Category Archives: Faith

Better Man posts what I’m learning to become a better person, a better man. Usually, but not always, these posts touch on my faith

What Happens at a Church Easter Egg Hunt?

Last Easter, Patrick Phillips of Patrick’s Place talked about the controversial question of Should Churches have Easter Egg Hunts? My church answers that question in the affirmative. But what happens at a church Easter Egg Hunt? I can’t tell you what happens at every church, but I will show you what happens at mine.

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My Church

Our church holds an Easter Egg Hunt the Saturday before Easter. Dozens of children and their parents show up. Most are families that call our church home, but others are friends, neighbors, people who live near the church, or people who happen to wander by that day.

We bring everyone, parents and kids, into the sanctuary. While the eggs are being hidden, one of our volunteers will read a story to the kids, something like Benjamin’s Box  or The Three Trees.

Both stories teach about the plan God has for the kid’s lives and share about the true meaning of Easter. The message is as much for the adults as it is for the kids.

The kids are broken up in three groups based on age and they are sent group by group, starting with the youngest, to hunt the eggs. The children who are waiting watch a movie, usually something like Veggie Tales. We give a prize to the kid who finds the most eggs and a special prize to the kid who finds a special golden egg.

After the hunt, we serve some light refreshments and send the now sugared up kids on their way.

We don’t give anyone a hard sell about our church or our programs. They can see we are a church, and we want them to initiate the conversation with questions rather than push our agenda. It’s more about showing them our hearts, planting a seed and opening a door. Maybe they see us interacting with our kids and our spouses and they see something they would like to have. Some of them come back on Easter Sunday, but some of the families we see on Saturday will never darken our doors again.

Good Idea?

Is it a good idea for a church to have an Easter Egg Hunt? Are we teaching our kids the wrong things?

The kids don’t know the first thing about fertility rituals or pagan traditions. To them, its just plastic eggs and candy, candy, candy.

In 1st Corinthians, Paul talks about ways that he tries to share the redemptive plan of Christ.

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Isn’t having an Easter Egg hunt emulating what Paul said he did? To our culture, we become a little like our culture so as to win those in that culture (though we ourselves are not part of that culture, for we are not conformed to the pattern of this world, but are transformed by the renewing of our mind (Rom12:2)).

 

“Easter Eggs On Grass” image courtesy of [jannoon028] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How To Handle Baptism for Children?

A reader asked me a question about handling baptism for children.

(not my kid)

(not my kid)

Out of curiosity (you don’t have to answer), how did you handle baptism for the children?

I know families that say, Oh, well, we will let the children decide when they are old enough.

Next, I know families that baptize their babies in the belief that “they can’t decide! they’re children! If they don’t want to do their chores, we make them. So much more so when it comes to their souls.” Those children go through Confirmation when they are old enough, where they declare their vows for themselves.

Finally, I know families that believe that children cannot be baptized until they are old enough, but they must be so strictly trained that they (the children) worry about what happens if they die before they are old enough to be baptized into their church.

No one ever thinks about how much the parents wrestle with this decision, only with the children wrestling with it.

Thank you for your question!

My wife and I wrestled with this decision with our daughter. I’m sure when my 3 year old son is old enough we will wrestle with it again.

My daughter got baptized when she was 12 years old, but she started asking about being baptized around 8 or so. Both my wife and I were baptized before our 9th birthdays. I have often wondered how authentic my early conversion experience was, and I have rededicated my life to Christ on at least three other occasions. I still struggle with the decision to be baptized again.

What is baptism at its core?

It’s an outward sign of inward, spiritual change. It is declaring to the world that the person being baptized has chosen to be a follower of Christ.

Chosen.That’s was the key element to us. Our daughter had to be of an age where she could understand the decision she was making.

Let me qualify that in two ways.

  1. I’m not sure anyone truly understands what a decision to follow Christ will mean for their lives when they first come to faith. Grace and salvation are free, but they will cost you everything.
  2. I also don’t believe you have to have every point of doctrine completely understood when you get baptized. The Christian life is a journey. The Apostle Paul likened it an Olympic race.

Having given those caveats, what we needed to see from our daughter was an understanding of what she was doing.

  • She had to be able to explain to us and to our pastor that she understood the difference between doing the right thing and doing the wrong thing.
  • She also had to admit that she sometimes did the wrong thing.
  • She had to clearly state her belief in the divinity of Christ (Jesus is the Son of God and Jesus is God).
  • She had to say with authority that she believed he died and came back to life three days later.
  • She had to explain to us what it meant to live the rest of life in the way God wanted her to. That she would study what he said in his word and do her best to obey it

It took a couple of years for my daughter to get to the point where we thought she understood her choice well enough to proceed. Most of her early interest was driven by seeing friends getting baptized. If you are on the fence, my advice would be to to err on the side of grace and allow them to be baptized.

Babies being baptized / Parents deciding for their kids

I don’t think anyone can decide on salvation for anyone else. God has no grandchildren. When we stand before God, we will do so either with Christ at our side or totally alone. Mom or Dad won’t be around.

Each person must come to a moment in their life when they decide to follow Christ or reject him. These are the moments where they are presented with the gospel and the Holy Spirit is tugging on their heart. They can accept, and become followers of Christ, or they can reject God.

We do dedicate babies and have dedicated both of our children, but baby dedication is much more about the parents dedicating themselves to teach their kids to love Jesus than it is about the baby.

What if they die before they are old enough to be baptized into their church

Every child comes to what is commonly referred to as the “age of accountability”. This usually happens somewhere between 10 and 14, sometimes earlier, and sometimes later. Certain medical disabilities may prevent someone from EVER reaching this age.

What happens to children who die before the age of accountability?

The story of David losing his infant child (2 Samuel 12) clearly shows they go to heaven. After the infant dies, David says, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” The context is clear that David wasn’t talking about seeing his child again in the grave, but about seeing the child in paradise/heaven.

What is someone dies after they are saved but before they baptized?

Baptism is not necessary to complete the transaction. The moment the person places their faith in Christ they are saved. The baptism is a outward sign of that inward change. But it is not strictly required as the Thief who was crucified next to Jesus shows.

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:40-43 NIV

If you are a parent struggling with this decision or know someone who is, this would be my advice.

  • Talk to her and see what her level of understanding is
  • Have her talk to a trusted elder / pastor / priest/ another adult
  • Continue to point her to a relationship even after she is baptized. Baptism is not the end of the journey, it is the beginning. We constantly strive to know Him more, and become more like Christ every day. It is likely she will come to a moment in early adult life where she rededicates herself to Christ and maybe even gets baptized again.

All of us, Skeptics, God seekers, and God followers are on a journey either closer to God or further away from Him. Encourage your kids every day to take one step closer.

Also remember, that as parents, it isn’t our job to ‘save’ our children. That job is always God’s alone. We have the responsibility (and may I call it a privilege) of guiding our kids towards faith. Fathers have a special responsibility. Our children’s conception of God the Father will be deeply influenced by their relationship with us, their earthly fathers. Pray for wisdom to teach your kids about God in a way they will understand. We can only do this with God’s help. He loves you (you are after all, His child) and He loves your kids.

sierpinskiclear

The Relationship Fractal

My friend Paul shared an observation with me recently and the more I grasp it the more I see it challenging everything in my relationship pyramid (better man, better husband, better father). As always, Paul’s outstanding teachings can be accessed on iTunes.

It starts with understanding the concept of a fractal. The best definition I’ve read of a fractal is a self-similar, repeating pattern.

Math, Science, Nature

Mathematicians illustrate with this with the Sierpinski Triangle. Wikipedia calles it “a mathematically generated pattern that can be reproducible at any magnification or reduction.” Exactly the definition of a fractal.

sierpinskiclear

They are all around us in nature. One example is lightning.

lightning-1

The bolts are not random. They are governed by fractal equations and repeated on every branch.

From the world of agriculture, we have the brocolli sprout. Romanesco_Broccoli_detailTake a look at those spirals. Everyone is the same shape and proportion. Spirals have spirals in them. If we could zoom in, we would see the same spiral pattern repeated in the smaller spirals as we do with the larger ones.

Peacock is a beatiful example.Peacock_Milwaukee_County_Zoo

Rivers, creeks and trees are governmed by fractals.

baja-california-rivers_50503_990x742

What is that a picture of? Maybe a tree? It’s actually the Baja River in California. Why does it look like a tree? It is because they are governed by the same fractal equations.

Sometimes shapes are repeated in completely unrelated parts of nature but governed by the same fractal equation. Things like the galaxy and the hurricane.

NGC_1232_galaxy named-hurricane-fran

 

This same pattern repetition is also observed when comparing brain cells and a nebula, or the natlius and the Milky Way.

Some fractals are so universal they repeat even within themselves. They look the same at virtually any scale as the Koch snowflake so beautifully represents.

Kochsim

Fractals form the fabric of reality. It is almost as if an unseen reality is trying to make itself seen.

Body, Soul, Sprit

God himself is a fractal. He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus said “he who has seen me, has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus is the perfect, self repeating pattern of the Father.

Our very composition represents another smaller fractal of God. We are made in His image, and we are also three part entities made up of Body, a Soul and a Spirit.

The Body is the easiest of the three to understand. It’s the one we can see (or probably don’t want to see). Our body is the vehicle we use to interact with the natural world. It uses the five senses to convey information to us and help us understand our enviroment.

Our soul in our inner being and sentience. It is the seat of emotions, and our thought life. It is from our soul that imagination springs. It is our soul where memories are stored. The soul speaks to us through our conscience. We know some things are wrong or right almost intriscially. C.S. Lewis surmised it was because our soul is connected to a greater, unseen reality.

The inputs of the both the Body and the Soul are intergrated and passed to the Spirit. The Spirit is our true selves. It is immortal. It is in our spirit that we find our faith. Hope wells up from the spirit. Prayer and worship must emmenate for the spirit. Jesus said we must worship Him in sprit and in truth. (John 4:24)

Relationship Fractals

What does all this have to do with being a better person, husband, or father? 

Philipians 2:5 says “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus”

The life of Christ becomes a FRACTAL for our lives to REPEAT. – Paul Rienzo

Jesus is the fractal. We are smaller versions of Christ. “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church.” Christ is the big fractal, we repeat it. Christ loves the church. We love our wives in the same manner, repeating the fractal.

Husbands are fractals of Jesus. Dads are fractals of Jesus.

The Bible puts forth a fractal shape, fractal “equations” (if we can use the word loosely) that tell us how to live our lives at every level. To follow Christ (to be a Christ One, a Christian) is to look to the principles of God and repeat them in every area of our lives.

This fractal has to echo throughout the entire relationship pyramid.

How do I become a better man and serve and love my fellow man better? Look at how God loves.

How do I love my wife better and become a better husband? Look at how Christ loves his Bride, the Church.

How do I love my kids better and become a better father? Look at how God the Father love me, his child.

 


Credit for helping to understand the Body, Soul, and Spirit comes from Dr. Clarence Larkin, “Rightly Dividing The Word

Image credits: 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierpinski_triangle

http://geology.com/hurricanes/named-hurricane-fran.gif

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0d/Peacock_Milwaukee_County_Zoo.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d1/NGC_1232_galaxy.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/26/Romanesco_Broccoli_detail_-_(2).jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koch_snowflake

 

 

Richard Sherman’s Failure

Are you nuts? Richard Sherman isn’t a failure. He’s a champion!Richard Sherman

This is true. But to get to that championship ending, Richard Sherman faced a moment where he had to realize he had failed.

By now, even those who don’t follow football know about Richard Sherman, the bombastic cornerback of the Seattle Seahawks. What most people don’t know is that Richard Sherman is a failure, and that his failure has the potential to teach us about finding our own calling and greatest gifts.

When Richard Sherman walked onto the campus of Stanford University as a freshman, it wasn’t to play cornerback. Sherman was recruited to play Wide Receiver. While he had a great freshman campaign, his sophomore season didn’t measure up. Then four games into his junior year, he suffered a devastating knee injury and was done for the year.

Coming off the injury, the Stanford team had plenty of talented receivers. Three wide receivers and two tight ends on that team would go on to play on Sundays including Doug Baldwin (now playing for Sherman’s Seahawks), Ryan Walen (now playing for the Bengals), Coby Fleener (now playing for the Colts), Griff Walen (also now with the Colts), Zack Ertz (now playing for the Eagles) and Chris Osuwu (now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

But the team lacked cornerbacks. The wide receiver skill set and the cornerback skill set are similiar. Sherman saw his opportunities and playing time at receiver dwindling, but he want to make a positive contribution to his team. He went to his coaches and volunteered to make the switch from receiver to cornerback.

First, he had to accept that his dream to be an elite, NFL level receiver had failed. He didn’t dwell on that. He didn’t mope or ask why. He saw one door closing and opted for another. It led to Sherman being an integral part of a Stanford team that would go on to lose only one of its thirteen games (a school record).

He flourished as a cornerback, and was selected in the fifth round of the NFL draft by Seattle. He wasn’t satisfied. He kept working. He kept learning. He kept striving to improve in every facet of his game.

Today, he is considered by many to be the best cornerback in the NFL, and he is a Super Bowl champion.

Sometimes, realizing that we have failed at one dream, and letting that dream go, can give us the freedome to pursue another, even greater dream.

 

photo: Dec 30, 2012, Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) celebrates on the field following a 20-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick

Patrick’s Place Guest Post: Why the ‘Deathbed Confession’ Works

Today, I’m guest posting on Patrick’s Place “Regular Doses of Common Sense”.

Patrick

Patrick

Patrick did a great post where he asked Can a Deathbed Confession Really Get You to Heaven? I enjoyed his response, but I wanted to take a different tack on it. It started as a comment, but as I blew past 500 words and I still wasn’t close to being done, I knew that wasn’t going to work.

I thought about just making it a post here like I did from Can You Have Christ Without the Bible? However, during the last Bloggab, we talked about guest posting and I decided to give it a shot. I wrote up the post and emailed it to Patrick asking if he would run it.

As an aside, if you enjoy blogging, I high recommend the Bloggab Twitter chat.

I wasn’t sure what he would say, but as the title of this article might indicated, he said ‘yes’ and its up and running this morning on his blog.

Guest Post: Why the ‘Deathbed Confession’ Works

 

Update: It seems like today of all days, my theme decided to break. I’ve reverted back to the default theme while I fix it.

Why I’m Not Making New Year’s Resolutions This Year

This is the time of year when people start thinking about and making New Year’s Resolutions. Three months later, most of them are broken, and the hope and excitement of New Year’s is traded in for discouragement and a sense of failure.

I’m not making New Year’s resolutions this year. Instead, I’m using this opportunity to set some goals for 2014.

Goal #1

Journal – 5 days a week

My journal will be a private place to write down thoughts, feelings, and struggles. It will be a place to record what I’m learning, and reading. It will not be published anywhere online and it won’t be intended for viewing by other than myself.

Goal #2

Read my Bible – 5 days a week

In a compromise to reality and to make this obtainable, I’m setting it at 5 times a week. I know it should be daily, but I also know I’m going to miss a day sometimes. I’ve come to dislike the whole ‘read the Bible in a year’ resolution you see this time of year. My friend, Paul, really helped me with that a couple of years ago. I would get so discouraged once I got behind that I would end up stopping all together.

As Paul so often does, he made an allusion to a popular movie, in this case, the 1990s classic “The Hunt for Red October”.  In the scene, the Russians are hunting for the Red October.MMDHUFO EC001

Captain Davenport: They’re pinging away with their active sonar like they’re looking for something, but nobody’s listening.

Jack Ryan: What do you mean?

Captain Davenport: Well, they’re moving at almost forty knots. At that speed, they could run right over my daughter’s stereo and not hear it.

Paul said I was doing the same thing trying to get through the Bible in a year.  I was moving so fast that I could fly right by what God was trying to tell me and completely miss it. He suggested I start with just a chapter, but that I stop as soon as I found something that spoke to me. If I didn’t find something in one chapter, go for two. Some nights I will read multiple chapters. Some nights, it will take just a verse or two.

It was completely freeing.

He also suggested that I start with the Gospel of John and go through the rest of the New Testament, and then circle around to the Old Testament.

This goes hand in hand with journaling. Part of what I will journal will be what I read that night and what I learned or how I was impacted by it.

Goal #3

Beta Readers for WIP

I want to have my current work-in-progress novel read by at least two beta readers. Part of this goal has already been accomplished as I have two people who have graciously agreed to be Beta Readers. The harder part is getting them a mostly finished product to read.

I don’t want to hand over my WIP until I know I’ve fixed the obvious problems I can see. I’ll need the beta readers to see the problems I didn’t catch.

Goal # 4

Write 5 days a week

I’m not going to count journaling as writing. This has got to be either some fiction work, or blogging. Accomplishing this goal will go a long way to accomplishing Goal #3.

Goal #5

Blog at least once per week

I know this doesn’t seem like an incredibly ambitious goal, however; I’ve gone long stretches over the past year without a post. Consistent posting is the #1 thing I can do to improve grow my audience for the blog.

Goal #6

Write at least two short stories for competitions

I’m saddened that Water Worlds will be the final Saucy Chronicles. Those stories were fun to work on and I learned so many lessons from the indebt critiques that Saucy Ink did. I do well when I have someone else holding me accountable. A competition deadline makes sense. Also, I’ll get some feedback on how I’m doing.

Goal #7

One-der-land

This will mark the fourth year in a row I have set my sights on One-der-land. One-der-land is an expression I picked up from my Mom to mean that your weight starts with the number 1. Basically, it means I’m trying to get under 200 pounds. I’ve promised myself a steak dinner if I get there (although that may not be the best reward).

Goal #8

Read 10 Books

Last year I read 6 books. Choose Omnibus (three books, but counting as one), Kingdom Come, Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay, Deceived, and Eli. It would be 8 books if I counted each Choose volume as one book. Only two of those (Kingdom Come, Eli) were really in the genre that I write most often. The others were outside of my genre. I need to read more, both in my genre and out of it.

 

Those are 8 goals I have for 2014. What about you? What goals have you set?

philrobertson

[Paul Rienzo] Phil Robertson – The Hunter becomes Prey

It is a huge honor and privilege to turn the blog over to my friend and teacher, Paul Rienzo. This is the best response I have seen to the A&E / Phil Robertson controversy.

Reprinted here from Paul’s private Facebook page with full permissions, I give you, Paul Rienzo!

Paul :

Homosexuality aside…

When Jesus was asked by a disingenuous crowd “Who was John the Baptist?”, He responded with a question challenging their right to deserve an answer.

When Jesus was ask to perform a miracle by a power hungry Herod, He did nothing.

When a crowd pleaser named Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” Jesus remained silent.

Not all questions deserve answers.

Not all questioners want truth.

Scripture is clear. Avoid vain arguments (1 Tim 6.20); such arguments where the questioned and questioner are already resolved in their own answer. “But Christians are suppose to stand up… right!?” We are called to give an answer for the hope the lies within us – Christ. (1 Peter 3.15) Our stand on homosexuality is not the answer.

Why was Phil talking to GQ?

The context was not ‘truth seeking’ or discipleship making.

GQ already knew the answer to the question. But just like Rolling Stone magazine putting a terrorist on their cover (Aug. 2013), they knew the answer would create buzz (20% increase in sales).

A&E already knew Phil’s answer on homosexuality. They didn’t need to hear the GQ interview. They didn’t respond shocked because they had just found out or because they cared for gay people. No, it became an inconvenient truth when it would cost them money.

Phil was a hunted hunter.

He was drawn into a context of truth that was not ‘truth seeking’. He should have remained silent. He should not have been there at all. Jesus went to the lost. He didn’t do interviews. There are times when real honest-to-God truth moments are presented (Jesus with Nicodemus). This wasn’t one of them.

Remember, Jesus’ methods were just as inspired as His words.

We all make mistakes, even when what we say is right.philrobertson

facebook

Facebook Motivation

facebookMy timeline filled up with bloggers discussing proper and improper Facebook posting.

First there was Wait But Why declaring himself the Facebook cop and letting everyone know “7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook“. The post, of course, went viral as the author described 7 types of posts that he finds particulary annoying. Trust me, you’re probably guilty of more than 1. I’m fairly certain I went 7 for 7.

Then on the heels of that, agent Wendy Lawton talked about her Facebook Life and some of the questions she is struggling with in using her Social Media.

How does one post a more balanced picture when we know it’s a public forum? There is no way to know that our myriad Facebook “friends” can be trusted. If we were to become more transparent, what does it do to our public persona? Do I really want to know about the marital struggles of my favorite author?

Many of the struggles in my life are not mine to share. A lot of us may seem to have perfect families, perfect marriages, perfect jobs, perfect vacations, etc., when it’s just that the bad stuff is confidential. I’ve tried to be balanced in my Facebook posts– some personal, some helpful (sharing links, etc.) and some professional (talking about my work and my clients).

Being transparent about some of the things dogging me and sharing some of my deepest struggles feels way too risky to me and would throw the balance off. But in letting my natural reserve inform my Facebook content, am I in danger of Facebragging?

She referenced Facebragging, a term from a blog by LarkNews and the first of the insufferable behaviors  pointed out by Wait But Why’s blog. It annoys him so much he broke it down into three distinct bragging categories! Once again, I’m pretty sure I went three for three.

800 friends. Now this is living!

I think much of the problematic behavior comes from an overabundance of friends. We have essentially taken Facebook from what should be a Green space (small group) and turned into a Red Space (public space). I claim that someone simply cannot maintain 800 friendships. If you have that many friends on Facebook some pruning might be in order. I think a good number of friends should be around (quickly checks my own friend count) 100. That’s still too many, but at least its managable.

I think Facebook would do well to copy Google+’s Circles concept. You group your ‘friends’ in different circles and you choose what circles you share each post with. That greater level of control would allow someone to let the public stuff be public and keep the more private stuff private.

I also like Wait But Why’s suggestion of using other means to communication. I know its the 21st century, but there’s no rule against picking up the phone and actually talking to someone, or sending a text, or even a Facebook private message.

My Mom recently blogged about how much she enjoys getting actual physical card in the mail. Facebook is a wonderful tool, but we shouldn’t negelct some of the ways we used to let people know we were thinking of them.

Public Personna with a Private Life?

For public figures like pastors, authors, and bloggers Facebook offers the ability to create a public page similiar to a business page. This allows the public figure to have a public personna while still maintaining their private Facebook account. This seperation of the public and private is part of the solution to several of the questions Wendy Lawton asks.

What’s My Movitation?

Whether in posting or friending, it comes down to motivation.

Why are we Facebook friends with this person?

Maybe I’m just friending you because I think you’ll send me lives in Candy Crush. This is, as I should point out, perfectly OK!

I originally got on Facebook to share pictures of my new born daughter with friends and family. Since then, I’ve added extended family, and people from all the circles of my life. Some I knew better than others. I’ve always been something of a selective ‘friender’ and even hurt feelings a time or two because I didn’t choose to friend someone. Even with my selective nature, I’ve still amassed well over 100 Facebook ‘friends’.

Motivation is also of primary importance when we post. Just like I taught my daughter to THINK before she speaks, the same thought process should go into our posting. We need to always ask ourselves why I am posting this to Facebook.

Open Up a Can of … Grace

We should recognize that sometimes our friends post to get attention, or just to brag. At that point, I need to reach into my backpack and pull out a little bit of grace for them. All of us want to know we matter. We all need a little Like and Comment love from time to time. We want to know we aren’t ignored by the universe, or their friends (Facebook or otherwise). Nothing is worse than thowing out a status update and seeing no response, no engagement.

I think the self pointed Facebook cops need to take a breath. We are all the star actors of our own life. We need to hear the applause from time to time.

Circle of Friends

Organize Your Life into Four Spaces

Circle of Friends

Today, I’d like to relate something that my friend Paul Rienzo (@PaulRienzo) taught me. It has been a great metaphor for understanding my world and the relationships I have with the people around me. It helps me understand not only how to act, but also explains why I feel certain ways in certain situations, and it also helps me understand how others may be feeling.

There are many times when I have wanted to use this metaphor to explain what I think about a particular topic, but before I do that, I have to be sure that my audience will understand it. Today, I’m going to explain the metaphor. My hope is that you will find it as useful as I have.

I’ve been able to apply this in both my personal life as a friend, husband and father, as well as a guide to how the characters in my story should act.

Socially Aware

Human beings are by nature social creatures. We form relationships of varying degrees with the people around us. This is normal and natural. You relate differently with a close friend of 8 years than the French model you just met, on the Internet.

Over the past 50 years, various studies by social scientists and cultural anthropologists have shown that we tend to move in four different kinds of spaces as we relate to one another. These spaces are the Public Space, Social Space, Personal Space, and Intimate Space.

Public Space “Red Space”

This is the space of the big crowd having a common experience. We tend to speak only in pleasantries. We reveal very little, if anything, of our true selves. Trust with people in our Red Space is nearly zero. Our shields are up and our masks are on.

  • Real World: Movie theatre
  • Church: Sunday morning Church
  • Online: A webinar
  • Bible: The Sermon on the Mount
  • Writing: Keynote at a conference

Social Space “Yellow Space”

(Look at me. We are going to pretend that heading is yellow. It’s not really yellow. Your eyes are thanking me, trust me.)

The Social Space is a little smaller than the Public space, but not as small as the Personal Space. Here, we being to present a small part of our true selves. Trust with people in our Yellow Space is small. Our shields remain up, but our mask is not quite as tight.

  • Real World: Sports Bar
  • Church: Community Gathering / Pot luck / Dinner on the Grounds
  • Online: Forums
  • Bible: Wedding at Cana
  • Writing: Large breakout session

Nearly all relationships start in either a Public “Red” Space, or a Social “Yellow” space. Over time as the relationship deepens, we allow people to come closer to us, and reveal more of our true self.

Personal Space “Blue Space”

The Personal Space is smaller than the Social space. This is the first space where we exert control on who enters. The people allowed into the “Blue space” are close to us both physically and emotionally. We feel safe enough to reveal who we really are and share private struggles. Trust is high. Our shields are weak and the mask is partially removed.

  • Real World: Group of Friends
  • Church: Small Groups / Sunday School Class
  • Online: Chat Room / Twitter Chat / Guild Chat
  • Bible: Disciples
  • Writing: Critique Group

Intimate Space “Green Space”

You can usually count the number of people allowed into your Intimate “Green space” on one hand. This is a place of total disclosure. You open yourself up completely, and you are totally venerable. The shields are down, and the mask is completely off. You are most vulnerable and can be hurt the most. It is a simultaneously euphoric and terrifying experience.

  • Real World: Husband and wife, your best friend, your wingman
  • Church: Accountability partner
  • Online: Private chat, private message
  • Bible: Jesus and Nicodemus
  • Writing: Critique Partner

All of us need people at every level, but we have an acute need for someone in the Green Space. We were made to do life together. It’s hard, almost impossible, to jump levels. You can’t go from a Red Space relationship to a Green Space relationship overnight. It takes spending time and earning trust.

If you’d like to hear Paul’s original teaching on this, you can download his podcast: http://www.crosstownonline.us/2011Audio/CrosstowneTheChurchPart9(2011-11-13).mp3

 

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ID-100110273

Can You Have Christ Without the Bible?

Patrick has a great post where he poses the following hypothetical question:

You’re stranded on a deserted island without any books, no computers, no phone, no tech, and no way to look up a Scripture when you need one. Without a Bible, would you still have Christ in your life and the gift of His salvation?

This started out as a comment on that article, but as it got too long for that format, I decided to post it here as a blog post. Enjoy. If you disagree, feel free to contact me, or leave me a comment.

Can you have Christ without the Bible?

ID-100110273What is the Bible?

In this hypothetical situation, I think it’s important to define exactly what we mean when we refer to the Bible.

One interpretation would be to refer to the physical (or electronic) book. In this view, when we ask the question, we are talking about the ink, paper, and all the other physical components of the Bible.

Another way to look at the question would be to consider the Bible to be the contents. In this view, when we are talking about the Bible we are talking about the theme, and message of the scriptures. The Bible itself admonishes the reader to ‘hide the Word in our heart’ (Psalm 119:11). It is almost as if the author knew there would come a day when the physical media (a scroll in the days of Psalms) would not be available.

The way the question is asked, my guess is the person who proposed this hypothetical had the first interpretation in mind. When he says ‘without a Bible’ he means without the physical book (the paper, ink, binding, etc.)

Given this view, I can heartily agree with Patrick when he says “So, yes, I think on that deserted island, Christ would be there every bit as much with or without the Bible.”

I have the privilege of knowing Patrick and I can see by the life he leads that Christ lives in his heart and mind. On his hypothetical desert island, Christ would be with him whether Patrick possessed the pages and paper of the Book or not.

But in the second view, I would have to disagree because that requires a separation that simply cannot be made. It is impossible to separate Christ from the essence of the Bible ( the theme and message). The Bible itself testifies they are one in the same.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 NASB

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 NASB

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” John 1:14 The Message

Now what is ‘The Word’ that these scriptures are referencing? It is The Word of God, colloquially known as the Bible. Jesus is literally the Bible in flesh and blood form.

You can’t separate the two. They are essentially one and the same. If you have Christ, you have the Word. If you have The Word, you have Christ.

“The Bible is invaluable to helping us understand Him, to be sure.”

Actually, it is God in the person of the Holy Spirit that is invaluable in helping us understand the Bible which in turn helps us to understand God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ.

 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14-15 New International Version (NIV)

The Bible was given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and we are assisted by Holy Spirit in understanding what He wrote.

 

Image courtesy of Janaka Dharmasena/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net