Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Life with...

Last night at the Spanish church, my students were talking about "Convivió." My poor partially-Spanish-educated mind spun its wheels on that term. "Con" means "with"... I reasoned as best I could, and "vivió" means "lived," unless they put the o on the end to make it a new noun... but as one word, what does it mean? So I asked.

"Ummm... like small body...? together?"
"Like go to house, eat food, family, amigos..."
Somehow through translation, the concept came through: Fellowship!

What a neat way to word it, too. "Doing life with others." I love the first description of it too - "small body." Of course when I first heard that, I thought she meant little people, another word for kids. And was completely confused. But after getting the true meaning, "small body" seemed like the perfect way to explain it. Especially when I got to go be a part of it.

After class, we went up to the little white house on the other end of the parking lot and had "convivió." Inside was one table set up with chairs around it (and a shorter, kids table close by), and a kitchen overflowing with an assortment of latin foods. There weren't a lot of people - maybe fifteen with the niños - and we "squished" together, as one person said, around the one table. There was a blend of rapid Spanish and broken English (and broken Spanish, on my part), lots of laughing and sharing and cheek-kissing and blessing... just a natural, beautiful example of doing life together in a way that brings glory to the Lord.

Jesus told his disciples (and therefore, us) that the world would know we are his followers, that we belong to him, by the way we love. What does "Convivió" look like in your home, church, and community? How do you authentically live life with others in a way that reflects an intimate and personal relationship with the Lord? How are your "every day" relationships making an eternal difference and bringing glory to God?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Doctrinal Gymnastics

Mom and I like to have Bible study together over breakfast once a week, and we use a "devotional book" to give us some guidance, but sometimes we just realize that devos are overrated. This morning we had a good laugh over a sentence that said, "The third phrase in this quote is sandwiched between the first two." ......?? Wouldn't that make it the second phrase, then? And when we went back to Scripture, it was the second phrase. So why not study the phrases in order? Must be some sort of doctrinal gymnastics trick, I suppose. It made it hard to take the rest of the lesson seriously though, and we ended up (as we often do) just going to the passage of Scripture, closing the devo, and letting God speak to us directly.

I think devotional books have a place, when we need some structure or support in knowing how to apply the Word, or just to gain a different perspective. But one of the great things about the Bible is that it is accessible to normal people... you don't have to know an ancient language or have a Doctorate of Theology to be able to read and understand it. It is a gift to us, not to confuse or frustrate, but to enlighten and assure. It is powerful and effective, and doesn't need to be outlined in a three-point message of parallel words in order to challenge or encourage, convict or comfort. It is God's words, from his very heart, that give us wisdom and help, peace and love.

If you don't read the Bible on a regular basis - for whatever reason - I encourage you to pick it up again. Start reading Genesis or Psalms or John or Philippians and just ask God to teach you and speak to you, to show you his truth and how to apply it to your life. He delights to do that! He longs to do that, because when you pray and he communicates with you through his Word, that is the beginning of true relationship with him.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Defender of the weak

My dog, Beau, has this issue with cats. If he smells them nearby - and by "nearby" I mean in the general vicinity of our big backyard - there's a ridge of hair that stands up on his back and he nearly goes through the window. Poor thing goes absolutely ballistic. But that is normal, right? I mean, even in cartoons, dogs hate cats... I've known this from my early days with Tom and Jerry and that bulldog, Spike, or Sylvester and Tweety and that other dog that looks suspiciously like Spike. But as I observe Beau, I realize he doesn't have a general viciousness against feline kind without cause or reason.

Beau loves birds. We have a bird feeder and bath outside the window in our backyard, and one of Beau's favorite pastimes is sitting in the recliner by the window, watching the sparrows, chickadees, and wrens enjoy their breakfast.
The cats also like to watch the birds... but with a darker and more morbid intention. And Beau is quite perceptive about this intention. So when the cats come around, he feels it is his duty to defend the weak and innocent. He SLAMS against the window, claws at the pane, slobbers all over the glass and fogs it up with the hot breath from his angry, loud barks. The cats get the message and run off, plotting their next attempt a little more carefully.
And I think Beau is a hero. He knows his feathered friends and delights in them, he is always on guard for their safety, and will fearlessly protect them at the first sign of danger. And I think the little birds know this, because the Spoon Drop Inn Bird Bath & Breakfast is the most popular, most frequented, most happening place on the block.
I love that Jesus is not only my friend, but also my protector and defender. I am amazed that he delights in watching me enjoy his blessings, that his favorite pastimes are just spending some time with me... that he likes me! And I am so thankful that he watches over me and fights for me... that he is my shepherd who guides and defends me, so I lack nothing and have nothing to fear.
Jesus said that he takes care of the birds of the air and knows if even one falls, and I think he's given Beau a small but valuable role to play in that. But then he reassures me by saying that if I see that he cares that much for the little birds, that I should understand his love and concern for me is so much greater. So whenever I see the way Beau loves the birds, I am reminded of the way Jesus loves me.