blended families

define what it means to be a blended family? think about that for a second and share what you think the definition of a blended family is. this has been something that has been on my mind for a while, and more so as of late. over the past few weeks a dear friend [denise] and i have been talking about this idea of a "blended family" and what it means. we have been in process over the term and how God views such families. think about this, what are the "requirements" placed on the family by the church for a family to be considered "blended" - but here is an even more important question - how does the church truly VIEW "blended families?" why do some churches see "blended families?" as "less then" families? you see, for me all families are blended - all families. all families blend together traditions, culture, family and friends; all families are are blended.

but let me share with you a little story of a man who decided to take the "plunge" and marry a women who had a child. he was not sure about it, because he knew that in "church circles" the family would be seen as "less then normal" [he knew that the traditional view of a "blended family" was not viewed as the "primary family" in the eyes of some church people] - but he did it anyway. he loved the women so deeply and knew he would be a good father figure and could teach the child how to be a good man, a "godly man." so he did so, he married her and raised the child as if he was his own. even after bring other children into the marriage this man loved his eldest son and never thought in terms of a "blended family."

this man was named joseph and his son was named Jesus - think about that. our savior, our Lord, our light and model for all we do as followers is the product of a blended family - he was raised by the love and care of a man who felt God had brought him and mary together - he gave his all to teach his son, yes i am certain joseph saw Jesus as "his son," and loved him with all his heart. when we see the family of our savior as a "blended" family we start seeing things with different eyes - we start to see how God is working in the lives of others. if we see blended families as "less then" what we are saying is that Jesus was raised in a "less then" family.

so, how does one define "blended families?" i think we need to lose that term in the church and focus on what it means to be a "godly family" - what does it mean to be a family where God is the center, and where God is the guide to marriage and the way we relate to each other. you see, "blended" does not matter if we are not willing to allow God to be the "blending agent" in the family. you see, i believe what matters the most is that God is the center of the marriage and everything we do is founded on knowing, loving, and seeking to please God first. when we worship as a family, pray as a family, study as a family, share life as a family and know that God is the absolute center of that, nothing else matters; because with God all things are possible.


can we see?

over the past few weeks my morning readings have been centering on the book of john. i have always been found of the gospel of john because it shares a vision of our walk in faith that should center on how we see Jesus in our lives - now, all the gospels do that, but john always spoke to me at a deeper level - and reading it in "the message" has been even more powerful.

this morning i was reading chapter 9, while attending a poverty summit in san fransisco and i was struck by the reality of the blind man - one of the things that struck me was that after he was healed, many doubted he was who he said he was - they accused him of "just looking like" the other man. this got me to thinking about how little we pay attention to those on the margins of our society. we see them, but we never truly look at them.

as i was walking along powell watching as people would pass by those who most never even gave a glance at, or a tip of the head, or even the slightest sign that they knew the person was alive - i was wondering how we were doing on this "war on poverty?" with most people not even looking at those sitting on the edges of society how can we say we are ready to fight a war? if all we do is walk past those in poverty, can we actually say we are doing everything we can? [now, before i get to deep into this, please do not misquote the scripture where Jesus says "the poor will aways be with you." i have had too many people use that to justify not giving to those in need, and that is a complete misuse of that scripture.] so, how do we fight the war on poverty?

i believe the first thing we need do is look at those in poverty in the eye and say, "we have missed looking at you and we are sorry" - then, and only after we see that they are humans, can we truly start fighting the fight - because then we see them as people worth fighting for.


spirit and truth

where is God's word in our life? for most, it is on the self behind the fake flowers we got a few years ago at a yard sale for 10 cents. but really, where is God's word in our life? if, as followers, we claim to be walking in the light of Christ - i ask again, where is God's word in our life? now, i have to be honest and say that this is kind of a "trick question" - because, in reality [for those who follow Christ] God's word can only be in one place - our hearts. let's be honest, that is the only place it can do any good. sitting behind cheap flowers is not a good place :)

so, i believe the best place for God's word to be is in our hearts, unfortunately too many of us have it stuck useless places, like in our heads. God's word bouncing around in our heads has little impact on others, and it has little impact on us. I believe we need to move it from our heads to our hearts; "flush it" if you will to get it down into our hearts - that means we need to live, practice and walk in the light of God's word - this my friends is the hard part :) but we have to remember that if we are truly following Christ, we are changed people - made new in Christ and seeking to live more "christlike" every day. for that to happen, i think we need to keep in mind three important realities.

first, forgiveness - this is one of the hardest. but we are called to forgive, so we should strive to forgive others who have harmed us - and as a new friend shared with me last night, while we forgive we also need to remember that there are consequences to all our actions. but forgiveness is a very important part of our walk in faith - it is a very important part of knowing God's word is in our hearts - because it is when we forgive we are most "christlike" in our actions towards others.

second, love - yup, we are to love - love the ugly, the homeless, the hurting, the messy and the broken - it is hard and messy but we are truly called to love others - so lets love. it is easy to love the cute and cuddly - but we are called to love everyone

third, help - this may seem silly, but we should help others and make sure they have enough in their lives. if we are blessed with much, we should help others in need - if we are blessed with little, we should also help others in need. there is a great tradition in the middle east that says, "when it is time to eat, go to the house on the right and if they do not have enough food invite them to your house and share a common meal." think what would happen if we did the same thing.

you see, i have been thinking about what it means to "worship in spirit and in truth" for a while, and i tend to think it is living a life the way Christ lived his life - forgiving, loving, helping and giving to others. when we do that, when we reach the reality that we can walk closer to God by putting His word in our hearts we become better followers, better people, better friends, better lovers, better wives, better husbands and mostly better people - we see the value of those we love and care for and we accept them for who they are - we open our hearts to God and God works in us to change.

as for me, i seek to walk closer to God and keep his word in my heart - how about you?



ever get friends requests on your myspace? i get some, about 50 or so a month. i accept some, and i reject many others. if, for what ever reason you have, you desire to be a friend on my myspace, keep in mind some very simple guidelines i use to determine who is and is not a friend - here goes:

1. you need to be someone i would send a birthday wish to. now, that may not seem like a big deal, but the reality for me is that i like sending out little messages every now and then - and i like sending birthday wishes. i will actually read your site, not all and not always, but i will and i may comment on what you wrote. so, if you are the kind of person who does not mind a little comment every now and then from me, cool - friendship can be formed :)

2. your pics need not be "booty shots" - now, i am not a prude, and i like the human body as much as the next guy - but please know i am a pastor - no mater what i do to make a living to plant a church, i am a pastor - and shots of your "butt in thong" to show off your tats really does not make me jump for joy - in fact, i hit the "ignore" key faster then you can think of -

3. pictures of your kids "flipping off" the camera with some cute little caption like, "he has a mind of his own" or "she is that kind of kid" - i am not impressed - not in the least - sure, i look like a rebel, and i may even write like a rebel but the reality of it all is that kids need to learn what it means to live in love and grace, and flipping off the camera is not love and grace. i do not flipp people off.

4. pets are cute, but if all your pictures are of your pet cats, i wonder if you have a life. i am not the kind of person who demands you have pictures of yourself, but to have no pictures of you interacting with other humans just gets me to think that you live like "cat people" and never get out of your home.

5. ask, just ask to be a friend and i will be happy to add you - well, depending on the other areas. i do not care where you are from, what your name is, how old you are, or your gender - i like to get to know people. if you live close by and want to get a cup of coffee, just message and ask - i would be happy to meet with anyone and just have conversation.

myspace is a great place, and it can be a wonderful tool to expand our friendships and our definition of what a friend is - but it can be a place where people hurt one another - so, be careful. develop friends, but mostly develop your walk with Christ.


torn bibles

recently, i have the pleasure to attend a "black church" - a church in the historical african american tradition - and i was amazed. i was not amazed by the music, which was great - nor was i amazed at the preaching, which was fantastic - what amazed me was that in each pew they had pew bibles - now, that may not seem like a big deal - after all, many churches supply pew bibles - i have been in luthern church, methodist churches and even baptist churches that had pew bible - the big difference, that i saw, was the pew bible in the african american church were worn, torn and dog-eared; they were used.

i am not suggesting that the pew bibles in other churches are not used, but i have never seen them used like that - i have been in "white churches" where the pew bible looks as new as the day it was purchased. i have been in churches where i pick up a bible and the spin "snaps" as i open it - and the gold edging is still stuck together.

i was impressed with how used those bibles were - and they were used - written in, pages marked, dog-eared and folded - it was exciting to see that in a church - this got me thinking, i need to get out more and visit more churches :)

in fact, i would challenge each and every reader to visit a church of a different tradition this sunday - your pastor should understand :)