He Came to Me and Gave Me Himself


GodReflection: Does God Care Specifically About Me?

 But God demonstrated his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, [He] died for us (Romans 5:8).

gary portraitConfession Time:

I have never approached another human being with the proposal, “I see you are weighed down with a huge burden called life. If you will give it all to me I will carry it for you. You need not worry yourself any longer.”

Flash Back:

I was already several years into cross-cultural church plants prior to enrollment into a World Religions course.

The big eye opener was to see that every religion known to humankind—with one exception—are all “to do” religions that require sacrifices and offerings IN EXCHANGE FOR hopeful salvation.

The Exception:

He16In Holy Scripture God came to me free of charge. He did not bring a list to fulfill for salvation.

He came to communicate from His heart, “I see you are weighed down with a huge burden called life. If you will give it all to me I will carry it for you. You need not worry yourself any longer.”

This is a Holy-Reality thought. It should stop me dead in my tracks about every fifth step. Its truth is so grand that it verges on the too good to be true.

The idea that God comes to me goes against lifetime bombardments of “to does to be save.”

“Hey God, I’m over here. Just a minute and I will read from my Bible, make a promise to do better, attend a church activity, or send some money to a good cause.”

I cringe when I find myself chasing God to get His attention.

He14In stark contrast Scripture shows me a God who ran to receive a lost son (Luke 15:20).

He is a God whose highest priority is to seek and to save any individual—including me—who is lost (Luke 19:10).

The same Jesus who declared Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father (John 14:9), demonstrates a Holy God who sought out and dined with abused women, dishonest business people, lepers, and those with every imaginable sin.

He came to them with outstretched hands just as He came to me and to you.

He is the God who pursues, who hunts, who seeks, who invites, who looks. He is the one who comes. He is the Holy Aggressor.

I worship a God who did the unthinkable.

From His Holy vantage point in the Throne room—after His creation lived in chronic unfaithfulness throughout thousands of years—He determined the time had come to act.

He12He would come to earth, seek out, and walk with any human being who would join their heart to His. He came to me.

He would come to give Himself—through Jesus His Son—who:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind (John 1:1-4) who became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

Ok, I’ll readily admit this next thought is beyond my pay scale.

He15He not only came to me but, he took every sin, misstep, and mistake I will ever make, and died in my place so that I would not have to pass through eternal death.

He came to me so that I can be raised like Jesus to live eternally in the presence of the Holy.

As I seek God’s reassurance that He care specifically about me, I now add a third brickGod came to me—and brick four—He gave me Himself.  

So, here is my third and fourth of twelve steps to help me become less of an “earthoholic” and more addicted to the Holy.

Will you believe that you are in God’s direct line of sight? He comes to you because He gave Himself for you.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: He Came to Me and Gave Himself for Me.

Gary@Godreflection.org 

www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

 

I Am His Prized Possession


GodReflection: Does God Care Specifically About Me?

gary portraitMy baseball card collection from the 1950’s Topp’s Chewing Gum Company of New York had them all.

The rookie cards of the New York Yankees’ Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Stan Musial, the Giants’ Willie Mays, the prized1Cubs’ Ernie Banks and the Braves’ Hank Aaron.

It was my prized collection. The picture cards of the very best baseball players during the 1950’s decade composed my treasure.

In hindsight, I was posed to experience riches.

Collected from five cent packs of bubblegum with the prize insert of a half-dozen heroes, my prized possession was securely guarded in a cigar box carefully selected from the discards at our corner grocer.

prized3My mistake was to leave my treasure stored in the home garage when I departed for college and later discover it didn’t accompany the family move.

I lost my prized possession. I would never be rich.

Unlike me God never abandons His prize possession. God moves across the face of His globe and His glowing galaxies while He always keeps me—His prized possession—within His loving embrace.

It’s rather audacious to claim to be a prized possession of God, isn’t it?

Care1The neat thing is that Creator God who created an endless universe has a heart equally endless in its capacity to contain every child who gives a heart to Him. Each becomes a distinct prize possession of the Holy.

As I write this it’s the time of the year when I find myself in the Psalms. I am impressed again with the freedom the writers feel to praise, complain and lament. They do so out of deep felt relationship to Holy God. They know Whose they are. They are prized by Creator God.

New Testament writers live on this side of cross. They fully understand what God has done through Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, and the ascension.

prized5The tenor of their message to each individual is simple. Anyone who has placed their heart, their trust, and their hand into the hand of Jesus, receives individual prize possession coverage summarized by Peter the apostle:

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9).

prized6.jpgAs I seek God’s reassurance that He cares specifically about me, I add to the first brick—God placed me on earth for this time and this place—this one: I am His prized possession.

So it is my second of twelve steps to become less of an “earthoholic” and more addicted to the Holy.

That not too hard of a buy-in, is it?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: I Am His Prized Possession

Gary@Godreflection.org
http://www.GodReflection.org
http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

 

Did God Put Me on Earth for This Time and Place?


GodReflection: Does God Care Specifically About Me?

gary portraitWhy I am a resident on planet earth is not a question that is high on my list at this point in my walk.

Although, I don’t know that I am absolutely right in my conclusion, I resolved it—at least to my satisfaction—earlier on in my earth journey. When I looked at my Bible I found that God selected rather ordinary people for His assignments.

He always knew them by name and was quite aware of each person’s strengths and weakness. But for each He had an assignment during a time and place in history.

earth10I like to think that I’ve lived with a sense of purpose. I read about God’s assignment for the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart . . .” (Jeremiah 1:5).

I have a suspicion that God sees each of us in the same light. When we complete His design, and fulfil His expectation He must smile. How He must hurt with disappointment when we determine to go in our own direction and create our own agenda.

When Paul the apostle wrote to the Asian gateway church in the Ephesus, surely, he remembered the Jeremiah scroll as he penned:

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves . . .

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will . . . (Ephesians 1:4-6 & 11).

earth3The best I can tell, the same God who cares specifically for each sparrow and knows the exact number of hairs on my head (Luke12:6-7) placed me where He did at a specific time in history.

That I was born into a certain family and church tribe in the New Mexico desert didn’t catch Him by surprise.

I suspect God set it within my heart to fulfil His purposes in certain locations during the dash that will someday be on my tombstone. It goes without saying that at any point where I’ve been found to aligned with His design; those tasks were carried out in less than stellar fashion.

Paul was familiar with the prophet Isaiah’s description of God as potter and we human types as clay. I like the apostle’s use of the imagery as he describes our feeble attempt to be light over the course of our short walk:

earth4We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Andy Lee, a North Carolina writing friend, on her daily blog, Words by Andy Lee, sums up God’s love for each of us, His awareness and presence with each of us over our time and place walk:

“God hasn’t called us to be a BIG somebody . . . He’s called us to follow Him. Whatever that looks like. He’s called us to make a difference in our part of the world. He’s called us to live with eternal perspective.”

earth7When I take my eyes off of me and look across even my limited horizon of the church, I stand in awe at the variety of people and the powerful way God uses them specifically to touch unlimited corners of our world.

Is this not our God’s specificity at work through each individual at specific times and places across our globe?

Have you considered the possibility that you were placed by God on this earth for this time and this place?. I would love to hear your perspective. What conclusions have you reached?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Did God Put Me on Earth for This Time and Place?

Gary@Godreflection.org
http://www.GodReflection.org
http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

Does God Care Specifically About Me?


GodReflection: Does God Care Specifically About Me?

gary portrait4Belief in God accompanied my infancy, childhood, teenage and college years. That belief has grown over my walk like the line on an up and down graph.

It has always been pretty much a given to believe in big picture Creator God.

But, does God the creator care specifically about me–a microscopic spec–in relation to His created earth, oceans and its solar system with an endless canopy of stars and galaxies.

Care1I’ve experienced enough life bumps along my road that sometimes made it seemed more like He was watching stars and galaxies rather than my obstacle course.

Because of my background it wasn’t all that difficult to believe that God cared about mankind in general and more specifically about the body of people who gave Him allegiance.

I can’t prove it, but most likely the very first verse I memorized from my Bible was “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

care6As far back as I can remember, belief in God’s love for all humanity has accompanied me. I would have to admit there seemed certainly to be some exceptions like Booger Red the neighborhood bully.

In my mind, I’ve sometimes thought that the headline villains who accompanied each decade may have acted in ways to project themselves beyond God’s love. However, basically I bought into the pulpit affirmation that God loves all people. Red and yellow, black and white they are precious in His sight.

Ok, God wants salvation for all people but does that camp of millions of saved people receive God’s individual attention?

care11Am I just one of a number or does He care specifically about me and my day to day progress or the lack there of?

Does God know I wear white socks every day and that I part my hair on the right?

Does Father God know how I am dressed this morning? Can He pick me out of earth’s over-crowed billions?

And, within that crowd can I have the confidence that the arms of the Holy embrace me daily to empower my earth walk?

Within His care for the billions does He specifically care about me?

I am an “earthoholic.”

As a descendent of fallen humankind, I have far too much earth soil on my feet and far too little garden perfection in my walk.

care18Over the next series of posts, I want to suggest twelve steps that can raise my confidence level to the point of ardent belief that God does in fact care specifically about me.

I want to become less of an “earthoholic” and more addicted to the Holy.

I hope you will join me and invite others to read over my shoulder in hopes that together we can build our trust in the specificity of God’s care and helpfulness as we each walk along the path of our years on planet earth.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Does God Care Specifically About Me?
Gary@Godreflection.org
http://www.GodReflection.org
http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

Inherited Faith, My Bible, The Future


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portraitAs I close this series of posts I must revisit my childhood faith.

In reflection, just as assuredly as I inherited the color of my skin, my eye color and the rest of my physicals features, I inherited my faith.

Ok, I’ll admit my faith didn’t arrive through DNA but from parents, grandparents, extended family and my tribal church. It was acculturated into my soul.

inherit2My inherited faith came gift wrapped with rich blessings as well as barnacles that tightly grasped the ribbons and bow. In a fallen world that is how acquired faith is passed on.

In addition to their love and accurate teaching, my family and my tribal church held some misguided views they perceived as non-negotiable. Those views came from reading their Bible. As today, the influence of fellow interpreters wrongly shaped how they understood some rather important themes within Holy Scripture.

However, from my inherited faith, I received two huge gifts for which I will always be grateful. I was taught that my Bible was inspired by God and that I should read it as the guide for my walk. Second, I was taught to trust Father God.

inherit5Rooted in those two gifts my current faith grows in the soil of my soul. Inherited faith massaged over a lifetime was foundational to my adult faith. It is a faith I own and a faith the Holy wants to continue to grow in my soul.

It is the very two gifts received from my inherited faith that sustain my current walk. So today I read my Bible with concern for my own understanding and to grow my relationship to the Holy. I no longer read to prove others wrong or to boost my ego by declaration that I am right while others have it wrong.

It is from a consistent encounter with my Bible and the effort—as feeble as it may be—to apply its principles and teaching to my daily walk that I grow step by step in greater trust of God, Jesus and Spirit.

inherit14What about the future?

I find that the way I read my Bible has everything to do with my future.

As I move forward I think of at least seven guidelines I want printed on the lens of my glasses as I read:

1. I want to read my Bible with greater confidence. Confident that little by little the words of Holy Scripture will transform my life in small increments to reflect more Jesus in my walk.

2. I want to read with the realization that my Bible is a conversation between God and me. Our conversation is personal. I read to grow trust and to allow Him to form me and my heart for the next reality.

3. I want to read for service. My faith walk on earth will affect how I treat everyone who crosses my path. So, I want to read my Bible for insight into how I can be used by the Spirit for more effective witness.

inherit004. I want to read my Bible with full awareness that I still have an enormous need for growth. I find that I yet need major Spirit-filled help to see my patience fruit turn from tree-green to a ripe fruit of the Spirit. The over expectation of this baby boomer in an ill-trained public sector is a constant reminder of how far I have to grow.

5. I want to read my Bible with full consciousness of my Adamic-nature. I interpret that to mean I want to read to cultivate humility and more of a non-judgement spirit toward others. Even on my best days I am far from faultless performance. Which moves me to my next point.

6. I want to read my Bible with increased acceptance and expectation of the Holy’s cleansing grace on my behalf. Even after a lifetime, it is still hard to grasp fully that my salvation and daily forgiveness stands on the reality of what Jesus has done. It is a free gift given to me that thrilled heaven when I accepted it.

7. I want to read my Bible with anticipation of the final resurrection. It has never been closer. One of two thing will happen. The finish line of my earth-walk is not too distant. Either, I will cross and wait in timelessness the return of Jesus or He will break into our currently reality and culminate earth into Eternal Holy Presence.

inherit8Has any portion of your faith come by way of inheritance? If so, how does that color the way you read your Bible? Does your present Bible reading challenge both your inherited and your current faith?

What seven themes would you identify to shape how you will read your own Bible from this point forward? I would love to hear your insights.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Inherited Faith, My Bible, The Future

Gary@GodReflection.org        http://www.GodReflection.org    http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

My Bible Is True—But JESUS IS TRUTH


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portraitNext week I plan to bring this fourteen-post series to a close.

Thanks for reading along with me as I’ve attempted a preliminary look at factors that can cause me to see one of God’s children as an imposter; rather than as one who is in fact my holy sister or brother loved by our Father. We could just be reading our Bible from different perspectives.

When I look at my own church tribe—not to mention when I consider others that claim God as Father and Jesus as Lord—I see a wide variety of views, beliefs and definitions of doctrine.

Within my church heritage we gather to worship with different understandings of discipleship, roles of men and women in worship, heaven, hell, sacrifice and money, local church function and communion. Certainly not a complete list. How about a common view of John’s Revelation among us?

truth6If we were to place a random fifty of us in a room we could fill multiple whiteboards with lists of our own counter views drawn from our Bible. I dare say some of our differences would center on what we define as doctrine.

Yet, we hold in common the belief that our Bible is true. We believe that our Bible was designed, preserved and inspired by God.

What is it that could help us extend a greater portion of grace to each other?

I have come to believe that perhaps our search in scripture is for the wrong truth. Maybe we should first look for JESUS THE TRUTH.

truth7Is my truth search for procedure and for the purpose of building my own body of doctrine? Rather, shouldn’t I place at the forefront of my reading the one who assumed the very definition of truth?

Jesus declared—as a matter of fact—“I am the way and the Truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

The entirety of the Old Testaments moves toward the introduction of Jesus Messiah. The Gospels record his life, death and resurrection, and the remainder of the New Testament his presence as THE TRUTH empowering the church.

With Christ at center stage of Holy Scripture shouldn’t He be the Truth lens through which I read my Bible?

I can trust Jesus to be true.

Now back to our differences in viewpoint drawn from our Bible.

truth14Were we to look first at Jesus, how can we then deal with such disagreements as the roles of men and women, worship, heaven, hell, sacrifice and giving, local church function and communion?

What if I explored Jesus’ example and instruction found in the Gospels? What is Jesus intent. What happens at each encounter? Is his attempt to teach something significant beyond the literal encounter that is a mere illustration of his point?

Is his concern really how I calendar communion or is his concern that I recognize the cleansing power of his body and blood on my behalf through the symbols of bread and wine? And from that recognition, I am to observe his symbols with consistency and humility.

Is it important to Jesus that I speculate on the specifics of heaven and hell? Isn’t his concern and intent that I set my focus on him and by so doing I will live with him eternally?

Isn’t the reality of eternal separation from the Holy the real deterrent of hell rather than how I might envision its hellish features?

truth1Last evening in a re-read of the late Henri Nowen’s book, In the Name of Jesus, I came across this passage that clearly expresses the core consideration of this post:

But when we are securely rooted in personal intimacy with the source of life, it will be possible to remain flexible without being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative (page 32).

If we will only listen to Jesus speak and grow more familiar with his life, priorities and the way he treated people, don’t you think JESUS THE TRUTH will give us more common ground as we read our Bible?

And, as we make the effort to grow in love with Jesus, I suspect our Bible will sound more and more alike. What do you think? I would love to hear from you.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: My Bible Is True—But JESUS IS TRUTH

Gary@GodReflection.org    http://www.GodReflection.org       http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

The Great Interpreter Is God—Not Me


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portraitI live in a big city. Hidden in the city I miss the reminder of God’s grandeur. We city dwellers may find that concrete and bricks limit our daily visuals of All Powerful Creator God.

Day and night, I am either inside a house covered by ceiling or in the streets staring at pavement in an attempt to stay out of the pathway of a gazillion cars flying above speed limits and moving in my direction.

At this point in my walk I find much of my effort is spent on my deteriorating body. almighty7From my pavement focus while driving, to my downward gaze when I walk, my actions are careful to NOT speed up my demise. I try not to skin my knees and my nose by a fall nor end my time on earth in a wrecked automobile.

Often, I find when I read my Bible I am focused on a specific thought or a limited arena of concern. Far too often I read without a consideration of big picture God.

As I hunt and peck at the keys of my keyboard I think back to earlier years. Like a Power Point presentation, I see frames of sleeping bag nights in wait of sleep as I took in the vastness of God’s grand sky. The moon shown bright and stars filled the heavens in numbers too great to be counted.

almighty19Pictures flash before my mind of past views of high mountain ice-cold lakes in the Mountain Ranges of New Mexico, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and the Andes of Argentina.

I see beloved images of the rugged vastness of New Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert and the beauty of the tall pines in the Sacramento Mountains.

My Power Point continues to run through moments of awe at the enormity of Brazil’s Amazon, the power of her rivers, the beauty of the Pantanal and her exquisitely sculptured beaches.

almighty12Surely, God’s magnificence needs to also penetrate my Bible reading.

Ok, what’s my point?

When I look back over my Bible reading walk, I recognize that in earlier years my reading was anemic. My focus was upon how close I followed what I had learned from others. To be fair, I probably read more with brain than heart. I was more concern with my rightness than I was with relationship to the power source.

Yes, I did need to know God’s written word. Yes, I did want to honor it. But, with my eyes lock on city concrete I failed to see the larger grandeur of Jesus the Word. Perhaps I sought truth without awareness that Truth is Jesus since Jesus is Truth.

I was saved but I still believed Pluto was a real planet.

almighty13I learned and believed over my life that Pluto was a planet. It wasn’t until eleven years ago in 2006 that I learned I had believed wrong.

All because a bigger picture came into view and scientist reclassified Pluto. Still a heavenly wonder but little Pluto was removed from the planet list.

I must always read my Bible with an attitude of humility. I will arrive at some wrong interpretations because of my humanity. I suspect that is ok with the ONE who sees across all of the light years of the universe. He knows that my brain is limited in understanding.

almighty6What applies to me applies to others. It’s ok that we don’t read our Bibles alike. The same God that interprets the universe also sees my human ceiling, pavement and sidewalks.

He knows that far too often you and I read our Bible concerned with our present circumstances forgetting to trust the one who see the entire picture and is its perfect interpreter.

If God who is the final and Great Interpreter still accepts me when my limitations that cause me to understand many aspects of my Bible different from others; shouldn’t I allow Him to grant you the same grace when your understanding is different from my own?

And, shouldn’t I too open my heart valve and let some grace flow in your direction?

After all is said and done, all knowing and all-powerful God, who was before the beginning of time, is still the Great Interpreter—not me.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: The Great Interpreter Is God—Not Me.

Gary@GodReflection.org       http://www.GodReflection.org    http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com