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Choosing Your Heritage

I remember when my oldest son Johnny entered Junior High School. He came home one day and told me, he didn’t know what group he belonged in. He went on to explain that all of the kids had divided into groups. There were the skaters, the jocks, the Mexican kids, the ASB kids, the nerds, tough kids, punks, etc.

Johnny had discovered that things had changed from earlier years. Persons who had been his friends in the past no longer wanted to associate with him unless he clearly identified with their group and disassociated from all others. This was a big dilemma for Johnny, his mother is of Mexican heritage and I am mixture of many white ethnicities. So Johnny had many “Mexican” friends wanting him to identify with them, but he also had friends among the ASB kids, the skaters and others.

I am proud to say that Johnny didn’t give into the pressure to self-segregate. He maintained his friendships within many different groups and it worked out well for him.

As time went on I watched each of my kids go through this struggle of choosing their heritage. For some it was more of an issue than others, but they all went through it at some level.

All of us face the issue of choosing our heritage. Now some of you are saying, “I don’t come from mixed races; it has never been an issue for me.” I beg to differ. Everyone chooses their heritage. Everyone looks at their family history, at their friends, and at their personal history and makes a clear decision and as to who they are.

Recently I have been listening to the books of Kings and Chronicles in my Audio Bible. One of the amazing things that happen is these dramatic shifts from one generation to the next. In the line of the Kings of Judah, David and Jeroboam stand out as the foundational characters against which most of the kings of Judah are measured.

Ahab, an evil king, is the one by which the kings of Israel are measured. The passage will say something to the effect of king so-and-so did evil in the sight of the Lord and followed in the path of his father Ahab. Or it may say that the king did good in the sight of the Lord and followed in the path of his father David. Each king had good and bad in their ancestral line. Each made a choice as to who they would follow; they choose their heritage. Not only did they choose their heritage but they became identified as a descendant of the person they chose.

Each of us chooses our own heritage. If we come from an average family we have many positives and negatives to choose from. We choose who we will follow and in what way.

There is more to it than that. We choose our heritage in our personal lives too. Our lives are filled with good and bad. Good things that have happened to us and bad things that have happened to us. We have done good things and bad things. But we make a choice as to what will define us. We choose our personal heritage. David was a warrior, a murderer, and adulterer, a coward running from Absalom, and the great psalmist of the Lord. But how is he remembered? He is known as “A man after God’s own heart”. David did many things, good and bad, but the thing that stands out above all is his heart for God.

For some people it is difficult to find anything good in their past. There are a few persons who seem to only have bad characters in their families. God has made a series of amazing provisions for this situation. Romans 4 teaches that Abraham is our father in faith. Strange, Abraham, who is not our father, becomes our father when we choose to follow his example of living by faith. Amazing! It gets even better. Romans 5 goes on to teach that we are descendants of Adam and as such we have inherited death, but God has provided for us a new Adam, Jesus. Through Jesus we obtain life in exchange for death. It is just a matter of choosing our heritage. Are we children of Adam, being in Adam when he sinned or are we in Christ and partakers with Him in the resurrection?

There is more! God is the father to the fatherless. He adopts all of us into His family. No matter what your heritage you can become born again and become a child of God.

1 John 3:1

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called the children of God! …

Many people feel bound by their past. They make excuses for themselves based on their family history, home life, upbringing, social status, race, childhood tragedies, and past mistakes. The Bible teaches that God gives us the freedom and ability to choose our heritage.

So examine the people in your family line and decide who you are a descendant of. Look at your personal history and decide what will define you. Will you choose to live a life of faith and follow in the pattern of your father, Abraham? And most important will you be born again and become a child of God?

Everyone chooses their heritage. What heritage will you choose?

The Deep Theological Lessons of Minecraft

For year my kids have tried to get me to play video games with them. About once or twice a year they would finally talk me into giving it a try. I would sit down with them and they would set up a game for me, on the easiest setting. They would hand me a controller and tell me “all” of the commands. “Push this to go forward, backward, left or right. Use this one to turn. Press this to jump. Use this one to hit. If you hold it down, it will do a series of kicks. Flick that one to access more weapons.”

Then we would start to play. Monsters would come from all directions. I would start franticly pressing buttons, trying desperately to survive. Three kids yelling instructions at me all at once. Within seconds there would be a series of descending tones, a flash, and then the message “YOU DIED”. The kids would go on playing for another 10 minutes while I watched.

Oh Yeah! This is fun! (Sarcasm).

So then they would suggest another game, “Maybe Mario Brothers or a driving game”. Of course seconds into those games I would be falling to my death or driving into a wall. “YOU DIED”.

That would end the session for me. That was all the video game “fun” I could handle for a year. I’ve always felt that for a game to be fun you should be able to win. It seemed to me that video games simply always ended in disaster. Where is the fun in putting off your eventual death for a few more minutes; it was still going to end the same way. “YOU DIED”.

Last year they talked me into sitting down for my annual video game humiliation session. They said, “I think Dad will like this one.” So I gave Minecraft a try. Well I did last a little longer with Minecraft than I had with other games. I learned to fight spiders, skeletons and zombies. Mostly I learned not to go into dark places, go home at night and lock myself in my room and go to bed. I can handle this.

You can mine and explore and find things. You can craft new items from what you mine. And you can even build things. This if fun! You can plant food and raise animals. This is pretty cool!

Then I learned that there was a safe setting where there are no monsters; nothing that is trying to kill you. The only real problem I would have is falling off a cliff and being incinerated by lava, or maybe drowning, but I learned how to protect myself from those things. The cool thing about Minecraft is that you can build things, and they stay. They don’t deteriorate; no flood or natural disaster destroys your hard earned labor. Nothing comes and kills you. This is GREAT!

So now I am hooked. Every Monday is “Minecraft Monday”. I had to start limiting myself to one day a week.

The one thing that got me was, ‘Why did I like Minecraft when I had hated all of the other games?’ Of course the obvious was that for once I could experience some level of success in a video game. But that is not the full answer. Minecraft reflects some deep theological truths that are taught in scripture.

There are two settings in Minecraft. One does a fair job of representing the world we live in, a fallen world. We go about our daily business of exploring, mining, crafting, building, growing food and providing for ourselves. But there are always those forces of darkness, breeding in the lower parts of the earth, wandering about the land seeking who they can destroy. You have to watch your step and guard yourself against physical dangers; falling off of a cliff, drowning or being burned up by lava. You also need to be on your guard against spiritual dangers. Those who are seeking to destroy you. Although you need to be ready to fight should you have to, but your best defense is to stay away from the darkness. Often that is as simple as coming home at a decent hour and going to bed. We are also called to bring light into the darkness and eliminate the very thing that allows evil to breed.

The second, peaceful, setting in Minecraft does a fairly good job of reflecting the world the way that God intended. We tend to the world that God created. We mine, craft, create, build, produce food and eat. Nothing and no one is seeking to destroy us. No natural disasters will wipe out our hard work. We can build and improve and enjoy forever. There is no fear of death. The only danger that exists is that we would fall of our own accord or end up in the lake of fire.

This would be called a redemptive analogy. One of those many things that God places in our lives that can be used to point us to Him. I hope you enjoyed my little diversion. Leave a response, please.