A response to the "small group questions" for the 3 March 2019
message at First Pres, Boulder.
What is a family 'mantra' or constant piece of advice you received
from your parents?
I have struggled to answer this question all week. The fact is that
nothing specific comes to mind. That isn't to say that I don't think I
learned anything from my parents; but I tend to think of my parents as
teaching through the example of their life more than specific moral
instruction that could be condensed to a mantra.
I wasn't satisfied with that answer, though; maybe I just didn't pay
attention? So I took the question as an encouragement to reach out to
my siblings and find out about their memories of the experience. So
far, they've said basically the same thing.
I've Thought a lot about how a father should teach a son, and it's
given me renewed appreciation for the example that my father set for
me. But I do think my
father struggled to provide actual instruction, in a lot of ways.
My mind goes to when I first tried to learn C. I came home with an
absurdly thick instructional text on the language; but his first
reaction was something along the lines of, "You know, it's going to be
a lot harder to do GUI programming with C than you're used to with
Visual Basic. You know that, right?"
It might be a strange association, but I relate it to how he
approached our relationship. I always wanted to be like my dad: he had
my "when I grow up I want to be a computer programmer" school paper
hanging in his office basically forever. But I remember him saying,
way back when I was so young, "One day you won't like me like you do
right now, and we won't be able to be friends." He always struggled
with the idea of being friends with your children, and it always
Looking back on it this week, I think Dad was always trying to look
into the future for potential trouble, and to prepare for it. I think
he was trying to prepare me for what he saw as likely frustration if I
didn't expect hard work learning a new, lower-level programming
language. I think he was preparing himself for the sadness he expected
to feel during teenage rebellion. And I think he was preparing us both
for the difficult responsibility of being a parent when you're not
getting along with your son. All of this is good--the only trouble was
treating these potential future problems as inevitable, sometimes to
the extent of self-fulfillment.
Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors
intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a
willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan
and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you
forsake him, he will reject you forever. So take this
seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his
sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.
Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or
discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not
fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work
related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly. The
various divisions of priests and Levites will serve in the Temple
of God. Others with skills of every kind will volunteer, and the
officials and the entire nation are at your command.
excerpt from the New Living Translation of the first book of Chronicles
What pieces of legacy advice can you pull out of this passage? How
are these connected to a life of generosity and stewardship?
God makes himself available to those who seek him; and he who knows
But beyond that (and maybe even including it) this seems a pretty
personal exhortation from David to his son. I'm loathe to read any
further into it or to generalize the message, particularly as it
relates to our relationship with the son and the spirit.
As for how it relates to a life of generosity and stewardship, I find
this connection somewhat tenuous. We are expected to respond to the
call the God has placed on our life; and, for Solomon, that was (among
other things) to build the temple. He is to take it seriously and do
it well; but much of the work is simply to trust God that it will be
guided by his will.
What do you hope to pass on to the family line that will grow up
hearing stories about you?
Be a little bit better than your father, and raise your children to be
a little bit better than you are.
David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly:
“O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised
forever and ever! Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power,
the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens
and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore
you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come
from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are
in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and
“O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am
I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you?
Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what
you first gave us! We are here for only a moment, visitors and
strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on
earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.
“O Lord our God, even this material we have gathered to build a
Temple to honor your holy name comes from you! It all belongs to
you! I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when
you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good
motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts
willingly and joyously.
“O Lord, the God of our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make
your people always want to obey you. See to it that their love for
you never changes. Give my son Solomon the wholehearted desire
to obey all your commands, laws, and decrees, and to do everything
necessary to build this Temple, for which I have made these
Then David said to the whole assembly, “Give praise to the Lord
your God!” And the entire assembly praised the Lord, the God of
their ancestors, and they bowed low and knelt before the Lord and
excerpt from the New Living Translation of the first book of Chronicles
What stands out to you about this long prayer? As you study it, what
do you notice about its structure that could also be your prayer
There are striking similarities, in my eyes, to the model prayer
Christ gave his disciples.
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.
Sometimes, when I don't know how to pray, I think about this prayer. I
don't recite it; but I think about its structure. The order and
priority it presents. And I try to meditate on what my priorities
should be in prayer, and what from my life hangs on this structure.
David's prayer is similar. It praises God, and acknowledges his
kingdom. It acknowledges that everything we have we get from him. It
acknowledges our obligation to give back from what has been given to
us. And it asks for leadership from God, and that the people be made
to follow him.
Generosity sows eternal benefit with temporary assets. Share some
part of your life where you are invested and pleased with what will
likely happen after you die.
I get where this question is coming from; but frankly this is not my
concern. My role is to be in relationship with and respond to
God. Part of this is to be in relationship with and respond to the
people around me as well, and to live that relationship as a
reflection of the model that God has provided for me; but if I let
myself be concerned with the effects that my presumed obedience will
have on the world around me, I am taking credit for the work of the
spirit, and thinking more highly of myself than I ought. This is not
to say that I never do; but I'm uncomfortable holding up this behavior
as exemplary here.