Inspired by Rice Broocks’ sermon this morning on Lay the Foundation, I scribbled down five of my own foundational thoughts.
1. Foundations is not a class or a book but a life-long endeavor. Can’t get it done in a 13-wk class any more than it can be done in a miraculous moment by the laying on of hands. Imagine yourself on a doomed airliner, and you have only a few moments to jot down ten things – the only legacy you will impart to your children. What do you write? For many the problem is not thinking of something to write but that they have never thought deeply enough about their inner life to distill out from everything the few most important things (See blog post The Essence of Org).
Recently I undertook to revise and rethink my standard foundation class. I found myself looking over two lists, one titled “The Foundations” (essential doctrines) and the other “My Foundation.” The latter was a list things that thru some combination of trial, triumph, and/or revelation have been carved in stone (i.e. into my hard head). In 38 years as a Christian I have heard over 3,000 sermons. My foundation list is the dozen or so ideas or truths that have continually stuck while the rest have been largely if not completely forgotten. On average, I seem to add one or add onto one a couple of times year.
So, those engraved ideas, especially the one relating to essential doctrines, have been the core of the class outline. I know that a foundation class should not about me but about them and their relationship with God. However, I think people want to hear more than truth; they want to hear about truth that has changed your life.
2. Plants and buildings are both biblical metaphors for discipleship. Consequently, roots and foundations are the corresponding metaphors for solid grounding and endurance. The best way to understand the power of being rooted in love, in faith, or in the Word of God is to think about other kinds of “rootedness.” People who have a root of bitterness, lust, greed, or fear find that their perceptions, attitudes, and action are constantly controlled by what has been growing in their lives for years. Anger and revenge fueled by a root of bitterness is very difficult to stop. In other words, it is hard to backslide from living out what is rooted in you.
3. You can divide people into two fundamental groups; not necessarily good and evil or even Christian and non-Christian. The two groups are rooted and non-rooted. There are some very evil people who are firmly rooted in their beliefs, wants, and values. There are also evil people who change belief and value systems as easily as a set of clothes. There are corresponding groups of Christian believers, those very rooted and those relatively superficial.
4. Rootedness is exclusive. You can’t be rooted and grounded in God’s Word while at the same time being rooted in bitterness, lust, greed, pride, or fear. As Jesus said in the Parable of the Sower, one type of root (the weeds) will choke out the other type of root (the Word).
5. Testing in the foundations: Mike Bickle, referring to the testing of the house’s foundation, says there are three types of storms. Two we will all face; some will face all three. The first storm is the defining trial of your life. It’s not just a bad day or a bad month. It is the ultimate test of your life. The second trial is at the end of the age, a tribulation so bad that if not cut short, the human race would not survive. The third storm is when we stand before Christ as He judges every event, action, word, thought, and intention of the heart. Whether our house stands of falls depends on how deeply the roots of God’s Word and God’s Spirit have grown down into out lives.
Foundations or “rootedness” is not 13-week class but a life-long pursuit.