Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Good Life

I'm at my parents' condo.  I had meetings in Buffalo and Minneapolis earlier and came here in the early afternoon to spend some time with mom and dad.  I was able to do that because I don't have bus driving now during MEA weekend.  Nice to have the time to see my parents.

Dad is 30 years older than I am and mom is a few years younger.  I'm thankful that they have this condominium to live in.  I remember the headaches they had years ago when they had their own home.  Here they don't need to think about the condition of the roof or do any lawn care.

There are many other condo residents here too, people that they enjoy.  (I went down with dad for coffee today and one of the women asked me if I had a wry sense of humor like he does.  Yes.  I certainly do.)  At the moment mom and dad are downstairs in the dining room having supper there.  Supper is available, for a price, four days a week.

I'm writing this at the moment because of something my dad said today.  We were sitting in the living room and somehow the topic of all their piles of papers came up.  Dad said something about being a "world class procrastinator" and that he is a champion of letting things just be "good enough."  At 87 years old I'm not complaining at all about him saying that, but it got me thinking about the different sort of attitude I see from Jesus in his "Sermon on the Mount."

In the series of messages we're doing on Sundays we've arrived at the part where Jesus deals with a whole list of issues... murder and anger, adultery and lust, divorce, oaths, retribution ("an eye for an eye" vs. "turn the other cheek") and hatred vs. love for our enemies.  He caps this section with verse 48 where he says
Uff da.*  How does being "perfect" fit in with a family that is based on things being "good enough"?  It's just too much!

It is too much for my family.  It is too much for my biological family.  But it's not too much for the family of GOD. 

My HEAVENLY Father lifts me to a new standard.  I'm not talking about a standard of perfection that doesn't leave papers and magazines lying around on every available surface.  I'm talking about the standards that really matter--standards that are in tune with God's passion for a really GOOD life, a life where anger is replaced with understanding and patience, where lust gives way to faithfulness in marriage, where honesty and generosity and LOVE rule.

Those standards were passed down in my biological family.  From the time when I was small we learned them.  These PERFECT ways, ways that we learned from JESUS CHRIST have influenced me in my "characteristic and habitual" way of life.  I stray from it, but I know the perfect way, and I recognize when I'm off course and receive God's correction.  And I am so thankful.

I'll preach a message (entitled "The Good Life") with some of these thoughts on Sunday morning, October 20.  That day will be the 29th anniversary of the day I married my best friend, Tonia Lynn Dahlin.  Both Toni and I were raised in households that honored this perfect way and this good life.  In some ways, for example, when it comes to clutter around the house, we do have a "good enough" attitude.  But when it comes to the standards of Christ, both Toni and I do allow God to correct us and set us back on His Good and Perfect way.


Do you recognize God's way?  Do you know it?  Are you willing to humble yourself and learn from Jesus?  Spend some time meditating on God's Word tonight.  Look at the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 and allow God to correct you.  And spend a good amount of time with others who accept God's standards.  It's a lot harder to live according to the Lord's ways when everyone around us is going another direction.

I want to pray tonight for those who have not learned "The Good Life" in their "families of origin."  I want to pray for you if you need to connect with and even become part of a "new family."  The good news is that God actually gives us a new family.  We don't need to continue in the perversity of the world.  You can start again and we are here to help.

If you know that your ways are far distant from the ways that the Lord lays out for us in Scripture, don't harden your heart.  Don't say "it's good enough."  The Lord Jesus loves you just like you are and he welcomes you, now, into His family.  I will pray that God will connect you with living, breathing examples of His perfect ways, and, if I can, I will help you connect wherever you are.

God bless you all.

I learned that expression from my Norwegian-American parents.  There's a wikipedia article covering it -- click HERE!  Imagine!  An encyclopedia article about "uff da!" That's an "uff da" too!)

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