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

My Worldview is Unique to Me


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

garyguarujaIt’s not uncommon to hear someone express, “I have my own standards”.

It seems common place for us human types to judge each other by our own individual standards.

It is from my “standards” created by my own experiences that I interpret the world. The accumulated mass that feeds into my brain makes up my worldview.

From my worldview, I interpret everything that crosses the path of my earth walk.

It is through this worldview lens that I read my Bible.

worldview2

worldview13The way I am wired colors my worldview. My particular personality follows me to the text.

Since I have a creative gene my tendency isn’t to read my Bible through the precise lens of a banker, a scientist or an accountant.

I have little interest in the periods, comas, sums and formulas each uncovers with abundant joy.

worldview14I read more as a builder, an architect or a city planner. I am a “big picture” type of guy. It is through the “what is and what can be” creative lens that I tend to see the world.

I can only read Scripture from the vantage point of who I am. I cannot read my Bible like you do because I am not you.

My own view of God influences my worldview. It colors the way I see myself and those I encounter. Thus, this God view aspect influences my open Bible. What has been my experience with God? Has He answered my prayers?

worldview20Do I look at Him as a Holy Santa Claus or as an ever-present Guide who sometime sends me down rocky trails?

Is He a clock winder God who wound up the universe like a time piece or an action toy then backed off to let it run down or is He active in my present?

My worldview is form by what I read and hear from others. To a certain extent the things I read and hear—that make sense—become a part of the way I see the world. It is with those same preconceptions—some right and some wrong—that I approach God’s Holy Bible.

Unfortunately, my prejudices—known or unknown to me—sway my worldview. I think of an extreme but real example of slavery. Sadly, slavery is more prominent across worldview23the face of the world today than it has been at any time in human history.

Not all that long ago in my own nation the way people viewed a different race made it possible to read their Bible and from it justify slavery.

The way I view others shapes my worldview. Do I see my co-travelers as inferior, equal or superior to myself?  Here I am in the twenty first century living in one of the neighborhoods of the world that are in a major shift.

Up and down my street I have neighbors from Africa, Brazil, France, Mexico, Porto Rico and even a few from Texas. The way I see those of my own race and the way I look at those of other nationalities impact my worldview.

worldview11My view of self plays a role in the way I see my world. Am I self- centered living with the expectation that everything should come my way?

Do I have a view of my role on the planet? Do I see myself as an instrument of God? Do I feel capable? Or, do I view myself as inferior to others?

All of the above—and much more—compose my worldview one that is unique to me alone.

It is from my one-of-a-kind view of the world that I come to Scripture.

So here is the big question.

If each reader of the Bible brings her or his exclusive worldview to the way they read the text, shouldn’t I offer a little slack and breathing room to others who don’t see everything in Scripture the way I see it? Shouldn’t this fact alone make me less judgmental?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: My Worldview is Unique to Me

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

The Secret I Must Share


GodReflection: God Shares His Secret

garyguaruja“It’s a girl” or “it’s a boy” is shouted with joy and great excitement to family, friends and strangers. The secret is out. It cannot be held.

Secrecy and elation wrap gifts meant to surprise those we love.

share4Carefully calculated cameras reveal a secret from jumbo stadium screens to catch an unsuspected recipient off guard. A ring is presented and the question: “Will you marry me?” is popped.

The young lady screams and bounces with excitement. The world now knows. The secret is no longer held.

The Gospels burst with announcement, excitement and celebration as they reveal God’s secret plan through Jesus to make available forgiveness, salvation and Holy friendship to us flawed and sin filled creatures.

The surprise was that Jesus would come to stand in the place of my sin so that I can stand next to God.

share8The Gospel of Luke shares stories Jesus told that characterize people’s reaction to the salvation secret with celebration.

When the secret of total and complete forgiveness was revealed, parties broke out.

When the lost were found friends and neighbors came together to rejoice, feast, and celebrate with dancing and music.

Jesus states:In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10

I could fill this space with those I’ve met whose hearts seem to almost explode with gratefulness because Jesus transformed their lives with secret grace held by God up until their “now.”

share13Francisco, a friend remembered with warmth comes to mind. He has since crossed over where he will receive his eternal reward.

Francisco heard the salvation secret. He couldn’t keep it to himself.

It was a secret he had to share. In the spirit of Jesus’ rejoicing stories, shortly after his baptism, he chartered three or four busses to bring  friends together for a great party to celebrate. He had to tell them all of his good fortune.

I lament that I’m not more like my friend Francisco. Truth is I’m not the party type. Perhaps, it is being a genuine introvert. However, I do wish I were more exuberant in my ability to share the secret.

share2But here is what I know.

I am super grateful for God’s grace, Jesus sacrifice and my forever canceled sin debt.

I am at peace in the knowledge that the Spirit of God walks with me throughout the day and stands with me each night as He lives in my deteriorating body.

I await with great anticipation the reality of a new heaven and a new earth.

I look forward to intensified blessings and total freedom from all of life’s wretch. All of which is party and celebration worthy.

Maybe I can at least be a window God can use to show others His love so that they can throw their own parties.

Let me close this series of posts by one more remembrance of Paul’s description of the Divine Secret found in his letter to the Ephesians:

share9For 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 have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,

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.

All things are done according to God’s plan and decision; and God chose us to be His own people in union with Christ because of His own purpose, based on what He had decided from the very beginning (Ephesians 1:4-11).

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

My Reflection on The Secret I Must Share

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

Secret Earth Walk


GodReflection: God Shares His Secret

garyguarujaMy parents taught me how to navigate the streets of our hometown.

Firsts, by repeated routes in our old car or work truck, then by parental permission of discovery with my bicycle.

My Grandpa and the Boy Scouts taught me about the four compass points. For Grandpa, as long as his old chevy and the road was pointed in his predetermined compass direction life was good. Scouts used merit badges to teach me how to follow that same wiggly needle.

My dad taught me how to read roadmaps that were usually given free at gasoline stations.

walk9Not long after my twenty-first birthday at the end of the Junior year in college, I loaded my baby blue Ford Mustang with all possessions—roadmaps included—and navigated the southern Interstate routes from Abilene, Texas to Boston, Massachusetts.

The returned to the New Mexico desert was plotted by a northern interstate route that took me through Indianapolis, St. Louis and Tulsa.

walk1.jpgEach journey built on cumulative experiences prepared me for a move to the mega-city Sao Paulo, Brazil at age twenty-two. There the maze of streets was so extensive that maps took  the form of a thick book, O Guia São Paulo. In size, it was more like Genesis to Revelation.

I find my early life of direction acquisition to be a wonderful analogy of my earth walk under the canopy of the Holy.  It too was a learned navigation experience.

From cradle to adolescent baptism, to family and church I was provided basic instruction in Holy Compass Points.

walk14I did not emerge from baptismal waters ready to read topographical Spirit walk maps.

However, there was a God-secret about map reading I didn’t understand at the time. In fact, it took more years than I would like to admit to learn the secret to navigate my earth walk.

There is an aspect of how to earth walk that perhaps I knew intellectually but only now can I see with greater clarity.

Let me explain.

In the one of the first two blog posts of early September 2012, I observed that the years of my life walk took on three phases: learning, doing and being.

walk10Over my prime “doing years,” God used the gifts He issued to me, for my own growth and for His advancement into the lives of others.

In His graciousness, He allowed me to feel as if I was a player who brought talent to His game plan.

Here is my new aha. Here is what I now see with greater clarity.

No longer am I a sharp tool. The once honed edges are now worn. So, at the sunset of my walk12walk I judge my effectiveness as minimal.

As this old earth body continues to wear, tear and disintegrate, I am less and less of a problem solver. There is very little I can do to discover solutions  (as if there ever was under my own steam).

As Moses said to the Hebrews so I say to my earth walk: “You are too heavy of a burden for me to carry alone” (Deuteronomy 1:9).

I now see with greater clearness the secret gift of life navigation that God issued to me at my baptism. The Holy Spirit really does live within and in fact does guide my life walk.

This is my current game plan.

Throughout the day and night, I rehearse with the Creator my daily unsolvable concerns. And leave it to His Spirit to run the plays. Sure, I feel concern. Yes, worry has less and less of a presence. Don’t tell anyone—it’s our secret—God shared it with me.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on Secret Earth Walk 

Gary@GodReflection.org     www.GodReflection.org  www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

The Secret Body


GodReflection: God Shares His Secret—We are Body

“This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19) “. . . for we are members of his body”. (Ephesians 5:30)

garyguarujaJesus, on the eve of his crucifixion spoke of his body gift for the disciples. I doubt that any of them had a clue at that point what he meant.

I wonder who the first person was to use the body analogy? The apostle Paul was the first to express it in written form but I wonder if he heard it from fellow apostles or from Jesus himself? Perhaps, it was a Spirit inspired idea given directly to him.

Doctor Luke, as he summarizes Jesus post resurrection activity cites from his eyewitness research: He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)

body22I am curious how much Jesus told them as he spoke about the kingdom of God? Did he tell them about his plans for his church that would cover the face of the earth? Did he tell them that his body would remain on the planet in the form of his church?

It was a secret held by the Holy for thousands upon thousands of years.

The revelation came shortly after the ascension. The Godhead announced the body secret with the prelude of a loud roaring wind sound and with flames aglow above the body12head of each disciple as a visual aid.

Before it was all over  three thousand men and women repented of their sin, identified with the Son of God, and submitted their lives to Jesus through the death, burial and resurrection in baptismal waters.

And . . . Viola! The church appeared. It was them and they were it.

Twenty-plus years later—for the first time in Scripture—the apostle Paul uses the analogy of the body as a visual for this ever-expanding assembly.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. (Romans 12:4-6)

Yes, to be clear he wants all of us who make up the church to understand, you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27)

body15And, our corporate body has only one head the risen Christ who is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. (Colossians 1:18)

I don’t know if Paul was the first to share the secret that the church—you and I—are the body of Christ. However, I have to believe it is a shear genius idea from the Holy.

Here is what I think:

It doesn’t matter if I am a big toe or a little pinkie. I am body. I am to function as designed. It is not my role to judge you or your function. I am a vital part of the whole body4just as you are a vital part of the whole. I united with you and you are united with me because we both belong to Jesus.

The body operates with cleansing blood. When any member of the body aches, I feel the pain.  At any given time, a portion of the body hurts and so do other members. Through Jesus the body is always in the process of healing.

The big toe and little pinkie are united by the Holy Spirit. When one pumps Jesus-blood it flows from a healthy member toward another member. Together we are a work of art. Together we grow in wisdom and understanding. Together we grow toward immortality.

body14The headline for all to read is that the secret body functions as one unit because Jesus is the head. Whatever function I may have I am not the head. Only the Christ functions in that role.

The head too is part of the body. My role is to seek to know what the head is thinking and march in unity with those thoughts.

Fortunately, the Gospels show me his thought process.

I want to tune in as a body member.  The head thinks forgiveness. The head generates love. The head serves and wants me to follow in his steps.

The head values peace. As the big toe or little pinkie, I’m not to be jealous because your body17function is the smile or the beautiful eyes. We are both holy because Christ leads.

The former body of Jesus was broken for me. With him as my head and my example, I am willingly broken for others. With him as the head we are to function out of a spirit of thanksgiving.

And just think, His invitation remains open to join His secret body.

Yep, I have to believe it is a shear genius secret direct from the Holy.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on The Secret Body

Gary@GodReflection.org   www.GodReflection.org  www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

 

 

The Secret of Light


GodReflection: God Shares His Secret

garyguarujaIn the foothills of the Guadalupe Mountains there it was.

Desert whirlwinds were a common sight. But this one was different it was black with a whirlpool vortex that reached upward beyond sight. What made it spectacular was the fact it was formed by bats.

light1I grew up twenty-eight miles northeast of The Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Thus, I’d heard of the legendary cowboy Jim White who had first witnessed the bat whirlwind.

Curiosity won out and he traced the source to the largest hole in the ground he had ever seen. Today it enjoys National Monument status.

Those days of June 1901 must have been filled with fear and with excitement as he explored the massive dark hole.

He describes his first trip:

light6“Standing at the entrance of the tunnel I could see ahead of me a darkness so absolutely black it seemed a solid. The light of my lantern was but a sickly glow.”

light17After hours of exploration he records a moment of near panic:

“The oil in my lantern had given out, and the flame curled up and died. It seemed as through a million tons of black wool descended upon me. The darkness was so dense it seemed smothering—choking me.”

I tour the now developed cavern on many occasions as a young boy. In the earlier years—backed with the confidence of Thomas Edison’s lightbulb—the Park Rangers would seat the tour participants and turn out the lights. For a moment, we shared Jim White’s “smothering darkness.”

Light is a welcomed and known commodity. From our sun, we receive both illumination and warmth.

light11Moon, stars, wicks, candles, lanterns and lightbulbs light up the night to keep shadows and fear at a safe distance.

It seems perfect and appropriate that God who created sunlight, starlight and moonlight selected light as a descriptive metaphor for Jesus the Son.

Humankind lived in self-imposed darkness for thousands of years while God held a secret through the ages—His very own Son would break into history as THE LIGHT of the world.

light15How can I comprehend the full voltage of the Light that illuminates the entire world?

That previously hidden light now enlightens life and shines into hell itself to expose and eliminate death as it shines forth eternal life (2 Timothy 1:10).

The Apostle John describes Jesus as life defined as light. The Christ was no less than “the light of all mankind” (John 1:4).

It is the “light that gives light to everyone” (John 1:9).

Jesus revealed in his own personhood God’s secret. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

And so, I live on earth while “darkness is passing and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8).

light16And as I watch the light reach across the globe I live for the eternal day when “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). 

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on The Secret of Light 

Gary@GodReflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com