Sunday, February 22, 2015


Lists!!  I've never been a fan, but at my age and with my failing memory they are almost indispensable. EXCEPT when that list is used as a measuring stick of my commitment to God or things that are suppose to evidence my being spiritual or my being pleasing to God. That kind of list winds up robbing me of my memory of grace and what a grace relationship with God is all about. 

You've heard them. Those people who list the way your attention, time and money are to be prioritized. God first, then wife, [or husband] family, church work, job, recreation, etc. This is premised on the idea that God has to be first and you have an ever declining list of what is important for you to do each day. That list winds up being a measurement and revelation of your commitment and spiritual growth for the day.

The only problem is that list fails in it's idea of Christian living entirely. This is not because it's wrong to make a list of what you wish to do on any given day. That's quite often helpful. It's wrong because God isn't FIRST in your life as if He's something you've added and now make Him priority in all things you do. God isn't something you DO period. He IS your life. Not a THING in your life, not even the FIRST thing. 

Rather then thinking of God as the first on a list of things to do or even to hold as the important things to remember, think of God as the hub. Remember that old bicycle you use to ride? The wheels had a hub. From it went the various spokes that enabled those wheels to create what was necessary for that bike to function according to it's purpose or intention. That is an inadequate yet much better way of thinking about our relationship to God than is the list. It moves us from what we DO in life to who He IS as our LIFE. No illustration is adequate. But moving from "doing" to "being" when talking about the Christian life IS fundamental to the scriptures.

He is the hub [source] from which every other thing in my life finds the ability to function__ in tandem__ with NOTHING failing to have it's good and proper place when time, emphasis, money, needs, are all evaluated and done. Every spoke [remember the wheel] of my life is important and held together because of my resting in the Hub [God] who is my source of ALL of life.

It's interesting that that the word, source, [Gk Kephale] is what is used in Eph. 5, 1 Corinth. 11, Col. 3, when Paul talked about our relationship to God, Christ, husband, wife, and even to the Church. God is the source [Beginnings] of it all and the man is source [beginnings] of the woman. So to think of the hub as the source or beginnings of what is needed for the bike wheel to fulfill it's purpose is how I'm to view God. He is the source for ALL I need for life to be life eternal, even abundant! 

My suggestion is to see all things__including this world__ as Paul saw them and stated to the Corinthians. He told them in 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 that they were to see all things, including this world, as gifts from God. He had just been saying that the Corinthians were to see all their former Pastors as God's gift to them, whether it was Paul, [himself] or Apollos, or Peter, but he doesn't stop there.

He goes on to say the world [of all things to say] or life, or death, or the things present, [whatever those things or moments are in life] or things to come, [whatever those things or moments might be]  ALL ARE YOURS.  Church attendance, giving, are some of those things that are your opportunities and gifts from God for sure. But don't rule out the NBA finals, or a national championship run by your University of choice [just different spokes in your life] as things that are your opportunities and gifts from a God that are just as real as well.

So, all things were theirs to embrace and enjoy because they are given to them by God. That's because life ISN'T divided into the SACRED and the SECULAR as if what you do is EITHER a sacred thing OR a secular thing, and if you really love God you will not spend a great deal of time or money on the secular at all.

Simply put, the things that have some connection to a church institution ARE NOT to be seen as sacred and things that have to do with baseball or a school concert or some other activity in which you participate, ARE NOT to be seen as secular. ALL ARE YOURS AS A CHRISTIAN. Enjoy!

Remember, when viewed in this fashion, church attendance, offerings, things of that nature [spokes in your life] will NEVER suffer but will never CONTROL either. They will have a place in life that is good and reasonable, but they don't measure your commitment or spirituality as a believer. That measurement is based on who God is to you and who you are to Him because of the grace relationship you have based on the merit, work, sacrifice, and presence of Christ in your life.

I'm going to mix metaphors here but bear with me. [From bicycle wheels to water jars.]

Think of a one gallon jar. Think of a number of stones laying beside it. Each stone is named. Wife, [or husband] kids, job, church attendance, financial giving, recreation, physical exercise, school, paying debts, social activities, favorite sports teams, you name it, it's there. Now place all the stones in the jar. [Our assumption is it will hold ALL of them although the stones may be of differing sizes.] 

Now, [in your mind] slowly pour water in the jar until it is full to the brim. What you have is a jar, stones, water. Now the interpretation.

The jar is God. He IS your life source. He's all and in all. The stones are things you do and relationships you have with people and possessions like money, time and so forth. The water is the Holy Spirit who permeates every thing and relationship that is part of your life. He touches everything. There is no separation from anything that is you. ALL OF YOUR LIFE IS SACRED.

Everything in your life is related to God and is a gift from Him to experience. No one thing is ever MORE important than it should be, thus, no one thing is to ever control you. You are living out of the abundance of your life and the source of your life is God Himself.

 Always remember, if ANYTHING, even attending church or reading your bible regularly, [a quiet time] becomes a substitute for God being real in your life, the thing you're doing can be an idol as surely as the idols the Romans bowed before in Paul's day.

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


You have a great ability to sum up in that your paragraph!

I would be the first one to recognize the importance of believers assembling together, but I shudder every time I read/hear the term "attending church".

Hope I'm not nit-picking, but I'm certain you understand where I'm coming from :)

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

I certainly DO know where you're coming from. You're speaking my language quite well. Your phrase IMMEDIATELY indicates that the speaker views, unfortunately, the "Church" as an institution rather than a body. I would NOT call that nit-picking at all.

Bob Cleveland said...

It's been said that the minimum requirement usually becomes the maximum obligation. So ... when someone starts listing things, he immediately moves away from relationship and toward requirements.


I could not begin to reduce my relationship with Peg to a list. Nor could I, with reference to Jesus. Nor would I want to. Perhaps the list-makers have settled for far less than their inheritance.

Paul Burleson said...


With this..."Perhaps the list-makers have settled for far less than their inheritance."'ve said it all. Thanks!

Chad Pritchard said...

Like your analogies - wheel and spoke, plus your jar. Being a visual individual that helps out a lot. Good blog brother.

Rex Ray said...

It always bugged me when some would often mention their ‘quite time’.

Maybe it’s because I don’t have one, but I relate it to your post.

My brother was upset with his wife because she MADE him write a list of 3 items to get at a grocery store.

There was a long line at the check-out and he did not stop complaining that wives didn’t trust their husbands to remember 3 things. He also told the cashier.

He went back in the store to a howl of laughter when the cashier yelled: “Hey mister, you forgot your groceries.”