meet lucy

I wanted to announce to my friends/readers that my wife and I welcomed our second daughter into the world today. Lucy Michelle Noel Johnson was born at 3:03pm on January 29th. She weighed in at a sizable 9lbs, 11oz, the same as her sister, and 21 1/2in long. My wife and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Thank you all for your prayers, love, support and for swinging by reclaimthebeauty.com

 

Lucy is here! from Richard Adams on Vimeo.

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forgiveness

My father-in law told me a story about a time when he was an apprentice in the carpet trade.  Every day before they started laying carpet, his job was to clean the bathrooms in the shop.  One day there was a little present in one of the toilets, and the toilet didn’t flush.  He called his boss over and asked what to do.  His boss scooped the little present out with his hands, threw it in another toilet, flushed it and said, “never ask anyone to do anything that your not willing to do yourself, the next one is yours.”   Kind of gross, but you get the point.  God doesn’t ask us to do things that he is not willing to do himself.

One of the things that is so striking about Jesus is that He asks us to put His good news on display with your life.  One of the most well known things that Jesus did was forgive the sins of the world.  But there is this thread of teaching throughout the New Testament that says if you want to be forgiven then you need to forgive.  For example, right after Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray he says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”  In the book of Mark, Jesus goes further by saying, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”  Jesus doesn’t ask us to do things He’s not willing to do.  I think God wants us to experience forgiveness in our personal relationships so that we can really catch the value of our own forgiveness by God.

So before you put in your own request in prayer, there may be business that you need to take care of with others.  Forgive, so that you will be forgiven.  Why would Jesus want to forgive you if you’re not willing to forgive others?  By forgiving someone, or by asking for forgiveness, you are putting the gospel on display.

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power to change

One of the writers who I am fond of is Thomas Merton.  In the 70’s he wrote a series of essays.  In one of his essays he talks about a postage stamp that says, “pray for peace.”  I guess this was a stamp that was big in the 70’s.

Merton talks about this stamp a lot.  He says that when we as a country build nuclear bombs and call the nation to pray for peace we mock God.  He says that we mock God more effectively than an atheist.  I wonder if it is mocking God to pray for stuff that is in our power to change.    I had a friend ask me to pray for him so that he could take some time off,  I told him “no.”  The person was surprised at my response.  But I simply am not going to waste my time praying for someone to get some free time if they are going to continually pack their calendar.

What do you pray for that is in your own power to change?

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all things new

For the past two weeks I have taught on heaven and hell.  This Sunday night we really re-imagined heaven and why it is vitally important in our every day lives.  The common perception of heaven is that it is a place where believers go when they die.  Someone (St.Peter, or Abraham) might be standing at the gates to look in the book of life to see if your name is there.  In heaven you dance on streets of gold, you have a mansion and you endlessly worship the lord.  You even walk on a beach and you look back and see one set of footprints…no wait that is a poem.  But my point is that in Christianity this is the common perception of Heaven.  The whole idea is that the earth is in decay, our bodies are in decay, and our spirit goes off to be with Jesus when our life ends.

But what if that is not at all what the Bible teaches?

If you go back and read the early Christian martyrs, what is their hope?  Why do they so courageously walk to their deaths?  Why are they not worried, they are thinking about how great their mansion is going to be right?  Maybe they are thinking how sweet it would be to sleep on a cloud.  That is actually the opposite of what is probably going through their heads.  In Philippians 3:10-11 Paul wrote this: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”  Wait, that sounds crazy, Paul actually wants to be raised from the dead? Actually yes, and it wasn’t too crazy either. The Old Testament talks about resurrection (Isaiah 26:19 Ezekiel 37:4-10) Jesus debates it with some religious leaders of his day (Matthew 22:23-30).  Jesus straight up says (John 5:24-29) that eternal life is associated with the “resurrection of the dead.”  If this isn’t enough all of Christianity is based off the idea that Jesus was more than a good person, He was God and He rose from the dead.  We celebrate this every year at Easter, but why don’t we celebrate that in addition to Jesus conquering death, so can you?

I know this is tough to grapple with.  I’d challenge you to look through 1 Corinthians 15.  Zero in on verses 12-15 where Paul confronts those of the church in Corinth who do not believe that resurrection is possible for them.  This is what he says: “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”

The Bible teaches something far greater than Heaven, it teaches that we can be raised with Jesus.  Call it heaven if it helps you sleep better at night.  But the real question is raised to what?

Over and over in scripture we see a thread of teaching about a groaning earth.  We read about a creation that hopes and waits for its redemption. We even read that our bodies will be redeemed at the resurrection (Romans 8:18-27).  We read about the resurrection of Jesus (Luke 24) and see that he is fully alive.  He died, went to paradise with the gentleman on his right (I’m just guessing the side see Luke 23:39-43) and came back to show his disciples what was in store for them.  Paul talks about eagerly awaiting all of this (Philippians 3:20-21).

But what do we eagerly await?  I think the Bible is clear that what our hope is in is Jesus redeeming all of creation, and bringing heaven to earth.  In the final chapters of revelation we see a cosmic marriage of heaven and earth. (Revelation 21-22).  God even says, “I am making all things new.”  Some really brilliant theologians, like N.T. Wright, look at the resurrection of Jesus as the starting point of “making all things new.”  If that is true, then God has been in a continual process of redeeming creation, for about 2000 years now.  If that is true than we must re-think everything we do, because everything will last into eternity (absent the sin).  What we write, say, paint, it is all lasting.

What are the implications of believing that Heaven is a place that we go to spend eternity with Jesus? If that is true, who cares about the planet that we are living on, we will be gone with Jesus!  Who cares about righting economic injustice, if we simply save the socially marginalized then they will get a mansion one day too!  While it is great to reveal the love of God to everyone, our theology on this matters.  If we believe that God is in a constant state of “making all things new,” and he calls us to do His work, then not only are we to preach to the socially marginalized but we are to be creative in bettering their circumstances.

I do believe that like Jesus, we will die one day, go to paradise but one day rise again at the coming of Heaven on earth.  So Heaven as many people think it, is not the final destination

***I understand that this is a major shift from conventional thinking.  I’d recommend a read of N.T. Wright’s “Surprised by Hope” as he outlines it far better than I.

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meet george

A few months ago I had the joy of being trained as a Family Wellness instructor.  During that class my instructor was the founder of Family Wellness Associates, George Doub. Meeting George was a great experience.  I feel like in those three days I learned far more than just how to teach parenting classes.

I was incredibly saddened today to learn that a few days after Christmas, George died in an accident at his home.  My heart goes out to his family as they mourn the loss of George.  Even though George passed, his legacy lives on.  In his work, the Family Wellness philosophy has impacted thousands of lives around the world.

While I know that many of my readers didn’t know George or you may have never heard of Family Wellness, but I wanted to share with you some of the timeless philosophies that George shared in my 24 hours in class with him.

What You Water Grows

This one is pretty self explanatory, but George would say it all the time.  Say for example you have a three-year-old and she is throwing a tantrum in the store, you start yelling at your kid, and your kid starts yelling louder, all of the sudden you have just thrown fuel on the fire.  The idea of, “what you water grows” is that what you give attention to will grow.  A lot of times this can be a great thing and a lot of times this can be detrimental.

Probably the best example of this in my life was during seminary.  The theology class I was in just went through a brutal midterm and there were some tricky questions.  Everyone in the class was upset and complained to our professor.  There was a twenty-minute session of complaining about the questions on the test.  When the volume started to go down the professor simply said, “is everyone done?”  Then she proceeded to start her lecture.  Had she argued with us, it may have turned into a full-blown fight.  But she knew not to water the situation.

Say what you need

So many times we approach our kids, wife, boss, friends or anyone else by telling them what we want them to do.  We tell them what they need to do.  George suggested that we simply are honest with each other and say what we need. Imagine the difference between, “hey sweetie you need to stop…., “ and “hey sweetie, I need to feel loved and respected by you and part of the way that happens is…”

This principle is the difference between diagnosing someone and simply stating how you feel. You are really increasing your chances for success by practicing this.

What would you like to see instead?

Many people like to complain about things, but that is all they really know how to do.  Next time you are in a fight with your spouse or friends or boss, ask “what would you like to see instead?”  That question has a way of getting to the heart of an issue.  Many people can’t answer that question, but if you can answer that question then you are ahead of the game

Hearing of George’s death was very sad; I only had the pleasure of knowing him for 24 hours but I hope his work will live on and I hope through this post you get to see a glimpse of his greatness.

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