I Wasn’t Born Into Your Family


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

garyguarujaI just returned from a long-awaited cousins reunion.

What a wonderful gathering of diverse people. Nine cousins with their families, an aunt and an uncle brought joy and warmth to the room. And to think, everyone is a member of my extended family.

In the presence of four generations we shared the stories and auctioned family heirlooms Family1to each other for a family memorial gift to present to a children’s home in the name of our recently deceased cousin Derrell.

We retold stories of Grandpa. We played dominoes and cards together, ate together, sang together, and worshipped together.

We lived family history.

Often, I’ve claimed to have been reared on a church pew. It never occurred to me to ask my parents, but having known them for almost six decades I suspect I went from the hospital to church on the first Sunday of my life.

family3I was born in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Yes, it was in the USA in an actual hospital at the middle of our little town. The state of New Mexico still carried the scent of its new frontier roots.

Its native-born residents and those who came from other states were more of the—can I say make it work—fresh from farm life folks trying to figure out how to create a livelihood without crops, cultivation and harvest. We weren’t exactly on the radar screen of big city people.

family4As with frontier generations my family was from a love by show rather than tell background. Therefore, I don’t recall hearing the word love vocalized much among kinfolks but its expression into my life from family and church was never in doubt.

I knew we were family.

family11I was raised with very clear do’s and don’ts while given a huge amount of freedom

From family, I learned both the concept of sin against God and allegiance to Jesus prior to my own personal encounter with Scripture.

Raised in a time of racial segregation we were far enough off of the radar screen that segregated schools, restaurants, bathrooms and water fountains were never an issue.

Shamefully however, churches and neighborhood were divided along racial lines. At school, many of my best friends were from families of Mexican and African origin. None of those friends were in my church.

family14The family value of education flowed from grandparents, parents, aunts and uncle’s rural school influence of the previous generation. Everyone learned to read.

As we learned to read the skill was aligned with each unique personality to be used throughout life in diverse ways and different degrees.

The reading family value significantly added richness and understanding to my own faith walk. 

It is beyond my comprehension why my birth came within a specific heritage, racial, socio-economic family. I am sure that in ways that I don’t recognize the family lens influences the way I read my Bible.

Because I wasn’t born into your family my Bible doesn’t read like yours.

family6Since you weren’t born into my family and since you walked a different path your own unique familial eyeglasses are made from a completely different set of lenses. It is through those glasses that you read God’s Holy Bible.

God’s Word gets screened through a value system influenced from our family backgrounds.

It is one of many diverse strands that Scripture flows through as God’s inspired message speaks to my soul.

However, as we explore the reality that each person reads her or his Bible from their own unique point of view how can we be assured we hear God’s call? How can I know family12that I am reading what God wants me to hear?

I want to explore the obvious question in the next post. Since we all read the Bible differently, can we all share the heart of Scripture that is the core message of our Bibles?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: I Wasn’t Born Into Your Family

Gary@Godreflection.orghttp://www.GodReflection.org. http://www.MakeYourVissionGoViral.com

You and I Read Our Bible Differently


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

garyguaruja“I didn’t fall off a turnip truck yesterday,” was the way an old elder friend often led into words of wisdom he was about to express.

Since I’ve never seen a turnip truck—much less fallen from one—I’m not sure I completely understand the origin and the complete meaning of his expression. I think that was his way to state what seemed obvious to him.

different4As I begin this series of blog posts I feel as if this is a treatment of the obvious. My Bible doesn’t read like yours. You and I read our Bible differently.

It doesn’t take an overabundance of brain cells to observe the fact that the body of Christ is split into thousands upon thousands of tribal churches. And, within each church exist countless divisions.

I hear all sorts of what seems to me to be unreal explanations. Like one I’ve heard most of my life expressed in one form or another: “If only a reader was honest, she or he could correctly read their Bible the way I read mine.”

Although, I’ve observed—to my mind—some rather screwy interpretations of Scripture, I have to believe a lack of basic honesty is not the problem across the body of Christ.

different8In this set of posts, I want to explore the effect that worldview, background,  church traditions, Bible exposure, feelings, religion, tribal warfare and expectations have upon how each of us encounter Holy Scripture.

Is it possible that the way God divinely and uniquely wired every one of us, when mixed with our imperfections as descendants of the Eden fall, make it impossible to see everything alike—even our Bibles?

Since I’m not wired like you why should I spend time and word count on the obvious?

It is because the heart of Jesus expressed time and again His desire that WE ALL love God and each other. Being the human that I am, I find it is far too easy to withhold love from someone who disagrees with me or does not see Scripture the exact same way I do.

different11If we can’t seem to see things alike then what do I hope to accomplish by highlighting our differences?

It is my hope that a look at the differences we bring to our Bibles will help us grow in unity with the Savior and with each other.

If I can better understand why God’s children read Holy Scripture differently I might just see that a sibling in the Lord is not wrong in their interpretation of the Bible; but their different6unique perspective comes through the use of a valid lens that helps them gain greater eyesight to walk with the risen Christ.

I believe the Bible to be true and the inspired word of God. Yet, I know the infallible Bible is always read by fallible men and women.

Isn’t it more important to follow Jesus—The Truth—in faith and trust then it is to demand from each other a unified interpretation of all sixty-six of the books and letters that make up the thirty-one thousand one hundred three verses of our Bibles?

different9There is an attitude I want to cultivate throughout this series of posts in hopes that it will spill over into my life. It comes from a contrast greater than I can possibly imagine.

It is my affirmation that I am a flawed, limited human being with only a speck of a brain when compared to perfect and unlimited God.

In light of my own humanness, shouldn’t I be willing to give a fellow Christ follower a break when our Bibles don’t seem to read the same?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: You and I Read our Bibles Differently

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

http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

I Believe What You Believe


GodReflection: God Shares His Secret on Unity

garyguarujaI would sometime joke when asked how to raise funds for a Non-Profit Organization: “It’s easy just begin by telling a prospective donor, ‘I believe what you believe.’” Obviously, a person of integrity would never make such an assumption nor believe such an outlandish declaration.

Because each human being is wired and gifted by the Creator as a one-of-a- kind creation and is formed differently through years of unique experiences no two people believe exactly alike.

unity3So how is it possible to live in unity with another person who cannot mirror my belief system—much less attempt unity with millions of individuals who claim to follow a man called Jesus? Especially, when each one differs in the details of the life and worship of a Christ follower.

In Jesus’ last garden prayer, he prayed for the unity of all believers:

Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one . . . I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:11&23)

In one sense his prayer was answered, in another sense it was not.

unity17His church stands unified in belief of Creator God. We share unity in our affirmation that Jesus is the Christ.

The church is in agreement that Jesus is the only means of salvation and we his disciples are his ambassadors to all the earth.

The church is united on belief in the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus and the hope found only in him.

Should I take the time and the space to do so, I’m sure I could compile a rather long list to demonstrate the unity and “oneness” we now experience as a fulfillment of Jesus’ John chapter seventeen prayer.

unity26However, we sin when we divide his body into rival church tribes, apply the war paint and throw spears and Satanic missiles at other Christ followers.

When I catch myself in this posture I stand as a roadblock to Jesus’ prayer.

It concerns me when I find myself as a participant in disunity through my own likes, dislikes and prejudices. I am ashamed when I promote a lack of Christ-like behavior by a commitment to my own unbiblical opinions.

unity22I would like to think I am making progress in being less of a disharmonizing person.

It continues to be an enigma to me how on the one hand I know we are all wired differently and think differently and then on the other hand expect others to embrace my opinions as their own.

Could it be that one purpose God has for our walk on earth is to help us gain wisdom in failures; and gain joy in our successes when we see Jesus’ garden prayer being fulfilled in small ways?

Could it be that a primary purpose of my walk on earth is to learn how to, make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3) so that I can look forward to my next life when unity is the natural Holy-state of all eternity?

unity8I have a current role within God’s revealed secret of His desire for unity. I am to LEARN and to LEAN on His Spirit to be a man of peace.

In my struggle to do so, I am to share with my fellow travelers the secret of peace and unity found in Jesus. A secret learned and expressed through compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

And, all of that because He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and unity16blameless in his sight . . . God did what He had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan He had already decided to complete by means of Christ.

This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head (Ephesians 1).

And, Jesus’ garden prayer will be answered in full.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on The Secret of Unity

Gary@GodReflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

The Secret Deliverer


GodReflection: God Shares His Secret

He (Christ the Messiah) was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 1 Peter 1:20

garyguarujaWe humans want to think of deliverance in military and political terms. From the base of power the value of freedom is promised. At the end of the day deliverance and freedom are never fully supplied.

Our expectations come from our shallow experience and from the failure to understand the nature of misguided expectations. My wrong hopes come when I fail to see God’s bigger picture.

Both patriarchs and prophets spoke of promised land and freedom. The Prophets told of a future time when God would send Messiah to deliver and set right all wrongs.

God’s people interpreted those promises through the lens of their own experiences. messiah16Reasoning from the political  resulted in misguided expectation.

For them Messiah was to come in the linage of King David as the God sent conqueror and liberator of the people.

The Hebrew nation would know when the deliverer arrived. They would know him by the actions of his sword and shield. He would be their conquering and liberating king.

As history evolved and Rome came to power Messiah’s arrival could not come too soon. There was one problem. Their expectation was misdirected. Their version of Messiah was not God’s version.

messiah1Their Messiah was tied to palaces not pastures.  They did not see God’s big picture. It was still God’s secret knowledge within the Holy Trinity.

Thus, the true identity and methodology of Messiah was covered behind a secret cloud.

Only the Godhead knew.

We people types had to wait until a baby was born in a hillside cave where livestock was sheltered and fed.

The infant Jesus grew to manhood and took the veil from Messiah to revealed his identity. The secret was out.  Messiah in human flesh was Christ the deliverer. This Christ man personified sonship, grace, love, justice, life, light, body, unity. He was a walking portrait of humility and service. He reflected the way I am to live while on this globe.

Yet, the religious missed him. He did not align with their daily rituals of Temple church messiah13nor with their unshakable belief in the way they defined religion.

Here’s my danger.

I have lived my entire life within a highly structured religious system. With good hearts my church tribe has always desired to follow God.

Like all humans, we have a tendency to institutionalize into a religious form beliefs created by previous generations along with our own conclusions. Often, we see only our closely focused picture rather than the secret God’s unveiled on our behalf.

I must be careful not to miss the revealed Jesus because I am obsessed with right religion rather than Messiah recognition.

As the veil drops I learn:

messiah9He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.

This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,  but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:9-10).

The ultimate secret shared by God through the Christ child’s birth is I am the benefactor of a God’s secret Deliverer, Jesus the Messiah.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on The Secret Deliverer 

Gary@GodReflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

Eternity In My Genes?


GodReflection: News Flash—We Inherited God’s DNA

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end Ecclesiastes 3:11).

garyguarujaIt’s rather awesome to entertain the thought that God shared His DNA with me.

I assume that most every person who has set foot on planet earth has wondered at some point about what happens after death. Every major religion and all primitive tribes paint pictures of the afterlife for their eternity9adherents.

I was born with eternity in my genes. It came direct from God’s DNA.

Should I be surprised?

After all the God who made me is the One who lives from eternity to eternity. Talk about a sentence that far exceeds human understanding.

Why should I be astonished that the Holy Eternal Being who loves me beyond my comprehension and desires that I live in His presence forever, placed a spark in my soul that draws me in His direction?

The thoughts come to me, what are the implications for me as a possessor of God’s eternity gene? How do I relate to eternity in my here and now?

eternity12First, I want to know with certainty that I’ve identified the creator who implanted His Divine spark.

Through reasons that would go beyond the word limitation of this blog I write the sentence that follows as a summation of my belief that my eternity DNA comes from Creator God:

I’ve tested over a lifetime God’s Holy Scripture and believe the Bible to be inspired and true.  

Therefore, I have no reason to doubt the wise man of Ecclesiastes who wrote: He has also set eternity in the human heart.”

eternity3If in fact it is God who placed eternity in my heart I want to respond with proper care.

At this point in life I’ve heard an incalculable amount of noise and teaching. The noise has a tendency to crowd out brain space I want to reserve for more valuable information.

Since all instruction is filtered through human teachers; I’ve been taught—and believed truth and misconceptions wrongly perceived as truth. Yes, I too have learned and taught noise I one time thought to be true.

eternity13So, here I sit full of noise, truth and error.

Once again how should I respond to Eternal God in my present with confidence that my response will allow me to live with Him forever?

What I think I have learned is that heart soil is where God’s eternity gene grows best.

I have begun to see that a life of “do and don’t do religion” makes the gift of eternity a hit or miss proposition. That is religion rather than gospel good news.

eternity10However, if I live from a grateful heart, full of thankfulness for the heart of a God who loved me so much that He would orchestrate the death of His Son to die in my place there is no room for “do and don’t religion.”

Motivated by God’s love the eternity gene moves me to desire a forever relationship with the Holy rather than a life lived from the motivation to miss an eternal place called hell.

eternity14This week I’ve came across a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien to his son in 1945. It seems relevant to this post:

“Certainly, there was an Eden on this very unhappy earth. We all long for it, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of exile.”

Aware of the draw from God’s eternity gene to His restored Eden, Satan wants to trick me into playing the wrong game of does and don’ts rather than learning to live from a heart that identifies with the values of God’s heart.

I suspect the more that my own heart aligns with God’s heart the greater will become the aroma of eternity as a magnetic force of the eternity gene pulls me toward the Holy eternal presence.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on Eternity In My Genes?

Gary@Godreflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

By Faith We March


 God Reflection: Faith Certainties

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what de do not see. Hebrews 11:1

By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army marched around them for seven days. Hebrews 11:30

garyguarujaWere it possible to go back in time and witness some of God’s dramatic miracles, the implosion of the grand walls of Jericho would be on my Bible Times Top Ten Bucket List.

What a picture—as the nation of Israel follows God in unison. For seven days, they moved together as one.

On day seven they marched around the walls of the city seven times. What they seemed to know for sure was the instruction anytime, “you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priest carrying it, you are . . . to follow.” (Joshua 3:3)

march3We aren’t told if they were aware of the exact nature of the drama to take place on day seven. Someway God would provide victory over the people of the city for they marched by faith.

Once again I live thousands of years down the history line from Jericho. Is there a story for me in the Jericho march?

I like the image of God’s people moving together in unison. As they marched they trusted God for the outcome. By faith they marched.

What about me? I’ve been called to march by faith with His church.

march18I am not a lone warrior called to fight with everyone who holds an opinion that differs from mine.

God hasn’t called me to set everyone right as I see rightness. 

God hasn’t called me to divide His church and to define who is in and who is out. I have a greater mission than to get to heaven. I want to learn to march in unity.

It is to my detriment and to the detriment of others that I sometimes see the church of Jesus as a narrow path with lone strugglers in an uphill battle to sneak under a space in heaven’s door. That idea is a holdover more from revivalist preaching over three hundred years ago rather than an idea found in Scripture.

My end state will not be to stand face to face in judgement and be shamed by the God of the universe.

I don’t have to fear His review of my life. 

The truth is I have enough accumulative sin over seven decades to fill volumes of books. My Adamic self has committed far too many mistakes. I have come up short far too many times and in incalculable ways failed to treat others as I would have them treat me—not to mention the fact that I never totally and completely treated anyone as God, Spirit, and Son have treated me.

I will get a pass. I will not be judged.

march6The good news is I will enter the new earth with the saved of all ages as a family member of Jesus.

Yes, Jesus saves his church one person at a time as individuals joyously submit to him as savior. He adds each one to his great body of children from every corner of the globe.

He must bubble with expectation in anticipation of presenting us as a whole—his family of brothers and sisters—to Father God. 

We march together as redeemed children.

One of my own “aha” moments was when I began to see that the church will not be judged because of all the implications that flow from the cross.

Within the church I am safe and saved.

There are passages like Isaiah sixty-two that speak of the joy God has in us.

In the company of the Son heaven God will declare, as a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you. Pass through, pass through the gates!

march15

The gates of the new Jerusalem are wide open for God’s people. It will give Him joy to hear His Son say “These are Yours.” 

The Apostle Paul paints the picture of the world’s judgment and heaven’s gate. As he enters the new city, Jesus the head is followed by the body as he presents to God his church (1 Corinthians 15:21-24). It is if the Son will say to the Father, “Don’t worry about these. All of them march11together are cleansed. They are mine. They are my sisters and brothers.” 

I can’t close without the description of the end times by the Hebrew writer. As the Savior Jesus presents himself to the Father he is accompanied by the church he loves. Then he addresses God, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.” For, both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So, Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2).march19

Like those who encircle Jericho as one body we too march as one in step and in unity, yes, and in faith with our elder brother Jesus the head I boldly march with his entire church toward eternity.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on By Faith We March

Gary@Godreflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

Valleys Build Tenacious Trust


GodReflection: Tenacious Trust

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Psalms 23:4

garyguarujaI don’t remember his age. The man was no more than a shriveled up skeleton of skin and bones. His wrinkled and cracked skin made him look even older than his obvious old age.

A life-long abuser of alcohol left a trail of hurt, abuse and neglect. Sclerosis of his liver made it clear death stood outside the door with a grip on the doorknob ready to enter at any moment.

Humbled on his deathbed he wanted a message from God.

I began to read David’s Psalm:

valleys4The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

A faint smile broke through. Aged and within death’s shadow he had never before heard Psalms 23.

In subsequent days he continued to request the Psalm each time we were together. It must have shed a flicker of light upon the darkness of his valley.

Shortly before his death, his son and other able bodied men from among the believers, lowered Mr. Rocky into the waters of baptism and raised him up pure and clean ready to go to a new disease free eternal home.

To walk through life is to encounter dark valleys. Whether short, deep or extended, all of life’s valleys are dark.

Rather than spend an entire lifetime void of hope and trust, as children of God who follower Christ, we recognize the Shepherd’s presence in the valleys.

I have had more than my share of mountain tops. Yet, it is unreal to expect life to be composed of only wonderful experiences.

Valleys Build Tenacious TrustI don’t know how my trek through dark valleys compares with others.

I do know my walk in dark places pales when compared with what many have endured.

I have also noticed that one of the enigmas of life is the degree of frequency, the intensity of the darkness, and the length of the walk found in dark valleys and lonely canyon floors.

However, just as my life is not lived upon 24/7 mountain top experiences, neither is it lived in the dark valleys.

Blessed by both, mountain tops bring joy while valleys bring pain and growth.

I see no purpose in a rehearsal of my own valleys in this post. However, in personal reflection—although not perceived at the time—dark valleys built tenacity in my trust factor.

valleysaIt is between mountain top experiences and dark valley walks that I live the “normal” days of life.

It is from remembrances of His presence in the dark valleys, and the recollection of the Shepherd’s love when fear from the shadows crept into my hurting soul, that I can stand confident with the knowledge that I will never have to face a dark valley alone.

The sad truth is there is always loss in the valleys. The good news is as loss slips from one hand, my other hand feels the warm grip of the Shepherd. And in that firm hold I find another strand that strengthens my trust muscle.

Could it be that over the course of a life it is in the multiplicity of such loss-gain experiences while in the presence of the Shepherd that tenacious trust is formed?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on Valleys Build Tenacious Trust.

Gary@Godreflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com