Monday, March 31, 2014

For Man's Benefit

For Man’s Benefit

A few years ago I wrote a book about how God intended for relationships to work. I based everything around the idea that we were created for relationship – first with God and second with each other. Actually, I went on to argue that relationship with each other is a byproduct of our original purpose in creation – not the original purpose itself. However, I stated that since God is interested in relationship with people then He is also interested in people having relationship with other people. That makes sense, right? God wants us to experience the best and if He enjoys relationship with people then wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) we?

I have decided to post a series of excerpts from this book to talk about relationships. This first one talks about God’s intention in the creation of man – the start of relationship. I have friends that have really enjoyed a recent series on television that talks about the creation of the world and origin of life based on the theory of a “Big Bang” and evolutionary devices. As a Christian, I see the world as more intentional than that – not because science proves the intentionality of the world, but because my faith in God leads me to believe that I am lovely and special; intentionally. 

So, below is an excerpt that deals with one reason for God creating man (and the world).

God created man in his own image; man was created for the reason of fellowship with God. Not so much because God was bored, but rather because he knew it would be good for us. This is hard for us to grasp because we create things for the good of us, not for the good of the item.

You could maybe compare this to planting a tree (but still this doesn’t do it justice). When you put tree seeds in the ground and start to water them, you are doing this for the good of them. You don’t really gain much from the growing of these trees. You do gain some, whether it be fruit from it in future years, or shade while you read a book. If you are like Kelly and I, you did it because you wanted to get your landscaping deposit back from the neighborhood association.

-we create pizzas because we want to eat them.
-we create kids because we want kids.
-we create computers to make our lives easier.

That illustration doesn’t even do it justice, because God doesn’t really gain anything, because the nature of God is that he lacks nothing. So he chose to do something that we could never do, and frankly would never choose to do. God created man for man’s benefit.

Wrapping your mind around that would take an eternity, which is appropriate since that is what we all have.

What does this mean as we pursue relationships with other people?
Does our purpose for relationships change when we consider this purpose of God’s?
How does this idea shape your understanding of God’s love for you?

Thursday, March 27, 2014



Generally speaking, people have to tell me things multiple times. I have a horrible memory. Long-term and short-term - it doesn't matter. I have a theory why my memory is so bad: maybe I never "knew" the thing I was supposed to remember?

I don't want this to be true - but I don't think I have a memory problem. I think I have a listening problem. Some people call it selective listening, I just call it "not listening". I get very focused on single things and I tend to ignore all other stuff. I don't bounce from thing to thing and when focused on something I am rarely distracted. To be honest, I am the opposite of people who suffer from ADHD. Should I feel good that people take drugs to be more like I am naturally?

Seriously, I am the extreme in the other direction and it can be just as unhealthy. My wife is the perfect picture of a multi-tasker and it is a source of contention with us. She can iron clothes, have a discussion about finances and watch a television show all at the same time. I can only do one of those things at a time and I get very frustrated when I am expected to watch a show and have a serious conversation with Kelly. She struggles to slow down and I struggle to speed up. It is strange how two similar people can be so opposite in how they listen and relate with the world. Although we agree on most things, figuring out that we have common ground is sometimes hard. Listening is the key to us being on the same page and we both listen differently. We both can listen though!

So my task is two-fold: making sure I am listening to Kelly the best I can and trusting that Kelly is listening to me. When Kelly has something to communicate I need to make sure I show her that I value her by changing my focus from what I was doing to actively listening to her. I also need to respect that Kelly is able to listen to me while completing a different task at the same time.
Acknowledging and respecting where we are different will help us to interact and listen to each other better.

How do you listen best? 
Are you able to listen well while also engaged in another task?
How does your spouse or child expect you to listen? 
Do they require more focus on tasks than you do, or are they more of a multi-tasker?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Where am I looking for acceptance?

Where am I looking for acceptance?

Looking back on my Jr. High and High School years I can rattle off the names of girls who consumed my thoughts. I wanted to be accepted by these girls and for them to validate me as worthy. I was sometimes successful and other times I failed miserably - but no matter the outcome it seemed that this was a pattern that would continue to repeat itself over and over again.

I remember the girl I dated before my wife, it was my last foolish endeavor. I had looked for acceptance from girls, to validate my worth, long enough and I had to break the cycle - and that is precisely what I did. The ending was liberating, messy, but liberating. This is what we do though, right? We validate our worth by the acceptance we are able to gain in relationships.
- If my parents accept the choices I make, I have value to them.
- If a person accepts my invitation for a romantic relationship, I have value to them.
When I finally broke free I found myself judging my worth based on the only relationship that truly mattered. I find that the value God places on me is my true value. God is the creator and the constant, which makes Him able to define my worth better than any other.

Temperature has been historically measured by the expansion and "rising of mercury" because that is a constant that everyone can use so that we communicate correctly how the weather outside feels. Mercury is the constant that can be trusted because it will always react the same way.

Our mom, dad and friends are mostly constant - but they are not "flawlessly constant" like God. For us to understand what our true worth is we need to turn to the one who accepts us, because he also created us. It is through the eyes of God that our value and worth are truly seen. God's eyes are the only ones that can accurately perceive our value and it is through scripture that God communicates the value and worth He sees (and created) in us.

"The Lord is for me, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" - Psalm 118:6
"But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you." - 1 Peter 5:6-7

Our value - our worth - is found in the one who has the authority and is a constant that all things can, and will, be judged by. We are accepted by God; is that going to be enough for us?

Where do you look for acceptance?
Who do you let define your value and worth?
How can you begin to rely on the value and worth God has for you?