Archives For relationship

This year I’m ignoring the doctor.

My friend Dr. Mike Elmore despises “read through the Bible in a year” plans. He feels they cheapen the experience of connecting with God. Turn His Word into a task to complete in a specific timeframe. A list to check off.

He’s a proponent of meditating deeply on smaller passages of Scripture, sometimes for weeks at a time. Sucking the marrow out of every nook and cranny. Forcing the Word into the context of His everyday world until He can’t help but hear the voice of the Creator speaking softly. Specifically. Clearly. To him.

I can’t argue. It’s transformational.

Few have inspired me as much as Dr. Elmore. But this year I’m blowing him off (after all, he’s a gastroenterologist and this has nothing to do with butts or guts).

Every few years I love to do a complete read through of Scripture. I need the full context. The history. The law. The poetry. The prophets. The gospels. The epistles. To breathe in how the Great Composer orchestrated the totality of His masterpiece.

So I picked up the must have YouVersion app for my iPhone (the online version is great, too), chose a plan, and got to reading.

It’s a great process. A worthwhile discipline. And the YouVersion app (and accompanying community and study notes are outstanding). But I have noticed something. Something I don’t want to admit.

The doctor isn’t an idiot (that’s why he has an M.D. after his name).

You see those check boxes to the left of those Scripture references? If I’m not careful, they can quickly become my enemy. A saboteur. An inoculation against what I’m really after: a genuine connection with my heavenly Father.

It is so easy to make a God task-list and completely miss Him in the process. To make “get through it” the goal, rather than letting it get through me.

So be intentional. Be disciplined. Be purposeful.

But always be cognizant of your tendency to drift from living relationship to little square check boxes.

My Baby Girl Is Twelve

Erik Cooper —  February 9, 2011 — 4 Comments

Today my baby girl turns 12. Twelve.

Donuts come in dozens. So do roses. And now I guess years are packaging that way, too. Who knew?

To top it off, Mandy and I have officially become those parents. You know, the ones who spout annoying, clichéd sayings like “when did she ever get that old?” and “how did the years pass so quickly?” and “it seems like just yesterday we were bringing her home from the hospital.”

Don’t you hate those people?

(I’m sorry. It just happens like unwanted belly fat and male pattern baldness. Involuntary.)

Yet there she is, in all her emerging womanhood. Emma now shares shoes with her mom. She reads books with no pictures. She (occasionally) even talks to her dad about issues bigger than Justin Beiber and iCarly. She’s like a caterpillar in the early stages of pushing through its cocoon.

It’s beautifully scary.

So this year we’re launching an experiment. A year long intentional effort (that I honestly hope mom and dad have the courage to complete).

The entire year between Emma’s 12th and 13th birthdays is our gift (along with a few tangibles for dinner tonight, don’t worry we’re not crazy). Twelve months of exposure to new thoughts. Specific time set aside to write and dialog about those ideas with Mandy, me, and mentors we trust. A year of brand new experiences. A open window into the world. God’s world.

  • Relationships (and yes, the dreaded sex word).
  • Injustice and global responsibility.
  • Money and how we should think about it.
  • Scripture and what it means to work it into our lives.
  • A trip to an impoverished country.
  • Maybe even a physical challenge (a 5K or a biking event if dad can get motivated).

I’ll keep you posted here on our progress (the successes and challenges).

Our job as parents is to build our kids’ muscles. To help them see the world as God sees it. To get them leaning into their heavenly Father fully despite our own tendency to be such broken examples of who He really is (and trust me, even carrying the “pastor” label, we’re as flawed as they come).

So that when their cocoons fully open, they can fly.

Happy birthday baby girl! Here’s to a great year. To flying. Faster. Higher. Straighter. Closer to the Father.

With His heart in you.

All my love…daddy.

I was a sheltered kid. I admit it.

The 10 years between my little brother and I meant we really grew up like only children.  Get good grades. Practice the piano. Invest in our local church. Those were my responsibilities. And I was good at them.

So when my wife and I first got married, my 21 year old resume of domestic experience was extremely limited (as in missing). Not only did I not do anything about the piles of laundry on the family room floor, I literally didn’t even see them.

You mean your underwear drawer doesn’t just magically refill itself? Does the federal government know about this?

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I had never learned to take responsibility for these things. Can’t blame mom (because she reads these posts). I was just oblivious.

And that’s the way a lot of us treat church. Yep, I’m connecting these dots.

Every week we sit by, talk to, smile at, sing with, even volunteer alongside people. Lots of them.

But it’s safe to say very few of us ever look around the auditorium and think, “hmmmmm, I should take responsibility for that guy.  Maybe I should personally invest in helping him develop his connection to God. What do I have to offer?”

(so yes, in this analogy the people are like the underwear…roll with me)

Nope.  We may consider things like, “Hey, I should get him in that class.” Or “I should introduce them to the pastor.” Or “I should give her a copy of that book.” (Or most likely, “where should we go for lunch today?”).

And just like me, we step over the pile of unfolded laundry and find our spot on the comfy couch to watch the ballgame.

Blind.

Oblivious.

Because it’s never been our responsibility, we literally don’t even see it.

But what if I told you one of the best ways to grow your own relationship with God is to take personal responsibility for helping someone else grow theirs?

What if we stopped waiting for a better class, a better book, or a better sermon, rolled up our sleeves, and got personally involved in someone else’s life?

What if we stopped waiting for “mom” to take care of the piles of unfolded laundry all around us?

What if we started being the church to one another?

Listen to the latest City Community Church message on the subject:

The Story of Two: You Feed Them

I originally wrote these words 18 months ago, not realizing how much I would need to read them today. This re-post is for me (and if you get something out of it, too…well, then bonus).

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself locked in conversation with a number of people asking themselves the quintessential Christian question:

What does God want me to do?

And because processing these crossroads with others is often the best way to wrestle with them yourself, I’ve been looking back on ways God has directed me over the course of my life. How does God lead?  For me, every time has been a little different.

I’ve walked through seasons of calculated and detailed direction: “I want you to do exactly this.”  Where the steps were clear and the commands convicting.  Specific.

But the older I get and the longer I live in consistent connection to the Lord, the more often I seem to hear Him say:  “I know you.  You know me.  I trust you.  Make the call.

This is a tricky conversation. The Bible is very clear we’re to “submit to the Lord” (2 Chr. 30:8) and “obey His commands” (1 John 2:3).  We’re followers. But I also think we make a serious error in always assuming God’s plan for our lives is some skinny little tight rope we’re destined to tumble from into the deadly abyss of disobedience.

Let’s face it.  Sometimes our fear of “missing God” is really just our fear of making a decision.

Always inquire of the Lord.  Always listen for His direction.  Always submit to His desire and instruction.  Make obedience the posture of your life. But I don’t think God is vying to become your puppet master.  He wants a relationship, not the marionette strings.

The more He comes alive in me, the less He seems to have to tell me exactly what to do. The more our motives and desires become one. The more I hear Him say, “Hey Erik…I’m in you.  You make the call.

So perhaps our pursuit should be less about what God wants us to do, and more about how much we truly know Him? Maybe always asking for direction is really just a cheap cop-out on cultivating a relationship.  Maybe God wants to be more than our cosmic MapQuest.  Our genie in a bottle.  The magic eight ball.  Maybe.

What do you think?  How have you seen God shape the trajectory of your life?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself locked in conversation with a number of people asking themselves the quintessential Christian question:

What does God want me to do?

And because processing these crossroads with others is often the best way to wrestle with them yourself, I’ve been looking back on ways God has directed me over the course of my life. How does God lead?  For me, every time has been a little different.

I’ve walked through seasons of calculated and detailed direction: “I want you to do exactly this.”  Where the steps were clear and the commands convicting.  Specific.

But the older I get and the longer I live in consistent connection to the Lord, the more often I seem to hear Him say:  “I know you.  You know me.  I trust you.  Make the call.

This is a tricky conversation. The Bible is very clear we’re to “submit to the Lord” (2 Chr. 30:8) and “obey His commands” (1 John 2:3).  We’re followers. But I also think we make a serious error in always assuming God’s plan for our lives is some skinny little tight rope we’re destined to tumble from into the deadly abyss of disobedience.

Let’s face it.  Sometimes our fear of “missing God” is really just our fear of making a decision.

Always inquire of the Lord.  Always listen for His direction.  Always submit to His desire and instruction.  Make obedience the posture of your life. But I don’t think God is vying to become your puppet master.  He wants a relationship, not the marionette strings.

The more He comes alive in me, the less He seems to have to tell me exactly what to do. The more our motives and desires become one. The more I hear Him say, “Hey Erik…I’m in you.  You make the call.

So perhaps our pursuit should be less about what God wants us to do, and more about how much we truly know Him? Maybe always asking for direction is really just a cheap cop-out on cultivating a relationship.  Maybe God wants to be more than our cosmic MapQuest.  Our genie in a bottle.  The magic eight ball.  Maybe.

What do you think?  How have you seen God shape the trajectory of your life?