Things God Wants To Know

But why?

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How do you respond to motivation? Are you more inclined to do something if someone else wants you to? If the rules say you should? Or, like some of us, not at all no matter what?

Gretchen Rubin, in her book The Four Tendencies, divides people into categories depending on how they respond to motivation. Those who, like me, respond to inner motivation far more than anything from the outside, are called questioners. (You can even take the quiz here if you want.)

We ask “why” a lot. That’s the gist of the personality. If you can give us a good reason for doing something, we’re in. If not, we’re not terribly motivated. A good reason, mind you, is in the eye of the questioner.

So it’s not a surprise, I suppose, that I would be drawn to the questions in the Bible. A couple weeks ago, we talked about God’s first question. (Where are you?) It’s important, I believe, to look at the things God wants to know and ponder why. (I did say I asked “why” a lot.)

Questions God asks

God, presumably, does not ask rhetorical questions. He doesn’t need to ask questions at all. What doesn’t he already know? Can he ask a question he doesn’t know the answer to?

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“Omniscient” is one of those fifty-dollar theological words that means the ability, or even character trait, of knowing absolutely everything. (So go use that word now to impress people.) God has no need to ask us anything at all.

That’s why I find the fact that he does so intriguing.

Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him? Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice? (Isaiah 40.13-14)

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone? Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east?

Do you know where the gates of death are located?  Where does light come from, and where does darkness go? Can you take each to its home? Can you direct the movement of the stars? Do you know the laws of the universe? Can you use them to regulate the earth? Can you shout to the clouds and make it rain? (Job 38)

So why would he ask us questions?

Well, why did I ask my students questions when I taught high school? Did I need to know the author of Pride and Prejudice? Was I ignorant of the psychology behind Javert’s issues? Could I not google the date of publication of War and Peace if I didn’t know? (No, in fact, I couldn’t. We didn’t have google. Or the interwebs. It was that long ago.)

As a parent, do I really have to walk into a room and ask “Who made this mess?”

No parent in the history of parents needs to ask that. We know.

But we do ask these things. We ask them for several reasons.

We want to see if others do know the answers they need to know. We want to give people a chance to confess to things they need to know (or things they did) before they have no choice. Maybe we want them to rethink an answer they’ve given or a belief they hold. Perhaps we want to prod action. Possibly, we just want a dialog.

God works in similar ways. He doesn’t need information or answers. So what’s left?

Maybe God also wants to:

  • Help us figure out the answers
  • Make us rethink some answer we thought we knew
  • Prod us into thinking about our answers
  • Give us information
  • Move us to action
  • Have a dialog with us.

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It’s a well known axiom of adult learning experts that asking questions helps people learn better. (That’s why I’ve taken to doing it a lot when I preach.) In their research, Julie Bugg and Mark McDaniel at Washington University in St. Louis (shout out to the alma mater!) set out to discover what kind of questions worked best. They determined that conceptual questions—those where you ask yourself or someone else questions that require putting ideas together rather than just knowing details—help us learn best.

So asking about motives of Javert would give my students a much better grasp of literature than asking the publication date of War and Peace. Truth.

What does this have to do with God?

It’s important because if God asks a question, we should probably pay attention.

If he’s wanting to dialog, we should be joy-filled at the prospect.

If he respects us enough to want us to figure things out on our own, we can be grateful. He made us in his image, which includes the ability to think things through.

If he speaks in questions so often, perhaps we should rethink our tendency to speak in proclamation more often than not. I love that Jesus often spoke in questions. Maybe being like Jesus should prod us to listen more, ask more questions, trust people more to be able to come to conclusions of their own. Perhaps being so sure we have wisdom to impart should give way to his method of helping people figure out wisdom and confession in their time and way.

If questions are such a vital part of God’s toolkit, maybe we could take a look at why. Next week, we’ll continue the journey that we started with God’s first question—Where are you?—with Jesus’ first question. What is it? You’ll find out next week.

Legacy Leaving and Statue Building — What Is Your Vision for 2015?

The kings of old didn’t do things small.

Our kids are a huge disappointment to us. Seriously, the Richardsons are leaving nothing in this world when we exit, and it is all those kids’ fault.


In several short months, one of them is going to be leaving that name behind for a new one. Eventually, it is assumed (but not a necessity) the other two will marry as well. Not that they could not keep their names—they choose not to. (Unless one of them gets engaged to a guy named, say, Snuffleupagus or something. Then, please reconsider, kiddo.)

Nor will they carry on the family business. None of our daughters wants to be a doctor. (Their mother may have swayed them a bit with her horror stories. Or her preference for Shakespeare over intestines.) They will never be practice partners with dad. In the ways traditional families measure legacies, we’re slacking. Fortunately, we don’t care. There are more important legacies to leave.

Last week, we talked about how our children reflect our character. It’s an analogy for how we reflect God’s character as his children and his image. But there is even more to being a child, and an image, than reflecting behaviors and ideas.

Our children are the ones we entrust to carry into this world what we find important. They are the ones we hope and believe will take on our values and visions for the future.

Sometimes it’s a family business; sometimes it’s a family name. I hope, more often, it’s treasured beliefs like caring for others, protecting family ties, and persevering through a difficult task. We won’t be here to continue what was important to us. We dream that they will.

God has the same dream. 


He not only made us to reflect his character–he created us to see his vision.  . We’re not meant to simply be nice people in this world. A computer knows how to generate good manners. We’re meant to spread God’s values like rain after a California drought. To make our world loving and just, not settle for making ourselves good people.

Giant Statues and Kingdom Stakes


In the ancient world, kings set up images of themselves in the outer regions of their kingdom. Why? Other people might just send an email with a photo attachment. A strongly worded memo. But these guys figured, hey, I’m a king. I don’t do things small. Giant statues? Let’s get on this thing!

There was a reason. See, when your kingdom is far flung, and your transportation system is a chariot, and there is no satellite programming to get your message out on 347 channels, you’ve got to have a Plan B. And their plan was to establish statues that would stand in for them. The figures would have their authority. Whatever a person would be expected to do in the king’s actual presence he is expected to do for the statue. The image was a representative of the real thing. It had the authority of the king.

That’s the idea we’re supposed to get from being told in Genesis 1 that we are created in the image of God. You (you as in people–you and I) have been placed in the outer reaches of the kingdom as God’s own representative. You have his authority to do what he would do. You’re like an emissary sent our from your country to offer aid to this government and counsel to this other one.

This makes for an entirely different plot line than just looking at the image of God idea as “Wow, maybe I should kind of act better.” It’s, “Wow, there’s an entire kingdom at stake here, and I’m spending my days hanging out on Facebook arguing over who should have won the Golden Globes.” Arguing nicely, understand, because I’m the image of God.

We are a people called to mirror his character and his vision into a crazy world. That’s way bigger than “Share this picture if you love Jesus.” Crazy bigger.

We’re the delegation he has sent out to accomplish what the King wants for His kingdom. You’re an envoy. For the King of the universe. That’s serious stuff right there. Potentially scary. And unbelievably exciting.

(Side note: If we’re sent to do what he would do? We’d better be quite sure what he would do. And fyi, I don’t think launching hate campaigns against people who don’t think like us is on the short list of things God would do.)

Giant Changes and Kingdom Strategies


For this little guy? She is Jesus.

How would it change your day to day priorities if you got out of bed today thinking, “I’m an emissary for God?” How would it mess with your agenda? Change your schedule? Slow your hurried walk past people you work with, shop with, go to school with? Deflect the criticism on your tongue or push out the encouragement? Keep you from thinking “someone should fix that problem” and start you fixing it yourself?


If we looked one person in the eyes and thought, how can I represent God to her? Right here, right now? Not in a 4-Spiritual-Laws shove the gospel at her kind of way but in a Jesus-would-do-this style. If we saw one social issue of our time and, instead of wringing our hands or focusing blame on one side, thought, how does God see this? How can I bring light and love into the darkness of this bad situation?

I used to think I wanted to go into politics. Now I know I’m not cut out for the mind games involved. Yet I have the responsibility of standing in for the King.

God says He’s looking for someone to go on an adventure. Are you ready?


Next week—What does being in God’s image mean for how we treat others? How about ourselves? Which one is harder for you?