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

Does My Gender Effect My Bible?


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

Gary 2015It didn’t take too many steps on God’s planet earth to discover that I didn’t understand the opposite sex.

Apparently, I am not the only one without a clue.

In 1992, John Gray’s book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus went viral with eventual sales of over 50 million copies. It’s easy to see that the book struck a nerve.

gender1Over the 286 pages Gray explores differences between males and females in the way they deal with emotions and ways they interpret the world and each other.

Here is what I think. (Excuse my generalities.)

We impose this same contrast of gender viewpoint when we read our Bible.

I don’t understand all of the “whys and wherefores” but I suggest women are more warm and sensitive than men. They just seem equipped for the mission of care and nurture—given they weren’t robbed of their compassion by evil-others.

gender4Their hearts must understand in greater depth the abundance of Bible accounts of women who placed their trust in the Holy.

I suspect my female counterparts read the Bible accounts of barren women of faith with an increased empathy that we males cannot generate.

As residents of a male dominated world and as members of a male dominated church, Christian women read Paul’s words from Ephesians three:

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

My guess is many women see in Paul’s summation greater freedom in Christ than their Christian brothers find comfortable.

grnder7Now for us males.

My observation is that men are more dominant and arrogant than their female counterparts.

Against opponents, males are “sock it to them” and “grind them into the ground” warriors. When men speak everyone must listen.

And so, we open our Bible.

If we are not careful, we guys tend to read our Bible with a spirit of dominance. From far too many of our pulpits and lecterns flow the male proclamations of “see it my way”.

Our Bible sets out to tell the story of God. That alone should call me to respect its incalculable depths. It would surprise every one of us if we could see the myriad of nuanced interpretations taken from our Bible due to gender viewpoints.

Could it be that we forget the Genesis 1:27 account where BOTH male and female were created in the image of God? Perhaps I need to remind myself that men and women are equal and designed by God to complement each other as The Holy’s Creation.

gender2What if I make it a point to listen more closely to the texture brought by feminine voices to enhance my own Biblical interpretation? I suspect my male-gender only viewpoint of my Bible results in less than a complete reading.

Rather than create division over what might at first seem to be a conflict of viewpoints, could it be that we need both gender viewpoints to gain a fuller insight into our Bible?

I would love to hear your own insights into the subject matter of this post—especially from the feminine voice.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Does My Gender Effect My Bible?

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

Do My Feelings Cause Me to Read My Bible Differently?


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portrait4When it comes to self-deception we humans are at the top of our game. The “way I feel” fuels the ease with which I can deceive myself.

Unfortunately, there are times when I approach my Bible—fueled by preconceived feelings—in search of what I want to hear.

There are also occasions when I am faced with one of life’s intense challenges and my feelings color everything I do and read—even my Bible.

In some cases, my feelings generate questionable to wrong interpretations of anything I read—Bible included—while in other instances intense feelings may cause me to see more clearly.

feel3Why the difference?

We human types were wired perfectly by the Creator to feel at a Holy level. Humankind experienced perfection with the emotion of feeling. All was good.

Enters Satan.

He messed with God’s electrical work and here I am in Century 21 as I confront each day with multiple attempts to deal with Satan’s consequences.

So, I find my feelings flavored with my biases and the baggage I’ve accumulated over my life-walk and by my current season in life.

Since we are all scorched by the Satanic short-circuit, life’s circumstances cause each of us to approach our Bible with different feelings and with varied degrees of feel24intensity.

Those who encounter trauma, illness and loss often find comfort and insights that fail to appear in the same Bible of those who seem to walk in green meadows and sunshine. 

When my life faces intense stress, the burden of healthcare for a family member or encounters with the valley of death, my feelings associated with each experience shades what I discover in Holy Scripture.

What does all of this have to do with the way I read my Bible?

feel11There is a sense that my Bible was written just for me. Therefore, I should never be afraid to bring any and every emotion I have to the Holy Scripture.

 

Since God understands me better than I understand myself His love for me stands firm no matter how my feelings influence what I take away from my open Bible.

Regardless of the diverse feelings I bring to my Bible, my responsibility remains the same–to seek the heart of the Holy and to demonstrate that very same heart to every person I deal with throughout my day. 

feel8At the same time, I hope to learn to become more tolerant with what others discover in their own Bible as they bring their own ever-changing feelings to its pages. 

Any chance we might all be more tolerant of each other as together we worship and serve the God who lovingly embraces us even with all of our weakness that we express through our feelings? 

 

Stay tuned. 

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Do My Feelings Cause Me to Read my Bible Differently?

 

Gary@GodReflection.org   

www.GodReflection.org   www.MakeYourVisionGoVital.com

 

Is My Bible a Big Deal or Not?


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portraitIt seems everyone has a survey to send out. I go see my doctor and out of the digital sky a survey appears. My local supermarket chain wants me to complete a survey after every basket of groceries. Make an internet purchase and poof a survey follows.

I wonder in the history of the world—other than at a research organization—has anyone ever taken time to read the responses? After all there are only deal2a gazillion questions.

Whether or not I like the generous abundance of surveys, I’ll have to admit they can be a rather good tool in any attempt to read public opinion when properly designed and used.

It only takes a cursory scan of Pew Research Center’s religious surveys to see that the world does not exactly place a premium on familiarity with Bible content.  From the surveys, it would be easy to conclude that for the vast majority the Bible is no big deal.

When it comes to the way I read my Bible I find that time and effort is a screen that has a lot to do with the way my Bible reads.

That brings me back to my question. How big of a deal is my Bible?
I must examine additional considerations to answer my inquiry.

deal5Am I a frequent or an occasional reader?

I would assume the person who is an hour a year reader will not read and understand their Bible in the same manner as the person who spends an hour each day allowing the words of the Bible to flow through their mind and heart. Most likely, if my Bible is important to me I will be a frequent reader.

Do I enrich my Bible reading with the use of a variety of translations?

deal8One of the great benefits of life in this century is the advancement of Bible translation. Those who read from the English language can read Scripture from dozens of translations and paraphrases.

The comparison of a text through three or four different translation often adds texture to a section of Biblical verses.

Is my Bible important enough to me to make the effort to learn from insights of other believers?

I moved to South America in my early twenties. Quickly, it dawned upon me how blessed I am to be an English speaker. Not because I might have thought English to be superior since any attempt to elevate the English language would not hold a candle to the beauty and expressiveness of the Romance languages.

deal16No, Jesus didn’t speak English as he walked the streets of Jerusalem. My English language blessing is due to the richness of Christian publications.

In addition to journals, articles and Christian Blogs, Intervarsity Press estimates there may be as many as eight to nine thousand religious books published each year in English.

The rich treasures found through the printed page allow me to explore gold mines of accumulated knowledge of the church that can enrich my own insight into God’s Holy Bible

My Bible becomes a big deal when I realize it is the one tool at my disposal to align my heart to God’s heart.

deal22I would like to think that the more Bible knowledge I gain the better chance I have to know and understand a tad more about the Holy that has gone to such lengths to demonstrate love for me.

The greater my degree of comprehension that my Bible exists to align my heart with Father Son and Spirit the less I will misuse it in proof text fashion to shoot arrows at others.

The way I read my Bible is a big deal because it teaches me how I am to treat you.

Since Jesus came to earth to show us the Father it is through the transparency of Jesus that I see God’s heart. When I spend time in the Gospels I learn to incorporate the way Jesus lived. I see the value he placed on others and his ultimate desire for the good of his neighbors.

When I know God my task becomes to reflect Jesus in every encounter. (Boy, do I wish that I had a better track record on that one).

From the Jesus of my Bible I am to learn how to treat you as a valued possession of God. I am to respect you in the same way the Holy gives value to me.

deal10Isn’t it a fair assessment to recognize that we each read our Bible differently due to the fact that we each approach the Bible with different degrees of intensity and frequency?

And, by reading from other Jesus followers don’t we each bring sharper tools to more clearly understand the words before us?

All of the above is dependent upon How big of a deal is my Bible?

Certainly, this is a post where I would love to get your feedback and insight. Take a few minutes and let me hear from you.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Is My Bible a Big Deal or Not?

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

My Desert Church


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portrait4I am reminded again of my thesis in this series of post. No two people on God’s planet earth read the Bible through identical lens. Each of us bring broad strands of diversity to the Holy Text.

For this reason, as I begin this post I am aware that many of you will find little that is parallel to your own experience. Perhaps, others will pick up on something that will send you down your own private memory lane.

However, I cannot make any attempt at being honest with my own Bible without the admission that my desert church plays a major role—probably more than I realize—in the way I read all these decades later.

From my childhood town in the heat of the Chihuahuan Desert it is safe to assume we did not have the magic formula on how to do church.

church8It is not too much of an overstatement to say my church was also my family. True, some of its adherents were members of my genetic family while others just felt like it. From my young perspective, our church lived family.

Like family my desert church could trace its own genetic origin back to the eighteen hundreds tied closely to the proposition that we too could be identical in form, function and purpose to the first-century New Testament church.

worldview8The Bible was held with great esteem by our church family. A high premium was placed on the knowledge of right and wrong.

From the value of Scripture and the emphasis on doing right we created and were taught our own tribal traditions through conclusions drawn from previous generations and from the family pulpit.

church4aLeaders in the roles of elder, preacher, teacher, song leader and deacon set the tone for our desert church. From them we learn that arguments were to end in peace. From them we learned the contents of our Bible. From them we saw family in action.

church1bThe congregation’s pulpit played a huge role in the way I read my Bible. From baby blanket to high school graduation I must have slept, wiggled and listened to over twenty-five hundred sermons.

No, the pulpit proclaimers didn’t get it all right. They too preached from lives of diverse preparation and diverse backgrounds. But, their respect for God’s Holy Bible was never in doubt.

It is partially through my desert church formation that I read my Bible today. From that experience both right and wrong presuppositions screen my encounter with my Bible.

church7Like those of our own family tree, my desert church family was flawed by we human types who called ourselves brothers, sisters and mischievous kids. But the desert family patience, love and desire to follow God and His Son held us together.

I suspect that each of us who worship today in churches of our twenty-first century use the exposure we encounter in current congregations to form filters through which we read our Bible.

From our church tribes, their tribal origins, their traditions and their view of Scripture we all approach our Bible in diversity.

The congregational emphasis of exclusivity or acceptance of other Christ followers’ influences the way many view Scripture today. Theology and conclusions drawn through the repetition of worship songs over time create concepts and ideas in our minds eye that color the way we read our Bible.

worldview4Vibrant teachers within congregations who share an exciting Creator God are more likely to instill in students an intrigue with their Bible.

Teachers who personify a bottle of sleep medication become a barrier that can dissuade others from discovery of the richness and joy to be found at the feet of the opened book.

My hope for each of us is that in some way we might come out of our self-imposed desert places and participate as a positive corporate lens through which others can see the authentic Jesus as they join with us to read a Bible that speaks to each of our realities.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: My Desert Church
Gary@Godreflection.org http://www.GodReflection.org
http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

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