August 31, 2007
Dear Katie and Luke:
How can it already be the end of August? It's been over a month since I wrote you!
I had the privilege of traveling a couple of times this month, first to Oklahoma City, and then to a couple of churches north of Little Rock, Arkansas. I've already noticed on these trips that I really don't spend much time observing the different cultures and geography, but most of the time is spent engaging the people. I love to hear about their stories, their churches, their families, what God is doing in and through them. Yes, there is an occasional trip to see a historic site (like the Oklahoma City bombing memorial), but the highlight of the trips has been the people.
I think this is the right balance. It seemed to be the Apostle Paul's. I can't recall Paul writing to a church and talking about the beauty of the land where the church exists, but we do hear him say to the Thessalonians, "Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints" (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13). Don't hear me wrong: I enjoy the different scenery and truly appreciate memorials, but the ultimate joy is the time with the people.
Katie, your birthday party is tomorrow. You are beyond excited, and I can understand why, but this morning I tried to talk to you about Philippians 2:4, "(D)o not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." There is an obvious trend in our culture that reveals birthdays, especially for kids, are all about "me" and "my presents" (the same is true for weddings as "the bride's day"). I tried to communicate to you that in order to be like Jesus tomorrow (Phillipians 2:5), you should desire that all of the children that come have as much or more fun than you, and that you should be willing to give all of your gifts away to each friend that comes.
Tonight, I plan on sharing during family worship that Jesus didn't give gifts for the well-being of His "friends," He gave Himself! (Philippians 2:6-8). "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Katie and Luke, turn from your sins and put your faith in this eternal-life giving Savior who died for sinners and rose again, and then "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5).
With Ever-Deepening Love for You,