Opening the Door

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Relationship is a process. And man, it is not easy! Enduring relationships are really hard. They always have been.

Friendships are hard. Everyone seems to agree that marriage is hard, and it is. But why assume that marriage is any harder than raising kids? Raising kids is hard!

Friends, spouses, kids, no matter what, relationships take work and commitment. Everyone has their own mind, their own reactions, their own weaknesses, and their own trigger points. Relationships have history, and that can be a huge factor, especially in families. Once you have family history, you can have a whole chain of trigger points. Say just one thing and it can trigger something, which in turn triggers something else, and then tugs out a whole complicated reaction. It’s messy.

All relationships are messy. Marriage, friends, kids, parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and so on — messy. That’s why we need so much grace. It’s through grace alone that we can truly take care of the people in our lives, because grace is the source of the permission we need to protect them and love on them.

Every relationship needs permission, and yet it’s rarely given. I think that’s why you see so much dysfunction in society. The dysfunction we see hurts Christians and non-Christians alike. It doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of dysfunction everywhere.

Permission is rarely given because it’s rarely asked for. Permission only comes from asking for it. This is true in all relationships, including the ones we have with our kids. I know some people will say I’m crazy. Why would I ask my kids for permission? They should be asking me for permission. I’m the Dad!

In Revelations 3, Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock. If you open the door I’ll come in.” Think about that. Jesus is the King of Kings! He is the Lord of Lords! He died on the cross! He’s the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega, and He asks for permission. He says, “I’m asking for permission to come into your heart.”

If that’s how the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is going to love on me, then I’m going to love on my own kids the same way. I’m going to ask them for permission.

This isn’t a one-and-done thing, either. Relationship is ongoing, so it takes work to build and sustain trust. When you give Jesus permission to enter your heart, you say, “I trust you, Jesus.” When you trust Him, you will hear Him. Without trust, you’ll never give Him permission to speak into your life, and He won’t be able to come in and dine with you. He wants to! But He can’t protect you without your permission. No matter how much He wants to, He can’t if you can’t receive Him. To receive Him, you have to give Him permission to enter.

Maybe you said the prayer and let Him into your life to save you. If so, that’s awesome. That’s a start. You asked Him to save you, and He did and will. That scenario will work for you.

But when it comes to an ongoing relationship with Him, He cannot protect you unless you let Him in. You have to give Him permission to know who you are. Then He can protect you and love on you. Relationships like that only flourish in trust.

You’ve said the prayer, but now He is knocking. Give Him permission to enter. Let Him in.

More on this next time. See you Friday.

Life After Baseball

A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak at the Commonwealth Club of California. Over time, I’ll transcribe this and comment it, but for now, I thought you’d enjoy a vlog.

Let me know what you think!

See you Friday.

Hanging with Jesus in the Room of Grace

Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.

The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”

“No one, Master.”

“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.” John 8:1-11

Hanging in the room of grace, I’m starting to see a lot of things. I’m starting to see how this story is possible.

Neither do IIn the past, I have always wondered how this could have happened. Jesus was the Son of God. How is it possible that He did not condemn a woman caught in sin, actually caught while committing the act? How could He just look at her and say, “Yeah, I’m not going to accuse you. I think you already know that it wasn’t right what you did, so I’m not going to accuse you. But stop sinning. You need to stop.”

Now, since I’ve been hanging in the room of grace, I have the ability to see why Jesus treated the woman this way. The Son of God did not look at sinners and say, “Oh, I cannot be around this!” I can see that He loved being around sinners. I can see why sinners loved being around Him. He was in the room of grace, and because of that, when He looked at people He said, “They’re human beings. And they’re going to have these problems. It’s part of life. Even when they accept me as their Savior, even when they accept that I died for them, they’re still going to have these problems.” Jesus knew that!

Paul wrote about it in his letter to the Romans, and he is so honest! Romans is so good to read when you start learning about grace and trust in relationships. In Chapter 7 he asks, “Why do I always do what I don’t want to do, and what I want to do, I don’t do?” We know the answer before he tells us. It’s because he lives in his flesh!

But nowhere in Scripture can I find anything about the redemption of the flesh. Nowhere does the Bible say that Jesus died to change our flesh. He died so we can live by the Spirit. He knew we’d still experience problems in our flesh.

Hanging in the room of grace, I have started to realize that I can live in a trusting relationship with people. I can trust them that they are who they are. They can trust that I am who I am. We can trust each other, we can love on each other, and we can encourage each other. We don’t have to perform to be liked.

It’s so freeing to get into relationships where you don’t have to perform to be liked. It’s so freeing to know that you are liked just because. Someone likes you and loves you, just as you are. And when that happens, you begin to see people as Jesus sees us. You know that flesh will always be flesh. You can stop trying to hide that behind a mask.

More on that point next time. See you Thursday.

Taking the Wrong and Putting it Right

Recently, I’ve been reflecting on the different ways that the hot water of the Spirit can transform our relationships. When you replace judgment with encouragement, your relationships will transform. And you will transform with them. You will learn to better reflect Christ in all that you do.

For example, I reflected last time on parenting in ways that keep your children feeling safe in their relationship with you. If you can discipline without judgment, your children will continue to come to you and talk to you. This is your opportunity to better reflect Jesus with them. Continue reading

Intimacy and Judgment with Children

Last time I wrote about how the the Spirit can transform your intimate relationships. I used the example of approaching your spouse with an attitude of encouragement instead of criticism. How much more can you accomplish if you take the same attitude with your children?

I want a safe environment for dialogue with my kids. I want my kids to be able to talk to me without fear.

“Hey dad, I messed up.”

“What did you do?”

“Well, I was speeding. I got a ticket.”

“Right. So what are we going to do about that? Let’s talk about it.” Continue reading

You Can’t Change Others

I’ve been writing a lot about the lesson of the copper pipe and the way that it has liberated me from my judgments. Now I look at all the people in my life, including myself, as more or less the same. In our flesh, we’re all copper pipes. In our flesh, we all sin. We might deal with different sins, and we might deal with our sins in different ways, but we are all sinning. No one is better than another.

I’ve also written that copper pipes never change. We will never change, not on our own. But Jesus can change us. By running through us like hot water, Jesus heats us up with the wisdom of the Spirit. We can’t change ourselves, but in Him, we can be changed. Continue reading

Judging the Non-Believer

Have you heard comments like these?

“You Christian people think you’re better than us. Christians judge everything everybody does.”

“It’s the Christians who are always saying, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re doing this, you’re bad.’”

People who don’t even know me will look at me and say, “Don’t you make mistakes? Don’t you have flaws?”

Well, of course I do! Continue reading