Monday, October 9, 2017

Why Did our Relational God Create?

Have you ever asked yourself this profound question?

Certainly not because He lacked anything in Himself. If you question this, go back and repeat an exercise imagining the mutual relationship between the Father, Son and Spirit before Genesis 1:1.

From all eternity, God is relational at His core, neither lonely nor solitary. He lives as Father, Son and Spirit in a rich and abounding relationship of utter oneness. This Family-of-Three exists in perfect cooperation as a deeply intimate, joyfully satisfied, mutually serving, intrinsically good, gloriously creative, outwardly focused, peaceful, pure and powerful relational Community…lacking nothing.
The Father, Son and Spirit were eternally satisfied with their mutually giving, energizing, joy-filled relationship. Each made Himself a pure gift to the Other, giving and receiving co-love. This pulsating love between the Father, Son and Spirit would not permit this supremely good Family-of-Three to keep these riches to Himself. At His core, God yearns to bless by pouring out His life and love. He is a Giver. Such bubbling-over life and love could not be contained!


Why did God create?

Love is creative. Life will find a way. Love must multiply itself.
Such passionate Self-Giving launched God’s desire to multiple His other-centered love by “going public.” Before time, they decided to create humanity in an amazing way, man and woman, as much like the Uncreated as a created being could ever be (Genesis 1:26; Psalm 8:5; 2 Peter 1:4). So He fashioned us in His image and likeness as outlets for His extravagant, initiating first-love and overflowing blessings. We receive then pass it along.
“Overflowing with the generosity that comes from the abundance of real love, He creates us to share in the joy of this heroic intimacy” (Brent Curtis and John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance).
The stunning truth is that this Triune God determined to open the circle of this intimate relationship and share His Trinitarian life with those fashioned in His image. God formed the first man from the ground and breathed into him the breath of life with face-to-face intimacy (Genesis 2:7). The Bible calls this life “eternal life,” emphasizing the quality of life more than the length of life. This is the one, eternal reason for the creation of the world and of human life.


Why did God create?

Before the creation of the world, the Father, Son and Spirit set their love upon His people. They fashioned us to know and to experience their own Trinitarian life. And when Jesus came to restore relationship, He did not come alone! The Father, Son and Spirit all worked as a divine Partnership-of-Three (Acts 10:37-28; Mark 1:9-11).

One measure of the value of any object is its purchase price. The God who knows everything was acutely aware of the coming defection of mankind at the Fall. Even before He created. What “return on investment” (ROI) could be great enough for God to pay such a very high price to ransom humanity, that is, the death of His unique Son? This unmeasurably high cost of Jesus’ death restores God’s eternal Eden-plan. Jesus joyfully paid this price because He anticipated the results, bringing many sons into the Family of God (Hebrews 12:2; 2:10).

And Jesus’ life and death, resurrection and ascension, will also bring God’s plan to its final consummation. God will never veer from His Eden-intent. He values His Bride so much that He freely, willingly, and joyfully pays such a price to restore intimate relationship with us. Look at the cross. His death defines how very much God loves you!


Why did God create?

God delighted to design us and to restore us like Him, unique in all His creation, His image-bearers. God is a lavishly generous Giver. Through us, He has now multiplied channels for His life and love. As we freely receive His life, love and light, we serve others as we freely pass it all along. Out of His free, boundless and energetic love, God found His pleasure in creating us lovable, like Jesus. It’s who He is. He acts. He blesses. God initiates to reproduce because it’s His nature. So now God’s plan multiplies this bursting-forth life and love and light to flood all of creation with His presence through His people. Resting in the Father, Son, and Spirit is our new home from which we participate in His epic adventure faith.

The key question, though, is: “Do you personally believe that this Sovereign God always invites us to respond to His presence and love?” Open arms outstretched toward us is God’s grace-stance, like the Father with the prodigal son (Luke 15:20). Do you really believe this? Then nothing makes any sense in life at all except to yield our lives to Him, lock, stock and barrel…now and forever. And this view of life thrusts us out toward ongoing renewal and change as lifelong life-learners and doers.

See also a website devoted to an incarnational, Trinitarian Christian worldview:

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Relational Trinity, an Approach to our Christian Journey

Why begin with our relational God as we reflect?

So without beginning with the relational Trinity, it's tough to break out of these childish habits. Too often we think and respond as if the world centered around us and our pain. We cannot simply make a leap directly to this re-centered life in the Trinity, which includes serving others sacrificially. So, how can we break free? How do we mature? How do we “adjust to Reality?” How does the Spirit train us as servant-first influencers?

The Trinity models a dynamic exchange in which each is who they are because of relationship. No one Member of the Godhead could exist in isolation. Each cares completely for the other. This openness and radical mutuality was the authentic model for 1st century community life, and is also for us today. No wonder Paul began the last three chapters in Ephesians with a clear call to “walk worthy of the joint call you have received as community.” Look at the rest of Ephesians from the perspective of freeing ourselves from self-protective community-breakers. These undermine unity in community.

Ten years ago I finished writing a book on our spiritual foundation for LifeChange called, Big God! Bold Design. See the “Resources” tab for the trilogy. A few months later, I was struggling and returned to this primer. I saw for the first time that my opening four chapters were a significantly different way for me to pointedly engage life It sketched out an approach consistent with the book of Ephesians.

Oh, I had known and believed this teaching or theology for a long time. I wrote those chapters! But now I’m beginning to deliberately launch my daily thinking where the Bible does. This two-pronged pattern focuses on Him (“In the beginning God created…”, Genesis 1:1). It also focuses on His awesome, majestic design to make the crown-jewel of His creation both His friend and His partner (“Let us make man in our image…”). Ephesians chapters 1-3 reflects the same approach. As I choose to realign my thinking patterns, something significant is changing within. Now I ow believe any other view of Reality subtly distorts vision, some more, some less. I just wonder why it took me so long to see!
  1.   The Relational Trinity as Life-Giver.

Furthermore, this relational Trinity gives us a long, refreshing drink of the relational Community-God delighting in each other and ecstatically pleased with us. He sings His love-songs over us, the pinnacle of His creation. His love-thoughts about us are more than the sands of the sea. The Father's love chases us around every day. God celebrates us with indescribable pleasure as Beloved children. He really does like hanging out with us! This Community-God made us a little lower than God Himself and blesses us with every smidgen of resources we need for this life. He is abundance so no poverty or limitation exists in Him as life Giver. We must begin with His passion for us.
“In the confession of the Trinity throbs the heart of the Christian religion.”
  1. The Relational Trinity re-created us as image-bearers sent into God’s fallen world.

First of all, “very good” creation-intent comes from this relational Trinity. He has already inbreathed into us, making us “community/individuals,” like the Trinity. His Eden-design, fashioning us as image-bearers partnering with Him and with each other together in community, gives us value, worth and a destiny. The Triune God draws us near to powerfully experience His eternal life, love and light. Also note this is our ongoing Eden-call, from which God will never detour. The Trinity is the environment in which we live and move and have our being. Let’s begin to see ourselves through His eyes as beloved friends and as intimate allies. Then we will recover this high view of mankind, created male and female. Now we can in turn relate with other people in the same way the Trinity already relates with each Other.

Over and again, Paul bankrupts language to describe how completely we are restored to intimacy through the successful rescue and full restoration in Christ (cp Rom 8:32). One man listed thirty-three changes that happen the instant we trust in Christ and our stolen throne is restored to God. We belong to Another! How else can we break free from our self-absorbed poverty mentality that focuses on dead things (our sin and our brokenness) and on our in-process-ness.  We have been purchased at a high price and fully forgiven…
…in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding (1:7).

Download PDF booklet from my website my short meditation on Ephesians called Created Community. Also, visit my website:

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Relational Trinity, Father, Son & Spirit in Ephesians 1:1-14

"What is our relational God like?”

He is the relational Trinity! Mind blowing!

A buddy and I were chatting the other night about this key question. God is unknowable. Not beyond knowing and experiencing, of course. But beyond fully knowing since God is also mystery. For me, immeasurable oceans of His vastness still remain undiscovered after my forty+ years of walking with Him. What I do know and experience, though, oh my, what a delight and a blessing. The first part of Ephesians chapter 1 begins to answer the two most essential questions in life.


1. “What is God like?”

2. “How does this God see and know me/us?”

Similar to Genesis 1:1, Paul begins first with God in relationship to His people. Specifically, Paul launches Ephesians with what scholars call the Trinity (or Trinitarian, which means “from the description of God as Trinity”). The relational Trinity, one God in three persons, Father, Son and Spirit, all equally God, is mind-blowing theology. It's also life-impacting Reality that ravishes my heart as truth intersects life. A little knowledge of God is worth more than a great deal of knowledge about God.

For me, the first two verses tap into what is at the core of Paul’s ministry. This is typical Paul. He begins in 1:1-2 with a concise summary of what he spells out in more detail in Ephesians 1-3. The connected relationship between God and His people supplies what these 1st century followers needed for life. Into His “saints,” that is those set aside for God, He pours out grace (God’s unmerited, divine favor and enabling) and peace (the presence of God’s deep, abiding wellbeing that penetrates every aspect of life). Grace gives us resources for life and peace provides a safe, secure, life-releasing home (similar to the Hebrew word Shalom).

Now open your Bible to Ephesians 1:3-14. Take time to read and reread 3-6, 7-12 and 13-14 as small units, time and again. Briefly summarize the gist of each unit before moving on. Action-learning is essential to maximize impact.

Paul has the capacity to surprise us! These words from 1:3 to 1:14 tumble out as one unending sentence in the original manuscript. Can you sense Paul’s awe and wonder in these passages…and His excitement that we might “get it”? His heart is ready to explode. His energized outburst of heartfelt praise to the Triune God arises from Paul’s enthusiastic love towards God. He glimpses what the Triune God has done in, for and with us in Christ, and the vast possibilities. Each section concludes with “praise of His glory,” (or His magnificent splendor, or the brilliance of God’s presence, the stunning Reality of who He is).


And God has included us in His plan spanning eternity.

Notice how Paul first calls us to exuberant praise to God for who He is and what He has done in verse 3. God fashioned us as worshippers to become more like whatever we set our hearts on. Nothing is more crucial for us than to set our hearts in loving adoration and passionate desire on God. As worshippers, “we become what we behold,” so let’s delight ourselves in Him.


The Relational Trinity, God the Father (1:3-6).

We praise God the Father because: (1) our Father blessed us with every good gift imaginable (1:3). (2) Our Father chose us before the world was created, demonstrating that our unending relationship with Him is based on His sovereign choice, not anything we could ever do (1:4). (3) Our Father predestined us to be adopted.

In human adoption, parents set their hearts on a specific child to be an integral part of their family. God set His heart on us for His Family. Now, don’t get hung up on the words “predestination” or “chosen.” Focus on the main-&-plain of what it says. God initiated to adopt us into His Family because it was His great pleasure. Don’t stumble over the magnitude of this promise, but soak in it, embrace it, “to the praise of His glorious grace.” I would like to rest here awhile, but Paul rushes on.


The Relational Trinity, God the Son (1:7-12).

In Jesus Christ through faith in Him, (1) we have been ransomed from our enemy’s clutches and fully forgiven, each and every one of our sins (1:7-8). (2) Paul then gives us a glimpse into the epic, cosmic adventure to which He has joined us in Jesus Christ. We are participants in a far-reaching call, something larger than ourselves, something that will ultimately bring all things together under His Father’s headship (1:9-10). (3) Again Paul emphasizes that God chose and predestined His people in Christ according to God’s plan formulated before time (1:11-12). First and foremost, Paul underscores the God who initiates. God longs to have our lives count “for the praise of His glory.”


The Relational Trinity, God the Spirit (1:13-14).

The Spirit of God, equally divine along with the Father and Son, (1) includes us permanently in Christ the instant we believe. (2) The Holy Spirit Himself is the seal that marks us for Himself, (3) since He Himself is the deposit guaranteeing our unending life with the Father, Son and Spirit “to the praise of His glory.”

Download booklet from my website the PDF of my short meditation on Ephesians called Created Community.Also, visit my website at:

The Relational Trinity, God the Spirit Seals His People, Ephesians 1:13-14

In case we missed it, God the Spirit joins God the Son and God the Father. 

They relate with their people in this staggering, all-encompassing action to restore His fallen creation to intimacy. This is not something we dreamed up or usurped. God the Spirit personally leads us home by the hand the instant we believe.


First, God the Spirit included God’s people in Christ forever.

This marvelous Reality happened the instant we said “yes” by faith in Christ to the Gospel of our salvation. God then completely immersed us into this Trinitarian fullness of relatedness. We are participants in His existence, not passive observers (although never becoming “lit’l gods,” the horror of the thought!)


Second, God the Spirit sealed our relationship with God.

This forever marked God’s people as His own. This seal identifies us as God’s own and is unbreakable since the Spirit of God Himself is the “signet ring.”


Third, the God the Spirit is also the pledge of our ultimate blessing and security.

This down payment guarantees that each of His people are redeemed, completely secure in the keeping-love and keeping-power of the Triune God. The Holy Spirit is the mark, seal and deposit “guaranteeing our inheritance.” From a God who has never lied, this gives us a powerful sense of security coupled with this clear call to mission, now and for all eternity “to the praise of His glory.”


“The living God is a relationship, a community, a Trinity. And this God draws near to us to draw us near to himself within the circle of his knowing and loving of himself" (Darrell W. Johnson, Experiencing the Trinity).

We do not yet know the fullness available to us in the Triune God. The Good News is that God will not rest until we do! May I ask a few questions to massage this a bit?
  • How much of the fabulous spiritual wealth that is ours together in Christ are we aware of?
  • How can we tap into this lavish grace with one another?
  • How can we become deep people and escape from the dual curses of our age, busyness and superficiality?
  • Do we even want this? Does this stir inner longings within us?

Download from my website the PDF of my short meditation on Ephesians called Created Community. Also, visit my website at:

The Relational Trinity, God the Son Draws us in, Ephesians 1:7-12

God the Father, Son and Spirit have taken the initiative to draw you into intimacy, His original and unchanged Eden-intent. 

Nine times Paul repeats the phrase “in Christ” or “in Him” to underscore that this section centers on God the Son as part of the relational Trinity.


First, God the Father joins with God the Son to lavish the riches of His grace on us within the Community of this Triune God (1:7-8).

“Lavish” communicates the geyser of His outpoured grace. In Christ, we have been bought back from the slave market, no longer bound by the chains of Satan (Hebrews 2:14-15). We now have new Owners, Ones who have forgiven us in Christ for all our sins, fully removing the rubble of sin. God drenches us with His activated grace. The death of Jesus Christ on our behalf evidences the unshakeable and unbreakable love of the one true God (1 John 4:9-10). We stare with mouths gaping at the extravagant opulence of God’s outpoured love towards us in Christ.


Second, God the Father joins with God the Son to reveal and disclose to His friends what He has planned (John 15:15).

We are not in the dark. We are in on what God is doing and will do. As we recognize that virtually everything that has to do with God takes place previous to our knowing anything about it. This has at least two profound effects.

1. Initially, it demands humility; not a low view of ourselves, but an accurate one. We don’t know enough to protest or approve, but can only adore and appreciate since God chose to include us in His epic adventure. What we do know is that God is continuously in action in comprehensively glorious ways. And He invites His people to fully participate with Him in this epic adventure with cosmic proportions.

2. Finally, we recognize how bankrupt human reasoning and logic are in this process. We then approach Him with a theology of awe and wonder. We need spiritual Reality revealed to us since we can never grasp it on our own. “In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will." What does Paul disclose under the inspiration of the Spirit? Paul wants us to be captured with what has captured his heart and mind. God delights to catch us up into something so stupendous that it involves gathering everything together in Christ. This is something to get out of bed in the morning to partner in!


Third we are chosen and predestined according to God’s plan before time.

Just when our minds are ready to explode, Paul continues by reiterating lets us listen in on the conversation between the Father, Son and Spirit that launched creation. The Message paraphrase puts it this way: “Letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making.” This is why God created you and me! We have been invited into Jesus’ epic adventure for the ages. God intends to restore this fallen creation to intimacy with the Father. He will then bring to completion the fullness of all His original Eden-intent that was cut short when Adam went rogue. And this has eternal, cosmic consequences. We are on the winning side so that we “might be for the praise of His glory.”

Download from my website the PDF of my short meditation on Ephesians called Created Community. Also, visit my website at:

The Relational Trinity: God the Father Blesses, Ephesians 1:3-6

Please focus on what is clear about God the Father. 

The relational Trinity has chosen and now resources His people to connect and partner with Him as image-bearers. These verses do not describe the Trinity as a celestial object of study. Instead they depict this relational Community-God working out His eternal plan in conjunction with His people. Let’s dig a bit deeper to mine more treasures.


God the Father always takes the initiative.

Note that verse 3 names the Father and the word “he,” referring to the Father, takes the initiative throughout. Note also the three sweeping assertions of what God has already done for those who are His. Paul launches this indispensable letter, not with God in His abstract characteristics. Instead, Paul describes this touchable God as He blesses and relates to His people.


“What is God like?”


First, God the Father is relational at His core and blesses us!

He blesses us! God began by blessing us when He created humanity in Genesis 1:28, and He continued blessing Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, God’s people in the Psalms…all the way down to His people today. What God does flows out of who God is. He is a generous God who blesses. God designed us to be blessed with every blessing imaginable in Christ and continues blessing His people as co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). In fact, Jesus is the pledge of our Father’s ongoing generosity. The Father already gave us His very best, Jesus, as a certain pledge of all else that He will bless us with (Romans 8:32). The Father’s heart is fixed to bless us. None of God’s people are excluded. In fact, view every command and prohibition in Scripture as God’s guide directing us to God’s “blessing portal” where He pours out His love most profusely. Don’t ever get over the wonder.


Second, God the Father chose us in Christ.

Do you remember a story from your childhood when you were chosen last for a team (“You have to take Fredericks”)? What message does this convey? By sharp contrast, the Father chose us before creation so that we would know that this choice rested on what is in God’s heart, not on something we accomplished. God did not choose us “despite” who we are. Such a “stray dog” view of God’s loving choice is shattered by this language. What did the Father choose us for? To live in His presence (“before Him”) in complete spiritual health and beauty (“holy”) and without blame. Stop please. Mull this verse over in your mind like you savor a morsel of delicious food.
This God who spoke the universe into existence speaks personally to you because He chose you! Don’t allow any so-called theological arguments to detour you from what is essential. Before time began, this God chose you to be His own treasured child. His choice to include you in His Trinitarian quality of life was formulated in His eternal counsel before the foundation of the world (and, yes, Paul will get to our part later…for now rest in God’s initiating first-love). Its execution then does not primarily hinge on us, but on God’s determined goodness, greatness, and generosity.


Third, God the Father predestined our adoption as sons into His forever Family.

Now, with predestined, focus on the benefits God provides. It was God's pleasure to preplan before time to adopt you and me. We were outside, and now we are included forever within His Forever Family circle as His Blessed and Beloved sons and daughters. This is our true identity. This word “predestined” furthers the intentionality of “chose” and adds the flavor of a desired destination. Again, this adoption into His Forever Family was fulfilled through Jesus Christ, planned before time and executed the instant you placed your faith in Christ. The Father is tickled pink to have us as His children, Blessed Ones.

What the Community-God planned for you and for me before creation (compare God’s intent in Genesis 1:26, Let us make man…”) has now been conclusively fulfilled in Jesus Christ for all who embrace Him by faith. Behind everything in creation and in history lies this eternal purpose of God. We are no accident, but the determined choice of a Father who delights to bless. Again, there is mystery (what else would you expect when an uncreated, eternal Being communicates with His creation?!) Focus on what is clear and crucial, not any wrangling over a single side to Both/And concepts. What is clear? Our Father initiated with His first-love to include us with Him before time began.


Synthesis: What does Paul mean?

God ushers His people into a fellowship with God through faith in Christ. It's so close, so intimate, so deep, so real, so alive that everything God the Father is, everything He has are shared with us personally. Staggering as it may be, inconceivable as it may appear to us, this is what Paul is saying. The Father destined nothing short of Himself as our inheritance. The Father, Son and Spirit give us existence to bring us into profound intimacy with Him. This relational intimacy release God’s very being and life and joy into us so it becomes ours.

Paul concludes this small, yet life-impacting, section with this passionate outburst of praise: “to the praise of his glorious grace.” Soak in this until it blows your mind! No human mind can grasp such great and monumental promises from a God who always comes through (which is why Paul will pray for us to experience this in 1:15-23).

Download from my website the PDF of my short meditation on Ephesians called Created Community. Also, visit my website at:

Friday, July 21, 2017

Behold our God!

Let’s start where the Bible does, this Book of books. The Bible begins where each of our own lives begin. Scripture simply points us to God Himself… majestic and mighty, living and loving, existing before time and space.

In your sanctified imagination, return to this launching pad where God created the mystery of godliness. Are you at Genesis 1:1, blocking out all else in your mind? Then from this most ancient point in time, go backwards in your imagination. What do you see? Close your eyes and spend a bit of time in your mind with your sanctified imagination. Learning must penetrate into our minds and also into our affections to strengthen our will to choose. God fashioned His image-bearers with the ability to imagine like Him, and this infuses our affections with what is on His heart (Psalms 37:4).

What did you see, feel and think?

No heavens. No earth. No sun or stars, no plants, animals or people.

All we see in our sanctified imaginations is God Himself, Father, Son and Spirit! Before creation, God already existed.

Through the lens of the New Testament (NT), our highest good is God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit in perfect community and perfect individuality, cooperatively interacting with One Another in unity.

In the beginning God created… (Genesis 1:1).

No explanation. No description. No confusion. Just this God and the simple statement of His infinite majesty and sovereignty as Creator!

The Trinity experienced a stunning, eternally perfect, relational Community, constantly streaming co-love. The Father loved the Son and Spirit, and the Son loved the Father and Spirit, and the Spirit loved both. God is altogether lovely and attractive, authentically living in harmony with Himself.

The Father has never sought to impose His will on the Son, but serves His highest and best in harmony and oneness of purpose. And the Son chooses to reveal the Father’s heart in all He does. The Spirit reveals the Son, and thus also the Father. Care and kindness, life and mutual service, power and splendor, generosity and purity, light, life, love, and much more, all without limitations.

I have a website at where I’m blogging and providing resources to walk out the relational Trinitarian, incarnational worldview flowing from God’s Genesis 1 and 2 design.