March 2009


Chorus

My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty,

My God cannot do anything that He wants to do – for you!

(Repeat)

Verse

The mountains are His, the rivers are His,

The stars are His work to do

(Repeat Chorus)

 

I would like to make it clear that I completely disagree with the theology of her lyrics and that I fully believe that God knows exactly what she’s trying to say. I think He smiles about it as much as I do.  It reminds me of my wife, Andrea, saying that as a kid she thought the song went, “Up from the gravy, a rose!” as well as all my childhood mumblings through “Just As I Am.” Got any good lyric mess ups?

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As Elaine was flipping through her children’s Bible this morning, we came upon a page that taught about the fact that Jesus prayed and, therefore, so should we. I asked Elaine if she knew what it meant to pray. After some mumbling I helped her out with something like, “Prayer is when we talk to God; that’s why we say, ‘Dear God.'” Of course, what does the word “dear” mean to a two year old, and why do I say, “Dear God,” as if I’m dictating a letter? Another one of those routine prayer phrases, I guess; maybe a twist on “Our Father.” I’ve obviously over-thought this…

Anyways, I then asked her why we pray before we eat, though I think I phrased it, “Why do we pray for our food?” I was expecting an answer from her, and was not disappointed when she responded, “Because it’s hot.” I knew it was coming, because a lot of times when we sit down to a meal and I say it’s time to pray, she says, “But my food is not hot.” I’m not sure where the connection was made – maybe as she gets ready to dig in, we always say, “Not yet – it’s still hot…. Let’s pray.”

I realize more each day that teaching children about God and the truths of Scripture is far from easy. Not only is it hard to phrase things in a way their minds can understand, but keeping up with the daily routines that teach them to honor God can easily fall by the wayside or become stale and lifeless. During another recent “theological discussion,” the subject of death came up because we were talking about two of her great grandmothers who passed away during this past year. I didn’t try to go too deep, but I did explain that they were with God in heaven. Her follow-up question was unique: “Are you God?” I assured her I was not, to which she simply said, “You look like Him.” Wow. I’m not sure what she meant, but my immediate question to myself was, “Do I? Am I reflecting the character and likeness of God to my wife and children, not to mention everyone else I come in contact with?”

As I’ve mulled over these things, I’ve been reminded that I will never be able to answer all of her questions about faith or God or prayer. There are things I know to be true that I will teach her to the best of my ability with God’s help, but mystery is always on the fringes. I will do my best to pray at meals, get her in the Bible each day, and make sure she goes to church, but the routines will sometimes fail. So above all of these ways of teaching my child about the God I love, I think my primary job is to do my best to look like Him. My prayer is that both of my girls hear about the great God their mom and I serve, that they will be graciously saved by Him, and that they will look back and say that, in some small way, their father looked like their heavenly Father.

In reading John’s account of Lazarus being raised from the dead, it is striking that the focus is totally on Jesus and His power as “the resurrection and the life.” Lazarus never speaks. In fact, in all of Scripture there are no recorded words of Lazarus. He comes out, bound with grave clothes, is loosed, and, except for a couple brief mentions in John 12, this is the last we hear see of him. The focus is on Jesus. So what about Lazarus? What happened during the four days he was dead? Where was he? What did he see? Who did he meet?

I guess I find it all very ironic, especially given the recent rash of books about people’s near-death or death and resurrection experiences. People who may have been dead for minutes or hours (not nearly four days!) return to the land of the living with detailed accounts of heaven or hell that everyone needs to hear about. I’ll admit that it is hard to argue with a person’s experience, and who am I to deny the facts of what they saw? Yet who is right when their visions differ from each other? And what should I infer about the substance of their stories when they conflict with Scripture?

I can understand why such stories are attractive and intriguing – who wouldn’t want to know more about life after death, whether as a warning to unbelievers or an encouragement to God’s elect? But I can’t help but wonder where Lazarus’ book is. I guess Scripture must be complete without it.