Leaving Home

My home town, Tulsa Oklahoma.

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. Genesis 12:1 NKJV

Some people can’t wait to get away from home. As soon as they turn 18 they marry or join the army and get stationed on the other side of the world. After being so far from home, some return as soon as they can. Others stay away forever-by choice. 

Some people never leave home. I have friends who I grew up with in Tulsa, Oklahoma who never left Tulsa. I am glad they are still there for me to visit when I return home to see dad. I meet them at our favorite restaurants that are still standing from the previous century. They watched me move off to Texas and then Florida, all the while staying in Tulsa. I am proud of my native Tulsa, and am always glad to visit, but I can’t imagine myself living all my life in one place. Then again, the Tulsa I visit now is not the Tulsa I grew up in. Dad doesn’t live in the house I grew up in. The stores we go to weren’t around when I was kid. I visit my childhood church, but its like going home to strangers. The people there now never knew me, which is fine, I love meeting new people, but you know what they say, you can never go home again

So I wonder about Abraham. Was he happy to leave home and go on an adventure, or was he afraid to leave home? Did he miss his family and friends? Did he miss the old places where he would hang out? 

I grew up in Tulsa always dreaming of living in Dallas. When we went to the baseball and football games there I was always impressed with the modern architecture. It just seemed like the place to be. Tulsa had the minor league baseball team for the Texas Rangers major league team at the time. So when the Tulsa players got good they went to Dallas. I knew people in the Oklahoma Adventist conference who went on to the Union conference in Burleson, close to Dallas. Somehow I had it my mind that once you “arrived‘ you ‘arrived” in Dallas. So you can understand how happy I was when I had the opportunity to be a Bible Worker in Fort Worth, which is Dallas’ neighbor. 

I remember when I left home, mom cried. I did not realize at the time how cool it was having my own apartment in Tulsa, but having my parents right there in town to see at church and meet for dinner and even run into at the store by chance encounters. At the time I could not appreciate all of that and was just excited to begin my new adventure. It wasn’t until years later when I stood at my mother’s coffin that I finally understood and appreciated her tears that day I moved away. 

So I “arrived‘ In Dallas. Actually it wasn’t Dallas, it was Fort Worth. And fact is, I never “arrived.” I just thought I had. My new church district fell in love with me right away and I thought I was doing great! I was living the dream in the Dallas area. The people loved me so much I thought I must be a legendary Bible Worker. It took a few years for me to grow up and realize I was no legend. I was not even one of the better Bible Workers. I had all kinds of weaknesses and faults. Finally one day I woke up and realized these people don’t love me because I am good. They love me because they are loving people. I realized they were not encouraging me because I was good. They were enduring my follies, and  patiently encouraging me because they saw my potential for good, if I ever grew up. Living in the Dallas area was good for me. Not because I had arrived like the sports stars who moved from Tulsa to Dallas, or the local Oklahoma conference officials who got called up to the union office. Living in Dallas was good for me because it got me away from home so I could grow up. I thought I had grown up and left home, but actually God had me leave home so I would grow up. 

I wonder, did Abraham grow up before or after he left home? How did his ordeal in Egypt help him grow up? His actions in Egypt showed he had not arrived yet. 

After more than ten years in the Dallas-Fort Worth area it had become home. I pictured myself living all my days in Texas. God had other plans. He let me live ten years where I had always dreamed of living but now He was calling me to another land. An opportunity came to serve as a Bible Worker in the Tampa Bay area. I had no interest. I did not know anyone there. Before I moved a friend assured me, “you will get to Tampa and make friends and start doing things with them there and that will become your home. You won’t miss Texas anymore.” Well I knew my friend was right, and that was what scared me! While my feet were still on Texas soil, the thought of feeling at home in another place terrified me. 

After much fleece setting and protesting on my part I was on my way to Tampa. It was much farther from home. Like I mentioned earlier, you had people moving from Oklahoma to Texas all the time for various reasons. I had connections in Texas from Oklahoma. I was only four and a half hours away from home, which made weekend visits easy. It wasn’t until I moved to Tampa, Florida that I realized how close I was to Tulsa while in Texas. 

When I left Texas people told me how easy it was for me to up and move to a strange new land because I was single. They thought being single made it easy. No, it made it hard. When you have a family and you move to a strange new place at least you have your family. I had no one. Just me all by my lonesome in a strange new place. In Texas I had connections from Oklahoma as well as all the friends I made in over ten years. In Tampa I had no connections and no friends. God knew what He was doing. I had even more growing up to do. Now I have been in the Tampa Bay area over 18 years. I went from being a total stranger all alone, to now not only having friends in my own church, but in most all the neighboring Adventist churches as well. My friend was right. I am comfortable and happy hear now. This is home. When I moved from Texas to Florida I knew exactly how many baptisms I had. Now over 18 years in Florida I have literally lost count. God moved me here because there were people He needed for me to reach.  He also knew I had more growing up to do that would never happen if I stayed so close to home. 

Did Joseph have more growing up to do when He was sold as a slave into Egypt? Did he have even more growing up to do in prison? Did God allow all of those things to happen to Joseph to help him grow up? Is that why God has some of us move around so much? By moving two times God has helped me to grow personally as well as help more people. Meanwhile thanks to Facebook, cell phones and plane tickets home is never far away. I still have my friends in Tulsa and the Dallas area. When I vacation and travel from Tampa to Dallas and then to Tulsa and back to Tampa again I never feel like I am leaving home or going home. Its all home now. I have a home that encompasses Oklahoma, Texas and Florida. I know God is with me wherever I go and He is what makes it home. God is my home. He is everywhere. 

Abram had to leave home so he could grow in faith. Abram had to leave home so he could meet those God wanted him to meet. More importantly Abram had to leave home to go home. Ur was not his real home. Canaan was his real home. 

I understand that while God calls some of us to the other side of the planet that He also calls some, like the demoniac in Mark 5 to go back home. Either way God was calling the demoniac out of his comfort level as it may have been awkward for him to go home after all the embarrassing things he had done. This is for sure, God will call us out of our comfort level to help us grow up and be all we can be for Him. That being said, I would like to ask you a question from Sunday’s section of this week’s lesson

What might God be calling you to leave behind? That is, what part of your life might you have to abandon in order to heed the call of God?

The Be-Attitudes of Jesus

I am writing today from the beautiful Dallas/Fort Worth area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Dallas/Fort Worth area.

 

The beatitudes, sometimes referred to as be-”attitudes,” are building blocks to a complete conversion. Each be-”attitude” gives us a glimpse of Christ, and what we may become when our attitude is converted to His attitude.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3 NKJV

The poor in spirit have no pride in themselves. They know they need to depend on God for help. Did Jesus, in His humanity feel dependent upon the Father?

Then Jesus answered and said to them,
“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do;
for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
John 5:19 NKJV

Jesus had no magical powers to live the way He did. Magic is a tool of legalism which focuses on what to do, which is Satan’s counterfeit for a relationship. Jesus had no magic. He had a saving relationship with the Father, and was always dependent upon the Father from start to finish. Likewise as we complete the conversion process, we will forever feel poor in spirit, and depend on our relationship with God to do good.

Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4 NKJV

In His humanity, did Jesus mourn the effect sin had on the human race?

Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.” Mark 14:34 NKJV

As our attitude becomes like that of Jesus, we will mourn for how our sin has affected our relationship with God, and we will find comfort in the forgiveness of sins, not just so we get to live forever, but get to live forever with God, with sin no longer coming between us and Him.

Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5 NKJV

Was Jesus meek?

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Matthew 11:29

If Jesus was meek, his servants will be meek too. A servant is not greater than His master. How could we be proud of ourselves when our Master is meek?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6 NKJV

Did Jesus hunger and thirst for righteousness?

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. John 4:34 NKJV

The only things that satisfied Jesus was knowing He was doing His Father’s will. His followers will have the same attitude.

Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy. Matthew 5:7 NKJ

No one was every as righteous as Jesus, and no one was ever as merciful as Jesus.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:17 NKJV

The more our attitude becomes like that of Jesus, the less self-righteous and condemning we become. We become merciful.

Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 NKJV

Was Jesus pure in heart?

Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. John 14:30 NKJV

“There was in Him nothing that responded to Satan’s sophistry. He did not consent to sin. Not even by a thought did He yield to temptation. So it may be with us. Christ’s humanity was united with divinity; He was fitted for the conflict by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And He came to make us partakers of the divine nature. So long as we are united to Him by faith, sin has no more dominion over us. God reaches for the hand of faith in us to direct it to lay fast hold upon the divinity of Christ, that we may attain to perfection of character.” –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 123

Blessed are the peacemakers,For they shall be called sons of God.Matthew 5:9 NKJV

Jesus was a peacemaker and we can be peacemakers also,

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 NKJV

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10 NKJV

Jesus was persecuted as He saved others, and sometimes we will be persecuted as well as we help Jesus save others.

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 NKJV

“Let not the follower of Christ think, when he is no longer able to labor openly and actively for God and His truth, that he has no service to render, no reward to secure. Christ’s true witnesses are never laid aside. In health and sickness, in life and death, God uses them still. When through Satan’s malice the servants of Christ have been persecuted, their active labors hindered, when they have been cast into prison, or dragged to the scaffold or to the stake, it was that truth might gain a greater triumph. As these faithful ones sealed their testimony with their blood, souls hitherto in doubt and uncertainty were convinced of the faith of Christ and took their stand courageously for Him. From the ashes of the martyrs has sprung an abundant harvest for God.” -Ellen White, Acts of the Apostles, Page 465

The climax of the conversion process is to be like Jesus. When we are like Jesus, we will be soul winners. Our attitude will be the same as His in that we will gladly suffer persecution if it will help save some one else.

You can study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.