Monday, July 30, 2012


Most Friday evenings we have a family dinner. My children and grandchildren who are in the area gather for a meal and a blessing. There are as many as 10-15 of us, along with friends who sometimes drop in.

After Patti lights the candles and before we sing and eat, I bless my wife and kids and they bless me. It's a bonding event and a nice ritual. But I think it's even more. I believe something actually happens as we bless each other.

I believe this for two reasons.

The first is what the Bible teaches about the act of blessing. 

In the Old Testament especially, we see fathers blessing their children and according to what we read, that blessing has weight and substance. 

Something happens. Something is changed for the child that can't be reversed - see Genesis 27 and Genesis 48.

The second reason I believe something happens when we bless each other is what I have experienced with the poorest of the poor children in slums and squatter camps around the world. When I go to these sad places in Africa, Latin America, India, Southeast Asia, etc., I find that most of the children are not sad. 

They live in a dump but their eyes are not dumpy. They shine with expectation because the pastor, father, or daddy (as the African kids call me) has come to bless them. 

They don't ask me to bless them. They just grab my hands and put them on their heads.

They don't wait for me to give a blessing. They take it. They demand it.

It always makes me cry.

These are the little children Jesus spoke of who are first in the kingdom. They don't wonder about being worthy of blessing. They just take what they want, somehow knowing it's there for them and knowing it's real.

Here is my blessing for you:

May the God of all forgiveness and love bless you. 
May the light of His countenance shine upon you and give you peace.

Monday, July 9, 2012


In John 4 we find a story that shows us what happens when God interacts with someone who is a marginal outcast. The Samaritan woman at the well has been rejected by five husbands and is now "living in sin," as some say it.

She is a loser by all counts. She is a low class member of a despised minority.

What happens when God meets someone like that? 

He doesn't begin by judging or imposing his agenda. He starts off by patiently hearing her story on her terms, then he asks her for something practical that he needs. This is to say, there is social give and take.

Only then, when the woman is ready, does he dig into her life and reveal to her that he already knows all about her complicated and troubled life. Still no judgment. Only implied forgiveness and acceptance. 

Then comes his agenda.

And what is it? 

He gives her the work and honor of being the first non-Jewish, non-male Apostle to the non-Jewish world.

What he doesn't do is take her through a moralistic type repentance. He doesn't tick off the commandments she has broken. He moves from healing her story, knowing the rest of her story straight to honoring her and giving her honorable work to do.

If we think that God is in any way a moralizing accountant who is in the very least disappointed with us, we have it precisely and exactly wrong.

No matter how your history has gone so far, no matter how many bad choices you have made or sins committed, your life will be honored.

When you meet the true God, 
you receive forgiveness, love, and honor. 
When you meet forgiveness, love, and honor, 
anywhere, any time, 
you meet God.