Ok, I've been "gone" awhile. Summer break is supposed to be a "break" but it hasn't really panned out that way. But, I have been writing, just not in my blog. I spent oh, about 20 hours writing and practicing this "talk" for a spiritual retreat with 40+ men from which I just returned. Although I was given an outline, we were to make the talk "our own" and I did. I thought that since most of it is "mine" that it would not be such a cop out to share it here. It kind of encapsulates much of what I believe about just who a man is, in Christ.
And since this is a blog for my little one.....I guess I'm going to have to contemplate how many, if any, changes I would make to make it apply to women.
The great thing is, the talk was 25 min. long so, I get to post it over several blogs!
So without further pause (don't know how to spell adueu): PART I
Life of Piety (PART I)
I had just celebrated my 30th Birthday. Having been raised a Christian by my mother, that was the year I had decided I would really begin to serve the Lord. Just like Jesus had begun his ministry at the age of 30, I would begin my “real” service, form a “real relationship with Him.
Things were pretty good in my life at that time, I celebrated my 1st wedding anniversary, I had a 10 year old step-son, I was “happy.” Then one night I got one of those phone calls. Many of you have had one like it. One of those phone calls which divides your life into, life before and life since.
It was my grandmother who, with worry in her voice was calling to ask me to “call your mother…something’s wrong.”
“Something’s wrong” what could be wrong.
It only took a minute of talking and listening to my mother for my heart to sink to my feet. Her disjointed-nonsense speech made me imagine for a second that my Mother, who had never had a drink in her life had started with a whole bottle of Jack Daniels.
After a midnight race to Dallas I got her to the emergency room where she was immediately admitted to the hospital. Less than 24 hours after that call from my Grandmother, I learned that Mom had brain cancer.
Now, apparently there is brain cancer and “nasty” brain cancer. I learned this from a Neuro-surgeon after he evaluated Mom’s biopsy. “These are the nastiest tumors there are.” he shared: Aggressive, fast growing, devastating.
Two weeks after that phone call, my Mother was dead.
Something was wrong. That’s not how it was supposed to be. She was a good person, and, no offence to Billy Joel, good people don’t die young. My infant faith was shaken and I realized that I didn’t know God at all.
My name is Richard Hickam, and the title of this talk is Life of Piety.
What I had mistaken for a relationship with God was nothing more than a Sunday Morning church, meal time prayer acquaintance. He was welcome when He fit into my life…or when I had a problem. Other than that, he did not have my heart.
That shallow, surface level acquaintance couldn’t bear the weight of loss. Though I was shaken, My God was not. He was working in me powerfully wooing me, teaching me about the relationship with Him that I was meant for, that would pull me through life’s tragedies.
When I was a teen, I had a favorite Christian singer named Keith Green, one of my favorites of his had the first line:
“I’ll make my life a prayer to you.”
I thought that was a beautiful, intriguing sentiment, but totally impractical.
I’ve learned though that that is exactly what we are invited, called to do.
A life of piety is a whole life lived in deliberate, open communion and relationship with God. It means God is number 1 and all else is off the throne of our lives.
A life of piety, in which I give my whole heart to God is the first leg of a three legged stool upon which a Life of Grace is maintained. Not in and of itself enough to sustain that life, but note, it is the First leg. The leg we start with. An intimate, real relationship with my heavenly parent.
In college one of the most popular guys lived on the same floor in my dorm. He was friends with anyone and everyone. A servant to others before I understood what a servant was. Inside his room, above his door were two words.
He’d tell anyone who asked what that meant: “Father God first, other’s second, I’m third.”
Putting God first, maintaining his relationship with Him brought all his other relationships into focus.
Through parenting my own child, God has revealed so much about His longing for relationship with us.
My child is not designed to go it alone. She’s not equipped unless I and her mother equip her for life. She is designed for an intimate connection – relationship with her parents. It shapes her character, it shapes her relationships with others, and with herself.
All over the Bible it refers to us as children of God. Galations 4:5 says:
“God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Hear that – You who are redeemed are son’s of God by adoption.
As sons, we are designed, were created for an intimate father-son relationship with God, mirroring Christ’s relationship with His own father. Out of Christ’s intimacy with his Father flowed everything that He was, everything that he knew and said:
John 7:16 “The things I teach are not my own, but they come from Him who sent me.”
As in any relationship though, GIGO, garbage in, garbage out. The relationship is there, my acceptance and maintenance of it requires that I give it my best.
I want to share the characteristics of a life in piety with you. How do we nurture and grow this relationship? As you can imagine they mirror characteristics of our closest, most successful meaningful relationships on earth.
(Part II tomorrow)