Tag Archives: values

Targeting Intimacy with God


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Today in Family Living class we were looking at the filter theory on relationships.  The idea is that the intimacy level of a relationship can be judged, or improved, by rating degrees of seven filter areas.  The people closest to the bulls-eye of our target are those with whom we have the most intimate relationships.  If you want to improve your intimacy level then working on any of the filters further in will help. 

  

If we apply this filter to our relationship with God how would we fare?

 

#1 Physical and Emotional Closeness – On the physical side of this scale we run into the same snag as people for centuries because since the ascension of Christ there has been no solid tangible presence of God on earth.  We can not reach out and touch God, but the emotional attachment to God is probably the earliest that most of us remember.  God is love, how can we not be emotionally attached? (We will leave the issue of anger at God for another day)
 

#2 Sharing Values – As Christians our very understanding of values comes to us from the word of God.  While it may be true that people who are not Christian share many values like honesty and loyalty with us, the Bible provides with a clear moral outline which is not provided in the secular world.


 
#3 Reward Expected – If we were looking for reciprocity in the relationship I’m afraid God would be left the loser on reward expected.  From God we expect much and have his promise to count on.  If we believe, we can expect forgiveness and everlasting life.  Rewards don’t get much better than those!  What do we give to God?  We do well to give God thanks and praise.  If you have done the catechism you will recognize this as the chief end of man.
 

#4 Time Spent Together – Here is one area where most of us could stand to improve.  God is with us 24/7 through the presence of the Holy Spirit, but how often are we truly with him?  One hour/week in church?  Are we with God when we are at committee meetings at the church?  Some part of every day as we study the Bible or pray?  Moments of crisis only?  I think it is safe to say that we can all stand to increase our time spent together with God.
 

#5 Level of Exclusivity – We know that God loves every person in the world just as much as the others.  God is the only God and expects us to remember that.  This is the first commandment, ” I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;  you shall have no other gods before me.” (Deut. 5:6-7)  This exclusivity is also the core of the shema, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One” (Deut. 6:4).   Jesus taught that, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Matt 6:24)

 

#6 Level of Commitment – We will never live up to God’s level of commitment shown in the sacrifice of his son, himself, on the cross for our sins.  On the other hand, we can rely on both his help in standing firm and his welcome back after our failures.


#7 Degree of Disclosure – Whether or not we choose to share with God, he already knows everything about us, but he wants us to share with him.  He desires that intimacy with us.   Admitting our sins and weaknesses can be very daunting for us, even when we know it won’t be new news to God.  If we share it with God, that means that we have to admit it to ourselves. 

 

So, do you see some areas in which you can work to increase your intimacy with God?  I know I do.  Let’s aim for that bull’s eye! 

What Would You Have Left After Losing Everything?


Try something with me.  Divide a piece of paper into six sections and on each section write one or two words to describe one of the six things that are most important in your life.  Don’t write the stuff you think you should, nobody else will see them.  I’m not talking about the basics needed for human survival.  What six things are your center, your anchor, or your purpose?

I do this exercise with my classes sometimes.  It was recommended as an activity to do along with the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey.  Each time I do it I have a slightly different focus.  Sometimes I focus on people and rather than just saying “Family” I break that down.  I almost never remember to put “Myself” which is probably not great on some levels.

 

The next step in the exercise is to look at those six pieces of paper and think if you had to lose one of them from your life, which one would it be?  Take that paper and crumple it up into a ball….Are you done?

 

Next look at those five remaining sheets of paper and choose which one you would choose to lose if one had to go and crumple up that piece of paper… … … I bet that took longer to choose.

 

I trust that you have picked up the pattern here, but don’t stop.  Look at the four and crumple up one of them…look at the three and crumple up one of them…look at the two last sheets of paper and as hard as it may be choose what goes.

 

Loss is a hard thing to deal with, and even when it is imaginary we resist.  When we do this in class I get the kids to police each other and make sure that a piece of paper gets crumpled with each step.

 

There are different ways you might approach the choice of the order in which you crumple the papers.  Are you choosing what you like the best to keep?  Maybe you are thinking in survival terms and chose to lose friends before work because without a job you wouldn’t be able to afford to live.  Perhaps you have an emotional focus.  You might not even have written family if family has not been a positive thing in your life so far.

 

One of the first times I did this I looked at it in terms of what I could live without.  I knew first hand that I could live with the breakup of a marriage, as I had already done that.  But now I have a little bit different focus.  I’m not sure it changes the results any but now I think, “If I lost this, what would I have left?”

When I draw my very last breath, even if my friends and family have all fallen away I know that I will not be dying alone.  God will be there with me.

 

It is unlikely that I will lose all the things that are important to me, for which I am very thankful.  In the Bible we can read about Job.  Job was a good man.  He had priorities just like we do.  Throughout the book of Job he systematically loses every thing he has, even down to losing his own health.  People try to convince him to curse God who allowed these things to happen.  He does complain to God,  he clings to his righteousness.  Even though he pushes, God stays with him.  Even though a great many bad things have happened, Job believes in God.  Many might find Job’s story depressing as it is full of loss and misery.  But rather than looking at his pile of crumpled papers, look at the one paper Job had left, God, and take comfort in the knowledge that he will never leave us!

 

Jesus promised, ” … and surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age”. Matthew 28:20