An Encounter with a Christian

I’ve quit being a Christian. To quote Anne Rice “My conscience will allow nothing else.” I’ve admitted this to my friends, my family and those around me. Ten weeks ago, I was reminded why.

I was working downtown one day and a woman named Ivy came in to my office completely distraught. Tears running down her flushed face, she tells me “everything is gone.”

I had just helped this same woman not thirty minutes from that point. What do you mean? I asked her.

Ivy proceeded to tell me that while she was waiting for the bus someone had come along and stolen her purse with everything inside it. Her voice was shaking, “and that’s not even the worst of it” she exclaimed. “This Christian lady tells me that God is punishing me because I am a Wiccan. That’s why I never wanted to be a Christian! All they are is judgmental, hateful people!”

As she continued to express her frustrations with this lady and the Christian faith, I could feel my face turning red and tears welling up in my eyes. I no longer cared about the professional demeanor I was supposed to portray with my job.

I apologized to Ivy. I told her that if the woman who said those words would dust off the Bible that she so aggressively points at people and actually read about the life of Christ, she would never have opened her mouth to speak such hateful, irreverent words.

God must have known that people would slip in to a perverted version of what being His disciple actually looks like which is probably why Jesus explained perfectly how a disciple of His would be known.

In John 13, the very night He would be betrayed, Jesus gives His disciples a “new” commandment. He tells the men He is with “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jesus never said to that by being anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-Democrat, anti-science or anti-Wiccan you would be known as His disciples.

It’s love. And NOT the adulterated version of love that our society and culture has pushed on us. True love. Pure love. Love that Jesus portrayed that while He was on the cross hearing people mock him, after he had been betrayed by His friends and family He chose to stay on the cross so that the same people who were against Him could choose to accept Him as their Savior. His love for us compelled Him to stay on the cross and die for our sins against Him.

His love meets us where we’re at and compels us to toss aside all the things that would separate us from Him.

This is the love that He desires us to bring to everyone we come in contact with. And this is the love that I introduced to Ivy. I respectfully acknowledged what she believed and told her about God and how He loves her and has amazing plans for her. I then asked if I could pray to my God for her. She accepted and after I had prayed thanked me then left my office.

This past week Ivy came in to my office. A smile had replaced the tears and laughter her crying. She walked in with a guy (we’ll call him Eric) holding on to her hand. She told me she had exciting news that I would like to hear. Almost shouting she says “I’ve accepted Jesus in to my life!”

Words can not describe how excited I was to hear that and for what lies in store for her. God is truly great!

What would happen if all the Christians in this world began to act on the words that Jesus commanded? How would your life be different?

I want to leave you with this one challenge:

In the name of Christ quit being a Christian and start being His disciple.

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Back to it

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What does this picture have to do with my blog? Nothing. I just think it’s hilarious.

 

Well, here I go again. It’s been a while, no?
If you have read my ‘about me’ page you’ll notice the one person who is a daily inspiration to me, my wife, hence me writing to you all again. I had hung up the writing hat and let it collect dust, but due to my wife’s unending encouragement, I grab that hat to begin again.
I can not begin to tell you how many times I have restarted this blog. To be honest, most of it seemed forced for me at first, trying to put myself in to a mold that I thought would be best. Once again, the wise words of my woman come to mind “It should’t feel forced. Do what comes naturally to you.” Naturally, I am a man of few words. However, there is something that I absolutely love to do. Teach. I am passionate about learning and when I learn something, I have to teach it to others. Bing. Lightbulb.                           This blog will be just that. A reflection on what I have learned from life, the Bible, people, mistakes, books…

So join me. Grow with me.
3 ‘betters’ I expect as I continue this blog:

>become a better husband
>>get in to better shape
>>>be a better writer

What do you expect?

Undeserving. (part two)

Let’s think about the previous post. The son felt that because of all he did, he didn’t deserve to be considered his father’s son. Wait. When did he deserve to ever be son? What did he do to be a son? He was born!

How many of you are in that same position. You’ve messed up. You’ve hurt people. Turned your back on God. Blamed Him for your life. Wanted all the good stuff from Him, but no responsibility. How many of you have felt that you aren’t deserving of a second chance? What did you do to ever deserve a chance in the first place? God doesn’t give us what we deserve.

Allow me to set a scene. Close your eyes and imagine this… well… After you read the scene you can. If you did it before you read then it would be impossible to read what you are to imagine. Sidetracked. Anyway…

 You are standing at the foot of a hill. The atmosphere is dry and hot, and filled with a sense of bitter anticipation. You are looking down at your feet and amidst the dry soil, you see a trail of blood. Following the trail, you see roman soldiers around three different crosses. There is people all around muttering to each other. No tears, but an ironic hostility. You follow the trail and notice that this hostility is directed only to one of the men laying on a cross. However, you can’t even tell he is a man based on his appearance. His feet fused to the cross by a rusted nail, the size of a railroad spike. Beaten, battered, skin literally hanging off of him. His arms outstretched with a nail piercing each hand. A wreath made of three inch thorns appear to be shoved down upon his head. The act of those thorns being thrust so forcibly on his head had literally split the skin. You have never seen anything so hideous, so bloody, you turn your head and gag at the very stench of his diseased, rotting flesh. Yet, he is still alive. The soldiers raise the cross to which he has been nailed to and his body sags down. In order for him to continue breathing, he must pull himself up with his nail pierced hands. All his strength is fading fast. As the shock of this site continues, you hear shouting. “If you are really God save yourself.” “You’re a fake.” “I hate you.” “You mean nothing.” “He healed others, let him heal himself.” 

People are spitting on him, kicking dirt at him.  “What did this man do?!” You ask. Nothing. He did this for you. What did you do to deserve such a sacrifice? When this man was on the cross, he thought of you. This man who had all the power to walk off that cross stayed on it, for you. Why? So you could experience what the son in the last blog experienced. Unearned, undeserved forgiveness. What have you been forgiven of? Any wrong you’ve ever done or ever will do.  What did the son have to do to get forgiveness from his father? Nothing. All he had to do was accept that forgiveness.

God doesn’t give us what we deserve, but what was purchased for us through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When you accept the price that Jesus paid, ALL of heaven has a party in your name! Why? Because you were lost but are found. You were dead, but through Christ you are live. Because of Jesus, you never have to be separated from God. That is why God throws the party! 

Undeserving. (part one)

There was once man who had two sons. The younger went up to him one day and said “Hey, dad, don’t take this personally but, you know the inheritance that I would get when you’re dead? Well, I would like to have it now.”

Now, in the culture this family was in, that was unheard of. As I am sure you think, this son is rude and very disrespectful. I agree. Back to the story.

After hearing this, the dad did just that. WIthin days, the boy packed his bags and headed out. Not just down the road, the boy left the country! This disrespectful, ungrateful kid took his inheritance and gambled it away. Wasted his dad’s entire life’s work. Well, at least half of it. While this kid had money, he had friends, ladies, and all the comforts one could ask for. In a moment, they were all gone.

At the same time the kid’s money was gone, the economy collapsed. Jobs were scarce. The kid began to truly feel what it was like to starve. Suddenly thoughts of the food that was placed on his dad’s table raced through his mind. He quickly shook the thought, knowing that he could never return home. Not after what he did. Not after how he treated his dad. “Home, sweet home” just didn’t exist anymore. He was on his own for good.

After countless rejections and returned applications, the kid found a job out in the country working with a pig farmer. This was the lowliest of low. White collar, heir to millions, feeder of pigs. The boy, making hardly enough to stay alive, was so hungry, he knelt down to share in the bounty of slop the pigs ate. Yet, his boss wouldn’t allow it and kept a close eye.

Exhausted, starving and covered with pig mess, the kid came to his senses. He figured all of his dad’s farmhands at least had a decent place to live and were, by no means, starving. The kid began to work on his apology.

To give you an idea, in this kid’s culture, his dad could legally have him killed for his disrespect. This apology had to be REALLY good.

“Dad, hi. It’s been a long… No, to casual.”

“My dearest father. Amongst my wondering… what?”

“I got it!”

“Dad, I have messed up in God’s eyes and yours. I don’t even deserve to be called your son. I merely wish you would hire me as one of your farmhands.”

With him replaying the scenario over and over, trying to get his apology perfect, the kid heads back home.

Back in the city that the kid lived in, yet still a very long way from home, the kid sees something in the distance. Someone. Heading very quickly to him. It was his dad! His dad saw him and started sprinting over to him. (Something a man of his rank and position in the community would not do).

Once the dad reached his son, he began to hug him and kiss him! The boy proceeded to his meager attempt to apologize, but kept being interrupted by his dad’s shouts of joy and his kisses.

“Dad, I messed up big time. I” (SMOOCH). “I don’t deser- (SMOOCH) -ve to be called your (SMOOCH) son.” (SMOOCH) “Please just (SMOOCH) hire me as a (SMOOCH) farmhand.” (SMOOCH) (SMOOCH) (SMOOCH)

His dad didn’t waste anytime listening to the sons apology. As if the son deserved to be his son in the first place. He was son by birth. By no action or deed did the son earn his sonship. He was born, that’s all.

The dad called for his butler and maids. “Quick,” the father exclaimed. “Bring clean clothes, dress him! Put the family ring back on his hand! Put shoes on his feet! Once you’re done with that, get the best heifer we have, kill it and cook it! We are having a party! My son that I thought was dead is alive. He was lost but is now found!” And the party began.

Enter the second son, who had just finished another long hard day out in the field. What does he hear as draws closer to the house? Music and dancing. He called to one of the servants and asked what was going on. The servant informed him about the return of his brother and what he was hearing was the party in his brothers honor. Unlike the dad, the older brother was not as excited.

That’s an understatement, he was livid! The dad came out and tried talking to his son. The son, indignant, exclaimed how faithful he has been and what his disrespectful little brother deserved, which was nothing close to a party.

The dad gently explained, ‘Son, try to understand. You are always with me and everything I have is yours. Be glad. This is a wonderful time. Your brother was dead and is alive! He was lost and now he is found!”

The younger son never got what he deserved. He didn’t do anything to earn his sonship nor his dad’s extravagant forgiveness. It was solely up to his dad.

In the next two blogs, I will be sharing two other stories of things undeserved. I’ll see you next Tuesday!

Love.

I can’t tell you how many times I have attempted at writing my FIRST BLOG. Probably because I put so much pressure on myself. It was as if I wanted it to be THE BEST, or at least good enough for people to want to read. All that came out of my “high pressure” writing sessions were about three lines that could easily be seen as fabricated wisdom and scripted originality. Those two things aren’t worth the time writing nor reading. 

To be honest, I almost jumped in to that same style, figuring out what to title this post as. Which is why you see a 4 lettered word with a period. I was going for simplicity. I say that because I want you to appreciate me not wasting your time by rambling on… As I ramble on about not wanting to ramble…

Love produces life. I was reading in 1 John today (a book in the BIble kind of towards the end). In it, I found an interesting statement. In chapter three of 1 John and verse 14, the author talks about a man who does not love. He said “he who does not love abides (is kept continually) in death.

Now, I always like to take a positive approach at things and that’s what I did with this passage. Since death is the product of the lack of love, it stands to reason that love produces  life. 

There is a very popular passage in the Bible that is says “for God so LOVED the world that He gave is only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish (die) but have everlasting LIFE. (John 3:16- caps mine)

Out of love, life is produced.  In the passage above we see that God LOVED. Who did He love? Us. The world. What was the product? God giving His Son to bring us LIFE. 

Jesus couldn’t just come in to the world and not do anything. He was God’s gift of love. Looking at the life of Christ, that’s what He did. Jesus loved. The greatest act of love was Jesus giving His life for us. Jesus lived a sinless life, died on a cross and was raised back to life three days later. There are several interesting characteristics of Jesus, but the one that is the greatest is His love for us. 

The product of the greatest act of love was life. The cost of that product was death. It cost Jesus His life to give us life. 

If you want to produce life in others, you must die to yourself. How? First let’s look at the opposite of love… Selfishness. Selfishness is the enemy of love.  Living a SELFLESS life is a life that produces true life. We are to lay down our own lives. Not how Jesus did on the cross, but with our daily choices. Jesus esteemed us greater than Himself. He put us first. As you put others first. Life will be produced. 

CHALLENGE: Love people more than yourself. Put them first. Do it to someone who hasn’t done anything to “deserve” it.

Scripture: 1 John 3:16

By this we come to know love: That He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for others.