God Smiles When Children Approach

GodReflection: What Make God Smile?
And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them (Mark 10:16).
gary portraitThere is one aspect of the Santa Claus myth that even as an adult still draws me. I love the image of his outstretched arms that invite children to climb upon his lap.

It’s a mutual extension of arms. Countless times you’ve seen it—the little lap9child with arms raised high with great anticipation of a warm lap and a welcome embrace.

Why is it so hard to ascribe personality to Jesus who took the form of a man? Since we are told by Luke that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man, I assume people enjoyed his company.

If he came to reflect a picture of God, wouldn’t it be assumed he wants us to know we can see God when we see Jesus?

lap2Children are frequent guest throughout the Jesus narrative of the four gospels. They are specifically mentioned as Jesus feeds the two crowds of the five thousand plus and the four thousand plus.

A special note was made that it was the children who were shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” which provoked Jesus to say to his adult audience, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

His invitation was “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

lap4Time and again he looked at the qualities of children who so readily sought his warm lap and from their example taught his adult listeners, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus message to me and to everyone who has walked upon the soil of earth is: “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

Just as Jesus opens his warm embrace and his lap to little children through him we can climb into the lap of the Holy Father.

lap8Back to the personality of Jesus. Can’t you see it must have been his smile that put the children at ease? His stern expressionless face portrayed by artist would never attract children. Rather, his friendly smile and kind eyes called out to them. I suspect the sight of a child fueled his smile.

So, what makes God smile? If I learn anything from Jesus, I conclude God must smile each time He sees one of His children approach.

Obviously, he made a big impression on the apostle John. As an old man who still has story upon story to share from the days he walked with Jesus and saw his love for lap6children, I would guess it made the old apostle smile to pen: See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Don’t you imagine you and I would cause Father God to smile if only we would approach Him, reach for His extended arms and crawl upon His lap?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on God Smiles When Children Approach


What Makes God Smile?

GodReflection: What Make God Smile?

gary portraitGod is the Eternal Paradox. My little human brain cannot wrap itself around the contrast poles of God’s love for His created ones and His DNA of justice. On the one hand He loves eternally AND on the other hand, with the gavel of justice He will sentence those who refused His love to eternal damnation.

The Great Awakening of the eighteen-century spawned men like the Puritan Jonathan Edward’s who reverberated the sentiments of the period through his famed sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Similar sermons rang out from the smile5eighteen-century down to the 20th-century that encompassed the first five decades of my life.

Since the human pendulum seemingly never stops in the middle it is probably safe to say that at times the God of Judgement has received more press coverage than the God of Love.

Yes, I know God with His infinite wisdom will bring every last person that ever walked upon earth to final judgement. However, because of the trust I’ve placed in Jesus my place in God’s eternal home is secure.

smile2Over the next few posts I want to explore the soft tenderness of Creator God. The God who wants me to call Him, Father. The God who understands my humanness. The God who loves me. I want to circle around the concept of what makes God smile?

Jesus, who reflected God’s image shows me the tender side of Father God. In the Jesus who called the children and walked with disenfranchised women and men I see God’s smile.

When I read Luke’s summation, Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man, I hear Luke’s affirmation that people liked Jesus. As I go through the Gospels I cannot help but envision times when Jesus smiles—sometimes in exasperation and other times as he extends a hand in care.

Jesus must have smiled in a big way as he walked on the water and reached for the sinking disciple Peter. In the Lord’s question, “why did you doubt?”, I see a smile that encompassed understanding. Jesus was not caught by surprise. In loving relationship both Jesus and Peter were ready to move forward to the next lesson.

Surely Jesus smiled with compassion as he laid out the hope of living water to a woman with the riddle, everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.

smile6As I begin these post in an attempt to draw on the nature of a Holy God as Father I plan to circle around various scenarios that must bring a holy smile to His face.

I invite you to join with me and provide your own input as together we explore the image of the tender side of the Creator.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection on What Makes God Smile


When God Calls – A Summation

GodReflection: When God Calls

gary portraitAs I bring to a close the attempt made in this series of posts to reflect on When God Calls, I am mindful of my limitations to wrap my brain and my heart around the depth and breadth of this topic.

I realize my observations and reflections have been somewhat personal and subjective. Hopefully, they have roots that come from Scripture.

Here are the biggies that stand out in my mind when it comes to an effort to better understand the reality of God’s call for allegiance, growth and service.

It is true that God calls and speaks into our lives.

band12However, His calls are abundant and come into our lives through the various bandwidths whereby we received communication and process reality. Thus, often the calls go unnoticed as God’s voice. We ascribe it to a thought or a random action. That fact alone gives value to what might seem the insignificant decisions faced over a lifetime.

Each one of us receive calls from God to follow, to prepare for our life’s walk, to execute that preparation and through the journey grow more and more aligned to the image of Holy God.

trust14Throughout our walk of significance, God calls upon us time after time to increase our trust in Him. At each juncture we answer yes or no.

The no responses to God are always missed opportunities to be increasingly morphed into His likeness. Our yes answers bring on our acceptance of the unknown and the probability of difficult trails that lead to growth.

There will come a time when God calls us home. We who have reached our sunset years begin to receive a faint but distinct voice that calls us closer and closer toward eternities crosswalk.

Through it all, God’s calls are always guided by His timing and are so numerous that I don’t always recognize His voice.

trust27After reflection on God’s calls through this series of post, I come away with the acute desire to be more attentive His voice. I want to turn up my hearing aids, clean my glasses, and adjust my heart strings to become a better receptor when God calls.

Just maybe, it is His initial call to believe and to submit that turns out to be the most significant. Could it be that basic and repeated decision to follow is key to my availability when God calls?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Called to Faith


God Call—His Timing

GodReflection: When God Calls

gary portraitIn my last post I closed with a faint echo of God’s call here in my sunset years. Let me make one more observation.

Not many weeks ago we went through the clock reset in our home as we moved forward each timepiece one hour to coincide with the new daylight savings time change throughout the nation.

In our time conscious world, we have at least one clock per room. Some timing3rooms may have two or three clocks to be within easy glance day or night.

Funny thing about those clocks, they are never in sequence. Every clock may have a one to three or four-minute variance from the others.

My clocks are not precise.

Then there is God.

His eternity to eternity nature seems to have no comprehension of my time phobia.

Yet His eternal time piece keeps precise time with every tick of my life. He reads me like a clock—His clock. God knows my every thought before I think it. He knows each step I take before I take it. He feels every beat of my heart and smiles at the times when that timing5beat is in sync with His.

He reads my clock perfectly but my little human brain can’t read His eternal Rolex at all.
That one fact makes God’s call an exercise of faith. To follow God’s call demands trust.

I read David’s confession of God’s presence in Psalms 139:

You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

I think back over the long roll call over the pages of Scripture with names of those who followed God over the centuries. In the vast majority of cases God’s call, the answer of the person, and God’s action or answer turned into a scene played out over a lifetime.
In cases like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses the results of obedient answers timing6were only fulfilled centuries later.

So here I sit without a timepiece that accurately anticipates or verifies God’s calls throughout my day, my week and my year. I have no way to predict His future action in my life. Where does that leave me?

OK, here is where I think I’m at.

I believe deeply that Holy God resides in me through His Spirit as He constantly calls out for me to follow and to grow. He is at work to aid my slow metamorphic walk into His likeness.

However, I may not recognize impulses as His call. And, even when I do, my mortal self can not predict the full implications, consequences or His timing. I am left only to follow with a sometime weak and at other times confident trust.

My bottom line is yes God calls and it is always His perfect timing.

Will you join as together we attempt to believe what I just wrote?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: God’s Call—His Timing


Called Home

GodReflection: When God Calls

gary portraitI don’t intend for this post to sound over-dramatic.

It is my observance this is not a subject given much thought nor much direction from the pulpits of the churches.

Perhaps, among the many advantages of an energetic and younger pulpit this is a weakness. Maybe elder-teacher types should receive more encouragement toward growth and be given a greater platform from which they might share age-gained wisdom within congregations?

I would love to learn from those who perceive that God’s call home is in the near future.
With the death rate still at one hundred percent every child of God will be called home to live with Father God and His Son Jesus.

home1In most churches where I have worshipped there are numerous gray and white aged heads assembled. In one of those congregations the elderly members were in such abundance that it was often declared to be their last stop prior to eternity.

Paul’s call to the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17) is read more often than not at funeral services rather than in the assembly of the congregation for worship:

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

home12According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord forever. 

In my greying years I find it more than coincidence that good books on heaven and the next reality were handed to me. It is more than accidental that in my annual trek through Scripture verses and section that highlight the new heaven and the new earth become more ingrained into my soul.

My guess is that it is not by chance that my ponder-time is so often pulled toward an attempt to sort the real from the unreal in my life, in the church, and in the world.

home4Hymns that paint the promises of God for now and in the next life make their entrance and exit across my consciousness as they create a pull from my heartstrings.

The decay of my bodily health does not go without noticed. Yes, in the faint distance syllables seem to morph into the sound of words.

Could it be? Am I beginning to hear the words turn into some muffled order? Is God sending forth a hint? Is it an initial, but slight call from home?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: Called Home





Called to Re-up on Trust

GodReflection: When God Calls

gary portraitMy phone is about to ring. It’s a nagging thought. It’s a faint voice generated from the core of my soul. Is God about to call me to ask that I re-up my trust?
It is both the good news and the bad news.

trust2God’s call to trust is tied tightly with our earth walk. The good news is each time I am called to re-up my trust I morph a tad more into the likeness of the Holy. The bad news is I must step off the ledge and trust God with the darkness of the unknown for growth in His likeness to take place.

Like you, I don’t like the black freefalls. It reminds me of the experience inside a cave when I waited to hear a pebble hit the bottom as I tossed my small stone into a dark pit.

trust0Prior to this post I went to the internet to find a life expectancy calculator.

It predicted my demise to be August 26, 2027. I certainly wouldn’t risk money on the accuracy of the prediction. I would have a better shot were I to purchase a lottery ticket the next time the grand payout exceeds the half billion dollars mark.

However, when I consider my age, my gene pool and my current medical profile, I would guess at best I’m into the last decade of my earth walk. That’s my guess rather than a revelation from God. Only He knows.

trust10During my so called productive years I was at least under the allusion that I was in control. Mostly, I went where I wanted, when I wanted, and how I wanted.

The process of aging has challenged my control switch. What once seemed as if it came as a given is no longer my reality. Each day calls me to relinquish more control. Even the allusion of whatever control I thought I had over my daily life is gone.

God’s call to crossover the horizon of my earthly walk has begun to echo from the distant canyons.

trust13Within that echo I faintly hear the call to re-up my Trust in His provision and care. There is a sense in which I find myself on a stretch of life’s trail that is unknown.

While on the productive doing portion of the trail even though the unseen was before me, it was as at least interpreted somewhat through a familiar landscape with trail markers I had seen before. While I moved toward the unknown the familiar aided my trust element.

trust16I find I am now in uncharted waters. Never have I been so close to eternity’s door. Before, my intellect knew life to be a progression toward the next reality but there was a sense of prolonged distance that kept the transition out of sight and away from my daily walk. What was once a distant concept is now casting its shadow in the headlights.

So here I am being called to re-up on trust as I await the next call from Father God.

Any advice?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Called to Re-Up on Trust


Called to Be

GodReflection: When God Calls

gary portraitI am close to the end of Timothy Keller’s book, Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering. By the way, this is one of those books everyone needs to be2read to understand how to better navigate our life’s walk.

Prior to the close of Chapter Thirteen in a section titled Everything Hangs Together, Keller gives this profound insight:

Very seldom do we glimpse even a millionth of the ways God is working all things together for those who love God.

In my previous post I described to the best of my understanding the circumstances that led to my call to the South American country, Brazil.

For eight years in the metropolitan city of São Paulo I thrived at the center of my be6designated gifts: to build and to create. Those skills allowed my contribution to make God and His Son Jesus known to a small portion of that great city.

The Brazil years built upon my preparation years and flowed into what became my life’s work.

At the end of our eighth year, acute medical needs of a new born son called our family back to the states. Assignments at two universities and further academic training paralleled what evolved into three decades of the recruitment, preparation and placement of missionary teams in the great capital cities of Brazil and other South American nations.


Timothy Keller

In hindsight Timothy Keller’s perception into God’s call and guidance upon our lives is humbling to say the least.

It is true that, very seldom do we glimpse even a millionth of the ways God is working all things together for those who love God.

That statement could not ring truer as I reflect upon God’s call on our lives.

My years of doing spanned four decades. As they drew to a close I once again perceived God’s direction. Body degeneration caused by age was on the near horizon. It was obvious soon I would lack the physical stamina to keep pace with evolving demands. It was time to look toward my final stage of life. I’ve tagged this time of life as the time to be.

Over the first two decades of my life my call was to prepare. It was a time to learn and to move in the direction of maturity.

Over the next four decades my assignment was to do. be10Creativity and activity filled the agenda. It was over this timeframe when I began to get a sense of what it meant to trust God.

Time after time with fear and trepidation God would take me to the edge of the cliff then ask me to step into the unknown. Little by little He built my faith for this final stage of life, the call to be.

I’m now in the eighth year of my call to be. When asked what I do, I sometime jokingly reply I spend my time in preparation for finals. The truth is my current homework is not done in anticipation of standing before a pass or fail judge.

The years of preparation and the years of doing were all foundational for my call to be. I find my current place along the trail to be a time of reflection. It is a time to let the good and the important rise to the top and a time to allow the irrelevant and the petty evaporate from life’s concerns.

In my first blog post of 2012 as I began this final stage of my earth walk I stated my call to be in the following words:

It is now the time of my life to focus upon being. To reflect upon being is to reflect upon be8God. I will still learn and do, but my major focus as I see the sun moving toward the horizon, is to be.

I am going to try to be bold and allow you to look over my shoulder while I attempt to look into my own heart and mind as I reflect on God in anticipation of moving toward my own life’s finish line.

There is a deep longing in my soul to reflect on God and his desire that I experience his ultimate and eternal good. I want to know God more and more as a friend because I believe that is how God wants to know me.

As the sun is now lower on the horizon of my life I remain committed to honor that call.
I would love to hear your insights into God’s call upon your own life.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Called to Be