people work through the major transition points of their lives. It has become evident that midlife is one of those developmental passages that we don’t talk enough about. We are all familiar with adolescence and resources abound for the retirement years but the preparation phase for the second half of life gets little attention. Within the last month I met a physician who said to me, “I think there should be a training course that everyone goes through as they approach midlife. So many people seem to just go crazy during that time.” The interesting thing about this statement is that we weren’t talking about midlife at the time. It had simply been on his mind and he wanted to talk about it.
I have discovered that this transition is all about influence. Since most of us anticipate living into our eighties (compared to life expectancy of early sixties during the 1960s), the influence curve of our lives has shifted. Our greatest potential for influence occurs now during the years from 50 to 70. Since I am in this stage of life, it has become a major theme in my heart. That is why I think Judges 2:10 stirred my heart when I read it this morning, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.” Joshua had faithfully led the nation of Israel into the Promised Land. Along with Caleb, they unified the people with enthusiasm, direction and conviction. Their faith was real and their lifestyles reflected spiritual strength. The next generation didn’t catch it, however, and that bothers me. During my twenties and thirties, I was primarily concerned with my productivity. How was I going to make a living? How was I going to be productive enough to keep up with the needs of my family? How could I discover God’s will for my life?
The forties shifted my focus and I started asking different questions. How am I going to help others discover God’s will for their lives? How will the world be a better place because I was alive? How can I help my grandkids and great grandkids discover a vibrant faith and quality lives?
I believe Judges 2:10 contains the formula. First, I need to pray diligently for those I want to influence. The potential always exists for another generation to rise up who does not know the Lord. Loving God is always a matter of the heart that comes down to a personal decision by every individual. At some point, everyone I love will be confronted with the remarkable love and grace of Jesus. I can help them hear the message but I can’t decide for them. I have resorted, therefore, to begging God for the hearts of the next generations. I ask Him consistently to have an encounter with each of them and I pray they will have soft hearts when it happens.
The second part of the formula is to tell the stories because the potential also exists that the next generation will not know what God has done. Part of this is a matter of the heart but part of it is in how we tell our history. When the things God has done are told with a context of “I remember when . . .” they are relegated to history. It is easy to conclude that He used to do those things or He had to do those things because we needed more help than the modern world. The stories ought to be told with an attitude of “let me tell you who God is.” His working in our lives is simply a preview of what He is going to do in their lives. As a result, we ought to work on telling the stories with a sense of anticipation and enthusiasm. The stories have influence when they are aimed at building anticipation of what He is going to do next rather than on what He used to do.
Lord, help us live in such a way that those who come behind us know you and the way you work!

When You Love What Must Be Done

Blessing or Burden?

Every time I read 1 John 5:3 I stop for a few seconds. “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.“ When I read this as a young man, it sounded strange but now that I have a family, it makes much more sense. Over the holidays, I had the privilege to spend time with my kids and grandkids. Since we all live in different cities, there was a lot of work to do to get everyone in the same place. Since my three sons are athletic, there was a lot of work to do to keep everyone fed. Since my grandchildren are 4 and 2, there was a lot of work to do just to keep them entertained and to clean up behind them. Some of the tasks that were required to make our time together possible were:
• Make airline arrangements.
• Prepare the car for travel.
• Pack the car with 5 people’s suitcases and Christmas presents.
• Pack clothes, etc. for a week away from home.
• Buy groceries for 9.
• Clean up toys.
• Prepare 8 dinners, 8 lunches and 9 breakfasts for 9.
• Clean up toys.
• Do dishes 18 times.
• Clean up toys.
• Prepare bread to feed ducks, help my granddaughters get their winter coats on, walk to the lake.
• Carry one of my granddaughters for ½ mile
• Feed ducks at the lake.
• Build a snowman.
• Help my granddaughters slide down a small snow hill.
• Walk back from the lake.
• Carry one of my granddaughters uphill for ½ mile.
And on it goes . . . .
The amazing thing is that none of this seemed hard because I love the people I was doing this for. And that made all the difference. When I am connected to my loved ones and have a mutual environment of love, the work is not burdensome. I simply do what needs to be done without feeling put upon. In the same way, when my love for God is clear, anything He asks of me seems like a privilege rather than a command. The problem comes when I lose focus or connection. Then I feel used, taken advantage of and manipulated. The work hasn’t changed but the weight of the work certainly feels heavier.
I have also noticed a correlation with my profession. When I love what I do, it doesn’t seem like work. When I dislike what I must do, it feels like a chore. I saw this in action over one of the lunches I shared with my family. Two of my sons got out a pad of paper and a pen and started strategizing over football. One of them is coaching in high school and the other one is playing in college. The coach wanted to sharpen his skill so he was asking the player to help him evaluate their defensive scheme. Technically, they were working but you would have never known it watching them. They were animated, energetic and fully engrossed in the conversation. They love what they do so it was not a burden.
The challenge for me now is to allow discomfort to be a reminder. When the work I must do for my family feels like a burden, it means I have lost connection with them. When the work I must do for my profession feels like a burden, it means I have lost sight of the privilege of productivity. When the work I must do in my spiritual growth feels like a burden, I have lost touch with the love God has for me.
May love overshadow everything we need to do this week!

What Motivates Me?

As I was reading Daniel 2 today, I encountered this statement, “Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.” (v. 17-18) It got me to thinking, “I would be highly motivated to pray if I believed execution was imminent!” Daniel didn’t have to give much explanation or work very hard to persuade his friends because personal survival was a sufficient motivation.
Fortunately, I am not currently living in imminent danger but the scenario led me to ask, “What motivates me? What keeps me committed to what I think is important and provides energy for my pursuits in the midst of the ups and downs of real life?” It is impossible to sum up personal motivation in a few simple statements but as I begin this new year, I am aware that the following are aspects of what keeps me going:
• My life (and yours) is a partnership with God. After God revealed the King’s dream to Daniel, he prayed, “I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.” (v. 23) Daniel was going to appear before the king but God provided the information he needed to succeed. In similar fashion, I have work to do, a family to support, responsibilities to pursue and causes to fight. Along the way, God provides wisdom and power so that these activities have eternal influence.
• I love the people God has put in my life. Just as Daniel had his three friends, God has filled my life with individuals I care deeply about. My wife, kids, and grandkids are extremely important to me. I am not always happy with them but I always want what is best for them. If I am honest, the times I am upset with them is caused by the sense that they are either under-achieving or performing below their abilities. In contrast, I find great satisfaction when they learn new things, grow wiser and develop new skills.
• I love helping others succeed. I know some people gain energy from personal accolades, being in charge or finding answers but, for whatever reason, I gain motivation when I feel like I have helped others find new insight, persevere in tough circumstances, develop healthier relationships or discover the skills they need for their personal or professional life.
• I remember the change. There was a time in my life when I didn’t know Jesus and had no sense of what my life was all about. I did things in life because I enjoyed them but I had no sense that I was created for a purpose. I grew up the youngest child in a dramatic home. My response was to develop strategic numbness to protect myself from getting hurt in the conflict. Since I met my Savior, the numbness has gradually been replaced with the understanding that I am “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
2012 promises to be filled with opportunities and obstacles, successes and setbacks, breakthroughs and bottlenecks. My goal is to maintain my motivation through it all so that I stay true to my convictions.

Qualified to Choose

I think it is nearly impossible not to be inspired by the story of Daniel. He stood tall in the face of adversity, spent a night with lions and single-handedly proved the power of God’s faithfulness. In some ways, he is head and shoulders above the rest of us and defies comparison. I saw a unique perspective this morning, however, in Daniel 1. His opportunity was made possible by the way God made him and the choices he made.
“Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well-informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace.” (v. 3-4) In order for Daniel to be in the place where God would work through his circumstances, he needed certain attributes that were beyond his control. He needed to be physically fit, good-looking, mentally quick and capable of sophisticated learning. Daniel was not given the opportunity to order these as accessories to his life. God simply chose these for him.
In the same way, the opportunities I have in my life are made possible by the characteristics and skills God chose to give me (and not give me). I can write but I struggle to sing on key. I like to run but I struggle with anything that involves skis or skates. I love team projects, helping people grow and systems that help people be more efficient. These are traits I didn’t select anymore than I did my body type, hair color or when I was born. These traits both energize and limit the opportunities that lie within my radar. If I am to fulfill God’s plan for my life, I must accept these as gifts from his hand to guide me.
“Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” (v. 8 ) The stage was set by Daniel’s natural talents and attributes, but the mission couldn’t begin until Daniel chose. Choices focus our attention and direct our emotions. They cause our thoughts, will and emotions to line up adding momentum to our lives. Our decisions engage our hearts so our pursuits are more than intellectual exercises. They become exhilarating challenges that lead us to appropriate risks and satisfying rewards. When Daniel asked for a special diet, he was taking a calculated risk. Normally his diet would have resulted in him being weaker than the rest of the young men. He was trusting that God would come through for him and do what could not be done simply by human effort.
My journey is certainly not as dramatic as Daniel’s. I don’t serve a powerful political official. I am not at odds with people who would like to throw me to lions. I do, however, have a part to play in God’s plan. Today, I will need to assess the opportunities available to me based on God’s design and I will be confronted with choices that will either enhance or hinder those opportunities.
God, please grant each of us the wisdom today to correctly see the opportunities you have for us.

Decisive Influence

Ephesians 6:4 states, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” There are two words used in this passage that describe the influence of a parent:
Training is a word that means “child training.” It is built around the idea of giving discipline until they develop self-discipline. The goal is to raise up self-directed adults who possess self-control. Early on, they lack this ability so we, as parents, make decisions for them and then gradually release the responsibility to them as they are ready.
Instruction literally means, “training by word.” It has the force of coaching and includes the use of whatever means are necessary to get results. It can, therefore, include teaching, reproof, challenges, reminders, growth strategies, etc. The goal is to help the people we love discover their God-given dream and develop the skills necessary to live it out.
What strikes me about both of these approaches is they are other-centered and they are built around decisions. We are trying to get kids to decide to be self-disciplined and to live out their potential. If I want to maximize my impact on my kids and grandkids then, I need to give them as much decision-making authority as they can handle.
This was especially clear to me as my middle son, Zach, was getting ready to enter high school. We have told all our kids, “When you become a teenager, you need to be busy. So, in addition to school, you need to be involved in two extracurricular activities.” As is common when you have an older brother, he wanted his own identity but he went too far with it. I would ask him, “What do you want to do when you get to high school?”
“I don’t know but I don’t want to be like Brock.”
His motto in life became, “If Brock likes it, I hate it.”
“Do you want to play football?”
“Why not?”
“Because Brock plays football.”
“Do you want to be in student leadership?”
“Why not?”
“Because Brock does that?”
This went on forever and, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get him to decide what he wanted to do. He would only decide that he didn’t want to do anything his brother was doing. I started looking for any means at my disposal to get him to make a healthy decision. I knew that if he entered the turbulent high school years with this attitude, it would not go well. In desperation, I had a sit down meeting with him.
“Zachery, the way you are thinking about your life right now is not good. You keep telling me what you don’t want to be but you aren’t deciding what you do want to be. I can’t really trust you right now to make the right decisions so I need to take action. You have a choice. You can either change the way you are approaching this or I can go to high school with you.”
I knew the message got across because his eyes got as big as basketballs. You could hear the thoughts racing across his mind, “You wouldn’t do that, would you? That would be so embarrassing. I would be the biggest loser in my school.”
I was desperately praying he changed because the last thing I wanted to do was go back to high school! It didn’t take long for him to figure it out. He did play football in high school and then did something his oldest brother would never consider—he became a competitive cheerleader, which eventually led to a college scholarship. It turned out to be a great choice for him.
Lord, give us all wisdom to make decisions that develop self-control and help us reach our potential.

A Pretty Good Start

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the United States so our thoughts naturally focus on the question, “What are we grateful for?” I was intrigued, therefore, when I read Nehemiah 12 this morning. By this time in the story they have finished the work on the wall and they are engaged in a dedication ceremony. To honor the day, the giving of thanks was made a high priority:
• “The Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving. . .” (v. 27)
• “I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks.” (v. 31)
• Then new directors were appointed to keep it going. “For long ago, in the days of David and Asaph, there had been directors for the musicians and for the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.” (v. 46)
I love the picture of two large choirs of people singing back and forth with songs of thanksgiving. With the advent of technology, we can do the same so I want to get things started. Here is my short list of what I am thankful for. As you read the list, think about what you are grateful for and pass it on to others.
I am thankful for:
• A Savior who is both righteous and gracious.
• My wife, Pam, who loves Jesus, loves me and has a driving passion for life.
• My three sons, Brock, Zach and Caleb, who are growing spiritually and actively pursuing their purpose as they understand it.
• A daughter-in-law, Hannah, who thinks clearly, decides with wisdom, leads with skill and is always looking for the best for her family.
• My two granddaughters, Eden and Callan, who brighten my day, keep me laughing and make me feel more important than I actually am.
• My brother, Jim, who helped me find Jesus and continues to be an inspiration in my life.
• My sister, Lori, who set the pace for three young people who felt a need to be leaders.
• My brother-in-law, Bret, who is remarkable at helping me keep a clear perspective on his ambitious sister.
• Friends who pray for me, laugh with me and are genuinely interested in helping each other be our best.
• My dishwasher, washing machine, refrigerator, vehicles and computer which I prefer never to have to live without.
• Grilled chicken, spaghetti with sausages, Ezekiel brand cereal, ice cream, whole wheat bread, chips and salsa.
• Sunshine, walks on the beach, running on mostly flat ground, and dirt in my yard that is not too difficult to dig in.
• Watching Caleb compete in college football.
• Watching Zachery train athletes at the University of Louisville.
• Watching Brock coach high school athletes.
• A nation to live in where I am free to worship my God, build my career, own property, vote for my leaders, drive on open roads and make daily decisions about how I live.
• Technology that has opened the entire world up to ordinary people and connected us in a way previous generations thought impossible.
Lists like this are always problematic because I have left out more than I have included but it feels like a pretty good start!

Figuring Out Father

A friend recently asked me, “If your father wasn’t a good role model, is it hard to figure out how to relate to God as your Heavenly Father?” It is such a good question because we all assume God is kind of like our dads. Intellectually, we know that He is perfect, wise and loving but our emotions don’t always listen to our minds. We spent our most formative years adjusting to our dads so our impression of what it means to be a father is ingrained in our instincts. If your dad was a solid example, this is good news. Your understanding of God as your Heavenly Father will be healthy, dependable and encouraging. If, however, your dad was unpredictable, severely inconsistent, uninvolved or non-existent, you have a lot to overcome.
This question was hovering in my mind when I read Ephesians 5:17-20 today. I noticed in this passage a number of truths about God as our Dad that I want to hold onto and make instinctive:
• He wants us to find and fulfill our unique contribution to life. “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” God has a will and it includes us. His will is mature, focused and effective. That is why the opposite of it is referred to as foolishness. God knows who you are and what you were designed for. As a faithful Father, He is working to help you discover your purpose.
• He wants us to be energetic and powerful. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” When someone is under the influence of alcohol, he says things he wouldn’t normally say, does things he wouldn’t normally do and has a boldness about him that is not characteristic of his ordinary life. In the same way, the Holy Spirit was put in us by our Father to give us words, actions and attitudes that can influence others.
• He wants us to have healthy relationships. The natural result of being under the influence of the Holy Spirit is we speak “to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.” And we will “sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.” This doesn’t mean we walk around singing all the time and answering everyone with music. It does mean we will naturally encourage others to grow and we will seek to include Jesus in our lives in a daily, natural way.
• He wants us to have a positive, grateful attitude. “. . . always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Zig Ziglar is famous for saying, “A positive attitude will not allow you to everything. But a positive attitude will allow you to do everything better than a negative attitude will.”
These are things all of our dads ought to have equipped us for in life. Some of you reading this can rejoice because your dad did that for you. Others of you just feel a void. We can all move forward from here, however. We can learn from God’s word the truth about God as our Father and we can help the next generation get a head start.

The Right Relationships

We all have role models. Whether we can formally identify who they are or say to others, “I want to be like that person,” we are all patterning our personal decisions, interactions, and convictions after others with whom we have significant contact. To be sure, we are individuals with unique characteristics but we have developed that uniqueness by borrowing from others.
I decided early in my adult life that one of the people I should add to my list of role models is Jesus. It seemed like a strange thought at first because He is so much better, so much smarter, and so much more powerful than I could ever hope to be. He did, however, live a human life. He experienced hunger and friendship and family. He also said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:15) The context is specifically regarding serving others since He just washed their feet but the principle applies to all of life.
One of the characteristics of Jesus I want to emulate in my life is having right relationships. In Isaiah 11:2, we see that Jesus has authority partly because He strategically relates to the most important aspects of life. As I follow Him, it is my goal to develop these also:
Right relationship with my decisions: “The Spirit of wisdom and of understanding [will rest on him].” I make so many decisions every day I take them for granted. I have choices about what I will wear, what I will eat, how I will organize my day, how I exercise, what my attitude will be from moment to moment, what step I will take in personal development, and so on. A friend of mine is known for consistently repeating the phrase, “We make our choices and our choices make us.” Each of these decisions goes much better if I have wisdom and understanding to know both what I should and how I should do it.
Right relationship with others: “The Spirit of counsel and of might [will rest on him].” Every relationship on earth is flawed since it is the interaction of two imperfect people. Sometimes human relationships need a soft touch of grace, patience, and humility. People need time to grow and freedom to operate with their imperfections. At other times, relationships need leverage and confrontation. People can be stubborn, unwilling, or blind to what they are doing and need to be confronted with “might.” It is not easy to figure out but it makes all the difference when you get it right.
Right relationship with God: “The Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD [will rest on him].” God is more than an idea, more than a religious notion, and more than a passive Creator. He is a living, thinking, feeling person. To be sure, He is way beyond us in all categories but He set up life so that we could interact with Him. It takes knowledge to get it right. There is so much about God that we will never figure out on our own. It requires us seeking Him and Him responding with revelation for us to discover the truth about His majesty, power, presence, wisdom, eternal nature, love, etc. Because He is infinite, there is no end to everything about Him. Relating to Him, therefore, always involves discovery. It also takes reverence to get it right. Amazingly, God created a way for us to be adopted family members and friends with Him. It is not an equal partnership, however. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and one day “every knee [will] bow . . . and every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Philippians 2:10-11)
Jesus, give us grace this week to have the kind of relationships with our decisions, with others and with God the Father that you had when you walked this earth.