Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Digging deeper

Matthew 7:24-27 describes one of the Bible's most famous parables about the two men who built houses--one on the rock and one on the sand. We all know how it ends, right? When the waves came crashing in the wise man's house remained while the foolish man's did not. While I remember this story being taught in my Sunday school classes as a child, I don't remember ever discussing the parallels in this story to my own life. This is something that we often do as adults, finding more meaning in parables the older we grow.

Tonight, I learned several things about this parable that I hadn't bothered to think about before. The rock can represent Christ or his word. The sand represents the world. The storm represents the ultimate test of our faith: judgement. So far these are parallels that I had made before, or something similar to them. But here's the new part for me--what do the men represent? First, let's look at what they have in common. Both men in this parable are building their houses, and since we're looking at symbolism, let's say these houses represent the lives they are building based on their relationship with Christ. Both men heard the same words from Christ. It can be assumed that both men built their houses (lives) in similar locations and experienced the same storm. Well, what's different then? The result!! When the storm came one house remained while one washed away.

When applying these parallels to our own lives there are several things we can learn. As Christians we are hearing the same Word of God. After hearing from God we all set out to build our lives based on God's teaching that reflects change, correct? But our lives look different and can be built on different foundations depending on our obedience and adherance to God's word. While our lives look similar from the outside, they may be stunningly different on the inside. This difference will allow varying results to occur in our lives as Christians same as it did with the houses in the storm. If we truly build our lives on God's word, then our lives should look different as we bear godly fruit and become more Christ like; when judgement comes we can stand confident knowing that our lives were different because of Christ. If we attempt to build our lives but choose to only have the shell of a Christian life, choosing a worldly foundation, then we too will find that our lives are washed away when judgement comes.

Now here's where I want to take this a step further--I think we have a responsibility to each other as Christians to make sure that we are all building on the right foundation. Sometimes it's easier to maintain a shell that makes it appear like honest change in our life has occurred and that we are bearing fruit for God. But how do we know that our friends, neighbors, colleagues and Sunday school peers are truly building their life on a godly foundation? This is where we have to dig deeper and build relationships by asking sincere questions and truly caring about those in our lives. It's really easy to come home at night and shut the garage door while your neighbor is shouting hello. Why don't we take the steps to build relationships, both with those we think are Christians and with those who are not? It's hard to discuss matters of the heart with people if you don't know the daily matters they struggle with. Make an effort-dig deeper so that you know what foundation your family and friends are building on.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Ultimate Gift

Have you ever watched a movie that totally inspired you? I just watched The Ultimate Gift and it did just that--I know, kind of sappy and really cliched, but it's true. The movie brought me to tears as the main character had to learn about different gifts--the value of work, friendship, money, laughter, and family to name a few. I am in agreement with the film's writer, those are all gifts but the ultimate gift to all of us is the gift of life in Christ Jesus. I am so thankful for my salvation and even more thankful that nothing in this world can change or compromise my eternal life. I am thankful for the gift of enjoyment that God has so richly and generously bestowed upon me. In honor of the enjoyment I have been given, I am going to list some things that I enjoy...may God be honored in this list for He has blessed me with them all.

-Sunsets (in Arizona, Florida and anywhere in between)
-I selfishly enjoy the silence that envelops me when I wake before anyone else
-Working--indoors, outdoors, it doesn't matter; there's a lot to be said for something earned through your own sweat
-Food: eating it, talking about it , reading about it and even thinking about it
-Listening to my niece Gracie learn to talk
-Watching my nephew Pete run from the fridge to the couch in the living room (he learned this game from his elder siblings)
-Holding Jake on my lap when he reads to me
-Seeing Dylan smile her toothless smile
-The smell of a horse after a long day's work
-The smell of freshly cut grass
-The smell of sunblock--oh it brings back memories of my childhood
-Morning chats with my mom
-Cooking with Gretchen (my sister-in-law)
-Watching my mom and dad together now that all of us kids are grown and out of the house
-Receiving a letter from Martin, my Compassion kiddo
-Knowing I share my heart for God with someone
-Preparing food to serve others
-The intoxicating smell of coffee
-Watching Gator football and Wildcat basketball
-Grocery shopping
-Eating hamburgers and sandwiches with one hand
-Those little cartons of milk that you got to drink out of in elementary school
-An unexpected hug from a student

“But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”
1 Samuel 12:24